Friday Open Thread

Seattle Schools running 2 hours late (but being parents, you already know that).

I have seen no statement from the Seattle Times or OSPI on their student data sharing agreement to share Seattle students' data.  Nothing like a newspaper not reporting the news.   Want to let Randy Dorn at OSPI know?

Randy I. Dorn
(360) 725-6004 

I promise to write a wrap-up of the Operations Committee meeting of yesterday because some fairly major things were announced.  Transportation is desperate to save money and in the name of that effort:

1. bell times could change for about 21 elementaries, 5 regular K-8s, 5 Option K-8s, 1 middle school and 4 high schools.  It's not a significant change for the overwhelming majority. but there will be a change.
2. There could be transportation changes affecting up to 1300 students in the district.  The most basic change would be for Option students who would be told that transportation will no longer be given and you have a spot at your neighborhood school.  If there is no spot at your neighborhood school, you can stay at your Option school with transportation.  There was no discussion on parents paying to use the school bus if they want to keep that transportation.
3.  Some older grandfathering is to expire but new grandfathering will kick in for some of the new changes due to growth boundaries.  Neither was cited in specific.
4.  There was some discussion about getting this info out to parents but yes, the staff needs this to all get approved by the end of January.  This blog is your early warning system.  The Board members seemed worried about parents getting this word in a timely manner.

Update: to be clear, for Option school students, your transportation would ONLY be eliminated if you live OUTSIDE THE SERVICE AREA (NOT just if you attend an Option school).  My apologies for not being clear on that.   If you live in your middle school service area of your linked option school, you WILL still receive transportation.  My (huge) error.

Update: You'll note on the upper right of our webpage, we've included the e-mails for senior staff.  Given that so many of them are new and it can be difficult to find these addresses, we included them for your convenience.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Ms Varner's farewell speech

A columnist bids a heartfelt adieu

So does that mean there's a job for me or Charlie at the Times?
Anonymous said…
When you have the information, can you please clarify what they are proposing in terms of transportation for Option programs? Am I right in understanding that the district is offering these programs but without any transportation? And would that mean that for the Jane Addams K-8 move to Marshall they will not provide school bus transportation even though they are moving kids away from their neighborhood? Or am I misunderstanding? Boy, I hope so...
David said…
Wow, this could really be the kiss of death for Option Schools.
Anonymous said…
Do this mean the proposed Transportation standards will be posted sometime in mid January for introduction to the Board?

Anonymous said…
Melissa, where can we read about bell time proposals?

I will try to upload the documents given out yesterday but they are:

1) not at all clear because they are still working out the growth boundaries
2) not sure about grandfathering under the new growth boundaries
3) naturally need Board approval

Also, the Board members present were quite worried about parents learning about this in a timely manner (and yet staff wants it done and signed off by the Board by the start of Early Enrollment).

HOWEVER,it seemed clear that any notifications/public meetings would be for informational purposes ONLY. There is no real discussion intended. A couple of Board members talked about input (so I read that as perhaps tweaking) but this seems like a mighty push from the staff.

If YOUR child will be affected by the new transportation standards, you will be notified. If you aren't notified, no problem.

If YOUR child will be affected by new bell times, ditto.

Given the district's track record for clear and timely notifications, good luck with that but I would recommend if your school is affected to ask your PTA/PTO to please pick up where the district might leave off.
Did I mention the $4M they are spending on 22-28 more portables?

And the pretty odd (and yet oddly funny) statement from new Director Blanford who said he had only been in portables in OTHER districts and never been in an SPS one? He said, "What are they like?"

Laughter throughout the room.

Boy, that guy keeps up.
Anonymous said…
With the bell change announcements and transportation decisions being made, is there any current discussion of the later start times for middle and high schools? I REALLY hope that change can be implemented for the 2014-2015 school year.

Does anyone know the status? Who could we contact to try to advance this cause?

Thanks!-SPS parent
Anonymous said…
I noticed that the dates for open enrollment have been posted. February 24- March 2. Is that a shorter period than usual?

Oh, SPS parent, yes, that was part of the discussion and a rather spirited one.

