Boundaries and Capacity Management Work Session

This Work Session had a larger-than-normal audience which is a good thing because now there are other witnesses to what was discussed.  

Charlie and I both went and came armed with ideas for the Board to consider.  (He outdid me, of course, with his sheet with 23(!) questions.  He checked them off as they went along.  At least five of them got asked but not necessarily answered.)  I gave them a sheet with comments copped from Charlie's previous thread. 

And, with apologies to all other programs, somehow Advanced Learning/Highly Capable got the lion's share of discussion.

Michael Tolley started the session, outlining the higher level thinking.  However, the presentation, on slide 3, says that one goal of the process is to "include access to services and programs as a key component in boundary revisions."  To which Charlie wrote in the margin "except Montessori."  And, he's right.  Montessori is in neighborhood schools but is an optional program.  There are three of them in the district- north, central and SE - but there is nothing about equitable access to this program.  (I would say that parents aren't clamoring for it but I could also say that about foreign language immersion.)

President Smith-Blum asked about the notation on Slide 9 about the Guiding Principles being in conflict.  Tracy Libros said one was balancing diversity versus walkability.  Smith-Blum disagreed, saying that they had "tools in the kit" to do this.  Tracy asked her to hold that thought as she would come back to the issue.

Charlie saw one question - where is the rationale for siting EOC and The World School at their project locations - asked but not really answered.  Pegi McEvoy offered that TT Minor - the site for The World School - has "services" for students in the area but didn't name them.  The Board did not follow up.

They zipped right thru Special Education which surprised me.

Then we got to Advanced Learning.  (You may wonder why the district is using the term "highly capable" in this discussion when it got rid of using that name for the overall program years ago.  Highly Capable is the term the state uses and is the name used in the grant that supplies money for APP.  So when you see "highly capable", they mean APP. )

  • Pegi McEvoy said that they had previously made the decision to keep APP Elementary North at Lincoln for five years.  Then those students would move to the new Wilson-Pacific elementary building and, if there is more growth, other pathways.  
  • It was noted that changes to the program could impact the number of students and/or locations.
  • Director Patu noted that the presentation said there would be no "free-standing" APP school but didn't the numbers look like APP North students could fill up W-P?  She didn't get a direct answer but it led to a discussion about the number of APP students (but she's right).  Here's where it got interesting.
Director DeBell, speaking carefully, said that if the reality is increasing APP enrollment, they need to consider other sites.

Director Peaslee asked why the pathway at Ingraham is optional but not Garfield?  The answer was that the new program at Ingraham was optional to test the waters with a different model of delivery.  (I had to smile as I don't really consider what APP is at Garfield to be any sort of a "model of delivery.")

President Smith-Blum then said that she didn't think the new taskforces for Advanced Learning would be considering testing models (meaning, that's the purview of the district).  She did ask if there was some hybrid model of testing that could be used this coming year to see what might happen if there was a different kind of testing?

Shauna Heath, director of T&L/C&I, said they were using the Cogat 6 but were going to the Cogat 7 which should work better for ELL learners.  She said that Cogat 7 offers a "screener" and that the taskforce could consider all the ID criteria.  (My thought is that if the Cogat 7 offers such a screener, maybe they could use that instead of MAP.)

DeBell then chimed in that he had been talking to a local legislator about this issue. He said there seems to be some confusion over the guidelines from the state and the legislator said they are flexible.  DeBell then asked, "Do we have some control over this capacity?

Link to WAC.  The legislature funds 2.314% of each school district's population.  PDF on this issue.

Key info:  the WAC says each school district's board of director "shall adopt policies and procedures for the selection of highly capable students." It says a district "shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students."  What I find interesting is that the PDF on the WAC says this is not supposed to be just based on test scores but "multiple sources of  information" and yet I don't think anything but test scores are considered.  (Maybe others are on appeal.)  It also says that districts should "avoid using tests for purposes other than those for which they are explicitly stated."  Hello, MAP?

It states that "access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education."  But access to these programs/instruction through a highly capable program "does not constitute an individual entitlement" for any particular student. 

At one point, there seemed to be a sticking point on what Spectrum is and, for some reason, Ms Heath was stuck on Spectrum being just one grade ahead.  And, like APP, it's not just a grade(s) ahead program.  The PDF clearly explains that it's about "levels of abstraction and complexity", "intense concentration" and not just "learning quickly."

There was an amendment to this WAC as of April 2013.  However, it does not talk about numbers/percentages of students.   This is key to the following discussion.

DeBell went on, saying that our district was currently qualifying more than 2% of its population and do we "potentially have the ability to set a cut point where we want."  He was looking for parameters.

Heath said she was not sure.  (And the answer is the state funding is set and the district can set its own enrollment policies.  That's my read of the WAC.)

