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Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Garfield Option Not Discussed

As we have discussed the steps that the District might take to reduce the overcrowding at Garfield, there is an option that hasn't gotten as much discussion as relocating some or all of APP: boundary changes.

I think most of us presumed that any boundary change to right-size the Garfield attendance area would involve only the southern boundary, shifting some kids from Garfield to Franklin.

But that's not the way the District saw it. The District version has the northern and western boundaries shifting as well, moving Montlake kids into the Roosevelt attendance area and some downtown families moving into the Ballard attendance area.

Montlake families should know that this option is on the table and they should voice their needs and preferences.

86 comments:

Kathleen said...

This also means that some Ballard families will be moved into the Ingraham attendance area.

joanna said...

I think each option is intended to be considered separately and have been surprised to see so little public comment on these. So far I have I heard that some advocates from Franklin and Rainier Beach may welcome some tweaking of current boundaries.

peonypower said...

At DeBell's coffee chat he is opposed to moving the boundary for Ballard to include the downtown section. He cited safety and ease of travel to school as being the largest reason for not doing that. Given that there were about 3x as many people at this chat as at the last one he was smart to echo the feeling of the crowd.

He did say that one idea is to split the APP program and move it to Ingraham. Funny- exactly what this blog has reported on.

Johnny Calcagno said...

While they can’t begin to organize in the numbers and intensity of APP advocates, residents of the Central Area have started to agitate against some of the proposed boundary changes. Specifically, it seems that District map makers didn’t consider the historical and geographic connections that Garfield has to the southern part of the Central District, the neighborhoods of Jackson Place, Judkins Park, and Colman. These neighborhoods comprise much of the area newly assigned to Franklin in Area Map B.

A walk or drive around this area reveal it to be quite walkable to Garfield (less than 15 minutes), with fantastic bus service along 23rd Avenue. Surrounding freeways and steep hills delineate more sensible boundaries than in the District map, which were drawn simply to capture as many students as possible that could be moved. Under the decades-old previous assignment plan, with its distance tie-breaker, any student in this area who wanted to attend GHS could do so.

Immediately adjacent to or within these South Central District neighborhoods are Washington Middle School (the biggest feeder school to Garfield High), and Thurgood Marshall Elementary (home to the South End APP program that in turn feeds into WMS). Also adjacent is the Northwest African-American Museum, which reinforces the historical connection these neighborhoods have with the rest of the Central District.

While it is true that Garfield High School doesn’t exclusively belong to the Central District, it seems to make sense that the boundaries shouldn’t be arbitrarily drawn in way that ignore the surrounding neighborhoods. This is especially true now that SPS has moved to a neighborhood school model.

fed up said...

"While it is true that Garfield High School doesn’t exclusively belong to the Central District, it seems to make sense that the boundaries shouldn’t be arbitrarily drawn in way that ignore the surrounding neighborhoods. This is especially true now that SPS has moved to a neighborhood school model."

I could say the same thing for Ballard. We had to give it to the QA and Magnolia folks, now we have to give it to kids all the way down south to Jefferson St? Ridiculous, truly. The plan is supposedly to put kids in the schools where they live. Oh wait, except for Ballard.

Central Mom said...

I think the District research showed @ 80 SPS kids in the proposed North Capitol Hill (Montlake) switch from Garfield to Roosevelt.

1) Of all the proposed boundary changes, this might be the least impactful on those families as far as programming. Both schools have strong academics and both have those valued band programs.

2) However, the boundary change would be only part of the solution, as it doesn't move enough students to relieve the Garfield crowding.

3) In any case, demographics are going to change in the next decade and what's crowding at Garfield today is likely to be crowding at Roosevelt tomorrow.

4) My personal hope is that we stop talking about the fiscal reasons and butts in seats capacity issues as to why we can't have a Lake Union District high school and start brainstorming how to make it happen. Neighborhoods booted out of Ballard would be happy. QA/Mag would be happy. Fremont, Wallingford, North Capitol Hill and Downtown would be happy. Garfield would be happy. Roosevelt would be happy. If we start now -- with (gasp) a plan and a road map -- the community would be more forgiving about the current situation. And yes, even in these dire fiscal times there is nothing wrong with a plan.

It's a bit like Sand Point. Central Admin said it was "impossible" to open the facility despite years of begging for a solution. And then one day, it suddenly became possible.

dan dempsey said...

NEWS BULLETIN in the Times at 10 p.m. Sunday night!!!

The Truth Needle | False: Seattle Public Schools underestimated students' college-readiness

The claim that only 17 percent of Seattle Public Schools graduates meet the entrance requirements for four-year colleges is not correct.

MGJ decided that the public did not need this information to be corrected right away.

wseadawg said...

The current plan captures the areas Johnny is talking about, PLUS the North End of Beacon Hill and several blocks SOUTH of I-90, which are within a mile of Franklin and clearly in the Franklin neighborhood.

Seems the boundary should be drawn right along I-90 between Garfield and Franklin, and many of the issues would be resolved.

another mom said...

@Wseadawg, Yup as well as tweaking the northern boundary a bit as suggested by Central Mom. If done right,the Ingraham option for APP could work to peel off a few of those students. But if it is simply split N/S, which is what DeBell seemed to hint at ( as reported by Peonypower,I don't know I was not there), look for more crowding at Roosevelt and Ballard. I might add that APP has been at GHS for 30 or so years. So,they have a long history at GHS.

Sue said...

Ballard families are well aware that the district is proposing to rip up our community again. 80th isn't Ballard? But downtown is? Really? I am not sure how other communities feel, but I would think shifting the Ballard boundary south, to accommodate Garfield is not a wise decision. Those folks are NOT going to go to Ingraham, Looks how well that turned out last year, if you don't believe me.

At DeBell's meeting, I was impressed with folks there advocating for their communities. I was as always, impressed with Michael DeBell as well.

I also said the overcrowding of Garfield is driving the train for the entire district at this point. This is not fair to the rest of the city. Why should we have to re-adjust our boundaries every year, because the district cant plan their way out of a paper bag?

I certainly hope each boundary option is to be considered separately, as some may make more sense than others. But I fear this is a done deal.

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said...

MW or Charlie: Please start a new thread on the "17% Scandal" ASAP. This is huge.

SolvayGirl said...

Perhaps if the District REALLY tried to make the offerings at the other schools more equitable (and not just in name only as they are in certain schools) to those at Garfield (like the also-popular Roosevelt and Ballard already are) then there would not be such an issue.

There is no boundary plan that would put my home in the Garfield area, so I have no stake in this...but it is obvious that Garfield is what MANY people in this district want for their kids. It only makes sense for the District CA to try and reproduce this popular school.

And let's not even think about how many kids are still there with falsified addresses...

Cleveland may well be on its way to helping relieve the crowding, but there are still many kids south of I-90 who want high-quality academics, but don't plan to be doctors or scientists.

wseadawg said...

Sue: I sympathize and think what the district is proposing is the complete opposite of what needs to be done.

1000 RBHS kids aren't going to RBHS. Period. End of Story.

Boundaries need to be redrawn in the South, and RBHS needs all the support it can get to be brought up to par. No more district lip service.

I can't believe the district is proposing moves that gerrymander the boundaries even worse than now, instead of drawing them where they actually belong. There are enough natural and man-made divisions to draw clean, logical lines around most schools.

But the district instead must want a charter at RBHS, because that's the only explanation I can think of as to why they aren't giving RBHS the support it needs and is letting it die a slow death. Fix that school and we won't have an overcrowding problem. It's as simple as that.

Eric B said...

As Sue said, we know and we're organizing.

One of the slightly silly things about changing the western Garfield boundary is that there are virtually no kids in the area under consideration. It's a huge area, but there are something like 8 8th graders living in the zone. No big shock, since Belltown and SLU aren't exactly known for all the families living there. That number is insignificant in the grander scheme of high school enrollment.

Contrast that with the very large number of students they would move in the proposed Ballard-Ingraham boundary shift. Right now, there are 120 or so high school students living in that zone, 90 of whom go to Ballard. Heck, as a Ballard person, I'd take the 8 kids a year as long as they don't shift the north boundary.

I think you'll see a lot of concern about the Ballard shift at the Ingraham meeting tonight, assuming snow doesn't damp down enthusiasm too much.

Eric B said...

One more thing for Johnny. I wouldn't say that Central residents can't organize in numbers and intensity like APP families. There are a heck of a lot more of you, so it doesn't take nearly as big a percentage to bring a loud crowd.

wseadawg said...

Solvay: There's no excuse why Franklin can't have the classes it needs to serve kids as well as Garfield, and RBHS should be brought up to par right quick.

Instead, after threatening closure two years ago, the district is playing the same game with RBHS it played on Summit. Threaten closure, watch people leave and avoid it the school (because it must be failing if it might close, right?), then use the shrunken enrollment as the excuse to close the building because it costs too much to heat, light, and run water through.

It's TT Minor, Summit & (almost) Lowell all over again.

I'm glad to see the SE PTA stepping up, & think Betty Patu might be a godsend after Cheryl Chow's inadequate representation disenfranchised and destroyed the hopes of so many in the SE.

