Tuesday Open Thread

Six questions for Secretary Duncan about teacher evaluations.

The Times tries to defend Common Core

The Times pushes against "ideologies and alliances"  in bills in the Legislature for teacher evaluations.

Updates coming on tomorrow's Board meeting.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Here is an article about how Virginia has problems using student data to evaluate student and teacher success let alone combine the two.

Given SPS and the morons in charge there I would not expect better.


_ Not a robot
Anonymous said…
No one is discounting the importance of teachers. I think those of kind are simply questioning do we have the right teachers. I'm for increased pay and support for teachers and schools, not for increased administrative cost. There's at least 20 million plus dollars wasted each year at the JSCEE, not including cost associated with the building itself.

There are many attributes that make for a good teacher, but how can one teach a subject without mastery? How hard can it be for a teacher to mastery the elementary basic curriculum. Why shouldn't we expect a teacher to pass the same test students take?

I truly believe being a caring nurturing individual is a paramount attribute for a K-5 teacher, but they also must know their subjects and how to differentiate for the various learning types.

The last two things can be taught, the first not so much.

Maybe we should seek out the first and then train for the rest?

Anonymous said…
What an absolutely ludicrous editorial from the Seattle Times.. They want politicians to avoid ideology by passing legislation based on ideology (teacher evals based on student standardized scores) to meet the requirements of NCLB, a policy completely constructed on market-based ideology rather than any semblance of actual research?

Sounds like they've been smoking a bit too much MJ in their office. But, I guess, par for the course given it is the Blethen-Bellevue Times.

Anonymous said…
I'm looking at the info on the new Summit Public School, as it's called. It seems a parent needs email to apply or to even get information. Is that legal? Seems like a way to weed out the poor, the foreign-born and homeless parents. Not to mention those that don't use the internet for religious or other reasons. Doesn't there have to be
outreach to the whole community to attract or at least offer opportunity to attend to ALL students?

Seems highly unfair and purposely so.

Again, is this legal? I think I will ask the state commission.

Anonymous said…
Have any schools started SBAC testing? We're still waiting for our school to inform students and parents about specific test dates.

just wondering
Watching said…
The Senate passed SB5748 which is aimed at linking student test scores to teacher evaluations. I looked at this bill and couldn't help but notice that this bill would pile a tremendous amount of work on the board.

I wish the legislature would leave the board and district alone. The board/ district would better serve students by funding the IB program, which seems to have a very positive impact on Rainier Beach and other schools that thrive for high levels of academic success.


Anonymous said…
Just wondering, at our school the SBAC testing started yesterday.

mom of 4
Patrick said…
Michael, I'm in profound disagreement. You can teach a willing learner facts for a standardized test pretty easily. But if a would-be teacher doesn't have compassion and nurturing, I don't think they can be taught.

And I'm in disagreement about needing total mastery to teach a subject. The best teaching is by the Socratic method, the teacher asking leading questions that get a student to think about the problem, rather than just lecturing facts for the students to regurgitate on demand. A Socratic teacher can be honest about being uncertain about aspects of the material and still do useful teaching.
Anonymous said…
Socratic method does not belong in K-5, I would possibly use it in High School, but NEVER K-5.

Kristin said…
Oh, I totally use Socratic method for my own kids (now grades 4 and 5). Not sure I'd call it Socratic exactly . . . Socrates was awfully patronizing. But responding to their questions with more questions once in a while definitely helps foster intellectual curiosity.
Kristin said…
Example -- child says, "I know how we can get rid of poverty. Print more money!" Adult says, "Wow, that's a great idea. We could print billions and billions of dollars and give it to everybody! Though I wonder how much a candy bar would cost then."
BlastFromPast said…
Here is the former school board member- Michael DeBell's- connection to the Gates Foundation. It is NO wonder that he has formed a group to support school board candidates. Keep Gates alive in Seattle Public Schools!

A well-heeled group of Seattle education boosters is backing a slate for the Seattle School Board with a $45,000 direct-mail campaign.

"The group’s political-action committee, Strong Seattle Schools, hopes to elect Michael DeBell, Jane Fellner and Linda Thompson-Black on Nov. 8. The PAC was established right before the September primary and has raised more than $56,000, according to its treasurer, Philip Lloyd.
The PAC’s supporters — 72 so far — are a who’s who of business executives and agenda-setters. They include William Gates Sr., co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Gary Gannaway, chairman of the board of the Alliance for Education, the school district’s main fundraising partner; and Mary Jean Ryan, a top adviser to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels."

This Seattle Times article was written in 2005:


Annoyed, I have pointed out how some of the charter school applications are difficult to access. There is a way to get a hard copy but again, you'd have to look it up online.

Thanks Kristin for those examples.
BlastFromPast said…
Oh yea, read the fore-mentioned article and you will see Nick Hanauer aka League of Education Voters couldn't help but be involved. Does Hanauer have children in SPS, btw?
Anonymous said…
Admission time to the new charter in the ID is over. Didn't hear about it? Too bad. Full. Try again next year. If you have email.

Charter Unbeliever
BlastFromPast said…

"DeBell, Fellner and Thompson-Black each say they weren’t involved with the PAC’s fundraising or mailing, didn’t author any of the pamphlets and weren’t asked for their permission.

But a letter dated Oct. 17 from Strong Seattle Schools to the three candidates notified them they should each report to the state Public Disclosure Commission a $15,000 in-kind contribution from the PAC. Starting Oct. 18, no candidate could accept more than $5,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from any one source, under state rules.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the Public Disclosure Commission, which enforces campaign-finance rules, said that the way the PAC has reported the money to the state means “there’s some kind of collaboration” between the PAC and the candidates’ campaigns.

If the PAC were truly independent, the candidates wouldn’t need to report the contributions as in-kind donations, Anderson said."

BlastFromPast said…
“I was a little bit surprised,” DeBell said of the letter he received from the PAC. “We’re not a slate in any political sense. That is, we have not conferred or adopted any [common] position. So I was a little concerned about public perception.”

Nine of the PAC’s donors are board directors for the Alliance for Education, which administers private grants to Seattle Public Schools. They include Hanauer; former School Board member Don Nielsen; Anne Farrell, board president of the Seattle Public Library Foundation; Peter Maier, chairman of the Schools First! levy campaign in 2004; and John Warner, a retired Boeing executive who is co-chairman of an advisory committee expected to recommend ways for Seattle Public Schools to fix its chronic budget deficits.


"PAC donations to candidates and campaigns are common. But the establishment of a PAC to elect a slate to the Seattle School Board hasn’t happened in recent memory. It has occurred in Los Angeles and other cities where strong mayors have sought to assert more influence over the schools."
Not usually anonymous said…
We're out. I just submitted a contract to a private school and made my first tuition payment. I really wanted to be a part of the solution and help to raise up public school to a quality level that would be acceptable to this prep-school and college educated parent. I was naïve, as naïve as a TFA volunteer, thinking my presence and effort would make a difference in a system with goals very different than mine.

SPS has moved steadily in the wrong direction in the 6 years we've been involved in it, squashing excellence wherever it's found, and focusing only on getting as many kids as possible over a very low bar. We'll see if this has changed at all in 3 years when it's time for high school. I seriously doubt that it will.
Not usually, good luck to you. Every parent has to make the best decision for his or her child.
Anonymous said…
Just received email on SBAC testing of 11th graders at Hale:

Dear Nathan Hale parents and guardians:

Nathan Hale’s leadership team, the Senate, which includes teachers, parents, students, and administration, voted not to give 11th grade students an 8.5-hour long standardized test this spring from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). This is a new test, which, as of next year, will replace the HSPE test which is currently required for graduation. This year’s 11th graders have already taken the HSPE. The SBAC is not a graduation requirement for our current 11th graders.

We want to make sure you have information about this decision that may not have been fully represented in the media or by the School District. Nathan Hale may still be required to give this test, but as parents and guardians, we can still make informed choices as to what we believe is best for our children.

Below are the reasons for the Hale Senate decision:
The SBAC is an extra test, which is not necessary for most students. It is not a graduation requirement for current 11th graders, and these students have already taken the HSPE test last year for graduation. If your student failed the HSPE test, then passing SBAC would work as a graduation requirement, but there are other options for these students, including the “collection of evidence” option. If your child failed the HSPE test, you may want to talk with his/her counselor regarding their options.

Students will lose valuable learning time. On top of all the other tests this group of students has already taken, they will lose at least a week’s worth of instruction in their core classes if they need to take the SBAC test. In addition, the proposed timing for SBAC is shortly before the Advanced Placement (AP) testing.

Students, families and teachers will get no valuable information from these tests. The test has been designed to fail 60-70% of students. The current group of 11th grade students is simply being used to calibrate the scores for the future.

If you do not want to have your student take the SBAC test, there will be no negative repercussions for your student. Students not taking the test will receive regular classroom instruction, during the hours when they would otherwise be in testing.

If you choose not to have your student tested, please email the principal, Dr. Hudson, at jshudson@seattleschools.org , or send a signed note to school with your student, to be turned in at the main office. The note or email should be sent by April 3, and should include the name of your student, and state clearly that you do not want them to take the SBAC test.

This email has been prepared by the following Parent representatives on the Hale Senate:
Meredith Berlin: tellmeri@msn.com;
Lynn Jensen: lynn@yogaforfertility.net;
Jay Furtick: jayfurtick@gmail.com ;
Deborah Lee: leedeboraht@aol.com
Please feel free to email us with any questions you may have.

Lynn said…
And from Garfield:

Garfield HS PTSA
March 15, 2015
Discussion on research behind & current practice
of standardized testing
Tuesday March 17, 7:00 PM in the GHS Library
All Are Welcome!

The Garfield HS PTSA invites you to join us for an informative presentation on the research behind and the current practice of high stakes standardized testing on March 17 at 7:00 PM in the GHS Library directly after the monthly PTSa board meeting. We will welcome Wayne Au to present his findings and share his thoughts on this lively topic.

Wayne is a graduate of Garfield High School and a former Garfield social studies teacher. Currently an assistant professor at the School of Education Studies at the UW Bothell, his academic interests broadly encompass critical education theory and teaching for social justice. More specifically, his research focuses on educational equity, high-stakes testing, curriculum theory, educational policy studies and social studies education.

