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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Assignment Plan

Okay, from the high school thread (and Charlie's summations along the thread), it would seem to me that the district really isn't in a good position to change the high school enrollment plan. The discussion here seems to indicate that we believe are the main issues:

- all the high schools are not equal (clearly in quality) but also not equal just in a baseline offering of what a basic comprehensive high school should offer including AP and Honors.
-QA/Magnolia and the NE have high school distribution problems that are problematic.
-arts, particularly music and drama matter to families and we have unevenness in programs.

Solutions:
-Carla Santorno and staff develop a baseline for the comprehensive high schools so that parents can be assured of access for their students to similiar offerings.
- What would work best? Community meetings to get as many ideas as possible? Having directors get input from their districts? It also likely depends on how many students are in each area (and, if Roosevelt is any example, maybe sticking in a -5+ percent if we do get back private school students) and how many each school can hold.
-The district could develop a district program to have schools with good drama/music programs give some leadership/mentorship to struggling programs. Perhaps have a drama closet where schools share costumes so each new production doesn't have to make everything from scratch. Basically, help the struggling schools get on their feet so they can provide what seems to be a shared value.

According to the Student Assignment page, one of the Next Steps is to develop a proposed timeline for implementing any new plan. (This document also has, at the end, details about the SE Intiative.

"The results of this more detailed work will be brought back to the Board for review and
action in Fall 2007, with initial implementation steps in place for Fall 2008."

This Fall 2008 time has been mentioned many times so I have to believe that staff and the Board want to start then. But they do say "initial implementation steps" so I would hope that they would consider doing it in steps if necessary.

My point is, from our discussions, it sounds like we feel the District has a lot to do to get some high schools up to a baseline (and beyond) and that parents would be opposed to ending our current high school enrollment plan because of that. Is that the general concensus or did I read this wrong?

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

From my point of view, that was a great summation of the high school situation. We need implementation of a new high school assignment plan to happen in stages and the dsitrict needs to concretely show the community that they mean business in equalizing curricula and programming.

As a SE parent, I could let go of my vision of sending my kid to Garfield if I saw actual postive change taking place in other SE high schools BEFORE enrollment/assignment changes.

Anonymous said...

Well said Melissa. I'm curious as to Brita's thoughts or any other school board members who look at this blog.

Roy Smith said...

I would add that we need to have a discussion about what an appropriate baseline would be, and whether it is possible to implement such a thing without dramatically changing some of our schools. My point about the north end high schools is essentially that (in my opinion at least) all four of these high schools meet any rational standard I can think of for quality. However, they get to this quality by different paths, not all of which are equally appealing to all families. Roosevelt has lots of AP; Hale and Ingraham have much lighter AP selections, but have IB (at Ingraham) and the academy approach (at Hale). Ballard has the biotech academy.

According to the enrollment guide, all four of these high schools offer, Band/Jazz Band, Orchestra, Drama/Theater, and Photography, and all of them except Roosevelt offers Choir. Yet clearly these programs are not seen as equivalent.

So looking at these four high schools, what kind of quality baseline should be applied? Should all the high schools have the same number of AP offerings that Roosevelt has? If so, how does that impact the academies at Hale, or the IB program at Ingraham? Maybe instead, we should try to offer IB at every high school? Is there a critical mass of interest to sustain this approach? Somehow, I doubt it - there are a total of 15 IB programs in the entire state. Should every Seattle high school have a music and arts program that is the equivalent what we currently have at the most popular programs? If so, how?

My argument, for the north end, at least, is that the high schools are all at least of adequate quality. However, they are still very different. Instead of trying to squash these differences in the quest for equally desirable neighborhood high schools, I think we should be taking maximum advantage of the differences to ensure that every high school student receives an education that suits their aptitude and interests. We cannot take advantage of the differences if we try too hard to impose uniformity. Instead of pushing too hard for neighborhood high schools, maybe what we really need to do is figure out why choice is not working well, and figure out how to fix it so it works to the maximum benefit of the students and to SPS.

Anonymous said...

Is the current plan working for anyone except the people who live within 2 miles of Roosevelt? Meaning, is there real choice now? I believe that both the SE parents and the Magnolia/QA parens are in the same boat: choice is meaningless to them because they live too far away from the schools most of the high quality schools to have a real choice, given that distance is the deciding factor.

I think it is important to remember that NO student would be more likely to get a mandatory assignment to a school tha. they are now. The only difference is that instead of taking a guess as to the distance bubble for a particular school for a given year, you would know what school you would automatically be assigned to if you do nothing more. I don't want to keep the current broken system where there is no real choice in place any longer than one more year.

Anonymous said...

What about a phased roll out? Do the middle schools and elementary schools now, for 2008, and then phase in a new high school plan for 2010, giving two years to Cleveland to benifit from the new building, RB & Cleveland to benifit from the SE Intiative, and Sealth two years to see if having IB and the promise of a new building helps?

Also, that would give time to the staff and board to figure out what meaningful tiebreakers are, so that everything is no just distance.

Anonymous said...

A phased roll out is, I think, still a better plan even if the current choice plan does not work
well.

Part of the bigger picture is to get the district to be accountable for making quality changes for high schools. There could be better leverage and more action if the district knows that they need to step it up in order to get parents to buy into the entire assigment plan.

Knowing whether our mandatory assignment would be Rainer Beach or Cleveland provides me with no
useful information.

Anonymous said...

"Knowing whether our mandatory assignment would be Rainer Beach or Cleveland provides me with no
useful information."

Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page, correct me if I am wrong, but there is no discussion of a mandatory assignment as part of the new plan.

As I understand it, you will have a default school, and if you are happy with that, all you have to do is make it your first choice and you are in. If you are not happy with that, you can try to enroll at any school via seat aside seats for choice. If you don't get a school you want via choice, then you could still enroll and whatever schools have room, you are not tied to your default assignment.

As it is now, say you live on Beacon Hill but do not want to go to Cleveland (or Queen Anne and you don't want to go to the Center School). You put down your choices, and hope for the best, knowing that the odds of you getting into Ballard, Roosevelt, Garfield, and most likely Hale are non-exist based upoon where you live. If you don't get into any of those schools, you can still get into Franklin, Ingraham, Sealth, and West Seattle, in addition to Cleveland and Rainer Beach. As it is now, people only get mandatorially assigned to Cleveland and Rainer Beach if they either apply late and/or only select oversubscribed schools that they cannot get into because of lack of sibling and living too far away.

Under the framework for the new plan, it is no different. You can go to your default school if you want, or take your chances at getting a choice seat elsewhere. More likley than not, so long as distance is not the second tie-breaker, your odds as either a SE or QA resident of getting a choice seat at Ballard, Roosevelt, Garfield, and/or Hale are going to be better under the new system than they are today.

Anonymous said...

I still think that the conversation must include equity of access until such a time as the high schools are comparable. To me, that means the District should take race concious measure in drawing boundaries to take advantage of diversity where it exists, and race neutral measures in the tie-breakers, i.e. a socio economic tie-breaker, reverse distances, ect.

I agree with this letter to the Times this morning:

Editor, The Times:

The best response to "Seattle's school parents vindicated" [Times guest column, July 12], Kathleen Brose's sad attempt at justification [of the Supreme Court ruling against racial tiebreakers in deciding school choice], comes from Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in his dissent to the decision in the case:

"There is a cruel irony in the Chief Justice's [Roberts'] reliance on our decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the first sentence in the concluding paragraph of his opinion states: 'Before Brown, schoolchildren were told where they could and could not go to school based on the color of their skin.'

"The Chief Justice fails to note that it was only black schoolchildren who were so ordered; indeed, the history books do not tell stories of white children struggling to attend black schools. In this and other ways, the Chief Justice rewrites the history of one of this Court's most important decisions."

Justice Stevens added: "A re-writing, of course, which is crucial if you want to maintain that remedial racial classifications are precisely equivalent to racial classifications intended to subordinate a particular racial group."

Ms. Brose has left her children a legacy, but not the one she thinks.

— Larry Kimmett, Bellingham

Anonymous said...

"Just to make sure that everyone is on the same page, correct me if I am wrong, but there is no discussion of a mandatory assignment as part of the new plan."


Default school assignment would have been a better choice of terms on my part than mandatory.

My point was that rushing to get a new high school assignment plan implemented just so I would know what our default high school choice
would be is not helpful. In my part of town most of the choices other than Garfield don't stack up.

As to whether there would be more or less chance of getting into other high schools than the default school, that remains to be seen. We can't say really, because we don't know what the tiebreakers will be and we don't know how many set aside seats there will be either.

