Majority of U.S. Public Ed Students Live in Poverty

Let that sink in.   Story via the Washington Post.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers. 
It also means that education policy, funding decisions and classroom instruction must adapt to the needy children who arrive at school each day.
The amount spent on each student can vary wildly from state to state. States with high student-poverty rates tend to spend less per student: Of the 27 states with the highest percentages of student poverty, all but five spent less than the national average of $10,938 per student.
 Guess who doesn't spend that amount?  Washington State.

We still have people who believe that - no matter what - poverty really doesn't matter.  And that really, really bothers me.

We had the head of LEV, Chris Korsmo, during the era of Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, attend an event to discuss the strategic plan.  There was lively discussion around the plan.

Charlie had stood up and asked if you switched all the teachers at the high-performing Eckstein with all the teachers at Aki Kurose (then the worst-performing middle schools), would you really believe that you'd see truly different results?

Ms. Korsmo, without identifying herself as the head of a state-wide ed organization, got up and accused people in the audience of saying "poor kids can't learn." (She also went off on a verbal rampage about her own upbringing and its effects. It was quite stunning.) 

But her point was, of course, completely untrue.

No one is saying poor children can't learn.

But the truth is that it makes it so much harder and the supports HAVE to be there for these children.  It's not just "grit" or a paid-for field trip that will change these children's lives.  It's support at every level. 


Anonymous said…
Seattle's "neighborhood schools" approach exacerbates the problem.

Schools are part of the larger system, obviously. One of the things
that school districts can control is how they place children.

Having children in poverty attend schools that are not heavily impacted is one of the most efficient and research proven models for helping student achievement.
The current system in Seattle makes the effects of poverty long-lasting and

Walk the talk, SPS.

--about time
Anonymous said…
Not really. Most neighborhoods are both dense (and getting denser), and economically diverse. The previous choice method, was very segregating, especially the policies that were meant to desegregate. Eg. Southend students given priority assignment at Queen Anne/Magnolia schools. Whiter wealthier students disproportionately availed themselves of this opportunity, leaving the southend poorer and more isolated than ever. Neighborhood schools are best, especially if stratifying programs like Spectrum are dismantled.

Seen it
Anonymous said…
Seen it apparently doesn't think Southend schools need AL opportunities.

-TopDown Approach
Anonymous said…
Seen It --

Are SPS schools more or less segregated now than prior to neighborhood assignment? Please link to the data, which is readily available through OSPI but I've never seen compiled.

I understand what you are saying anecdotally, but I am not at all sure it's true. I don't think it is.

Anonymous said…
The Seattle Public Schools should learn that they have staff that does as well.

I should know -

I am one.

Outsider said…
"Neighborhood schools are best, especially if stratifying programs like Spectrum are dismantled."

So what you are saying is, students who would be in Spectrum should be used just as props to help other students, and have no right to an education appropriate for themselves? That does seem to be the philosophy of SPS, but it's rare that anyone will say it clearly.
Outsider said…
"Having children in poverty attend schools that are not heavily impacted is one of the most efficient and research proven models for helping student achievement."

Someone yesterday was citing research from suburban DC, published a few months ago, which said the benefit disappears once a school exceeds 35% poor students. In other words, a school becomes "heavily impacted" once at least 35% of the students are poor.

If American students were uniformly distributed, 51% at every school would be poor, and every school would be impacted, and no one would benefit. I think. Is that right? It sounds like redistributing students can help a few, if it's done in a limited way, but the numbers are such that it can't be an overall solution.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous Outsider said...

" "Having children in poverty attend schools that are not heavily impacted is one of the most efficient and research proven models for helping student achievement."

Someone yesterday was citing research from suburban DC, published a few months ago, which said the benefit disappears once a school exceeds 35% poor students. In other words, a school becomes "heavily impacted" once at least 35% of the students are poor.

If American students were uniformly distributed, 51% at every school would be poor, and every school would be impacted, and no one would benefit. I think. Is that right? It sounds like redistributing students can help a few, if it's done in a limited way, but the numbers are such that it can't be an overall solution."

well said and also agree with Seen It. Self-contained classrooms have no place in neighborhood schools,it's antithetical to the concept of neighborhood.For goddess's sake, we haave nearly 10% of students in their own self-contained program, HCC.

