KUOW Looking for Input on Advanced Learning

I'm looking for families of color who have considered - or enrolled in - gifted/highly capable programs in Seattle Public Schools. I'm working on a story for KUOW Public Radio about the reasons behind the lack of diversity in the district's gifted classes, and I'd like to hear your experiences. Email adornfeld@kuow.org - and feel free to share this request with anyone you know! Thanks so much!


Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
One reason is Rainier Scholars offering private AL for AA students instead of HC services at SPS. We would do the same if I could afford it. Great program and working well for all. Just disregard the data hole.

Ann should consider profiling the great work that AL Office is doing regarding identifying high FRL students (which should be considered priority over racial mix) with a screen-er test for all SE schools or something like that. I think it was 5% identified for AL not sure if that is HC though.

One fun fact I learned recently thru public disclosure - AL doesn't track students by F/RL.
Anonymous said…
Students of particular colors only, one assumes?

Wrong Asian
Anonymous said…
My daughterneeded to take the cogat for early entrance to kindergarten (September birthday.) We were directly told that she was denied because she was socially not ready. Knowing they were wrong, I pressed them for an explanation of what that meant. It turns out that 'socially not ready' meant quiet and more reserved, which also affected how she scored on the cogat.

We are Korean, a culture that expects a student to be quiet and reserved. Did we force her to be that way? No, if anything we may have discouraged, knowing it was not the cultural norm here.

We found a sliding scale psychologist to administer private testing. She scored very high on the cognitive test and also very well socially. We won our appeal, which included a letter arguing that their testing discriminates towards students of color and any students with personalities/temperaments outside of the American cultural ideals and norms. She has done amazing in kindergarten- academically and even more so, socially.

Outsider said…
Well, hmmm ... there's this:

1) students must mostly be referred by parents to be considered
2) the deadline is not well publicized
3) the process of referral and testing is lengthy and confusing, and good luck if you are a single parent who works Saturday
4) almost a year must pass from referral until anything would change involving the child's schooling

You get the impression that SPS doesn't want to provide advanced learning to anyone, and they provide the above rat-maze ordeal to keep tiger parents busy for as long as possible, after which a lot of them find there is no cheese anyway, even if you get Spectrum or AL status.

You might think that teachers and staff would secretly grease the wheels for "diverse" students, but then, maybe:
1) They have no plans to offer meaningful AL within their building; quite the contrary, they are ideologically opposed to it. Don't say the T-word.
2) They don't want their best students leaving the building.

So maybe "diverse" parents just aren't tiger-y enough.
Anonymous said…
"outside of the American cultural ideals and norms."

Please stop with the stereotyping of Americans.

PC overload
Anonymous said…
How different are the race and ethnicity statistics for the HCC program from the overall makeup for the District? And I think you should compare data for each HCC school (Thurgood Marshall, Washington, Cascadia, Hamilton, etc.) with the demographics of the feeder schools that the kids come from. It is hard to find recent data on the SPS site.

- Data Freak
Anonymous said…
It's as brown but limited AA and NA participants to Seattle in general (not kids all ages). The latter is s/w due to Rainier Scholars and their active recruitment of high IQ AA kids, imho.

Anonymous said…
Maybe the media is finally waking up to this longstanding outrage.

Rainier Scholars doesn't start working with students until middle school.
If the district had been identifying students all along like they should have
(and not using a single score as the criteria), Rainier Scholars would have
had less need to even exist.

It will take some public day lighting plus testing of current students for periodic requalification to even begin to get these numbers into something approaching

I hope the reporters also focus on how many SPS students qualify for HCC in their early schooling and stay in the program for the rest of their SPS life without any accountability. The phantom "counsel them to exit out" is rare, at best.

--about time
Anonymous said…
@ about time,

I'm curious about your rationale for making current students requalify. Is the idea that even if they are doing well in HCC or Spectrum classes, they should be kicked out and made to repeat a year or two worth of material because on occasion x they didn't meet the score threshold they had met to qualify in the first place? Is that in the best interest of students? Or is it designed to punish them or maybe make them (or their parents) see that that they aren't so special after all?

This idea also seems to suggest that large numbers of AL-qualified kids would no longer qualify if retested. Here's a related question: If kids who met the eligibility criteria initially fail to meet them upon later testing, is it because of the kids, or perhaps the quality of the program they've received?

Lynn said…
Yes! This is the third or fourth story on this topic by KUOW - but this is sure to be the one that remakes the world (and SPS in particular) to your liking.

Anonymous said…


No worries. About Time hates everything.

There is no counseled out because kids will not always be great in all classes. But the one thing they can't say is that they will retest with a lower IQ. 65 yrs of data says it's static. 5 years says some IQs may drop and some IQs may increase. I have enough data on standardized test percentiles (and repeat IQ test again in MS) for my kids to know: It's static. Tested in the first time they will test in again.

In addition, the screening program for T1 schools is on its third run... Nothing about that AT? Doesn't suit your paranoid understanding of the world. No wonder. The hope is to have it done district wide.

Again keep up the good work AL and Rainier Scholars and here is to hoping every kid gets a chance at the education they need including ELL, SPeD, Gen Ed, AL, Rx fragile and HC.

Lynn said…
When people are discussing disproportionate enrollment in HCC and Spectrum, what data are they looking at? I reviewed data from the 2010 census and district demographics. Specifically, I looked at both the total children under 18 in the city and the APP/Spectrum enrollment by race.