DeBell hastened to say that the latest amendments in the WAC should be looked at, perhaps as a tool they can use "not that we should but good to know about."

Director Carr jumped in and said they needed to be careful.  She said the state has a cut point for funding Sped and the district serves more students than the state will fund.  She said she didn't see highly capable as much different from that.  President Smith-Blum concurred on any idea of a cut point for number of students served.

Director McLaren asked whether the state requires that students test in the top 2% for math and reading?  Ms Heath said yes (but Charlie says no and I agree).

Ms Heath pointed out that with the use of the Cogat 7, they may reach more APP and Spectrum students because of the non-verbal component.

Director Patu voiced concern over the lack of APP in the SE.  Tracy pointed out that there was a north/south aspect to APP and there was Spectrum at Hawthorne and several ALOs scattered around in the SE.

Then they got to cohort sizes for APP schools.  Ms Heath said they referenced the work of the AL Taskforce for this work (and hey, for once, that WAS something we did work on).

Director Carr said that she was surprised to see the cohort size was for middle school and not elementary.  She said the program has no real curriculum so the cohort seems to be important.  She said that if there is a small group of students at one school, it might change how they are served.

They had Rachel Cassidy, the district demographer, come and explain a sheet with potential growth in APP and pathways.  (I do not have a link for this one.)  One key factor she points out is not just who qualifies for APP but do they enroll.  She had some amazing stats.

In Hamilton's region, the growth is at 12% of kids being in APP.  This is versus 6% at Washington.  She said in 6th grade alone at Hamilton, 7% of the 6th graders are newly enrolled APP students.  She was asked why this might be and she said a child might test into APP in elementary but the parents already like the school but that 6th grade is obviously a transition so they feel okay about moving to a different school for APP.

She also said there were 1000 students in K-8 in the district who got a recruitment letter from AL based on their MAP scores.  She said that they have a 70% participation rate but that the 30% is a large number who never test.  (I'd love to see the demographics on that.)

One issue that President Smith-Blum brought up is how difficult it is for APP students in West Seattle to get to Thurgood Marshall and couldn't there be a model like Ingraham at K-5 STEM in West Seattle? 

There seems to be a push/pull issue here.  Staff worries about opening programs that start small (and might stay small).  But the Board seems to believe that there is latent desire for these programs but available nearer to home (or at least in an easier location to get to).  

Then DeBell hit on a theme that got said by several Board members.  "The quality of the Spectrum programs is the missing variable here.  We can achieve more equitable access if we have good programs."  He said making Spectrum better could serve more students and lower the expansion of APP. 

Tracy Libros then got back to President Smith-Blum's earlier question about conflicting guiding principles.  She said that Meany will have more APP students than Washington within walking distance.  So is the walkability to Meany more important or creating diversity at Washington?   (As Charlie points out, this is somewhat limited thinking as neither Washington nor Meany are in the south.  If you wanted more equity, APP would be at a south end middle school like Mercer.)

Director Carr then said that, basically, Hamilton has too many programs.  She said it is difficult for staff to keep up.

Both DeBell and Smith-Blum felt that, looking at the sheet that Cassidy handed out, the numbers on growth didn't jive correctly.   Smith-Blum also echoed DeBell's previous remarks on Spectrum.  She said the problem is inconsistency in Spectrum and it needs to be corrected.  (Peaslee even suggested they strengthen Spectrum and ditch ALOs since they, too, are inconsistent and not available everywhere.)  Martin-Morris said he didn't even know what Spectrum was supposed to be. 

(And to note, staff said NOTHING on this issue the entire time.  I think this idea of getting rid of Spectrum might not work out for them.)

Peaslee and Heath then had a back-and-forth on Spectrum with Heath sticking with Spectrum being one grade ahead.  Peaslee asked well, if that is true, why not have this at all the elementaries?  Carr jumped in saying it wasn't just accelerated but also had compacting of curriculum and enrichment.  DeBell stopped the conversation saying they were off topic.

They then moved on to Option Schools.  There was some discussion of foreign language immersion schools.  (And I am still baffled over changing both McDonald and JSIS, leaving a big area without attendance area schools.  The program at McDonald could be moved - it's pretty young - to say, Green Lake.)  It is also interesting that whenever this topic (option schools) comes up, the discussion is always about foreign language immersion, almost as if there are no other option schools.

They had Karen Kodoma, a district staff person and long-time creator of JSIS, come to the mic.  She talked about some kind of hybrid model of FL enrollment with siblings, geozones and then native speakers.  It sounded like an awful lot of tiebreakers.   Good luck, Tracy.  Director Carr stated that it is important to help families in the JSIS and McDonald programs to understand what the geozones are.