Wayne is the editor of Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice, and the co-editor of Rethinking Our Classrooms, vol. 1. He recently contributed to Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian's book More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing. The parent of two young children, Wayne lives in Seattle.

We hope you can join us for this engaging presentation to help inform you, as the parents of public school students, navigate the current testing landscape.
Garfield HS PTSA
Anonymous said…
Are computers crashing on the testers? My student reported yes yesterday. Also reported many kids at his school not testing. The number he gave from his class seemed a lot. Is there a way to see after the fact how many SPS families don't participate? I know SPS won't want to tell us. Do schools have to disclose? I am curious whether anti-test rhetoric is just speeches or reality. I thought it was the former but now my student makes me think it's the latter.

North mom
Anonymous said…
HP, I know you're simply posting what was emailed to other parents and guardians, but the following statements are inaccurate: "The test has been designed to fail 60-70% of students. The current group of 11th grade students is simply being used to calibrate the scores for the future."

The test was not designed to fail 60-70% of students. It was designed to indicate college readiness. If 60-70% of 11th graders are in fact not college ready in ELA and math, that's what it would be designed to indicate. This statement infers incorrectly that the test is norm-referenced and is designed for a certain percentage to score in the Level 1 and 2 ranges. This is not accurate.

The current group of 11th grade students ARE NOT simply being used to calibrate the scores for the future. This has been covered on this blog ad nauseam. The future cut scores, i.e., achievement levels, have already been set. They WILL NOT be reset/calibrated after the first administration.

--- swk

Anonymous said…
@swk re: SBAC tests and not resetting the cut scores after this first test.

PARCC the other Common Core test apparently took the opposite approach and is not setting scores until they see how kids do on this first year of test deployment. This is according to information flying around on the parent telegraph lines.

One of the ideas of the tests if I understand correctly was to be able to compare Common Core achievement levels across the US. But if the two main tests are already setting proficiency levels differently, some states have modified the test and some have thrown out the tests what is the point of the tests now with so many different assessments happening? I truly don't understand what takeaways test result studiers hope to get. Do you? Serious question. I get that within one state we can look at districts but will there be scientifically valid information beyond that?

Po3 said…

Anonymous said…
SavvyVoter, this is really getting in the weeds, but standard setting (what SBAC calls "achievement level setting" and PARCC calls "performance level setting") can occur prior to the first administration or immediately following. States have previously chosen one or the other prior to the consortia assessments.

The key to comparing the results of the two tests in actually in the comparability of their achievement/performance level descriptors. The ALDs/PLDs form the basis from which the levels are set. In other words, these are descriptions of what each of the levels indicate and then scores on the test inform where the scale cuts or levels should be set.

Both SBAC and PARCC determined their ALDs and PLDs, respectively, some time ago. SBAC chose to set their achievement levels based on the ALDs and the field test results. PARCC will set their performance levels based on the PLDs and the first operational test this spring.

It is possible, therefore, to still conduct valid comparability studies between the two tests using the ALDs/PLDs and the corresponding cut scores.

--- swk
Po3 said…

What I find most relevant is we have a high school getting ready to opt out en mass as a statement that students are not going to spend one minute of their precious time taking the SBAC, which they DO NOT NEED TO GRADUATE!

And please no more droning on about using the test for college readiness; they don't care. We don't care.

GHS will follow, mark my words and then the cookies will continue to crumble across the district for the 11th Grade SBAC in 2015.

seattle citizen said…
Can someone remind me again why 11th graders are taking SBAC? Most already have HSPE. What's the point?
Watching said…
Where and when will the district post Amplify test scores?
Anonymous said…


Anonymous said…
Our school started SBACing yesterday. So far my kids report that it has actually been pretty good. They each took about 2 hours yesterday for what seemed to be the first part of ELA, and today both worked long and hard on the writing portion. Both are good keyboarders already so they don't feel stressed about it. There were reports of several crashing computers, but not my kids'. Seems about 10 kids out of each grade level have opted out.

We chose not to opt out because neither child was interested in opting out. Both enjoy a challenge and were intrerested in figuring out what the big deal is. Seems like our school has done an excellent job removing the stress of performing well. Results will be interesting.

Central Mom
mirmac1 said…
I was very disheartened to see a list of students scheduled to retest HSPE, posted prominently in the main hall of our school. That means another scrambled week for retesting.

Nearly 95% of the names indicate racial or ethnic origin. What does this tell you? It tells me a helluva lot.
Anonymous said…
If it's not designed to fail 60-70%, the fact is that after all the field testing, college readiness has been present in only 30-40% of the students. So, presumably students aren't any better prepared this year, so the numbers will be similar.

The test isn't really calling the kids failures, just not college material. Not yet anyways.
So is this going to just have the effect of putting them in remedial classes in college year after next or take them in senior year? Or summer school?
Or is it actually going to hurt them in admissions?

9th grader
Anonymous said…
@ Central Mom, sounds like your kids are in grade school if you are talking about keyboarding. 10 kids not taking it in every grade sounds like will earn your school a fail score from the state. This is what I meant above when I asked if-when-how we can see how many students don't take the test. I'd like to understand the community thoughts and it seems the best way. The rumor mill isn't valid. Seeing which schools if any and what their student demographics looks like may tell us a lot.

North mom
Anonymous said…
So yesterday I found out that the Duwamish Tribe is trying to raise money to proove to the Government that they're not EXTINCT! (and apparently I'm the only one who didn't know this was happening). Imagine that, the Bureau of Indian Affairs are insisting that the Duwamish somehow managed to build that beautiful Long House out there by the River are all PHANTOMS! You'd think they're ashamed of ONLY been able to rob the tribe of all their lands and so are insisting that it was TOTAL GENOCIDE. This is even worse than the Chinese Government telling the Dalai Lama that he doesn't have their permission to not reincarnate!
Anyway, here's the link, please donate if you can. Bad enough to be disenfranchised, to be told you don't exist is Kafkaesque. http://www.duwamishtribe.org/

from their site:
"Please Help - The tribe is suing the federal government for recognition--asking to reverse a 2001 Bureau of Indian Affairs decision that the tribe had gone extinct.  The Duwamish Tribe was recognized at the end of the Clinton administration—only to have that positive determination overturned by the incoming Bush administration. Last week, we were granted a 6 month extension, to raise $100,000 to hire an expert witness to review 31,000 pages provided by the BIA.  Our attorneys’ who are working pro bono tell us this is our last chance.  If you can help, now is the time.  Donations can be made through our office or on-line.   Thank you.


Anonymous said…
Why are all kids expected to take an 8+ hours test for college readiness? Not all want to go to college. And who determined what would show college readiness?

Anonymous said…
“There’s no question there was cheating going on,” said Robert Rubin, attorney for Dana Evans, a former principal at Dobbs Elementary School. Yet the high number of wrong-to-right erasures on student tests, he argued, did not show his client was guilty. “The data doesn’t tell you who, what, when, where and why.”

Sound familiar
Anonymous said…
Atlanta does remind us of our Beacon Hill Elementary doesn't it. Someone cheated big time. SPS thinks we are forgetting. We're not. It's going to come out even if SPS tries to hide it like they always do.

Hey, that reminds us. What's happened to Ron English Esq.? Is a 'lovely parting prize-payoff' coming up? Is he going to try to sue SPS? Something crusty will be crawling our way soon enough from one party or the other.

Anonymous said…
Has it been noted here that WMS will follow Whitman and McClure in abolishing Spectrum after open enrollment. Coming your way this fall - blended "scholars" (gen ed)and Spectrum, blocking only if teachers want to.

WMS, we thought you were the gold standard for an ethnically diverse AL program, working with Rainier Scholars to bring AL access to underserved communities. The demographics have been changing for the better, but now...

open ears
mirmac1 said…
Why the "air quotes" on scholars? Don't non-"Spectrum" qualify as serious students?
KinderMom said…
This email confuses me to no end. Why would I volunteer to facilitate a discussion when I can't even tell what the timeline is for the outcomes?

Seattle Public Schools would like to invite you to serve as a facilitator for the Neighbor to Neighbor discussions on school bell times. As a facilitator you would host a small gathering to discuss the issue and collect feedback. Training and materials will be provided for you.

Neighbor to Neighbor facilitator trainings will be held from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the following locations:

March 18 - West Seattle High School
March 23 - South Shore K-8
March 25 - Bailey Gatzert Elementary
To learn more about these discussions, the options under consideration for bell times, and how to be involved, please visit our website at Neighbor to Neighbor.

Office of Public Affairs
Lynn said…

I can't speak for open ears, but using the term scholars rather than students puts me on edge. Like requiring uniforms in public schools, it's something adults do when they believe kids are likely to fail and need to be rescued from that. It's condescending. If I heard this at my kid's school, I would be concerned about the message they're sending.

Anonymous said…
Dear Melissa, I am disappointed that you disabled the discussion on the Rainier Beach thread! The comments from Ingraham grad were enlightening as were the ones from Josh Hayes. I would encourage people on this thread to revisit that conversation. - NP
Anonymous said…
The Rainier Beach High School article in the Times was very good. The comments that were at the top when I read it were also very good, about how this shows it's not the kids that are the problem and also in regards to finding, pointing out the $1 million Roosevelt receives in private money and how RB deserves to keep their program.
Things got a little heated on the other thread but this RB story in the paper is really getting at the racial, economic and cultural divisions in Seattle and how they manifest in the schools. How Advanced Learning programs can help kids at every school and every level and it interviewed real kids and parents with compelling stories.

Have to say the Times did a decent job. Bravo.

Anonymous said…
Here's the link, not hot as I don't know how:


cmj said…
Speaking of Rainier Scholars, what do people think of it? I've heard some pretty good things about that, but not much recently. The last that I heard, their model was to recruit fifth graders and get them into either the Highly Capable programs in SPS or private schools (of course, at that time it was still APP/Spectrum, not HCC). I don't know if they've expanded to IB at Rainier Beach or STEMS at Cleveland as well.

I appreciated Josh Hayes' comments on the split-school dynamic at Ingraham. Does anyone know if Rainier Beach is also having the same problems with their IB program?

Look, if you're going to have an IB program, you can't decline to fund it and then take credit for its success.

