All Sophomores at Roosevelt to Take an AP class

This article was in the Times about Roosevelt's move to have all sophomores taking the same AP class. I'm writing on it because the article wasn't as clear as it should have been and because it perhaps may be the wave of the future (if it works) for other high schools.

Roosevelt's Social Studies/LA are blocked together. However, the curriculum did not align and there was wide variation in what was presented. In an effort to align the curriculum throughout the sophomore class and present more rigor, it was decided to have AP Human Geography and LA. Here is the description of AP Human Geography from the College Board:

"The purpose is to introduce students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use and alteration of the Earth's surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the tools and methods that geographers use in their science and practice."

When I first heard of this idea I read about what this course is about and thought it had a real interdisciplinary aspect to it. It was not just one subject but many rolled together. With more concern about environmental issues, I thought this was a subject that would speak to many students.

My concern was for students who were not used to pushing themselves. I asked that there would be supports in place to help any student who needed it.

Some parents, for different reasons, objected. Some were concerned that AP European History would go away (it is the only AP offering for sophomores and 40% of them take it). AP European History won't go away but it won't be offered at the sophomore level. Some were concerned about the pace. But that has died down and the administration and staff made the decision to move forward.

What did change was that students who wanted to move at a faster pace could take it in a semester (it is designed to be a semester class so making it a year class allows students to take it at a more leisurely pace). Other students could take it over a year. But all the students would be on the same page (so to speak) on the curriculum and rigor offered. No student has to take the AP test for it.

Of course, it's something of an experiment. Any change is. But I believe if we are serious about equity and rigor, it's a good start and I believe other high schools will be watching with interest.


Anonymous said…
This sounds perfectly wonderful to me, but what I don't understand is why these requirements always seem to be announced the week AFTER everyone has had to choose a school?

The same thing happened with Roosevelt deciding (2 years ago?) that all freshmen have to take an integrated science course AND (was it nine years ago?) when the International School was created.

Why can't they get their acts together and announce changes two weeks (or months) earlier when the information would be useful? (And no, it doesn't matter to me that it affects sophomores--we're hoping he'll be in the school for four years.)
Anonymous said…
"What did change was that students who wanted to move at a faster pace could take it in a semester."

Um, not exactly. The course description only states that the semester version is available if there is a scheduling conflict. So to take the semester version, one does need approval from their history teacher, but the real approval must come from the counselor who decides based on scheduling issues. Nowhere in the paperwork do they describe the semester version as fast-paced or honors.

If a high performing student asks their history teacher for a signature, it is not automatically given.
Anonymous said…
AP was never intended to be for everyone. It is advanced placement, college level work. All kids do not have the ability to do college level work, and that is normal. I don't understand what is wrong with being right where you are supposed to be, why must you be advanced to be considered OK.

I totally understand intervening when a student is under achieving, and needs help. I also appreciate when a student is in a regular ed class and a teacher recognizes that that child has the ability to take a higher level class and encourages the student. But to make it mandatory that all sophmores take an AP class sounds a bit over the top to me.
Anonymous said…
I am all for getting a wider variety of kids to choose AP courses, but it bothers me to have anything legislated. It seems just as wrongheaded as making everyone take remedial courses.

An AP course is intended to be college level -- for a sophomore, that's three years advanced. No one would expect an average student to suddenly skip three years in math. Why is it okay in the humanities? Hm, maybe because in the humanities you can actually teach a particular subject at *any* depth, from kindergarten to postdoctoral? so who's monitoring whether this course is actually taught at a college-appropriate level, especially given that a high percentage of students will presumably choose not to take the exam?

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
How about requiring elementary school kids to take middle school classes? That sounds great too. Really "rigorous" and "equitable".

What we're really doing is changing the meaning of "AP" to "Average Placement". No wonder colleges are more and more reluctant to accept AP credits. Why do we think everyone is college bound? Why do we think they should take college classes as a 10th grader? Ridiculous.
Anonymous said…
about the timing of the announcement:

I don't have an answer to this, but it seems to be a system-wide problem. I know our middle school is considering changing away from the block-schedule system. This would impact families like ours, who would like to pursue one subject in the Spectrum curriculum, but not both. However, they will not know whether the change will happen until mid-March. It would have been most useful to know how scheduling will be done BEFORE choosing a school for next year. I understand from the school staff that these decisions are on a different calendar from the enrollment schedule. Figures.
Anonymous said…
The classes are underenrolled. Your best teachers don't have students to fill classes. That's the reason. Its difficult talking about reducing class size, when a majority of teachers (especially experienced ones) don't have full classes. That's what a poor academic curriculum creates, a village of beggars.
Anonymous said…
The AP teachers are going swell, give me the difficult job will you. We'll see these buggers never want to take another AP class ever again. Malcontents satisfied as it is with educating the top 1%. Most of them will say I did my time in the trenches.
Anonymous said…
Honestly, this sounds like the typical first year principal move. Completely random, and not related to the overarching goals of the school but gives him/her credit for doing something.