In following these discussions and thinking about the individual high schools, I still see that there is more of an imbalance in quality of high schools south than north. If I don't know the specifics of what the district is going to do to make changes and determine general programmatic needs, than I cannot support the entire choice system changing all at once in the '08/'09 school year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Roy, Hale's academy is only at the 9th grade level and it's basically just block classes (meaning, 4 teachers across 4 subjects work together with the same group of students). Adding separate AP and/or Honors classes would not change the academy at all.

You wouldn't want to add IB to every school - it's a very involved process for a school to get accredited and because it is is a core-class program, not as many kids would choose it as might choose a single AP class. I was very impressed with it and had wanted my son to go to Ingraham for the program but he had other ideas.

AP involves teacher training but every school could have it and the district would need to absorb some costs at schools that have fewer kids taking AP in order to get that baseline. That's the cost for assuring parents of access to higher level classes in all parts of the city.

Beyond that, I think Roy is correct that the northend high schools are comparable in quality.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm really surprised by the push to defer changing high school assignment.

What is there to wait for? For people to become convinced that Cleveland and Rainier Beach are equal in quality to Ballard and Roosevelt? Forget it.

Equal in quality is not a reasonable goal, nor is it an appropriate goal. Sufficient in quality should be the goal, and sufficient in quality will be attained when the schools offer the full baseline catalog of courses.

Equal in quality is not a reasonable goal because anything separate is inherently unequal. There will always be inequalities both real and perceived simply because the two schools are different. There won't be anyone with ability to make a comparison unless you have two identical kids, one at each school. The schools will continue to get differing levels of support and the schools will continue to have different focus, character and culture.

The people who want equal in quality should tell us how we will measure and what benchmarks we need to reach so we will know when equality has been achieved. Otherwise we will be in an infinite "just swim to me" situation with no possible end in sight.

Let's institute the baseline catalog and push forward. No more dithering or inaction. The baseline catalog is all the proof anyone can need or the District could ever provide to show that they mean business in equalizing curricula and programming. It's going to be extremely convincing when the District is paying for AP classes with fewer than ten students at some schools.

The reference area plan does not include mandatory assignments anymore than the current plan does.

Access to specialized programs will be improved for the students seeking those programs. The programs will be stronger, too, once they have set-aside seats. This will allow the District to accurately measure the demand for these programs so they will have the data showing the need to respond by duplicating or expanding the programs.

What is the fear? What is the concern? And how will it be assuaged after an extra year of inaction? You don't want to enroll a ninth grader until you see that the school is offering the AP classes they will take in the eleventh grade?

Anonymous said...

"You don't want to enroll a ninth grader until you see that the school is offering the AP classes they will take in the eleventh grade?"

No, I would not enroll a ninth grader until I know what college prep courses are offered. In a public school setting that means AP or IB. Honors classes or baseline courses are not as reliable a measuring stick for college admissions officers. Charlie I am not sure how old your children are but -as a parent that has gone through the college application process- the student's transcript is maybe the most important part of the application. Like it or not, the college application process is very competitive. Our local colleges and universities are scrutinizing transcripts looking for academic rigor. Just as important are the course offerings for students not going on to a four year institution. Entering ninth graders are told to map out what they intend to take during their four years of high school. You cannot expect parents or students to choose or be assigned to a high school without knowing what courses will be available past the ninth grade. The district needs to show the community that it can deliver. The SE initiative is a start, but it needs time and results.

Anonymous said...

Charlie-

I am not presuming (or asking) that the schools will be made "equal." I do think your use of spereate is inherently unequal is ironic in light of the recent Supreme Court decision, which in my opinion turned its back on Brown v. Board.

I am talking about equity of access to high quality programs. To me, that means equity of access to programs for advanced learners, for specialized courses of study (such as the biotech program), and not quality performing arts programs.

A baseline catalog will not equate to students of color and student of poverty having the same access to high quality programing so long as this city remains segregated and the quality high schools remain located primarily in North Seattle.

Sufficient is not good engough when it is your child's education. I know from your blog entries that both of your children (or at least two of your children)
are in APP at younger grades. Right now you have it all, predictability and knowledge that the default school for them, Garfield, will be of exteremly high - not sufficient - quality. I envy your position, as the prior poster indicated, there is no time to waste in the college application process, students have to start on a college track right away, and for students who want a top tier college, in most cases in this district, that means starting at Garfield.

I am not saying that the change should not go forward, it absolutely should, but the tie-breakers should include measures to allow students of color and student of poverty access to schools that are of higher quality until such a time as there are viable quality options in South Seattle. I do not see that as an impossiblity, I hope that Sealth is on its way to being such an option.

My point is that it is great that thought and money is being put into South Seattle schools, but that will not magically result in equity of access overnight.

I don't think that the South Seattle Students of the Classes of 2009-2015 should have to miss out on good programs while the District spends time trying to turn around the South Seattle schools or even using your logic, to make them sufficient.

This is why I believe socioeconomic status, or reverse distance, or some other measure should be in play until such a time as the high schools in South Seattle are truly viable options.

To me, the biggest mistake would to for the district to use nearer you live distance twice, i.e. as your base assignment and then as a tie-breaker. That would leave us where we are today, with choice only being meaningful to those who can afford to live near schools they want to attend. I don't think a pure lottery system is fair either, because it ignores that the majority of the students who suffer under the current system are students of color and students of poverty. This is why I choose to include the letter to the editor above I believe eliquently reminds us about the reality of the history of public education in the country and in this city.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous at 11:37. I also wanted to add, I'd love to hear positive outlooks from people in SE Seattle or people in NE Seattle who have kids middle school or late elementary school aged who will be impacted the soonest by this. Though I agree with a lot of what Melissa and Charlie say, it is hard to take positive comments about Nathan Hale from a mother who was disgruntled w/Nathan Hale and currently has a son at Roosevelt (thus not impacted by this) or Charlie who has kids in APP. I mean no disrespect to them. I loved how he fought for APP when he felt it wouldn't be a good thing for his children/the program. You have to respect the families who are concerned about "trusting the district" to put in place a new plan which could result in their children having a more challenging time getting into their school of choice or guaranteeing them a school different than the school they were assured of getting into before the change which had been a large factor when they chose their neighborhood.

You are asking them to trust that the AP/vigorous courses they want for their children will be put in place by the district when either a)the finances may make it very difficult to do based on lower demand or b)the administration of the school does not want them.

Jet City mom said...

as I have told my kids- it isn't the class it is the teacher.
My daughters high school offers a marine science class in 10th grade that isn't AP, but is as rigorous a course that I have seen in a high school.

She also has taken courses that were taught by teachers that were "college prep" but not AP, and was the envy of her friends who were stuck in the AP track with teachers that knew the material, but perhaps weren't as interesting, and so more difficult to learn from.

My sister in law is teaching AP classes that are in areas she has never taught before-that isn't uncommon as the demand for AP increases.

Personally, I would rather have a strong teacher, teaching curriculum, that he had experience with and had been able to refine, than someone who was teaching a course for the first time that sounded great on paper, but was an inch deep and a mile wide.

Ive also interviewed post docs at the UW, who have been working with SPS teachers to aid them in teaching what students are asking for.
Kids who have perhaps come from private schools or the APP program, can be quite sophisticated in their understanding of a discipline and some of the teachers can't keep up.

As some teachers perhaps have never had a college level biology class, but are now teaching genetics, they need a lot of support- however, according to the profs at the UW, while they may attempt to bring more rigor into the classroom- it does require lots of time and effort- and that isn't always supported or encouraged.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, I understand a little better now.

"No, I would not enroll a ninth grader until I know what college prep courses are offered. In a public school setting that means AP or IB."

I can tell that it was not clear that the "baseline required catalog of courses" would include a number of AP classes. You WILL know what AP classes will be available.

"I am talking about equity of access to high quality programs. To me, that means equity of access to programs for advanced learners, for specialized courses of study (such as the biotech program)"

With the baseline catalog including a number of classes for advanced learners, there WILL BE equity of access to programs for advanced learners. With a separate path to access for specialized courses of study with a separate set of tie-breakers, there WILL BE equity of access to those programs as well.


"You are asking them to trust that the AP/vigorous courses they want for their children will be put in place by the district when either a)the finances may make it very difficult to do based on lower demand or b)the administration of the school does not want them."

Yes, I see that. I'm expecting the weighted staffing formula to provide the money and the pendulum swing back towards central control to provide the political capital.