Indian Plum
Anonymous said…
"Are SPS schools more or less segregated now than prior to neighborhood assignment? Please link to the data, which is readily available through OSPI but I've never seen compiled. "

schooldigger has some nice visuals for this:

This is for bryant, check under "Student" tab.

In 1991 there were 150 african american kids, in 2014 there were 2...

You can see the effects of busing being eliminated...

"Self-contained classrooms have no place in neighborhood schools,it's antithetical to the concept of neighborhood."

So would you put them in option schools?

Anonymous said…
@ JvA, here's a link to an early Seattle Times article on the impact of the neighborhood assignment plan. The article only considers the more extreme cases, but the results were somewhat mixed. Six schools became significantly whiter, while three became significantly more racially balanced (two by adding students of color, one by adding whites).

Since the majority of those big changes were due to increases in the the white population, one can assume that some of the other schools saw decreases in their white population, though not large enough to be included in the article. I found a link to some data the Times compiled at the time, and a quick analysis looking at somewhat less dramatic changes (at least 5 percentage point shift in K-1 and 2-5 enrollment, vs. the Times' 10pp cut-off) found that things--at least at that point--look better than the Times article portrayed.

Using the modified cutoff, I found:

* 3 add'l white schools got whiter: Adams, Catharine Blaine, and Montlake
* Stevens, which was slightly majority "minority" in the upper grades, became slightly majority white in K-1

* 10 schools that were predominantly minority became whiter: Beacon Hill, Concord, Graham Hill, Hawthorne, John Muir, Kimball, Olympic Hills, Sand Point, Stevens, and Viewlands
* 5 schools that were predominantly white became less so: John Hay, Lafayette, Lowell, McDonald, and Whittier

Things have likely changed more over the past several years, and there have been program changes as well. But at least it's good to see that, on the whole, the initial NSAP implementation seems to have had a positive impact on racial diversity. Of the 28 elementary schools that were majority "minority" in grades 2-5 according to the Times data, 21 of them saw somewhat increased white enrollment in K-1. That's overall (not just looking for 5 or 10% point shifts), so some of the changes were small, but if those trends continued, the effects would be larger.

But I agree, it would be great to see an updated analysis. Things can change quickly, and dramatically...

Anonymous said…

The link states that the neighborhood schools approach does not seem
to have "significantly decreased diversity." The problem for children in
poverty is those numbers where extremes exist.

The topic of this thread is what schools can do to help children
who are living in poverty.

Playing a numbers game with the 51% is a distraction. The WA Post
article makes it clear that the south is most highly impacted. Using
that math to divert the conversation away from what should be done
in SPS is the equivalent of washing one's hands of the issue and going
on with business as usual.

Likewise for using data to confirm that "it hasn't gotten much worse" with
the student assignment plan.

We have children in schools in this district where high concentrations of students are living in poverty. That's the issue that SPS can and should deal with.

--about time
Anonymous said…
This conversation is focused on showing the benefits to poor kids when they attend economically diverse schools. But what happens to the educational outcomes of the wealthier kids? If it hurts them in any significant way, the parents will pull them out of SPS and into suburban or private schools.

Unless your school assignment ideas benefit ALL students, they are doomed to failure. Already 30% of Seattle's kids have left SPS for private schools, as well as uncounted families that have moved to suburbia in search of "better schools".

Unintended Consequences
Anonymous said…
@ about time,

Whoa. You started the comments by asserting that "Seattle's 'neighborhood schools' approach exacerbates the problem." Somebody disagreed with you, and JvA asked "Are SPS schools more or less segregated now than prior to neighborhood assignment? Please link to data..." SO, I linked to some data, on which I did some quick analysis. I was very clear that these were still early data and that things could change, but the fact remains that after a couple years of implementation these data did not support your premise that neighborhood schools exacerbate the problem.

The problem for children in poverty is those numbers where extremes exist. I agree .That is why I also looked specifically at schools that are predominantly minority. In 75% of those cases, the new assignment plan seemed to be moving things toward greater racial balance. Had there been a huge impact over the course of two years? No. But movement in the right direction is a good thing. Things may have changed since then, but preliminary data did not support your original claim.