Here is the percentage of children in Seattle under 18 of each race (so including those under age 6) enrolled in SPS advanced learning programs in that year:

White 4.39%
Black 1.54%
Asian and Pacific Islander 5.37%
American Indian 2.89%
Hispanic (non-white only) 4.05%
Two or more races .48%
All children 3.66%

We know that childhood stressors affect the extent to which a child's potential cognitive ability develops.

Here is the percentage of (SPS-enrolled) children of each race qualified for free or reduced-price meals in 2010:

White 12%
Black 75.6%
Asian and Pacific Islander 53.2%
American Indian 59.1%
Hispanic (non-white only) 63.1%
Two or more races 32.9%
All children 40.3%

Here is the percentage of (SPS-enrolled) children of each race who did not live with both of their parents in 2010:

White 20.5%
Black 61.2%
Asian and Pacific Islander 28%
American Indian 58.8%
Hispanic (non-white only) 40.1%
Two or more races 37.9%
All children 33.6%

The disproportionate enrollment in advanced learning is not evidence that there is something wrong with either the identification process or the program. The district has decided to identify children who have both high cognitive ability and high academic achievement under the assumption that the general education curriculum is not appropriate for these students. These are the results of that process - and they are not unexpected. If the district were trying to identify children whose cognitive ability and/or academic achievement is high compared to others from similar demographic groups, the results would likely be different.

If you believe that some children for whom the general education curriculum is not appropriate are not being identified, please make that argument. I'd like to hear what people think about that. Just don't make claims about the programs and the process without providing evidence of some sort.
Lynn said…
I wish we were discussing how every child can get what they need in the classroom. Every school's CSIP (drafts are now available) is supposed to include a plan for advanced learners. Take a look at your school's - and if it's not there (or it's not being followed) - contact the executive director for your region and Michael Tolley. Copy your school board member too - it's good for them to know what's going on.

CSIPs can be found here: http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=15987
Anonymous said…
Thanks Lynn! That's really interesting. I hadn't realized Whites were actually only represented as #2 by % of students enrolled in Advanced Learning. I'm assuming that the total number of white students in AL is higher than the total number of Asian/PI students, b/c there are just more whites in Seattle, but the percent is the interesting part to me. I wonder how many Asian students attend private school?

As I understood other numbers (that I don't have but maybe you do, Lynn) (and I hope Ann Dornfeld is reading this and can get confirmation, but it's hard ... )

1) African American students who qualify opt in to AL at higher rates than Caucasians who qualify - thus the program itself is not turning off qualified students.

2) About 70% of the school age children in Seattle attend SPS, about 30% attend private schools. ALL the kids are eligible to test for AL. You don't have to already be in SPS to test in to Advanced Learning.

3) When counting # of students eligible for advanced learning and then saying "OH the SKY is FALLING because it's X% of the district! It must be rigged!" ... go back to #2 above - use the real numbers for # of school age children in Seattle, NOT the number enrolled in SPS. And then calculate. It's not quite as skewed weirdly if you start from the full number of students. (Like Lynn did, above).

4) Ann D should look up last year's thread on the algebra readiness test - was that March 2015? When was it? Right before spring break, wasn't it? When the only way to take the algebra placement test was to be driven downtown to the JSCEE after school on a Thursday night, only on Thursdays, and only downtown. So if you had working parents who couldn't leave a job early to get you from school and then turn back around and get you downtown, you were out of luck. If you didn't have transportation, out of luck. The hurdles for the algebra readiness test were laid out perfectly in the various threads and comments about it - and that is a perfect example for her to understand when it comes to AL.

Signed: This Again
Anonymous said…
Part 2:

There's nothing pernicious in the Advanced Learning program itself, but the set up - the identification hurdles, the "you have to go on Saturdays for the test and we can't get our sh*t together to tell you where/when in a timely way (let alone in a non-English speaking way or a convenient way)" - that stuff is a huge hurdle. And again, has nothing to do with the program as delivered in the schools to the kids, merely with the work downtown.

I know well-off stay home parents with advanced degrees who can't make heads or tales of AL testing and procedures --- and they are people who feel empowered to contact school board and heads downtown about it, and can't get a time/place for testing. So yeah, that's what Ann D should look into.

But it's not the program itself, once kids are identified, because I think, IIRC, that students of color opt in at higher rates among the eligible than Caucasian students.

And yes, it boggles the mind that AL doesn't track FRL kids in Advanced Learning. That seems unconscionable. And tracking socio-economic diversity is hugely important. (not to mention US Supreme Court is hearing another case on Affirmative Action in education...)

Ann D - please, please, please - don't forget that Asian students aren't Caucasian! I am SOOO freaking tired of hearing that Cascadia/Lincoln/the HCC program is "all white" or "has one student of color" - NO. It has a lot of non-white students. See Lynn's numbers above - I hadn't realized that they are, in representation percent, the most represented.

Also, you can't examine the demographics of a school without examing the demographics of an area - it's incredibly sloppy math/demographics to compare the make up of any specific school in Seattle, such as Cascadia or Hamilton, with the makeup of 'students in SPS' or even 'the city as a whole' ... because first, a really large number of the students who have left for private school are white, and thus it skews the racial makeup of SPS differently from all students who reside in the city as a whole, and all the students are eligible for advanced learning. Second, the geographic area feeding into Cascadia/Lincoln and into Hamilton is more white than the city as a whole. Racial groups are not spread in even blocks around town.