Anonymous said...
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SolvayGirl said...

WSEADAWG: I agree. Though I'm happy to see the SE PTSA become engaged, I am tired of "gimmicks" like STEM and even a special focus (like law or sports medicine) for a neighborhood school. The families I know in the SE (my own included) just want high-quality college prep. That means strong rigor, a wide array of class offerings (including languages and lots of AP) and teachers who will engage students already at or above standard and can control their classrooms.

We'd also appreciate a safe environment—that means an administration that would actually call the police if there was a rape or other act of violence on campus. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Charlie Mas said...

When I ask families what they want from a school, they almost invariably say the same things:

1) A safe environment

2) An appropriate academic opportunity

Not special programs. Not music or drama. Not an international focus. Sure, people want those things, but they are in the "nice to have" category, not the "need to have" category.

I will also say that folks will work and contribute to a school to bring and build those "nice to have" features, but they absolutely insist that the District take full responsibility to provide the "need to have" elements. That's a baseline.

zb said...

Although re-drawing Garfield's boundaries wouldn't affect us personally, I'm opposed to it on the grounds that the new NSAP should have a consistency of maps. If boundaries are re-drawn every year, that's really too similar to the old plan, and it's shifting boundaries. Re-drawing boundaries can't be done in isolation, either, in the new plan, since the district can't use the solution of just assigning the students who came too late to the party to the school that had room. So, re-drawing one boundary means shifting others.

I think splitting, or moving the APP preference at Garfield is the solution to the problem.

Anonymous said...

... or how about just reducing it's size. How about let's make the 1% program for 1%, and not more. If it's true that everyone in Seattle is really just a whole lot smarter than they are everywhere else (the APP theme song), then kids in neighborhood schools are also smarter. Raise the bar. So, put 1/3 or more of APP back with their smarter-than-average neighborhood cohorts. Let's have a test-in APP high school program at Garfield which accepts 250 of the highest performing students in the district. Let the flagship school remain a flagship. With the smartest kids, you could still offer the most advanced everything. Leave the boundaries alone too.

Another Parent

Sue said...

And I would just add, full disclosure, that I am not affected at all by these proposed changes. My point is: you cannot offer "predictability" (the whole point of the NSAP, correct?) and redraw boundaries every year. Which is what is going to happen as long as you guarantee everyone in an area access to a school, if you have not improved other schools yet.

We all can predict what will happen.

1) False addresses. I have no idea how many people are at Garfield with false addresses. And will continue to move in. Probably not a huge number, but even 30 would be significant. Seems to me it is a lot cheaper to rent an apartment in that area than to pay, say, Lakeside tuition for 4 years. Are we checking that out?

2) Move Ballard families to Ingraham to fill the school. Uh-huh. That worked really well last year. Many folks went private or got into Ballard or Roosevelt through open choice.

2) Split high school APP, with Hamilton kids assigned to Ingraham. This one is more reasonable, but problematic as well. Do we really think boatloads of kids who have guaranteed spots at Roosevelt or Ballard are going to jump on the "trust us, this time everything will be fine" promise the district is making? As has been said before, no they won't. Not in the numbers needed. Meaning boundaries will need to be drawn again, and again for a few years.

The answer - make the Garfield situation work. Split the schedule, add an extra period, do something until Rainer Beach and Ingraham are as attractive to families as Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt are.

Make some of those high-priced consultants the district loves so much figure it out.

seattle said...

"but it is obvious that Garfield is what MANY people in this district want for their kids. It only makes sense for the District CA to try and reproduce this"

I think there are some things that are within the district control to reproduce and some things that aren't.

For instance the district could require Hale to offer stand alone honors classes, more AP classes, and discontinue their offering a 2 hour late start every Tuesday. That is within the districts control, and would, in my opinion, make Hale a more popular choice for many families.

However, some things are not reproducible. For instance Garfield, Roosevelt, and Ballard each have a cohort of middle class, involved families, with high performing, motivated students. Many of those families have high expectations for their children, and are able to support their education with tutoring, SAT prep classes, travel, private music, dance, drama lessons, etc. That's a big part of why a school is high performing. I don't think that the district has the ability to reproduce that.

The district can make sure that every HS has a band, and they do. However they can not guarantee that every school has an award winning band. In order to win at the Duke Ellington Festival, a school has to have families that can financially support years of private music lessons for their kids, buy them expensive instruments (not the rentals from Kennelley Keys), and pay for the trip to NY to attend the festival (airline tickets, hotels, and expenses totaling about $1500 just for this one festival).

RBHS has a band, and a drama program. It has honors classes and AP classes. It has plenty of great electives, and a strong sports program. It has most everything that Garfield has. What more can the district do at RBHS to make it more like Garfield without replacing their current families, or importing APP families?

Josh Hayes said...

My son will probably be at Ingraham next year (we live in the "catchment area" for IHS, and his 8th grade teacher is pushing him to get into the IB program there), and I'd be happy to see more kids at IHS, but the transportation issue is perhaps the biggest roadblock there: it's just darn hard to get to Ingraham using metro, and the only relatively direct route is the 358 bus up Aurora, and that's not a bus I'd like to put a lot of school kids on. The ridership is pretty rugged; I'm a big guy and even _I_ don't much like riding the 358 if I can avoid it.

So the district wants to put a north-end APP at Ingraham? How will the kids get there? We're lucky enough to have an easy bike ride and relatively direct bus route (345 or 346), but outside the North Seattle CC area, that won't be true.

As it is, the trip is a real floggino (WV).

another mom said...

@Sue-agree and I hope that you write to the school board with these suggestions. If APP is to continue as a program in SPS, those families also need predictability. It is very easy to suggest splitting APP will solve all the problems at GHS and elsewhere. It won't. It just pushes the overcrowding to other high schools. Developing an APP option at Ingraham should not be done as a response to overcrowding at GHS. That's just dumb and will fail due in the haste to implement.

I thought that when the nsap was approved by the board, no boundary changes were to be considered for at least five years? Am I wrong?

Jet City mom said...

It has most everything that Garfield has. What more can the district do at RBHS to make it more like Garfield without replacing their current families, or importing APP families?

My daughter was on the track team @ Garfield- and for a time they practiced @ RBHS. Until repeated incidents threatened their safety.


I think cameras are a necessary evil

Maureen said...

How about let's make the 1% program for 1%, and not more

I lean towards another parent's, solution for Garfield. I think that would work fine for the current APP level, but not top 1%, kids who could then attend Ballard, Roosevelt, IB at IHS or Sealth or STEM, Nova or Center. I think at any of those schools there would be enough non identified APP level kids to make up a cohort. I do worry about the kids who can't get access to one of those cohorts. I wonder if there could be some exception for the current APP kids who wouldn't make the 1% cut and whose neighborhood school doesn't have more than, say, 60 kids at a grade level who would qualify for Spectrum at least so that they would get preferential placement at a school that does. (I'm leaving Hale out as an appropriate school-in part because it's small and seems to choose not to offer what APP families say they want-but I could be wrong about that and Franklin as well, RB and WSHS seem to have enough on their plates without adding APP identified kids right now.) (And since the kids would be spread out across the city the capacity impacts at BHS and RHS would be minimized.)

One thought, would the top 1% be too small of a group (I think it would be much smaller than 1/2 of the top 2%)? And how to measure? The PSAT is cheap, would it be appropriate?

A side effect might be that fewer kids would find it necessary to switch to APP at HIMs which is overcrowded and will need to make room for a 2nd International School roll up at some point.

You know, ideally, we could just keep the kids 'who rally need it' together at GHS, whether that is for extreme academic needs or a combo of that and social needs and a lack of appropriate alternatives. But, short of having the 8th grade staff select those kids, (nightmare I suppose) I don't see how that would work.

Mercermom said...

I just love when people keep calling for APP to be for only the top one percent (or some other percentage-based cutoff), when the audit of APP pointed out that using test percentiles as absolute cutoffs is arbitrary and unfair, as the standard error of measurement could mean the student's "true percentile" is in a range (e.g., a 98 on the CogAt verbal could be from 94-99). It might serve a goal of reducing the size of APP; but it does not achieve ensuring that APP is only for the "top one percent."

Maureen said...

Mercermom, I haven't read the APP Audit, does it recommend opt in Advanced Learning programs? Or is the point that the cut off should be much lower (and therefore the program larger) in order to capture the false negatives? Or something else altogether?

Unknown said...

Josh, that 358 during school commute hours isn't so completely bad. My daughter generally sits up front and keeps to herself. Last year my incredibly gregarious exchange student had any number of interesting interactions with 358 regulars. My daughter thought he was crazy, but he amused himself. Maybe the accent helped.

For what it's worth, I think you've hit the nail on the head. Better transportation options would make a radical difference at Ingraham.

Anonymous said...