On a semi-related note, how are school sports funded? Does the school budget pay for the buses to competition or do the students have to fund raise for all of that? Sports are great for exercise and stress-management and can even raise grades slightly, but I've never seen the point of having varsity sports at a high school. Varsity baseball won't help you much with your math homework. I'd tentatively suggest eliminating varsity sports and requiring all students to play intramurals unless they have a medical condition or are playing on a club or neighborhood team.
One of the best explanations of the inherent flaws in using a "cut score" for the SBAC comes from the Vermont Secretary of Education: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/Vermontletter.pdf

Vermont has been a leader in resisting NCLB and related education reforms. Washington State could learn a lot from their approach.
Anonymous said…
For any homeschoolers - If you part time homeschool for LA/SS in middle school (7th or higher), and cover WA State history, how do you get credit to fulfill the state graduation requirement?

Anonymous said…
"Look, if you're going to have an IB program, you can't decline to fund it and then take credit for its success."

If the district declines to fund it, then the people who should get credit should be the ones who, in spite of the district, held it together and made it work.

The person whose idea it was to start the IB program at Ingraham was a teacher, Roslyn Cooper, who is now retired. The teachers drove the startup of the IB program, and the teachers still drive it. Take note: that's what real reform looks like.

No one is saying Ingraham is perfect or that it serves everyone well. Students need a variety of challenging programs to choose from, each with skilled and committed teachers. Unfortunately, as long as we're fighting a system that continues with its overly top-down know-it-all approach and fails to support bottom-up initiatives, then we'll have a system that does not serve everyone as well as it should.

David Edelman

David Edelman
Anonymous said…
I listened to a This American Life this morning that I found eye opening. It was an episode called "Three Miles" and it just aired this past weekend.

It was about poor high school kids in a poor school in the Bronx and how they would or would not get to college. One of the students was given a full scholarship to a fancy college but he ended up flunking out essentially because he didn't think he was "worthy" of being at the school. He had supports around him, but he was too ashamed to ask for help. A statistic was given that only 20% of poor kids who start college finish. I had no idea it was so low. The college statistic that I typically hear is that about 50% graduate, but I have never heard the one specifically about low income kids.

As a lucky person who has never been poor and has never gone to a low income school, I found this episode eye opening and sad. These kids had people around who would help them and teachers who cared, but it wasn't enough. I have thought for a long time that the cycle of poverty can't be broken solely by the schools or caring teachers (I don't mean at all that teachers are not hugely important), and this episode backed up my concerns. These issues are so much harder to deal with than bringing in TFA, getting rid of "bad teachers," or the push for more computerized tests would have us all believe.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments):

"Our Central Seattle Elementary School 3rd graders started the SBAC on Monday and the kids took 2 hours to do the first one. On Tuesday, all of the work from the previous day wasn't recorded and the program wasn't working. Our school suspended the rest of the week's testing until April.

What a mess! Not many opt outs (or refusal to participates;o)..."
Anonymous said…
I'm very glad that my non-Spectrum "serious" scholar will have the opportunity to take language arts honors classes at Whitman in 7th/8th Grade, wish she had that same opportunity in 6th. Don't forget MANY children qualified for Spectrum at various points during elementary school but never scored a place (that was my kid's experience). Many children may be especially bright in a single subject (this is my kid, never scored below a 98% on her MAP reading test, 4s on her MSP reading/writing tests). Math placement based on actual test scores and teacher input makes a ton of sense. All kids deserve rigor, not just those who were lucky enough to score a Spectrum place in 1st Grade.

Future Whitman Parent.
Anonymous said…
one comment in the times story on rb struck me.

A student referred to Garfield as having two schools in the building, one for whites and one for blacks. APP/HCC or IBX or self-contained Spectrum creates these situations and as Josh said in his first person accounts of his time at Ingraham, kids are tribal and see the disparity. His final statement was priceless:

"the sense that there are two schools in the building and one of them gets all the swag while the other gets a piece of chalk and a broken meter-stick."

All kids, from the most able to the least, should not be feeling this way about their school.
I guess that's an argument for putting all gifted students in their own buildings where they won't offend anyone, but maybe we can find a way to get kids to their full potential while keeping them socially connected.

I'm saddened that things got out of control in the moderator's mind and the posts were stopped. It was an eye-opening exchange.

Wooty W.
The issue of two schools has always dogged Garfield (and, to some degree, some Spectrum schools). Now there appears to be this feeling at Ingraham (I don't know about Chief Sealth).

I don't think the program itself is the problem; I think it's the school community that's at issue. But, going back to what the original thread had been about which was Rainier Beach and their success which was NOT all about IB (if you read the article), they are doing better because of a sense of a unified community working together.

That unification has to come from all levels - school leadership, parents and students.

I didn't think the discussion got "out of control" as much as the tone towards me was disrespectful and unpleasant. I am doing my best during what is the worst period of my life (in order to keep this blog going and to keep my sanity by doing something else besides grieving).

I tried to help the young person in question understand this and was ignored.

Again, you can disagree without being disagreeable.

And this blog belongs to Charlie and me, so our rules.
Sara said…
Regarding the anonymous comment that Melissa reposted, isn't there a certain number of instructional hours per year required by the state? If so, I fail to see how the time spent on keyboarding, test prep, test taking and test re-taking can count toward instructional hours.

Regarding the Ingraham comments, my kids are still in elementary, but when our neighborhood was reassigned to Ingraham even though Ballard is a stone's throw, people were very upset because Ingraham's reputation wasn't very good. I don't know if that was fair or not, but that was the reputation in my 'hood. Now that IB is there, it is a sought after school.

Isn't this kind of the MO of SPS? Put desirable programs and high-testing kids into non-desirable schools? The outcome has been the same in the situations I've followed. It improves the reputation, but it causes serious strife. At our neighborhood school, there is a lot of conflict simply due to walk to math. Many 'advanced' kids make other kids feel bad that they aren't in the advanced class. The advanced math classes are 2/3 the size of the grade-level math. There's no real rhyme or reason to who's in what class (unless you have the spectrum label). People would say our neighborhood school is mostly white and well-to-do. Just to make some people on here feel better, it happens to 'rich white kids, too'.

I hope the young, angry Ingraham grad can rejoin the conversation in a more mature manner. People would have been interested in his/her perspective, but not with that tone. It could be a helpful life lesson for him/her if we took the posted comments and re-wrote them with the same points, but in a non-confrontational way.

I also hope it doesn't take him/her too long to realize high school is a short period of time in the big picture and one shouldn't dwell too long on their experience. I know way too many adults in their 40s that look pretty silly still 'stuck in high school glory years'.

The best option is to be successful in whatever endeavor you pursue so you can have the last laugh someday when those rude, mean IBers works for you.
Josh Hayes said…
I agree heartily with Melissa, and if I have offended anyone, I apologize for that. It's worth reading Danny Westneat's followup column on the Rainier Beach resurgence, and I would note that at RB, IB classes are not just "open to all", but in fact, ALL 11th-graders are required to take IB LA class - this not only proves that the classes are indeed open to all, but that hey, YOU CAN DO THIS. So much of what seemed to be a problem at IHS is illusory: you can tell kids who've been told all their lives how ordinary they are that they are free to aim higher, but that won't make them DO it.

To my mind, my admittedly newbie-in-the-classroom mind, what the Gen Ed population needs more than anything else is that sense of self-worth, that belief that they are WORTH this, that they too deserve every chance. Because a lot of them don't believe it. I applaud RB's proactive approach, and I think they deserve accolades for it.

And let me add that I in no way want to indict Ingraham for some failure. It is inevitable in any large endeavor that things get overlooked, assumptions get made, and consequences simply not seen. There's no bad intent here, and success for all is necessarily a moving target. It's going to sound sappy and cliché, but I really believe that our problems are better solved with love than with anger.
Anonymous said…
In my experience with these embedded programs, the majority of the kids aren't the problem. The majority of the adults aren't, either. Usually, it is a subset of snotty, entitled students who in turn are the progeny of snotty, entitled parents.

Helpful is a school leadership meeting, where community values and acceptable actions are spelled out. Mind you, the Entitled Ones rarely see themselves as a problem. But if the rest of the community understands, then they can isolate the outliers instead of feeling isolated themselves.

The problem doesn't go away after high school, so the sooner the majority of us and our kids learn how to deal and move on, the better.

TheGoodFight said…
I think the Ingraham graduate was spot on with their assessment of
Ingraham. It looks like the blog owner challenged grads personal experience and grad pushed back.

Apparently another commenter who claims to have worked at Ingraham supported grads position, but not tone. No offense, but the blog owner does come off as condescending and some what elitist when they attempt to shame the grad with "You appear to be new here so I'll give you a pass that you don't know who I am, how long I've been writing and my current situation."

Maybe it's the blog owner should act like an adult and let the conversation continue. I see nothing out of line in the dialog and to expect someone to not have emotions attached to their high school experience is ridiculous.

Baitn Switch
Anonymous said…
@ Sara, you said I fail to see how the time spent on keyboarding, test prep, test taking and test re-taking can count toward instructional hours.

Unfortunately, those are sometimes more useful activities than some of the other things my kids do in school. For example, I'd rather see them spend time learning keyboarding than watching a lot of the videos. Test prep can, in theory, be educational (e.g., if a teacher is showing them how to analyze text passages), and hopefully the test-taking itself gets those brains firing--at least more than watching yet another video in class...

Regardless, pretty much anything they do at school (besides lunch) is considered instructional time, including recess. From the SBE: “instructional hours” includes all time in a school day from the beginning of the first scheduled class period to the end of the last scheduled class period, reduced by time actually spent for meals.

I didn't challenge the grad's personal experience. I explained my experience and he/she repeatedly brushed it off.

No one is wrong here; we have differing opinions and no one person can know how an entire student body or staff feels. No one.

I was not being condescending; I was trying to explain that if you haven't been at this blog before you might not realize the years of experience Charlie and I have nor my current personal situation.

But again, I do not want to continue this conversation if I hear a disrespectful tone.

This is the last comment I will make on this subject of tone.
Anonymous said…
In schools with APP/HCC, the program can be seen as interloping in the neighborhood school. Sometimes teachers or a principal with a dislike of any and all AL programs will create divisions within the school. I can't speak to what may or may not be happening within Ingraham, but the atmosphere within a school has a lot to do with the attitudes of the principal and teaching staff as much as with the student body. Isn't that what the RB success story is suggesting?

seen it
Anonymous said…
Anyone have updates on McCleary funding down in Olympia? Shouldn't we be hearing something right about now? I don't see anything in the media and I haven't gotten updates in my education newsletters.

