Reading the Friday Memo of May 8, 2015

Some topics of interest in the Friday Memo from the Superintendent and senior staff:

  • The Alliance for Education currently provides important school account services. The existing professional services agreement expired on March 31, 2015 with the expiration of the Districts formal memorandum of understanding. The Accounting Services Department will be issuing an RFP to compete these services and will work with Grants Administration to execute a six month professional services contract to transition these services until the procurement process is completed.
So two things.  Does this mean no more MOU at all with the Alliance?

Two, I'm confused because I gave money to the World School on the Seattle Foundation's Give Big day and just received a letter from the Alliance saying they were the conduits for this money. What is the status of schools' funds at the Alliance?
  • The Superintendent mentions visiting McClure and says this:
Many parents want a return to tracking and acceleration. They worry that inclusion takes too much time from their child. Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective. We do need to meet each student where they are and challenge them to help them find that “spark” that many parents mentioned.
Students – all students – do in fact learn better in cooperative/diverse groups both academically and socio-emotionally. Inclusion is mandated by law for SpEd and for ELL and for Spectrum. RTI/MTSS requires us to provide supports in every classroom.
Wait, what? "Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective?" Has he forgotten that is what the Highly Capable program - like most gifted programs throughout the country - does? (Not to mention Walk to Math.)  As well, I would be happy to show the Superintendent the research I have read that says that students at the bottom do benefit from being in a mixed classroom but that students at the top do not.

And "inclusion is mandated by law for Spectrum?" I'd like to see the legal citation for that.
  • Still at McClure, he said this:
How did we end up with this crazy testing? NCLB mandated testing 15 years ago – to help focus on closing opportunity gaps. This is our first year with 100% computer testing. That is a challenge. It will get better with time and more computers. 
Now I'm confused because (1) I know that at least two high schools are doing paper and pencil ELA SBAC testing (those would be Hale and Ingraham - it's right on their webpages). So either he doesn't know this or is mistaken on his 100% computer testing statement. And the Superintendent's answer to testing mania is "better with time and more computers?" That's a real answer to parents?
Two FYIs as well:

- the district quietly added another community meeting on Bell Times - it's Tuesday, May 19th at Ballard at 7 pm.
- the district has set a date for what I believe will be the first unveiling of possible BTA IV projects.

Seattle Public Schools is hosting a community meeting to share information, receive comments and answer questions about our upcoming Operations Levy and Buildings, Technology, Academics/Athletics IV (BTA IV) Capital Levy, to be submitted to Seattle voters in February 2016. 
The meeting will take place on Tuesday, June 2nd in the John Stanford Center Auditorium, 2445-3rd Avenue South, from 6:30-8:00 pm.

Comments and questions may be emailed;

•    for the BTA IV Capital Levy to:
•    for the Operations Levy to:
•    or mail to: Levies 2016, Seattle Public Schools, M.S. 22-336, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, Washington, 98124-1165.

For additional information about the BTA Capital Levy, please visit


Charlie Mas said…
Seattle families have been promised differentiation for over a decade. Why does anyone still believe in it?

Can Dr. Nyland explain why the District has been unable to implement differentiation and can he explain why it will work this time? I doubt it.

I would love for him to try to cite that law that requires Spectrum to be delivered in an inclusive classroom, especially since we still have a few self-contained Spectrum programs and Spectrum, a district program, is not recognized by the state.

If inclusion is so great why don't we have multi-age classrooms?
Anonymous said…
We do have multi age classrooms everywhere. Glad to see the supe doing something right, at least in word. Tracked middle school is ridiculous. Exclusion doesn't work for the people who get excluded. Spectrum, for the minimally gifted, has meant that McClure in particular has Gen ed of 50% disabled. That is because the entire queen Anne neighborhood is so darn gifted, and exclusive. That isn't a LRE. LRE is required. Queen Anne residents need to get over themselves, and get over their hatred of people with disabilities. Interagency didn't ruin the hill, and neither will inclusion.

SPS Mom said…
Did anyone attend the bell times task force meeting last week? I'm curious about how things are leaning and I can't go to the meeting at Ballard tomorrow night....
mirmac1 said…

I agree 100% McClure is a school of haves and have-nots. Apparently there is a wish for the school to work for half and leave the rest behind.
Spectrum, for the minimally gifted, has meant that McClure in particular has Gen ed of 50% disabled."

Could you explain the 50% disabled (leaving aside the snark about Spectrum)?

You come down pretty hard on QA residents. Would you care to explain how you know they "hate" children (not just people but children) with disabilities? That's a pretty broad statement.
Lynn said…
Speddie is mistaken. This year there are 540 students at McClure. 145 are Spectrum-eligible and 83 receive special education services. If there is no overlap between those two groups (highly unlikely), 21% of the non-Spectrum students receive special education services.

Is that too high a percentage? I don't know. I think schools should be able to effectively teach most Spectrum students in gen ed classrooms - given appropriate class sizes, teacher training and support from reading and math specialists. We don't have those things now though - and without them heterogenous grouping won't work.

Superintendent Nyland is spouting nonsense. There is no law requiring inclusion of Spectrum students in the general education classroom. Studies do not show that all students learn better in academically diverse classrooms.

McClure's heterogenous classrooms aren't working for every student. Ignoring that is inappropriate and evidence of ineffective leadership.
Anonymous said…
@ mirmac1, what would make McClure work for 100% of students? Or, in your terms, should the "haves" sacrifice their children's education for the sake of the "have nots"?

Children in the same grade can be at vastly different academic levels. Why is it so morally repugnant when a parent advocates for instruction at their child's level?

DataMom said…
By way of background, I wanted to recommend Tom Loveless' "The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy" (on amazon) as a great history on tracking and differentiation. He is at the brookings institution and looks at the actual data. This book is dated (1999) and he has white papers that are an update, but it is a great historical perspective on what has/hasn't worked. Dr. Nyland should not make evidence-less statements like that.
Holly said…
You can't overvalue proper socio-emotional development.

Parents seem to have forgotten what it was like to be that age. Schoolwork should augment their development, not replace it.
Anonymous said…
IMO, the whole debate about differentiation comes down to capacity issues & oversized classes. The reality is that if a class had 20 kids in it vs. 28, or if there were a second teacher in that class of 28, then the teachers WOULD be able to differentiate instruction and meet kids where they are at. But with the class sizes, especially in the younger grades, the teacher is so overloaded by the number of kids that there is not the time left to give each one the level of attention needed to assess where they are at & provide different assignments. If the legislature would fund 1351 & get a second teacher into each classroom, a lot of this debate would go away. Plus some of the special ed children, like my daughter, that need more support than the Access program can currently give, might become candidates for Access if the student to teacher ratio was cut in half during the time that the Access IA can't be there with them.

Mom of 4
Po3 said…
What I found in middle school was a disproportionate focus on students who were just below "meeting standard" as middle school the last time schools can group them together and work to get them up to standard before they scattered across high school classes. I always felt that the needs of students well above standard weren't a priority as they will be able to access rigor in high school. The needs of Spec ed students are never met, as we all know.

I never saw a differentiation model implemented in any classroom. Only heard about it at school meetings when the principal talked about how teachers are meeting the needs of all students in homogeneous classes.
Anonymous said…
"Proper socio-emotional development"? I assume this is achieved if they learn they are always among the smartest in the class, learn to fear mistakes, learn that their peers hold them back, learn that they don't fit in, learn to hide their smarts, learn to dislike school, etc.? That's what academically gifted kids often learn when stuck in gen ed classes--for their own good, of course.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NEMom said…
My concern is Nyland's attitude of heterogeneous classes are the best way... it reveals what I suspect to be a philosophical (if not ideological) aversion to acknowledging differences and assuming that blended/heterogeneous classes are best for everyone. This preclude an empirical approach to looking at different methods of challenges all kids, behind or ahead of curve. It's why SPECTRUM and ALO are not much more than lip service, a way to pacify parents without actually doing anything. I'm not saying that I know that separate cohorts, fluid "walk to" cohorts, smaller class sizes or any number of other tactics are the best, but none of them can be studied or used if you don't "believe" in any sort of abilities grouping.
mirmac1 said…
Oops, I seem to have stumbled on a Spectrum thread. I'm backing away slowly.

Speddie is very familiar with how John Hay and McClure creates segregated environments. And yes Lynn 21% is too high. A restricted environment is produced when students are "tracked", and research shows that the "have nots" receive inferior education. I find that morally repugnant.
Anonymous said…
Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective." Dr. Nyland

Ability-based grouping DOES work. Gifted students' achievement INCREASES when gifted students learn together. The evidence is unequivocal. There is no dispute.

