Seattle Schools Open Enrollment Starts Soon

I note that the district's home page has a prominent section on the upcoming Open Enrollment period that starts on Monday, Feb. 23rd.  It lasts until Friday, March 6th.  This period is to request "a school or program outside" of your regular assignment.

As a general rule, your student is assigned to the same school he or she is attending now. In the case of students moving up to middle or high school, students will be automatically assigned to their neighborhood school. You will be able to confirm your student's school assignment via the Assignment Look-Up Tool after Feb. 23 or by calling our automated phone system at (206) 252-0212.

If you would like to change your current or assigned school for the 2015-16 school year, get detailed Open Enrollment instructions at or by contacting the Admissions office at (206) 252-0760. School Choice forms will be available when Open Enrollment begins on on Feb. 23.

If you request a different school during Open Enrollment, the district will let you know the results in April.

It also has some new sections and odd wording.

The process will be slightly different this year. In an effort to provide quality customer service, the district is creating an easy-to-use Assignment Look-Up Tool on the Seattle Public Schools Admissions website (available on the site staring Feb. 23), making it easier for families to identify their student’s assigned school for the coming year. As a result, families will no longer receive a next-year assignment letter for each student in mid-February.

Admissions?  Are students "admitted" to SPS or enrolled?  I'm not sure if they meant to use that word.

Advanced Learning

For families who applied for Advanced Learning testing, information about how to apply for a school serving Highly Capable Cohort students during Open Enrollment can be found at

There is a whole section on what to do if you have NOT received your testing results by the end of Open Enrollment.  

I am quite surprised to see that for both Highly Capable and Spectrum/ALO, your child retains eligibility year after year once identified.  I'd have to ask but there used to be a notice that a child can be exited from the program if he/she cannot keep up.  

Also, there are some benefits in high school for those in Advanced Learning.  Learn more here.  

Special Education

Students affected by Special Education program changes, transportation changes due to growth boundary changes, and Advanced Learning testing results will receive additional letters in the next several weeks with further information.  


Matt inSea said…
What a timely post. Today I'm researching Spectrum and Highly Capable schools on the off chance that my Kindergartener tested well. As you mentioned, we don't get our test results until after we have to choose his schools for next year. So there are quite a few parents like me, wasting a sunny day doing research that may not matter.

Here's my question. I came across comments from last year that the Spectrum program is being dismantled. Is that true? I'd hate to get him into some low-performing school, driving him half way across the city twice each day, and get little or any benefit to his education. He's in a good option school at the moment, though one with no program for advanced learners.
Anonymous said…
Others are more knowledgeable than me, but I believe that you have to research the specific Spectrum program that you might consider, and research it by talking to parents who are using it.

Spectrum is not being *officially* discontinued, but there are schools that do not offer self-contained classes for Spectrum students, which some consider to be effectively discontinuing Spectrum.

Anonymous said…
Hint: bound to APP/HCC for 6th grade in the North, but, don't live in the Eckstein middle school feeder pattern? Fill out an open enrollment form to go to JAMS for your APP middle school seat.

I realize kids from QA/Mag cannot practically go to JAMS. For them, HIMS only makes sense (they can't get a seat in WMS because it is too full pending Meany's opening).

But, parents of kids in the NW? Go to HIMS this September and you are going to be geo-split out of HIMS for sure, and possibly be in 3 buildings in 3 years. That is the official plan!!!!

But come to JAMS, it will be stable. Yes, it will have portables. But so does Whitman and so does Washington, Denny, etc. Your child will get a growing APP/HCC cohort and a large campus that won't be geo-split.

HIMS is in trouble. By siphoning off some volunteer APP/HCC incoming students, all the students who have to go there (JSIS, McD, WW, BF D) will have a chance to go there and make it all the way through.

The District is incapable of planning. It comes down to we parents who must see the writing on the wall and (re)act accordingly.

Redistributing enrollment according to how much space there is at the facility and how much enrollment is resident right there only makes sense. Student learning is harmed by instability. And, instability is unneccessary given that there is 18 acres at JAMS but only 2 acres at HIMS.


(Balance Enrollment to Save and Protect ALL Sudents' Learning)
Anonymous said…
I've been told many Spectrum programs are being quietly dismantled. I'm interested as well.

Spectrum schools on the website:

Spectrum Schools (2014-15)

Grades 1-5: Arbor Heights, B.F. Day, Fairmount Park, Hawthorne, Lafayette, Lawton, Lowell, Muir, View Ridge, Wedgwood, Whittier, Wing Luke elementaries
Grades 6-8: Aki Kurose, Denny, Eckstein, Hamilton, Jane Addams, Madison, McClure, Mercer, Washington, Whitman middle schools
Grades K-8: Broadview Thomson and Hazel Wolf

Is this list current? I heard Wedgwood dismantled their program.