For example, nothing noted about Freshman year, how is that changing to prep students for a 10th grade Humanities AP? Seems to me that a better plan would be to revamp the ENTIRE 9-12 Humanities track, so that by 11th and 12th grade you have all kids taking an AP class.
Anonymous said…
This isn't so new and radical as you might think.

Nathan Hale has been teaching AP curriculum to all of its juniors for years now. All juniors take AP-level U.S. History and Literature classes, and can choose to take the test if they want to do so.
A lot of posts have brought up good questions like:

-if you ask an average SPS about Spectrum, you would hear a lot of people saying, why isn't that type of rigor good for all kids? (Keep in mind that, for the most part, Spectrum teaches the same curriculum but usually at a faster pace and goes deeper.)
- as I said, it is a semester course that is going to be drawn out over a year. That's a lot of extra time to give support and go more in-depth than an AP class usually does.
-all the Roosevelt teachers teaching this will have AP training; that said, I hope it is carefully monitored
-should everyone be college-bound? This is tough question just as should kids be college-ready. When I attended a public meeting for the State Board of Education on graduation standards, most of the people there (and on the Board) seemed to think kids should graduate college-ready.
-it isn't a rookie mistake. Principal Vance came in and noted this problem in one grade level. To his credit he took steps to try something that will align what all students are doing and put it out there for the staff (and somewhat to the parents but no school ever really allows parents to make choices on academics). It likely will lead to an alignment at all grade levels but that is a much longer timeline and more work (and more money) than Roosevelt can likely afford.
-As for Hale, it had been the last two years (because my son graduated two years ago and they were just getting this process onboard). What I had understood was that they would be teaching the regular curriculum and supplementing for students who wanted to take the AP test. That may have changed. My problem with Hale is that they would never answer the question whether the teachers had training in differentiated teaching and that kids had to do extra work outside of class to take the AP test. Whether Hale can handle onto its approach to teaching is something of a question given that (1) they are getting a new building that would seat 1400 and yet want to remain 1100 (good luck with that one) and (2) the new assignment plan with pressure coming from incoming parents for Hale to be more like the other high schools in terms of honors and AP. It's going to be a challenge.
Anonymous said…
When I attended a public meeting for the State Board of Education on graduation standards, most of the people there (and on the Board) seemed to think kids should graduate college-ready.

But they can't be. It's like saying doctors wish everyone was skinny. Wish all you want, they aren't, and won't be. If PE were legislated to fix "fatness", it would turn into things like shuffle board. Why not deal with the reality of where people are? The AP class requirement obviously will either turn out to be a class with differentiated instruction, or a watered down class that really isn't AP.
Anonymous said…
I'm confused. Does this mean that (virtually) all Roosevelt sophomores will be committed to spending a full year on a course that is designed to be completed in a semester? Will thay have access to ANY European history course? Roosevelt already requires a semester long freshman 'science' class. It seems like they are tying up more and more of their students' time.

I had interpreted this to mean that all of next years sophomores would at some point be required to take the AP Human Geography course (not necessarily in 10th grade), clearly that's not the case.

Am I crazy for thinking that maybe the AP course should be limited to kids who have at least passed the WASL? I'm a HUGE believer in high expectations for all kids, but aren't we either setting a bunch of them up for failure or guarenteeing that the class will not move at an AP pace?
Charlie Mas said…
AP classes are taking the place of high school reform. This is merely the most recent example.
Anonymous said…
Currently RHS Freshman take a year long World History course. That is defined as far as I can tell as the Non-White World. So far they have learned about India, China, and now Japan. Africa will come next and if there is time, some South America. Human Geography looks like an interdisciplinary class in World History. That world is defined more broadly to include all inhabited continents.

In the past, college bound kids would take AP Euro as Sophomores, (AP or regular) American as Juniors and history senior year would be optional. Now, in order to take both an American and a European history class (wouldn't most colleges expect to see them both?) they will need to take four years of history. Actually now that I look at the graduation requirements, requirements include three semesters of World History, Two semesters of American History and a semester of American Government. Just how kids are going to fit that and AP Euro in has not been explained to me.

Mr Vance clearly stated the reasons for this new course include that currently the kids are self-tracking into AP Euro or regular Sophomore history. And the tracking highly correlates with skin color. Tracking = bad. Learning about and respecting multiple cultures = good.

Melissa has also stated that she has been reassured by professionals at RHS that as soon as her son is an upperclassman and in more honors classes, there will be fewer discipline issues in his classes. Anyone want to speculate that at least some of those teachers want to use the motivated kids as role models? Put off the self-tracking another year and just maybe some of that positive motivated attitude will rub off on otherwise unmotivated kids?

I think the current Sophomore regular history is some form of world history, because Mr Vance also said that American history teachers want (actually, need) kids to have some European history prerequisite so that they can understand American history. And that they find they have to remediate the kids who didn't take AP Euro. So since this is a step in the opposite direction, Mr Vance said that the Freshman history curriculum will be revamped to include some pertinent European history. (But too bad for this year's Freshmen!)