Sure, it's not about absolute cutoffs. But we have a highly gifted program that's grown 25% in 5 years and which is now disrupting the NSAP across the city. At some point, there's got to be a limit. At some level, those students' needs can be met in a regular school or in a moderately gifted program or in widely available AP (or IB)classes. Sure, we'd all like to be special. But we aren't talking about what is reasonable in that case. In point of fact, everyone WILL want to attend the flagship high school. It's up to the district to set reasonable limits on admission cutoffs.

At the high school level, it's not about CogAt, margin of error, or even "giftedness". It's about achievement, and actual needs. The claim is that some students can't get their needs met because coursework isn't avaialable. The arguement is that some students have the highest achievement and therefore high needs. I think most people buy into that. And buy into the case for providing that for the most extreme cases, eg. the highest achievers.

Every private school for high achievers in Seattle requires the ISEE to determine admission. Boston Latin, Stuyvesant, etc have admissions tests too, open to all. Bring it on. Let's keep our high achievers together. They could have been in APP, or not, homeschooled, or anything. Let's reapply to the program. APP attendance shouldn't be an entitlement. Additionally, we already have lots of other options for the 2nd percentage and below. If you don't like RBHS or Hale, you can choose STEM, NOVA, Center School and any of the other high schools you like. Addtionally, the district continues to build the programs at the schools that have been deemed less worthy. Let's make all the high schools be great places for advanced learners.

Maureen makes a great point about such a plan reducing the middle school APP bulge as well. Currently lots of students identify in K, stay in ALO through elementary, clog up the middle school for APP schools because of this entitlement program for high school. Let's end the entitlement and incentive to identify, but keep the high achievement.

Another Parent.

hschinske said...

When measures such as the CogAT are used, especially grade-level CogATs, you can't meaningfully distinguish that high. The Bellevue PRISM program requires something like a 144 on the CogAT, which technically is above the 99th percentile (148 is 99.9th), but in fact what that means is getting all but one or two right on a grade-level multiple-choice test. They're essentially taking an almost random sample of students who have hit the ceiling of the test.

Being extraordinarily accurate at grade level probably correlates with reasoning well out of grade level, but such out-of-level reasoning power isn't getting directly tested -- and it's pretty obvious that some brilliant young students are far more apt to make careless errors on material that's too easy (or over-think the questions).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Right. CogAt isn't appropriate at the high school level. How about ISEE? PSAT? SSAT? By high school, it's time to show some achievement. At some point, it's more than brilliant potential that matters.

Another Mom.

Bird said...

But we have a highly gifted program that's grown 25% in 5 years and which is now disrupting the NSAP across the city. At some point, there's got to be a limit.

But hasn't enrollment grown overall, particularly in areas of the district that historically send higher percentages of kids to APP?

Anonymous said...

I'm agnostic about switching to a test-in high school program but wanted to emphasize yet another reason why APP is growing. Students who are in the top 1% on a national test are not randomly distributed geographically. They are more pronounced in locales that have more people with the characteristics that correlate with high performance on such tests (e.g., more parental education, higher parental age at birth, etc.). On every marker that matters, the population in Seattle in becoming more likely to produce children who score at the very top of those tests (for what that is worth). If you are going to have a program limited to the students who score in the top 1 or 2 or 5 % on a national test, more than that % of Seattle students are going to qualify.

Melissa Westbrook said...

APP is "disrupting" the NSAP? Why that almost makes it sound like it's the students' fault? You surely didn't that, right?

That the district has found (and more families have joined) APP doesn't mean people who aren't qualified are getting in (not APP, Dr. Vaughn is pretty good gate-keeper on that program).

"The arguement is that some students have the highest achievement and therefore high needs."

Nope, no and nyet. All any parent can want and expect is for their child's academic needs to be met. No more and no less. Advanced Learning kids don't have high needs, they have different needs just as Special Ed and remedial kids do.

Believe me, I think many parents would love an APP/Spectrum high school (and it would be packed the day it opened). It's what many bigger districts have and yet SPS, once again, is behind the curve.

Alas, they don't test for APP in high school. I think they should but they don't so pick any test you want, the district doesn't give it.

Charlie Mas said...

One of the primary goals of the new student assignment plan was predictability.

We cannot have predictability if the District keeps moving the boundaries.

We cannot have predictability if the District keeps re-arranging the programs.

When drawing the attendance area boundaries, the District said that they were working around the programs in the schools. So, for Garfield, they started with the functional capacity, then subtracted out the seats for the special programs at the school, including APP, and then drew the boundary to match the seats still available.

That's what they said they would do and that's what they said they had done.

Lots of people told them that the boundary for Garfield was drawn too big, but they insisted that they had it right.

Lots of people saw this as the first step to breaking up high school APP but the District denied that.

Now the District has acknowledged that Garfield is overcrowded. Has the District admitted any error? Have they acknowledged that they made a mistake? I haven't heard that. None the less, the District is looking for a solution.

The solution should be to fix the mistake. The mistake was not to place all of high school APP in Garfield. The mistake was to draw the attendance area too big. The solution is to draw the attendance area right.

The southern border of the Garfield attendance area should be Massachusettes and the northern border should be Denny on the West side of Fairview then Lake Union and the Ship Canal. The east and west borders should be Lake Washington and Elliott Bay.

That would make Massachusettes the northern border for Franklin. It would also have Elliott Bay and Lake Washington as its east and west borders. The southern border would fall somewhere around Graham.

That would leave a whole lot of area for Rainier Beach.

While that's okay right now, because such a small percentage of Rainier Beach students are accepting assignment there. But what if Rainier Beach ever does turn around? What if Rainier Beach ever becomes a popular - or even an acceptable - school? There are over 2,000 high school students for whom Rainier Beach is their closest school. They can't all fit.

We cannot continue to expand the Rainier Beach attendance area secure in the belief that those kids won't all show up looking for a seat.

Charlie Mas said...

A lot of folks have suggested that the problem be fixed by adding to the high school capacity in the middle of the city.

* Re-open Lincoln as a high school

* Renovate Magnolia School or McClure as a high school and use the other as a middle school

* Build a new high school - either in the space swapped for the Memorial Stadium or somewhere else in Queen Anne, Magnolia, or Interbay.

This plan has one fatal flaw:

The capacity management analysis has shown that the District already has too many high school seats.

The problem, of course, is that the extra seats are in schools that people don't want to choose.

The solution, of course, is to make the schools desirable.

The problem, of course, is that the District isn't good at that.

The solution, of course, is for them to get help.

The problem, of course, is that they are too proud to ask for help, too broke to pay for it, and too elitist to accept it from those who would give it for free.

The solution, of course, is for the Gates Foundation or the Broad Foundation, or the Alliance to pay a lot of money to a consulting firm to talk to the communities around Ranier Beach, Hale, and Ingraham and develop some recommendations to make the schools more popular. These recommendations won't be any different than the ones they could get for free but, because they came with a high price tage, will have more credibility.

Thoughts?

north seattle mom said...

Charlie,

I generally appreciate and agree with your insights on enrollment issues but in this case it is NOT an either/or problem.

There is definitely a problem with low enrollment at RBHS. However, fixing RBHS enrollment will not help the Garfield issue.

Fixing RBHS enrollment will likely be through added market share rather than any re-distributed enrollment because it is clear that you can't re-distribute enough folk to take the pressure off of Garfield because the driver of the QA/Mag school issue is the problem of "added market share."

Since QA and Mag do not have a high school, they have the lowest capture rate of public school high school students for any neighborhood. QA is growing enough that they needed to add a whole new elementary after they maxed out all the available space at the other elementary schools. This is a clear indicator of both growth in the student population and a willingness to select public rather than private.

The NSAP boundaries were built on current enrollment assumptions and capture rates. There was NO SPACE set aside for any changes in market share at any school or any grade level. Every increase in market share is going to have a cascade effect and this is most viseable at high school.

While QA/Mag had relatively high market share at elementary grades, they had incredibly low market share at high school because of the enrollment issues under the old SAP. Now that QA/Mag is guaranteed high performing Ballard, it is a certainty that the public school high school market share will increase and create additional enrollment pressures at high school.

We have the same issue with Eckstein Middle School. 300 families in the north part of town enroll in the Shoreline school system for middle school. This number has been pretty obvious and readily verifiable for years. Now that these families are "guaranteed" Eckstein, there is no incentive for them to continue to go to Shoreline. However, the Eckstein boundaries were not drawn to include these additional families.

Even though it was very easy to document and identify currently enrolled out of district student that were very likely to return to a high performing school, this did not happen. Market share changes from private schools would have been more challenging to predict so if SPS didn't do the easy predictions, you know they didn't even try the harder ones.

However, every parent knows that when you are guaranteed a high performing school, you are going to make plans around that and the market share for high performing schools was certain to increase.

SPS is really clear that there are 200 NEW high school students this year and they are SHOCKED! But they are not forthcoming with where these student came from and which schools they are attending.

As the NSAP is geography based, this is going to create public school pressure in all parts of town with high performing schools AND lower than average capture rates. This pattern of higher than expected capture rate for high schools is going to continue and it will wreck havoic at Garfield as the most centrally located school in the district.