Seen it, excellent point and quite true. The principal sets the tone and Mr. Chappelle had welcomed the IB program (and I believe was the one who said he wanted every student to take a class).

Ed Voter, I have asked this over and over at the Times with all their busybody editorials on public education topics but not McCleary.

I am going to be speaking with Speaker Chopp this week and that item is at the top of the list.
Anonymous said…
How does IB accreditation work? Do schools need a certain number of students to take and pass the IB exams, or seek the full diploma, in order to maintain accreditation? Is it enough for a few students to get a certificate (and not do the additional requirements of a full IB diploma), or just take one or two IB classes?

IB curious
Anonymous said…
OK, so I'll probably get flamed for this but I'd like to point out that the HCC/IBx kids (y'know the rich white elitist ones) didn't exactly ask to go to Ingraham and take over the school. In fact, those students are pretty much at the mercy of where the district chooses to site programs, in order to attract students to schools that have somewhat bad reputations, poorer outcomes, and for those reasons are under capacity. The district needs to take pressure off schools that are full and entice students to the less desirable schools. Attracting a richer, whiter student population helps improve the school scores so the district can claim a successful turn around of an underperforming school, and brings in more PTA money etc to support various (non-district funded) programs, support staff etc. So, putting the HCC program or something like IB in a school is win-win for the district (especially when it doesn't actually contribute much to the ongoing running of such a program). But now the existing student population is pissed at the elitist interlopers. And to be honest, I bet not all the HCC families are initially thrilled about leaving their perhaps nice safe, affluent, homogenous school/neighborhood to go to a school that has been reported to have gang-problems and other issues. (I know you're thinking cue the tiny violins for the poor little rich kids) . Yes, it's their choice - but basically if want more advanced offerings - they have limited options - Garfield or Ingraham. Those who make the choice to go there make the best of it.
Maybe this is a good argument for purely self contained schools even at high school level (if there was an empty building) - but you know what - the same people would be unhappy that these rich white elitist kids get a school all of their own, a school that must be somehow better than what everyone else has got.
I honestly don't know what folks want.
Students are not all the same, they come into school system with various advantages and disadvantages conferred by race, economic status, level of family support, heath or disability status, intellectual ability, sporting prowess, self confidence etc etc. Yes, we should try to level the playing field (as much as is possible given the school system can't address the wider causes)- but not by handicapping the most advantaged students. And not by blaming them for making the best of programs wherever the district has placed them. Look toward the district and school administration.

Haters gonna hate

Anonymous said…
Your problem is you assume these programs are better and that the students are better and more deserving. Not having HCC, AP or IB would not handicap a student, if so please provide evidence. Did you even take time to read your diatribe?

What's clear is the continued repression and beat down the students suffer from adding another distinction.

And your right, I hate anyone who thinks like you do!


Susan said…
I agree with haters gonna hate. One area where it doesn't seem to be an issue is athletics. It seems OK that there is significant discrimination and politics with choosing the kids who make the teams.

Someone posted a similar thought elsewhere, but denying the kids wanting, willing and able to take harder classes would be like only having rec level sports with all kids getting on the same team and allotted equal playing time. I am going to start pushing for that in the name of equity. My skinny, unathletic nerd will need to fill the time that would otherwise be spent studying.
Playgrounds Needed said…
Loyal Heights is reporting that the district has admitted that the school will be built for 900 students.

There will be 2 prek rooms and computerized rooms for testing.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, thank you for bringing up a McCleary question when you meet with Speaker Chopp.

I also have an idea-request. I just received a PTSA newsletter offering a resource for Smarter Balanced questions that families may have. It made me think perhaps you could start a new testing thread where people can pose questions as well as post comments about the experiences, and then you could keep the conversation current and in one place by reposting the whole conversation once a week or so through the testing season. If Blogger allows that function (I don't know.) It just seems as though this is the one place in the city where a frank and intelligent community conversation about the tests are happening, and I anticipate that as the test season continues, more families will be looking for ways to reach out - since the schools can only apparently repeat some canned talking points from JSCEE.

Sorry to all readers for the long post, but looking for ways for more people to easily read, learn, comment on Smarter Balanced.

Anonymous said…
Michael - No you are the one assuming that I assume these programs are better and that the students are better and more deserving. I didn't say anything of the sort. The district puts these programs into schools to attempt to distribute students, scores, PTA dollars more equitably (from their perspective) Some , HCC for instance are state mandated.
I guess the perception among families might be that these programs are better, or interesting and different and that is what draws new populations to the schools. No one said anything about the students who choose them/qualify for them being more deserving or better than anyone. Maybe you think they are less deserving?

How is providing advanced courses to students who are capable of succeeding in them equate to "continued repression and beating down the students suffering from adding another distinction"???? Huh?

Providing higher level opportunities for any one group does not require beating down another group. No-one is repressing anyone. If anything, having those courses at a underperforming school actually "distributes the parental wealth" (in terms of volunteerism, advocacy, PTA funds) around the district, so there should be at least some positive benefits for all kids in those schools.

Even if the district and the school aren't handling the integration of these programs and populations perfectly I do not believe they are beating down and repressing the gen ed kids by having HCC or IB programs at those schools.

Perhaps if prospective families realized that students in these programs are viewed unwelcome interlopers, repressive colonizers or whatever, that their is bad feeling for them at the school they may be reluctant to pursue these options. Perhaps that is what you want - drive them out. Do you think that would actually benefit the other kids at the school (raise them up, offer them more opportunities, lift your so-called oppression?)

Haters gonna hate
Anonymous said…
As Dave Skylark says in The Interview, "They hate us 'cause they ain't us".
Many have that feeling in that the HCC community feels besieged and isolated and are only defensively reacting to persecution.
Others see them as the persecutors.

Really, the damage of the ill will extends to all kids. Those in the "programs" are made to feel as if they are bad for things they have no control over; the school they attend or the way the program is run. Real damage to their ability to empathize and and trust others that gets internalized and scars.
The kids who feel excluded also internalize their feelings of being lesser students and it is damaging.

Rainier Beach seems to be dealing with this in a new way with mandatory IB classes. There has been a body of research stated at Duke, I believe, showing that treating all kids as gifted creates positive results for students. Pushing kids is essential to getting the most out of them, ask any HCC parent the main reason they are in the program and most will say to challenge their child, to push them. Kids are like adults in that most do little more than they have to do. So anyway to challenge and push kids is a good thing and what we need is a way to do that without scarring kids with perceptions about their treatment vs others, whether accurate or not. Parents are often too emotional to do this and the district needs to better design programs to protect students from bullying or ill-will from any source. Learning should be a win-win, not zero-sum.

The AL dept has a duty to help its kids, the tested ones, but the district needs to fix the problem of these divisions between gened and AL. We say that the district can't control poverty or societal racism. Even if one accepts that, which many do not accept, it can certainly fix it's own house and not instill more stereotypes in kids, more pain and humiliation in their lives, more distrust and animosity.

Can we have a district where there are families concerned about graduating, families concerned about going to college, and families concerned about going to an excellent college? Can those different kids be in the same building? The same classroom?

The answer can only be yes to all those. It is not just a level playing field we need as some suggest. Level doesn't cut it when one kid shows up after training and a good breakfast and the other team had to work all night and wolf down a piece of toast.

Our district needs to reach for equal outcomes, for all kids to have a shot as the brass ring of higher ed or at least be in a position to go.

People talk about the need for segregated(self-contained) classes to offer effective coursework for advanced learners, but do we really? RB may be a model. So far the underbelly of the HCC program and IBX looks less than healthy.

Anonymous said…
Agree Susan, my uncoordinated non sporty kids are repressed and beaten down by the having the distinction of not being good enough at any sport to make it into any of the top teams at HS.
Everyone is OK with that though.
But if they qualify for HCC and want to take tough academic courses - well, it's open season for the haters then.

Sport achievement= "we're so proud", "rah rah rah" "Ok to skip classes for practice, tours etc"
Academic achievement = "elitist", "why should they get anything special", "why do they deserve a special program"

Heres a deal - why don't we get rid the AP classes, and IB, and HCC and while we're at it, we can get rid of the 'varsity' teams, make everyone play my unathletic kids levels, and the top orchestra, band etc (wouldn't want those non musically talented kids to feel beaten down) - that's fair. If you want equality for academics, then you should be happy having it for sports and cultural stuff too.

Shake it off
Anonymous said…
This article makes it out to be the IB students who are being persecuted in some way. That's not what is happening at Ingraham per the student and the teacher. It's just the opposite.

Read again.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan said…
You're right, read again. I don't think, however, that the IB kids causing problems for the GenEd kids at Ingraham won't go unnoticed and will therefore lead to the destruction of the program by SPS in the name of equity. It's been happening every year for the last 5, at least. That's why you get the snark about leveling the playing field in athletics.

The District should change its tagline to Inequity for All. I'd love to find the group of students that doesn't feel they are being robbed of services and offerings to provide for some other group. SPS has successfully Divided and Conquered since we are all fighting each other for the scraps while the District keeps hiring highly paid administrators and signing expensive testing and technology contracts.
Anonymous said…
Actually I won't stuff it up -anonymous poster with no moniker. I won't shut up either.
Because I'm speaking the truth here - y'all hate on the academic high flyers and don't think they should get any more opportunities to challenge themselves and perform at the highest level but at the same time you welcome and applaud those opportunities given to high performers in sporting and artistic, musical endeavors. It's arguable whether organized sports should even have much role in our schools (outside of PE) and yet it takes higher precedence over academics which IS the core function of school.
It's hypocrisy.

Shake if off
Anonymous said…
I wouldn't compare elite sports to gifted ed. Jocks have a terrible reputation for bullying, hogging school dollars, hey, they and their ilk were blamed for the bullying of the Columbine shooters.

Elite sports gets a pass but don't use it for cover. It's a glass house.

The same damage that the Al programs cause could be said for sports.How many naive kids with dreams of glory instilled by parents and/or coaches is injured and faces long term physical pain from sports? Kids are used by adults to foster their own careers and twisted dreams in sports more than anywhere outside illegal activities like prostitution.

Anonymous said…
It may be off topic, but isn't Ingraham/district being sued over discrimination in regards to IB. I think this is why they are pushing hard to open it up to all students.