What I don't see is how either I'm failing to tell this story well - I still see references to mandatory assignments, reduced choice, and the lack of AP classes when I believe those questions have been addressed.

Alternatively, it is equally likely that I'm failing to understand what people are trying to tell me.

If you want a delay, then what are you waiting for and how will you know when you have it?

One person wants a delay untill there is equitable access to specialized programs. How is that possible without a change in the way the District handles access to specialized programs?

Others want a delay untill the college prep classes are in place. Do you distrust the District and the schools so much that even when the District says that the classes will be there, that all schools will be required to offer them, that you want the classes to be there for a full one-year cycle before you will commit to the change? Is that it?

If you distrust them that much, how can you trust that the classes will continue to be there in the next year? Trusting them for 2009 is no different from trusting them for 2008.

What if the District offered you a guarantee? What if the District told you that if a student wants to take a class in the baseline catalog but the class is not available at the school, that the District will grant the student assignment to the school of their choice? Would that guarantee help? If your child wants Calculus AB at Cleveland but the class isn't offered, you are granted access to the school or program of your choice. Would that guarantee satisfy?

People don't trust the District because the District has not proven trustworthy. The District has not proven trustworthy because they suffer no consequences when they break trust, so they do it all the time. If the District were to suffer a consequence, I think they would start to keep their word.

If this guarantee would not do, then what guarantee would you want?

Anonymous said...

And I would not enroll my kid as a 9th grade either in a high school without knowing what AP classes would be available in higher grades.

Charlie, what would be contained in a "baseline catalogue"? I assume that means a certain amount of AP classes and specialized progams that do not exist now at least several SE schools. I honestly don't know how long it would take to get those schools up to speed but it seems pretty obvious that it won't be there for the '08 school year.

Here is the fear and concern: You parents out there in blog land, would you honestly enroll your kid
at Rainier Beach or Cleveland if you did not know what was going to happen to program offerings past 9th grade? What if you did not get into your other school choices due to limited spaces, tie breakers, etc.

Honestly, truly, what would you do?

Would you enroll at those schools with faith that the district will come through?

Anonymous said...

I didn't see Charlie's last post until I sent my post.

I am sorry, but I still don't get why the new system will create more choice and access to different high schools.

If you don't get into your first choice north of the ship canal, then there are other schools with quality to consider.

Obviously, if I live south of the ship canal I can apply for schools north, but isn't part of the new plan to get families to attend schools closer to where they live?
And so, there are as we know, not too many quality choices south.

Is maybe the crux of this not knowing what the tie breakers will be? If distance is one of them, than the will not create more choice south.

I like the idea of a guarantee. Sounds so good I can't believe the district would do it. I'd vote "yes" on that proposal.

Jet City mom said...

If the District were to suffer a consequence, I think they would start to keep their word.

I do think some improvements have been made- or at least I hope so since this was published in the PI two years ago.

Stung by the Gates Foundation's rebuke of its leadership, some Seattle Public Schools officials admitted Thursday that the district may not be ready for the kind of major grants benefiting other Washington schools.

In announcing its latest round of education grants, the foundation Wednesday gave $11.9 million to districts in Burien, Bellingham, Kennewick, Nooksack Valley and Mabton.

But the foundation pointedly refused to renew a $26 million grant it gave the Seattle district five years ago, saying it lacked the leadership -- from the School Board down to principals -- that the other districts have.

Anonymous said...

"One person wants a delay untill there is equitable access to specialized programs."

No, let me clarify, I don't a delay at all. I don't think the current system is really working for very many families.

What I want is a tie-breaker system that actually provides for an opportunity for South End families to access North End schools until such a time as there is equitable programing in the South End.

I will come back to Ms. Brose's comment about Magnolia/QA families being "forced" into Ingraham. I can't muster a lot of symphathy if at the end of the day, your worst case sceniro is still a school with an IB program. For families in the North End, the menu of offerings is better, period.

Creating a baseline is great, but the reality is with the exception of Hale which has chosen to use an inclusive model but is still percieved by many to be a good school, the only schools that will need to be brought up to meet the baseline are in South Seattle.

To help explain my point, I am going to use your own experience as an example. You were against the District adding a middle second APP program at Hamilton. I know that part of the reason was for you was how the decision was made, but to those of us who obsevered the discussion, the primary reason for objecting for most APP parents was that they did not believe that the Hamilton program would be equal to the Washington program, and were unwilling to let the District "experiment" with thier own children. In time could two APP cites at each grade be a great thing? Absolutely, it provides for more children to access the program without in turn creating a dynamic of have and have nots, or hositly among different groups at the same building. It would also allow for the development of more than one APP track, i.e. an humanities based track and a science based track. But, were you (or the majority of the APP parents) willing to take it on faith that the District could create two cites, with the requiste cohort size, and teachers who had the ability to teach the courses in a year with a three year roll-up? No.

I DO NOT think the current system works for a vast majority of families. I disagree that anyone has a traditionally "gauranteed" school now, unless of course you look out the widow and see the school you want. I know people who bought houses within a few miles of Roosevelt in order to ensure that thier kids would go there, and they did not get in because the distance bubble shrank to less than two miles.

I think that anyone who believes that thier nieghborhood gives them a right of access right now is setting themselves up for disapointment, because there is no true guarentee, historically or in actuality now, unless you are within sight of the school you want. I like the idea of knowing what your default school would be, and really knowing it as opposed to guessing based on tradition.

I think that the new plan is a good thing, but what I want is meaningful access to the choice seats at the North End schools via tie-breakers that are not considering distance twice until there are real options in South Seattle.

I really hope that Sealth is well on its way to being one of those options, particularly when it gets its new building. I would love for there to be a day when a South End family's worst outcome is a school with an IB program not the best outcome as it is now for most families who cannot get into Garflield.

I hope that clarifies my point.

Cara, aka anon 5:12 PM, 10:55 PM and 11:46 AM

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, I'd take a guarantee from the District AND every high school. Meaning, the district may mean it but unless there is buy-in from the schools (and remember, in high school the site-based management is very real), I might be suspicious whether it will come to pass.

The District has to let the schools know that in order for the new enrollment plan to work, in order to resusitate some schools with an influx of neighborhood kids (as well as take the pressure off oversubscribed schools) there needs to be a fundamental change for the high schools. Meaning, they must meet a baseline to assure parents that every kid DOES have the opportunity to be college-ready.

I know there are many classes out there that are just as rigorous as any AP/Honors class and that AP can be a mile wide and an inch deep (something that the College Board which runs AP is working on) but as has been pointed out, college admissions officers look for rigor on transcripts and that is likely in the form of AP and Honors. Unless you are Lakeside or Bush, they are unlikely to think that a regular ed class is as rigorous.

Jet City mom said...

Id like to see our district give more incentives for master teacher training- I am sure the state does- but as more challenging populations are even more in need of skilled instruction- I think we really could see some nice results-

If the union has to have collective bargaining and can't deal with incentive pay- we still could give incentives to master teachers- because it would be on top of the contract- or I guess part of the contract and it would apply to anyone who completed the board certification

Id also like to see some incentives for those teachers to be distributed through the district.


Re rigor & higher ed.
even though I don't have a high school diploma- my oldest graduated last year from one of the most rigorous colleges in the country.
I learned a lot about prep for college during that time.

Not competitive as Ivies for admissions, although admission has gotten more competitive- they admitted 33.1% for this coming fall
She had no APs- her high school didn't offer them. Her SATs were average as were her grades. Good, but not Nat'l Merit.

Universities want to see you taking the most rigorous schedule available.

If you attend Hale, and have zero AP classes- you really can't be expected to have taken the tests.

If you attend Garfield and only take honors, with students that might be taking 4 APs, you aren't taking the "most rigourous schedule".

Which is why you can have students from schools that have less rigor in their classes ( I am not going to name names) being accepted into pretty good universities, because at their school, they might be in the top 10%- even though realistically, they haven't been prepared necessarily for college work, and eventually drop out.

However- there are kids from Hale , Middle College & Franklin, who take classes through Running Start and end up at U Chicago or Oberlin with junior status- so it isn't undoable to get rigor without APs

Which is why I opted to have my younger child attend a school with a lot of APs.

Even though at most she is taking one or two AP classes, and even though since her classes are unweighted her percentile ranking hovers around 47%, I feel better about her preparation for college, than if she attended a school where she would have been in the top 10%.

So while I don't like the College Board dominance- I do acknowledge that it attracts a certain "cohort" that makes the classroom environment stronger.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, I see a little better now.