Again, I need to get a separate thread going but later start times for middle/high school are NOT going to happen next year.
StringCheese said…
Well, if the goal is to make sure that option schools are only available for those who are affluent enough to have a car and person able to take and pick-up their child from school then, good job!

This will merely force families with less means into the neighborhood schools that were, presumably, failing their child/community in the first place. The only people this will affect are the ones that would benefit the most from alternative schools.

Are they under the delusion that it is the underperforming schools that are bursting at the seams?
Lori said…
Melissa wrote, "The most basic change would be for Option students who would be told that transportation will no longer be given and you have a spot at your neighborhood school. If there is no spot at your neighborhood school, you can stay at your Option school with transportation."

I wonder how they will apply this "rule" to JAK-8? I can easily envision that they will tell the K-5 students that they will get transportation because there isn't room at any of the NE elementary schools.

BUT, there is likely to be plenty of room for the middle schoolers at JAMS, their new neighborhood school (and room at Eckstein too).

Is this a stealth way to encourage the middle schoolers to just stay in the JA building next year?
Lori said…
And, sorry, didn't mean to sound so conspiratorial! I know they've been looking to save money on buses for years now. If this change helps fill JAMS, I'm sure it's just a "bonus" in some people's minds, not the sole purpose of the proposal!
Eric B said…
SPS Parent, the report I got from people in the audience looking at later start times is that the Board needs to light a fire under staff if there is any hope of doing it this year. There seems to be some division on the Board, so that doesn't help. I'd encourage everyone to lobby the Board if you want this to happen now. Otherwise, it risks being the thing that we're always going to do two years in the future.
Anonymous said…
Do the middle school kids and elementary kids share buses at JA K-8? If the elementary kids get transportation to Marshall, because there's no room at their neighborhood school, then couldn't the middle school kids share a bus with them, if there is room on the bus?

I'm wondering if Pinehurst kids will get a bus to Lincoln? Can they share buses with the Lincoln APP kids?

- North-end Mom
ws said…
Ok, how does one find out about having your child tested for spectrum or app? The teachers have not identified him as such, but we suspect other issues are playing into that. are there services that perform tests the district looks at?

please no flame and no discussion about families buying their way in.
Po3 said…
Instead of designating groups of schools starting at X, others at Y and some at Z they should look at it by clusters.

For example,if Coe and McClure could share buses, McClure could have a later schedule. For example, drop Coe kids off at 8 and McClure kids off at 8:15. Parents would just need to be OK with MS students on the bus. I know if I could expect to have a later MS start time, I would be OK with the arrangement.

Cluster transportation could be a solution to save on transportation costs and help with later start times.
mirmac1 said…
Can you believe Varner is going to WSU?! Cougs, what were you thinking?!
Lori said…
Good question, NE Mom. They don't draw out the bus routes until late summer, so I suspect what they'd say is that a bus is not guaranteed but the middle school kid could ride if there is space. So parents could be taking a gamble, particularly if their middle schooler is not an older sibling. By that I mean, the routes would be mapped based on where the K-5 kids live, so the middle schoolers might not have a stop "close" to home, however you want to define that.

But again, I'm just thinking out loud here. No idea if this is their plan or not. But if I were at JAK-8, I'd be keeping a close eye on this issue.
Anonymous said…
After hearing what the MS bus is like, I wouldn't put a young kid on that bus. Maybe a 4th grader, but no younger. Lots of profanity, roughhousing, obscene comments directed to girls, etc.

Bus mom
Lynn said…

It is too late to qualify for placement in advanced learning programs next year - the application deadline was in October. If you suspect other issues, a Psychologist in private practice could evaluate your child for those. That process would likely include a private IQ test - which will tell you if he will qualify for Spectrum or APP. (You'd also need qualifying MAP test scores in both math and reading.)

Here's a list of private providers from the district website.

If you suspect a learning disability, testing now would be helpful. You can use those test results to request a 504 plan or an IEP at any time.
Anonymous said…
ws - here's a link to the Seattle School District's advanced learning page.

If you want to have your child privately tested, you need to use a psychologist. Seattle Country Day has a list of psychologists who do this testing on their website:

I'm sure there are plenty of others too - this is just a place to start.