Director Patu came in, wondering why Rainier Beach High School got left out of these discussions.

They then moved onto STEM with Tolley saying that there are no changes to the Cleveland "program", thereby driving Charlie nuts as Cleveland doesn't have a program but a curricular focus.

Then they got to capacity management.  Director McLaren asked about interim siting for JA K-8.  McEvoy said they don't have the final requirements and are still working on them.  President Smith-Blum said that she was worried about the long distance for Meany students to be at Van Asselt while Meany is overhauled.

I also note that the presentation says that Cedar Park's notation says, "attendance area school after use as interim site."  That is NOT what was said previously and, in fact, Superintendent Banda told me that it was only being considered.  I see this as a push for Cedar Park when they have no real idea if that is a certainty.  I say this because the district is going to completely change that neighborhood, in many ways and with a huge amount of capital dollars, and I worry it will be just for interim use.  And, that you really need the capacity in Lake City. 

I'm going on record to say that if they proceed with Cedar Park, I believe they are making a huge and costly mistake (on the order of building for South Shore over Pathfinder).

Director McLaren timidly brought this up but got a vague answer about it (except that the Lake City property has long-term leases but I'd bet there's a contingency clause for the district to take them back when needed). 

President Smith-Blum asked that definitions be given for a school versus a program, curricular foci, etc.  Good for her.  She also worried outloud about infrastructure near Thornton Creek for parking and traffic.

Boy, do I have news for her about Wilson-Pacific. That thread to come.

My assessment of this Work Session is that there was not much, if any, boundary talk.  But, I believe the staff got the message about Advanced Learning and it will be quite interesting to see how the capacity management issues may finally bring about badly needed changes to this program.


Eric B said…
If this didn't get said in the meeting, it should: if we had all of the BEX IV capacity now, some schools would still be overcrowded. Capacity is going to be painful over the next few years.

On the Spectrum/service delivery model front, I almost wonder if a different approach to the problem is right at the middle school level. Maintain honors classes, but open them to all students. If students want to/are able to do the work, let them in to honors classes. Don't hold it just to Spectrum students.

This follows the Ingraham model, where staff believes that the best marker for whether students succeed in an honors class is whether they want to be in that class. People who want to do the work will do it.
Charlie Mas said…
During the discussion of Spectrum Ms Heath made a statement that might possibly rank in the top ten for blatantly false and misleading statements ever made to the Board by a member of the senior staff.

When confronted with the inconsistency in Spectrum delivery models, she replied that Spectrum had a consistent delivery model, and that it is "one year ahead".


1) Ms Heath doesn't know what a delivery model is.
2) Ms Heath knows what a delivery model is, but wants to deceive the Board about the meaning of "delivery model"

Either way, it's bad.
biliruben said…
Could you be more clear on the Cedar Park/Lake City issue?

I have always heard that they were strongly considering making Cedar Park a neighborhood school once Olympic Hills moved out.

Why is this a mistake? I don't have the history to understand your SS/pathfinder reference.

Eric, re: your first remark - no it didn't get said. And, no one really grasped that saying "we'll get to high school later" is not a answer.

Your second idea - understand that Spectrum in middle school is one class - LA. Math is for whoever tests in. I don't know an "honors" class in any middle school that only Spectrum students can access.

Anonymous said…
Don't ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence? When the director of C&I isn't familiar with the WACs, that's a problem.

As far as entry citeria, that's up to the District to define. They could require achievement scores of 95% (current threshold), 98%, or heck, even 99%.

WAC 392-170-055
(3) Districts shall have a clearly defined and written assessment process.

They need to use multiple criteria. The district currently has the nomination form, the CogAT testing (98%), and achievement testing (95%).

WAC WAC 392-170-055
(2) Districts shall use multiple objective criteria for identification of students who are among the most highly capable. There is no single prescribed method for identification of students among the most highly capable;

Additionally, WAC 392-170-075 states selection Shall be based on professional judgment as to which students will benefit the most from inclusion in the district's program.

The District can make the criteria as narrow or broad as they wish, as long as they are setting criteria that select the "most highly capable" as defined by WAC.

Thanks for the recap, Melissa. It was good to hear that the Board is pushing for definition around Spectrum, and perhaps sees it as a possible way to rein in APP growth. I sense a conflict between wanting to tighten APP criteria to contain the cohort size, but also wanting to increase the diversity of APP enrollment. Let's hope they hire a competent head of Advanced Learning soon.