Brulle, Cohn and Saunders, 2010
Gentry 1999
Gentry and MacDougall, 2008
Kulik and Kulik, 1991
Rogers, 1988
Tieso, 2005

And, Dr. Nyland has a PhD in education? Humm. You would think he would know, then. Apparently, not?

So, either Dr. Nyland (i) is not being honest to the folks he was talking to (not good that he is untruthfully), or, (ii) he doesn't know or is unaware that ability-based grouping is the most effective way to grow achievement (not good that he doesn't know), (iii) he KNOWS the research, but, disbelieves empirical evidence (flat earth, anyone?), or (iv) he knows what the best-practices supported by evidence are, but those don't jive with him because he is an ideologue and must reign supreme (not good to have illusions of grandeur).

He may only be a 'place holder' supe, here for less than 3 years total (sucking out $1M from us for the pleasure), and 1 of those years he was only an interim, but, he is in a position to do a LOT of damage.

This is not about SpEd. SpEd students are also highly gifted. SpEd and ability are NOT mutually exclusive. SpEd students need to grow their academic skills just like every other student, that is the law. Part of their growth will be supported by specially designed instruction, but growth is also supported by ability based grouping to nurture their gifts too, just like other gifted and talented students.

Students – all students – do in fact learn better in cooperative/diverse groups both academically and socio-emotionally. Inclusion is mandated by law for SpEd and for ELL and for Spectrum. RTI/MTSS requires us to provide supports in every classroom... Dr. Nyland

Is he confused? This is not the fact, and, there is no law for 'Spectrum' necessarily, and, RTI or MTSS are not the law either; there is no audit-trail for either one of those edu-speaks to prove it is being effective, let alone delivered, to any child in SPS. Was it that his talking points got muddled, or, his thinking is muddled? I cannot really tell, but, what is obvious is his confusion.

His comments clarify why Washington's Middle School Spectrum program is being taken apart, or perhaps in more politically-correct language, is being reconfigured. It comes from Dr. Nyland. As I said, he may only be here for 3 years, but, the damage he is doing will be with us for decades.

Not Good

(SpEd is 15% of total SPS enrollment; a school with 21% in SPS is not more than 1 standard deviation away from the mean)
Anonymous said…
"Oops, I seem to have stumbled on a Spectrum thread. I'm backing away slowly."

Best lead in line of the day. Thanks, mirmac1.

mirmac1 said…
Not good

30 second Google search found just as many studies stating the opposite.

BTW, SpEd enrollment is 12.7%. That's on OSPI. Not sure where your figures come from. Probably from the same source as those "tracking is good" research studies.
mirmac1 said…
Dang Jan. I flinched!
Anonymous said…
And true, true. I'm sure disabled students would do better if THEY were in the gifted classes too. Special ed teachers will tell you when they put students with severe disabilities in "spectrum" classes - (they aren't spectrum "qualified") they also do better. Exclusion is only a problem - for the people excluded. We all know it's great for those who get the good deal. So, let's do that. Gifted classes - shouldn't just be for the gifted That's the point. And no, "walk to" isn't inclusive either. It creates the same problem.

All I can tell you is how it actually works out at McClure. And yes it is about SPED and other sorts of cultural exclusion. If you clump all the problems together - it doesn't work. At McClure - when it used segregation for the minimally gifted, as a classroom assignment practice, all the kids with IEPs were clumped together, and clumped with other problem students. Some "regular ed classes" had 5 students with autism, and 12 or 13 with various LDs or "other health impairments". That's not an LRE, because students with disabilities have an absolute right to an LRE which precludes such clustering. The dumb class has never been useful for those in it. Remediation never works. So, if you want to put students with disabilities (including cognitive disabilities) in "gifted" classes, since that's the only thing left, then that would be a fine solution. The onus is on Spectrum parents to show us where the good Dumb-class is. Is there one? Are parents happy with Dumb-classes somewhere? The rest of us don't want to be in it.

And yes. We all know there are SOME 2e students out there. There really aren't that many. There are WAY fewer 2e students as a percentage of students with disabilities - than giftedness in the regular population. On QA, giftedness is running around 30%. 2e is not 30% of SPED. And that creates the problem.

Nyland is right on the money in this one tiny instance.

Anonymous said…
Lynne, math doesn't appear to be your strong suit. Looking at OSPI numbers doesn't tell you a single thing about McClure's classroom assignment makeup. Every single kid with a disability could be stuck rooms that are 100% sped - or, they could be spread out in natural proportions. Without actually being there, and knowing the assignments - you won't be able to work it out. Usually, they have a lot of kids in 100% sped ghetto's, and the rest in 30-50% sped dumps, who usually are allowed out to go to the swimming pool or something similar. There's also a spectrum kid or 2 getting speech or OT.

Charlie Mas said…
Failing to serve one group of students doesn't justify failing to serve another group of students to provide equitable distribution of bad service. Schools need to serve all of their students. The idea that serving one set of students requires denial of service to another group is false and unacceptable.
Charlie Mas said…
All of us should oppose the lies.
The lie that students with disabilities are served.
The lie that students working beyond Standards are served.
The lie of differentiation.
The lie of RTI/MTSS.
The lie that there's a law that requires Spectrum to be organized one way or another.
The lie that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
I will absolutely support the point that Sped kids aren't getting what they need (and I have a great story coming on that).

But this on Spectrum?

"We all know it's great for those who get the good deal."

Nonsense and a tired canard. Once again, where is your evidence? It's an SPS urban myth because my kids didn't get "a good deal" out of Spectrum. They had the same teachers, the same curriculum as other kids - they just got to go faster and deeper.

I agree with Charlie - the wrong is not among parents - it's the district's fault.
Anonymous said…
But it just SOUNDS so much nicer if we just say that all kids have the same potential and nobody needs any special or different instruction, doesn't it? Then we can have everyone together in the same class, and everyone can be happy happy. Everyone's a winner, because one size actually does fit all!

And look, we just created equity! (True we lost SpEd, ELL, HCC, etc. in the process, but who needs 'em?)

Lynn said…

21 of McClure's students receive self-contained services, which leaves 62 receiving services in the resource room. That is 17% of the students in general education classrooms.

I'm not convinced anyone is going to benefit from this change at McClure. You seem to be claiming that students will receive better instruction if Spectrum students are sitting in their classroom. What do you think the teachers in general education classrooms are going to do differently next year when there is a greater spread of abilities in every classroom?
Anonymous said…
" Dr. Nyland should not make evidence-less statements"

Blanket pronouncements are often uninformed edicts. The following should be a complete embarrassment for Dr. Nyland (and the Board if they accept this):

"Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective. We do need to meet each student where they are and challenge them to help them find that “spark” that many parents mentioned.

Students – all students – do in fact learn better in cooperative/diverse groups both academically and socio-emotionally."

Read the following from Jay Mathews in the Washington Post.

Giving Passing Grades to Failing Students

It is a review of Caleb Rossiter's book.... Ain’t Nobody Be Learnin’ Nothin’: The Fraud and the Fix for High-Poverty Schools,”

=> America's most challenged families are segregated into high-poverty schools. Despite a 20-year experiment in nationwide school reform, few students make it over the slippery bridge to the middle class. In this book you meet the students, families, teachers, and administrators who struggle inside this failed system, and consider proposals to give them a fighting chance.

======== Unfortunately statements based solely on failed ideology often pass for leadership.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
The wrong is totally from the parents. Exclusive education does cost, and costs those excluded. You haven't been excluded - so you don't know what I'm talking about.

CHarlie is clueless, and clearly is a gadfly who has never worked in a school. Differentiation is no lie - it's reality. School staff differentiate every day, in every class, and with success. To think school are all run by a bunch of ninnies looking at a standards guidelines, going day to day - is to miss the point. How else are 52,000 students served? Curricular modifications are a primary job of all sped staff, and of general ed staff too. That is differentiation. His own kid went to Nova - where inclusion is a value and practiced staunchly. How can any person with a brain think Nova is some sort of outlier in that regard? It isn't. The fact is - the bigger the classes, the MORE differentiation happens and is necessary. In small classes, or 1 on 1, no differentiation is needed.

Lynne, again you are ignorant. IEPs dictate the location of service, and no matter the program, an IEP can specify service anywhere - including in the community. A student who is served in an intensive services program, or in a resource room - can have their educational matrix at any location. Once again - you can not determine 1 shred of information without knowing the individual circumstances - which you don't know from a statistic.