The flaws in the plan to split middle school APP were a bit more and a bit more complex than just the community's doubt about the District's ability (and willingness) to create a strong program at Hamilton, but I get that.

At some point however, you have to be able to say what they could do to convince you. What evidence would you require before you will acknowledge their commitment? And then, when they meet that requirement, when they provide that evidence, you have to acknowledge it and agree. Where is the finish line?

If the District spent this year determining the baseline catalog of courses that every high school must offer, and they were all available in all schools in 2008, would that be enough? Or would you be tempted to say "Yes, you offered Calculus AB (or Statistics, or AP Chemistry, or whatever) at Rainier Beach, but no one took it, so it doesn't count." or "Yes, you offered it, but the class wasn't very good, so it doesn't count."

I'll tell you something more. If I were the Superintendent and I made this deal with you, I wouldn't seek just your acceptance. If I were Superintendent, and you made me delay the implementation of a new assignment plan for high schools until I had done what I promised to do, but you doubted I really would do, not only would I expect you to not oppose the change, I would expect you to help promote it.

Could you? Would you?

And how would you trust that the classes would not go away the next year? In the end, you're going to have to trust them.

Either way, I think we could, in the first stage, introduce set aside seats for specialized programs and a different set of tie-breakers for those programs. Distance should not be one of those tie-breakers, and certainly not one of the first two.

Anonymous said...

I don't want there to be a delay.

I just want there to be tie-breakers in the new plan that allow for equity of access to North end schools until quality programs take root is South Seattle.

I would be happy if the Board put such a plan in place that expressly anticipated being revisited in 5 years to make sure that the boundaries are in fact the right size, and to alter the tie-breakers if the South end schools have risen to being at least in the same ball park as the North end schools.

Or, if five years go by and the programs have not turned around despite the additional funding (and in Cleveland's case, a new building), I would want the District to consider merging RB and Cleveland students into a new, reconstitued program at the new Cleveland building. That way there is the approriate pressure on the school's leadership and staff to take an active role in turning things around.

Roy Smith said...

I'd like to hear some more concrete statements about what this proposed "baseline catalog" would contain. I suspect that like every thing else that happens in SPS, the devil will be in the details.

If there aren't enough requirements imposed by the baseline catalog, then there will be some who complain that the schools that minimally meet the baseline catalog are not truly adequate. If there are too many requirements, then it may adversely impact the ability of individual schools to form their own approach (i.e., West Seattle's 4 period day, or Nathan Hale's academies, or maybe even IB), and create pressure for every school to become like one preferred model (Roosevelt, for instance).

Ideally, we could have a baseline catalog that would strike a balance between these two impulses, but I won't believe that until I see it. For instance, some will argue that the high schools are not all of sufficient quality until all have comprehensive music and performing arts programs; others will argue that imposing this requirement on schools that don't currently have them will compel them to divert resources from other areas which may be seen as equal to or more important by that school.

So what should the baseline catalog contain? A certain minimum number of AP classes? A certain number of foreign languages? Instrumental music? Other performing arts? Honors classes in certain specified subjects? Vocational/technical type programs? Other things I haven't thought of for this list?

Within every one of these areas, there is room for nuance as well; for instance, if the baseline catalog requires that 3 foreign languages be offered, does that mean that one first year class in each language is sufficient, or does it mean that 4 years of at least one language be available? Or something in between?

As I understand it, some things that don't fall in this baseline catalog (IB, the Biotech program at Ballard, and some things like that) will be accounted for instead by the use of set-aside seats and alternate selection criteria. Where does the line get drawn for what qualifies for set-asides? Roosevelt and Hale both have Jazz band, but Roosevelt's is perceived (by other posters on this blog - I have no firsthand knowledge) as "competitive" but Hale's is seen as "laid-back, recreational". Does this difference warrant a set-aside for Jazz band at Roosevelt? Or should the baseline catalog mandate a "competitive" music program at every high school? How about the more obscure programs, such as the radio station at Hale, or the video production program at Ballard?

A lot of these questions are somewhat rhetorical (and some, I hope, are clearly ridiculous), and may be testing the logical limits of this concept, rather than things that anybody is actually advocating for. My point, however, is that even agreeing on what the baseline catalog should contain may be a very contentious process. All one needs to do to reach this conclusion is to read the arguments that have been seen on this blog with regards to whether Hale's program is academically rigorous, or if West Seattle should keep the 4 period day, or the people that feel that a high school has to provide the number, quality, and depth of hard-core academic offerings as Roosevelt does in order to adequately prepare students for college.

So, I end with the question: what should be in the baseline catalog?

Anonymous said...

Re: baseline curriculum. try Bellevue School District: www.bsd405.org. Click on the quick link to curriculum. They seem to have figured it out.

Anonymous said...

Yes, with the fabulous recounting that:

We believe a well-aligned K-12 curriculum coupled with excellent instruction and appropriate student support is the key to achieving this goal. For our students, "advanced placement" rigor begins in kindergarten with an engaging but challenging curriculum. This rigor continues through the grades with the "capstone" courses being Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes. In the Class of 2004, more than 81% of our students took one or more AP or IB course while in high school. This is in a district where nearly a quarter of our students come from homes where 65 languages other than English are the "first language" spoken in the home and 16-17% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Compare that to SPS's demographics and the tax base Bellevue has. Seattle is not Bellevue. But, I do like that they have one District-wide course catalog rather than letting each school create thier own.

Of course, this approach requires building by in that the days of each high school being its own fifedom are past.

Can SPS get there with its current teaching and adminstrative staff? Or will Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, in an effort to align cirriculm have to do some much needed house cleaning?

I hope she does, and if she does, that people will support the end goal rather than defend nice, but inept principals.

Anonymous said...

Providing a "baseline catalog" at all high schools could be quite expensive because it would mean that many classes are underenrolled. Where would the extra funding come from? The middles or elems?

Better approach, implemented first in Franklin-Pierce School District and now replicated with state funds elsewhere in the state, gives middle schoolers and high schoolers college/career education (with depth and integrity, over time, not one-shot) so that they pick the classes they will need to accomplish their goals. THEN the master schedule is developed to create a catalog of classes that meets the demand. Usually, high schools go the other way: they set the catalog, kids sign up for classes. If an honors/AP/college-track class is over-subscribed, tough luck.

In Franklin-Pierce, the new method resulted in much higher enrollment in high-level math and other key classes, and wood shop and a few other nonessential electives were eliminated due to lack of student demand.

In a district with 15 high schools (10 comprehensives plus alternatives, in contrast to Franklin-Pierce's 2), the logical extension of this is that the kids' future planning work begins before high school enrollment, and there is meaningful choice/access to different programs.

Novel notion, eh? Enable students to make good choices for themselves, then deliver what they demand. Good policy for kids, more economical than making cookie-cutter high schools. Sure, it's complicated for the adults to respond to student requests in such a system, and some teachers of electives may lose their jobs, but we're going for quality, college access, student engagement, etc, right??

I favor delay because I think we should take time to do this right. In the meantime, maybe there's an interim solution for the understandably aggrieved families in Laurelhurst, QA, and Magnolia. Because near as I can tell, they're the only ones who come out significantly ahead as a result of the current HS student assignment proposal, although there are benefits of simplification for all families. For all of the angst that these changes will cause, wouldn't we like to be able to point to more beneficiaries???

Jet City mom said...

but we're going for quality, college access, student engagement, etc, right??

Where would you get that idea?

I thought we were in the business of employing adults.

Charlie Mas said...

While the Franklin-Pierce model sounds good, it would work counter to the effort we're trying to make here.

The point is that the school has to make the class available even if the demand for it is low. Otherwise we are back to the chicken-and-egg problem that we have now. Cleveland doesn't offer AP classes, so students who want AP classes don't enroll at Cleveland, so Cleveland doesn't have students who want AP classes, so Cleveland doesn't offer AP classes, and the cycle repeats.

For the cycle to break, either Cleveland has to offer AP classes in spite of the lack of demand or students who want AP classes will have to enroll at Cleveland despite the lack of AP classes there. I think the District should make the first move.

Although we've spoken mostly about advanced classes, the catalog of required courses would also have to include remedial classes, such of which are not available at every school. Likewise, there are undoubtedly some CTE courses that every school should offer. It's not all about college prep.

Will it cost money? You bet!

Do we only support equity when it is free? Do we only support it when it is easy? Is that really supporting it or making it a priority?

The next time anyone from the District tells you that they support whatever program, idea, or group of students which is the focus of your advocacy, ask them how they support it. Often, the extent of their support is limited to their statements of support. They will support it right up to the point that it costs them anything.