The diversity map published by the Seattle Times last year is a vital tool to use when thinking about this.

Do I think SPS needs to do a LOT better at outreach and identification for underrepresented groups? YES. But given the absolute inability to have any flexibility for something as simple as the algebra readiness test, even when tons of people pointed out that having the test in area middle schools, or at every elementary during the day (since it was a paper/pencil test and cheating was not incentivized b/c - nothing at stake for teachers - ) still they couldn't alter when or where they gave it, not for anybody. "Because no one complained last year" - that made me grit my teeth.

I think the problem is in the way the AL testing is established. It's not a problem with the actual programs/schools/teachers/where the kids actually are - it's a downtown problem to find the kids.

And the captcha was click on school bus images!

Signed: This Again
Anonymous said…
To be clear, the algebra readiness test isn't specifically an AL issue. It may impact proportionally more AL students than non-AL, but since math isn't included as an AL subject in middle school, it's a more general issue of lack of sensitivity to diverse family needs. They also don't do a great job of publicizing the test--maybe they do for those coming from HCC elementary, but not those planning to enter in 6th grade.

Wrong Asian
I will also state again - I asked and Advanced Learning does not track who is F/RL in AL. They claim they can't under FERPA but I have my doubts.
Pm said…
Cascadia Elementary (all HCC) has 3.7% FRL according to the Washington State Report Card. The school is also:
73.8% white
2.2% Latino
0.3% African-American
0% Native American
25% Asian
11% biracial

My kid attends Cascadia and the people who think there is no issue with underrepresentation of minorities are hiding their heads in the sand,

Anonymous said…
Regarding flexibility in the algebra readiness test:

Algebra readiness will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS be trumped by capacity. Fundamentally, it does not matter one iota to the district what is best for your individual student (or what their scores and performance are) if he or she is in a school where AL capacity is full. If serving your student would require -gasp- the hiring of another teacher, then you and your student are SOL. Principals will make up rules, they will lie about policy (and I do not use the "L" word lightly), to keep your student out of advanced learning classes if it serves the capacity constraints and saves the school from hiring a teacher. Central administration will back them up on this all the way. If you read all of the placement policies carefully, they now all have boilerplate statements that, ultimately, leave placement up to the principal discretion. This is the capacity loophole. It has always in the past been against state law to restrict services based on capacity - but the central administration puts immense pressure on principals to do so. This "lawlessness" also covers hiring teachers who are skilled in advanced learning. If they aren't already at your school - it isn't going to happen.

My feeling, based on experience, is that until this "culture of lawlessness" as Charlie Mass has always called it, is remedied, there is no way to assemble a coherent AL program of any sort.

On a positive note, regarding diversity, my student has way more diverse classes in HCC than we would have had in our neighborhood school. It has been one of the few good things about in the HCC "program". Certainly, academically it has been a bust.

-SPS parent
Anonymous said…
Sorry, that should be "Charlie Mas"

I was thinking of the weight of his wisdom.

-SPS parent
Anonymous said…
MW, how can they provide free individual testing, something I have been told happens for 10+ years, if they don't know FRL status?

All's well
HCCMOM said…

Thank you for posting that data.

My jaw dropped when I saw the 75.6% of black kids who qualify for free/reduced lunch. I wanted to cry.

But here's what would be interesting (if someone had access to the underlying data), is to look at the AL participation (or just qualification) within the 75.6% compared to the same metrics for the 12% white kids who also qualify. Wouldn't that be a way to isolate the effect of race, not socioeconomics? Conversely, what about comparing % participation for the black kids in the 24.4% (or better yet in the same socio-economic level) and the white kids in the 88% of non-FRL. Then by zip code (as another proxy for socioeconomics?

For example: if it turned out that for every 100 black kids and for every 100 white kids who qualify for FRL, they both had a 2 kids who qualified for/participated in HCC/AL program, (<3.66% of the average participation) that would point to a socioeconomic bias in the system. Or if for the non FRL black and white kids, the rates were similar, wouldn't that point to socio-economics. However if there were disparities (and I wouldn't be surprised if there were), then we could isolate race.

I would love it if KUOW Ann Dornfeld could look at that data?

Anonymous said…
Cascadia Elementary Student Demographics 2014-15 from OSPI Report Card. Percentages sliced many ways are one thing, seeing the stark reality of 2 students out of 686 identified as AA/Black enrolled in the HCC program serving all of North Seattle is another. I'm with Pm - people who think there is no issue with underrepresentation of minorities are hiding their head in the sand. There really can't be a defense for these numbers, but perhaps there might be a solution.

Student Demographics
October 2014 Student Count 686
May 2015 Student Count 677
Gender (October 2014)
Male 362 52.8%
Female 324 47.2%
Race/Ethnicity (October 2014)
Hispanic / Latino of any race(s) 15 2.2%
Asian 86 12.5%
Black / African American 2 0.3%
White 506 73.8%
Two or More Races 77 11.2%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2015) 25 3.7%
Special Education (May 2015) 43 6.4%
Transitional Bilingual (May 2015) 1 0.1%
Migrant (May 2015) 0 0.0%
Section 504 (May 2015) 12 1.8%
Foster Care (May 2015) 0 0.0%
Other Information (more info)
Unexcused Absence Rate (2014-15) 896 0.8%

According to the OSPI Report Card for 2014-15, the elementary schools in the same zip code at Cascadia, Bagley, BF Day, Greenlake and Licton Springs, enroll 80 African American students. The total enrollment for those schools is 1016, and the percentage of African American identified students is 7.9%.

