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Monday, March 16, 2009

Jane Addams website

I hope this isn't a repeat (I looked but couldn't find it). There's a district website for the new Jane Addams school for those interested.

54 comments:

Shannon said...

There has been robust and quite detailed discussion of Jane Addams at Harium's site:

http://harium.blogspot.com/2009/01/jane-addams-k-8.html

anonymous said...

This was the letter sent by Chris Carter and Debbie Nelson the new Jane Addam's principal's, to Summit staff to help them decide whether they wanted to apply to stay at Jane Addams next year.

Summit Staff,

We would like to thank everyone for your warm welcome last Thursday and for your well thought out questions. It was a short amount of time together and our hope is that we provided you with a clear picture of what the Jane Addams K-8 program will look like, and what we mean by a highly traditional program. We want to see everyone make a decision that is right for themselves as individuals. In order to help you do that, we wanted to reiterate some important aspects of the program.

As we mentioned, our focus is on environmental science and math. We not only envision a rigorous program in these areas, but one that is considered the strongest in the Northeast Cluster. In addition to this focus, we will be fully implementing a school wide Writers Workshop curriculum, along with providing a balanced literacy program in every classroom. This is the core of what Jane Addams will be all about, which means we will be involved in extensive professional development and work together.

Since this will be a new program with a new staff working together, the monitoring of what’s happening in each classroom and the level of accountability will be more intensive than in an established program. This more extensive monitoring and accountability will include:

a strict adherence to pacing guides and curriculum implementation
regular reporting of pre/post unit tests, and student progress reports in math
frequent assessments in reading (running records, fluency checks, etc.)
dedicated grade level meeting times with a pre-determined focus (outlining writing plan for upcoming month, reviewing student work, analyzing data, etc.)
monthly grade level meetings with the principals to review student progress and upcoming curriculum
all staff receiving a formal observation within the first 3 months
data team work 2x month


In terms of a “traditional” program, we also feel it would be helpful to better define what this means and be a little more specific. Although flexible in many ways, we are both structured and believe that in an academically rigorous program such as this, common routines and procedures and high expectations are essential for student success. In order to provide this environment:

all students, K-8 will be walked in lines to PE, Art, Science, etc. and the expectation will be that students move through the building quietly so the learning of others isn’t disturbed
staff will be addressed by last names only
dress will be professional (no shorts or midriffs showing)
students are expected to be respectful of all adults in the building
Room and work spaces should be kept organized and neat
we will have common language K-8 for student expectations and problem solving


We realize this program will be very different from what many of you are used to. We want to honor everyone’s teaching style and beliefs in educating students, and for that reason wanted to be as specific as possible. If this program fits you and you’re committed to its success, we gladly welcome you. If other options are in your best interest, we also understand that. As a reminder, everyone’s form should be returned by Thursday afternoon, March 12th. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of us.

Debbie and Chris

Shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

Walking kids in line to PE or Art makes a school traditional, does it????

What a hoot - my AS#1 kindergartner and his peers get walked in line by his gym teacher, down the hall from his core room to his PE class in the gym every day! And they are asked to be quiet and respectful of the scholars studying in the classrooms they pass...

Such a telling snapshot of the misunderstanding of differences between traditional and alternative - traditional equals good, orderly, respectful behaviour and alternative equals chaos and kids running amok in the halls!

And dont you worry about academic excellence for all now - we'll make sure to deliver that - your kids will be tested and tested and tested again and they'll learn the same stuff at the same time and no one will step out of line - figuratively or literally....

Reminds me a little of a factory production line - you know, widgets on a conveyor belt... wonder what they'll do with the rejects and the defects and the odd one or two that just wont fit into those nice bland little boxes!

Sahila said...

Did anyone watch David Copperfield on PBS last night?

The description of the new Jane Addams K-8 reminds me of David's boarding school classroom experience...

Congrats SPS - how to turn the clock back to Victorian ideas of child rearing and educating in one easy exercise!

Megan Mc said...

Thanks for posting the letter, adhoc.

My kids started off at Broadview Thompson where they spent huge chunks of time practicing lining up and being quiet in the halls. I don't understand how that promotes academic rigor. Are they saying that successful students need to learn to shut up and follow along?

I would like to invite any families who find the description of the new program scary to check out AS#1. http://as1web.com/
We are still holding tours.

beansa said...