Charlie Mas said…
I found all of the discussion of Spectrum to be a waste of time since Spectrum is dead. It is already scheduled for dissolution with the implementation of MTSS, so what's the point in fixing it before we throw it out?
Eric B said…
Melissa, Spectrum at Whitman a few years ago in 6th grade was two pairs of clustered classes, LA/social studies taught by one teacher, and math/science taught by another. The other two classes were electives. In 7th/8th grades, I believe that math and science were split, but I'm not 100% sure about LA/SS. It's possible that some non-Spectrum-identified students tested in to the 6th grade math/science class, but I don't think it was many.

Of course, Whitman has changed everything up now, so this may not really apply. If the change includes honors classes that are open to all students, it may be a positive.
New 6th HIMS APP said…
in 6th grade alone at Hamilton, 7% of the 6th graders are newly enrolled APP students. She was asked why this might be...

They could ask us instead of speculating on our behalf. The reason she stated isn't ours. I'd be more than happy to share with the district what led to our decision to help work for positive/constructive change for everyone vs. reactionary.
Eric, and there's the problem - Spectrum is whatever a principal defines it to be. Not good.

Bilirueben, why do I think Cedar Park is a mistake?

First,do we need another elementary school in that area? They are already beefing up Olympic Hills to the north and Lake City has no elementary. Where is the growth going to come from?

This is important because it is going to cost many millions to reopen anything. The Lake City property, while it has lease costs (and probably some capital costs), to me, overall, is a better choice.

They are going to invest something like $7-10M in Cedar Park. That's a chunk of change for a building that:

- may end up as only an interim (and not even a well-used one although it could be a back-up building in case of disaster elsewhere)
- will significantly change a neighborhood (they will have to rework the streets to accommodate buses, redo the park area for a playground (taking the use away AND tearing out work that the neighbors put in to create it)
- it would be far better to invest the money in Lake City or Rogers than Cedar Park - that's a long-term forecast and not just a short-term answer

My reference to South Shore and Pathfinder is from BEX III. The choice was made then to redo South Shore even though it clearly was not one of the worst/oldest buildings in the district (and the district was receiving pressure from the New School Foundation over renewing its commitment to the school). Pathfinder at the Genesee building was in one of the worst buildings in the district (and it's on BEX IV).

That single decision had a big ripple effect in the district. Because Pathfinder didn't get a rebuild then (but really could not stay in that building), Cooper got pushed out of its building. Then, scant years later, we see the north of West Seattle overcrowded and they really need Cooper but it's not a neighborhood school anymore and that resulted in more overcrowding to schools in that region.

(And, of course, they overbuilt at South Shore - with a rotunda in it - and had to redo all the carpeting.)

My point is two-fold for this issue of capacity and capital building.

One, we have a limited number of capital dollars and a HUGE amount to do. We cannot waste money.

Two, the district seems to only see what is directly in front of them and does not look down the road. They need Cedar Park now but is that investment worth it?

I hate to see capital mistakes. It means money that could have been better spent.
Charlie Mas said…
Here is an absolutely amazing statistic that was announced yesterday. It should probably be a blog post all its own. Not for the comment thread but just for the headline.

12% of all of the middle school students in the Whitman, Eckstein, Hamilton and McClure attendance area are enrolled in APP.

Yeah. Take a moment with that. A program that is supposed to serve the top 2% nationally has enrolled 12% of north-end middle school students.

In the south-end, in the Washington, Mercer, Aki Kurose, Madison, and Denny attendance areas, a full 6% of middle school students are enrolled in APP.

You ready for this:
30% of APP-eligible students do not participate in the program. That's across all grade levels, not just at middle school. Participation takes a strong up-tick from elementary to middle school and then drops off again at high school. This makes sense as families are reluctant to have their children change schools in grades 3, 4, and 5 but generally make a transition anyway at grade 6.

We're not done yet. There are a thousand students who are invited to apply for the program based on MAP scores who don't even test for eligibility. There could be another several hundred students in the program.

Let me just say this again:

12% of north-end middle school students are enrolled in APP.
biliruben said…
Thanks for the explanation, Melissa.

I agree with a lot of that, and also don't like seeing capital mistakes.

However, I think of Cedar Park and serving Lake City. If you look at the heat maps, the growth is mostly coming from the Littlebrook area, which, beyond the expansion of Oly Hills, would be well served by a new elementary at Cedar Park.

Also, the loss of 400 or so elementary seats as Jane Addams leaves the neighborhood and is converted to a middle school, with John Rogers already bursting at the seams (30 kids per K), I just can't imagine where all the kids are going to go.

Whether the old Lake City building is a better choice, I'm not sure. I don't really like elementary schools on fast, busy arterials, and I don't think they have any land anymore, as the playground is owned by the parks. It is a bit bigger, but it would have to be completely reconfigured and, I'm guessing, greater cost than Cedar Park.

I'm honestly of two minds. My little boy plays at the park all the time, and he would not attend the school. I do see the obvious need to relieve the capacity pressures, however.