He also stated (all this was at the PTSA meeting in January when this was announced. I did not take notes and am relying on memory) that another way they were planning to make this relevant and interesting was that it would include art and music as a way of exploring world cultures. Now there is no such emphasis in art and music on the College Board description for this class. I don't even think the class is supposed to be exploring culture per se. All of you who are groaning that this will probably mean more project-based learning with grades based on artistic merit and presentation instead of critical thinking and understanding raise your hands.

Looking at the curriculum, I agree with Melissa that it could be interesting and relevant. But they already do some of this in Freshman History (my RHS freshman kid has a great history teacher, he is learning a lot in the class.) And it looks like a lot of the material in AP Human Geography is covered in Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel". You could do a one semester class with just having the kids read and discuss that book and perhaps some opposing arguments and it would be quite thought provoking and eye opening to kids. But no, we have a year long class with an emphasis on learning how to read maps. And arts and music from different cultures.

Oh, and something else Mr Vance said. This is a class that has been specifically designed with Sophomores in mind and therefore all of the reading will be at the 10th grade reading level. I wonder if Mr Diamond's book would even qualify.

Melissa, you stated that objections died down? What do you mean by that exactly. A letter explaining the change was circulated to parents. Comments were solicited. Those of us who sent comments got no reply. We were not given any feedback on the comments we made nor on how they incorporated those comments and objections into the decision. We just got the course selection packet the first day back after break with this as a done deal. That was also the first time any mention of a semester option was made. However, that is being offered not as an honors option, but for kids who have scheduling conflicts. One might think that any college bound student planning to take AP Euro as a senior would have a conflict because they also need space for an AM Gov class in senior year as well. Especially if they are in band and take a foreign language. When will they be able to fulfill their Occ Ed and PE classes?
Anonymous said…
"Africa will come next and if there is time, some South America. "

And if there is no time, then no South America. Is our curriculum really this loose?????
Charlie Mas said…
Wow, Dorothy! What a rich comment. You've given us so much to discuss and consider.

1. With each addition of a required course it becomes more difficult for students to schedule all of the classes they need to meet their graduation requirements and have the opportunity to take all of the advanced classes they want and need for access to competitive colleges.

2. The reason for the course is to eliminate self-determined class selection that correlates with racial or economic factors. If this is happening in the humanities, can we not presume that it is happening in the math classes as well? Will principals next insist that all students take AP Statistics as seniors or will they discover some obscure, vaguely mathematical AP class they can use instead? After all, we can't have the students taking different classes, can we?
We can't have some students persuing a college preparatory curriculum and other students following a curriculum preparing them to enter the work force.

3. The District has a trick for claiming that they have heard and addressed concerns. They gather comments, interpret them, explain them away, and claim that they have been resolved. In some drastic cases they will actually make small adjustments they have unilaterally determined are adequate. Then, without accepting any further input or feedback, they declare the topic cloaed.

They do this all the time. They used this tactic with Denny/Sealth, they use it with program placement, they use it with the math curriculum adoptions.
Anonymous said…
I wonder what would happen if you asked to test out of the course? The UW will give you 5 credits of geography if you get a 3 or above (more generous than they are with credit for AP Euro, where a full-year course gets you 5 credits only if you get a 4 or a 5). If that's good enough for the UW, it ought to be good enough for Roosevelt.

There are colleges, by the way, that give only half the credits for Human Geography that they do for AP Euro or AP US History, and I get the impression it's less widely accepted in general. I know my alma mater doesn't take it, and neither does my husband's.

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
>>>>Is our curriculum really this loose?????

Wow. The curriculum described is *miles* beyond anything I ever got in high school (in the 70's), no matter how you slice it. We each memorized one amendment to the constitution; that was pretty much it. The class was taught by a coach, and he thought patriotism was absolutely the most important value to impart to everyone. No need for any thinking or other form of work!
Anonymous said…
We're not sure that Roosevelt's 9th grade parent community has been adequately informed. Up to now, no formal meeting has taken place to explain reasoning or how students will be supported with a mandated change. (Parents and 9th grade students had to make school choice and course choice decisions in the absence of this information. ) Our household did not receive any mailed letter officially explaining the upcoming changes. There was nothing mentioned in Roosevelt's February newsletter, a communication that is mailed to parents. I was informed by another parent who called to see if I received (or knew) any information about the "proposed" 10th grade AP changes posted on Roosevelt's website.

E-communications and websites are great tools but they do not reach all audiences, especially parents of the student populations this program was designed to reach!

I'm sure the principal was open to individually discussing parent concerns and I know that our family's concerns about supporting unprepared students were not addressed. ADDITIONALLY, defensive comments directed at parents from Roosevelt's staff played the SPS (dysfunctional) broken record: "The principal and school can make any curriculum decisions without parent input or even school board approval." "Leave it up to the experts to educate children." "The 1-semester AP class probably won't be offered anyway..." These have all been common statements made by the school to diminish concerns adding to further parent suspicions and anger.