Right, Sahila - and the teachers at AS1 are all running around their messy classrooms in shorts and flip-flops with middy shirts on. *sigh*

I'm glad they're giving the teachers an honest picture of what next year will look like so they can make the best decision about staying or going. Personally, I wouldn't want to work there after reading that letter, but I have problems with authority, so... :)

anonymous said...

Yes, walking kids down a hall has nothing to do with a school being traditional or alternative. And at the middle school level this seems almost absurd....militant. Eckstein and Hamilton are "traditional" middle schools and when their bell rings kids race out of their classrooms in all different directions heading for their next classes. I can't imagine them lining up AND walking quietly. This smells so much like hands on hips and fingers on lips. What next....uniforms???

beansa said...

On the issue of standing/walking in lines - When my daughter was at Adams Elementary in Ballard, the new principal did a study and found out that the kids were spending almost an HOUR a day getting into and standing in lines.

She promptly abolished the practice of lining students up for this and that...and nothing bad happened. I know it's shocking, but it's a true story.

Upon reading the letter again, it strikes me as a tool to weed out the most "alternative" of the teachers.

Sahila said...

But beansa - its important to know how to stand quietly in line... just think how many times in your life you need to do that - in the supermarket, at the bank, at government offices, waiting for tickets to a show or to get into a sports event...

Heck, an hour a day isnt long enough to make sure everyone gets how to do this... we'd better make that at least 90 minutes per day... and what tests are we going to administer to check that each child is competent at standing in line?

And if they fail the test, are they moved up to stay with their peers, or do we keep them back a year till they meet the standard?

anonymous said...

OK, I have some clarification regarding the middle school students movement. They will move as a group with a teacher when going through areas where their are younger children, and not enough supervision, however when they are upstairs in the middle school wing they will have more freedom to move around independently!

I think many things are in the very beginning stages, and are being modified and molded by community input. I have found Debbie Nelson to be extremely responsive, and I would urge people with questions, ideas, suggestions, or complaints to contact her

Sahila said...

Oh, that's sooooo much better, adhoc... so reassuring to know.....not!

ParentofThree said...

"a strict adherence to pacing guides and curriculum implementation....

Although flexible in many ways, we are both structured and believe that in an academically rigorous program such as this, common routines and procedures and high expectations are essential for student success."

How can you be Strict, Flexible and Rigorous when you're strictly mapping to the district cirriculum, that lacks flexibilty and rigor?

I won't point out how horribly written the second sentence is here. Oh, guess I did...Scary...

Charlie Mas said...

Here's our word for the day, boys and girls: Apophasis

A rhetorical device by which you mention something only to say that you will not mention it.

Example "My opponent's numerous convictions for driving under the influence do not reflect on her ability to execute the duties of the office. I will not stoop to even mention them in my campaign."

AutismMom said...

Why does a K-8, with no current students, require 2 principals (no doubt highly paid)? I thought we were trying to save money here?

Beth Bakeman said...

I agree completely that this description of Jane Addams makes two things very clear:

1) They don't want current Summit teachers to stay.

2) They completely misunderstand alternative education. The description of what Jane Addams will not be (and therefore the insinuation of what Summit and other alternative schools are) is totally insulting.

What a huge disappointment!

Dorothy Neville said...

I'm getting some of the disappointment, but not all of it. The one thing about calling teachers by their last name. I know that some schools allow or encourage that and I do not like it. If I were looking at schools, that would be on my list of things to note. I don't think it would be a deal breaker, but combined with other things it would be. I would look carefully at discipline and structure if teachers were going by their first name. Call me hopelessly old fashioned, but I think there's value in a little professionalism there.

All the alternative school parents being shocked by this letter, none of them are Summit parents. I would like to know what the situation was at Summit? I do know that they had a string of principals and other morale reducing situations and that can diminish appropriate behavior from both the students and the teachers. Do all Summit teachers think this letter is out of line? Summit parents?

As a first year teacher, I was told over and over that the best thing to do is not to smile until February. That's not meant to be literal, you guys, but it makes sense figuratively. A lot of sense. Seems like Chris and Debbie are doing something similar.

Some folks here are claiming that the letter is a comment on assumptions of alternative schools, at least two peoples' perceptions of alternative schools. I posit that you may be making an assumption that is unwarranted. These two administrators are not saying anything about your schools. They are talking specifically to Summit, about Summit.