The fact that we lose one of only 2 parks (and the best used) north of 110th is frustrating, but that just highlights the need for more parks in the north. It doesn't make renovating Cedar Park a mistake.
Charlie Mas said…
Mr. Tolley and Ms Heath promised two task forces to make recommendations on advanced learning.

One to consider and make recommendations on student identification.

One to consider and make recommendations on delivery model.

Of course, given Ms Heath's recent re-definition of "delivery model", I'm not sure what that task force will actually discuss or recommend. It does appear to extend beyond delivery model into what we have historically called "curriculum".

These Task Forces will be formed after the new manager for advanced learning has been hired and has found their footing. Probably some time in the fall. The Task Forces will then be able to report their recommendations sometime in the late winter or early spring, just AFTER the growth boundary plan is completed.
Charlie Mas said…
How I wish there were an audio recording of this work session. It was one hot pepper.
TechyMom said…
Has there been any discussion of how the new middle schools will roll up? My kid will be in 8th grade when Meany opens, and we're most likely in the Meany area.

I'm trying to figure out if she'd be bussed to Van Asselt for 6th and 7th, go to Washington for 6th and 7th then to Meany for 8th, or stay at Washington for all 3 years.
Charlie Mas said…

There has not yet been any specific statement of how Meany will start. However, slide 39 of the presentation says that interim housing will be needed for Meany Middle School until building reopens (2017). That suggests that they will use Van Asselt as that interim site. There are no other schools south of the Ship Canal that will need interim housing in 2013-2016, so it looks like they will start Meany at Van Asselt. The question is when.

It could come as early as 2014. That's when they want to implement all of the new boundaries.

If that's the schedule then there would be a Meany 6th grade at Van Asselt in 2014-2015, then a 6th and 7th grade there in 2015-2016, and full 6-8 there in 2016-2017 before the school moves into the Meany building in the fall of 2017 for the 2017-2018 school year. If that's the plan, then one class of Meany students will do all three years of their middle school at the interim site.

The timing of the start will depend largely on two factors:

The legitimate urgency to relieve crowding at Washington and the aesthetic symmetry of starting all of the new schools at the same time in 2014 when the boundaries are re-drawn.
Charlie Mas said…
I suggest writing to and asking the question directly.
Anonymous said…
I agree that the conversion of both JSIS and MacDonald at the same is baffling. I also don't see what it can possibly accomplish. Given the high demand in the immediate vicinity to these schools, by having geozones there will likely NOT be any additional access for folks in other areas. How does this create more equitable access?

The cynical side of me says it's just an effort for those recently squeezed out of the JSIS boundaries (shifted to BF Day) to regain a shot at JSIS... If Wallingford has too many kids to fill these schools already, making them option schools with geozones just shuffles which neighborhood kids go where--with no real change for anyone else. It makes it more likely that a Wallingford kid who lives nearer to BF Day will get into JSIS, while one who lives on the east side of JSIS won't, and will have to make the long trek elsewhere.

Am I missing something??? I don't mean to be cynical, but I'm really having trouble understanding the logic of this potential change.

biliruben said…
I think your cynicism is warranted but the reason for it is not quite right.

I think it's simply away of providing "equitable access" to immersion.

On paper.

In reality, I think you are right. It will still be 95% the lucky Wallingford kids, though the street addresses may change a bit.

I'd feel like a fool if I just blew a cool million on a Craftsman fixer on Sunnyside.
Maureen said…
Melissa said
In Hamilton's region, the growth is at 12% of kids being in APP. This is versus 6% at Washington. She said in 6th grade alone at Hamilton, 7% of the 6th graders are newly enrolled APP students.

And in a comment, Charlie said
12% of all of the middle school students in the Whitman, Eckstein, Hamilton and McClure attendance area are enrolled in APP.

Yeah. Take a moment with that. A program that is supposed to serve the top 2% nationally has enrolled 12% of north-end middle school students.

In the south-end, in the Washington, Mercer, Aki Kurose, Madison, and Denny attendance areas, a full 6% of middle school students are enrolled in APP.

You ready for this:
30% of APP-eligible students do not participate in the program. ....

I would like to see a thread on this.

People have been implying that if Spectrum were stronger, fewer students would enroll in APP, but it seems to me that APP is already Spectrum (i.e., is aimed at closer to the top 15% than the top 2%). SPS seems to be considering devoting an entire K-8 education complex that would fit 1500 children to the "Highly Capable."
Charlie Mas said…
HIMSmom, you're not missing a thing.

The conversion of JSIS and McDonald from attendance area schools to option schools has two intentions, neither of which are about equitable access.