Roy Smith said...

charlie writes ... Will it cost money? You bet!

Do we only support equity when it is free?


The problem we face is that SPS doesn't have any significant influence over its own funding - the legislature holds the purse strings.

Discussions inside SPS have to focus on "free" solutions to equity and access problems, because those are the only solutions that SPS can afford to pay for without robbing Peter to pay Paul. I am not at all convinced, as some seem to be, that there are significant areas of waste that can be cut back in order to provide funding for newer and better things.

If eventually the conclusion that is reached is that equity and access problems will require significant additional funding to solve, then that is mostly outside the power of SPS to solve - the discussion will need to be with the state legislature.

Roy Smith said...

anonymous 9:09 said ...
Re: baseline curriculum. try Bellevue School District: www.bsd405.org. Click on the quick link to curriculum. They seem to have figured it out.

The Bellevue document is a consolidated catalog for all the Bellevue high schools. It does not specify baseline curriculum, and reading the catalog, it rapidly becomes clear that not all the same offerings are available everywhere.

Quoting from the Bellevue High School Catalog (page 5): "Advanced Placement courses are offered in all our high schools. While the availability of classes differ among the schools, in Bellevue School District we offer a total of 28 different AP courses ..." The exact same statement can apparently be made with regard to Seattle Public Schools. According to Seattle's Middle/High School Enrollment Guide, on page 30, all 10 of Seattle's comprehensive high schools offer AP classes. Assuming the enrollment guide is correct, we have AP everywhere - its just that availability may vary.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I am just pointing out that Bellevue's High School catalog is not a specification for a baseline curriculum, it is merely a consolidated catalog that covers every high school in the district. If we wanted to, SPS could produce an equivalent document in a week.

So again, what should be included as part of the baseline catalog? I keep asking this question because I don't have a feeling that there is any consensus about what constitutes "adequate offerings and curriculum" for a comprehensive high school.

Anonymous said...

I'll take a stab at that. Disclaimers: I went to private school in another state and my kid is in preschool. My requirements may be a bit out of whack...

1) Basics
4 years of English Composition, including an assortment of literature classes, 4 years of Math, as much science as is required for admission to competitive universities. (2 years?), American History, World History, Western Civ, Washington State History, a non-western history class of some sort (didn't have when I was a kid, but a good idea), computer literacy, foreign language through the 6th year (since some kids will have taken it in elementary and middle school).

2) Remedial classes to help any student not capable of completing the above. These should have the goal of moving students into the mainstream as quickly as possible.

3) Advanced learning, including AP or IB classes, and a full year of Calculus. Might also include similarly rigorous general ed classes, but students would need the opportunity to take AP tests for college admissions. Councilors should also be required to tell kids about running start.

4) Academic Electives, such as economics, additional history or math classes, creative writing, computer science, etc. Charlie had a good list in his middle school post.

5) Arts electives, such as visual arts, drama, and music. If there are appropriate rooms, this would include woodshop, ceramics, metal shop etc.

6) A reasonable assortment of PE classes, including some that are non-competitive and would be interesting to kids who don't like sports (yoga, dance, personal training, that sort of thing)

7) Extracurricular activities such as after school sports (including both competitive teams and recreational teams), a school play, and band. There could be additional ones at some schools, but all schools should offer these.

8) Life skills, such as cooking, basic auto mechanics, basic home repair, personal finance, sex ed (the kind that talks about birth control), and driver's ed. I actually think that some of these should be required for graduation, perhaps as mini-courses.

I don't think every school should offer vocational programs, but there should be some vocational magnets for kids who want to learn marketable skills in HS, rather than waiting for college. Councilors should also be required to tell kids about tech prep.

Anonymous said...

Good Start. I'd add a required civics class.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Wendy. I forgot that one.

Jet City mom said...

This is from a NEA study, published Nov 2006.

Just some things I thought were interesting-I pulled out just the stats for WA

2005 Washington resident population ( thousands)
rank 15th-6,131

2002 Washington resident population ( thousands)
rank 15th 6,067

Number of Operating school districts 2004-2005
rank 20th 296

Public school Enrollment Fall 2004
rank 13th 1,021,502

Average Daily attendance in Public school ( 2004-05)
rank 13th 953,486

Average Daily Attendance as Percentage of fall enrollment
rank 24th 93.3

Number of Public High school graduates 2004-05
rank 17th 58,409

Percentage change in number of high school graduates 1994-05 to 2004-05
rank 27th 16.9 ( median is 22.8)

Total instructional staff in Public K-12 schools 2004-05
rank 19th 60,103

Total instructional staff ( FTE) in public institutions of higher education 2003
rank 16th 14,302

Number of teachers in Public K-12 schools, 2004-05
rank 19th 53,260

Students enrolled per teacher in Public K-12 schools, Fall 2004
rank 6th 19.2
( Median is 15.8)

Students in ADA per teacher in Public K-12 schools, 2004-05
rank 5th 17.9
( median 14.8)

Percentage of Public school teachers who are Men, 2004-05
rank 5th 29.7
(median is 24.5)
I thought this was really interesting- I didn't realize the percentage was so high, I think that is great.

Average Salaries of Public school teachers, 2003-04 ($)
rank 19th 45,434
( median is 46,704)

Average Salaries of Public school teachers as % of National Average 2003-04
rank 19th 97.3

Average Salaries of Public school teachers 2004-05($)
rank 20th 45,718
(median is 47,674)

Percentage change in Average Salaries of Public school teachers 1994-95 to 2004-05 ( current $)
rank 33rd 26.5
(median is 30.0)

Average Salaries of Instructional Staff in Public schools, 2003-04 ( revised- $)
rank 18th 47,786
(median is 48,398)

Total Personal Income 2003 ($ millions)
rank 15th 201,342

Per capital Personal income 2003 ($)
rank 15th 32,838
(median 31,487)

Per capita General Revenue of State and Local govts, 2002-03 ($)
rank 14th 4,959
(median is 4,725)

General Revenue, State and local gvts, From Own Sources, 2002-03,Per $1,000 Personal Income,2003 ($)
rank 28th 151
(median 150)

Per Capita Tax Revenue of State and local govts, 2002-03 ($)
rank 17th 3,302
(Median 3,229)

Public School Revenue per student in fall enrollment, 2003-04 ( revised) ($)
33rd 8,574
(median 9,487)

Public school Revenue per student in average daily attendance, 2003-04 ($)
rank 34th 9,216
(median 10,106)

Percentage of Revenue for Public K-12 schools from Local Governments, 2004-05
rank 42 28.5
(median is 43.4)

Percentage of Revenue for Public K-12 schools from State Governments, 2004-05 (revised)
rank 9th 61.9
(median is 47.6)

Percentage of Revenue for Public K-12 schools from Federal Government, 2004-05
rank 26th 9.6
(median is 9.0)


Local Public school Revenue as a percentage of combined state and local school revenue,2004-05
rank 41st 31.5
(median 47.7)

Per Capita State Govt expenditures for all Education, 2002-03 ($)
rank 10th 1,745
(median 1,416)

State Gvt Expenditures for all Education in 2002-03 per $1,000 of personal income in 2003 ($)
rank 17th 25
(median 19)

Per Capital Expenditures of State and local governments for all education, 2002-03 ($)
rank 20th 2,193
(median 2,137)

Per Capita Expenditures of State and Local Govt for Public K-12 schools, 2002-03 ($)
rank 26th 1,393
(median 1,474)

Current Expenditures for Public K-12 schools per student in Fall enrollment, 2--3-04 ( revised) ($)
rank 31st 7,353
(median 8,340)

In the West except for California, Wa spends by far the most for "other programs"(99,191 in Public schools and Capital Outlay(2,665,839)- not to mention interest on school debt(341,956)

I am not a statistician, but it seems that while we do have good support from State Legislature , the contributions from local funding are lower than average.

To add insult to injury, the school funds we seem to spending outside the classroom- on "other programs", debt and capital outlay is higher than other Far Western states except for California.

Id like to see more local support and more transparency about why the money collected isnt reducing class size- but is apparently going for "other programs"?

Roy Smith said...

98112, that's a pretty healthy list of baseline requirements.

I'll go ahead and press you on details:

1) How many AP classes should be available, and in what subjects? There are at least a couple dozen to pick from. If a high school has AP classes in English, Calculus, and U.S. History, and nothing else, is that a sufficient number of offerings?

2) Similarly, how many foreign languages should be available? Two? Five? Somewhere in between? Should the full 6 year range that you advocate be available in every language that is offered?