Melissa - your comments are along the lines of "don't hate me because I'm beautiful". Go look at any self-contained program at McClure or elsewhere. No, it isn't the same teachers as Spectrum. And, there's rarely a book, curriculum, or lesson plan to be found. Ask the parents at BF Day and Stevens about their sped teacher. Oh yeah. There wasn't one. Sorry. That's not the same as Spectrum.

Once again, find us the really great Dumb-Class. Where parents are satisfied with the service, even a little bit satisfied. Then you can have your Spectrum cake.

Lynn said…

I know effective differentiation rarely happens - I've seen what happens in my children's classrooms. Maybe special education teachers are awesome at it. (Though if it's working so well all the time everywhere - what are you complaining about?) Special education teachers won't be modifying curriculum for Spectrum students at McClure. General education teachers won't have time for it either.
Anonymous said…
Let us take a look at NAEP data for all states... Over the last 12 years only one state has made statistically significant improvement. That state is Florida.

The improvement may well be due to:

#1 requiring students to be able to read proficiently to enter grade 4

#2 smaller class sizes.

Yes ... Florida instituted state wide non-promotion from grade 3 to grade 4 for non-readers.

Since that time schools have done a much better job in grades k-3 of teaching students to read. (percentage of students retained in grade 3 has declined annually - the standard for promotion has remained constant)

Florida Students on tests are now performing at a much higher level in grades 3 thru 9.

Florida separates students by reading ability for grade 4 entrance. Can Dr. Nyland be correct when he states:
"Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective."?

Nope... because it is effective.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Lynne - we're complaining about people like you who want us to not exist, or want us to all be clustered together, so you can have a rarified experience.

Are you sitting in your kid's classroom all day? Just because your kid isn't getting the 100% perfect education, as determined by you, doesn't mean "differentiation" isn't working.

Anonymous said…
This is why the have's go to private school. You're "rarified experience" is my child's basic college ready education. are you saying that the goal of inclusion is to prevent my child from being taught the information and skills they are ready to learn? That sounds pretty hateful to me.
Teachers have maybe 5 or so hours to teach. If teaching must be split by 4 or 5 different grade levels then no child is getting adequate instruction. Each child gets only 1 hour of instruction a day with Nyland's plan. Hateful indeed.
Anonymous said…
Data from OSPI for McClure shows:

Special Education population at 13.9% for McClure Middle School

Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals
(May 2014) 113 21.8%

Special Education
(May 2014)
72 13.9%

Transitional Bilingual
(May 2014) 20 3.9%

(May 2014) 0 0.0%

Section 504
(May 2014) 10 1.9%

Foster Care
(May 2014) 3 0.6%

-- Dan Dempsey
Speddie, I find your tone disrespectful and not so helpful. You seem to see the world in very black or white terms and have a lot of broad generalizations to what you say.

I'm not even sure what you are saying about Spectrum.

And to say that other people don't want want your child to exist? That's totally unfair.

FYI, I have a son who has a Sped issue. I'm not as clueless as you seem to think.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Anon - plenty of people go to college from SPS. Get real. And, they've had students with disabilities in their classes. You're entitled to a floor of opportunity - not "sky's the limit". At some point, the needs of the many outweigh those who think they deserve way more than everyone else.

Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Just sayin - Michael C doesn't believe in inclusion. Except in his one case. But, he can speak for himself.

And absolutely. The haves - have every right to everything they want - in private school. Go for it!

Anonymous said…
Well I can see emotions are running high here. I'll only say that I have 2 kids in SPS, one in MS and the other in ES, and differentiation has been nonexistent the entire way, although our schools' staffs talk about it like it's religion. The curricula seem weak. The teachers are engaged and caring. They try to make school interesting. They seem conscientious. They do not differentiate.

I do not understand why no one is teaching my kids the parts of speech, grammar or conventions. It seems that many of the teachers my kids have had don't understand grammar well themselves.

I believe that differentiation has to come from home. If you leave it to the school you're counting on something that won't happen. I'm teaching them grammar in small doses. We've supplemented math with Singapore. I know what chapter my younger child is studying in math, and how far the class has to go. They won't complete the curriculum, so we will do it over the summer. I go over my middle schooler's papers with her and we discuss writing style and composition. I know what they are and aren't learning. We opted for on-line math and she has learned loads, and prefers it to math in school where she feels it moves too slowly and doesn't go into the depth she likes.

Public school is a very mixed bag and you have to be on top of your kids' specific situation. I agree social emotional is important, and our elementary school is great at that. But the students there are not getting some important basics, and that is going to make life harder for most of those kids in HS and college. Well, at least they will be able to talk about how being in remedial math makes them feel, and regulate their own emotions about their sub-par public school experience.

I see the schools as subcontractors, and I'm the one who needs to be sure that my kids have what they need so that they will be prepared for whatever they ultimately choose to do. I've given up expecting for my kids the kind of public education I got in a small town many years ago.

Anonymous said…
How do you know "differentiation" doesn't exist? Do you know what every single other kid in the school is doing for every class? Do you know what every single kid in your kids' class is doing, and how they're doing it? Do you know all of the alternative explanations that are given to each student? Are you there at lunch when extra support, and different instruction is provided by many teachers in many schools? Are you there in the school for the whole day checking that out? These types of claims are very interesting. Do you know what modifications the teacher may have made for every other student? Do you know the accommodations that may have been given? Do you know all the alternate readings, rewritten tests, alternate assignments or makeups?

The reality is - you don't actually know these things. You might be unhappy with something - like lack of grammar. That says nothing about differentiation.

Anonymous said…
Speddie, I do have an inkling of what you are describing first hand volunteering in the resource room and with remedial reading and math classes in our ES. These kids were clustered together, but not based on similar ability or issues. It was a room full of everything from kids with IEPs, dyslexia, behavioral and emotional issues, and those behind academically. There were students there who were quite fast learners, but you had to get to them and get them to trust you first before you can engage them. It was a mess. The SPED teacher was overwhelmed. The math tutor was a retired battleax who frankly didn't seem to like working with these students. I have no idea how she was hired, but she was funded by PTA. I did my 4 years and got to know a number of these kids. Some are in HS now. Others are finishing up MS. A few, I've no idea what happened to them.

I don't know what inclusion or cluster grouping means anymore. There was differentiation in the sense that you use different strategy teaching a kid with dyslexia and one with behavioral issue. Sounds like very little has changed.
Anonymous said…
Self-contained Spectrum in a public school? Some people are still acting like that should be an option? Seriously? These students are on the very low end of what is considered HC--at best. They are more like achieving on the upper end of average. CoGAT testing expects better scores from those from certain socioeconomic levels, so the scores of most in Spectrum would be considered average for that socioeconomic group.

It would be very difficult, if impossible, to find any research basis for this type of exclusion for those children who are considered the higher end of average. The fact that it existed for so long in Seattle is bad enough. Spectrum started out as a way to raise achievement for children who were traditionally underserved by public education. Instead, it morphed into an elitist program for those who wanted a private school in a public school setting.

Charlie chimes in to act like "lack of differentiation" justifies such an unjustifiable model. Melissa defends Spectrum and those that decry it as somehow picking on the program. I'm picking on the program because it shouldn't exist. The children who are designated Spectrum and have enrichment needs should be getting pull-outs or another type of continuum of services--not a full day segregated program in a public school with demographically similar peers (and let's not count lunch and recess as inclusion).

Also, there are levels of SPED issues. Some get SPED services for articulation or mild OT/fine motor needs. These needs can be addressed and mostly corrected. Other parents and their children live with lifelong issues. I think its important to clarify which is which if one is raising the issue repeatedly in the context of responding to SPED parents and, now, HC.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Hilarious, enough already! Spectrum as "a private school in a public school setting"? I spit out my coffee when I read that!

But to your point. I'm inclined to agree with you that "the children who are designated Spectrum and have enrichment needs should be getting pull-outs or another type of continuum of services--not a full day segregated program in a public school with demographically similar peers." However, you do understand that SPS rarely does what SHOULD be done, right? So instead it seems like it's what we have, or nothing. And many ENTIRE schools are pretty demographically similar, regardless of AL programs or services.

You should also realize that most (all?) Spectrum is NOT full-day segregation in the first place. Where is Spectrum self-contained for everything but lunch and recess? In middle school, for example, Spectrum is TWO classes out of six--it's essentially pull-outs for LA and SS, so it seems you'd be happy with that.

Anonymous said…

Spectrum (RIP) until recently was fully self-contained in elementary school. For those choosing to not go private, it was about as private as you could get in public school.

We've already discussed the problem with strictly neighborhood schools (and Seattle's history of redlining ) as a response the the Supreme Court decision on this blog many times. Calling certain children "highly capable" who happen to mostly share the same demographics takes all of these issues of perpetuation of privilege to next ethically lapsed level.