I look at that aspect of the letter and am not surprised nor would it discourage me if I were looking for schools. It's much easier to start with strict rule and order and then relax it as the situation merits, as the staff and students have all learned expectations.

The curriculum issues are another thing. I commented about that the other spot AdHoc posted this comment, an earlier thread, not realizing it was cross-posted.

Speaking of Summit. I heard a rumor from a not-very-reliable source that the district planned to start packing up Summit already, that their library was scheduled to be boxed and moved to storage last month. Some hue and cry put an end to that plan though. Anyone with a better source of information? What will happen to the materials at Summit?

anonymous said...

Sahila, I posted the letter so that the greater community would know whats going on and be able to react to it, give input, etc. My posting it does not mean that I agree with it. Just for the record I don't like many things in this letter. In fact I emailed Debbie Nelson and Chris Carter immediately when I read the letter to let them know how disappointed I was specifically with the middle school kids lining up and being walked to science, art, and PE, which I feel represents a somewhat militant, restrictive, environment.

The updated information that I posted was based on Debbie Nelson's response to my email. I posted the updated info for the sake of clarification because I think it is important to have accurate information, not because I agree with it.

And, note, that I asked anyone else who had input, questions, complaints, etc to please contact Debbie Nelson. She has been very patient, and responsive to my many questions and suggestions. And I find her to be reasonable and very knowledgeable. The jury is still out on Cris Carter. He has not responded to most of my emails, and in the two he did respond to he did not answer my questions.

So far it doesn't look like Addams will be a good fit for my son. Darn it, I really wanted to like it, it's across the street from my house, and I like K-8's. But I don't like highly restrictive environments, and I really don't like Writers Workshop as the main writing curriculum in middle school (but that's another whole thread in itself). I am however keeping an open mind and want to see how the school takes shape as the community gives input and the design team and staff work together to form this new school.

seattle citizen said...

wow.

seattle citizen said...

"a strict adherence to pacing guides and curriculum implementation..."

Isn't this what 91% of Bellevue teachers (you know, that highly-ranked district to the east?) went on strike against?

Are pacing guides and [common] curriculum implentation what we want in our schools? (new thread, please!)

Jet City mom said...

Doesn't everyone do their banking et al. online anymore?
Who needs to know how to stand in a line?
I wanna see them make a circle
[smile]
Im assuming ( or at least this is what I think)
Classroom materials at Summit often were the teachers own materials.
So wouldn't those stay with the teacher?
I do wonder however- as the library materials at Summit including bookgroup copies ( multiple) of books for K-12, that parents donated to the school- but since the school doesn't exist- at the end of this school year- will they disappear?

Dorothy Neville said...

Classroom materials at Summit often were the teachers own materials.So wouldn't those stay with the teacher?
I do wonder however- as the library materials at Summit including bookgroup copies ( multiple) of books for K-12, that parents donated to the school- but since the school doesn't exist- at the end of this school year- will they disappear?


Yes, classroom materials belong to the teacher and move to their next classroom, I believe.

I heard about the library issue in the context of those bookgroup copies and they are being addressed. I believe they are being distributed to teachers for their classroom materials.

It just got me wondering about AV equipment, sports and other equipment, high school science materials... Will Jane Addams have first dibs? but then the high school material, are high schools going to pick through them?

(oh, and correction on my first comment here. Blast these small blogger comment windows. I meant that I don't like students calling teachers by their first names.)

Jet City mom said...

I don't mind teachers being called by their first names- I think it should be up to them what they are called. My older daughter has had teachers on a first name basis through college graduation- although younger daughter did attend Garfield, where teachers used a honorific.

However, many teachers get around that, by using nicknames which are a shortened version of their last name which everyone calls them, using their first name combined with Mr/Ms or using Mr/Ms combined with just the first letter of their last name.

The letter sent by the incoming administration to Adams has a clear message-
" We have to send this, but we are going to make it clear that we have little respect for the job you did here, and even though you have the right to stay in the building if you choose, we plan to make it pretty uncomfortable for you, by slamming the previous programs mission whenever we can"

anonymous said...

Nathan Hale allows teachers to decide how they would like to be addressed. Some teachers are Katie, some Ms. Katie, some Ms. K, and are Mrs. Smith.