Anonymous said…
Earlier this year, I applied for my son, a second grader at a south east seattle school to be tested for advanced learning and just received a test date for mid- January.
But then, earlier this week, my son came back from school telling me that his whole class took the Cogat 7.
We didn't get any notice form the school, either before or after the test.
I'm confused as I'm wondering if my son will have to retake it for a second time in January? Aren't those test supposed to be taken only once in a certain period of time to be valid?

Lynn said…
Can the families at South Shore manage transportation on their own? Under this rule, only the 40 or so students there from Graham Hill would be transported by the district.
Anonymous said…
A petition is circulating about a late start time (8:30) for the new JAMS.

An excerpt:

The incoming eighth-grade students being transferred to Jane Addams from Eckstein and Hamilton currently feel slighted. When asked what would help them to get behind the change, they said improvements over their current experiences, and top of the list was a later start time. (Other requests included: better lunch choices, more hands-on learning, good selection of elective choices, tablets instead of books, and more in-depth learning during school so that homework can be minimized.)

Many of the kids who will attend Jane Addams next year have older siblings who go to Nathan Hale. For those families, it would be much easier to have the same start time for the two schools.

My affected child wasn't polled, so I'm a bit turned off by the wording above. Whoever wrote this - please don't make blanket statements about incoming students. My child actually wants books (since they don't have them this year...tablets? seriously?) and has had enough of the project based "learning."

-different opinion
Lynn said…
SE Mom

I think the CogAT has a shorter version of the test that is intended to be used as a screener. Maybe that's what he took in class?
David said…
Just read the update, thanks Melissa. I thought that was already the case? I didn't think you were provided transportation if you lived outside the service area. Interesting.
Lynn said…
The BEX IV monthly update reports that the first change order for the delay at the Mann building was received - $82,000. The completion date has been moved from July 1, 2014 to September 23, 2014.
Anonymous said…

I don't know, he told me it was the Cogat 7 level 8 and that it was long but don't know more Than that.
A screener for what? Advanced placement? So which test would be used to see if he is eligible, this one or the one he is supposed to take in January? And will the parents be notified of the result of this test, for a change ?

Anyway,thanks for your reply!
Lori said…
The district is testing all 2nd graders in SE Seattle this year with the CoGAT 7.

Here's a quote from district meeting minutes earlier this year:

The new CoGAT 7 was just delivered last week and we are in process of storing the materials. It’s a larger than normal order. They will be testing students that are referred and doing a universal screening, using CoGAT 7, of 2nd graders in the southeast region schools. CoGAT 7 has improved the non-verbal components. This will address the needs of children with language barriers. The test takes 1 ½ hours and will be administered by teachers in their classrooms. All of the students in second grade classrooms at selected sites will take the test all at once. It’s not individually administered. The non-verbal portion is imbedded in the test and is age specific.

Maybe they scheduled the January date in error? Or maybe it's a placeholder date in case they want to administer additional achievement tests like Woodcock-Johnson? They used to do CoGAT and then call children with high scores back for W-J testing in the era before MAP. I think they sometimes still do W-J even with MAP but am not positive.

What is weird, for sure, is that no one bothered to tell the parents of 2nd graders in SE Seattle that this was going to happen.
Anonymous said…
Hmm - I predict a later start time would be a disaster for HIMS. It will put students and parents and busses right in the middle of the traffic heading into the UW.
Maybe HMIS isn't slated for a later start though. I hope not.

-Staying at HIMS
Anonymous said…
From the new JAMS Fusion Page ( )

Jane Addams K-8 families

We've created a survey for families of current Jane Addams 5-7th grade students. Please look for an email asking you to complete this brief survey so that Principal Nelsen and Principal Montgomery can better plan for next year! Many thanks, have a great break!

I heard that 6th graders at the JA K-8 were surveyed about their plans for next year during class yesterday. They were asked to check a box for either: staying with the K-8 (at John Marshall), or transferring to JAMS (at the Jane Addams building).

- JR Mom
Lynn said…
SE Mom - I think you should probably contact the advanced learning office to let them know your son has already taken the CogAT.