It's really hard to find out any information on current litigation. SPS seems to keep it under raps until they pay out monies.

Anonymous said…
First, don't mention Ingraham and elite sports together that ended a few decades ago. Second, it's the IB program students by large that looks down on non-IB students. For god sakes Ingraham has sports programs for handicap students and everyone supports them. Think before you type!

Reality PC
Anonymous said…
Varsity sports in the Metro League are very elite. Ingraham has varsity sports team. Same with music. SPS has elite programs for music, sports. If you don't make the cut, you don't play.

Sadly, academic programs are the same.

If a kid doesn't meet a certain criteria they are deemed unworthy and incapable of contributing anything meaningful.

That's another point the Times article made, RB was known only as a sports powerhouse before IB showed up.

Unified sports are fantastic and should be the place where the money goes,not varsity football, aka gladiator training camp for the National Football League.

Anonymous said…
I didn't intend it to be a commentary on Ingraham specifically, rather pointing out that at most HS - folks are fine with having elite sports teams, or touring band or whatever…. but if you put a high level academic program in the school you get all this angst.
I think it's worth highlighting the attitudes people have toward academic success in this district (maybe it's all over the US).

Shake if off
Anonymous said…
Please go back and read what the student and teacher wrote, you are not on the same page.

Charter Unbeliever

Anonymous said…
Not really true, Shake it off. Many people want access to extracurricular activities in sports and music available to all, not just the elites on varsity teams and special musical programs. SEAAC addressed this very issue last year. Not only does the district have very restricted academic offerings for students with disabilities, but it has essentially 0 extracurricular offerings. IDEA requires equal access to extracurricular activities. Sorry, but "Unified" isn't equal access, but it's a nice start... And, much more in line with real world leisure than Varsity sports.

Sped Parent
Anonymous said…
Yes, they have all may have access, just like gen ed kids have access to regular classes but we happily allow kids who are more advanced/skilled/talented in athletics, sports, music etc to participate at more competitive level, higher level etc. What folks don't seem to like is when we offer academically talented/advanced students opportunities for more advanced/higher level programming. In that case, it's elitist.

Shake it off
Anonymous said…
I stand corrected, Sped parent. I am aware of Unified,and have seen other music programs for Sped mentioned on this blog, but am not at all aware of where they occur, if anywhere.

Agree that many other than us see sports as an unfair program for the physically gifted. Those with parents who can afford to offer additional supports do even better. It's a little disturbing when parents basically say two wrongs make a right. They are admitting the unfairness of their cohorted programs.

High School is the time to get all the different groups, gifted, Sped, gened, to interact and learn empathy and how to communicate because if the kids don't do it now, most will never do it.

We cannot have kids locked onto these isolated homogeneous groups and expect them to change the world.

Anonymous said…
Rumor has it that Nathan Hale may reduce its Music department FTE for next year....which doesn't make sense to me, given the wave of middle schoolers about to hit high school. Seems like they should be building their program, not shrinking it?

- JAMS Mom
Anonymous said…
I've never seen anyone denied the opportunity to participate in sports, I doubt it happens and I think your making it up to be an ass. I wouldn't expect just anyone who wants to be able to play on a varsity team and be as a starter in the position of QB in football. On my teams not always the best physical athlete started, because it depended on your attitude and how hard you tried in practice during the week. Also, sports do not have the same status like they did many years ago. I think the players in Ballard high school stage productions carry more school clout than do any of the athletes. IB students at Ingraham
are kind of stuck on themselves, we found it funny because they might have the drive to produce loads of work, but they are not any smarter than us. Many lack any sort of real world street smarts or common sense. It was most likely from too protected. I think IB it's a scam because two of my friends who went through the program really didn't fair any better than me in collage acceptance, but I know I had more fun in school. They seems like little robots always in the library typing away, it's really creepy.

Terry Allen
"It seems OK that there is significant discrimination and politics with choosing the kids who make the teams."

Agreed. No one seems upset over seeming sports or music elitism.

PST, I'm not aware of any litigation involving Ingraham (it could be, I just haven't heard of it).

I will be deleting any anonymous comments and those that name call.

And again, AL programs are open to anyone. Anyone can test and private testing for an appeal is free to F/RL. With AP and IB, you can take the class but not the exam if you don't want to (I know some AP teachers frown on this but I believe it is still the policy).

I get that some believe that only "rich, white" kids have access to these programs but it's not true. If that were true, then they would be elitist.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, you don't seems sable. Go back and read some of your own comments. I think you should take more time off and try and pull yourself together.

Maybe disable comments until your better. People are talking.

Anonymous said…
Yucky tone to much of the above comments.

But here is a serious, earnest question. Please, answer in a thoughtful way. I am especially interested in what educators think.

Text books are being chosen for middle school now for social studies.

Everyone says they want rigor for every child, not just rigor for those served in Advanced Learning programs.

Commentors also talk about the disappearance of Spectrum self-contained or honors courses/classes in middle school. Which means there will be more diverse learning styles in a single classroom.

So, on one hand, 'people' want more rigor, and say it is demeaning to dumb down the course/materials. But on the other hand, you have a broader range of abilities in a single class room because the principals are doing away with ability-based groupings, and 'people' don't want some learners 'left behind' or struggling with materials that are too difficult for them, as that will demoralize them or exacerbate their 'failing' a course.

So, in an 8th grade classroom, you might have a child reading at a 10th grade level and another reading at a 4th grade level (not talking about ELL or SpEd, just talking about students who have no particular services).

What kind of text book do you select for that classroom?

Should it be at an 8th grade reading level, and, that will challenge students who are struggling to come up to high expectations?

Or, do you select a more 'accessible' text, so that no student in the 8th grade class will not be able to independently work?

Again, I take to heart the 'don't dumb it down' mantra, per

3/6/15, 3:03 PM

So, what kind of rigor should a text book have for middle school? It should be accessible, with many types of text types (tables, graphs, maps, etc), but fundamentally, what kind of reading level/rigor should it have?

Clearly, picking one text that can be all things to all students is challenging! So, I am curious how others view this.

Accessible & Rigor

Anonymous said…
Wow - why such a hurtful, unnecessary comment? Besides, I think it's entirely untrue.

If you don't like this blog or the ones who run it (Melissa and Charlie), please leave - now.

Anonymous said…
SEAAC advocate(d) for access to the same ability to play, (eg a similar rate of participation), the same variety of sports, on the same venues, with the same number of games, that non-disabled students play. In fact, arguably, IDEA requires it. That should include inclusive play at the Varsity level (when that benefits the student), and all other JV levels, AND a variety of restricted offerings like Unified. No reason that some people should get some big advantage in sporting education because they are "more competitively viable". The idea that we are preparing a legion of professional athletes is a joke isn't it? Lots of schools will produce 0 professional athletes, so why NOT let less competitive students join in the activity? Really no reason except historical practice.

Terry Allen, if you think students with disabilities aren't denied access to sports, Varsity or otherwise, or participation, you have no idea what you're talking about. Office of Civil Rights has sent out memoranda specifically noting that access to extracurricula offerings in sports and other activities is VASTLY missing for students with disabilities. If students with disabilities can't participate in sports because of their disability, (eg, they don't have the attention, cognitive, or physical skills) then they should be offered something equivalent that they can play. That is the finding of the OCR. Furthermore, even when students DO have the ability to play sports under the exclusive system, they are often denied because of their disability. And, the WIAA is just as guilty as the school districts.

So, all of you who think that nobody cares about "athletics" being discriminatory and exclusive - as some sort of evidence of an anti-academic ethos - are simply uniformed on the status issues of extracurricular activities civil rights.

Sped Parent
Anonymous said…
That didn't come across correctly, I'm just saying she seems stressed out by comments and considering everything going on why not lock it down and take a rest?

Anonymous said…
Actually a child cannot be in the band if they can't play. Auditions required in HS.
No cut sports are there but so are cut sports.
Al is open to everyone to apply, not access.Socioeco plays a big role in getting into these coveted programs, Spectrum and HCC. Let's not kid ourselves, it could be worse like NYC schools where kids study for literally years to test into the elite public high schools.

Seattle is in the middle in exclusivity of advanced programs. Many districts offer entire buildings but they use a lottery to decide who goes and who stays in their local school, as there is never enough room.
Some districts reserve cohorts for only the most outlying of students.
Seattle seems to be laying the foundation for some change with the alignment. Change in the size of the cohort, that is.

Anonymous said…
I think the point that Accessibility and Rigor makes (quoted below) hits the nail on the head:

"Everyone says they want rigor for every child, not just rigor for those served in Advanced Learning programs."

The problem is, the APP program is set up (on purpose, I'm learning) to treat their students as the only ones who are interested in learning. My daughter went to HIMS and the discrepancy between what was offered to the APP students vs. what was offered to the Gen Ed and Spectrum students was annoying at best and heartbreaking at worst.

APP students get smaller classes, special field trips, better teachers (overall), and seemingly more attention. This does not make for a good environment when students in non-APP programs have to deal with teachers who tell the kids to put their heads on their desks and be quiet for the class because the teacher is tired that day and doesn't want to teach (this happened to my daughter at HIMS).

There has got to be a better way to introduce rigor to all of the curriculums without favoring the very top and the very bottom (according to the tests, etc.).

Roosevelt Mom
Anonymous said…
Terry Allen, It seems like you had a great high school experience. You had lots of fun, very little homework, academic outcomes good enough to get into your choice of college and you made every sports team you tried out for. I am not sure why you are complaining. Are you upset because some kids you think are creepy didn’t like you? It sounds like you didn’t like them.

I am sorry that Melissa is coming in for criticism here when she is playing referee & is dedicated enough to allow us this forum.

Sped Parent is correct. Equivalent sports opportunities are not open to most Sped students. O is wrong, there are beginning bands in some high schools (no audition) also beginning choir, guitar, piano, ukulele, & percussion. I know sped students who are taking beginning music composition in gen ed classes as well. Unified drama is starting at Roosevelt, but I have known sped kids in the Roosevelt drama program & tech program before. Now we need to see accommodations more regularly supported in after school programs.

My Ingraham kid has friends over to our house who are in IB, IBX, Gen Ed & Sped. They all seem to get along. I have not seen any staff members discourage these cross-group friendships & am surprised to hear that implied.

Anonymous said…
Congratulations to Nathan Hale's Orchestra!