My children went to TC where they called all teachers and the principal by their first names. And my youngest son now goes to Bryant where all teachers are addressed as Mr or Mrs soandso.

Honestly, I don't think it made a bit of difference either way. I don't think the kids ever even noticed a difference. And, they certainly didn't respect the Mr and Mrs Smith teachers any more than they did "Katie".

seattle citizen said...

Uh, hello (don't hate me, I use it in a friendly manner!) the "what do we call teacher" discussion is all well and good (personally, I think the simple honorific used by many immigrants, particularly Africans, is wonderful: "Teacher") but what about "a strict adherence to pacing guides and curriculum implementation..."

WV - Yes, when we fully privatize, teachers will have to call "subco" when they're sick...

Elizabeth W said...

While the working conditions the new Jane Addams principals have outlined don't suit my family well, they don't strike me as out of line with what many families want and expect. I'll even go so far as to say I'm glad they are making their expectations clear now.

However...

I'm left wondering whether the authors have ever met any working environmental scientists. The "no shorts" item would keep a substantial percentage of them out of the classroom for all but the three coldest weeks of winter.

Furthermore, I believe an environmental science program represents a great opportunity to engage those kids who need to get outside and elbow deep in mud to feel good enough to learn. Unfortunately, it seems this program won't be answering that need.

hschinske said...

"staff will be addressed by last names only"

Gee, calling the principals "Nelson" and "Carter" doesn't sound terribly respectful to *me*, but what do I know ...

Helen Schinske (who was once addressed by one of my kids' teachers as "Schinske, you genius!")

anonymous said...

Seattle citizen a "strict adherence to pacing guides and curriculum implementation" actually frightens me, especially in the context of this letter. So much so that I can't consider this school for my son. That coupled with the "no shorts" policy, and teenagers lining up to be walked to their class. Geez. They didn't specify whether the no shorts policy was only for staff or if it applies to kids too. My son goes to Bryant, a traditional, well respected, high performing school and he wore shorts all year long. The shorts didn't hinder him or his classmates at all. In fact at the end of the year kids get these funny little awards to celebrate their uniqueness. His teacher gave him an award for never wearing pants all year!

Anyway back on topic, all schools are expected to teach the EALR's and grade level expectations, and I suppose EDM is paced....and I'm really OK with that. What I'm not okay with is the big brother, militant environment. Teachers need some leeway to teach. They need to be able to call on their expertise and their unique talents to reach children. To engage children. To make learning fun and exciting. So, yes, I expect that all third graders should work on their times tables. But I don't think they should all be on page 23 of the EDM textbook on Monday, March 12th.

Does that make any sense?

anonymous said...

I will say one more thing, and I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but I think many of the things that these two principals listed in the letter in reference to their non alt nature are based on common misconceptions widely believed in the greater community. I think there are many many people who still believe alt schools are for kids that "have issues", are schools that let their kids run amok unsupervised, watching movies and eating popcorn all day instead of working. I'm not excusing the principal's lack of knowledge on the subject of alt vs non alt. I'm just saying that they probably are not well versed in alt ed, and were writing what they thought they knew. In addition this letter followed a meeting with the principal's and the Summit staff, so we don't really know what that conversation was. Could this letter be taken out of context? Perhaps these were questions that the staff asked that were being clarified by the two principals.

It is best to know up front what the expectations are so everyone can make informed decisions.

Maureen said...

I agree with adhoc about the first name/last name question.

Sadly, it seems that this letter was just to make very clear to the Summit staff that they would be under surveillance regarding their 'alternative' tendencies and would not be permitted to indulge them. I do understand that Addams K-8 will have a different philosophy and it is best that the teachers understand this before they sign up. It just seems sad and sort of ridiculous that the principals are focused on things like shorts and honorifics. The curriculum pacing is a different thing.

It will be interesting to see if the same requirements are made clear to the nonSummit staff who come in to the building.

I am curious about the fact that the school has two principals--when they were first assigned I assumed that the school would be a 'mushroom' model with a much larger middle school (logical given the crowding at Eckstein). But it looks like they are shooting for a total size of 500 (not the 800 I had heard). That the same as TOPS (and smaller than Summit) which has one principal and one assistant. Are we still saving money?

seattle citizen said...