So the net-net is that SPS is going to BOTH need to fix RBHS AND open a new north end high school directly in the geographic mix of Garfield-Ballard-Roosevelt. Those three high performing high schools can't serve all the families that live in their boundaries today. Every increase in enrollment and/or market share at each of the three schools is only going to create pressure in that geography.

There is no more trickle down or re-distribution of market share to open spaces.

Jan said...

north seattle mom: everything you say makes sense to me -- and I also agree that APP did not "create" the GHS problem -- the District did, by "pretending" against all known evidence and lots of community warnings that they were drawing the GHS boundraries appropriately. Those of us paranoid about GHS worried that it was an underhanded attempt to kill the high school APP program by creating an overcrowding problem and then "solving" it by dismantling APP. I also think that dovetailed nicely with the effect of generating less NSAP controversy when they promised so many people GHS (and by extension, RHS and BHS). The "grumbling" was limited to the RBHS folks whom the District is well practiced in ignoring; and the upper Ballard folks, who were being forced to Ingraham, but who could be safely ignored, since so many people were getting BHS, RHS, or GHS (Hale folks pretty much knew they were getting stuck with Hale, and so there seemed to be less controversy there, whatever they thought of the merits of Hale.

So, I say -- leave APP alone. Way too many people here opining about splitting it up who don't have APP kids. Giftedness may lead to high performance/achievement -- we should certainly strive for that; but the two are not really identical. I also say -- I think the northern boundary makes 'sense' - but that the southern boundary ought to be moved as per Charlie's suggestion. AND we ought now to be teeing up the building of a new high school that captures some of the overload that you call out.

Finally -- while I think that not moving boundaries every year is a good thing -- they were nuts to promise it last year, given that they had no clue how the NSAP would change the behavior of families in the District. People have moved; people have chosen public over private, -- and while some of this might be related to general demographic trends, or the effects of the recession -- some of it relates specifically to the existence of the NSAP. And as schools change in desirability over time -- these sorts of choices will continue to occur. Based on that, maybe an "every 5 year" promise makes sense, maybe not -- but it certainly didn't make sense for year 1.

Charlie Mas said...

So where does this lead us?

I have long advocated the re-opening of Lincoln High school as a neighborhood high school for Magnolia, Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge, Wallingford, the U District and Montlake.

But can the District sell it? Wouldn't it run too hard against the story that they have been telling - excess capacity in high school, don't mess with the new plan, etc.

Let's remember all of the other times that the District started telling a story the exact opposite of the one they had been telling.

They used to say that they wanted the most experienced teachers in the low-income schools and they wanted them to stay there for a long time. Then they said that they wanted total novices who were only playing tourist as a teacher for those schools.

They used to say that there was no way they could re-open Sand Point Elementary or McDonald, that there was no need to re-open them, and that it would take years and years. Then they re-opened them in nine months.

Concurrent with the creation of this school the District should seriously re-consider the need for The Center School. They may determine that they do, in fact, need it or want it, but they should reconsider anyway.

The District does not really need Lincoln as an interim site. They have Wilson-Pacific that can fulfill that role.

So the District can say that they may have a glut of high school seats in the district overall, but they lack needed capacity along the Ship Canal.

The District can put the 400 - or, to use the hypothetical scare stat, 500 - high school APP students at Lincoln to totally fix the overcrowding at Garfield, to keep the cohort together, and to give Lincoln instant credibility with the Queen Anne, Magnolia, downtown, Phinney, Fremont, Wallingford, and U District families whose children would be assigned there.

With Queen Anne and Wallingford assigned to Lincoln, Ballard High School could be for Ballard, Garfield could be for the CD from south of I-90 ll the way to the Ship Canal, and the overcrowding at Roosevelt would be over after shedding Wallingford and Fremont.

Yes, Hale and Ingraham would likely be smaller. So? Hale WANTS to be smaller. At Ingraham we can save the cost of the addition.

No, this does nothing to help Rainier Beach or Franklin. It doesn't solve all of the problems. It doesn't do anything for West Seattle or Sealth either.

Lincoln is a GREAT location for an all-city draw program. The transportation is wonderful, whether coming on I-5 or the 99 or Route 44 running east-west from Husky Stadium to Shilshole.

I suppose there would be some concern about whether or not Garfield could continue to sustain a strong academic program. I think that, with effort, it could.

The problem is the story of no wait lists that the District is now telling about Ballard and Roosevelt. Again, a little cognitive dissonance isn't a challenge to District officials. They can tell any story they want without regard to its reconciliation to the story they told the day before.

Maureen said...

The north end needs more Middle School space. If Lincoln reopened as a High School, could Hale or Ingraham be repuposed as a MS or as a 6-12 colocation like Denny/Sealth? (I don't know anything about the buildings or what capacity will be needed.)

seattle said...

Maureen, Hale has 1250 students,and it is full to capacity. Despite a few families disappointment with the schools inclusive honors program, and small band/orchestra, Hale is a super high performing school, and it is thriving. Why would anyone want to re-purpose a thriving school?

Maybe, instead of Hale, we could re-purpose Roosevelt?

Sue said...

They just need to suck it up, admit people are not yet choosing Ingraham and Rainier Beach in the numbers needed, and open Lincoln. Which we have been telling them for a few years now. Which would make sense. Which means: it'll never happen.

joanna said...
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joanna said...
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joanna said...

Melissa has it right. Remember this would only be an additional pathway for APP. There is no test at high school. Anyone prepared and motivated to take AP classes can enroll in them.

Before redrawing any of the lines, including those of putting Montlake into Roosevelt, I hope that all will give the Ingraham plan a try, along with some creative scheduling at Garfield if necessary. The new SAP is flawed, but with this group in the District and on Board any overreaction will produce an even bigger mess. Don't panic. Take some common sense steps to see where we really are.

Comments regarding that more students choosing RBHs and FHS won't help are wrong. Many students in those areas are enrolled at Garfield. Any tweaks to the GHS southern boundary would impact both FHS and RBHS. Students from those areas are also attending Roosevelt, Ballard and Hale.

In the meantime, there is no reason that Franklin and Rainier Beach cannot be desirable schools. I want to acknowledge that the situations at Franklin and Rainier Beach are very different. There are middle class involved families in SE Seattle too. Yes, there is more diversity, but that can be a source of vitality. I just wonder if some families/parents have given up ever being adequately served.

dj said...

Charlie, reopening Lincoln seems like a lovely idea. But moving APP here? What does that even mean? If you move the kids (and by move, I mean suggest they go there, since they have hoer NSAP entitlements, presumably) do the AP classes go with them? Splitting elementary APP was different -- you had APP classes and APP teachers to helm them, and moved the bodies from site A to site B. The AP classes at Garfield aren't AP specific. So if you move APP, what happens, exactly?

I am sure some folks will say, who caters, it will work out, etc., but let's face it -- why are parents opting into Garfield rather than private school? Why are people lying about their addresses to get in? Not to access the gorgeously expensive light fixtures, let me tell you.

We have a diverse, comprehensive public high school south of the shipping canal that people want to access. I'd much rather see split schedules or other strategies to improve overcrowding than monkeying with a successful program, as much as that seems to be the district's MO.

Anonymous said...

The last class at Lincoln (class of '81) worked to have the school declared a historical landmark, because they did not want the district to sell it to some developer who would tear it down and put up a bunch of condos. So it probably would cost quite a lot of money to fix Lincoln up well enough to have it reopen permanently as a high school (since the structure of the building cannot be changed). If we want the district to reopen Lincoln, (which, personally, I think would be a great idea), we would have to make it less painful for the district financially. Perhaps someone can start a Friends of Lincoln fundraising group, and start getting some funds to maybe fix up the grounds, put in some sports structures (tennis courts etc), update the band/orchestra/little theater building or the gyms. When the joined reunion was held before the school closed, thousands and thousands of alumni attended, and there is an active Lincoln Alumni Association that gives college scholarships to children of alumni every year. I think many of those people would be happy to contribute to the school. The Department of Neighborhood also give grants for improvements of the playground/grounds. Then perhaps the district can be convinced that it's feasible and desirable to reopen Lincoln. Besides the APP program, they could also place the high school language immersion track there, that would make the school instantly desirable.

SPS Parent

seattle said...

"They just need to suck it up, admit people are not yet choosing Ingraham".

Really Sue? Were you aware that Ingraham has 1051 students enrolled this year?

They do have a bit of capacity remaining in the building, but don't you think that is a good thing considering that the other three high schools north of the ship canal, Roosevelt, Ballard and Hale, are full to capacity?

Maybe we hold off on the Ingraham addition, that would be reasonable. But to make statements like "nobody is choosing Ingraham" is just misleading, and wrong.

north seattle mom said...

What everyone seems to miss in these conversations is that the NEW plan is driven by geography. We still continue to use the language of choice but the NSAP really has very little choice since the District is now obligated to guarantee a geographically proximate (if not precisely close) option.

And as much as they would like to do otherwise because of these pressures, the school actually needs to be in its own zone and the zone needs to be geographically contiguous. The QA/Mag issue was really one of trying to get the QA/Mag folks to drive past the nearest school and go to the one with space. Those days are over.

