Draft Advanced Learning Policy posted

The public is invited to comment on draft updates to Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs policies and procedures. The drafts are Policy No. 2190 and Superintendent Procedure 2190SP.

The documents will be discussed at the Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee meeting Monday, October 13. Any public comments submitted by the afternoon of October 13 will inform that discussion. Community members who would like to submit a comment should email it to advlearn@seattleschools.org and be sure to include POLICY – in all caps – in the subject line.


Charlie Mas said…
The policy requires:
"As part of students' basic education program at all schools, the district will offer instructional programs or services that provide students identified as Highly Capable, and other advanced learners, with one or more of the following:"

So now all schools will be required to provide some kind of HC services to all HCC-eligible students. And what will they have to offer? At least one of these three:
"* enhanced curriculum and appropriate instruction based on what a student knows and can do,
* deeper learning opportunities,
* or accelerated pacing

My guess is that most of them are going to opt for "deeper learning opportunities" in the form of an additional worksheet. Many schools will simply do nothing, secure in the knowledge that the policy is both unenforceable and unenforced.

The objectives of the HC Services program are:
"A. Equitable access to academically challenging programs and services;
B. Expansion of academic attainments and intellectual skills;
C. Stimulation of intellectual curiosity, independence and responsibility;
D. Development of a positive attitude toward self and others; and
E. Development of originality and creativity.

I guess this meets the requirement of Policy 2090. I can't wait to see the annual program evaluation that assesses how well the programs meet these objectives.

Can anyone tell me how and why these objectives are specific to HC students and not something that the District would set as objectives for all students? Are they saying that these are not the objectives for all students - only HC students?

Where is there any rationale for having an HC program in the first place? I don't see one here. On the contrary, I see a direction to provide this service at all schools. So if all of the schools can do this, then why do we need a program?
Charlie Mas said…
I'm reading the procedures and I see something funny. It says which students can get into the programs, but it doesn't say what they will be taught there. There is no mention of how the curriculum will vary from the general education curriculum. That's a serious oversight that needs to be corrected.
Anonymous said…
There is already talk of this on the HC/APP blog and the commenters have called out exactly what Charlie says. There is absolutely nothing - anywhere - that gives hope for programs that are quality, let alone different from the gen ed courses. Nothing. Schools can offer something deeper or wider or faster or - er - pretty much whatever they want in their classrooms and voila! The district has met its obligation.

It's exactly the situation that exists today - with no standards across schools now or in the future.

But the policy and procedure will be updated! Hooray!

Also don't miss that the new wording guarantees nothing to Spectrum kids. Nothing.

Same old same old, and I do mean OLD.

"Not Special"
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
seems to me a parent would have firm ground underfoot when complaining about lack of rigor with this procedure. firm ground when suing for appropriate service or at least a hearing of some sort. principals need to be forced to deliver on this. no more ignoring requests until the parents pullout for Lincoln or Hamilton anymore. if HC students show declines at a school, something is wrong and the district better get it fixed. i like the procedure but it's going to take parents to hold the district accountable by calling them out.

Anonymous said…
Deadline for comment is Monday?!

And, frankly, I'm flabbergasted. I had personally asked Stephen Martin at the HCS-AC meeting Tuesday (where he was on the agenda to discuss the policy but didn't bring a copy of the drafts or share it there) that they need to provide more time for public review and comment.

They release this on a Thursday, before an in-service day and set the deadline to be before the C&I meeting on Monday at 4:30.

Not even the Task force or the superintendents advisory committee saw this until Thursday afternoon. I don't even think it was actively distributed to the Task Force.

No one outside of district staff saw these documents until yesterday.

Kudos that there finally is a draft of both Policy and superintendent procedures, but serious fail on the public engagement aspect.

Greg said…
I still don't understand what is wrong with a much shorter and simpler version that echoes the WAC language. Like this:

The Board requires Highly Capable students in the District have access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction.

Highly Capable students are students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels.

The District shall identify Highly Capable students with a clearly defined process using multiple objective criteria including referrals based on data or evidence from teachers, other staff, parents, students, and members of the community.