Ad hoc,
Well said in both posts. Yes, EALRs and GLEs are important. The problem is when the schools become so rigid that individual student need, teacher style, "teachable moments" all get thrown out as "inefficient."
There are many good suggestions in the listed expectations in that letter. But taken as a whole, it strikes me as way too militant, way to scripted to meet the needs of a variety of students.

It is also, as has been mentioned, an apparent direct slam against alts, evidencing little understandof what alts actually are.

It is also, as far as I can tell, a harbinger of the new paradigm, a condensation of all the various new strategies (especially surrounding teachers). As I said, some good, but overall, is this the package we want for the district? We've seen this sort of structure placed on some schools around the country, mainly struggling schools. Will it fly in the NE quadrant? Should this new model fly anywhere?

Yes, WV, I got maird last summer, thaks for noticing!

anonymous said...

Another thing to consider is that there are some families that like this type of super structured environment. The super structure tends to be attractive to African American families, immigrant families, and some low income families. Many seek it out.

There are several schools that I would classify as "militant" in Central and South Seattle. Schools that practice hands on hips fingers on lips while moving through the hallway, schools that require uniforms, schools that don't offer PE or art because it is non academic, schools that do WASL prep all day long, schools that do not have co-ed classrooms so there are less distractions. I even know a school that limits "restroom trips" during class time to 2 a week (kids get 2 restroom passes per week and when they are out they are out, they just have to hold it)

The question is will this type of environment fly in the northeast cluster where it is probably not going to be a very popular approach?

seattle citizen said...

That's a question, and so is why some parents/guardians approve of this approach (not to demean them or say it's wrong, but to consider why they would think this is a good system for their student. Personally, me myself, I believe a more liberal-arts approach is in order...)

It also suggests the question: will the district's move towards common curriculm lead towards more of this for ALL schools? and should some schools be "this way" and some schools be "that way" in the face of increasing standardization, efficiencies, controls, limits to transportation...

seattle citizen said...

Both of my questions are the long way around to this:

Where is the long-range research data and results that tell us that schools should use common curriculum, pacing guides, lines in the hallway etc? Is this a proven methodology? Is it proven in only certain sorts of schools, certain demographics? Is it better for one "sort" of population and not another? Are the stakeholders in the various demographics suffiently informed about it to decide if it's good or bad, have they seen long-term results (sucessful adults emerging from children) or are they being sold a bill of goods (WASL=good=standardized everything)

What might a paranoid conspiracy theorist imagine behind any of that? Should one worry?

AutismMom said...

It's not just low income and minority students who some believe need that sort of super structure. You hear that all the time for students with disabilities too. There's a whole set of curriculum from SRA called "direct instruction" that has been perpetrated on students with disabilities. (A number of low income Seattle schools have had this foisted on them too. It's always places not doing too well... like Muir.) In this curriculum set, not only in there a pacing guide but the exact wording and body movement of the teacher is scripted... as is the expected response. My kids have actually done these curriculum so I know about them first hand. These curriculum do seem to get some results in very early elementary.... but fall woefully behind after that. AND, of course, they don't teach students anything about how to learn naturally, develop curiosity, etc. It's pretty clear students need a variety of methodologies, which includes SOME explicit instruction... but not strict limitation by it.

AutismMom said...

PS. The way I read the letter, the school seemed to be trying to promise as little as possible, and offend as few people as possible. Typical Seattle bland.

EG. We'll be hip: "We have an environmental program and spectrum"

But not too hip: "We use the teacher's last names and walk in lines. We have unit tests and pacing guides."

Really. It doesn't mean much or say much except that they don't want to stick out their neck or be anything too unusual.

hschinske said...

"There's a whole set of curriculum from SRA called "direct instruction" that has been perpetrated on students with disabilities. (A number of low income Seattle schools have had this foisted on them too. It's always places not doing too well... like Muir.)"

Is that the same as DISTAR? When I was picking kindergartens, ages ago, both Adams and Loyal Heights had the choice of DISTAR and non-DISTAR classes. I didn't like the looks of it at all, at any rate, not the way it was being implemented (one of the reasons we ended up at Whittier). I haven't heard much about it since.

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

WASL week woes
Direct instruction....WASL...