AL doesn't track FRL enrollment, but OSPI does.


Anonymous said…
For free testing/appeals, the FRL data would come from SPS not the AL department within SPS. To say AL doesn't know or track FRL students is disingenuous - both SPS and OSPI have the data.

Anonymous said…
Oh and I know why you chose Cascadia as it is real data but to compare it to all of Seattle is off, as it only draws from the least diverse area of the city; some of which historically had covenants against diversity.

I have long wondered about the achievement piece with AL. My thought if you have top 2 percent IQ you can struggle to catch up but catch up you will. In fact, I would change all of AL to be top 1 percent IQ and that is it as the only test. I have no doubt that would render a completely different sub set of students - one that is much more diverse.

Anonymous said…
SPS is 51.5% male. I don't think 1% more is significant.

I don't know if it would improve the numbers or make them worse, but the right pool to use is not the same zip code, but the schools Cascadia pulls from- the whole north of the ship canal. I am aware of some of those 77 kids being partly AA, but still surely a very small number. I think more broadly we should probably take into consideration that it is a unique program, farther ahead than most private schools- whether it is good or not is beside the point- and so will always attract people from private in a way that a neighborhood school (which is not so unique, curriculum wise, from a private school, and just has larger class sizes, etc.) will not. Similar to the way that option schools are whiter and wealthier than the schools they draw from, and also pull people from private schools. I don't know if the demographics we should use are EXACTLY the entire pool of students in Seattle, but I do think it is closed minded to just pretend the students outside the public system don't exist, and aren't making decisions regarding the system. And then- the neighborhood schools that push the most kids to Cascadia are the most overcrowded, which are the whitest and richest(mostly). I think that is a very thorny problem, but it is an intersection of capacity and principal direction, and will continue to pressure Cascadia numbers into the less diverse. It also makes option schools less diverse, as they are used as capacity outlets for the most overcrowded (and white and rich) schools.

I don't think there is no issue with underrepresented minorities, but I think the picture is a little complicated, and there are some problems we are probably not going to be able to fix through the SPS highly capable program. We should try to do better. SPS may have data on appeals, but they have so far refused to share it with AL. I was of the mind earlier this year that maybe reducing appeals might help with diversity and program strength, but also- it should be very, very, very easy to see if this is true. Who appeals to get in; what are their demographics; how do they do once they are there. There is a cost to reducing appeals (under serving kids who need it), so it seems only reasonable to check the easily available data to see if we get a benefit for the cost. But no. No data. I think the AL department is working hard on outreach. They do nothing related to curriculum or program, just testing and outreach (I am not sure this is the right decision- only worth it to get the "right" kids into the program if there is a decent program there, but they are definitely spending as much as they can on outreach). They were denied funding from SPS this year for a pilot program to help with enrichment for SE kids who met the cognitive bar but not the achievement one. I hope someone tells the reporter that. It was a great idea, and they should have done it. SPS is not especially interested in making the program more diverse(or stronger), though. They are interested in its use as a capacity tool. Which it does as well as they need now- and it's better if people are slightly hostile to it so they can move it around and break it up at will.

Charlie Mas said…
The can be no question that African-American, Latino, Native American, and South Pacific Islander students are under-represented in SPS advanced learning. That's not even a question.

The question is why.
A) Are the highly capable students there, in those communities, but unrecognized by SPS because the identification assessments are culturally biased against them?

B) Are the highly capable students there, in those communities, but unrecognized by SPS because the identification process is biased against students from families that cannot negotiate the process or provide transportation?

C) Are the highly capable students there, in those communities, but unrecognized by SPS because SPS staff, either in Advanced Learning or in the schools, discourage their application?

D) Could it be that consequences of poverty inhibit the development of cognitive ability and, because these communities are disproportionately impacted by poverty, children with high cognitive ability appear less frequently among them?

E) Could it be that there are conditions other than poverty that inhibit the development of cognitive ability and those other conditions occur more frequently in these communities and reduce the incidence of children with high cognitive ability?

F) Could it be a combination of two or more of these factors?

My thinking is that in order to address the problem, we have to identify the cause of the problem. There's a problem, but the cause may not be within SPS.

Advanced Learning staff have, for as long as I can remember, been confronted by these numbers and, for as long as I remember they have been saying that they can only find the students, they can't make them. I have a very clear memory of Colleen Stark, when she was the manager of advanced learning, telling the Board that even if every African-American student who passed the WASL was deemed eligible for Spectrum, that community would still be under-represented.

What fosters the development of children with high cognitive ability? What is being done to foster high cognitive ability in low-income communities? Who has that as a priority? Rainier Scholars does. Anyone else? What could the district do to foster high cognitive ability, or is it something that happens outside of school?
Anonymous said…
Charlie -- This is a very interesting read related to your question D.


Anonymous said…
(Your questions D and E, actually.)

Outsider said…
Charlie, there is yet another angle from which you could ask the question. From everything we experience personally and what passes through the comments on this blog, it seems like HCC and AL are more like dirty secrets than something SPS actually likes. To be fully challenged, and realize full potential in SPS is, like love, "for the lucky and the strong." That is deliberate, not an accident. HCC and AL only exist because of state requirements and the practical need to keep the din of screaming tiger parents below a certain level. In their heart of hearts, SPS mandarins would probably like to kill the whole thing.