If you want to move the conversation forward re: what can Seattle, specifically, do to help schools with high concentrations of children living in poverty, don't start off by making unsubstantiated claims and then accuse people of trying to "divert the conversation" by "using math." A solid, fact-based foundation is important to understanding the problems and possible solutions. Yes, we have schools in this district where high concentrations of students are living in poverty. The extent to which the NSAP has impacted diversity in our schools in an important factor in understanding our district's problems, as well as potential solutions. If the NSAP is moving things in the right or wrong direction in some cases, it's important to know where and why.

Oh, and I have no clue what you're talking about re: the numbers game and 51% distraction, but I'm ok with that.

Anonymous said…
Did the numbers create more concentrations of poverty? That is the issue for students in poverty. There is a threshold of students at a school that, when
crossed, causes exponential problems. The fact that parents can no longer take
their students to another school in Seattle by choice is a huge consequence
of this assignment plan.

Your point is well taken about the overall distribution. Your link did not
address the issue that affects students in poverty: those who are in schools
with high concentrations of poverty. Has that increased with neighborhood schools?

The 51% was a response to those who are using the U.S. percentage without
disaggregating the regional distributions.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Oops. Did you mean to sign that --about time or are you new to this conversation?
Anonymous said…
"The current system in Seattle makes the effects of poverty long-lasting and


I had an interesting conversation with a parent who immigrated to Seattle from south America. He said his standard of living has increased 1000% since arriving here.

It's all in the contrast. If I compare my situation with someone from Medina, then I could be considered poor.

We have no obligation to insure everyone is equally wealthy or poor. Our school system should not be engaging in social engineering or trying to equalize perceived injustices by creating inhibitors or special programs only for the select few.

Schools should be clean, safe and inviting. Teachers should be well trained and fair. Administrators should be empathetic and drive for student success for everyone.

It seems to me that SPS spins up a new special program every few years to help those who can't help themselves. These programs never work, because you can't make a horse drink.

Voting Trump
Anonymous said…
Unintended Consequences, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Great! Seattle has at least 30% private school participation. The more the merrier! Last I checked, we need every butt that can leave to do so. We don't need to comfort the comforted. Those who can do better for themselves, please don't hesitate! Truly. You aren't missed.

Seen It
Anonymous said…
MW. What should we do with Spectrum, you ask. Put it in an option school? No, of course not. Dismantle it, as the district is doing. We don't need a program for minimally "ahead" students, which is really just for the purposes of segregating out those who haven't had advantages. If Seattle is so full of the tragically gifted, then it can simply teach to that higher level everywhere. We do have differentiation, despite the constant ridicule by those who wish to maintain advantages for their own kids via exclusion. Notably, many high performing schools teach multigrade classrooms. Indeed, it's expected if school numbers work out that way. If any of actually worked in a classroom daily, you'd see that diffentiation is the successful norm everywhere.

Seen It
Anonymous said…
Seen It,

Be careful of what you ask for. If every family with the financial ability to leave SPS does so, SPS will be populated only by poor kids and will lose the public support needed for funding levies. Is that really what you want?

Unintended Consequences
Anonymous said…
The problem in Seattle's schools is that there is a widening gap between families with highly educated, professional parents and families that have been stuck in poverty with little education, or families who just immigrated to the U.S. as refugees from very different cultures. Actually both highly educated families and the very poor include a large number of immigrants, but some are recruited here with six-figure salaries and others come with very few resources.

Seattle has a disproportionate number of highly educated and intelligent families - with the UW, all the biotech companies in South Lake Union, the software companies downtown and in Ballard, etc. It's reasonable to expect that their children would be disproportionately highly intelligent as well as academically motivated. Bellevue and the east side have even more of the highly intelligent immigrant as well as native families - and their schools reflect that.

As a result, the kids in SPS reflect that very wide spread and have a disproportionate number who qualify for gifted programs. They learn to read easily and early, they easily learn math concepts years ahead of their grade level and would learn very little in a classroom with kids at grade level and below grade level. The only exception would be if the teacher is unusually gifted with being able to meet 28 kids needs at 5+ grade levels at the same time, as well as the special learning and behavioral needs of some of the kids from all of those learning levels. That's almost impossible and there are very few teachers who can do it successfully.