It is weird that parents didn't have to give permission for the CogAT testing.
Anonymous said…
Wow, they surveyed the JAK8 kids, not the kids and parents, or the parents? I know in our family, it will be the parent who decides where our child goes for middle school. We feel we have a little bit more insight into the big picture and a bit more judgment and experience then does our 11 year old. Call us crazy!

A survey in that setting won't tell you much. Peer Pressure, herd mentality, and a juvenile understanding of the choice before them, will heavily influenced the look of the survey.

It's pretty clear, JAk8 is going to loose students, once families find out that the numbers will be down and certain teachers will be riffed, and once they realize the mitigation dollars and commitment that District is putting into the launch Jane Addams (hint: it is the first new comprehensive secondary institution this District has launched in 40 years, this is a VERY high-profile event -- the District knows it, the School Board knows it, and the City and all of the other high-end muckity-mucks know it too) look for more of the middle schoolers in the area to be seduced by the bevy of electives and advanced level coursework that will be a given with the incoming APP cohort.

Plus, of course, there are the facilities to consider. Jane Addams has spectacular fields. Soccer, baseball, football, Ultimate frisbee - all possible. Marshall has a parking lot. That's okay for elementary kids, but bigger bodies need more than a playground, they need a play field!

So what time will tell, and everyone will head to the spot that feels right to them, but, understand that JAMS is a guaranteed assignment, so kids can trade horses late in the day once they and their families realize the depth of opportunity that a only comprehensive middle school can offer.

So, that survey? Not really going to have too much predictive power. And, that's okay, because in the end, kids will all get served and that's what matters!

-unscientific survey

Anonymous said…
Re - Busses

Elementary kids and middle school kids: not a good mix on a bus. Forget about lewd behavior or bad language, we are talking porno.

Yup, porno.

Can you say "iPhone"?

Adolescents are not known, in general, for their spot-on, consistent judgment.

I know a case where a middle schooler showed porno on his smart phone -- in order to impress his buddies about what a bada** dude he was -- to some kindergarteners :-(
Once that bell has been rung, you can't unring it.

Parents giving their middle schoolers smart phones with data plans (e.g. the internet) WITHOUT a filter or embedded parental controls activated is not a great thing. But it is life, and, it is surprisingly common.

So, truly, my little girl is not getting on a bus with a bunch of guys or girls who are 14 are prone to discuss topics that are inappropriate for her age/stage.

Switching to another item that was raised, sharing busses to Lincoln, there will be different bell times in order to make co-location work, so that can't happen.

-blue bus
Lynn said…

I found this in the Teaching and Learning Friday Memo for November 22nd.

In addition to a much more robust outreach effort during September, we are also administering the new CogAT Screening Form to all 912 second graders in the Southeast Region during December. This is a 40 minute assessment which predicts success on the full CogAT. We expect scores by early January, at which time we will compare the number and performance of students whose parents referred them for testing with those who showed promise on the Screening Form but had not been referred. This will provide data to indicate whether our established referral process is effective.
Benjamin Leis said…
For what it's worth, we sent our then kindergardener on a k-8 bus without any serious issues. Not all middle school aged kids are "bad".
Blue Bus, I have a thread in mind about porn. Sadly, it is quite a wide-spread problem that many parents seem to be completely unaware of.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the link. So my son still has to do the full cogat test in January.
I don't know why they didn't bother explain this to the concerned parents..
Anyway, thanks again.

Charlie Mas said…
I'm confused by the claim that the District did universal CoGAT testing without parent/guardian permission.

Unless the state law has been changed, I don't believe they are allowed to do that.

Yep. Here it is:

WAC 392.170.047
"WAC 392-170-047
Agency filings affecting this section
Parental/legal guardian permission.

Parental permission shall be obtained in writing before:
(1) Conducting assessment(s) to determine eligibility for participation in programs for highly capable students;
(2) Placement in the district's highly capable program before any special services and programs are started for an identified highly capable student;
Parental permission notice shall include:
(a) A full explanation of the procedures for identification of a student for entrance into the highly capable program;
(b) An explanation of the appeal's process;
(c) An explanation of the procedures to exit a student from the program; and
(d) Information on the district's program and the options that will be available to identified students.