I envision everyone winning in parent information sessions: Schools can incorporate parent concerns in future program decisions, perhaps in ways they did not recognize. Parents can gain information through group inquiry allowing them a voice and to be supportive of their school. Schools need to recognize that many parents still deeply care about the public education of their children and should not assume otherwise. Educating children is all about a balance of the home-school equation.

Everyone really wants Seattle Public Schools to win. If this is to happen, we, both schools and parents, need to find "new ways" to dialogue about educating children and stop playing the same broken record ! As a parent, I am listening for a new tune from Seattle Public Schools.
Anonymous said…
New information from Bob Vaughan! This was not something RHS cooked up, not the principal, not the teachers. This is from the superintendent herself! An opportunity for funding from the College Board, an offer not to refuse. Why did she choose Roosevelt that already has high AP choice and participation and not a school in the South East initiative for this opportunity is beyond me.

here's the letter I just posted to the SpectrumAPP yahoo group:
Some of you may be aware of a recent decision at Roosevelt which will affect all RHS students starting with this year's Freshman class. There was an article in the Seattle Times and a post on SaveSeattleSchools blog, but I am not sure that enough people in this community of Spectrum and APP parents understand the whole picture and potential consequences for all highly capable students in the district.

Roosevelt High School made a decision to change graduation requirements, adding two semesters of AP Human Geography taken in Sophomore year. Previously, six semesters of Social Studies were required for graduation: two semesters of World History, two semesters of American History, one semester of American Government and one semester of an elective. Now seven semesters are required: the same five semesters of World History, American History and Government, but instead of one elective, students must take two semesters of AP Human Geography. (with limited exception as I explain below.)

Mr Vance announced this change at the RHS January PTSA meeting and said that the reasons for the change included the fact that currently rising Sophomores were self tracking into either AP European History or one of the two Sophomore regular options (a semester of World History 3 or a year of American History in a block with LA) and that this correlated with racial/socio- economic factors. Not enough minority students were pushing themselves to take AP European History. Therefore no Sophomore will be able to take AP European History. The 40% who want more rigor, want AP European History will be placed in class with the 60% who for many reasons would have elected not to take that college level class as a sophomore. And this new class, with its emphasis on learning about the formation of societies around the world will presumably be more relevant to students of color than European History. Mr Vance mentioned this relevance aspect specifically.

Previously, 40% of the Sophomore class elected to take AP European history. Now, AP European History is still available, but only for seniors. Seniors who would presumably be busy taking a host of other honors and AP courses and for whom both semesters of AP Euro would be extra electives, taking the places of other classes they might want. (and since AP Euro is usually taught before AP American History, won't this affect AP American History in negative ways? The students will be missing background knowledge that up to now has been expected.)

What is AP Human Geography and what makes it a College Level class? This is a relatively recently created one semester college level interdisciplinary class that has recently been added to the College Board list. Credit for passing the College Board AP test is not as recognized or accepted among colleges as AP European History and for those that do accept it, the student is often given only half the credit. Mr Vance also stated that the curriculum they will use has been particularly designed for Sophomores and the readings should all be accessible to kids at the 10th grade reading level. (First off, given that not all students are passing the 10th grade reading WASL, I don't know how this is going to be good enough for some) and the course, which is usually taught in a Semester to upperclassmen is spread out over a whole year. I do not understand how you can take a one semester college class, modify the curriculum so that it has no more than a 10th grade reading level, modify it so that it takes an entire year to teach and still call it a College Level class!

So, the highly capable students at Roosevelt are losing out on their opportunity as sophomores to take an AP class that is at a real AP pace. An AP class that is known and respected and covers material that many people would consider crucial for a liberal arts education. They are losing not because something equivalent or better is being offered, they are losing out on AP European as sophomores because other students need a push to challenge themselves.

Contrast this to the recent history of highly capable students and Garfield. Recall that it was only a couple years ago when after much protest, Garfield changed its policy of 9th grade LA Honors for all, and realized that both the highly capable and the struggling students were better off in LA courses more tailored to their needs. Completely the opposite philosophy here. This new experiment at Roosevelt is a pilot program and Carla Santorno is quoted in the article as hoping to spread this to other Seattle High Schools.

Now contrast this to the talk Bob Vaughan gave to APP parents Tuesday at Lowell. Talking to an audience that he assumed was 100 percent APP parents, he explained that one goal he has is to offer more AP courses to highly capable students earlier (at Garfield). He believes more highly capable students are capable of handling a wider variety of college level classes as underclassmen. He also thinks offering more AP classes to underclassmen could reduce the pressure on upperclassmen to complete 7 or 8 AP courses in two years. Mr Vaughan is telling APP parents that he is working to increase offerings and rigor to underclassmen. How does this compare to the decision to reduce offerings and not increase --- most likely decrease -- rigor for highly capable students at Roosevelt?