A continuum of services shall be provided to Highly Capable students from K-12. Within the limits of the resources available, each student identified as a Highly Capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Teachers for Highly Capable students shall have training, experience, advanced skills, and knowledge in the education of Highly Capable students.

The District shall annually review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate and provide a report to the Board. The report shall include data to determine if the services provided met the academic needs of Highly Capable students.

Isn't that better than their draft? It clearly states why the programs exist, what Highly Capable students are, how they will be identified, what will be provided for them (including teacher training), and what the District has to do to show it is providing the services. And it is very short. Why aren't they doing something closer to this?
Anonymous said…
The procedures are just like the current program--they focus on the who, and not on the what.

"Advanced curricula"? They need to define this. Just saying it doesn't make it so.

“The curriculum is presented at an accelerated learning pace and/or advanced level of complexity and depth, requiring students to perform significantly above grade level.” Sounds great--but unfortunately not true. If nobody at the school or district level can tell you what exactly the curriculum is, especially in middle school, how to they know it's accelerated and/or advanced? And more importantly, how can they possibly say it requires students to perform significantly above grade level when they are using grade-level standards???

Re: the HCC, it says high school students have access to the "accelerated AP pathway" at Garfield. Can anyone please clarify for me what this accelerated pathway is? My impression was that it's the same AP pathway for anyone there...

The "Program Design" portion addresses the who and where. Is this where they admit that the cohort is all that's left of the program? It sure seems like they should address the actual SERVICES these kids need and should get. The procedures should spell out the basic criteria that appropriately challenging curricula need to meet (e.g., faster pacing, higher level of text complexity, focus on level 3 and level 4 activities per cognitive rigor matrix, etc.)

“Individual student education plans for Highly Capable students are reviewed annually as part of a school’s parent/teacher conference at elementary and middle schools.” Individual student education plans??? What are these? Does anyone have one? Are these something new, or do they think we have them now? And do middle schools really even have conferences anymore?

No surprise, but evaluation is completely missing from the procedures. It needs to be here, probably in the reporting section. There was some mention of using common assessments, so assuming these are common assessments across the various APP sites rather than within schools that house APP and non-APP, that could be one component of the evaluation work.

Finally, there's nothing in here about how to deal with exceptionally or profoundly gifted kids for whom the current programming is not adequate. Such kids are rare but do exist in SPS, and they need a plan to deal with them. Maybe allow IEPs in these cases?

Anonymous said…
One more thing, this one re: the policy:

Re: the objectives of the HC Services program, Charlie asked why these are specific to HC students. These come from the WSSDA model highly capable policy (with one added re: equitable access), and nobody at SPS probably thought very much about them.

Personally, I find C, D and E to be somewhat offensive, especially in the context of an HC-specific policy. Is it the policy of SPS to say that academically gifted students are generally uncurious social misfits and unoriginal memorizers, and thus they need a special program to develop a positive attitude toward self and others and develop originality and creativity. I guess they just lack these positive qualities more than other kids? It feels to me like someone's personal biases and stereotypes are coming through.

Anonymous said…
The AP accelerated pathway means that APP (HCC) students access AP classes sooner than other students, which means that they are able to take more AP classes throughout their high school career.

Prior to this year, they were taking one AP class as a freshman (AP World History) and then another sophomore year (AP US History) - but now access to AP World History as a freshman has been removed.

As Juniors, APP students are taking 4-5 AP classes and then as Seniors they again can take 4-5.

As a result, some students are graduating with 10-12 AP classes completed.

This far exceeds the number of AP classes that colleges typically care about; however, it fulfills the "taking the most rigorous courses" requirement for the highly-selective schools.

-GHS Parent
Anonymous said…
Thanks. So which AP classes can they access sooner than others?

Lynn said…
Garfield's accelerated AP pathway is an opportunity to maintain access to a cohort of HC students.

As for acceleration, Garfield currently allows any student who has already taken biology to take chemistry, oceanography (for UW credit) or ecology. This is in contrast to our other high schools which stupidly require these students to repeat their middle school science courses.

