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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Alternative School Meeting Monday Night

from the Alternative Schools Coalition

Meeting for Principals and Community Members of Seattle Alternative Schools

Monday, March 9 at 7:00 PM at Nova, 2410 East Cherry Street

In anticipation of the District audit of alternative schools we offer this opportunity for all who value alternative education in Seattle public schools to meet and exchange ideas.

Proposed Agenda:
- Brief History of Alternative Education in Seattle Public Schools
- Review of Seattle School Board Policy C54.00 on Alternative Education (for policy see link http://www.seattleschools.org/area/policies/c/C54.00.pdf)
- Discussion of current state of alternative schools in Seattle

Action Item: How can the alternative community play a positive role in the upcoming audit?

All are welcome to attend, ideally we will have from 1 to 5 people from every alternative school. If you are not currently a member of an alternative school community but would like to be, or if your alternative school is scheduled to be closed or changed please come. We would like to help.

Principals, we particularly value your input and your direction. We know your time is valuable but if you can make this one meeting you will help to empower all of our alternative school communities.

26 comments:

seattle citizen said...

Here's a link to the Alt Committee Final Report.
Sorry I can'f figure out how to copy in as html...

http://learningalternatives.net/wp-content/uploads/legacy/Seattle_alt_ed_survey.pdf

Maureen said...

Here's the link:
Alt Committee Final Report

(I just learned how to do links myself! I'll bring my cheat sheet to the alt school meeting. It would be hard for me to explain the syntax here.)

TechyMom said...

does anyone know if there will be childcare? Or if it's ok to bring a 4.5 year old?

Joan NE said...

The Aug07 independent review of APP program may provide indication of scope of anticipated Alternative Schools program review.

APP review addressed, for example, admin & mgmt, curriculum & instructin, social/emotional guidance, results of interviews of parents, students, and teachers.

View/download APP report at URL= http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/APPEvaluationReportSeattle.pdf

Joan NE said...

APP review report will be found at
http://www.seattleschools.org/
Choose the "Strategic Plan" link.
Choose the "Background Information" link on the left side-bar.
Look for "Accelerated Progress Program"

URL: http://www.seattleschools.org/area
/strategicplan/
accelerated_program.html

Sahila said...

I was planning to come to this tonight (north end AS#1 parent), with my 5.5 year old in tow... single parent, small support network, no babysitter...

It would have worked because I had two appointments in town near Nova prior to this meeting time...

Second meeting now cancelled out, so have 2 hours' time to kill in town and a (tired) youngster to entertain...

Might not make it now...

Not sure if there was going to be any other AS#1 representation...

If none of us make it, please dont take that to read that we arent interested and dont want to be included... we have a BLT meeting tonight also (am a BLT member but my city appointment conflicts) and we are preparing for our school Open House on Wednesday evening...

We would like to be in the loop and part of the discussion...perhaps the Coalition would consider holding meetings in various parts of town (rotate them around geographically) to share some of the travel burden around, and also perhaps have them on a weekend afternoon once in a while...

seattle citizen said...

Thanks, Joan, for the logical connection to what was done for APP and what might be done for Alt. Good thinking!

Megan Mc said...

I plan on coming from AS#1.

owlhouse said...

Techy Mom,
I haven't heard that child care will be available, but would expect that it is OK to bring your child. Seems important to have a wide range of representatives/interests/areas of the city join the meeting tonight. We're all parents, hopefully we can manage!

Sahila,
Agreed, we may want to alternate meeting times and locations to ensure participation district-wide.

Jet City mom said...

If anyone thinks it would be helpful- I can possibly attend the meeting- however, while I attended an alternative school myself, tried to get my oldest into Summit about 20 years ago, when it was very popular, had my youngest attend Summit for 6 years ( and was very active on parent board), attended BLT meetings, been on Gates grant commitees etc- I don't currently have a child in the district.


I have been volunteering at an alternative school in Edmonds district- not alternative like Summit or As#1, but K-8,utilize a lot of community partners for experiential learning, high FRL ( 75%), high ESL parents ( 20 different languages)

Advanced Math class challenges students beyond the regular curriculum. A volunteer, retired math teacher from the University of Washington works with these students.

Small size enables school to offer extra exploration in science. Students study forestry and go hiking and have challenges that bigger programs can't handle. We imitate the Scriber Lake High School "In Step" program, an outdoor survival skills program that challenges students to push beyond their comfort zone. Our programs incorporate language arts and PE into the science program.


I also say- if child care stops you from attending the meeting, go ahead and bring them, MGJ, brings her kid to the SPED meetings after all.

( have them put on warm socks and they can skate in the halls!)

anonymous said...

A bit off topic, but probably the most appropriate place to post this question.

I was at the Jane Adamms open house last week and the principal, Chris Carter, said that as a k-8 the middle school would not be able to offer the same things that comprehensive middle schools offered.

My son went to Salmon Bay for 6th grade, which is a k-8, and it seemed to offer everything that a comprehensive middle school offered, just on a smaller scale. They had a 6 period day, band, art, PE, foreign language, advanced math up to INT I, full sports program, thriving after school program, etc.