Mr Vaughan also had this interesting tidbit to share about the Roosevelt decision. Evidently, someone at the College Board contacted the district with an offer of some money. The superintendent jumped at it and it is Her decision to enact this pilot program at Roosevelt. (That information had not been shared with Roosevelt parents.) Mr Vaughan though, for all his talk about assuring APP parents that they will see more emphasis placed on their children's needs for rigor and acceleration at Garfield, also spoke of the Roosevelt Human Geography experiment in positive terms. I don't know if he doesn't see the contradiction or if he is being political.

He also said several times Tuesday night that both the highly capable students and their parents needed to be role models in the district to foster a "college aspirational culture." Be very afraid. Because at Roosevelt, they just decided at least one way in which these students will be role models. In the classroom. Instead of allowing them to take the AP class that up to now was the norm -- the AP class that was listed in the course catalog when they elected to enroll at Roosevelt. (And frankly, my kid is not from a college aspirational culture. He lives in a college entitlement culture for good or bad. Most of the students from educated middle class families are in such a culture. My blue collar father didn't graduate high school, my mother had one year of secretarial school after high school. Even so, my parents were so determined that we would go to college I hesitate to say that I came from a college aspirational culture, it was more of a college expected culture. What does college aspirational culture mean and why does increasing expectations for minority students include telling other kids to be role models while also providing them with reduced expectations for being taught at an appropriate depth and pace? I haven't got a clue how I could be a role model for a college aspirational culture and I doubt my son does either.)

Isn't it a bit condescending to assume that kids who need more motivation, more college aspirational push, will be inspired by the kids who feel entitled to attend college? And isn't the choice of subject also condescending? If the school truly wanted to have AP for all, why not have all Sophomores take AP European History? It is already taught, therefore the teachers are prepared and experienced, it is a well regarded course in the larger world. Isn't it condescending to tell kids that they are taking a college level class in Human Geography when it is not the same caliber as other AP curriculums? Isn't it condescending to assume that minority students need more "relevance" that they would find the topics more relevant because, as it discusses societies around the world, it will include discussions of people of color?

Currently my former APP kid is taking Freshmen World History at Roosevelt. No tracking, no honors. Yet he finds the class for the most part stimulating and engaging. This class has studied India, China and now Japan in fascinating depth. Yesterday they read three different interpretations of the reasons for Pearl Harbor, depth and perspectives that I hadn't heard. (and yes, the discussion incorporated geography, since geography plays an important role in many society's actions.) Complex and deeper reasoning skills are embraced. After Asia, I believe attention turns to Africa. There will probably be time to address some issues of South America before the end of the year. So, they already have a multi-cultural world history class that all Freshmen take, a class that presumably is engaging and teaching not just my highly capable student but all students. Yet my son and many other students have been looking forward to the increased pace, depth and rigor of AP European History. Several older students told my son that AP Euro was the hardest class they took at Roosevelt and my son's been eagerly anticipating the challenge. How are he and other students in the similar position not supposed to feel resentment next year?

Why do minorities need a second year with an emphasis on studying world cultures to make their education relevant? For students in the United States, American history is also relevant, and in order to truly understand American History, one needs to understand European History. Plus, in order to make sense of the current issues in Asia, one also needs an understanding of European History. Why not adopt AP European History for all Sophomores along with extra supports for students who will need it? Is there a hidden agenda that the College Board money is just for AP Human Geography?

And, as we all know and as Bob Vaughan pointed out Tuesday night, high schools in Seattle are not equal in advanced learning opportunities. His job as Advanced Learning Coordinator includes the task of increasing AP and rigor in South end schools. Given that and the South East initiative, why is the AP Human Geography experiment taking place in a North End school instead of a South End school that doesn't already have AP European History as an option for Sophomore? Doesn't it seem funny that this is a district level decision but it is counter to the focus on providing increased opportunities to needy schools? How can Dr GJ and Carla justify this placement in that light?

Parent engagement in the decision making process? Please, some things never change, and they certainly haven't with this decision that we now know comes from the Superintendent herself. Email explaining the new course was sent to all RHS Freshman parents in early February (but was presumably not available to prospective parents who toured the school?) and comments were solicited, directed to the principal, Brian Vance. I sent an email with my comments and concerns. I heard nothing. I also sent that email to Melissa Westbrook, Roosevelt PTSA co-chair and school advocate extraordinaire. Melissa replied to me, but I got no official reply from Brian or anyone else in the district. Melissa asked Brian about parent's concerns and he told her that they had "died down." Melissa is usually a fact checker, a questioner of authority par excellence, but in this case, she accepted the statement at face value. (But Melissa is up to her eyeballs in other very important issues and knows more about Facilities than humanly possible, she cannot possibly have done more here.)