Taking out students that don't fit into a standard classroom actually helps the classroom by allowing general ed teachers to focus on kids closer to grade level as well as those who need extra help. Gifted/HCC kids still are in classrooms with 28 kids who are at multiple grade levels, with some who have extra behavioral and learning issues, but they all are at least 2 years ahead of their grade level.

1) I haven't been in a classroom in awhile but parents here, who have, don't report see all this differentiation happening.

2) "tragically gifted" - unkind and uncalled for. I will warn readers that I don't like language that is hurtful to children. Save that for parents.
Anonymous said…
Would parents be able to tell differentiation is happening unless they were looking at what all the children were doing?

My daughter had a kindergarten teacher who would give a prompt like "I want to see a dinosaur." Then he would go around the room to help the students who just copied the sentence because they were learning to make letters (and one student who was just learning to hold a pencil/crayon), but also to help the students who were writing two page stories.

Anonymous said…
Ok, enough already (AKA about time?), I did the analysis for you. I was curious. I suspected the racial imbalance data would be a good proxy for economic imbalance, and that does appear to be the case.

You said the earlier data did not address the issue that affects students in poverty: those who are in schools with high concentrations of poverty. Has that increased with neighborhood schools?

You'll be glad to hear that neighborhood schools do not seem to have increased the concentration of poverty in certain schools. On balance, it looks as if there has been some improvement. Not nearly enough--clearly we need other solutions--but the sense that neighborhood schools have exacerbated the problem appears to be unfounded.

I did a school-by-school comparison of elementary FRL data from the year before the NSAP (2009/10) to the most recent year posted on OSPI (2014/15). Pre-post data are not available for a few of the schools, so they were left out.

32 schools reported a decrease in % FRL between the two periods, while 22 saw an increase.
Of these 32 that had a decrease in poverty, 19 had decreases at least 5 percentage points in magnitude (good). The majority of those that had decreases of this magnitude were schools that had been above the district average of 42.4% FRL 2009/10 (also good). Reductions in FRL were smaller (<5 percentage points) in the remaining 13 schools that reported a decrease between the two periods.

Of the 22 schools that saw their %FRL increase between the two periods, 10 had an increase of more than 5 percentage points and 12 had smaller increases. Of those 10 with the larger increases in %FRL, 3 have FRL % still below the current district average of 37.6% (so an increase for these schools is "good"), and another 3 are still below 50% FRL mark. Four schools experienced sizable FRL increases (at least 5 percentage points), and these have FRL rates in the 50-75% range. All but Lowell were already in the >50% FRL range prior to the NSAP, so were preexisting concentrations of poverty. As for Lowell, it was a program placement decision (removal of APP) that caused that shift, not the transition to the new NSAP.

High poverty schools.
Looking specifically at the 26 schools that had an FRL% that was above the district average of 42.4% FRL in 2009/10, over 75% (20/26) of these higher poverty schools saw some level of decrease in the FRL%. For 11 of these schools, the decrease was at least 5 percentage points. In contrast, only 6 schools saw their FRL % rise--3 saw small increases, 3 saw increases of more than 5 percentage points. The three that saw these larger increases are Graham Hill, John Muir, and Sanislo. I should note, however, that while 3/4 of these high-poverty schools saw some reduction in %FRL between the two periods, they remain above district average in poverty. This was an improvement, not a solution.

These data suggest that the switch to neighborhood schools has not resulted in more high-poverty schools. Schools that previously had the highest levels of poverty are doing a little better now, and some of the schools that had very low levels have a bit more now (though still low). There's been less stability in the middle, with movement both directions.

Anonymous said…
LisaG, parents are often in classrooms as volunteers in the early grades, k-3, so they do know what is going on, and they also know if what their own child is doing is way too easy. We have also had 2 teachers (out of 19) in elementary who differentiated some. It is a thing that some exceptional teachers can do(in one case the teacher said it was possible because she happened to have an extremely calm, advanced class, so she didn't have to spend as much time catching kids up, like she usually did).

I think it's like some people born into abject poverty can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It can happen, but it takes a lot of luck and an exceptional person. Doesn't mean the solution for poverty is just for people to work their way out of it, nor can we expect all teachers(and classes) to be exceptional.