First, it is intended as a way to control the enrollment at the schools. As attendance area schools they must accept every student who lives within the school's attendance area. Families with elementary-age children are packing the area and overcrowding the schools. As option schools, the District can cap the enrollment. That is their first purpose.

Second, they intend to create set-aside seats for native and heritage speakers because these students strengthen the program. As option schools they can do this in ways that they could not as attendance area schools.

The schools will have a GeoZone and that will be a tie-breaker. If the GeoZone is drawn large - as we all suspect it will - then no students (other than native or heritage speakers) from outside the GeoZone will have any chance to gain access to the schools. In fact, even living within the GeoZone will be no guarantee of access.

If the GeoZone is drawn small, then access will be more equitable - provided there's no distance tie-breaker - but an address within the GeoZone will be a guarantee of assignment.

And, yes, some people who bought houses to live close to these schools will be gravely disappointed.
Techy Mom, see my thread for what Smith-Blum said about Meany.

Maureen, I see your point and I wish the district would.

Wilson-Pacific is not going to be a K-8 but darn near close to it (at least in buildings and if people don't fight back). More on that. But it seems that if they want to use the K-5 building to house APP elementary north, it could take a large part of the building (slated for 600-650).
Techy Mom, see my thread for what Smith-Blum said about Meany.

Maureen, I see your point and I wish the district would.

Wilson-Pacific is not going to be a K-8 but darn near close to it (at least in buildings and if people don't fight back). More on that. But it seems that if they want to use the K-5 building to house APP elementary north, it could take a large part of the building (slated for 600-650).
Anonymous said…

What is your point about the 12 percent in APP? Haven't you and others been talking for several years about the exceptional qualities of Seattle residents and how they would most certainly produce such exceptionally gifted children? How the 2 percent simply would not be a ceiling for the young and talented and gifted who have flocked into the Seattle city boundaries? Aren't you the one who has repeatedly stated that we need to have more advanced learning opportunities for such special people? What is so shocking when 12 percent of well-connected, politically savvy and pushy people get their kids into APP? You have been one of their biggest cheerleaders. The chickens have come home to roost.

--enough already
Charlie Mas said…
Melissa, in the original post, noted that Director Patu asked why Rainier Beach High School was not yet designated as the end of the International Education pathway

Beacon Hill / Dearborn Park => Mercer => TBD

In fact, Director Patu was pretty heated in her questioning. She clearly saw this as an insult to Rainier Beach.

Funny thing: since international education is a curricular focus and not a program, the district doesn't designate a school as an international school, the school has to self-select. Rainier Beach can become an international school anytime they want. All they have to do is declare it. It's up to them, not to the superintendent or the central office staff.

Director Patu's question really should have been directed at the Rainier Beach site council about why they had not yet declared themselves to be an international school.
Charlie Mas said…
@ enough already,

No. I have not spoken or written about any "exceptional qualities of Seattle residents" nor about "how they would most certainly produce such exceptionally gifted children?".

I have said that 2% nationally would not mean 2% locally everywhere and that some variation, including variations up to two percentage points from that mean should be expected as part of the normal variation.

Nor am I among those who has repeatedly stated that we need to have more advanced learning opportunities for such special people. I don't recall even making any such statement and I would appreciate being reminded of them.

I had only seen data that showed about 4% of SPS students in APP and that number did not seem an unreasonable variation from the 2% national mean.

So, yes, I was shocked when I saw the 12% figure. And just as shocked by the 6% figure in the south. Those rates seem out of line.

But that shock did not drive home any chickens because I don't believe I have laid any such eggs. I have advocated for advanced learning opportunities for students who need them. I have not advocated for the explosive growth of APP. In fact, I think any review of my advocacy will make it clear that my perspective has not been accurately remembered by enough already.

Of course, I could be wrong about my history. It wouldn't be hard for someone to find what I have written on the topic.
Anonymous said…
Regarding the 12% in the Hamilton area in the COGAT percentile threshold for qualification for APP based on national norms, or local (school district)? In other words, is it kids in 98th+ percentile of SPS, or nationally?

Either way, I don't believe this 12% number is indicating a weakening of the program due to lower standards, but a recognition that there is a significant cluster of kids in this area who tested in the 98th+ percentile. Regardless of whether you're looking at a local or national norm, it is what it is.

It's just not the "top 2%", but rather those who test in the 98th percentile. Right?

- Data Phobic
Anonymous said…
I am curious about how MAP testing figures into the growth of APP. Has it identified more AL eligible students, and is the 95% threshold too low for APP? (Both the CogAT and MAP percentiles are based on national norms)

Anonymous said…
Charlie Mas said...

"HIMSmom, you're not missing a thing. The conversion of JSIS and McDonald from attendance area schools to option schools has two intentions, neither of which are about equitable access.