That's a weird statement though, isn't it? Not 'Concerns have been addressed.' they have 'died down.' What does that mean? I have to say that I lost some respect for Mr Vance from that, but of course, this was not a decision made by him or the RHS SS teachers, but from Dr GJ, so he was perhaps being political. Melissa was also led to believe that the school has addressed some concerns by allowing an option. Yes, there is an option to take the AP Human Geography course in one semester. The exact same content but at twice the pace. Melissa assumed or was told that this was for students who wanted a faster pace. However, that is Not what parents and students have been told. No, the one semester option is not listed as honors or a choice for anyone looking for a challenge. The option is just for students who have scheduling conflicts. They must also have approval from their SS teacher that they can handle the pace, but the course placement decision rests with counselors and is based strictly on scheduling concerns.
Charlie Mas said…
If you want to fight this thing, I'll give you some ammunition.

Before you fight, however, think of what you want to win. I think a positive resolution would be for students to have the option of taking either AP Human Geography or AP European History in the 10th grade.

Here is some tools you can use to fight this out in the Student Learning Committee and before the Board:

According to Board Policy B61.00 The Board of Directors retains the authority to prescribe a course of study. The superitendent is supposed to prepare and submit courses of study to the Board. Did the superintendent submit this and did the Board prescribe the addition of AP Human Geography as part of the course of study? I don't think so. In this Policy, the Board also retains the sole authority to adopt textbooks and software and specify process for adoption of other instructional materials. Has the Board adopted the textbooks for the AP Human Geography course? I don't think so.

Board Policy C02.00 says that no course of study shall be added or eliminated without prior approval of the Board. Has the Board approved the addition of AP Human Geography? I don't think so.

Board Policy C03.00 describes the process for the addition to the catalog of secondary school subjects. In this policy, the Board retains the right and duty to approve or disapprove all additions to the secondary course catalog. Has AP Human Geography been approved by the Board? I don't think so.

Board Policy C07.00 dictates that the same basic program will be taught in each school in the same grade in each subject area. I think the addition of AP Human Geography in the 10th grade at Roosevelt represents a deviation from that basic program. I don't have an internal login, but perhaps someone could go to this web page and search the Standard Course Catalog for AP Human Geography.

Policy C10.00 dictates that instructional objectives be provided tospecify desired outcomes for all courses of study K-12 in the Seattle Public Schools. So I have to wonder if AP Human Geography delivers the grade 10 EARL's and GLEs.

The OSPI uses the same GLEs for 9th and 10th grade. Here's the closest thing I could find to a GLE for 10th graders in Social Studies on the OSPI web site:

"In ninth and tenth grade, students apply their deeper
understanding of social studies
concepts on a global scale. The
recommended context in the ninth and tenth grade is modern world history, 1450 to the present.

Students explore major themes and
developments that shaped the modern
world, including human rights,
revolution and democracy, to
develop an understanding of the
roots of current world issues. Students also consider more deeply
the role of economics in shaping the world’s events.

Board Policy C15.00 sets the high school graduation requirements. This is a Board decision - not a site-based one.

Here are two more Policies which may prove of interest:

Policy E20.00 says that it is the policy of the Seattle School Board to provide the public with timely, accurate information and to solicit community input.

The citizen complaint policy is Policy E23.00. You can download the form from the District web site. Send it to the Customer Service department. They don't have an email address, so you'll have to mail in your form by the regular post (or hand deliver it). If you are going to use this Complaint Process, it would be wise for you to make reference to any District Policies that you believe have been violated.

In addition to filing a large number of Citizen Complaints - you can gather together to fill out the forms - I suggest that you contact the Board. Every single Board member is on the Student Learning Committee, so they will all have to weigh in on this. Let them know about possible violations of Board Policy.

And I suggest that you word it that way: "possible" violations. Remain polite, remain cool. Don't tell them that the Policies were violated - that's not your judgment to make. You can, however, say that it appears that way to you, and then ask the Board members to reconcile the actions with the policies and explain how the actions are in compliance with the policies.

Keep the focus where it belongs:
* The decision reduces the rigor for 40% of the Roosevelt students
* The decision appears to be in violation of a number of District Policies
* The community was not provided with accurate timely information
* The stakeholders were not consulted.

Good luck, folks! Let me know if I can help out in any way.

In the end, you do have two hammers that you might have to either threaten or actually use:

1. You can excuse your children from the class. This would not only be embarassing for the District, but it would cost them money as students who are absent from school for even a single period cost the District money. It reduces their AAFTE and therefore their revenues.
2. You can enroll your kids in an online version of the AP European History class. Perhaps they could do that class work during the hour that they are skipping the Human Geography class.

Remember: all you want is the option for your kids to take AP European History instead and you want that option because the European History class is more rigorous and more accepted by colleges.
Anonymous said…
In response to College Board funding Roosevelt's AP course.

I heard that this College Board question came up last night at Roosevelt's Site Council meeting where Roosevelt principal was asked if this new AP course was a result of the College Board grant. This question was asked by a visiting parent (not the usual council member) who seemed to know some College Board information. The principal's response was no!

What is the real story here? Who is correct? I'd consider checking this fact before sharing further info. (with other groups) about how Roosevelt's decision was made.