The conversation is no longer about which schools have space - it is really about schools that are geographically accessible and the ones that are geographically isolated.

RBHS, Ingraham and WSHS are now geographically isolated schools. Geographically isolated schools are schools that are challenging to reach for folks that are outside of the neighborhood and so are not premium convenience choices. Additionally, these schools are on the fringes of the district and therefore have unique challenges in the new geographic system.

Most districts place magnet programs in these more isolated schools because otherwise, they generally have ongoing enrollment challenges.

Garfield is the most central school in the district and easy to access. There are always going to be more people that want Garfield than Garfield will be able to manage.

Conversely, these geographically isolated schools are going to have ongoing challenges under an assignment plan that is driven by geography rather than choice.

Maureen said...

seattle, good to know that Hale is solid. It's easy for me to get carried away with this chess game. I didn't mean to offend!

Sue said...

Hi Seattle-

If you are going to quote me, do please at least quote the whole sentence. I said "They just need to suck it up, admit people are not yet choosing Ingraham and Rainier Beach in the numbers needed, and open Lincoln "

Note the key phrase "not yet choosing". Of course people are choosing Ingraham - I know many folks who are and like the school. Of course it is good to have capacity at the school - but why do we still have capacity at some schools and not at others? How many kids in the Ingraham attendance area went to Ingraham? How many went to private? To Ballard or Roosevelt through the open choice seats? I don't know-but that would be great information to have. Anyone know where to find it?

I also never said "no one is choosing Ingraham". My intent in my statement was is that people are not going to Ingraham (or Rainier Beach) in the numbers needed to relieve the capacity at the other high schools.


Now, I should have been clearer - the "they" I referred to is the district. I should have also expanded on my sentence: If they open a high school at Lincoln, it would take the pressure off Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield. Queen Anne Magnolia and other residents/neighborhoods would have a closer option. Then we could gave more realistic boundaries.

So, feel free to argue my opinion with me - I should have been clearer. But do quote my entire snarky sentence - not just parts of it.

north seattle mom said...

Back when they were talking about the concepts of the NSAP, they produced these handy maps

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
newassign/maps/08-09/demog/nearest_high_0809.pdf

They are incredibly informative about the current issue. As a side note, I would love to see this type of map with the new larger enrollment numbers.

Ballard simply doesn't have room for all the families that live closest to Ballard and all of QA/Mag and very few families live near Ingraham so guess what .. the families that aren't close enough to Ballard go to Ingraham.

Most of WS lives near Sealth and very few families live near WSHS and guess what. The WSHS folks are really worried about declining enrollment.

Garfield is right in the middle and lots of lots of folks think of it as their closest school. It is really hard to put the premier magnet program in the district at the school that already has 1500 students that call it their closest school without relocating at least 400 of those students to a school other than their closest school.

Well, you can't put those student at Ballard because you just put all of QA and Mag there. You can't put them at Roosevelt because you just put all of Wallingford and Phinney at Roosevelt so that you could put QA/Mag at Ballard.

So you can only push those 400 students South and you can only go so far south before you actually run into Franklin and well there is only so far south you can go because Cleveland is now an option school.

This is a systemic problem and one that enrollment folks should have been able to see just from their own maps.

Sue said...

Of course, my whole attitude is snarky because I am so frustrated with the district. And am playing right into their sneaky little hands, by being part of the "neighborhood vs neighborhood" strategy they love to deploy. Sigh.

So, Seattle, my apologies for the unintended dig at Ingraham.

seattle said...

The district plays communities against each other. It's easy to get sucked into their game.

Kids and schools are not pawns on a chessboard to be shuffled at the districts whim to balance capacity.

I agree with Charlie. If we allow the district to continually shift school boundaries, re-purpose schools, and move programs to balance capacity, then the NSAP will not have the one thing that the district promised it would have - predictably.

wseadawg said...

North Seattle Mom: You're way off re: West Seattle High. It sits right near the 3 most populated elementary schools, and right down the block from Madison Middle. The elementary schools are stuffed with approximately 1350 kids. There's more than enough kids in the neighborhood to fill the school.

The school is not geographically isolated. It sits right in the middle of upper middle class and "muy rico" neighborhoods with high achieving students everywhere around it.

The problem with WSHS has been weak leadership and a lack of programs supporting high achieving students. Lafayette has a thriving Spectrum program that has exported kids to Denny & Washington Middle because Madison's principal, now at Hale, refused to host a Spectrum program at Madison. From Denny, they went to Sealth. From Washington, to Garfield. WSHS has hosted way too many out-of-area kids for far too long. If the district would respond to the needs of the WSHS neighborhood that surrounds it, it would fill almost instantly. As it stands now, hundreds of kids from WSN go to Sealth for IB, while hundreds of WSS kids go to WSHS, for unknown reasons.

Geography has nothing to do with it. It's all about what's offered to the neighborhood kids. Most WSN kids are college bound & for that, WSHS has not met the needs & satisfaction of far too many of them for years.

north seattle mom said...

wseadawg -

The north end of West Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water. You don't get more isolated than that. By isolated, I mean that there is only one direction for students to be "drawn into the boundary."

So unlike the non-isolated schools that can negotiate their boundaries on three or four sides, geographically isolated schools only have one major boundary to negotiated for assigned students.

I have nothing to say about the programming. Indeed that is my over-all point. In a choice system, programming and leadership is the driver. In a geographic system, there is a big difference between schools that have multiple boundaries.

There is always going to be enrollment pressure on Garfield because there are students from the north and south area pressure.

Take a look at this map
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
newassign/maps/08-09/demog/nearest_high_0809.pdf

This clearly illustrates what many posters have talked about with regard to the imbalance between WSHS and Sealth.

north seattle mom said...

And BTW, I completely agree that it is "all about what's offered to the neighborhood kids." And that is what I mean by Geography. As a geographically isolated school, WSHS has to respond to the needs of its specific geography.

There is no longer any excuse for WSHS to program to the needs of a different geographic community because other communities won't really have access in the not too distant future.

wseadawg said...

N.S. Mom: It's late, and I honestly can't understand what you're saying. Are you saying SPS should have seen all this, that they drew the borders wrong, that changing borders are inevitable for non-geographically isolated schools?

Perhaps it's so obvious I'm looking right past your point, but I'm lost. Those pre-NSAP maps are two years old and have arbitrarily drawn reference areas.

But there's no shortage of students to fill WSHS. They just won't go there under the conditions that exist at the school today. We hope that changes but the NSAP was drawn without addressing the underlying reasons why enrollment was trending downward already. Today's WSN and WSS are not the neighborhoods they were 10 to 15 years ago. People are much more active in demanding what they want and voting with their feet.

Anyways.

north seattle mom said...

wseadawg -

The (somewhat) shorter version of what I am saying is the the biggest change with the NSAP is that the district is now obligated to provide direct services for the geographic neighborhood for every part of town.

Under the old SAP, choice was more illusion than fact for many families. To really have a choice, you needed to

- understand the system
- have the time to tour multiple schools
- turn your paperwork in on time AND
- have a primary address that was a good distance tiebreaker to a good school.

If you didn't have any of these things or you were a special education student, you got assigned to the school with space. The district got really really used to the idea that when a school was full, they just shut the doors and turned people away. When things got even more full, they would "move programs" to under-capacity schools without ever questioning why this school was empty and the one next to it was full.

Under the NSAP, they no longer have the flex to move programs at will. They have to serve special ed in their region. They can't ship all the Lake City special ed kids to West Seattle Elementary any longer and they have to provide additional capacity, even if it means doing something challenging like opening new schools.

So here we are in year one, where the district has to serve the kids that live in a geographic zone. New game, new rules - this usually means a new plan to the rest of the world.

But they are playing by the old rules, where when a school is full close the doors and move programs. So practically Day 1 of the new plan, they take APP and say "I know we promised you could have this building, but we guaranteed it to the neighborhood so TTFN."

And anyone that looked at that maps of where students live, could have seen this coming. This is a new plan and it needs new solutions.

wseadawg said...

Thanks for clarifying WSMom.

I think the idea that the boundaries will ever be solidly in place is a myth. Anyone living near a boundary border, stay nervous!

I think the 10% set asides, while desirable to many, exacerbate the problem as well. I think they should be smaller, especially in the most in-demand schools in areas with the most kids.

Otherwise its "NSAP Sucka(!)" to the 90% living in the neighborhood while 10% of the population, a significant number, still operates under the choice system. To me, that's just too large of a segment of the population that still gets to operate under the choice system. How is that every going to be fair?

north seattle mom said...

Thanks for hanging in there wseadawg

I think you have it exactly right. The 10% set asides is just enough for everyone to pretend that there is some choice while not actually having any real choice because there is no real choice at full schools, just like under the old plan!

The only change is that there are no more dead zones and no more RBHS assignments for families that move to Seattle mid-year.

It is just not possible for the boundaries to be solid unless the system is stable and/or there is significant excess capacity. It takes years to build a stable system. The schools with multiple boundaries, like Garfield are going to be the least stable.