3) Since most of your reguirements are qualitative type statements, I suspect that most of the Seattle high schools come pretty close, at least in a general way, to meeting the list of criteria you have proposed. Do you agree with this statement, or would you like to mandate more specific minimums in terms of numbers and types of courses offered?

4) After briefly reading through the Ingraham High School Course Catalog 2007-2008, I would say that Ingraham comes very close to fulfilling all the requirements that you have laid out. How do you respond to statements found elsewhere in this blog that parents in Queen Anne and Magnolia are feeling "forced" into sending their kids to Ingraham (with the clear implication being that they feel that Ingraham is somehow inferior to other choices)?

5) Similarly, how do you respond to the parents who compare the music programs at Roosevelt and Hale and conclude that Roosevelt's is "competitive" and Hale's is "recreational"? (Again, the clear implication is that they feel that Hale's programs are therefore inferior).

6) If resources are found to bring Rainier Beach and Cleveland up to this standard of course and program offerings, do you think parents and students in south Seattle will decide that these high schools are now adequate?

Anonymous said...

Roy, Though Ingraham may offer many of the same classes as Ballard, and is a comprehensive High school, the programs are nowhere near equal. The Ingraham students perform much much lower than to the Ballard students (with the exception of the very limited IB seats). Ingraham's WASL and SAT scores are far below ballard's. Why would any parent want to send their kid to a low performing school? And, why in the heck would someone in QA want to ship their kid all the way to North Seattle (borderline of shoreline), passing the higher performing Ballard HS along the way?? Surely that even seems absurd to you.

98112, I like you list. Don't pay attention to Roy and his provocation. Your list is a good start, and a spring board of ideas. As for how many languages etc., those are details that will work themselves out and are far less important than the fact that parents will know for sure that their child will get 6 years of forein language.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, I looked into the Ingraham IB program, and it seems like you have to apply for it directly with the school, get 3 letters of recommendations from teachers, fill out an extensive application, write a letter explaining why s/he wants to be in the IB program, and meet a multitude of criteria.

1- Student has all A and B's
2- Excellent attendance
3- At or above grade reading.
4- teacher recommendation letter rates students on performance, attendance, attitude, leadership skills, self discpline, time management skills, study habits, and potential for succeeding in the IB program

Almost seems like an application for Lakeside. Will this work at Sealth? Are there enough kids that will meet the criteria, to make the program succesful? I would have a hard time recommending my son after reading all of the requirements, and he is an A+ honors student. Have a look at it it's on the Ingraham website (look under applications)

Anonymous said...

Sealth and Ingraham have different takes on this. Sealth students who are able to meet the rigor of the program will be able to earn a full IB Diploma, but any Junior or Senior who is reading and writting at grade level can elect to take IB courses. Sealth's goal is to have 70% of its jrs and seniors at least take some IB courses.

Roy Smith said...

frankie said ...
Roy, Though Ingraham may offer many of the same classes as Ballard, and is a comprehensive High school, the programs are nowhere near equal.

This statement demonstrates exactly why instituting a baseline catalog will do little or nothing to fix the perceptions of disparities between high schools. Although, at least on paper, Ingraham and Ballard are two very comparable programs, the perceptions of them are radically different. We could mandate that every school in the district offer every course offering, elective, and extra-curricular activity as Roosevelt does, and the reputation of the high schools would still be radically different.

I think 98112 has a pretty good (if ambitious) list of things that should be available at a comprehensive high school. My quibble is that this may not be the real issue.

And, why in the heck would someone in QA want to ship their kid all the way to North Seattle (borderline of shoreline), passing the higher performing Ballard HS along the way?? Surely that even seems absurd to you.

Digressing slightly, I live half a mile from Ingraham. Guess what my reference area middle schools are? Whitman and McClure. Isn't it rather absurd for a family in my neighborhood to send a middle schooler to Queen Anne, going a much longer distance than it would be to go to highly regarded Eckstein?

Anonymous said...

Yes Roy it is just as absurd for your school to be Mcclure as it is for a QA family to be assigned to Ingraham. One doesn't cancel the other. They are both outrageous.

I don't think factual information such as WASL and SAT scores should be interchangeable with "peoples perceptions of the school". Test scores are fact. The school performs much more poorly than does Ballard. People's perceptions are based on factual information.

Charlie Mas said...

frankie wrote:

"Ingraham's WASL and SAT scores are far below ballard's. Why would any parent want to send their kid to a low performing school?"

A few years ago a friend of mine asked me about how to go about selecting a school for his son.

I talked about a lot of different things, volunteers in the building, the culture of the school, student work on the walls, discipline style, and the presence of an appropriate program for his child.

I did not talk about WASL scores - or any standardized test scores.

Look around at what the experts say about choosing a school. They won't talk about test scores.

When you read the list of earmarks of a great school, you will see that test scores on not on the list.

If you are allowing test scores to drive a school choice decision, you are screwing up. If you think test scores are synonymous with school quality, you are screwing up.

Here's a better list of criteria, selected almost at random from the various guides on school choice:

"#1: Clear Mission Guiding School Activities
#2: High Expectations for All Students means all students are expected & helped to meet high minimum goals; goals are raised for individual students as soon as they are ready to learn beyond grade level
#3: Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Teaching means the school assesses individual student progress often (weekly is ideal) and changes teaching approaches to ensure that every child locks onto learning
#4: Focus on Effective Learning Tasks
#5: Home-School Connection
#6: Safe and Orderly Environment
#7: Strong Instructional Leadership
"

No scores mentioned there.

Please do not substitute test scores for school quality.

Roy Smith said...

Test scores are fact. The school performs much more poorly than does Ballard.

Now that Charlie got ahold of this one I may be beating a dead horse, but there is only one thing that the test scores of Ingraham and Ballard tells me: it is that the student body at Ingraham performs much more poorly on standardized tests than the student body at Ballard. The tell me absolutely nothing about why this is. It is entirely possible that this has little or nothing to do with the relative quality of instruction at the two schools.

Charlie, now that you have so eloquently addressed why looking at test scores first (or even at all) when choosing a school is a big mistake, do you have any ideas on how to address the fact that perceptions and the decision making process of many parents are driven in exactly this way? It may be stupid, but people do it anyway, and I think it has public policy implications that it would be foolish to ignore.

Melissa Westbrook said...

According to the principal and a friend whose son in in the IB program at Ingraham, the application is pretty much a formality. They aren't oversubscribed. I'd even bet if you had B's and C's but were committed to the program, you'd get in on after an interview. The IB program probably requires an admission process but as I said, it isn't overenrolled at Ingraham.

Anonymous said...

No matter the base line offerings, until Ingraham performs as well as Ballard, it won't be as attractive.
And why should it be? Who would want a lower performing school? Sounds like it's pretty tight getting into the Ingraham IB program, so what's left for a bright kid in an under performing school? I think you are right on this point Roy. Where Ingraham has high performing neighbor shcools (Hale, Roosevelt and Ballard), the South end does not. In that case perhaps base line course offerings will be enough to start attracting families.

Roy Smith said...

I wouldn't be surprised if IB becomes more popular as people become more familiar with it. Since IB is fairly new, it currently has a big disadvantage in name recognition compared to AP.

I wonder how the two compare in the minds of the all-important college admissions offices?

Anonymous said...

Charlie, it continually amazes me that you disregard test scores, and say not to use it as part of your criteria when searching for a school. YOUR children are in APP. Their school gets the highest test scores in the city. Why not pull them out and put them in one of those low performing schools that have "high expectations for every kid". Don't be a hypocrit, please.

Roy Smith said...

frankie said ... No matter the base line offerings, until Ingraham performs as well as Ballard, it won't be as attractive.

Do you have any evidence aside from reputation and test scores that says that Ingraham doesn't perform as well as Ballard?

Anonymous said...

And then we get advice on discounting test scores from Roy Smith, whose children go (or went) to AS1. The anti-wasl school with a 7% math pass rate, and a multitude of families that refuse to have their kids tested (what are they afraid of finding out?)

Roy and Charlie are both extremist (on opposite ends of the fence).

Main stream families do consider a schools academic performance and test scores. Maybe not as their 1st criteria, but they are definately on their list. Look at the huge waitlist for schools with high test scores. Frankie is definately not alone in her opinion of Ingraham.

Don't you wonder why the test scores are so much lower at Ingraham? Why are their kids not able to get high SAT scores like Ballard? They won't have the same advantage in choosing a college. The two schools share relatively the same populations, so why the disparity? Even you and Charlie must wonder.