There seems to be so many unanswered questions and misinformation surrounding Roosevelt's AP decision.
taylor said…
Dorthy said: (12:50 p.m.)....
"Roosevelt High School made a decision to change graduation requirements, adding two semesters of AP Human Geography taken in Sophomore year. Previously, six semesters of Social Studies were required for graduation: two semesters of World History, two semesters of American History, one semester of American Government and one semester of an elective. "

Can anyone translate what this means in terms of graduation requirements for those students who have signed up for the more rigorous 1-semester AP Human Geography choice versus 2 semester class???

Also what happens for those students who do not pass this AP class??? Will they need to make up this class requirement in order to graduate or will they be excused from the district's experiment? How will the experiment look on their school transcripts?

I'm glad that someone in the community is getting information. The Roosevelt parents are not!
Anonymous said…
To answer Taylor's questions, no one is required to take or to pass the College Board AP exam. That is not a part of passing the class or graduation. For any course.

As for the graduation requirements for students lucky enough to get the semester option, the 2008/2009 course description booklet posted at the RHS website looks a bit ambiguous. It says that 3.0 credits are needed, but 7 courses (divided into semesters), although each semester is worth half a credit. I think they are confused. I suspect it has to do with the fact that adding the semester option happened recently so they weren't careful about technical details in the course catalog, but that is just a guess. Oh wait, at the bottom of the page under electives. 11 electives, but for the class of 2011 and beyond one of their "electives" will be the second semester of Human Geography. That's Their quotes around elective, not mine!

As for the role of money from College Board and/or Dr GJ's involvement in that decision, I am just reporting what Dr Robert Vaughan, Advanced Learning Coordinator for the district said on Tuesday March 11th when he spoke at a meeting for APP parents at Lowell. I have known Bob Vaughan for many years and had no reason to doubt him. But it is a good question.
Anonymous said…
oops, sorry Taylor,I misread your question. As for not passing this class and what that means? I have no idea.
Anonymous said…
By the way, All of Roosevelt's parents did not receive the January e-mail. What about parents who do not have a computer or were not on the PTSA e-mail list?

There are some serious issues here with the process and Roosevelt's parents and other district parents need to go to the board and ask questions pronto before this decision making trend spreads!

It is political for both Vaughan and Vance. I bet they have no idea that people are comparing notes. Consider Vaughan's information on Tuesday to APP parents, Vance's testimony at School Board meeting, the newspaper article and Vance's claims about AP funding at Wednesday's Site Council Meeting at Roosevelt??? All very different spin.

Consider this....No where is it stated in 2008 SPS graduation requirements that AP Human Geo is a graduation requirement. (The school board could slip in a future change.) The district would need to change graduation requirements and the district cannot make it a requirement in only one school. Roosevelt also cannot "arbitrarily will" a change in graduation requirements for existing students enrolled. This would need to be a "requirement" for future students, not midstream.

In this case, students could choose to opt out of AP Human Geo and take the AP Euro course on-line. Of course this would negatively impact those students who are intended to receive benefit from this AP Human Geo offering as many may not have resources or computers to do so. (But this is could be overcome with a little work.)

Why did Roosevelt list the 1-semester choice on- line. Could this be because College Board funding requires the course to be offered as a 1-semester option? And perhaps that if not enough students enrolled in the 1-semester course then it could go as a 2-semester course? The school's course catalog is not matching Vance's and Vaughan's public statements!

So go to the source and ask direct! When is the next school board meeting with public testimony?
taylor said…
In response to last Dorothy said:
Does this mean that AP Human Geo is a required elective??? Or just an elective???

If its just an elective, students could opt out? Don't think that one school can make their graduation requirements different than the district. Could this happen?

Boy have they stepped in it!
Charlie Mas said…
The Roosevelt PTA Parent email of March 9provided these links to more information on the change in 10th grade social studies: grade ap human geog proposal.doc Human geography.doc Options.doc Options Proposed.doc

But none of these links work. The web site is there, but it doesn't have any documents. I don't know if they were once there and have been brought down or if they were never there.

From the Roosevelt Site Council meeting minutes of 1/9/08:

"Mr. Vance reported on several RHS items...
* Looking at some potential social studies curriculum changes at 10th grade level"

A description of the class appears in the Course Descriptions book. At the front of that book, the AP Geography class, A and B, appear in the Roosevelt graduation requirements for students in the class of 2011 and 2012.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, I clicked on C15.00 link you posted, but out of curiousity, to see what John (and Johanna) C. Public sees, I went to District Website, went to Academics, clicked on Graduation Requirements ( and it gave me a link for C15.02.

C15.00, (High School Graduation Requirements) is Revised August 2007, and provides an additional piece, that students who don't get a 2.0 as part of cumulative GPA can waive that 2.0 if student "successfully passes a content and skill exam" which is NOT indicated on C15.02
C15.02(High School Graduation Requirements: Classes of 2008-Beyond), Revised September 2004, which is what J. Public is directed to on the website, does not contain this provision.
What IS on C15.02 but not on C15.00, is the statement that "individual schools may wish to require addiitonal credits for graduation; to do so, the school must have receive a waiver from the Director of High Schools and the Chief Academic Officer."