Garfield shares boundaries with Roosevelt, Ballard and Franklin. Since Roosevelt and Ballard are both full there is no room in the Ballard-Roosevelt-Garfield triangle for any of the natural shifts that happen when you change over the entire system.

Then you add in the triangle that there are 500 kids that live closer to these three schools than the schools can reasonably serve and you try to hold aside another 400 plus seats for APP and there is no way to make it really work for the neighborhood.

In other words, Ballard can't go to Ballard, the NE can't go to Roosevelt and the CD can't go to Garfield because these school are now guaranteed to the former dead zones of QA and the zone right on the ship canal.

Every parent knew those boundaries were too big and it is simply impossible that downtown didn't know it was a temporary deal.

Opening Lincoln is an good solution but it is too close to Roosevelt to be the best solution. Opening QA high school would have been ideal but that was sold for a pittance.

The real irony here is that opening QA high school would have cost far less money than this mess.

Jan said...

I agree with North Seattle mom on the boundary stability thing. In a city where there is a lot of flux (and a system where people can relocated to a different neighborhood to get a school), it seems to me that it is not likely that we will get school stability for a while -- though it would help (1) if all schools were "excellent" and (2) all special programs like language immersion, etc.(maybe even IB) -- where people move specifically to get a program that is not available elsewhere -- were made option programs. At least that way, you would only have school population changes for demographics and economics -- and even those would put pressure on school boundaries.

In the meantime, I think they should continue with the conversation on perhaps opening an optional APP draw at Ingraham -- but really flesh it out -- so there are APP-level options for those kids (pre-IB, or whatever) starting in 9th grade, IB in 10th and 11th, and something like what Bellevue does (a post IB year) for 12th grade. I would also split the Garfield schedule (for the next few years, at least) and keep the current APP program there, where it works so well.
I would look at maybe moving the south Garfield boundary, but really, I don't think you can "push" kids into RBHS until it works better -- so if moving the south Garfield boundary also means moving the south Franklin boundary -- maybe not.
Finally, I would LOVE to have data the district has never given us:
1. How many of the new Garfield kids this year are APP (and how many of those live in each school's attendance areas.
2. Of the "extra surprise" kids at GHS this year -- how many are kids in the GHS attendance area that were at SPS schools last year, how many are from that attendance area but are "new" to the District this year, and where did they come from -- moved in over the summer? private schools? homeschooling?
3. How many choice seats were filled at each high school, and where did those kids come from (geographically AND historically -- SPS, private school, etc..
4. What are the addresses of the kids who are currently in the option schools (Cleveland STEM and the Center school)-- in other schools, what public and/or private high schools do those schools draw from.
Taking all the above into account, where does the District think it will be in 5 years, in 10 years in terms of high school capacity. THEN, and only then, does it make sense to me to start talking about whether we reopen Lincoln, build a new high school on Mercer, and/or move APP at some point down the road, etc. And because APP has been such an integral part of helping to make at least ONE south of the ship canal high school into a good one -- I would really, really HATE to move APP out of GHS and north of the ship canal.

kellie said...

Jan,

A lot of the information you list can be found on the New Student Assignment Plan - Transition Plan for 2011-2012 page on the website.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/index.dxml

But don't get me started on the need or the ability to plan a few years out. We have had 9 years of pretty consistent and easily documented growth in the NE. Even with this clear a trend line, there was not enough time or information for SPS to plan for additional facilities.

The district has already agreed that they need to add an additional middle school to the north end in the "near future." It stands to reason that there will be a near immediate need to add a high school.

Anonymous said...

Melissa writes
"The arguement is that some students have the highest achievement and therefore high needs."

Nope, no and nyet. All any parent can want and expect is for their child's academic needs to be met. No more and no less. Advanced Learning kids don't have high needs, they have different needs just as Special Ed and remedial kids do.



Do we have 4% or more special ed families who absolutely NEED beyond NEED to be in a single program somewhere? Do we have special education students in a program since K that never retest every 3 years at a minimum to demostrate that "need"? Absolutely NOT. If you have a need, you demonstrate that level of exceptionality repeatedly. It shouldn't be... "oh, he was in the top 2% on some test 10 years ago". If you're truly exceptional, it means you are in a percentage way different from the general population. With APP no longer have that exceptionality if the program keeps growing at the current rate. That means, by definition, that GENERAL ED will be able to serve you... if the bar is low enough. Why? Because lots and lots of other kids in GENERAL ED will have those same needs and meet that same criteria. Of course the needs of all students should be met. And the needs of one student isn't "greater" than the others. The point is that the need for a "special program" is greater because of the level of exceptionality. That is why there actually should be demonstrated exceptionality. Our argument for a special self-contained program is that general education can not meet the needs. It isn't an argument over preference.

Another Parent.

wseadawg said...

Anonymous/Another Parent: I understand what you're saying, but on its face, do you really think it makes sense to re-test kids who are comfortably doing work 2 years ahead of their peers?

And should they test into the 96th or 97th percentile, what then, drop them back a year to do work they already did?And do we cycle kids back and forth, year after year?

You may know some kids who you don't think would be in the top 2% if tested now, and that's fine. The program doesn't keep kids who cannot keep up and perform at the high level APP demands, but that's relatively few kids.

There's this notion of privilege for APP. I don't call the 4+ hours of homework done by my daughter every night a "privilege," while juggling music, sports & family time.

The admission criteria is just that: criteria. It's a predictor for those kids who will be able to handle the work and maintain the rigor. Some kids belong there who aren't, and some are there who don't belong. But it's going to be very, very few kids on either side of the line, simply by raw percentages.

This notion of APP as elite slackers owning the keys to the kingdom because of some years-ago birthright is utter nonsense. I'm probably one of few parents who will say this: My kids work harder than I ever did, and I consider myself a hard worker.

The challenge with any option or special needs program is where and how to locate it. When APP was alone at Lowell, it was considered elitist, insular and racist. So, they split it up and now it vies for space against Gen Ed and other programs where it exists.

Whether APP is or isn't an official High School program, it is a cohort and a community, much like any neighborhood school. So splitting up APP is no different than splitting up any neighborhood school.

Rather than go back and forth about entitlements based on neighborhoods, programs etc., the issue is space and poor capacity management by SPS. Nobody in APP wants to crowd out neighborhood kids, and the same should be true in reverse.

Similarly, it's not fair for Garfield area families to say "me first, you go somewhere else" after receiving substantially more dollars from levy supporters city-wide than any other neighborhood or school. How is that fair? Shall we tear down Garfield's gym and send it to Hale or Ingraham to even things out? Of course not.

It's a public school paid for by citywide public dollars, not just Garfield neighborhood folks. They have no more right to claim the building as their own and exclude others than I have to evict them from Alki Beach.

That's why it's called "public" property.

wseadawg said...

And there should be some acknowledgement that the APP community is right now taking proactive steps to reduce the overcrowding at Garfield in the years to come. The hope is that by starting a second program at Ingraham, it will divert and peel off some APP kids to alleviate the pressure at Garfield.

I think Bob Vaughan and the APP parents deserve credit for doing what they can to ensure no neighborhood kids are barred from going to their local school.

It's time for everyone to knock off the turf wars, scapegoating and demonizing of kids and families who bear no responsibility for the overcrowding situation at Garfield.

Chill out people. We're doing the best we can to solve a difficult situation as painlessly as possible for everyone. Not just APP.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Parent, that the district doesn't follow thru doesn't mean the families are wrong. Again, if students don't do well in the program, teachers can recommend them to be exited. I know this has happened. They don't just get in and stay in.

Anonymous said...

Well Dawg, no, I don't give APP parents any credit for relieving pressure on Garfield. I don't think some voluntary thing at Ingraham is going to amount to a hill of beans. Neighborhood kids should not be chased out to support an ever growing APP enrollment. I'd like to hear about ways the APP parents would like to reduce their numbers. So far, mums the word.

Melissa, you've missed the point. Whether or not "students do well in a program" (APP or other program) isn't the standard for keeping them in the program; it isn't the standard for a ticket to Garfield entitlement program. The standard is... can they be served in their neighborhood school or another general education school? Should they be served in their neighborhood school? Whether or not Bob Vaughn exits some students because they can't hack it, also completely misses the point. Students should be served in APP ONLY if they CAN'T be served elsewhere. I believe you that some students are exited... but it's precious few. Evidence? The district enrollment is flat, APP is up 25% in 5 years. Given that everyone else is having to accept their neighborhood school... the same should be true for advanced learners too. Advanced learning is available at almost every school. The burden is on the learners themselves to demonstrate that they CAN'T be served in a general ed effectively. If we believe that Seattle has many more advanced learners than the rest of the country, the our general ed also offers a high performing cohort. Here's the standard. Do you absolutely NEED and advanced program? The standard is absolutely NOT "Oh, I made it through APP so I should be served there". The standard is that the student couldn't be well served elsewhere.