BTW--quite a few of the students in APP should be getting pull-outs in their neighborhood schools, too. It's interesting that you and
Lynn are all for a continuum of services model for Spectrum qualified but are not addressing that the same could be said for many in the inflated APP program, too.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
I think many people, including parents of children in APP, would prefer they get pull outs in their neighborhood school to sending them across town to go to a full day school. But that is not an option for them. Most schools, "coincidentally" the ones that send the most kids to APP, refuse to try even the most basic advanced learning pull outs/enrichment/differentiation/walk tos. If that ever happened on a consistent basis, APP would shrink immediately. Instead the one or two schools in the NE that do it(those are the only schools I am intimately familiar with) keep many of their APP students, and the rest stuck in not-those-schools jump ship after however many years they can stand of trying and failing to advocate.

I am pretty irritated that so many of you think the only option for advanced students to get to learn things is private school. NO. The public schools have an obligation to teach all students, even the advanced ones. It is not a "cadillac" to learn new things at school. That is a floor of opportunity and basic education.

I would write more, but I am going with my kids to protest to support our teachers! Wear red if you are going downtown!

Anonymous said…
So I'll stand corrected by S that there is some differentiation I've observed. I am in the classroom a lot and have been since the start. Kids who need extra help are pulled out for one-on-one help by resource teachers. When they have mini book clubs, the kids are assigned books at their level. That's great.

In math, the quick learners are bored during direct instruction, zip through their assignments, then wander around socializing. In our previous school, where they had a more traditional learning environment, they doodled or read books. Our school does not believe in walk-to-math or pull-outs for kids above grade level. The principal thinks that doing so is unfair. The principal was content to have my kid completely repeat a year of math he had just successfully completed the year before at his "walk to" school. His teacher was frustrated that she could not find a way to teach my child. He was in a mixed grade class, and the teacher had her hands full trying to teach two levels of math as it was, and my child sat there or helped the other kids with their math. So I am a bit bitter that other kids got to learn, and mine didn't. And the principal was A-OK with that.

Teachers "aren't worried" about those kids, or just don't have the bandwidth. One teacher out of 12 elementary school classes our kids have had makes extension packets for the advanced kids. My kids aren't Einstein, they just like to learn.

If public schools can't meet the needs of a kid who needs a bit more challenge to learn to study, persist and learn how to learn, then the families who can afford it will leave the system. The ones who can't will need to find another way to meet their kids' needs within the system, and I maintain that that is through supplementation.

And I do not believe that the school system can or should be the entire means to correct injustices and inequality in society. These are societal problems. I will work to solve them on that level, but meanwhile, my kids need an education. I'm not going to deprive them so that society can be a bit more equal.

Anonymous said…

Cogent and persuasive arguments. FYI, if you aren't familiar with McClure, it is doing a great job and getting even better. All kids are served well, the inclusion program is robust. Here's a tasty tidbit, next year the WEB program at McClure, (Where Everybody Belongs, a buddy type program with 8th graders working with groups of 6th graders)for the first time will include Sped students as WEB leaders.
Sounds silly it wasn't done before, but it is a pretty big deal and I'm very proud of McClure staff for making the decision.

McClure got rid of partially filled Spectrum only classrooms years ago, not coincidentally when busing from the southend stopped.
The kids are so tame at McClure that differentiation is pretty easy. The inclusion classrooms have good IA support. The whole culture of the school is based on respect and acceptance. The HC and Spectrum kids are given plenty of challenge, no, it's not a South Korean-style school cramming info down their throats like a Perigordian goose, but it is really good prep for HS level work. The work comes in bursts of intensity, not steady stream like the kids can get in HS if they want.
They learn presentation skills, from Presi to podcasting, there are few samples on the school website. Nothing too fancy, no Nobel prizes yet, but the time is well spent and the socialization that the kids get will serve them very well throughout their entire lives.
They also learn from the siting of the medically fragile program at McClure. Watching interactions between kids in and out of that program, completely spontaneous, is truly inspiring.


NoEasySolution said…
Thank you sleeper " It is not a "cadillac" to learn new things at school. That is a floor of opportunity and basic education." This is not a zero sum game and is far more nuanced than what the hyperbolic language on this thread might lead one to believe. I want every kid challenged and nurtured. I do not want kids stigmatized. There are very sticky policy issues with lots of trade offs that must be addressed to get to a good balancing act. I have two APP kids (one in pull out and other at neighborhood school) and can actually see validity in many of these perspectives shared. I am one of those parents who wished to keep both kids a neighborhood school, but because of school and district policy and attitude (and lack of Spectrum/ALO implementation, it felt like an a set of stark choices--and frustrating. It's a complicated calculus of social emotional, academic, temperament to know what's best for each kid. But I find that the ideological commitment of some people to reject any sort of tracking (whether it's a pull out or walk to) would not be acceptable to them if their children's self esteem, level of engagement were at risk. It makes me sad when people make sweeping soapbox statements that might not feel so good if they were delivering them to family or friends in need. So if your kid feels stigmatized by labels (like I did as a kid-- I thought I was an under-performer and it turns out not so much) or under challenged (also my case), I do understand your feelings. No simple easy solution.
Bach said…
RE: supplemantation.

The practice of teaching kids at home, either from the school text or using other sources, yet expecting them to be challenged and busy in class, is ridiculous.

Yes, they are repeating material, precisely because parents are teaching it to them before they get to class. How can the school ever keep them busy if the parent is always moving one step ahead?

The way to "supplement" is to wait for your child to ask for help and THEN try to understand what they need. You undermine the teacher by moving in front of them.

Math will at some point become to difficult for 99.999% of students. It may be calculus when they get a B, it may be differential geometry; but it's going to happen. So, just because a parent can study them up to stay ahead of their Algebra class, means nothing about the child's ability, the kids just have two teachers, one of whom has 33 others who didn't get tutored at home before the lesson.
Anonymous said…
So Bach,

When your child picks up a book at home do you take it away so they don't get more reading practice than their classmates? Or do you make sure they don't read the classics, since those are not addressed in the high school curriculum & you don't want your kids to be ahead like that? Do you also limit their instrument practice or exposure to repertoire that is not being played in the school orchestra? Shouldn't let your kids watch Nova, right?

I do agree that if you depend on EDM, CMP2 & Discovering Algebra with no supplementation, then it is less likely your child will succeed in high level math. We supplemented purely with calculation practice. My math major college kid notices the huge stumbling block weak algebra skills is for students who understand math concepts in college but spend inordinate amounts of time & energy trying to get the algebra right when working problems.

-Not buying
Anonymous said…
Bach said

The practice of teaching kids at home, either from the school text or using other sources, yet expecting them to be challenged and busy in class, is ridiculous.

Well gosh, I thought that was the magic of differentiation?

The way to "supplement" is to wait for your child to ask for help and THEN try to understand what they need. You undermine the teacher by moving in front of them.

And if the help they ask for is about how to do subtraction instead of just addition? Or how to do multiplication with large numbers instead of single digits? There are always kids who SEE, on their own, that there is MORE...and they want to know it! I disagree that it's "undermining" the teacher to help a child follow his/her interests (are teachers supposed to be gatekeepers?), but if it's a choice between undermining the teacher's self-interest or undermining my child's love of learning, you know what I'll choose every time.

The fact of the matter is that all kids are different, and they have different needs. There's usually a lot of overlap, so we can have classrooms that meet (or should be able to me, if done right) the general needs of many kids. But there will be outliers at both ends who need something different. It shouldn't be a surprise, and it's not inherently bad. It adds complexity and creates new challenges, but who said educating kids was easy? It shouldn't be a matter of pitting one group of kids or parents agains another. We need to figure out something that works for all.

Anonymous said…
@ enough already, I actually DO agree that some HCC could probably be served by pullouts at the neighborhood school, if the neighborhood school were willing to implement them in a way that would provide sufficient challenge. However, I haven't seen that to be the case, and there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest in changing that. Pull-outs can make some kids (and parents, apparently) feel bad. It also creates scheduling headaches that administrators just don't feel like dealing with.

I also know that there are many HCC kids for whom pull-outs could not be the answer. Pushing for more pullouts would likely be the undoing of HCC given the way this district seems not to understand the needs of highly academically gifted children. I'm not willing to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Anonymous said…
I was going to try to draft a response to Bach, but HF pretty much nailed it.