So according to the first, C15.00, which was revised AFTER the second, C15.02, there is no waiver for a school to require more credits or classes. But the second, revised before the first, offers a waiver for more, school-based requirements if school receives official waiver.
Hmm, speaks to conflicting policy, to unclear communications (why is Public linked to C15.02, when it is different that C15.00 and apparently revised earlier?)
Havne't looked through both docs completely, yet, but will...
Anonymous said…
My last post reminded me of something I've been thinking: District needs Policies updated, cleaned up. How 'bout if some people here volunteered to do that? Or just DID it, dedicated some time doing what some on here already do, go through and note policy, point it out, hold everybody accountable...If there was a regular group that was plowing thorugh this stuff and suggesting streamlines, corrections, possibilities, it might at least hold the citizenry, the board, the admins and the schools accountable for what is actually written as GOVERNING POICY of this BILLION-DOLLAR PUBLIC INSTITUTION...I mean, everybody, in here, out there, everywhere, is screaming for accountability and programs, etc, but the ultimate document, the Constitution, as it were, is routinely ignored, unread, dismissed...Gee, I wanna set MYSELF up as a non-profit with no rules of governance, no accountability, no reports to board about adherence to goals and policy...just cut me some checks and let me have it!
The policies are all posted, folks, easy to find...your homework is to take a look and report back.
Anonymous said…
Is anyone still reading this thread?

Friday morning I sent email to Bob Vaughan alerting him to this thread and asking him to comment if I misstated his words. I also consulted with a friend who attended the same meeting and originally agreed with my memory. Upon consulting her notes, she now thinks that Mr Vaughan may have merged several items about AP together, so it does seem probable that this proposal originated with the RHS SS Department.

Mr Vaughan did not prepare a speech, he spoke candidly and freely on a number of topics as he was speaking to a friendly audience. However, he knows as well as I, had this been a change at Garfield, that entire audience of perhaps 150 parents would have turned completely hostile. Would Mr Vaughan be willing to attend a meeting with concerned RHS parents, as many of the students involved are former Spectrum students and therefore just as much under his jurisdiction as APP students?

My son had his High School and Beyond planning meeting with his counselor. She said two pertinent things. First, don't even bother pursuing the semester option because it most likely won't happen. And second, that taking this as a year class will look better on his transcript, because it will be two semesters of AP instead of one. This for a semester class, one that is clearly considered by the college board and colleges as a semester class and do not offer as much credit as for AP European History.

Where is European History in the SSD curriculum at all? My son's five years at Lowell, they covered the Ancient World, The Third World and North America quite well. Eckstein covers Asia/Africa and American History. My son has never had any school lessons in any depth about the Middle Ages, The Renaissance, the two World Wars or anything from a European perspective. We've touched on some of that as a family (and part time homeschoolers) but had I known that high school would not cover any of this until maybe senior year, I would have focused more on it.

There is some continued discussion on School Board Member Mr Martin-Morris's blog.
Anonymous said…
The only place I see Europe mentioned in the EALRS


is in Benchmark 2 which seems to cover grades 5-8:

"WH1.2.2 Compare and contrast elements of culture (e.g., society, government, economy, technology, arts, ideas, and beliefs) in the following contexts:

Ancient history (prehistory – 600): River civilizations, Greece, Rome, China
World History (600-1600): Medieval Europe/Renaissance, Islam, African Kingdoms, Meso-America, Japan"

I have an 8th grader at TOPS, he has never had any European History as far as I can remember, certainly not Medieval or Renaissance. He has spent alot of time (over several years in LA and SS) on the Harlem Renaissance, maybe that counts to the OSPI?!

They may have mentioned Europe when they talked about WWII this year, I certainly hope so!

How can they achieve the HS benchmarks:

"Global expansion and encounter (1450-1770)
Age of Revolutions (1750-1914)
Causes and consequences of WW1 and WWII (1870-1989)"

without European History?
Anonymous said…
Here's the scoop about the AP Human Geography course directly from the College Board Office in NY:
AP Human Geography is:
- It is a 1-semester introductory college course and requires a 2 hr. 15 minute AP test.
- designed to give students an "introductory experience" to human geography course in college

It is not widely accepted by colleges and is not considered rigorous for highly competitive colleges.
For Roosevelt's guidance counselors even to suggest otherwise is misleading for students developing their 4 year plans!

The incoming college students with 2-semesters AP Human Geography WILL NOT get any extra benefit (vs. 1- semester of AP) on their transcripts!.
In fact, many colleges and universities barely recognize this AP course in its 1-semester offering; extending it to 2-semesters works against the student transcripts as this AP integrity and rigor of this course is questionable in its 1-semester offering.

Roosevelt needs to stick to the facts!

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