How can this be progress? What happens to art, music, shop, history, foriegn language, creative writing et al when all that are tested (and, maybe, taught) are Reading, Writing, Math and Science?

A friend and I argued last night: Him - "I'm a businessman, I see where everyone has to tighten up, I see how even schools must cut the chaff, if a student isn't up to snuff, well, too bad it's a dog-eat-dog world..."
Me: What?! Shouldn't we dedicate every cent to schools? These are our children!"
Him: "That's what every interest group says now: you NEED what we do!"

Don't we NEED to teach children? Don't we NEED to supply deep and engaging variety of subjects and content? Do we need to economize, downsize, standardize down to Reading, Writing, Math and Science?

woe, wasl...whoa!

wv - crurmcre...hmm...I got nuthin', but it seems like there's SOMETHING there...

AutismMom said...

Yes, DISTAR is direct instruction from SRA. It's actually not bad in kindergarten, though it needs supplementation with actual age appropriate literature. Not sure if they do that at those schools. It does get kids reading, quickly making it to the first grade level or so. It doesn't have very much material though, and all the upper versions are rehashes of the same stuff.

Direct instruction "math" is really not very good though. Not nearly as effective as DISTAR reading. Lots of boring (and error prone) counting sticks etc. Some might say "traditional"... but stuff like this is why schools aren't doing "traditional" anymore.

Megan Mc said...

I'd love to hear from families who are choosing Jane Addams and I worry that they wouldn't feel comfortable sharing on this blog because of the overwhelmingly negative response (mine included) to the program so far.

Are there any future Jane Addams K-8 families who read this blog? What are you excited about for your new school?

anonymous said...

Jane Addams had a tour tonight and I went to it and asked A LOT of questions.

One interesting piece of information that Tracy Libros shared was that while k-5 students can receive mandatory assignment to Addams middle school students can not. So if your child is entering grades 6,7, or 8 they can not receive a mandatory assignment to Addams - for this year, anyway.

Also of note, 16 Summit teachers have formally expressed an interest in staying on at the new Jane Addams K-8.

They also said they are forming an alliance with the Homewaters Project. Now that's exciting, and is great news!

Shannon said...

Thanks Adhoc. Will you be posting more information from the meeting anywhere? We remain interested in the Spectrum program but I couldn't get over to the meeting tonight. Was anything said in that regard?

Thanks
Shannon

anonymous said...

Yes, Shannon, they will be offering Spectrum. The school will start out with 4 K classes and 3 sixth grade classes this year to accomodate the NE cluster needs, but they will only have 2 classes at every other grade. They said the school will be to small to have a self contained Spectrum program, so it will be an integrated model (Question.. how are other small elementary schools able to do it??). They also said "Spectrum" would be a walk to reading and math model, which they explained would allow more grouping of kids by ability level, and it would not be limited to only Spectrum kids, any kids working above grade level could participate. For middle school kids they will have to go across the street to Hale for anything above 8th grade math as they will not have enough kids or teachers to form any INT I or II classes (or whatever the new math material will be next year??). A parent in the audience asked "what if my Spectrum kid is working several grade levels ahead, how will you accomodate him?". Chris Carter's answer....drum roll please.....Spectrum by definition offers work 1 grade ahead. That is what we will offer.

The two principals talked a lot about parents having a lot of voice and influence in the shaping of the school. So I would really really really encourage interested parents to start speaking up and emailing the two principals, the design team, etc. Debbie Nelson has been extremely responsive and has answered all of my emails in detail. She also addressed many of my email questions last night at the tour. So it's worth the effort to speak up!

One thing that irritated me.... instead of taking live question and answers, they asked everyone to write down their questions and then they picked through them and chose the ones they wanted to answer. I'm not a fan of censorship in any form or fashion. I'd rather hear live questions even if a lot of answers are "we don't know yet"

On a side note - I over heard a conversation between two mothers and Ruth Medsker in which Ruth was telling them how wonderful the Lake Washington School District, her kids district, was. She even went so far as to tell them to go check out Lake Washington's reading program (which was the area of concern for the parents), and see for themselves how far ahead of Seattle Lake Washington was. Then she said, and I quote "I really feel for Seattle families and the anxiety around school choice. I bought my house in the Lake Washington district so I would know exactly which elementary, middle and high school my kids would go to"

anonymous said...

adhoc, what you describe is not SPECTRUM. They maybe call it that, but by definition SPECTRUM is a self-contained class taught at one grade level ahead in math and language arts.