Anonymous said…
Great to hear that McClure is improving. It sucked when my kid was there. It's had the longest"improvement" streak of any school in the planet. And WEB really should have been called Where Some People Belong .... because they steadfastly discriminated against all students with disabilities. Not surprising that the supe has singled it out for notice. Inclusion is more than a program.

Mc Grad
Anonymous said…
A continuum of services model includes self-contained for the most advanced and truly gifted children who need it.

This district has typically kept doing what doesn't work, or goes against best practices, until they are forced to change. I understand why parents are concerned that their children would suffer if the district abruptly dismantles current programs with nothing to replace them.

I think the monstrosity of numbers (and the demographic homogeneity) in self-contained APP is becoming too large to justify, and I wouldn't be surprised if the district is being forced to legally reconsider its model.

--enough already
Lynn said…
The problem with pull outs is that you need a teacher for the small group of kids who need different instruction. We don't have extra teachers floating around our schools. If we did, there is no administrator that would use them to teach advanced students. Can you imagine the uproar? The demographics of the group would make teachers uncomfortable. Parents of other students would complain that their kids are getting the message that they're not smart.

Has any parent here had experience with pull outs for advanced students that were effective?
Anonymous said…
I'm a teacher and I wouldn't be "uncomfortable" if any child is getting a needed service. Other children are not "uncomfortable" either.

Teachers aren't floating around because they are currently staffed at APP schools. Designated teachers work at schools throughout the US doing pullouts and some in class work with students who quality for enrichment. There is nothing complex or original about this.

Teachers and students are uncomfortable and, like the Mc grad stated, acutely aware when groups of students are treated with privilege and prestige and others are put down and excluded.

If the demographics of HC don't become more inclusive, both teachers and students will be continue to be acutely aware of the inequity. I'm currently more than uncomfortable about that, as I've made clear here. I consider the lack of inclusion in HC an outrage--a deliberate perpetuation of class privilege based on unfair entrance criterion.

As I stated, the CoGAT assumes different scores for different socioeconomic levels, but that has never been the case in the SPS entrance requirements.

--enough already
Lynn said…
Where is the privilege and prestige in receiving instruction that is close to the appropriate level and pace? What is the insult when students who are working at grade level are given grade-level instruction?

Highly capable services aren't intended to be a reward for deserving students. They're meant to meet the needs of students who learning differently (and more quickly) than most.

The current qualification requirements appear to be designed to find students who need instruction that is deeper or more accelerated than that provided in the general education environment. If a student's scores don't meet those levels - doesn't it follow that the instructional level in gen ed is appropriate for them?

If you're suggesting that achievement scores should not be a part of the identification process for any students, I'd agree with you.

Bach said…
Math is where at home work interferes with school, if I didn't make that clear. Reading is encouraged by all teachers all the time and does not impact the classroom adversely, unless a parent has the student read a required text ahead of the class.

Even with math, teach your child about the special theory of relativity. It has basic math but doesn't interfere with the school curric. and is very interesting. Teach them about electrodynamics, by the time they study it in HS or college it won't be a problem. It's this pushing ahead a little bit that screws things up.

If parents would butt out, the teachers could see if the kid really gets it super fast and needs to move up. That would be a healthy and productive dialog. But ramping up kids at home and then harassing the teacher and principal about rigor is not going to get you anywhere. Teachers know kids who are tutored up and those who have innate ability.

Reading is totally different as is history or science. Just don't teach the soon to be covered material. There is an endless amount of stuff to teach your kid that isn't part of the curriculum, go for it.

'Teachers and students are uncomfortable and, like the Mc grad stated, acutely aware when groups of students are treated with privilege and prestige and others are put down and excluded."

Seriously, what school is this because I never encountered this "privilege and prestige" issue nor students being "put down."

Sometimes I think that perception becomes belief and they are not the same thing.

There is not a lack of inclusion in HC - there is a lack of diversity. Again, two different things.
Anonymous said…
Melissa is living proof that there are alternate universes.

TheGoodFight said…
See what happens here when you give the teachers a day off. :)

Stop differentiation
Anonymous said…
We supplemented in math and our child, not the gushiest, most grateful child you've ever met, has thanked me many times over. EDM was not a good curriculum for my kids. Supplementation allowed me to give them extra practice so they became quite proficient at the basics....quite a bit more so than most of their peers. Singapore allowed me to introduce them to bar modeling, which for us aided their conceptualization of how to solve problems. For my kids, leaving it all up to the teachers (most were engaged, positive teachers) who told us our concerns about EDM were unfounded, they would not have the math skills they have now. I liked my kids' very caring teachers. But honestly, they had more than one teacher who did not explain math well, and class time was very unproductive as they spent about half of it on EDM games, and most of that time was spent deciding which game they'd play and who'd get to play it and what were those directions anyway. Failing to supplement would have been close to neglect, in my opinion.

I could wait 'till the cows come home for the teachers to get around to teaching conventions. So I'm supplementing that too. We make room for supplementation by prioritizing. They don't have to put full effort into everything. I negotiated my kid out of all 3rd grade spelling homework as long as test scores stayed reasonable. That saved several hours a week. We invested part of that time in math, and freed up the rest for down time.

Leave it all up to the teachers, if you want. Do you know what chapter your child is on in math and whether they will finish this year's curriculum? Many parents don't, because they like and trust the teachers. Trust, but verify, as St. Ronnie said.

If down the road your child hits the wall because school was too easy and they never learned to push through difficulty, or because their weak math or grammar foundation has stopped them from pursuing some goal that is important to them, you may wonder if you should have supplemented.

Anonymous said…
Bach said, If parents would butt out, the teachers could see if the kid really gets it super fast and needs to move up....Teachers know kids who are tutored up and those who have innate ability.

It's hard to know where to begin with Bach's ideas. In our experience, a child that wants to learn will push the parents to provide more, not the other way around. The parents are trying to keep up with the child and hoping to maintain their drive and interest in learning.

My child has frequently read many of the books before they are assigned simply because my child reads a lot. And why does it matter to you if they've read the book before? Presumably class will bring greater depth to their understanding or interpretation of the book. It drives my child crazy when they are told they can't select a book they've read before.

The idea that parents should limit home learning to what's not taught in school is ludicrous. Should they not participate in math club, either? Like Realist, we supplemented in math and do not regret it one bit. High school math is going quite well and we attribute it to the basic skills solidified through non-SPS math at home.

Bach, I sincerely hope you are not, and will not ever be, a teacher of my child.

dw said…
Sorry @Bach, but in spite of your cool screen name, I must agree 100% with speechless. I feel sorry for the families (both kids and parents) who have been in your classes.

Not only is the entire premise of what you're trying to say BS, but you can't even make a cogent argument to support your hypothesis. Let's just quote a couple sentences from your own post above:

If parents would butt out, the teachers could see if the kid really gets it super fast and needs to move up.
Teachers know kids who are tutored up and those who have innate ability.

Does everyone see the dramatic irony here?

I'm sure Bach will come up with some kind of contrived reasoning for why these statements don't contradict one another, but I think it's clear to most of us here that they do.

The truth is that while a few teachers can recognize and help the child who understands concepts with a single pass (particularly math), most won't recognize it, and even fewer are in a position to or able to help. Middle/High school teachers have up to 150 students, and they just don't have that kind of bandwidth. And sadly, most elementary teachers are not strong in math skills overall.

But even in the best of those situations, what does "move up" mean? Would you "graduate" them to the next class? In all subjects? Even in secondary, many families fought tooth and nail over the years in some buildings to get the administrators to allow acceleration in math even with supporting history of having mastered the material -- without success! I can just imagine how things would go if a teacher said "I have a feeling that Billy is ready to 'move up'."

The best teachers I've experienced (and other readers, feel free to chime in), have been happy to have involved families that help teach any topical material to their kids. It helps the student, it helps the teacher, and it generally helps the class to run more efficiently. Sure, there may be exceptions, but you're not going to help students by advocating for their parents to hold back their kids when they're clamoring for more. Especially in a subject area like math, where there is a logical progression of material, much of which "just makes sense" to some kids. Unless you can prevent those students from reading ahead in their textbook, you're not going to slow them down, you'll just frustrate the hell out of them.

You're so off-base here that it would be funny, if you weren't a teacher. Sorry, but wow.

Anonymous said…
@Bach - In fourth grade I met with my daughter's teacher and student teacher about math. I knew my daughter was quite bored and I wanted to discuss how we could help her, including giving her supplementation if necessary.

The teacher acknowledged he knew that my daughter learned new concepts as soon as he introduced them, even though she was in a 4th/5th grade split, but then sat there bored as he explained it 5 times to the rest of the class. However, he didn't have any solution to offer.