Imagine a special ed student, since that is a favorite comparison. We would never say, "Gee, because you were well served in self-contained XYZ program you should stay in that program." The standard for staying in the program is that it is the ONLY location that CAN serve you. Special ed students must repeatedly demonstrate that they CAN NOT be served in general ed to maintain their placements. Therefore, you need it. As special education students, that same burden should be on advance learners too.

Another Parent.

north seattle mom said...

Another Parent -

You are making the mistake that many of us have made over the years - trusting the district's PR spin on numbers.

District enrollment is not flat. That is a great story that was used to force the closure of schools. Overall enrollment is higher than it has been in 10 years.

Moreover, enrollment in the north end has been steadily increasing for 9 years. For all schools north of the ship canal, the 8th grade cohort is 1226. The K cohort is 1705. That is a 40% increase in cohort size and there is pretty much a straight line between those two numbers for every grade in between.

That 25% increase is a great PR spin to make folks think that APP enrollment is out of control. It isn't. It is exactly proportionate to the growth in north end feeder schools.

There is serious growth in this district but nobody wants to deal with it. Meg showed the board this growth multiple times before they closed all those schools.

Growth at APP is not the problem at Garfield. Overall growth is the problem and you are only seeing the first year.

wsnorth said...

I think it is sick the way the district fabricates problems (such as overcrowding at Garfield, which several of us told them would happen) then pits us against each other to duke it out for our kids.

But face it, APP students are the only ones left with a privileged "fast pass" to a great high school that is not based upon geography or lottery. The rebel in me says more power to them, anyone who can eek out a win in this dismal situation is a near hero in my book.

However, NSAP doesn't provide any privileged admissions placement for advanced musicians, language immersion students, spectrum students, sports stars, nobody - nada, nobody gets a special pathway except APP. Am I wrong? Who?

Sure, Garfield is public property, but why shouldn't my hypothetical "97th percentile" student have the same access as the "99th percentile" kids? During NSAP "planning" (if you can call it that) it was like us normal-old-neighborhood-like-to-walk-places people fighting and losing while every special interest were just sitting on the sidelines hoping the district didn't mess with their rice bowl.

wseadawg said...

WSNorth: I attended every meeting I could trying to stop the Cooper closure even though my kids didn't go there. My "rice bowl" was ripped in half, twice, thank you very much.

And I'm a local, walk to everything person too. What's that supposed to mean, anyways? Are you profiling me as a gas guzzling SUV driver because my kids are in APP? You couldn't be more wrong, but it wouldn't surprise me either. I'm used to being convicted as elitist, racist, insular, and of course "privileged" (my personal favorite as I drive around in my 13 year old truck) because my kids happen to be in APP.

No, I did not stand on the sidelines praying my rice bowl wouldn't be touched. I watched it get ravaged right in front of me while local folks, unaffected by closures blissfully blew off my concerns. Well, now the same people who screwed my kids in '09 are screwing yours in '10. Were you fighting for my kids in '09 like I have for yours in '10? I can't blame you if you weren't. It's hard to imagine how bad district decisions can be until they happen. And then, people's jaws drop as reality sets in. It is truly breathtakingly awful, isn't it?

As for your 97th percentile kid, if he or she is well served at the local school, you probably have no reason to try anything else. If you wanted or needed to, your kid could probably go to APP or wind up at Sealth. Until you "overcrowd" and the locals want to throw you and your program out, that is.

Another parent, I can't expect more than spite and derision from you, as I'm out there trying to find ways to protect your interests and mine. No, I don't expect credit from somebody who mocks genuine efforts of APP parents who consider voluntarily attending another school instead of Garfield, in order to do what's right for you, at their risk and expense of effort. Of course not. When the APP IB takes off at Ingraham, no thanks to your support, and becomes something more than a "hill of beans" as you myopically focus on your neighborhood school and nothing else, will you congratulate or thank my fellow APP folks and I for fixing the overcrowding problem? Or will you find some other reason to hate me?

And the only way "mums the word" is if you've deliberately held your hands over your ears and chanted "la-la-la-la-la-la" to drown out the sound of people talking about a plan to fix the problem you're so hot and bothered about.

But that's okay. Keep throwing bombs at APP, even though the district's prediction of their numbers was dead on for this year, and it was the non APP families "neighborhood kids" who suddenly appeared in the Garfield reference area. I'm sure all those addresses are legitimate and I'm sure every last non APP kid at Garfield is a "neighborhood kid." Wanna buy a bridge?

dw said...

Neighborhood kids should not be chased out to support an ever growing APP enrollment. I'd like to hear about ways the APP parents would like to reduce their numbers. So far, mums the word.

This can just as accurately be portrayed the other way around. APP kids should not be chased out because of growing "local" enrollment due to oversized boundaries! A fact worth noting: the number of APP kids at Garfield this year was almost exactly on target. It was all the other kids that the district did not expect.

However, as much as Another Parent sounds antagonistic toward APP (or maybe toward the district's APP process), he/she has some valid points.

"The standard is that the student couldn't be well served elsewhere."

As an APP parent, I totally agree, and much of the growth in APP in recent years has been due to "looser standards" for admission. You can thank the district administration for that, not the families.

As the standards get looser, there are more kids on the cusp that could probably be served in their neighborhood or regional Spectrum programs. Unfortunately, those programs are poorly supported in many areas, which drives more families to try to squeeze into APP. For example, apparently Lawton Spectrum will no longer be self-contained. See SSS comments here. But isn't that part of the definition of the Spectrum program?

However, there's a counterbalance to this as well. In order to have a functional APP program, a practical number of students is necessary to drive the logistics of classrooms and sections. And as luck would have it, those numbers seemed to match up pretty well with the number of kids that had a solid need for this kind of program. For a number of years that balance was managed fairly well by the district, but in recent years it's been mismanaged, and we can see the result.

I don't believe we need to do anything as drastic as yearly testing to boot kids out of the program. There are too many issues with testing processes and I'm sure an appeals process would be needed, etc. I think more kids should be carefully encouraged to exit the program than currently are exited, but more importantly than that, the entry criteria should be tightened back up. It would be beneficial to everyone inside or outside the program.

So why isn't this happening? Because the district seems to think that good programs should grow! And if they're not showing growth, then something is wrong. Growth looks good on a resume! Let's make sure APP is growing! Now we're all paying the price for this resume padding.

dw said...

Neighborhood kids should not be chased out to support an ever growing APP enrollment. I'd like to hear about ways the APP parents would like to reduce their numbers. So far, mums the word.

This can just as accurately be portrayed the other way around. APP kids should not be chased out because of growing "local" enrollment due to oversized boundaries! A noteworthy fact: according to the district, the number of APP kids at Garfield this year was almost exactly on target. It was all the other kids that they did not expect.

However, as much as Another Parent sounds antagonistic toward APP (or maybe toward the district's APP process), he/she has some valid points.

"The standard is that the student couldn't be well served elsewhere."

As an APP parent, I totally agree, and much of the growth in APP in recent years has been due to "looser standards" for admission. You can thank the district administration for that, not the families.

As the standards get looser, there are more kids on the cusp that could probably be served in their neighborhood or regional Spectrum programs. Unfortunately, those programs are poorly supported in many areas, which drives more families to try to squeeze into APP. For example, apparently Lawton Spectrum will no longer be self-contained. See SSS comments here. But isn't that part of the definition of the Spectrum program?

However, there's a counterbalance to this as well. In order to have a functional APP program, a practical number of students is necessary to drive the logistics of classrooms and sections. As luck would have it, for many years those numbers seemed to match up pretty well with the number of kids that had a solid need for this kind of program. It used to be fairly well by the district, but in recent years it's been mismanaged, and we can see the result.

I don't believe we need to do anything as drastic as yearly testing to boot kids out of the program. There are too many issues with testing processes and I'm sure an appeals process would be needed, etc. I do think more kids should be carefully encouraged to exit the program than currently are exited, but more importantly than that, the entry criteria should be tightened back up. It would be beneficial to everyone, whether inside or outside the program.

So why isn't this happening? Because the district seems to think that good programs should grow! And if they're not showing growth, then something is wrong. Growth looks good on a resume! Let's make sure APP is growing! Now we're all paying the price for this resume padding.

dw said...

Sure, Garfield is public property, but why shouldn't my hypothetical "97th percentile" student have the same access as the "99th percentile" kids?

To follow up on Another Parent's comment, at the risk of irking some people, a 97th %ile student is different from a 99th %ile student. As he/she points out, the APP program is supposed to be for those kids with a serious need. Of course we're ignoring the noise level of any given individual test, but unfortunately, that's not something we can control.

Setting aside the issue of test reliability, take a look at this Normal Distribution chart. Go ahead, open it up in another window.

Note where the curve starts to flatten out; it's around the 2nd standard deviation. It's not by chance that gifted programs commonly use the top 2% as a cutoff. Just moving a couple percentage points in from there you can see how quickly the numbers get large, and how in theory there should be enough kids at these levels to be served in a solid Spectrum program. Again, it's not that they couldn't be successful in APP, but whether or not they can be served locally.