I am wondering what other alt k-8's and traditional k-8's are able to offer? Do they mirror what comprehensive MS's offer only on a smaller scale, or not?

hschinske said...

I was on the Salmon Bay tour recently, and they too said they couldn't compete with comprehensive middle schools on electives. The language options were a semester each of two or three languages -- kind of an hors d'oeuvres platter approach.

They do offer Integrated 1 for some 8th graders, but currently there is no option for students to take advanced math in 6th or 7th grade. (Even if you have had the exact same CMP units in another school, your only differentiation is to be offered a choice of more challenging homework problems.) The principal said the district was pushing them to offer advanced math groupings for 6th and 7th, but she was not sure it was going to happen next year.

I could swear that a few years ago I read an article in the Ballard News-Tribune that said Salmon Bay was then much more open to cross-grade groupings for math. Anyone know?

Helen Schinske

anonymous said...

When my son went to Salmon Bay three years ago they made it very clear that there was no cross grade grouping. They really wanted each child to be in his/her appropriate age/grade group with all students working together on the same material. It was part of their inclusive philosophy. Their solution for kids who needed more challenge was for them to join the after school math club. It could have changed since then, but this is what I remember.

Jet City mom said...

Well again when D was @ Summit, she stayed through 8th.

6th grade was part of elementary, but they had pullout music ( steel drum), & art. I also think she was in the high school play that year, as the dance class she and her friends were signed up for didn't happen, and the play needed some younger people.

( I was initially alarmed as the play was The Lysitrata and her sister had been reading a VERY !liberal version for her freshman Humanities class in college- but it turned out very well)

7th & 8th grade, was taught as a cohort for language arts/social studies, same teacher and roughly same kids for two years. Other classes like foriegn language and arts electives were shared with the high school. ( she took steel drum and Spanish with middle/high school students)
Science and math she took at grade level, although she was able to participate in a high school marine biology field trip to Hawaii. ( which was nice, because when she was in Marine Bio @ Garfield, that trip was full up)

Josh Hayes said...

emeraldkity sez:

(I was initially alarmed as the play was The Lysitrata and her sister had been reading a VERY liberal version for her freshman Humanities class in college - but it turned out very well)

Yikes! With the male roles wearing the, uh, required props? That's, how shall I say, challenging?

But moving along to the plot:

Just FYI to provide a data point, my 6th-grade son is taking 7th-grade math at AS1. The idea that kids have to stick in their grade level at all times is idiotic; it pretends that all kids are exactly sixth-grade when they're sixth-graders, and so on. We all know that's completely wrong. Why do we allow district policy to pretend something which is manifestly false, and moreover, detrimental to the education of our children?

Crivens!

sps grad and mom said...

At Salmon Bay in middle school the 7th and 8th graders are in mixed age groupings for everything EXCEPT math. Grade level math is a necessity for the 6th grade due to scheduling. I'm not sure why it would be necessary for 7th graders, except that if 20 (completely hypothetical) 7th graders needed 8th grade math, it would then either bump class size up beyond 32 per class, or require an additional class, which would either require a teacher to take an overload class or hiring a teacher for one or two periods a day.

In 8th grade, exactly half of the kids can take Integrated 1, while the other half takes 8th grade math, in order to maximize the teaching schedule.

I have had three mathematically advanced kids go through Salmon Bay, and the challenge option has always been appropriate and helpful. Kids seem to come out of Integrated 1 ready for Integrate 2.5 (which, of course, doesn't exist), and the high school math teachers love to have our graduates.

The other thing I've seen at SB specifically in math, is kids entering in 6th grade below grade level in math, and leaving 8th grade well above grade level. This unfortunately doesn't generally happen when kids are tracked.

The math teachers at Salmon Bay are exceptional, and, in my experience, good at working with a range of abilities in one classroom.

Jet City mom said...

LOL- but no

While I believe the college play did have the " props", the Summit K-12 play- was set in the 60's in San Francisco- the Peace Park?, and didn't have props- and was totally appropriate.

( Summit already had the tie-dye)


I agree on the cross grade implementation/teaching.
My original interest in Summit was for my older daughter who is - " twice-gifted" really good at somethings- not so much @ others.
Summit was too popular at her grade range- and she went on to attend an elementary school with mixed age groupings, but the mixed grades was why I again selected it for my younger daughter ( ironically, it wasn't until middle school that she was able to be in a mixed grade class)

When an elementary class has three grades- or two as was more common @ Summit, it gives teachers and students a chance to build community. Not as much time is " lost" at the beginning of the year, trying to figure out where each student is " at", and students have two years to learn and be peer educators in the classroom.
Curriculum, doesn't have to cover just one level. ( that is, unless your curriculum is just meant to pass a test)

My older daughter for instance, read The Odyssey three times in school. Once in middle school, when she was taking Latin, again in high school for English and again in college as part of her required Hum class ( and then they read the Iliad and the Confessions, and the Aeneid and...)

anonymous said...

Why wouldn't kids be able to rise from below grade level to at or above grade level in a tracked environment?