That's the extent of the program at Garfield. IBX seems to be an actual HC program. Too bad it's in the far north end of the district.
Anonymous said…
What high schools require students to repeat middle school courses? I specifically asked about this during an open house - I was told science and math placement was based on previous coursework. Has it changed, was I given bad information, or is this just another example of schools making up their own policies and there being no district level guideline?

Anonymous said…
I suppose the follow up question is whether the middle school science classes, which are supposed to be high school level classes, are really being delivered at a high school level.

Anonymous said…
How can they consider it an "accelerated AP pathway" to just allow students to take a science class that has as a prerequisite a course for which they've already passed the EOC?

As for other high schools making kids repeat middle school science (physical sci and bio, I believe), that may have to stop . The draft procedures say HC students and advanced learners will get placement in more advanced courses than their peers based on what they already know.

If that's the case, then the Garfield pathway isn't really accelerated at all.

Anonymous said…
And out of curiosity, when they say comments need to be submitted "by the afternoon of Monday 10/13" to inform the C&I discussion, what does this typically mean? Does this mean they need them by noon, so someone can read all the comments and compile them into a summary doc? Or can comments come it at 4pm, then they'll just print everything out and hand folks a big stack of comments they won't have time to read?

The community engagement on this is atrocious. Stephen Martin took pains to mention all the internal people they've talked to in developing the drafts, from legal to communications or whoever. But HCC or AL families? Not really. They have their own ideas about how things do or should work, and whether these match the actual experiences and needs of the families the program is supposed to serve doesn't really seem to be a concern of theirs.

So frustrating.
Anonymous said…
Agreed with no real acceleration at Garfield anymore since they took away AP World for 9th grade.

The benefit of Garfield is then reduced to the cohort, which presents an opportunity to offer more sections of more AP classes.

-GHS Parent
Charlie Mas said…
As always, way too much attention paid to who is in the class and not enough attention paid to what is taught.

That failure to set and maintain any standards for what is taught is what makes families so invested in the cohort - it's all they've got.
Anonymous said…
From what I hear, the kids are happy with the AP offerings overall. I'm not sure what people are asking for. Do you want AP classes for only HCC students? Can a school afford to make AP classes just for HCC? At HS, students can focus on classes (AP or not) which interest them. I would hate to have a prescriptive pathway. I'll ask the kids, but I haven't heard complaints in terms of mixing HCC students with non HCC. When kids talk, it is about individual student, teacher, class, or cliques in the social sense. Maybe I'm missing something here.

Lynn said…
I think kids (and therefor parents) are much more unhappy with middle school than high school.

In high school, I'd like to see the pre-AP courses be more in-depth. There's too wide a range of abilities in Garfield's Honors English and World History classes. As a result, the instruction and assigned work isn't appropriate for HC kids. In math, I'd like to see teachers drop the group work in class. Too much tutoring and not enough learning is going on.
Anonymous said…
Yes! Either allow the kids to take AP classes their freshman year, or provide a few HCC-specific classes so they can continue to be appropriately challenged. Those newly testing into HC services in 9th grade would qualify for such classes, too.

My objection is partly to the district calling this an "accelerated AP pathway" when that doesn't really seem to be the case.

Anonymous said…
The policy is more a description of what we already have. I don't see any assurances of appropriate challenge or curriculum. Sure, they're working on something, but they are going to continue allowing teachers and schools so much freedom that the curriculum framework is only that, a framework. There is no near term plan to have specific materials for LA/SS, despite that being a part of the Board motion during the last boundary vote.

APP Instructional Materials

Direct the Superintendent to provide proper instructional materials and curricula for Language Arts and Social Science classes for all middle schools serving Academically Highly Gifted students in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP).

same old
Charlie Mas said…
@curious, What are people asking for?

Mostly the same stuff that people are always asking for: what the District has promised us.

In this case, as in every case, that would be openness, honesty, transparency, engagement, responsiveness, and accountability.

We want a vision for advanced learning - this does not express one.