I think I ended up buying a math book for her to work on her own during class time, with her teacher's agreement.

That spring, when I asked my daughter if she wanted to leave the school she had been at for 5 years to go to a Spectrum class (still self-contained at that time) at a different school, she immediately agreed. That next year was so much better for her, in that she was finally challenged in class and pushed to learn more.

She hadn't been challenged since 2nd grade, when she had had a wonderful teacher who truly was able to differentiate for all the kids in her class.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that the Spectrum class she went to was more diverse than the school she had been in.

Bach said…
Thanks for the compliment, but rest assured, I teach only my own kids.

That is a contradiction, dw, but it makes it harder for teachers to see natural gifts when kids are tutored up. As you said, they're busy.

And what is moving up, you ask?

Weeelll, as St. Ronnie would say, there are many math classes in middle and high schools and I thing schools group to facilitate differentiation. A kid could skip over the summer with some tutoring or they could test into HC and lawfully demand acceleration.
Charlie Mas said…
Let's make a few things clear.

1) Don't tell me that there's differentiation happening in Seattle schools - tell it to the families who made the difficult decision to move their children to HCC because their neighborhood school told them - often in just so many words - that they could not (or would not) serve their child's academic needs.

2) Don't tell me that there's differentiation happening at McClure - read the Friday Memo which acknowledges that it isn't happening in several places:
"What more can be done to challenge and support and enrich our students especially in math? Lots of parents shared this concern."
"We want teachers to differentiate
"working to differentiate"

3) Spectrum and HCC are not "better" because they are a more advanced curriculum any more than third grade is better than second grade because it is a more advanced curriculum. They are the lessons that the students are ready for. Why don't we see the same concern that third graders are getting something better than second graders in their segregated class? Why not demand that the third graders be denied those lessons and placed in second grade classes? With that thinking, either all of the children will get kindergarten instruction for thirteen years or 12th grade instruction for thirteen years. It's absurd. What makes sense is for children to get the lessons they are ready for when they are ready for them. What makes sense is for the children who are getting the same lesson to be in the same class and for children who are getting different lessons to be in different classes.

4) The Standards are supposed to be a floor, not a ceiling. Once a child meets the Standards for their grade it is not appropriate to tell that child "Nice work, Johnny, take the rest of the year off."

5) The labels don't matter. You can call the kids anything you want: "highly capable", "upper end of average", or "tutored up". The fact remains that the kids are ready for a more advanced lesson than their classroom peers and they should get it. Is there really anyone who wants to argue that some children should not be taught in school because they are ready for a lesson different from the other children their age?

6) It is ridiculously ironic that the same people who demand that their child get the education that their child needs - in accordance with an Individual Education Plan - should be telling other parents that their children are not deserving of the education they need because those children should only get what all of the other children get.

7) Seattle Public Schools has claimed - for over 15 years now - that they are instituting differentiation in classrooms to meet the needs of advanced learners. Yet they have not been able to do it. They have not even been able to identify the reasons for their failure, let alone address them. Until they can show that the differentiation is reliably in place, they need another method to address the needs of advanced learners because

8) Advanced learners are deserving of an appropriate academic opportunity. That's all their families have ever wanted or requested. And, not to put too fine a point on it, it is what the District has promised.
Charlie Mas said…
Speddie wrote that with self-contained Spectrum the general education classes would be 50% Special Education students.

The reported demographics of the school seem to dispute that number.

Speddie, you want to either support that claim with some numbers, walk it back, or acknowledge that it was an exaggeration?
Anonymous said…
Thank you for expressing it so clearly.

Anonymous said…
It absolutely is no exaggeration. Do you live in Seattle? Does your kid go to McClure? My kid absolutely was in a class with 5 Autistic students, and 12 LD students at McClure. This class had over 35 students. The Spectrum math class had 15. And nope, wasn't walk to, it was pure discrimination based. No opsi headcount tells you how classes are arranged. And btw, that class was what they called general ed.

Anonymous said…

There is no such thing as "Spectrum" math. Math all over the district is test-in and is not a part of any HC program. It is placement based on how the kid did on a test in 5th grade.

Let's use all facts and not just the convenient ones.


TheGoodFight said…
Charlie, the analogy I take away is this; Two groups of parents ask for soccer fields for their kids, but one group wants turf and lights because their kids can kick the ball better. Both groups of kids just want to play soccer, its the parents pushing for the differentiation. It reminds me of the issues that led to title nine.

Pam said…

Factie tells it like it was. If you think that was fair, so be it.

Anonymous said…
Honors grade level math is Spectrum. Eg, 6H or 7H. These are discrimination based classes. Students couldn't just be in an 8th grade class, because they would have to sit next to minorities and the disabled. It isn't enough to whine about standards, and supposed needs, they MUST MUST MUST also have discrimination. For that they need H classes, and, they are reduced class size. To pay for it, they need to steal it from other pots, special ed being a lucrative pot. McClure has engaged in sped theft in recent years. Charlie has posted everywhere that "it's the cohort".... because all the other things he wants supposedly don't happen. He's complained about the acceleration in APP, the curriculum, the lack of enrichment at Washington. All of that didn't matter to him. Only one thing resonates - segregation, the people who are not there, the exclusion. His kid should never have to sit next to a minority or disabled student... because "it's the cohort"... not the content. Get over yourself. You don't even live here.

BAch, you have quite the line in the sand.

I am aware that in France they don't like parents to teach kids how to read b/c there's a specific method used in class. But to say, parents don't do anything that would teach your children?

My son learned to read - on his own - simply by us reading to him.

Then you use these phrases:

" makes it harder for teachers to see natural gifts when kids are tutored up."

Tutored up? I'd be surprised if I could find five teachers who would support that phrase.

"..lawfully demand acceleration."

And to those who want highly capable kids to stay at their neighborhood schools, what would you do with a teacher like this? Someone who clearly will not even differentiate the curriculum unless you "lawfully demand it."

Yes, forcing someone's hand by legal means always makes for a good relationship.

I'm glad you don't have a classroom because I find your view on this issue truly terrifying.

To all of this I say every child deserves to have his/her academic needs met. If the money is not there to do that, then we at least differentiate the curriculum so that there is a fighting chance and money is spend to support students who have learning issues.

I don't think that asking too much.

Good Fight, your analogy doesn't work because it supposes that HC kids are getting something better. They are not.

McCGrad, I can't comment on what is happening at McClure but for years and years ALL math in middle school is by testing - for every single kid. You do NOT have to be in Spectrum to access this. I will also warn you about continuing to state that other people are racist or discriminate against children.

That's a pretty terrible charge.

It's true that some schools have taken and used Sped dollars improperly but it was to be used throughout the school, not just HC. This was true at Ballard where they have no APP program.

Charlie knows more about this district than most people and that doesn't change because he moved.

I will note that I wrote about five different things in the Friday memo and yet folks always have to zero in on HC.

It never fails.
Anonymous said…
Goodfield, I don't know any HCC parents advocating for a "better soccer field". Most of our kids have crowded classrooms just like everyone else. Many of us have had our kids moved multiple times by the district and we've had to set up new PTSAs and schools several times. It's hard having to start from scratch! My son had to move both his 5th grade year and his 8th grade year.
We just want our kids taught something new, at their level, and we often don't even get that.
Anonymous said…
I'd like to hear more about what's going on in McClure math now. My HCC kid, who we put at Mc rather than HIMS, took Algebra in 6th, where she was in a very large, mixed ability class. Some were math-loving 6th and 7th graders, some very reluctant 8th graders. Some did fine and others struggled mightily. So, not a special cohort or anything. They announced late in the year there would be no math beyond Algebra, stranding our 6th grader, which was great because it forced us into online math, which for us has been just incredible. So the kids ready for higher math were kind of dumped, and though I am extremely grateful for the unintended consequence, it doesn't smack of special treatment.

My kid is just one perspective, but she doesn't sense much of a difference in her honors LA (the only other "special" class) from her other classes, in terms of quality of instruction or how focussed, etc. the students are. One of her friends' parents did express frustration to me that his child's gen ed classes were populated by a lot of kids that didn't seem to care about school or learning, and I can see how that would be frustrating. But 4 of 5 of our classes are gen ed. I don't think the elimination of Spectrum at McClure will make much difference, as it's not really a program anyway.

Lynn said…
If McClure had Spectrum math classes your principal was doing it wrong. If the students receiving special education services were placed in one math class rather than being spread over the three or four grade level math classes, your principal was not very skilled at setting up the master class schedule.