Gossip or truth?
Anonymous said…
I think the way to ask the Spectrum question is to ask what form the Spectrum program takes at each of those schools. That is a question that you should be able to get an answer to from the school.

If you ask a school whether they are "dismantling" the program, they will say no.

But, I think that in some schools, parens believe the Spectrum delivery mode (which may involve special report cards, or mixing of the students in the regular classroom offers no benefits to their child.

As a long-time district watcher, I would say that, if not officially, then quietly Spectrum is being changed and yes, as it was as a self-contained program, dismantled.

ZB is correct; you should ask the question, "What does Spectrum look like at your school?"

If not self-contained, "I'm confused because the district website says X and you say Y. Could you help me understand?"

As to the question of WHY Spectrum is presented differently at each school (and why that is allowed given it is "program"), you'd have to ask the AL department.

As to the question of why Spectrum is being changed - without discussion or parental input - you'd also have to ask the AL department, the School Board and the Superintendent.

It may very well not be worth your child's time (and yours) to try to get into a Spectrum program.

Also MattinSea, EVERY school is supposed to have some plan for advanced learners. Ask your principal.
Anonymous said…
Why would a parent opt into a school that is not their designated APP/HCC pathway school? There is no guarantee of placement from year to year (it's on a space available basis, every year) and there is no transportation provided (and limited Metro options).

Stop with the bad advice.

There is no guarantee of stability even for APP/HCC at JAMS.

Anonymous said…
Placement IS guaranteed as a returning assignment. Like any school, whether a Greenlake family chooses Bagley for its Montessori, or a John Rogers family chooses Viewridge for spectrum or an Alki family chooses Schmitz Park for the math. All families at open enrollment are free to choose any school. And, if they get it, they ARE guaranteed continuing enrollment through that school's highest grade.

Why choose JAMS over HIMS? Because HIMS is going to implode.

Transportation won't happen, but, if Whitman APP/HCC families put the numbers together and showed how they were saving HIMS from sinking for the next 3 years, thereby helping 1,000 kids and 4 feeder schools' worth of kids and families... the District could easily do this. And should do this, to provide maximum stability and save costs (moving kids twice in two years is costly and very difficult on staff), not to mention the social, emotional and academic costs of the kids involved.

It would also save Licton Springs program from closure, because there won't be room for them anywhere, but shift APP/HCC middle to JAMS, then there might be some room at Wilson Pacific middle school for that other program.

Anonymous said…
"Also MattinSea, EVERY school is supposed to have some plan for advanced learners. Ask your principal."

Don't ask the principal, or do and take what he says as possibly true. Our ALO designated school does not offer advanced learning opportunities, and many families leave because of it. The only way to know this before you disrupt your kid's education is to ask other families with kids needing ALO, to find out if they are really getting said opportunities.

word to the wise
Anonymous said…
Word is correct that you should ask parents about what ALO services, if any, kids get at various schools.

Also remember that principals can change without warning and then AL services can change without warning. Principals can/have changed AL after open enrollment without any push back from the district.

This is a major issue in this district. You choose a school, or a program, for what you think it offers, but it can change in a second and then you're stuck.

Anonymous said…
Equitable access for non-APP advanced learners in the JAMS attendance area is a joke.

There are no Spectrum (K-5) schools in the JAMS attendance area. The linked schools, Wedgwood and View Ridge, are in the Eckstein AA.

So, parents who don't feel their kid's needs will be met at their neighborhood school (Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, John Rogers) can try to get their kids into Wedgwood or View Ridge, but Spectrum assignments aren't guaranteed, and those schools tend to be crowded.

If they do managed to get a seat at Wedgwood or View Ridge, then what happens when their kids get to 6th grade? Maybe they can get a feeder pattern tiebreaker so their kids can get into Eckstein (with their peers), but maybe not, and their kid ends up going to JAMS, where they may not have friends.

I agree that it looks like Spectrum is dead. Otherwise, I think there would have been more effort made to have a Spectrum feeder school for JAMS.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Where are the new ACCESS programs going to be? I have heard there are going to be 10 new elementary level programs. My son is in one now but we want a different school. When are they going to announce this?! -SpEd mom concerned
Anonymous said…
I really think they need to have the feed pattern for middle schools be geographic area rather than K-5 school. There are already kids at Wedgwood that will end up at Hale so why not have them split off after grade school?


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