Given the political climate in Seattle, you might expect that students of color would get more lucky in regard to AL, even if they were not strong. There would be little political problem in just waiving the usual process and putting a proportionate number of diverse students in the programs because the weight of poverty and legacy of institutional racism makes the ordinary qualifying process irrelevant for them. To put students of color in HCC and AL does not require solving all those social problems outside the realm of SPS. They could just do it.

The question no one seems to ask is, why don't the SPS mandarins do that? Could it be that they don't want HCC and AL developing a constituency among minorities, or being perceived as a solution to any of their concerns? Perhaps they don't want to cherry-pick the brightest minority students for separate programs. Could it be they would rather preserve the racial disparity as a potential future tool to kill the programs altogether?
Anonymous said…
Identifying students who are quick learners at an early age,
rather than testing what they know from home or the so called "IQ",
which is in fact very fluid and amenable to enrichment, would be
an excellent place to start.

Putting large number of students from highly enriched backgrounds,
born on third base, into self-contained programs in separate
locations, which excludes all historically oppressed or struggling
immigrant populations is not only unethical, but indefensible.

Blaming these numbers on single parent families, which again is a
product of policies (rewarding single parent low-income families
for federal aid), and using that as excuse for not recognizing
talent and capacity in young children (beyond a single test
score), is beyond the pale.

The students in this country who are waking up at colleges would
probably have more than a little to say about these numbers in
the SPS HCC program.

The fact that these current HCC students are never accountable for performance
(I don't mean another so-called ability test) by achievement tests,
and/or classroom tests and portfolios and teacher input is simply not in
keeping with any best practice for placement anywhere. Routinely evaluating program placement is simply a matter of course in any minimal, decent program. It is actually part of the state law regarding Advanced Learning.

Testing in for SPS life, which everyone knows is not okay, is rarely addressed because the stakeholders may be adversely affected when their child is no longer performing
significantly above grade level peers (and in cases, is at or below).

Everyone tends to get quiet when the subject of accountabilty for
performance comes up, KUOW. When is SPS going to follow the state
law about evaluating and placing students when they are no longer
performing significantly above their peers?

--about time
Anonymous said…
About Time how could they "all" perform above their peers? There is a spectrum of achievement in all classes. Perhaps you meant significantly below?

AL routinely reviews the standardized test of participants in the HC program and guess what they average well above 95% and if there were as much of problem as you profess then that would be really really hard to do. The fact is it is not a problem.

As for the program consider this as well, grades 1-5 are the only self contained HC classes. After that you only have to have a high IQ/ achievement scores to get into roughly half the "cohort classes." And math placement is now only achievement. High School is all achievement as you have to have the prerequisites to move on.

I can only think of one other poster who repeatedly makes baseless claims like you continue to do.

AT=MC squared?
HCCMOM said…
I know that this analysis is dated (1999) but it speaks to the decades debate about "tracking" and is a good read for understanding the history of who embraces and who rejects tracking in different forms.

The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy: Tom Loveless 1999


Outsider said…
Irony is, "about time" is delivering the orthodox PC point of view, the one that really holds sway in the SPS administration. From everything one hears, they are bleeding Spectrum / AL slowly to death, and would end HCC at a stroke if not for state rules. The comment section of this blog is mostly for irrelevant people (like me) to vent. It's generous of "about time" to drop by and remind everyone of the score.

I mentioned in another thread that it's the mission of public schools to nullify the desires of many families and children. Charlie pissed on me for writing that, but how can you read "about time" and not see my point? In a totally different world, one we will never see, it would be plenty if a student simply wanted a HCC curriculum and could do it without slowing down the rest of the class, even if that student pulled Cs and didn't test especially well. But "about time" is on a mission to drive individual students out of HCC who want to be there. He/she is on a mission to nullify the desires of individual families and children -- and in doing so, is perfectly in concert with the PC ideology which drives contemporary school policy.

A child born into a loving home and well cared for is "born on third base," and social justice demands that those advantages be negated and the child held back from what the child could do and wants to do. "About time" is doing a service to remind us how things really are.
WHYisRIGHT said…
Charlie Mas is exactly right. It's the "why" and it's not a simple single variable problem. And I like the way the options were logically set forth.

But whether or not the school system can solve everything (it can't and I hear first hand from my sister in law working as a teacher's coach in a title 1 school, it is heartbreaking), it has a role to play. I would like to see well run, well funded districts (when it comes to minority and FRL populations) and those not well run. I'm sure the test scores are different.

Anonymous said…
Can someone point me to research demonstrating that, in the absence of outside influences such as income, all races have the same bell curve when it comes to cognitive ability? I've looked, but what I see suggests average IQ differs by race. If that's the case, is it assumed that it's because the tests discriminate? If the assumption is that the occurrence of giftedness is equally distributed between groups, is there evidence? It seems to be an assumption--one that may make since as an ideal--but if it's an assumption, we should be clear. I'm sure there are many gifted athletes who would dispute it.

Wrong Asian
Anonymous said…
wrong asian we know that isn't an assumption as giftedness happens in all colors on and off the field. shaking my head.