Lynn said…
When the class moved on to math and learned to fluently add and subtract within 5, what did the child who could already multiply learn? While their classmates learned to identify all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet, what did the children reading at a third grade level learn?

There is no mention of differentiation in the current SEA contract. If it's not in the contract, there is no mechanism to require them to do it. Here is the SEA's response to the district's last attempt to require differentiation in the classroom. (Please note that this was the response to the suggestion of differentiating by just one grade level.)
Lynn said…

Thanks for the effort you put into pulling that info together. Opinions (and plans) based on data are always more valuable than those based on assumptions.
Anonymous said…
Yes, wow, thanks HF. I cross posted with you. I suspected this, having been around before the NSAP (and seeing that so often the poorer kids in "rich" schools were the ones who got spun out to the poor schools- because they were late to enroll, moved a lot, lived in the liminal space between elementary schools, lots of things).

I think this is probably unsolvable, because it plays out all over the country tyhe same way it does here, but I wonder if there is anything we could do to help option schools better match the FRL percentage of their draws. It's a straight lottery, but they do tend to draw off the wealthier, whiter, better informed, more engaged families. Well, not "tend to." They just do. Maybe we have enough problems to solve today, but I saw this in the nytimes yesterday:
I wonder if a set aside would work here, to match the FRL draw percentage minus 5 or something, or if the difference is just who applies. I suspect looking at waitlist numbers that even if you tried to construct a perfectly representative class, you couldn't do it, because of who fills out the forms(ie waitlist numbers aren't high enough to pad the school enrollment assuming they are the same percentage).

Anonymous said…
sleeper said "so she didn't have to spend as much time catching kids up, like she usually did". Wouldn't that be differentiation? Kids "on-track" and kids "behind"?

Lynn asked some questions (or maybe they were just rhetorical?) about what kindergartners who could multiply and read at third grade level did. In that particular class, some kids who knew how to multiply did geometry: perimeter, area, and symmetry; and some kids who knew their multiplication tables learned what multiplying meant. There were three kids who read at third grade level or higher. They read and wrote when the other kids did, just at a higher level. And once a week they went to the next door classroom (4th grade so it had some computers) and took Accelerated Reader tests on what they had been reading.

Anonymous said…
Ah. For you differentiation is only catching up kids who are behind and who are on track? When the district uses it they typically explain it is how they intend to meet the needs of advanced learners in gen Ed classrooms, and is above and beyond baseline expectations of gen Ed curriculum + IEP students. Yes I think many teachers can meet the needs of both kids who are behind and those who are on track. Many fewer can also meet the needs of those who are ahead, and vanishingly few also those who are very far ahead.

That classroom sounds great. We had one teacher like that (never a school that was cool with kids going to other classrooms- but our schools were always so crowded that there was no flexibility for that kind of movement. I understand it happened fairly frequently 10 years ago). That is not a typical sps classroom, though. Did they not come to the rug at math? In all our classes, the class comes to the rug for a lesson, then they all go off to work on worksheets related to the lesson, at least after kindergarten. Lock step (this was implemented during maria goodloe Johnson, and has held on). I would love to hear that has changed dramatically.

Anonymous said…
sleeper, I didn't say it was *only* "catching up kids who are behind and who are on track". Differentiation is (or should be) teaching kids at the kid's level, whether that is ahead or behind.

This wasn't a SPS school. All the teachers in the school were expected to differentiate, although for a lot of them it might be just giving a few kids the next grade's math book and having them go through it on their own at math time.

Anonymous said…
Is that a real classroom, LisaG? If so, in Seattle? This decade? It's so far from anything we've ever seen that it sounds hypothetical. Are you suggesting this it the norm?

Half Full
Anonymous said…
I know what the theory of differentiating is. I am talking about the practical constraints and whether it is a system wide solution.

Anonymous said…
LisaG, sorry, I cross-posted. It sure didn't sound like Seattle!

Half Full
Anonymous said…
HF, did you look at SPS overall demographic shifts too? Go back a decade, before the recession, all the way to 2001. Factor that into what you see now. 10 years ago, SPS was smaller in population, poorer per FRL, higher numbers of blacks, American Indians, and Asians. Fewer whites and Latinos. The groups with the biggest decline since then is African Americans. Even though the population of AI was small to begin with, it's less than 1% now. Asians also left the city.,

Now go and visit the surrounding school districts and check their trends. Pretty telling when looking at FRL and which demographic groups go up and down.