DRUM ROLL…….. CYMBAL CRASH!! The Nathan Hale orchestra won first place at the western Washington university orchestra festival last Saturday. Our students were praised for their high level of performance, expressive playing and professionalism. Take a moment to congratulate our school’s musicians on this outstanding achievement for our music program and for our school. Congratulations Nathan Hale orchestra!

It is really nice to see the program grow.

Anonymous said…
Roosevelt mom, no one is weeping for the gen ed kids of HIMS who draw from a whiter more affluent neighborhood than HIMS APP, which draws from the entire North end (pre-JAMS). The class sizes are the not smaller in APP. Why do you think that? That would not be legal. Class size is the same everywhere in the North - huge. Groups go on field trips when the teachers plan them, so if gen ed teachers didn't plan them, don't blame the APP teachers who did. If a teacher tells the kids to put their heads down, that's inappropriate, so, tell the principal. What does it have to do with APP being in the building? Again, cue the violins for the poor deprived gen ed children of Wallingford. The whole "elitist" argument gets turned on its head when the neighborhood kids are on average more affluent than the APP kids, doesn't it?

open ears
Anonymous said…
Advanced middle school math classes at my middle school have 12 students, smaller than special ed. Hard to say it's equitable. Plain old regular math, which is mostly kids who haven't accelerated (low normal) mixed in with sped kids, has 36 kids and offered at the worst times - last period, when nobody wants an academic class. Just saying, the elite, whoever they are, always get the good deal. AP classes are almost always reduced in size, at the expense of all other classes. Class size is definitely not the same... almost anywhere. Not sure about IB, but pretty sure that has reduced class size too, and extra administration. Wonder why there's no college counselor for anybody else - well, they're doing IB, or IBx for those who matter.

Aroundthe Block
Anonymous said…
Ugh, so I post about the accomplishments of Hale's music program without seeing what JAMS Mom had posted about it being reduced! I hope that isn't true. It would be damn shame if it is.

A couple of things I wanted to comment on. Hale does inclusion for some AP classes like L/A in 11th grade. Some people love it and others complain that there are too many kids in the class who don't really want the rigor and don't take it seriously. It seems to me though, you can take the test or not take the test.

Hale has a Unified drama program and a Unified soccer team. Hale also has many levels of teams as I am sure other schools do too. There is Varsity, JV and C or Freshman. Which team you are on depends on how many kids turn out and skill level and sometimes choice. I know of several kids who do JV Ultimate instead of Varsity because they think Varsity is too intense. For Gymnastics, there are girls who have never done gymnastics before and girls who have been doing it since they were 4. Everyone can compete and the varsity team is not determined until right before Metros. For the the JV group there is the All Comers Meet. The Varsity team is determined by scores in each event and AA around scores. This year, one of the competitors on bars at Metros had never done gymnastics until high school gymnastics. She went from JV to Varsity by her Junior year. Some of the sports are desperate for players. Basketball may be big at others schools but Hale struggles to find enough players some years.

The Cheer Squad is inclusive at Hale and has a member who will be speaking to the UN later this week about inclusivity.

I am sure Hale is not perfect and isn't right for everyone but it seems like you can get a good education there and play a sport and do music or theater if you want. I am sure many of the other high schools in Seattle are similar.

Anonymous said…
APP students get smaller classes, special field trips, better teachers (overall), and seemingly more attention.

Not true. HIMS APP classes could be large (sometimes exceeding 32), field trips were few and far between, and teacher quality was all over the place.

Anonymous said…
@Open ears - Roosevelt mom is reporting her experience and that of her daughter. There is no reason to attack her. - NP
Anonymous said…
Since it is posted in Hale Mail, I am assuming that it is alright to post here:

CONGRATULATIONS to Nathan Hale Senior Devon Adelman! Devon will be speaking at the UN in NYC for World Down Syndrome Day this Friday, March 20. https://www.worlddownsyndromeday.org/wdsd-conference

She will be speaking about inclusivity.

Anonymous said…
Leave it to an APP parent - to gasp when an APP student "even has to sit in a class size 32, or maybe more". The rest of us see that all the time. HIMSmom says it all!

Anonymous said…
Open Ears, you lost me here. Don't forget BF Day. HIMS brings in APP kids from Magnolia and QA too. Lincoln APP demographics pretty much speaks for itself.

What I see in schools pretty much reflects the dynamic tension within this city. It segregated not just by race, but by SES and opportunity. To say boohoo to you if gen ed teachers don't provide some of the enrichment APP teachers do because is plain wrong and awful! I say this as an APP parent. That's not an education my children want. Perhaps my children may never get to read Rousseau's Social Contract in school. That's ok. They'll survive. They are learning their roles, rights, and responsibilities by living it as citizens in the real world, navigating its quirks and injustices with understanding, empathy, resilience, and not to take what they have for granted.

I'm glad for this discussion. It's awkward as heck, but it's due.

another reader
Anonymous said…
@ HP and JAMS Mom

There are two music directors at Hale, one teaches instrumental (band, orchestra, etc...), and the other teaches vocal music. Apparently, the Hale Senate is considering a reduction in FTE from 0.8 to 0.4 for one of the music directors. I think the discussion and vote was to have happened yesterday, but I haven't heard the outcome.

My son plays in the Hale Band. He loves it, he really likes his music teacher, and would like to play in the Jazz Band next year (Jazz Band is a zero period class at Hale). Depending what the Hale Senate decided, there could be fewer music offerings next year, and they might cut Jazz Band. I hope not.

I am constantly amazed at the inequity of offerings from one attendance area school high school to the next.

I guess it used to be that if you had a musically-talented kid you tried to get them into schools like Roosevelt or Garfield, notoriously strong music schools, either via the choice system or by moving to a neighborhood close to those schools.

But now, between capacity issues and the NSAP (or is it now just called the SAP?), there is no real choice. Kids who aren't in HCC pretty much have to go to their attendance area HS, or go private or out of district.

There has been a lot of talk on this thread about perceived inequities within certain schools, but I think the big-picture inequities are even more appalling.

HP, you write about Hale being so inclusive. I agree, that is one of the really nice things about Hale. Unfortunately, one of the downsides to restricting the number of music offerings will be more demand than supply, which will likely lead to audition-only band and orchestra. Not a very Hale-type way of doing things, but I don't know how else they would do it.

- North-end Mom
Josh Hayes said…
Hi Accessible and Rigor,

I can't really speak to social studies texts: I'm a science teacher. That said, I think that textual difficulty is a barrier we want to avoid, not just because some kids aren't reading at grade level, but also because a lot of ELL kids are perfectly capable of handling the material, but can't read English well enough, especially in a jargon-filled area like science (maybe social studies is less prone to jargon? I doubt it....).

So, my hope for textbooks is that the LANGUAGE component is easily accessible, but the CONTENT component can still be quite complex. The teacher can decide how much of that content he or she wants to run by the class - and this is an excellent opportunity for differentiating instruction, because you can set a "floor" of material which everyone's responsible for and then add in a few "cool things" that'll keep kids interested. This distinction between language and content may not be as clean in some areas, though.

An example in the Biology area is one of the current textbooks recommended for use in the district that begins - BEGINS! - with evolution. How the hell is a kid supposed to understand that when they don't understand genetics, or indeed anything about how organisms work in the first place? It's absurd. Fortunately, the district has a terrific wiki for biology teachers that provides enormous support in planning and pacing so you can essentially ignore the crappy textbook and use the older, but better, "elephant" textbook. (The one with the picture of the elephant on the cover - long ago I took classes from the primary author!)
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt Mom,

I'm sorry that your daughter got some bad teachers at HIMS. I could tell you some horror stories about APP teachers at HIMS too, along with some wonderful teachers. My son had a 6th grade math teacher that many parents had worked hard to avoid - even homeschooling their children just for math. That teacher almost failed my son for the wrong things - like the fact that he couldn't stay awake for first period.

I don't remember any "APP field trips" the two years my son was there.

However, as an APP student, my son was forced to leave Hamilton and his friends and go to a school that is just starting up. It's not easy being the parents or the kids starting up a school - everything has to be built from scratch: PTSA, music program, sports programs, clubs, etc. And that's after many of us parents started the APP at Lincoln from scratch for our kids' 5th grade year after getting booted from Lowell at the last minute (late June).

So I don't see any evidence the district treats us special, but more likely as a group that can be punted around at will.

Anonymous said…
For the record: The parent in the article, Rita Brown, said Garfied was divided by race and was two schools.

"Haters will Hate" moniker--people who raise legitimate issues or share first hand experiences that you don't like doesn't make them "haters".I have seen that defense used on this issue too many times and it's getting pathetic.

Facts: SPS does not use research based approaches to highly capable. Students should be tested for appropriate placement on a regular basis; placement should not be based on a single test; there should be a continuum of services where placement is fluid; the test given should not be biased toward oral or written language which can often give advantage to children of highly educated parents.

SPS score on the above? You got it.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Josh, really appreciate your insights and observations.

The paradox is that excessive jargon impedes learning for some students, yet the jargon needs to be learned and some students are ready.

One could extrapolate to say 2nd or 3rd grade even and say the same thing: complex texts are hurting some students but others need to be reading them.

I'm no teacher and defer to you in this, but do you see what I men? The science part itself, just like the reading analysis in elementary school can be less jargon-filled, but the jargon, the vocabulary and complexity of writing as well as thought, need to be learned at some point. It's hard not to want your child to move forward if they are able.

Anonymous said…
Rtia Green, who is a parent of color, said that the school is divided by black and white.

--enough already
I don't seem "sable?" Until "your" better?

I do appreciate your concern. My concern was to keep this blog going.

As for "people talking" I'm waay past that stage. I honestly don't worry about that issue at all.

I have not seen nor hear that APP kids get smaller classes. Where is this? As for AP classes, it varies depending on the interest in the class. You can't fault the district for offering advanced classes open to anyone.
Anonymous said…
The idea that APP classes at HIMS are smaller than Gen Ed classes is bogus. My kids have consistently had over-filled LA, SS and science classes--and I know this wasn't a fluke because when we tried to change schedules around based on teacher recommendation it wasn't possible--all the other periods of the APP classes were full to (or beyond contractual) capacity. Switching to a different foreign language class or PE or taking music or drama instead, however, these were all options, because class sizes in those non-APP electives were all much lower.