Salmon Bay uses the standard CMP2 curriculum for 6th, 7th and 8th grade math. So does every other school in the district. SB uses INT I for advanced math in 8th grade, and so does every other MS in the district that offers advanced math whether tracked or not. So how does tracking in really affect anything?

My son had regular 6th grade math, regular 7th grade math, and then INT I for 8th grade, in a tracked school in Shoreline. He would have received the exact same classes/instruction at non tracked Salmon Bay.

sps grad and mom said...

Adhoc,

I'd agree with you that it's possible, and I hope that it happens. I don't hear, however, from friends at schools that track, such as Eckstein, that it does. I'd love to hear that it does from others, though!

anonymous said...

sps grad and mom,
Can you explain how or why you think kids can't rise to, or above, grade level in a tracked environment? And why you think this happens at Eckstein? All schools, Eckstein included, use the CMP2 math curriculum for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. Same books, same instruction. It's standardized.

In addition to 6th,7th and 8th grade math, Eckstein also offers Int I, II and III (9th, 10th and 11th grade math). To me it would appear that a child could reach much higher math levels at Eckstein than they could at SB which only offers up to INT I.

How specifically does tracking not allow all students to succeed? I'm not disputing what you say, I am just trying to pick a school for my youngest son who goes to MS next year, and am thoroughly confused. At Eckstein are only kids who test in offered Int I, II and III math? Is that how tracking hinders some kids? If you had an 8th grader that found 8th grade math challenging wouldn't 8th grade math be an appropriate placement for that child? And by the same token if you had an 8th grade student who needed far more challenge wouldn't moving that child into 10th or 11th grade math be appropriate?

Dorothy Neville said...

"Tracking." You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I don't know if people agree on or even have a standard definition of tracking. At some level *all* students are tracked unless they are completely in a one room k-12 situation learning everything at their individual pace. If Salmon Bay has separate math classes by grade level, that means they are sorting the kids by birthday. How is that not tracking? How is any predetermined sorting without change not tracking? (I wrestle to understand this in general, as several departments at Roosevelt misuse the term as well.)

I happen to know quite a number of kids who went through Eckstein and who have had fluidity in their math experience, gaining more than three years of math achievement in three years of middle school. Everyone I know who wanted to move up was accommodated and I know some where the teacher suggested the move. (Eckstein is, I understand, moving away from as much fluidity between grade levels, due to crackdown from the district(?) They still have honors classes at each grade level and they still offer kids in regular classes the opportunity to move to honors.)

I also find this line puzzling: 8th grade, exactly half of the kids can take Integrated 1, while the other half takes 8th grade math, in order to maximize the teaching schedule.

Does this mean that every year exactly half the class is ready for Int I and exactly half is ready for 8th grade math? (which are not all that different in curriculum anyway, just a bit different in abstraction levels perhaps.) How is that not tracking or sorting of some sort? I am confused.

Tracking historically meant, I believe, that it was predetermined what sort of achievement to expect of a child and to therefore insist that they sit in certain classrooms and not in others. And that determination was made before school started and was never changed in all their years of attendance. If any school sorts kids by age and then never allows kids to move independently of their age cohort, that's tracking.

Charlie Mas said...

Tracking, in itself, is not generally regarded as a bad thing. It sometimes goes by its more PC name: flexible skill grouping. The evil (if it rates the word) comes when there is no opportunity or mechanism for students to change tracks. An assignment to a track should not be a life sentence.

If there are schools where there is no opportunity for students to change tracks, then it is the school that is at fault, not tracking.

Charlie Mas said...

Could someone who attended the meeting offer a report?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I recall when Carla Santorno first came to the district (this was when I was on the CAC) and we were asking her about K-8s (because many parents were advocating for more of them).

She was very diplomatic saying that there was a place for both 6-8 and K-8s. But she was clear that in her belief that K-8s are smaller and therefore do not generate the money to provide the same amount/kinds of classes/other offerings that a traditional 6-8 school can.

You might check with her office about the district's official take on this issue but this is what I have always heard from district officials. Is that necessarily true? I don't know.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I recall when Carla Santorno first came to the district (this was when I was on the CAC) and we were asking her about K-8s (because many parents were advocating for more of them).

She was very diplomatic saying that there was a place for both 6-8 and K-8s. But she was clear that in her belief that K-8s are smaller and therefore do not generate the money to provide the same amount/kinds of classes/other offerings that a traditional 6-8 school can.

You might check with her office about the district's official take on this issue but this is what I have always heard from district officials. Is that necessarily true? I don't know.

seattle citizen said...

Report on Alt Committee:

25 or so present. Much discussion about upcoming audit - would it happen? Who was this group who was supposed to be doing it (Coalition of Great City Schools or something)
What could alts do to gain some recognition in District? Could they use the Alt Policy and Checklist? Discussion about what district, state, nation "wants" and how alts might fit into that (or not) and how they might prepare and be proactive in addressing those current or coming expectations....
I had to leave early, so don't know how it ended up.
A good meeting, lots of discussion, lots of "bonding" amidst a variety of "types" of alts.