We want a rationale for advanced learning - there is none here.

We want a definition of the offerings, some sort of enforceable minimum - also absent.

We want to be able to read the policy and determine if the requirements are being met by our child's school. That's not possible with this policy because it doesn't establish any meaningful requirements. Without that, the policy itself is meaningless. What's the point of having a policy that doesn't require anything?
Anonymous said…
Interesting how the procedure doc drops all accelerated content o depth.... Talks a long tome about how to get in, and a paragraph on getting out... And mentions an annual review of IEP s for HC kids, but nothing of how the IEP s are written ... should I assume it would be the same IEP process as the rest of SPED? For every HC kid? We would need a TON more personnel. Would the IEP describe the curriculum? Would we be writing a specific curriculum for every HC student then?

IEP s?
Anonymous said…
IEPs are only for students with disabilities. That is the law. HC is not SPED, which is defined by IDEA. Twice exceptional students in HC and SPED will get IEPs as they do today, with annual review. No, it is not a "TON" of money.

Charlie Mas said…
The WAC for HC calls for individualized plans for HC students. They are not IEPs - a legal requirement for students with disabilities who are covered by IDEA. Historically the District has satisfied this WAC requirement in a ridiculously feeble way that practically dared the state to enforce the law. The state, of course, refused to do so.
It doesn't appear that the District (or the state) is taking this requirement even a little bit more seriously.
Anonymous said…
Right, again, not IEPs and not SPED. If you think the state will do something,observe what the state has done on behalf of Sped. Not a model to aspire to.

Additionally, SPED requires triennial qualification. Lifetime entitlement is preferable.

Anonymous said…
Charlie, can you find and post the WAC citation that requires individual plans for Highly Capable students? I don't think that folks are interpreting the WAC or the RCW's in that way.

This WAC requires that the district have a plan, but it isn't on an individual basis:

"WAC 392-170-020
District plans for the district's highly capable program.

Each district shall submit an annual plan for the district's highly capable program on forms provided by the superintendent of public instruction for approval."

Anonymous said…
Chapter 392-170 WAC


OSPI Bulletin:


This presentation clearly states that "Access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction through the program for highly capable students does not constitute an individual entitlement for any particular student."

Charlie Mas said…
WAC 392-170-080
Educational program for highly capable students.

Each student identified as a highly capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Such program shall recognize the limits of the resources provided by the state and the program options available to the district, including programs in adjoining districts and public institutions of higher education. Districts shall keep on file a description of the educational programs provided for students selected.
Anonymous said…

According to OSPI's May 22, 2013 Bulletin No. 016-13 re: Highly Capable Program Requirements for All Districts, "Districts are no longer required to have educational program plans for each identified highly capable student or plans for a group of students with similar academic abilities (WAC 392-170-078)."

Funny that "individual student education plans" then shows up in SPS's draft HC procedures now, when it's absolutely not true, and apparently not even required.

As for the WAC Charlie cited, I have a feeling the approach to "meeting it" is to say "these kids (as a group) have unique needs, so we have special services and programs for them." Done!

Anonymous said…
One of the areas in which the draft policy and procedures are both lacking is re: evaluation. What was included in the HC grant application on this issue was essentially nothing, and demonstrated SPS's clear disinterest in making sure the program works for those it serves.

Here are a few things the WAC says need to be in the district's annual plan. Anyone seen 'em?:

- A description of the highly capable program goals
- A description of the services the highly capable program will offer (Note: this is services, not delivery models.)
- A description of the instructional program the highly capable program will provide (!)
- A description of how the highly capable program will be evaluated that includes information on how the district's highly capable program goals and student achievement outcomes will be measured;

Anonymous said…
As for the WAC Charlie cited, I have a feeling the approach to "meeting it" is to say "these kids (as a group) have unique needs, so we have special services and programs for them." Done!

That's my interpretation as well.

Anonymous said…
Me too. I'd say they meant it as "such students'" not "such student's"...

Anonymous said…
They are so special with their on the taxpayer dole parents working at the UW.

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