Note that on the extremes, the chart doesn't represent the "long tail" very well. At the tips, a normal distribution gets thin, but very long. The ability range of APP is actually much wider than Spectrum. There are fewer kids out there, but the separation between their positions on the chart is wider. Not the best description, but hopefully you get the idea...

wsnorth said...

I didn't intend my post to be as negative as a few of you took it. I just think things should be called what they are.

Two questions:

1) If my "97th percentile" student lived in the Garfield area, couldn't that student take the exact same classes as the student allowed in on the APP Path? Is APP really a "program" at the High School level? Again, geography or privilege?

2) Under NSAP, who else gets privileged admission anywhere? What group of students? I think APP is the only group.

For the record, I think the privileged access is fine and wish my language learners and students actually interested in taking IB courses had privileged access to an IB program. I know familes with "star" musicians who would wish the same for them.

It is ridiculous to say the district didn't think so many people would go to Garfield. I personally sent them some info on this subject based upon their own numbers!

PS my car is 15 years old ... and I was late to wake up to the closure/NSAP fiasco but attended meetings, gathered signatures and fought the destruction of West Seattle neighborhood schools in any way I could think of.

Charlie Mas said...

wsnorth asks: "Under NSAP, who else gets privileged admission anywhere? What group of students?"

The students who live near John Stanford International School get privileged access to the language immersion program there.

The students who live near Graham Hill get privileged access to the Montessori program there.

The students who live near Beacon Hill International School get privileged access to the language immersion program there.

These students could be served just as well in another program. Why should they get access to these programs based just on living close to them? There's no academic need there.

I often have trouble with these questions about APP at Garfield due to the cognitive dissonance I keep hearing around it.

People seem to jump back an forth between saying that there is nothing special there and asking why these kids should get to cut to the front of the line for the something special at Garfield.

People jump back and forth between saying that Garfield should be for the neighborhood kids and not wanting APP to move out because they fear the school would spiral down if the APP kids left.

People jump back and forth between saying that APP is the reason that the school is overcrowded and acknowledging the fact that APP growth has been smaller than the growth of the general education population at Garfield.

Here are some bedrock facts.

The District said that they would consider APP when they set the attendance area boundary around Garfield.

The Garfield attendance area was seriously questioned when it was drawn because it was obviously too big. The District assured us that it was not.

The District is not suddenly surprised by the high school APP enrollment. It is right in line with predictions.

The District is, however, surprised by the number of attendance area students who enrolled at Garfield. That was far beyond their predictions.

The District erred when drawing the boundary. That's the mistake that requires correction.

Right now there are between two and five other schools (Roosevelt, Ballard, Ingraham IB, Sealth IB, NOVA) that offer a rigorous academic opportunity and peer group comparable to the one at Garfield for APP students.

Even if other schools begin to offer a minimum set of AP classes or honors classes, they might not have the peer group that makes APP at Garfield a real program instead of just a lot of challenging classes.

Right now there are APP families who are thinking about voluntarily leaving Garfield for another program under design. They are actively seeking a solution by changing their plans to accomodate others.

I'm not hearing a lot of families from the southern edge of the Garfield attendance area coming forward to say that they are willing to be assigned to Franklin. Does only the APP community have an obligation to compromise here? Does no one else have to put something into the pot?

hschinske said...

The standard for staying in the program is that it is the ONLY location that CAN serve you.

I don't see it that way -- I see it as more like a grade skip, where you don't go undoing it unless you have a damn good reason. Look at the kids who take early entrance to kindergarten -- that's decided when they're *four*, and it's still permanent.

Helen Schinske

north seattle mom said...

wsnorth said "It is ridiculous to say the district didn't think so many people would go to Garfield. I personally sent them some info on this subject based upon their own numbers!"

That is the heart of the issue. You and every parent that pays any attention to enrollment sent in the same exact information. Parents understand what other parents are willing to do for their kids and education. In all the footnotes of the NSAP, it is clearly stated that they included ZERO assumptions about population growth, additional market share with the guarantee or student migration to popular programs.

The boundaries were solely based on current enrollment numbers. SINGULARLY. Therefore every school that added former dead zones was going to have higher than expected enrollment. There is no other option than enrollment will increase at popular successful programs and next year will be much worse.

This current year's higher than expect enrollment numbers were greatly offset but the families that needed to apply to private because of the timeline of the enrollment process. One of the things enrollment isn't talking about is full migration in and migration out numbers.

If those numbers were clear, then folks would be even more panicked about the Garfield situation.

wseadawg said...

Thanks Charlie. I appreciate it.

WSNorth: Yes, if you lived in the Garfield area your kid could take the same AP classes as APP kids. The APP cohort at Garfield is different than at Elementary or Middle School in that the program is no longer "self-contained."

As for privileged admissions, you have to look at what Charlie is saying and at option programs, alternative programs, and other school within a school programs, like IB. When those schools fill, people will be arguing about their "privileged admissions" too. It's not happening today, because they aren't full yet and possibly looking at turning people away. Timing is everything, and that's why Garfield is under the microscope right now.

But more importantly, let's look at the numbers: There are 984 students living in the Garfield attendance area currently attending the school. APP has 286 kids living in the Garfield attendance area. From the districts crappy charts here, it appears that 984 number includes the 286 APP kids. If not, adding the two equals 1270 kids. Add the 169 APP kids not residing in the GF Attendance area, and you get 1439 kids. But Garfield has 1780 kids in a building with a supposed Functional Capacity of 1590.

So currently Garfield appears to have 341 kids attending from outside it's service area. With grandfathering, etc., and larger % of kids in the area going to GF, the combination of APP kids, 63% of whom live in the Garfield area will drive the building towards capacity between just those two groups. That's why the APP community is proactively addressing the problem facing GF in the near future.

Right now, the problem is caused by the multiple factors influencing growth at all the popular schools across the entire district.

Booting out APP will not solve the problem at Garfield, but would create the same type of problem at Roosevelt, Ballard & likely Sealth.

There's no simple solution of throwing kids out of any particular school. It aggravates the problems. It doesn't solve them. That's why it's so annoying to absorb all the gratuitous insults from non APP folks not looking at the big picture and considering all the facts & impacts throughout the district.

If Garfield eventually becomes too full to accomodate APP as it currently stands, changes will have to be made. But we're in year 1 of the NSAP. After all this district turmoil over the last several years, let's be empirical and make wise decisions, not in a huff!

BTW-It may be that the 286 APP kids are included in the overall 984 figure. If that's the case, GF has almost 800 non-Garfield area kids attending this year, dwarfing APP's impact.

I encourage everyone, friend or foe of APP, to check my math & numbers and see what you come up with. I may have it wrong, and relying on district data is definitely not fool-proof.

But let's know the facts cold, and be empirical folks. The sky is not falling.

hschinske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hschinske said...

BTW-It may be that the 286 APP kids are included in the overall 984 figure. If that's the case, GF has almost 800 non-Garfield area kids attending this year, dwarfing APP's impact.

I make it 627 -- I think you forgot to allow for the 169 out-of-area APP students the second time around. Still quite significant.

Are non-APP-qualified siblings still allowed sibling preference to Garfield? Because going forward I should think that would be the largest source of out-of-area non-APP students. (And yes, my Garfield daughter is there due to her sister's having been in APP -- though we're still using only one slot at Garfield, as my APP daughter transferred to Nova, and anyway at least we also did some other families a favor in freeing up two Ballard slots.)

Helen Schinske

G said...

As a neighborhood family with kids thriving at Garfield in the AP/honors track, I must weigh in and say that everyone I know wants the APP program to stay at Garfield! My kids have lots of friends who have come up through the APP track. The school is vibrant and rigorous on so many fronts (academics, music, drama, many clubs, etc), due in part to the cohort that comes together with the larger community at GHS. The sentiment that the neighborhood wants the APP cohort out is not true! Perhaps there are a few outspoken voices that have said something along these lines, but trust me, the prevailing opinion is to keep the APP cohort at GHS.

I've wondered about all the out of area kids not in APP. There is a lot of address fudging going on. I asked this question aloud the other day in a room of people that might have some insight - why is this the one element of the NSAP that is completely swept under the rug? The remedy for fake addresses at this point is a "rat out" page on the SPS website. It is up to families to "rat out" students attending GHS using a fake address. I know several (one is in my kitchen right now), and I can't do it. The district should have tighter controls over this, and if they won't take action, I find it unreasonable for families to bear the responsibility. As I asked the question, I kind of answered it myself, I think. The high profile cases of fake addresses in recent years have involved athletes. It occurred to me that it is just too nasty a can of worms for the district to open, so they leave all the kids that are using fake addresses alone. And from these numbers, it is a whole bunch of kids. I personally know a dozen.

It is interesting that people who are cheating (albeit just to take advantage of something that should be available to every student) are given a higher priority than the APP program that built the reputation that Garfield has today.

wseadawg said...

Right. Thanks Helen. I think we'll do much better to dig into the numbers, identify the growth trends, and create positive, forward-looking solutions.

Next time I hear the term "right-sizing schools," I'm gonna open up a can of whoop-ass on the speaker. They call this "Capacity Management?"