Seattle is getting whiter and richer and recovered better from the recession than surrounding school districts whose FRLs didn't dip back down with the recovery. Seattle 2014-15 FRL number on the other hand is lower than 2001. Impressive.

Not Surprised
Anonymous said…
The other good indicator is transitional bilingual education. The growth in surrounding districts is huge with some by 10-12% within the last decade. Seattle has stayed pretty much the same. Seattle's FRL number is lower than the state's average for 2014-15.

Not Surprised
Anonymous said…
Well MW - have you ever spoken to a volunteer at Montlake elementary - every classroom is multigrade/multiage and is chocked full of differentiation everywhere. Did you miss that? Did you ever speak to any parent at Salmon Bay? All 7th and 8th grade classrooms are multiage and multigrade? Did you ever speak to a parent at Hazel Wolf - science (it's a science school) is multigrade in middle school. Have you ever spoken to anybody who volunteers or teaches at any Montessori anywhere? Differentiation is the name of the game at these all schools - because they are multiage. Doesn't seem to be a problem at these high performing schools. I mention differentiation at these particular schools - because it is undeniable. In point of fact - ALL schools do differentiation - ESPECIALLY when class sizes are large. Students come it in at all different levels and we have to deal with that. It's what we do. Do parent volunteers focus on that? Do they see how students are treated differently, or are held to different standards? Do they know how or why? No, they don't. And it would be a breach of privacy to clue parents into the differentiation that happens. How often are volunteers actually working with students? - not all that often. Most teachers put volunteers to work doing stuff that's hard for them to do while they are teaching - copying, assembling materials, etc.

The constant lambasting of "differentiation" - as if it was something even notable, comes from one group: Spectrum or APP/HCC - who seek special status for their students and from no one else. Funny thing - HCC classrooms sometimes are multiage as well. How ironic for those who claim differentiation is simply impossible, and cite that as the reason for their placement - to be placed in a program - which winds up being based on differentiation as well.

The reality is this - you can't both wring your hands about poverty - and ask for your own student's special exclusion based almost exclusively on that same wealth status.

Seen It.
My, full of questions, Seen It. Naturally, you know the answer is no but it's great if it's happening but that doesn't look like a widespread effort. Hard to know for certain. And the multi-age thing is not widespread.

It would not be a breach of privacy to know that differentiation is going on - it might to say who gets it. But parents aren't blind.

I didn't say differentiation is impossible (and never have.) But teachers need supports and PD and lower class sizes for it to work well.

And every kid in Spectrum in not wealthy. That's where you are wrong.
Anonymous said…
The multiage hcc class my child was a part of had almost no differentiation, and was something of a lost year academically. I do know a lot of montessori teachers and students, actually. It's a very different system with varying results- math in particular is very weak at the elementaries here(private at least, not sure about public), and that is with tiny classes. I think differentiation certainly can be effective, and multiage classes can be great learning experiences. But classes have to be smaller, and there have to be incentives to do it. The only incentives right now are to get kids to grade level, so in an overtaxed system that's all that happens.

I knw a lot of people who have transferred out of both those option schools (as well as thornton creek). There is not much differentiation. The science thing in middle school at HW is because they made up their own curriculum order. Families stay because things besides academics are important to them- which is a valid choice. But a public educational system also needs to maintain as valid a priority on academics. Nobody wants exclusion based on any wealth status. I'm not sure why I am justifying that statement with a response; it's so obviously baiting and false. People want their kids to learn something at school. My biggest frustration around the unicorn of differentiation was having a child I believed was best served in a gen Ed classroom but had an area of strength. We kept being told by the teacher that she was "differentiating," but she...wasn't. She was just looking at my child (and the half dozen other kids who could have used more)differently, I guess, but literally nothing else was happening, and the whole class did the same thing, except while they did their independent work(which was all the same), the teacher worked with the kids who were behind. Which has been our experience in 90% of classrooms.