Anonymous said...

Test scores are evidence. How else do you measure a schools academic performance?

Roy Smith said...

Test scores are evidence. How else do you measure a schools academic performance?

Test scores measure the academic performance of the student body at a school; they do not measure the quality of instruction.

Why are their kids not able to get high SAT scores like Ballard? They won't have the same advantage in choosing a college.

Actually, the colleges look at the SAT score the individual gets, not the average score of the school. I have absolutely no doubt that my child will be able to do well on the SAT, so therefore I don't worry.

The two schools share relatively the same populations, so why the disparity? Even you and Charlie must wonder.

No, they don't share the same population; students from the south end who attend a north end high school overwhelmingly are at Ingraham.

As for my attitude about standardized tests: I blew away every standardized test I ever took. I am quite positive that my child could test into Spectrum, and she probably would have a pretty good chance at getting into APP. I haven't pursued those options, because Charlie and I have a philosophical difference about whether it is advantageous for the individual student to concentrate all the high performers into a separate program. I personally think the advantages do not outweigh the disadvantages, and I am fairly certain Charlie would disagree with me on that. Be that as it may - we are both happy with what we are getting, so there really is no need to argue about it.

The reason I don't evaluate a school based on standardized test results is that I know firsthand that they have little or nothing to do with the quality of instruction. Sometimes, they do demonstrate an emphasis that a school has on "teaching to the test", which most people would agree is detrimental to getting an actual education (vs. becoming a WASL-taking specialist). As a result, I don't really give a hoot about what a school's test scores are.

Anonymous said...

You are in the wee minority Roy

Jet City mom said...

I don't think test scores are the be end all.
However- they are a tool and provide useful information
My older daughter would have attended Summit- if there had been an opening.
Instead she went to UCDS, yes they have an admission test- but we already had that info from CHDD.
She has never attended public school- the closest she has come, is working at TAF and BFDay.
My younger daughter did attend Summit.
While I didn't like the WASL being used to penalize kids- I thought since we were paying for it, we might as well utilize the info it could give us.
But while I was on a committee funded by the Gates grant- there was a bit of resistance by some, to pull out what classrooms were having greater success with kids.
It could have been useful, and allowed us to align curriculum and teaching methods- but some ( one or two) of the teachers ( who are no longer there), said they would feel "bad" if their classrooms had to change.
BOO HOO.
Who needs to know if kids are actually able to make progress when we have teachers who need to feel good about themselves? {tic}

Grades and scores- are just a couple pieces of information that schools use to determine admittance.
Even the UW, which used to use an admission index, now consideres applications individually.
Schools want test scores- but many schools don't require them- and some may not even accept them.
If you have high grades- but low SATs- you may have difficulty taking tests, or your school may have grade inflation.
If you have high SAT scores, but low grades, you are a slacker and won't do well in college.
{tic}
If you have average grades and scores, but fantastic essays, recommendations and have a hook, like first gen college, minority- low income- or you are Al Gores daughter, you can be accepted at schools that otherwise may have been a reach.

The most important thing is rigor- that can be determined by grades, but they have to be backed up by scores as well as comparisons with other students.

Roy Smith said...

You are in the wee minority Roy

Believe me, it isn't the first time.

Anonymous said...

Roy,
My kid is 3 and I didn't go to school here. The only local HS I know anything about is Garfield, where my husband went in the 80's and the kids on my block go now. I'd say it meets the academic requirements, but don't know about the electives, PE, life skills, etc. I also don't know how well it does in moving kids in remedial classes into the mainstream.

Language: At least one language through 6th year. Since we're expecting that there would be an elementary-middle-high school feeder pattern, we should know what language kids had earlier and offer higher levels of that language. It would be good to have 2-4 years of additional languages.

AP: Those classes sound like a good start. I don't know how many is enough. How many do most kids take? Even at Roosevelt, I doubt many kids take every AP class they offer.

Competetive vs. recreational band: I don't think every school can be expected to have a nationally recognized band, or drama dept, or football team. I would support set-aside seats for the exceptional programs, by audition, lottery or some combination. I wouldn't want to see us loose these exceptional programs. They are valuable to the students with talent and passion for those fields. I also think that every school should have a variety of recreational activities, so kids can experiment and find their passion. That would include a couple of Varsity teams, even if they're not very good, and enough recreational sports teams that every kid who wants to can join one. For some kids, these may be the only reason they show up. Again, this is about letting kids find their passion, become well-rounded, or even just have something to do to stay out of trouble till their parents get home from work.

South Seattle HS: I think that if the South Seattle schools were comperable to Ingraham or Hale that more parents would choose them. Garfield is already comparable to Roosevelt. As a parent in the CD, I'm watching IB at Sealth, and might choose it over Garfield 11 years from now. If Garfield is comparable to Roosevelt, Sealth is comparable to Ingraham and Cleaveland is comparable to Hale, then I think that could be called an equitable situation. I don't expect that every school will be the same, or that all schools will be of equal quality.

I don't have all the answers. I'm trying to describe what I would consider to be a well-rounded education.

Anonymous said...

"My point is, from our discussions, it sounds like we feel the District has a lot to do to get some high schools up to a baseline (and beyond) and that parents would be opposed to ending our current high school enrollment plan because of that. Is that the general concensus or did I read this wrong?"

Many posts and two days ago, Melissa nailed it with this summation. If the district ends choice, what is it really offering? They say it is predictability. OK then predictability of curriculum, course offerings,and outcomes should follow. What is wrong with having the highest expectations of all of our students. Bellevue schools requires all high school students to take at least one
AP or IB class. I see nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

For what seems like the tenth time, the District is NOT ending choice.

All that is different under the new plan is that you would know for sure what your default school would be rather than guessing based on the distance bubble in prior years. There is talk of using different tie-breakers rather than accounting for distance twice, and this should lead to more choice for most families.

Is choice meaningful now? For most families, the answer is a resounding NO. You are no worse off under the proposed plan, and you may be better off if distance is not counted twice.

There is no discussion of a mandatory assignment as part of the new plan. You will have a default school, and if you are happy with that, all you have to do is make it your first choice and you are in. If you are not happy with that, you can try to enroll at any school via seat aside seats for choice. If you don't get a school you want via choice, then you could still enroll and whatever schools have room, you are not tied to your default assignment.

As it is now, you put down your choices, and hope for the best, knowing that the odds of you getting into Ballard, Roosevelt, Garfield, and most likely Hale are non-exist based upon where you live. If you don't get into any of those schools, you can still get into any other school with room.

Tell me, how is the new plan less choice?

Anonymous said...

The new plan could create fewer good options for high schools in the south - and this has been mentioned multiple times also. I don't think that parents are focusing on a perception of less choice with the new proposed plan, but instead that the choices parents are left with in the south end are not great. There has been a whole series of blog entries about how in general the high schools north are of general better quality than they are south.

"If you don't get into any of those schools, you can still get into any other school with room."

So Cara, if you live in S Seattle, why should that notion be appealing?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I'm a few hours behind.

The number one determinant of test scores is mother's level of education. Chances are if you are reading this blog, your kids would test equally well at Ballard or Ingraham.

When we talk about test scores, what we are really thinking about is peer group. We want our kids to have friends who care about education.

My kids go to TOPS. They do just fine on tests. A certain percentage of the kids they are in school with do not do well. That doesn't mean that my kids would do better at Bryant or Laurelhurst.

Know your kid. If they are overly influenced by their peers then be more concerned about their high school. If they are young, then work on creating a child who is not overly influenced by their peer group.

Note that I am only talking about test scores --I am not talking about access to special programs. I want my kids to have access to high level math and science, but I am not hung up on test scores that reflect a population that my kids might not even interact with.

Just because data (test scores) is available doesn't mean that it is relevant.

Maureen

Anonymous said...

I do live in South Seattle. It is my hope that the Board uses different tie-breakers that make choice meaningful, because right now I have no opportunity to have a child attend any North end school save Ingraham because I live too far away. Right now I know for a fact that I have no shot under the current system at any North end school except Ingraham. Is that real choice?


No one is taking choice away from South end families. If the Board uses a tie-breaker such as socio-economic or reverse distance for the seat aside choice seats, that improves the odds that my family -and all South Seattle families - have of getting into a quality North end school.

I also hope that Sealth will grow into a viable choice for those of us with high achieving students who are not interested/elligable for APP. In my happiest outcome, RB and Cleveland benifit from the SE Intiative and also become meaningful choices.