Into the fray comes Justice Scalia who, in discussing a case on admissions based on race, brought in the "mismatch" theory and made it sound like he thought black students couldn't make it at top-tier universities. Oh dear.

Anonymous said…
what a droll old man. I feel for the plaintiff(s) in this case though. Why should skin color decide admittance. It should be based on your personal story and your ability to shine in areas and then GPA/SAT. Not a check box GPA/SAT. Seriously should Clarence Thomas' kids get in before Scalia's?

And I love how they trivialize the not set aside seats as a "sliver." It's 25% of the seats!

Charlie Mas said…
Identifying students who are quick learners at an early age, rather than testing what they know from home or the so called "IQ", which is in fact very fluid and amenable to enrichment, would be an excellent place to start.

Okay. How should the district assess for "quick learners"? Not with the CogAT or an IQ test, so how then?

Putting large number of students from highly enriched backgrounds, born on third base, into self-contained programs in separate locations, which excludes all historically oppressed or struggling immigrant populations is not only unethical, but indefensible.

Actually, it's neither unethical nor indefensible. This is why some students are in the first grade, some in the third grade, and some in the fifth grade. I suppose you could say that the fifth graders are only there due to the chance of their birth (10 years ago rather than 8 years ago or 6 years ago), but they are in a separate location because they are getting different lessons than the third graders and the first graders. Or should all students in all grades get the same lessons?

Tell me, after you have identified all of the "quick learners", how will you provide them with an appropriate academic opportunity without segregating them? Or will they get the same lessons as their peers who learn at regular speed? How do you plan to address their needs in a general education classroom?

Blaming these numbers on single parent families, which again is a product of policies (rewarding single parent low-income families for federal aid), and using that as excuse for not recognizing talent and capacity in young children (beyond a single test score), is beyond the pale.

I don't understand. Are you saying that poverty doesn't cause damage? ARe you saying that all of the trauma imposed on children living in poverty has no effect? Or are you saying that it has an effect but that we should pretend that it doesn't?
Old APPer said…
Just to remind everyone in this discussion, some of the comments seem to be saying that children of color=poverty. Not all children of color are impoverished, as someone above pointed out that even in the higher income parts of Seattle, children of color are not proportionally represented in HCC. The problem of low representation among blacks, Hispanics, Natives and Pacific Islander in AL programs goes beyond income.

However, I don't think it's because, as Wrong Asian implies, that intelligence is race-based. I do not know the answer or the breakdown of the causes to why minorities are not well-represented in AL, but Scalia isn't the first to posit the theory Melissa posted above, and we heard something similar ourselves in the old APP when we were in SPS.

I do think that in some schools teachers do not "see" highly capable children of color, in others, there's simply not much outreach by the administration, and for many kids, they come into school at a disadvantage. Then you also have to look at why AL-identified kids' parents remain in their local schools. I know of 4 right off the top of my head (from years back). The district needs to ask why-I suspect the answers would surprise them, because it's rarely about academic needs (of those that I know).
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…

The "service" here is to for gen ed schools' principals, enrollment and downtown staff not HC kids.

SPS' commitment to differentiated education should really be the thrust of a thread. They can't even commit to three general levels APP/Spectrum/Gen Ed to offer differentiated instruction. Why should we trust that they are even interested in individual by individual differentiation if they can't do room by room differentiation?

The Charter stuff has talk about individual progress plans, right? Take note it doesn't happen magically and even with dedicated staff it can't happen with only a 2% IQ gap. 15% gap is grounds for dismantling your program.

sit your kids where we tell you to, don't ask question as it will go on their permanent record.


Lynn said…

Here's a 2014 article on median income for black households in Seattle. http://blogs.seattletimes.com/fyi-guy/2014/11/12/as-seattle-gets-richer-the-citys-black-households-get-poorer/
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said…
On questions of accountability, there are two performance evaluations. The district evaluates the effectiveness of the program by reviewing test scores - classroom-based, district, state and AP/IB. The district website addresses student evaluations with this statement:

Exiting Highly Capable Services: Students may be exited from Highly Capable Services if the services are no longer appropriate. A meeting of parent, teacher, administrator, representative from Advanced Learning office, and student (optional at parent discretion) shall precede such an eligibility change.

We know of course that the district is doing these things - because they're required by law. Surely OSPI is on top of this.
Lynn said…
Here's a table on poverty rates in Seattle by race/ethnicity:

Charlie Mas said…
@state law requires it,
You haven't noticed, but I have been advocating, strenuously, for a review of the quality and efficacy of the advanced learning programs. You can search this blog for "program evaluation" or "Policy 2090" and you'll find it.

Or did you mean the students? Students are removed from the programs as appropriate. Why do you doubt that? Just because it isn't counted and reported? It would be hard to do so without violating student privacy.
Old APPer said…
Yes, Lynn, I am aware of the poverty rates. My statements stands-minority does not always equal poverty. I am also personally acquainted with several minority families who are NOT in poverty with kids who qualified for APP and chose not to send them for reasons that had nothing to do with academics. I don't know that the district ever followed up with any of them ask why. It should have, as it should now, when people turn the program down.

Old APPer said…
Among the reasons: staying in a k-8 school that they believed was a better fit, lack of minority students in APP (which has always been a catch-22), student had his needs met at Mercer, then the IB program at RBHS, going private, wanting siblings together in the same schools. Lack of after-school care at Lowell (that one WAS a long time ago).
Anonymous said…
older app,

Several or "his." Seems like there is a problem with the numbering here. But really " I don't know that the district ever followed up with any of them (sic) ask why. It should have, as it should (sic) now, when people turn the program down."