APP also doesn't have a curriculum. Even though the Board required this as part of the APP split to JAMS, apparently there just wasn't enough money for it.

And the idea that APP has all the great teachers is also unfounded.

But hey, statements like this feed the narrative, right?


PS - An earlier statement by an anon posted was mistakenly attributed me. I did no "gasping" at class sizes of 32. But obviously I do agree with anon poster's general claim, that APP class sizes are not generally smaller.
cmj said…
enough already said "Haters will Hate" moniker--people who raise legitimate issues or share first hand experiences that you don't like doesn't make them "haters".I have seen that defense used on this issue too many times and it's getting pathetic.

I felt that haters gonna hate raised some good points, but I agree that we should avoid using "haters gonna hate" or "people don't like my argument, so I must be right because now I'm the underdog" as arguments.

On AL:
In an ideal world, every student would be challenged as much as possible in school (while still sleeping, having a life outside of school, and not imploding from the stress). Otherwise, we're wasting huge amounts of potential.

Unfortunately, in a not-ideal world, teachers are trying to manage around 30 students--who may have quite a range of abilities and motivation--in a class at one time, using the same lesson plans and the same textbooks. Outside of seating each child at a computer and letting them work through subjects at their own pace, I don't see an easy way to make sure that all kids are being challenged. And obviously, it would be nice if the kids learned how to talk to other people and work together, which is hard to do sitting at a computer by yourself.

Some teachers are very good at differentiation. Most, I believe, are not. Differentiation takes extra time, energy, and creativity. I would also argue that teachers have little motivation to differentiate, other than the goodness of their hearts (which can be quite significant). NCLB forces them to focus on teaching to the students likely to almost or just barely pass the state tests. In this model, the worst-performing students get written off as a bad investment unlikely to pass no matter how much time is invested in them and -- the best students are ignored because they'll pass the tests without any help.
Anonymous said…
Or they could say, like Parks and Rec does about classes, if it's not full, it doesn't happen.

pretty sweet if only 5 kids take AP Physics...and expensive

Or does the district tell them, go to a Comm. college?

Anonymous said…
Enough already -I too raised legitimate issues in my earlier post and shared my perspective as a parent of a student in that HCC cohort that is routinely used as a sort of moveable space filler/score-plumper/demographic changer in this district. Our kids go where they are placed by the district, often in schools that are less than enthusiastic about the idea, and we all make the best of the situation.
Perhaps my choice of moniker was unfortunate - it was more facetious than anything, though I do feel there is a lot of animosity toward anything to do with advanced learning in this district (look at any APP related threads on this blog and you'll see what I mean).

Haters gonna hate
Anonymous said…
@HIMS mom, I don't think comparing APP class size with elective class size is an appropriate comparison. It is the core academic classes for gen ed kids which, when compared to APP classes, seem large and over crowded. -NP
Lynn said…
Math is not an HCC class in middle school.

This discussion is leading me to think that HCC-only middle and high schools are a really good idea.
Anonymous said…

Based on your many previous posts about this topic, it seems like you have wanted HCC classes only for middle and high schools since way before the current discussion.

That ain't gonna happen.

The current HCC model only for elementary is already on borrowed time, except for some true outliers. Self-contained is actually necessary for those students.

SPS is under real pressure to get on board with best practices. Your plan goes backwards.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Here's a recent Great Schools review of Whittier Elementary from a Spectrum family:

"Whittier has outstanding demographics and a very involved parent and community base. Both of my children are in the Spectrum program at Whittier, and I never imagined I would be so pleased with a public city school. Whittier is a fine example of what city schools can be like again in good neighborhoods in the post-busing era."

Notice the review mentions nothing about outstanding academics or children being challenged or, well anything, really except the "good neighborhood" and "outstanding demographics" in the "post-busing era" (yipee, no minorities). Clearly there ARE some people who are looking for a white, upper middle class cohort for their kids. Haters, you coming back at the student who feels IB kids are elitist by saying they were sent to that school because it has gangs didn't help. Is there a high school in Seattle that doesn't have gang rumors attached to it? If your children are in a special program within a school you might want to listen to what the people in the school who are not in the program have to say rather than putting them down. I think it's GREAT that all kids at Ingraham can take IB classes. Clearly the next step is to make sure that all kids feel welcome to try them and that there isn't a school-wide attitude that the kids who aren't getting the IB diploma are stupid. Being treated as a stupid and less capable because you are not in a special program is soul crushing to kids so the onus is on the administration at Ingraham AND the community at large to make sure that isn't happening there.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
According to best practice, gifted students are special needs students.They could get IEP's.

So the line for service is the rub. If way less kids were in the self-contained program and clustering was done, it would be obvious that at least some extra resources were needed. As it is now, there are oodles of merely well-prepared, above average students who are quite capable of succeeding and fully exploiting their advantages in life, without a self-contained, bus you from anywhere, very few poor kids, almost no ELL kids and under-represented numbers of non-whites- program.

It seems somehow odd.

What the district should be doing, maybe they are, is trying to get as many kinds of students to stay under one roof, with every student reaching their potential.

John H.
Anonymous said…
@NP, I understand your point when you say you "don't think comparing APP class size with elective class size is an appropriate comparison. It is the core academic classes for gen ed kids which, when compared to APP classes, seem large and over crowded."

However, given that the predominant arguments put out there re: the mythical "small class sizes for APP" are that (a) they should cancel the classes if they aren't full--which they clearly do NOT do for these non-APP electives; or that (b) core APP classes aren't full--which doesn't fit with our experience, I think it's relevant information.

However, you seem to think gen ed core classes are even fuller, is that what I understand? Are you saying there are different contractual limits to the number of students than there are for APP classes? That doesn't make any sense to me, and I have a hard time believing principals or registrars have just implemented such a policy at the school level on their own.

Anonymous said…
What the district should be doing...is trying to get as many kinds of students to stay under one roof, with every student reaching their potential.

Well, John, that would be great. Do you have any feasible ideas that would make that happen though? And please don't say "differentiation," because we know that isn't working. As cmj said, "the best students are ignored because they'll pass the tests without any help."

Anonymous said…
There's the added issue of capacity. What happened when they suggested HCC be placed in Eckstein? There was an uproar, despite it being closer for more NE students than JAMS (hence, more busing). Some have an outward disdain for self-contained cohorts, yet they allow the district to use APP/HCC as a relief valve for school capacity issues.

an observer
Anonymous said…
@ an observer

Wasn't most of the uproar due to the plans to feed Wedgwood into JAMS so APP would fit at Eckstein? The Wedgwood folks put up quite a fight over that one, and managed to get the maps changed on the sly, without even a Board amendment.

As a result, there is a large APP/HCC cohort being bused to JAMS, and no Spectrum school feeding into JAMS.

- reality check

Anonymous said…
HIMS mom,

Your questioned has already been answered multiple times on this blog during this endless rehashing.
I recall that you are usually involved in these discussions.

The continuum of services model, as we discussed ad nauseum a month ago or so ago, is how this would/could/should be done in SPS--and what is currently being done in school districts who use best practices.

Look up Fairfax County on the search for a refresher answer to your question.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Once again, we're in-fighting rather than figuring out how to fight the district and state to ensure the best possible education for all students. Class sizes should be lower for EVERYONE. Arguing about whether APP has classes that are/might be a few students smaller than the GenEd classes misses the point. Our state has some of the highest class sizes in the nation*. Instead of writing a long comment about how the group you're aligned with** has it so bad, you should be emailing your legislator about why they're trying to get out of lowering class sizes for all students in the state***.

I did want to address Accessible & Rigor's question about textbooks, because it's a legitimate question. Josh Hayes' response is the Ed School conventional wisdom, and it's not completely without merit. To a degree, you can aim to find books that contain complex content with simple language. That being said, common sense (and experience, in my case) tells us there are limitations to this approach. How can you explain a complex topic like Reconstruction if you're writing at a 2nd grade reading level? It's impossible to do in a meaningful way (I know, I read all the lower-reading-level books on Reconstruction when I was teaching an ELL support class). Even if you find a textbook at a reading level that *most* kids can access, you'll still have ELL students who can't understand it, students with a much higher reading level who aren't being challenged, Sped students who need more one-on-one help to complete the reading assignments, etc. etc. etc.

So this brings us to the point where cmg would tell you that we need to differentiate. Well, I'm one of the teachers in my school whose lessons are used as examples of good differentiation by the administration. And I will be honest and tell you that, despite my hard work in this area, there are limits. You can take a text and scaffold it so it's accessible to lower readers. And you can find a more complex text to challenge students who need that. But to genuinely reach and challenge all students in the class, you'd need to make 155 (the number of students I teach as a Social Studies HS teacher) different assignments every day, which is absurd. Even if I were to try to narrow that down some by creating reading-level-groupings, I'd still really need to create at least 14 different versions of each assignment every single day. For each of my preps. There simply aren't enough hours in the day.

So that's why even I (bleeding heart liberal that I am) support having different levels of instruction. Because as much as we might like to believe that "heterogeneous classrooms" can challenge all students if teachers just put in a bit of work to differentiate instruction, there are common-sense limits to that. And having students with 2nd grade and college-level reading levels in one class is one such limit.

So what's the solution? McCleary. More money for education = smaller class sizes. We also need common-sense levels (that students can move between easily) to support and challenge every student. Those steps, which the state and district are responsible for implementing, will help ensure better education for **all students**.


*See: http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sass/tables/sass0708_2009324_t1s_08.asp

**For the record, I have no skin in this particular game - I'm the parent of a baby. Maybe he'll be Sped, maybe he'll be GenEd, maybe APP? All I know for sure is that, despite everything, I want him to be in SPS.

Lynn said…
enough already,

Plan? You give me too much credit. I don't have a plan. I merely expressed a preference.

As for my many previous posts on this topic, it's one that affects my children. You too seem very interested in these issues. What's your connection? Are you teaching in Seattle Public Schools and is this an issue that affects students in your school?

These are the options I see for highly capable kids:

1. We can place them in self-contained classes in a school close to their homes. (This is not acceptable because other kids are more deserving of seats in those schools and because having kids in self-contained classrooms makes kids in other classes feel bad.)

2. We can bus them to self-contained classes in schools outside of their neighborhoods. This isn't acceptable because it makes kids in the other classes feels bad, wastes money on busing (spoiled/undeserving) kids, and creates racial segregation between the programs in the school.)