First, it is intended as a way to control the enrollment at the schools.... As option schools, the District can cap the enrollment. That is their first purpose."

So, in this time of incredibly insufficient capacity, the district wants to further restrict the number of seats available in the north? Sounds crazy. I understand predictability makes it easier on staff, but why do these two schools deserve that more than others?

You also said: "Second, they intend to create set-aside seats for native and heritage speakers because these students strengthen the program. As option schools they can do this in ways that they could not as attendance area schools."

That's not in the current criteria for option schools, so would require a change even with the conversion. Why do they have to be option schools to have these set-asides? Can't the district just decide that neighborhood school or not, language immersion programs need to have x% of heritage speakers?

Anonymous said…
For some perspective, the APP program started as the IPP program and served students achieving at least 4 grade levels ahead of age peers. It was a K-12 program that started in 1978. At the time the article was written, 75 students were being served in the program. Even then, they found more exceptionally gifted students than had been expected statistically.

The Uncommonly Bright Child (Robinson 1981)

-maybe it's the water
Anonymous said…

You're wasn't hard to find your own words that promoted the creation of this 12 percent monster. You said "fat tail" population, and use this Lake Wobegon-ness to justify the segregated classrooms that you think are necessary for so many in this population.

It's disingenuous for you backtrack on your own words and beliefs now that the statistics don't seem so palatable:"Of course, I could be wrong about my history"

Here's a sample:

Charlie Mas said...

That's the difference between creating self-contained classes for students with special needs and creating self-contained classes for students from families that choose to remove themselves from the general education classroom...

The rationale for self-contained APP is predicated on the research that shows that children with cognitive abilities more than 1.5 standard deviations above the mean think differently from those closer to the mean. This is the source of the "top 2% nationally" idea.

The APP enrollment exceeds 2% of the students locally because we are home to a fat tail as a result of being an urban center. People are not evenly distributed; they gather in cities and communities in a variety of cluster types.

Opposition to self-contained classrooms for APP are based in politics, not pedagogy.

This leads to the question about why Spectrum is self-contained. These students may not have cognitive abilities in excess of 1.5 standard deviations above the mean and the same rationale would not apply to them.

The rationale for Spectrum lies in the regrettable fact that advanced learners cannot be reliably served in our Standards-based general education classrooms.

Our classrooms are, in large part, devoted to bringing every student up to grade level standards. This focus leaves little time, attention, or effort to advancing students beyond Standards. Most Spectrum families can tell a tale of woe about how their child went essentially un-taught for a period. While this is likely to happen to all students briefly at one time or another, we're talking about things like kids going an entire year without learning any new mathematics. The Standards, intended in theory as a floor, function in practice as a ceiling.

Not in every school. Not in every classroom. But in enough that becomes detrimental - for everyone - for these children to remain in the general education classroom. For Spectrum, the rationale for self-contained is operational, not research-based.

There are, of course, a number of schools and classrooms where students working beyond Standards are well-served. APP- and Spectrum-eligible students remain at these schools in higher numbers than at other schools. Though qualified, their families choose not to participate in the programs because the schools have assured them that their child's academic needs will be met.

That's all that anyone wants - for their child's academic (and social and emotional) needs to be met. If it can happen at the neighborhood school, all the better. But if not, then they need another option. Not as a matter of choice or for segregation's sake, but to provide the child with an appropriate academic opportunity.
4/12/13, 4:55 AM

--enough already

Charlie Mas said…
yeah, I expected a fat tail, but not one THAT fat.

And no where in that is any statement about "exceptional qualities of Seattle residents and how they would most certainly produce such exceptionally gifted children" nor any statement about how "we need to have more advanced learning opportunities for such special people".

The loaded language isn't justified.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
More flashbacks:
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kellie said…
@ HIMSmom and Charlie,

There is another component to the need to change Language Immersion to an option program at both JSIS and McDonald. It is an admission that the demand for language immersion will always be greater than the supply, no matter how much supply you add, in certain parts of town.

This is not to limit seats at one school in a time of capacity crunch. It is to stop the wave of in-migration to those attendance areas.

There is a HUGE difference between move to this house and you absolutely positively get language immersion and move to this house and you get a lottery number for language immersion.

District wide the birth to K rates are around 72%. That means that the district estimates that about 72% of babies born in an area will enrolled in Kindergarten. In JSIS that number is well over 100%. That indicates that a significant number of families move to the attendance area for language immersion and therefore, it is simply not possible to draw boundaries small enough to create a school that is not smothered.

So does it change anything? Not really. The same people in the neighborhood that go there now, will continue to go there, just fewer of them and the rest will have to go to Greenlake, Laurelhurst or BF Day.