They can't even get through the accepting on time but now they should follow up on why not? So based on your statements this family applied and the district paid to test them and then they said no thanks and the district should have paid more money to find out why they wasted their time and money for testing?

oh and Lowell had after care in the form of clubs etc. as far back as 2002.

Really MC?

Anonymous said…
@ KPLU, of course giftedness occurs in all races. The question is, does it occur at the same rate, if you're using the same criteria?

For example, say you use IQ to identify those who are considered gifted. Average IQ scores differ somewhat between races. Whether that's because there are real differences by group, or because of issues with bias in the test itself, the impact social and environmental factors on intelligence, other factors, or some combination is unclear. Regardless of what's behind it, the curves are slightly shifted when you look at IQ by race. If the curve for blacks is shifted a bit lower than that for whites, and the curve for Asians is shifted a bit higher than for whites, that means if you pick a particular point on the curve as your cut-off for "giftedness," a larger percentage of the Asians and a smaller percentage of the blacks will qualify as compared to whites.

SPS AL isn't using IQ tests, but use of the CogAt has the same effect if score distributions aren't the same by race, which they don't seem to be. Coming back to my earlier comment, what does that mean for the "expected" make-up of the SPS AL population? Everyone assumes that AL participation, and HC participation, should reflect the population--but that's an assumption, or maybe a value. That's fine, but let's be clear about it, because it has implications for eligibility criteria. If the CogAt score curve for blacks is shifted somewhat lower, we either need to say (a) fewer will qualify and our program won't mirror the population, but that's okay because we believe the CogAt is a good measure of giftedness and need for AL; or (b) we believe that giftedness occurs at the same rate in all races, so we're going to modify our criteria and set different threshold scores for each group. Option b might mean lowering the CogAt score for blacks to get to the x% ideal, which brings up a related issue of whether or not to raise the bar for groups that "overqualify" (e.g., would we need to increase the required score for Asians, so they also qualify at the ideal rate?)

But we can't really have it both ways at once. When we observe that there are differences in the distribution of scores by race (note: I haven't seen Seattle-specific CogAt breakdowns, but data from elsewhere clearly show this, and other data from Seattle do demonstrate such differences), but then we set single eligibility criteria that apply to all races, we can't really be surprised when the eligible population doesn't reflect the overall population. If our goal is proportional representation, we need to adjust the criteria accordingly. Maybe instead of using race we set different criteria for ELL, FRL, etc. While obviously true that not all "children of color" live in poverty, the rates ARE higher, and poverty IS associated with lower CogAt scores. Adjusting for this would help erase disparities in AL qualification rate, especially if we were to chose the threshold scores based on whatever would give us the ideal qualification rate for each group.

Wrong Asian
Ol APPer said…
I am not MC (I know who it is you're referring to), and I'm not so good with typing. I thought I was clear, though, that I know of several families who tested into APP and after looking at the program chose not to attend. I should have used neutral pronouns, but yes, the student at Mercer and now RB is a male. The other families opted out for other reasons, such as wanting to stay in a k-8, staying in the neighborhood, keeping siblings together, etc.

And yes, I DO think that the district should follow up on why families opt not to enroll qualified kids or leave the program. That might help in increasing the number of minority students in AL classes. I don't know the answers, but I am just sharing what I know some families have chosen to do. By the way, after school classes are not after school care. They are quite different. If one used after school classes as child care, you would need to sign your child up for a class every single day all school year. That's not feasible, because if I recall correctly, there were not classes even offered all year long, and there's the possibility that the kids wouldn't even want to take one of the classes offered at some point. Reliable child care is offered every day, sometimes even during days schools are closed. At least that's what our day care/after school care did.
Anonymous said…
Many districts are already adjusting for poverty (and, in turn, racial disparities) by using criteria other than one test (or are adjusting the Cogat or IQ score for FRL). Rate of learning in children can be measured and is certainly observable by teachers and others (despite the ridicule by Charlie). Student work and teacher observations are used in many districts both to identify and quality for advanced learning.

The differences in test scores have been used in eugenics and by less blatant racists for decades to justify many exclusions and monstrosities. I'm glad Wrong Asian spelled it out because many on this blog skirt around saying it, but justify the lack of diversity by euphemisms that actually point to but never admit to this fact. Charlie said the classrooms are divided by grade level to justify why AL is divided, too. One is an even distribution of students by age, the other is comprised of those who "test in" by a single test (correlated to income and in some ways race) or who have well-connected parents who appeal (those numbers were actually quite significant, by the way). The result is the same and will continue to be the same as long as a single test is the ticket in, as Wrong Asian spelled out.

A single test should have never been used for this program in the first place, given what is known about these tests. High capability and talent occurs across all groups if you are looking for it. The expression of this capability may not always be captured in a single test. For some highly talented and capable children, it rarely is.

--about time
Lynn said…
about time,

You'll be happy to hear that highly capable and advanced learning identification are made using multiple objective criteria. (State law requires this for highly capable students and SPS voluntarily does it for advanced learners.)
Anonymous said…
How is the CogAT still used in SPS admissions, Lynn? You didn't address that part.