What they are describing for Jane Addams is ALO, Advanced Learning Opportunity.

The correct response should have been: "No Shannon, from what we heard it is NOT SPECTRUM they plan to offer at the new Jane Addams K-8, but an Advanced Learning Opportunity (ALO) model."

I'm not saying which is better or even that I think either one is better or worse. But adhoc you have been reading these boards long enough to be more precise with your terminology, and that's important to be precise when you say SPECTRUM for parents who are trying to choose between schools.

anonymous said...

Link to Seattle Public Schools definition and description of SPECTRUM:

http://www.seattleschools.org/
area/advlearning/
program_spectrum.htm

I am aware that whoever wrote the powerpoint presentation for Jane Addams open house DID misuse the term SPECTRUM.

If SPECTRUM is important to you, be sure to ask specifically what they mean by SPECTRUM to make sure they didn't misuse the term when they meant ALO. Schools are calling their program SPECTRUM as an effort to boost enrollment.

On the other hand, if ALO is your preference then you will find that out as well.

Unknown said...

Anonymous,

You are incorrect about Spectrum. Interested parents please refer to the District website and/or speak to Bob Vaughan, who heads Advanced Learning. It is possible to have different delivery models for Spectrum, including integrated. District leaders / Ed Directors / Chief Academic Officer endorse this. The bottom line for Spectrum is the goal of challenging kids by offering a curriculum one grade level ahead. How specifically this is accomplished is up to the Ed Director / Principal / Advanced Learning Office. If you desire self-contained, seek a self-contained site. Same with integrated-- both models exist. Integrated and self-contained both have their strengths. What is not useful is arguing that something cannot be "called Spectrum." When the Ed Director, the Principals, the enrollment guide, and the Chief Academic Officer call something Spectrum, it is Spectrum. One mountain, many paths. Let's give JA a chance to be successful.

anonymous said...

Interested parents please DO check the district's website as I said on my post above. Read the entire page. SPECTRUM must be self contained:

"Cluster district-identified students to form classroom rosters. District-identified students are students found eligible for the program through the District's testing process. Teacher-identified students are nominated by their teachers as having the skill readiness and motivation to participation in the Spectrum curriculum. Typically, teacher-identified students are selected for participation based on WASL, ITBS, and/or DRA (Direct Reading Assessment) scores as well as performance indicated on curriculum-based assessments. In those classes attended by district-identified and teacher-identified students, curriculum presented is the Spectrum curriculum (i.e., a curriculum that is accelerated and rigorous to reflect the learning needs of students who are academically gifted). As needed, teachers differentiate to meet the learning needs of students in the classroom to ensure all students are gaining academic skills."

Schools that offer pull out instruction or packets of "enrichment" extra worksheets or any other so-called "non-integrated model" have ALO NOT SPECTRUM.

Of course I want Jane Addams K-8 to be successful! But for an honest reason, not an empty promise.

I have no doubt that parents contacting these people will hear whatever the party line is. SPS desperately wants to fill this new school school. But parents have had enough doublespeak. Let's be honest with each other.

JA's claim to "Spectrum" is not the same as the self-contained SPECTRUM at Eckstein or Hamilton.

It might be better, it might be worse. Some parents do prefer ALO to Spectrum. JA may become a superior school, but this is ALO, not SPECTRUM.

anonymous said...

Anonymous I was "precise" in my wording in reference to Spectrum at Jane Addams. I relayed what Chris Carter said at the Jane Addams open house. Exactly. The information on the Jane Addams "Spectrum" model is also posted on their website. Take a look at it for yourself. It is in black and white "we will offer an integrated Spectrum model".

You are taking offense with the wrong person anonymous. If you think this is not Spectrum, but rather an ALO then you should take it up with Chris Carter, Ruth Medsker, or the head of advanced learning.

seattle citizen said...

Anonymous,
The section on Spectrum that you quote has, to me, some wiggle room in definition of Spectrum (whether it's a classroom or and ALO). That said, maybe the definition might be changed to support more "Spectrum-like" ALOs in classrooms.