But it should slow down the in-migration. Maybe.

Anonymous said…
re: 'spectrum just 1 year ahead' - i haven't had a chance to read this whole string, so not sure if this was asked already. BUT, is it really more than that at any school with self-contained spectrum?

at our NE school, that's exactly what spectrum is, +1 grade exactly curriculum and report card for math/reading/writing, but with the lower grade cohort. i've not been impressed by our spectrum teachers, curriculum, and really don't care if the program goes (and my kids are enrolled in spectrum).

just anecdotaly, i've seen this lead to 1) parents testing and retesting spectrum kids in hopes they can meet the app bar and get out of our school or 2) parents NOT putting their kids in self-contained spectrum because several of those teachers are AWFUL and several non-spectrum teachers are great

Anonymous said…
@ Kellie,

Thanks, that explanation actually makes sense. I wish they'd just come out and say that then, instead of pretending is has something to do with equitable access when it clearly does not. Acknowledging that it's a capacity management issue might also help explain why they aren't proposing an "equitable" change for Montessori.

And yes, I imagine it'll help with the in-migration problem. I know we never would have bought our house had there not been a walkable neighborhood school--immersion or otherwise.


Diane, when my sons were a Whittier (lo those many years ago), it was more than 1 grade. It was compacted and enriched and we were grateful for it.

I should not have to remind anyone but if you name-call, particularly anyone's children ("riff-raff"), you will be deleted. Don't go there - it's unbecoming and unworthy. (Unless, of course, you sign your real name. Then go ahead but stand behind what you say.)
Anonymous said…
Melissa and Charlie, this is a quote from the APP blog:

The District IS reexamining the self-contained element for APP 1-5, this isn't about the stand-alone or cohoused cohorts, it is about the cohort itself and the self-contained model for elementary. Of course, they are being intentionally discreet about this, even when questioned by board directors.
Attended work session

Is this your impression also?

Charlie Mas said…

Yes. And they aren't even being cagey about it. They have said so in very plain terms at Board work sessions.
Anonymous said…
Well that's just super. Our neighborhood school will not meet my child's needs.

In a city this size, with it's highly educated population, I should not have to homeschool my child for lack of an appropriate school.

Charlie Mas said…
Lynn, let's not presume that the new delivery model - whatever it is - will not be effective.

I'm not all that convinced that the current delivery model is particularly effective.
Anonymous said…

The current delivery model is really only a more appropriate pace and an opportunity to develop relationships within a peer group. There are so many things that could be done to improve it. Breaking up kids into clusters in general education classrooms or dividing them evenly between a school's classrooms, or putting them in a self-contained classroom with in their neighborhood school with the same 28 kids every year would not be improvements.
What do you imagine they're planning?
Why did you choose APP for your children? What was missing from their neighborhood school?

Anonymous said…
I am confused, for a long time everybody on this blog called for JSIS to be an option school. Fairness, equity, why should one neighborhood gets the two most desired schools, etc. To which I agreed completely, eventhough this is our neighborhood school. I bought my house before JSIS became so desirable, so didn't have to read the obits or pay $$$ for a small house built 100
years ago, and I don't really understand the fuss. Certainly JSIS is a great school, especially when Mr Aramaki was principal, and the teachers are incredible. But around here we have many great schools with great staff, just throw a stone; Laurelhurst, West Woodland, BFDay. I know many may turn their nose up at BF Day, but it IS a great school, just not wealthy. And all of the pediatricians in the
team where my children have theirs are
sending their kids to West Woodland, when
they can well afford a private school, because
West Woodland is excellent.
So now, when JSIS and McDonald ARE going
to be option schools, people here are not
happy? Obviously then, SOMEONE will always be unhappy no matter what the district does. Probably the reason why they walk down the middle doing things that make everyone unhappy. Can't please all so we will
just displease everyone a little bit.
And all the demands for the Pleasant Valley School District gifted model, I say AGAIN, money, money, money! WHERE is the money going to come from for this gifted Utopia? And I am asking this question as a parent of children in this gifted group, with all seriousness. I have brainstormed ideas for more funding before on this very blog. Total crickets in response, no one wants to do
anything. Yet, constant clamor for the district
to do MORE for the gifted programs, when the only way they can do that is to take money from other programs. Who shall they steal from? Special Ed, Native Americans, ELL, FRL?
If you want things that cost money, you need to do more than yell on blog, or yell at board meetings. No money, no service, very clear and simple, like math.

Anonymous said…
When I asked board member Carr about equity w/in Spectrum - since there are often more or less students than neatly fit into a self-contained classroom, she brushed it off as a matter for the district to handle - which they don't. She completely punted and didn't seem interested in delving further into the inequities or possible resolutions.

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