Whatever the cause of the poor scheduling, the solution cannot be to deny appropriate instruction to advanced students. I know it's socially acceptable in Seattle to call their parents selfish, elitist, racist and generally awful. Now parents of general education students can demand that a school change it's teaching and scheduling practices because they don't like having so many special education students in their kid's classroom? Really?

The thing that stands out to me is this statement from McClure's Language Arts department: There will no longer be separate Spectrum classes. To make this decision, we have looked at test data, grades, disciplinary, attendance, and school report data and have come to the conclusion that there is not a vast difference between the performance, behaviors, and attitudes of students in our General Education and Spectrum Language Arts classrooms. We can effectively serve our students in a blended model and we believe this model will lead to higher achievement and opportunities for rigor for all of our students.

Their focus on grades, discipline, attendance, behaviors and attitudes of students illustrates a lack of knowledge regarding advanced learners. Spectrum students aren't well-behaved kids with perfect attendance. Spectrum is for students who perform well above average for their grade level and may require more advanced work to remain engaged.

Teachers are always sure that they can effectively serve our students in a blended model. Parents of Spectrum students do not agree.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, now you are backtracking on labels. Politically and in people's actual lives, labels are very, very important. You and Melissa used to call even Spectrum students "gifted" by category. Some of them may be, but they aren't simply by test score.

Now you are saying that by "any other name, they are still a rose." That's not true, either. By and large, Spectrum and APP children are second or third generation college products of White American parents or first or second generation college education Asian or mixed race parents. Their non-Spectrum (RIP) peers are typically descendents of slavery and Jim Crow, Native Americans, recent immigrants, or others who missed the gravy train. MOST Spectrum students are AVERAGE compared to their demographic peers. MANY APP students are AVERAGE in comparison to their demographic peers. That is the crux of the issue when it comes to emotional reactions. In our guts, most people already know this. The fact that both you and Melissa had children in Spectrum may color your grasp or admission of these facts. That is normal, or average, too.

Which is why the creator of CoGAT expects different scores from different socioeconomic groups.

As many others have pointed out, large class sizes cause havoc in teaching on many levels. That is in the no-brainer category.

Here's the million dollar question.
Should low performing children all be put in one classroom? The Air Force study notwithstanding, can you tell me the ethical problems with that in a public school? Now, do the the reverse and correlate it largely to parent college level and economic level and largely historical privilege. See the problem with these "go-to" self-contained classes in so-called "public schools"?

Your "lack of differentiation" mantra in elementary is only true for math in some schools. Readers and Writers Workshop is premised upon differentiation. This is another example of armchair quarterbacking and lack of real world school reality (the merits of these methods are debatable, but the inherent differentiation is not) for those who read and hear but don't practice.

I think elementary math should be taught both in heterogeneous and fluid skill level groups (notice I didn't say "ability" level" groups).

Melissa, these threads always implode toward HC because there is inherent unfairness in the current system. If you are blind to that, wake up.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
To segregate or not to segregate, that is the question.

If it hurts no one, then why not?

But if hurts some kids, but helps others, then what?

Speddie and others think it hurts kids when segregation occurs.

Lynn, Charlie and others think it doesn't.

They can't both be right.

Anonymous said…
It's funny how McClure is in the spotlight. It's actually a very low-key relaxed school.

Dr. Nyland chose to visit and make some points about LRE and tracking, so I guess we parents who like the direction McClure is heading need to speak up. It seems most of the posts are from long ago parents or people who don't know the school.

My child is happy with the inclusion classes. Yes, there are challenges presented that would not be there in a non-inclusion classroom, but that's what learning is about, facing challenges. Academic rigor is as strong as it should be, in my eyes. Lots of challenges there as well.

Overall, very good academic education, very good social education. Overall grade: A

I know parents at Lakeside, U Prep, Seattle Academy, Seattle Country Day, Evergreen, Kings, Fatima, Seattle Girls, Explorer, Hamilton, Washington, and I know their kids are doing fine there as well. But, I sincerely feel McClure is the better school because it has the strong academics, plus the strong community that the neighborhood and mixing of students provide.

So, one vote in favor.


Lynn said…

The issue is whether the academic rigor in blended classrooms is strong enough for Spectrum students. The parents complaining about lack of challenge were current McClure parents. How is McClure going to change instruction to meet their children's instructional needs?
Anonymous said…

Didn't you just say on this thread that you didn't think achievement scores should be part of the HC designation?

Reality Check...

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Actually Lynn, mine has been Spectrum entering 1st grade and HC entering 6th. I am very concerned with rigor and keep close tabs on the schoolwork. It is appropriate in my opinion.

Enough Already, this will be my last post because I'm not going to keep going in circles.

One thing I can say about your thinking on APP/Spectrum families is that you sure make a lot of assumptions. You have no real idea the backgrounds/incomes of those in APP/Spectrum. Are they more likely to be higher? Yes, but not everyone and there's no way you can know for certain.

"Should low performing children all be put in one classroom?"

Nope and once again, an assumption. One, not all parents test their kids for HC, being perfectly happy to leave them in their neighborhood school. So not all high-achieving kids leave the Gen Ed classes. Two, even if your child might not be high-performing, there are all those middle-of-the-road students. How you perceive that once Spectrum/APP kids leave the class that what is left are low performers, I don't know.

We disagree on the need for differentiation. I believe you need it for both LA and math and science.

I can't speak for Charlie but I have always said that if the district supported teachers with PD in differentiated teaching (and knowing how to do that with curriculum), I would see no need for Spectrum. (You're welcome to go look - it's true.)

APP students are a different subject and I can only say that the feds and the state and most districts in this country believe that as well.

Kolman, you would have to define/explain "hurts kids."

Are you saying that having kids in different classrooms based on ability means some don't get their academic needs met in the class they are in?

Or are some getting a better education because of that segregation? Of course, then there's the question of if there is segregation, isn't it possible that both sets of kids get their academic needs met?

Or are you saying "hurts" because there is stigma to not being in the more advanced class? Or there is playground talk that is hurtful?

I'm not trying to be right; I'm advocating for every single child to have his/her academic needs met.

As well, I know, from many, many conversations with teachers, that many teachers want the high-performers in the classroom to help drive the class energy and interest. The problem is that, despite the Superintendent's saying kids do better staying together, I have research that says it helps the low-performers but not the high.

MM, thank you for that input.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said…
Grade advancement should be available but it shouldn't be the only solution. It cheats children out of a year of childhood and a year of free public education. For children who'd need more than one skip, it's less likely to be a good fit.
Anonymous said…

Not only can "your research" find this info, but most of us know how to google, too, which is why I brought up the Air Force study. So, what is the purpose of public schools? The public schools and the military are more alike than different. Was the Air Force study generalized into the daily culture of the military? No. Why not? Of course, that's the million dollar question for a fair society. BTW, the military tends to be more fair that public schools.

The demographics are real in Spectrum and APP. I'm not making them up--and you know it. This is real life and real childrens' lives. The statistics are clear.

I am for differentiation across the board and have personally done it as a teacher for many years--including in literacy and science, which is why my students' achievement is extremely high year after year. What, exactly, are you talking about? What do we disagree on in terms of this topic? What is your track record on student achievement?

Not all "APP students are a different subject." More than a few parents' petitioned to get their students in. More than a few students are average compared to their demographic peers. Some are extremely advanced and gifted--and they are, in fact, the "different subject."

You can call this "going in circles" and threaten to bail out of the conversation when the heat gets turned up, but as long as some children continue to get on the fast track by birth and others continue to get left behind because of birth, this issue won't rest--on this blog or anywhere else (at least in this nation).

BTW, as an actual veteran teacher, I discover high performers in the classroom (at least at the younger ages) every year because I help them accelerate and reach their actual potential. They certainly "lift the other boats" but I never mistake preparation and walk-in-the-door performance for potential.
I have also recommended more than a few children for APP over the years and have had strong support from their parents.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
"It cheats children out of a year of childhood and a year of free public education."

Hum that's an interesting view. I guess it depends. As I remember back, most of us could not wait to get out of school and get on with it. My friends and I were not coddled into oblivion like some kids are today.

Anonymous said…
Grade advancement can also be just a temporary fix. Highly academically gifted children tend to pick things up very quickly, but once they've adjusted to the new challenge the pace and depth of instruction are likely to fall short again. I'd argue that grade advancement is a better option for a high achieving kid that it would be for a highly gifted kid. Highly gifted kids are best served by something different in nature, not just more of the same but a year ahead.

Anonymous said…
So those of you who went the online math route when the school didn't offer advanced math, what online math program did you use? We tried a BYU Geometry online program that was awful. Do you know of a better one?