We know that the state law requires multiple criteria since best practices were used in the wording and intent of the law. SPS has had to scramble to catch up.
Of course, they are still not in any way systematically reviewing students for continued placement, as the law requires. They also have most kids clumped into
a watered down, self-contained elementary program that doesn't have a range of
placement options, as required by state law.

--about time
Lynn said…
about time,

The district's highly capable plan (including identification, services and continued placement practices was reviewed by the state last year. No changes were required - so apparently they are following the new law.

Here's a link to the eligibility criteria - including the CogAT requirements: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/cms/One.aspxportalId=627&pageId=1560872

I don't think there is any reason to expect major changes in the future. It's possible that appeals will be restricted (reducing access to necessary services) and advanced learning identification may bcome possible in a single subject for grades 1-8 - but that's it.
Anonymous said…


"For some highly talented and capable children, it rarely is."

Is there really a point in this sentence?

Anonymous said…
Since the state law on advanced learning is new, OSPI is giving districts time to get up to speed with requirements. The fact that they didn't ding SPS last year doesn't mean they gave them a ringing endorsement, either. Given your laser focus on this issue, Lynn, you are probably aware of this.

There are some other variables at play here, too. Black Lives Matter and others are bringing attention to longstanding complacencies. Melissa has given us a preview of a likely outcome by a conservative Supreme Court on affirmative action (though Kennedy wants kick the can down the 25 year road--he's progressive about gay rights but somewhat of a cretin in other respects). It will take more than Lynn forecasting the future of SPS advanced learning to know the repurcussions of the current political winds.

By the way, Lynn...since when are you such a fan of OSPI and SPS compliance?
Aren't you the frequent commenter who calls the district and state to task
for watering down compliance and ignoring policies?

I guess the current HCC system is working out pretty well for you and yours.

--about time
Charlie Mas said…
about time wrote:
"Many districts are already adjusting for poverty (and, in turn, racial disparities) by using criteria other than one test (or are adjusting the Cogat or IQ score for FRL)."

Seattle Public Schools is one of those districts. They use criteria other than one test and they consider, as the law requires, the context of the students' lives. The decision about eligibility is made by a committee, not by a test.

"Rate of learning in children can be measured and is certainly observable by teachers and others (despite the ridicule by Charlie)."

I made no ridicule. I asked a question. The question remains unanswered. Please don't pretend that you know my tone. You don't.

"Student work and teacher observations are used in many districts both to identify and quality for advanced learning."

Seattle Public Schools is one of those many districts.

For someone who feels they have something to say about this issue, you are operating without much information.

"Charlie said the classrooms are divided by grade level to justify why AL is divided, too. One is an even distribution of students by age, the other is comprised of those who "test in" by a single test (correlated to income and in some ways race) or who have well-connected parents who appeal (those numbers were actually quite significant, by the way)."

So we have a lot of logical errors here.

1. Why should education be divided by age. Shouldn't it be divided by progress? The difference between the first grade curriculum and the second grade curriculum is in the lessons, not in the students' ages.

2. As stated, students in advanced learning do not "test in" based on a single test. There are multiple measures used, including more than one assessment. Why would you even try this lie when it is so obviously false?

3. Yes, there is a high correlation between the test outcome and family income, but there could be a lot of reasons for that, including the negative consequences of poverty on cognitive development. Or do you think that poverty has no consequences? There are high correlations between family income and a number of other measures of academic achievement such as high school graduation rates and pass rates on state proficiency exams. Correlation is not causation. People are not spending money to buy diplomas, HSPE scores, or eligibility to advanced learning programs for their children, so you need to work a little harder to figure out why this correlation exists. Stating that there is a correlation is not, in itself, conclusive of anything.

4. As for the slander that children gain access to advanced learning programs because their parents are well-connected, there is absolutely no evidence of any such thing.

Can't you come up with some new lies about advanced learning? I have been exposing these same lies for about fifteen years. I'm tired of your resistance to learning.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, in practice though, AT is right about what qualifies a student for AL. Parents often are the ones who sign kids up for the test if the district doesn't test all the students. A few teachers might nominate students. Students still need to take and pass the tests. In the appeal, parents can add other things like more teacher recommendations, portfolio stuff along with private testing results. The knowledge to do all of this does take some networking. I don't know if that makes it privilege or well connected, but without info and knowing where to go for info, many SPS parents don't have the time to pursue this. Readers on this blog are pretty savvy about educational matters, but I suspect they are the exception here. There are also plenty of parents who never considered their kids as being "gifted". What is that? Is that front and center when you register a child, at welcome back to school night, curriculum night? There's a lot going on like getting kids to school on time, arranging for child care, working, juggling multitudes of needs daily which saps a person's energy and attention. It's just not on the radar.

Anonymous said…
to have "connections" implies you need to know people to get into the program... Not that you know how to get into the program. I knew no one. I applied. My kid was tested and admitted.

AT is factual incorrect in all their post under that name and the myriad of others they choos to use.

Charlie Mas said…
Are the advanced learning programs a secret? No more than anything else that happens at Seattle Public Schools. Is the math curriculum a secret? Is the literacy curriculum a secret? Is the budget a secret? You can find out about any of these things by looking on the district web site or simply asking a teacher or a principal about them.

What's the deal here - if they don't grab you by the collar and force you to hear about it, does that make it a "secret"?

I'm not sure what the standard for "secret" is, but I find it hard to regard anything that has several pages on the District web site a "secret".

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