3. We can cluster them in general education classrooms in their attendance area schools and split the teacher's time and attention between three separate instructional levels. (Just kidding! This doesn't actually happen. Kids who are working two grade levels above don't really need to make progress every year.)

4. We can fully integrate them into general education classes and use one curriculum for every level. (I don't understand why sitting next to a kid who always know the answer and finds nothing challenging doesn't make a kid feel bad - but apparantly this is not a problem?)

5. We can put them in self-contained schools. (Out of sight - out of mind. As long as they're not in nice new buildings or in nice neighborhoods, this would work. If other kids can't see them, their parents feelings won't be hurt.)

6. Private schools.

I don't think your much hoped for changes are coming any more than mine are. The district is continuing with Option 2. (See JAMS with so few mid-range (Spectrum) students that they can't fill a classroom per grade level and the Meany/WMS split.)
Anonymous said…
For those interested in reviewing materials for the Social Studies adoption, the following dates are posted:

Round 1
March 27-April 15: Public review and comments on submitted materials (at JSCEE)

Round 2
May 22 - June 12: Regional public viewing of narrowed list of materials

Anonymous said…
I vote for option 1, as long as kids who did not go the APP/HCC route are able to access the advanced classes in LA, SS, and Science if they have the test scores and/or teacher recommendations to support that placement.

Math is not an issue, since placement is already by done by ability.

- reality check
Anonymous said…

Reread the continuum of services model. It wasn't on your list of options--which aren't research based.

It seems like you and others continue to only bring up counter-examples that are ineffective and against best practices as an attempt to make it seem like the current approach is the best of poor choices. This is a straw argument and, like the "hater" defense, no longer works here.

The fact that SPS chose to maintain business-as-usual for the time being says way more about the typical dysfunction of the district than about best practices and ethics for public schools.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
The Washington Post has mentioned Nathan Hale as a leader in the test refusal movement.

2E Parent said…
Ironically, many families choose #6 Private School, because there are quite a few private schools in Seattle that do a good job of #3 In-Class Differentiation. How do they do that? Well, classes of 12-18 students, lots of assistants and councilors and homework clubs, long lunches and recesses, PE every day and opportunities for creative expression and success. If we would fund such a system, we could do differentiation too.
Anonymous said…
@ enough already,

Yes, I read all the info and comments on the Fairfax model, but could never see what exactly is so great--or different--about it. In your mind, what makes that the ideal, and how is it significantly different from what we have? From what I understand, their continuum of services has 4 levels:

Level 1 doesn't seem to be very much.

Level 2 is essentially in-class differentiation. All teachers probably do that to some extent here, but most don't do it well (or sufficiently to meet the kids' needs). Maybe Fairfax teachers are just better at it?

Level 3 consists of pull-outs. I read that these are weekly, but in multiple subjects. I guess that's similar to something like our "walk-to-math" or maybe a special once weekly ALO Language Arts program.

Level 4 is a center-based component, where kids are segregated for the 4 core subjects. That sounds a lot like HCC--except that it appears a larger percentage of kids qualify for Fairfax's center-based program (17% of grades 3-8 in 2012/13).

They DO have a program designed to get traditionally underrepresented groups into the advanced services, so that's great and we should be doing more in that area. But how are the actual advanced learning services that different, aside from the fact that it sounds like they have a curriculum? What am I missing???

Anonymous said…
Guess we won't be looking to the state auditor to keep SPS in line for awhile. Head dude seems to be going down. Can't trust SPS. Can't trust its minders.

No trust
Anonymous said…
Adding on to Accessible & Rigor's question about middle school social studies textbooks, how do you factor HCC into the mix?

For example, Accessible and Rigor said: So, in an 8th grade classroom, you might have a child reading at a 10th grade level and another reading at a 4th grade level.

The middle SS adoption process underway is supposed to address not only the gen ed curriculum, but also that for HCC. If you want to include 8th grade HCC kids in that mix, reading level range would probably go up to the college level, wouldn't it? Is it reasonable to expect that a single textbook will work for all ability levels, or do we need multiple adoptions? SPS staff have defended the idea that a single text could provide adequate rigor for all, but I just don't see how that would happen in practice. Would adopting supplemental texts that are at a higher level of text complexity and that support deeper levels of analysis be enough to overcome the limitations of a grade-level (or below?) primary textbook?

Anonymous said…
@ HIMS Mom
Of course a single textbook is not going to handle full differentiation in a social studies class. Your argument is baseless. Strong teachers pull a variety of materials together. To continually harp on whether a SS textbook is going to meet the needs of your gifted kid is wasted blog space.

If you really want to get righteous about textbooks, at least put your efforts toward math adoption. Teachers tend to follow these texts more closely than social studies.

Real life
Anonymous said…
Strong teachers pull a variety of materials together

A core text is adopted so there can be some base coverage of content and it's hopefully fact checked, unlike random material pulled from the web. The reality is not all teachers are strong, nor do they all have the time to just pull something together. We've seen some pretty horribly inappropriate materials "pulled together" by teachers. Sometimes the teacher chosen materials are not grade appropriate content wise (not all teachers have a good filter), they are incredibly biased, or they are totally unrelated to the focus of the class.

I am skeptical one text can serve both Gen Ed and HCC, but we'll see what materials are put out for review.

Anonymous said…
A couple of things regarding Fairfax county G&T program.

Pull outs are more than once a week and in mx subjects. Their highest designation is Level IV 3-8 (AAP) and can be found in centers located in various schools throughout the county. Their AAP HS is Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology. But IB&AP are offered invarious HS just like here. And some of these HS are just as strong academically as TJSST. FCPS also offers level IV service in non AAP designated schools for those students who don't wish to leave their local school. What this means is they have G&T teachers in the local school teaching the equivalent of spectrum, APP, and staff ID students in blended classrooms. FCPS has partial language immersion programs in designated schools and arts and science magnet schools from elementary onward.

**FCPS is HUGE with over 186,000 students. Fairfax Co. has about 1.1 million residents! The DC area has experienced major growth and the capacity issue has hit this area hard and earlier than Seattle. I visited my old schools and barely recognized them as they are now huge schools with portables. My old ES (located in what was considered not so great part of town 40+years ago, popular with new immigrants and poorer locals) is now an art and science magnet ES!
No G&T either as a kid. Just a couple of AP classes in HS. Back then, SAT meant a lot so did grades for college entrance, but parents weren't all over us like today (mine certainly wouldn't be caught dead volunteering in a classroom). All of my friends had a P/T job in HS. Extra curricular stuff was nice, but unless you are going for music or sport scholarships, it didn't seem to matter as plenty got into UVA, Wm & Mary, GT, ivies, Chapel Hill, and Penn without.

My how things have changed! Now parental blogs and FB page rule. It's a frenzy getting kids into the right program, right cohort, and right school. Then right career.... I honestly don't know if this is an educational (or social) improvement anymore.

Old dog
Anonymous said…
@ Real life,

First of all, I was truly asking questions, not making a specific argument. I don't see how a single text approach would work well, but am interested in hearing more from those who think otherwise. "Accessible and rigor" was wondering about the conflict between accessibility and rigor and mentioned the gen ed setting, and I was noting that inclusion of the AL population in those considerations is also a factor. We're adopting materials for all middle schoolers, no?

Second, you seem as skeptical as I do that a single textbook can handle full differentiation in social studies. While I agree that strong teachers can theoretically pull a variety of materials together, I'm not willing to agree that this happens much at all in reality. Like "realist" said, the materials pulled together are often inappropriate, but more frequently they just leave way too many gaps. This may be because teachers don't have time, but it may also be that they don't have access to those supplemental materials. If a one-size-fits-all text wins out, but with the idea that key supplemental texts are needed to provide the faster pacing, increased breadth and depth, and higher text complexity that are supposed to be provided in HCC, then those additional texts should be identified and adopted so that they can be purchased for teachers as needed. If the basic text isn't sufficient, the other materials need to be made available.

Third, social studies adoption is what's on the table at the moment. I fully support and have advocated for an improved math curriculum, and will continue to do so. However, I also think it's important for kids to learn social studies and history, and we have a chance now to perhaps influence how that's done, if we're paying attention and thinking about the needs of all students. We will likely be stuck with these texts for a long time, so let's not waste this opportunity. I'm sorry if you feel I'm "continually harping on this" (I don't recall bringing it up a lot myself...), but I DO think that an effort to meet the needs of gifted kids, as well all other kids, should be part of the equation. "Accessible and rigor" asked specifically for feedback on this issue, but received little.

In closing, I'll just add that teachers are probably more likely to follow the texts if they think they work for their classes. If we're going to spend money on an adoption, let's at least try to find the most appropriate texts for all groups--even if that means possible differences in materials.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for that additional perspective on the Fairfax program, Old Dog. And I love that they actually use G&T teachers. Not likely here, but it would probably help tremendously.

FYI, the 2013 program evaluation is where I had seen that the Level 3 services in elementary school were only weekly pull-outs. Maybe this has changed?

Anonymous said…
Straw is too solid a descriptor for the bogus arguments against inclusion of HC students.

I especially love the "teacher" who seems to have kids in every one of her classes ranging from 2nd grade reading level(presumably ELL) to college level. With no support staff either.

That is not happening, no.

Students are grouped and especially in HS.

A well run school groups kids without creating bad feelings and with all kids receiving as much support as possible.

Also the incredibly cynical comment that only students who will be able to pass the state tests with some help from the teacher get attention, is ridiculous and insulting to every teacher in the country.

Shame on you.

There's a great article in the NYT about getting into college. About kids form way better schools than ours and how they fare when they miss the jackpot of the Ivy League or other top schools.

They actually do great. Go figure!


Anonymous said…
Here's the link:


Anonymous said…

Actually, I am a teacher, and in GenEd classes I do teach students who range from a 2nd grade reading level to a college reading level. And this year I do not have any support staff (I have worked with EAs in the past).
It's pretty silly to imply that someone with no personal knowledge of education is frequenting an education policy blog in order to create an elaborate personal backstory (that's what reddit is for!). If you disagree with what I wrote, that's completely fine (there are legitimate reasons one could disagree), but you need to outline those reasons rather than trying to simply dismiss others' experiences and opinions with pejorative statements. Back up your beliefs with evidence, not attacks.


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