Anonymous said…
As a current McParent (one graduated, one current) I echo what MM and upthread posters said about McClure's improvement. No school does everything perfectly but McClure is really making strides in many areas, including inclusion, rigor, differentiation, staff development, community involvement etc.

A comment about Nyland's Friday Memo. Please note that there were only 25-30 parents at the Principal Coffee with the Superintendent (and not everyone at the coffee all agreed with the concerns about math and/or differentiation and/or Spectrum delivery). So yes it "filled the library" -sort of. Some parents were concerned about loss of honors LA classes, most spoke up about lack of Math rigor. (FWIW, it seemed they had kids all in the same class, which is a class/teacher issue more than a systemic failure to provide rigor in math IMO.) That is altogether different from painting McClure as exclusionary saying "lots of parents" "wanting a return to tracking" or thinking "inclusion takes too much time from their child." Nonsense. McClure has ~550 kids, ~25 of them had parents attending that meeting. It was small percentage of people articulating concern, so please keep that in perspective. In fact I disagree with Nyland's characterization with both the statements above. The questions were about how cluster grouping and differentiation would be implemented so that the needs of all students would be met. I'm sorry that Nyland's takeaway was expressed that way. And, if that is the basis for saying differentiation isn't happening at McClure, I'll respectfully disagree. Because it is. In some classes better than others but it's continuous improvement overall - and as a parent, that's what I need to see.

I can't speak to how it was when Factie, Speddie and McGrad (?) were there or to their experience/s but it has been vastly different from the experience of our family. In the past 4 years the only 15 person class I witnessed were electives and Spanish b/c of scheduling issues. I never saw (or heard of) any core academic 35+ classes for gen ed and 15 for "spectrum" - Ever. I'm not saying it didn't happen in the past, only not the recent past.

Math has for years been via test placement, and a very thorough process -- a placement test in 5th grade and conferencing with McClure math teachers and 5th grade math teachers. Very intentional placements. My 6th grader is in "6H" - which means some (9 maybe?) 6th graders in a gen ed 7th grade class. I did have issues last year when they made all 8th graders advance to Algebra. I don't feel it served anyone well - not the 8th graders who were prepared for that next class or the 7th graders who had to skip a year to go to Algebra. Staff is working out the kinks re: acceleration and how to best serve math students whose coursework takes them beyond Algebra in middle school. But from speaking with other middle school parents in other schools, McClure is hardly alone in this challenge.

We're growing and improving.
Maverick PRIDE (Productivity, Respect, Integrity, Dependability and Excellence)

Anonymous said…
We have used Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) as well as Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth (CTY) programs for math. Both are test-in and pricy, but provide very comprehensive and rigorous courses. They aren't right for everyone, but for my self-directed, math-loving, internally-driven child they were a godsend. (For my other kid? Not so much!) They're also nice in that you can get official transcripts.

When my kid did geometry is was via EPGY. It was a very rigorous class, with a lot of proofs. My kid worked hard but loved it.

Anonymous said…
We use AOPS -- Art of Problem Solving. It's rigorous. The textbooks are outstanding. If you want a taste of it their Alcumus program is free. It feeds you problems in the areas you designate, from Pre-Algebra up, and adjusts difficulty so that you are missing 25%, as they think that's the sweet spot of learning. Their explanations of the problem are detailed and clear, so if you "give up" or miss the problem and have the discipline to read the answer you will truly learn from your mistakes. They also have videos which I prefer to Kahn because they aren't a disembodied voice, but rather the AOPS founder, a likable nerdy math guy.

Anonymous said…
Just to say a little more about WEB - which could have been a great program, providing leadership coaching and teaching to all students, well, it was a popularity contest. Students were chosen (anointed) by 8th graders. That sort of selection process makes it almost impossible for students with significant disabilities to be included. The teacher - who was proud of running a school sanctioned fraternity/sorority gave guidelines - then let 8th graders pick. That really doesn't meet the individual needs of students with disabilities, who might need to be included in the "future leaders" program for reasons other than whatever the W.E.B staff. 8th graders aren't going to figure out the needs of students with disabilities, and they didn't. (That's why there is an "I" in IEP.) But, such pig-headedness is pretty debilitating. Then, there was the refusal to let students with disabilities be in ANY enrichment or electives. For those of you who think your kids are WAY too smart to consider inclusion of students with disabilities into your kids' academic classes - at least, you might be OK with inclusion for electives. BUT, not at McClure. Nope. Wouldn't do it. Students with disabilities couldn't be in shop (woodworking/metalworking), music, Spanish,.... only the pool was OK.

Glad to hear it's improving. Can't imagine a school too much worse. Sarah Pritchett said it was the Spectrum parents. I believe her - but, she's also gone, and better leadership might help. The neighborhood is not as bad as the middle school, and the elementaries are actually good.

yuck said…


Please don't delete this.

Micheal (no last initial - but he boast about his blog all the time) = Speddie = probably McGrad.

At least they all appear to be as the tone and disparagement are the same and speddie high tailed out of here once called out. If you are going to be an uncivil troll you shouldn't self promote in other threads with the same toned down tripe.

Just Sayin'

Enough already: said "Melissa, these threads always implode toward HC because there is inherent unfairness in the current system. If you are blind to that, wake up."

This thread is not about HC it is about Spectrum. Two different groups.

Get this, roughly 7% of the 1-8 SPS kids are identified to be >94% achievement in math AND reading and have an IQ of >97%. This is not a simple task. Surprising that such a backwater city, not up to much intellectual happenings, could achieve such a statistical anomaly. How does a city deal with such a dilemma?

In the early years the Robinsons suggested Individual Progress Programs which is what is still going today at UCDS to some extent. Basically IEPS for all HC kids! Wow differentiation for all outliers in self contained classrooms. This model failed, as did all differentiated models. On to accelerated learning in self contained classrooms. Viola! 25+ kids, crowded buildings and it works for the majority of the HC kids. The others have to make due including: single domain high IQ, 2e, ELL and and the those well beyond the HC grouping in IQ/achievement. What works about it? It means teachers, buildings and our beloved district are not imploding trying to teach 2 kids in every class that are just too smart too be engaged by repetition and worksheets. And of course there is that dreaded capacity issue that APP has solved over the years.

Is it perfect? Hell no. Is it hopefully a band-aid? yes. Has it diminished over the years? yes.

But unless you can solve this real issue better than this program which has evolved over 30 years of constant tinkering mostly for the betterment of the District, then don't attempt to break the unbroken, in hopes it will fix the broken.

Enoughof Enoughallready

Anonymous said…
Omg!!!! There's more than one Sped person???? Who knew? And, there's even more than one sped issue???? And, unbelievable! Some sped families WANT THE SAME thing other people do? Who knew that either!

Michael C is running in the N. region in Seattle. OMG! Is McClure in the N? No, it is on QA, south of ship canal. Does sps ship off LD students to unpopular out of cluster schools? No, LD students get regular assignment. Try a little JustThinking, JustSayin.

Anonymous said…
Why are posters trying to shame Speddie; who cares how many aliases anybody uses(if that's even the case, which I don't see at all)?

Does it detract from the discussion or is this just harassment, apparently sanctioned by the silence of the blog owners?

SPeddie and McGrad have made some of the most accurate(I have a Maverick myself) and insightful comments on this thread. They have set a positive tone, acknowledging the improvements, while criticizing the past. Giving credit where it's due and blame where it's deserved.

Do want us to guess who you are Justsayin'?

If you disagree, don't be lazy and try to out people and shame them, spend the time and make a good counterargument.

Really Annoyed
Anonymous said…
APP (once IPP) was created to serve the outliers. It stemmed from a UW study on "precocious" preschoolers. The "highly gifted" children scored in the top 1%, with an IQ 4 SD above the mean (current HCC qualifications are top 5% and IQ 2 SD above the mean). A description of the original SPS highly capable program:

"A kindergarten-through-high-school program for children and young people exhibiting extraordinary advancement in academic skills. This Individual Progress Program (IPP) is run by the Seattle Public Schools in collaboration with the Child Development Research Group. It is designed for students who are achieving at least four grade levels beyond the grade appropriate for their age. Some of these children are included in the longitudinal study. Begun in 1978, the IPP currently serves 75 children, balanced for sex and reflecting the racial makeup of the Seattle population."

Such children are no longer well served in the very program that was created to serve such students.

-history lesson
I had thought I had closed comments here as the discussion seems to be disintegrating. (Although good for the people discussing online math services.)

Again, do not try to out people. Really, who cares?

But I will say that anyone running for public office who will not sign their name and stand by their convictions openly is probably not the best person to be on the School Board.

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