Here's the parts of the quote you provided that have wiggle room:
"Cluster district-identified students to form classroom rosters...In those classes attended by district-identified and teacher-identified students, curriculum presented is the Spectrum curriculum (i.e., a curriculum that is accelerated and rigorous to reflect the learning needs of students who are academically gifted). As needed, teachers differentiate to meet the learning needs of students in the classroom to ensure all students are gaining academic skills."

So: Some students are Spectrum identified. They are placed into a classroom together. The teacher uses a Spectrum curriculum. BUT "as needed teachers differentiate to meet learning needs..."
This suggests that there might be students who are NOT Spectrum identified in the classroom, and those students need, and get, differentiation to address their levels.

Not saying if this is good or bad, but the language appears to support either interpretation. Spectrum students "form rosters" but not necessarily the whole roster; In those classes attended by (not composed entirely of) Spectrum students, the curriculum is Spectrum but it also has differentiation required, which suggests lower levels of curriculum are addressed also.

So it's sort of a reverse ALO class: High end with accomodation for at-level. This strikes me as a WONDERFUL way to run classrooms. (of course, personally I would like further differentiation to address students who are struggling even at level....but that's another discussion.

anonymous said...

seattle citizen, I believe that I agree with you exactly. Spectrum classroom rosters may include teacher-nominated students as well as test-identified students. That is clearly spelled out in the definition above. However the Spectrum classroom is self-contained. The instruction in that room is entirely Spectrum, taught with math and language arts one grade level ahead.

ALO is more flexible and can be used to provide enrichment to some students who are otherwise together in a general education classroom. THAT is what they are describing for Jane Addams, not Spectrum.

I also prefer the ALO model. But I dislike how this district claims to have Spectrum in many schools that is not actually there. Parents need informed choices as they compare classroom formats and test scores between Spectrum schools.

seattle citizen said...

Anonymous,
I believe the INTENT of the phrasing in the definition of Spectrum you provide is to have a class consisting of ONLY district or teacher identified Spectrum-able students, but I believe it could be read to suggest that while some or most of the students are Spectrum, and the curriculum is Spectrum, there is differentiation available for students who need it (who might be non-Spectrum.) All I'm saying is that there is wiggle room, maybe, in the definition. This could allow non-spectrum students to be in a Spectrum class, therefore making it this sort of "reverse ALO" class, a class that is mainly advanced (on year) but also has students who are not at that level (hence the differentiation.)

I'm not a particular fan of classes that are exclusively advanced, either, AS THEY EIST NOW. In an ideal world (to me, adhoc, to me!), there would be an infinite variety of "classes", each tailored to an infinite variety of skills and levels. Students could enter a class that meets their particular need, level-wise. As it stands, tho', there is a glut advanced classes COMPARED to developmental ("remedial"); additionally, I believe there are equity issues exasperated by the current configuration.

WV - Collato must be the minimized, insufficient amount of collatoral that banks used to require to back up loans...

hschinske said...

seattle citizen wrote:

"BUT "as needed teachers differentiate to meet learning needs..."
This suggests that there might be students who are NOT Spectrum identified in the classroom, and those students need, and get, differentiation to address their levels."

That's not the way I read it at all. I read it as students needing differentiation UPWARD (as well as the occasional bit of help over a hard place that many students need from time to time, even if they're not technically below grade level, or below Spectrum level, or whatever). Plenty of students qualify for Spectrum overall, but are working at more than a grade level ahead in some area, and plenty of APP-qualified students stay in local Spectrum programs.

Helen Schinske

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Unknown said...

I just wanted to share my daughter's experience. Today was her first day as an 8th grader at Jane Addams. Her previous two years were spent at Hamilton Middle school. She said that one of the biggest differences between her first day at J.A. and her days at Hamilton, was how respectful, pleasant and (relatively) quiet the classrooms and passing periods were.

She said the teachers were 'cool, fair, and respectful' and that their example seemed to foster the same behavior in the students. Having the peace in the environment made her feel safe walking the halls of her new school, which, unfortunately, was seldom the case at her old school.

The last thing I want is for schools to try to produce automatons, however, I don't think that requiring order in the school is going to do that. I don't think it's extreme to require ordered groups when moving through the school. It's also important to remember that this is a differently structured school then an ordinary 6-8 middle school, and teaching these kids to be mindful of those around them (in this case, younger kids, especially) can only be a good thing.

So far, so good on our experience at J.A.