But, until or unless that day comes, I see this as a chance to improve my odds of getting into a better North end school, so long as nearer you live distance is not used as a tie-breaker. Was I better off with the intergration postive tie-breaker, you bet. But in absence of that, this is the only opportunity I see on the horizon to have an actual shot at getting a seat via the choice process.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:38, if you live in the South End, I would love to hear why it is that you belive that you have access via choice now to any North end school other than Ingraham, and how you think that this lone choice is going to decrease under the proposed plan.

Anonymous said...

Cara, do you realize how oversubscribed NE High schools are? By you getting in, neighborhood families are turned away. Is that fair? We live here. Why should we give up our neighborhood school so that students from all over the city have access to it. We live 2 miles from Roosevelt and two families on our block were turned away. Should your child get in over ours?

We decided to opt out of Seattle schools this year. It's been frustrating and confusing, and though we live 2 miles away from Eckstein, our kid didn't get in. We chose a Shoreline middle school. They didn't bump their kids out for mine. They very clearly told us after all of their enrollment was complete then they would take our kid. And that's how it should be. The Shoreline kids get in first and then the Seattle kid gets in. It's the same premise within Seattle. Neighborhood kids SHOULD have access to their neighborhood school first. Extra seats, if any, go to the greater community.

Anonymous said...

You live 2 miles away BUT people got turned away now where the only thing that matters is distance. So, this means that Roosevelt is NOT your neighborood school now. So, how are you worse off under the new system when you would not get in under the current system in which you don't get in because you live too far away?

FYI- what you are doing is an "inter-district transfer," Seattle does it too. And trust me, for as many of you who go North to Shoreline, there are just as many going South to Federal Way, Highline, and Renton.

You and I are in the same boat with respect to Roosvelt now, both of us live to far away. But, your worst case sceniro is a high school near where you live with an IB program and honors classes. Mine is Rainer Beach, which has no honors classes, and barely fills a schedule (not to mention can be dangerous, see prior posts regarding unreported student rape).

How is that fair?

Anonymous said...

And, BTW- I know that only Ballard and Roosevelt are actually oversubscribed, Hale is under enrolled by choice, and Ingraham has plenty of room.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10:32,

"Why should we give up our neighborhood school so that students from all over the city have access to it."

If someone gets in before your kid, it is because they are a sibling or they live closer.

Are you advocating eliminating sibling preference?

Maureen

Anonymous said...

To Cara, in response to why living in the south end limits high school choice:

I feel frustrated about the new plan because a main focus is supposed to be providing more options closer to where one lives.

I have not thought that much about sending my kid to a north end high school. But mostly it is so disturbing to me to focus on finding more choice north when south high schools need help. And hence all the previous discussion about school cataloqs and what it will take for parents to trust the distric to make improvements.

I just cannot support a plan that does not improve schools where I live. I don't think there is enough info about the SE initiative to really know if it will help or not.

It is a matter of social justice for me - I can't just look to schools north for a solution.

Anonymous said...

The Bellevue comparisons do not take into account the warehousing of kids at Robinswood that does NOT offer AP or any advanced learning and would not be put up w/ here in Seattle - not for a second.

Bellevue is a seriously bad analogy if you factor in the Robinswood warehousing that keeps the scores up in the other schools - and on the top whatever national lists for public schools.

Robinswood is supposedly alternative but wouldn't meet 2 of the several criteria of SPS Alternative Criteria or those of other respected Alternative Ed thinkers/groups. Is insulting to be labeled as such.

PLS let's bury the Bellevue analogies once and for all. The parents of kids that have been shuffled off to Robinswood and paid for the high test scores of other peoples children think we are nuts.

Anonymous said...

"I just cannot support a plan that does not improve schools where I live. I don't think there is enough info about the SE initiative to really know if it will help or not."

Okay, beyond the commitment of additional reasources to schools , and an alignment of curriculm, what do you propose the District should do to improve the schools were we live?

Anonymous said...

Very few comments from West Seattle. I have a 5th grader and am starting to get ramped up for HS choices in W.Seattle and paying a lot more attention to this HS thread. Doesn't seem possible that she's going into 5th grade now -

I do understand the new IB is in the works at Sealth but when does it start? W. Seattle High with its seemingly controversial block programming seems like a hobson's choice.

What are the chances that John Boyd, who seems most capable, starts a good IB program at Sealth and it "turns around" that he won't be transfered somewhere else?

Didn't W. Seattle just go through several principals as well?

The site based management with cycling principals has been brought up several times in relation to RB's decline - so it would seem to be an issue?

How are principals assigned, re-assigned, transfered to Stanford Center? How are they evaluated? Seems like the leadership is a part of the puzzle as well.

Others in West Seattle who can input here? Both schools seem to have a great deal of capacity. But if IB takes off and becomes a first choice for many say from SE Seattle, Sealth will lose capacity - am I getting this right?

Anonymous said...

I don't have the answer to your question Cara. These are questions that your community should have been asking the district for years. But I do know that the answer isn't to displace the families for whom the north end school are their neighborhood schools. It seems that the district is making an honest effort at improving SE schools. Sealth's IB program would be my first choice, along with Garfield. AFter that I would be applying to private schools. We are a family of color and applied to 3 private schools when our son went to kindergarten. We got into all three with a full scholorship to Bush and Happy Medium. I hear Lakeside is also heavily recruiting high achieving minority students.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, have you read about the current lawsuits against Lakeside for discrimination? Private school may be a choice for you, but not for me.

Anonymous said...

I think that additional resources and curricula alignment would be a good start. I just want to see some concrete action taken before I commit my kid to one of those SE high schools. Which leads us back to many previous posts about what kind of guarantee the district could reasonably make...

Cara, I just don't get the point of view that the focus should be getting our families into n high schools. I mean, I know that we both would want the best school for our kids. Yet, a plan that supports more choice for us up north really doesn't address the system inequities if the outcome is still focused away from where we live.

Anonymous said...

Then get comfy at Franklin or RBHS.

Anonymous said...

West Seattle parent with 5th grader:

The IB program starts at both Denny and Sealth next year, 2007-2008. Denny is offering languange and other prep classes to help students be ready for IB.

West Seattle's 4 period day is not yet resolved, but clearly it would not have increased enrollment over time if many, many families did not like it as an option.

How likely is John Boyd to stay at Sealth? Probably better than average if he has staff support, given that it was the high school he went to.

West Seattle had an odd string after Phil Brockman moved on to Ballard. Susan Derse had a heart attack, and this but in play a series of iterims. Bruce Bivens is young, energetic, and is for the long hall, if he has the support of his staff.

See my theme? Under the current system, the one factor that leads to principals moving the most (other than being demoted for job performance, which does not happen nearly as often as it should) is they are agents of change. Parents usually benifit from this, but staff, particularly long term staff, are resentful and make life hard. As a WS resident, I am afraid that Mr. Boyd's staff's recent inability to handle change via the recpiet of a new building will chase him away before he can fullfill his goals for Sealth.

Sealth has plenity of capcity now, and will for the forseable future. If 500 kids from SE Seattle want Sealth for the IB program, well, then they will have to deal with a wait list. But that will absolutely not take capacity away from nieghborhood kids, as IB (unlike APP) is not an exclusive program with guranteed access to a subset of student who do not live in the area.

How do principals end up at the Stanford Center? They are either really great like Phil Brockman or Ruth Medsker and get promoted, or they have been demoted but have enough union senority to not get sent back to the teacher ranks. The other exception are retire/rehire principals who work downtown in part time capacities on other things.

Principals generally have a lot of control over thier own destiny. Many times the move at thier own accord, though like to tell the communities that they are leaving that they were asked to move. The reality is that so long as a principal is not getting demoted, if they are leaving it is because the have put themselves in for a different job. This does not mean that some schools get assigned a principal based on who is senior when an opening occurs (Ms. Derse is at the Center School now for that exact reason), but it is never because a principal who was performing well was forced to go elsewhere.

Hope that helps!

Fellow WS resident.

Anonymous said...

I agree this is not perfect, but it is a whole lot better than absolutely nothing, which has been happening.

Maybe I am naive, but I have hope that the SE Iniative will either work or the District will pull the plug and combine RB/Cleveland into a new school in the new Cleveland building.

But I also don't want no options at all until there is a change for change to happen, which is really what we have now. The answer is not private schools, and anyone who knows anything about the history of discrimination at Lakeside or Bush would agree. That is no better than telling the QA parents to suck it up or go to private school. What I want is equity of access until there is euity of programing, and I know that this is a change that cannot happen overnight.

Speaking of night, enough blogging for me for one night!