What was the purpose for giving the CoGAT to every 2nd grade student in the Southeast? Wasn't it to identify students to apply for advanced learning programs?
Charlie Mas said…
Here is a link to a VERY recent report to the Board on the assessments used in Seattle Public Schools.

The CogAT is listed on slide five and the only stated purpose is "screener for advanced learning programs (K-8th)"

Here is a list of all of the assessments given and the CogAT isn't on it.

And here is the smoking gun: a Powerpoint that, on slide ten, clearly states that the CogAT was given to 2nd graders in southeast Seattle specifically to indentify students for the Highly Capable program.
Charlie Mas said…
Here are the instructions for nomination for Highly Capable services in Seattle Public Schools.

It states, very clearly, that

"--A signed Parent/Guardian Permission Form is required prior to testing."
Anonymous said…
This seems more of a gray area to me than Charlie's interpretation. I thought districts were allowed to screen students as a part of the process. WAC language is not clear about whether or not a screening requires parental permission. It is clear about obtaining permission to do full testing and consideration for AL Programs. Following a screening, districts are required to obtain written parental permission.

Charlie may correct about this but in either case and especially at this late date, going back and obtaining parental permission to administer the full CogAT seems pretty cumbersome. More WAC Language below:

WAC 392-170-045

Nomination process for highly capable students.
Each school district shall adopt procedures for the nomination of students to participate in programs for highly capable students. Such procedures shall permit referrals based on data or evidence from teachers, other staff, parents, students, and members of the community.
A district's nomination procedure for students who are highly capable may include screening procedures to eliminate students who, based on clear, current evidence, do not qualify for eligibility under WAC 392-170-055.

Anonymous said…
The testing is being done to compare identification screening tools. It's not expressly being done to nominate students for AL. The full CogAT would be used for that. Isn't our screening tool currently the MAP test? They don't need parental permission for that test (yes, it's an achievement test, so different than the CogAT). I think the objective is to determine if the current identification procedures significantly under-identify students.

Per Lynn's post, the SE students are being given the CogAT Screening Form, which is different than the full CogAT test.

Lynn said…
I think they're actually using it to evaluate the nomination process. They want to know if there are students who might qualify who are not nominated for testing by parents or teachers. This makes no sense to me. They have MAP test scores for all but the kindergarten students - so they know which students might qualify for the programs. (Unless they're considering dropping the achievement test scores requirement.)

Anonymous said…
@ unscientific survey

You wrote:
" but, understand that JAMS is a guaranteed assignment, so kids can trade horses late in the day once they and their families realize the depth of opportunity that a only comprehensive middle school can offer."

Are you sure that JAMS is a guaranteed assignment for families now at the JA K-8? The reason why I'm asking is because in the Growth Boundaries presentations, it said that families wishing to switch from the JA K-8 to JAMS had to do so during the Open Enrollment period.

My impression was that once you chose an option school, then you give up your assignment to the attendance area school, and open enrollment was the only time you can make a switch.

- North-end Mom
Lynn said…
PFrom the Growth Boundaries webpage:

Students entering grades 6-8 who currently attend a K-8 attendance area or option school. These students will receive a continuing assignment to their current K-8 school. If they apply for JAMS during Open Enrollment through September 30, they will be assigned to JAMS.
Maje said…
I have a friend who was considering going to an option school, but was concerned about losing their spot at their local (very full) K-5. They were told by someone at the district that once they left the K-5, they gave up their guaranteed spot. They could apply during Open Enrollment and through Sept 30, but would get a spot only on a space available basis. As opposed to the guaranteed spot they would be given if they had never left.
Anonymous said…
My daughter has attended Bagley Montessori for the past 2.5 yrs. we live in magnolia and have driven her since day 1. Was she eligible for the bus all this time??? I thought since we chose an option school outside our cluster we were responsible for transportation.

Mag Mom
Lynn said…
The students who have been eligible for transportation were already at their schools before the New Student Assignment Plan was approved.
BL said…
Mag Mom,
You live outside the transportation zone for Bagley. The district mails bus stop info to families in the summer for students eligible for transportation.

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