All schools differentiate below grade level. All schools do not differentiate above grade level. Most do not. And differentiation is not secret magic. I can see how many sentences a child is supposed to write on a sheet and what math problems they are doing.

Anonymous said…
So when making analysis that NSAP doesn't seem to live up to the segregation of race and wealth effect, people need to look more carefully at the data. Seattle has far fewer poor students and students of color today. The schools most affected by NSAP were a few north end schools. The demographic of those schools changed dramatically with NSAP while others schools with high FRL became more so and schools which had very low number of FRL students got even lower. That's how segregation works. Pretty soon, it'll be moot. There won't be much of the poor left and those who are left behind will get the attention of being experimented on and much hand wringing debate.

But if this makes people feel good, can always say Seattle has made tremendous headway in tackling childhood poverty by using FRL number as marker.
Anonymous said…
NP, the data I looked at don't support your claim that the high FRL schools became more so, or that the low FRL schools became lower FRL. It might feel that way, but the data suggest otherwise. That's not to say it won't happen in time, as I suspect these changes drive housing affordability in the area of higher performing schools. But don't take my analysis as something it wasn't meant to be; it's not a justification of current practices, nor a projection of future trends. It's simply an attempt to apply actual data to assertions that were--and may still be--more grounded in opinion. But the psychology of the NSAP is a legitimate matter, too.

Not Surprised, I did not look at overall demographic shifts in Seattle. This was just a quick comparison of how the NSAP redistributed families, not how Seattle's overall growth and development policies and practices have impacted the city's affordability and demographics.

Outsider said…
It seems that the only type of differentiation "Seen It" will accept is age mixing. If you want your child to have a same-age peer group for social reasons, but also have appropriately challenging work, your are just one of those bad people, and face it, you aren't going to get it. As for age mixing -- only at special schools; not ours.

I checked my lyin' eyes, and rechecked them, and at our school there is indeed very little differentiation. Not zero, but little. Two types seem to be allowed:

1) Some assignments are very open ended and can be done at different levels by different students. For a writing assignment, you can draw a picture, or write War and Peace, and either is acceptable. But I am skeptical about students being "held to different standards". I can't see that my child is held to any standard, except that he is somewhere above standard for his grade so never mind. I don't think it's something the teacher would hide from us, if there were standards.

2) Kids who are quick with math get extra math-like worksheets to do on their own. It seems that the extra worksheets are never collected or evaluated, nor is the material taught.

One size for all is not a practical necessity, but a political necessity.
Lynn said…
If you believe the NSAP is responsible for the concentration of poverty in schools - what is the solution?

I looked at elementary students living in the Southeast and Central regions by middle school attendance area. Here are the numbers for the 2014-15 school year:

Middle School (K-5 Population) FRL% (FRL Population)
Aki 2,459 68% 1,669
Mercer 3,002 61% 1,8411
Washington 1,170 68% 797
Meany 2,092 32% 670

There are 8,723 SPS K-5 students living in these regions and 4,981 (57%) of them qualify for free or reduced price meals. The Montgomery County study I linked to earlier reported that once the FRL % in a school reaches 35%, the academic achievement of poor children is no better than that of those who attend schools with poverty rates between 35% and 85%. Only McGilvra, Montlake and Stevens are below 35%.
Anonymous said…
No Outsider. I'm not in the business of "accepting" anything. For people like you - who think certain students should always be excluded and isolated from your own students, I am simply pointing out (for people who can not see subtle differentiation) that "differentiation" is done in many ways. Evidently you agree. In the case of multigrade classrooms - it is simply undeniable that it is not only possible, it is done, and done well, and is not a big deal at all. And if these schools obviously are doing it as part of everyday work, then everyone can do it. And everyone does. The ability to accomplish this - is part of the hiring process. We don't need more PD for the basics - unless there is actually something being offered.

Students are definitely held to different standards. Students who are above standard - due to their own curiosity, or willingness to learn, they may benefit from extra work. They also are able to access more of what the teacher has to offer. We often give extra work (with extra standards applied) for those students who are "in Spectrum". Often - different rubrics are even handed out to students. Can it be spelled out any more plainly? Projects can and are graded at different standards. Students with IEPs access differentiated work at lower levels, or different levels - or may do completely different work. Where is the problem here? This is only a problem for people who wish less for others. Unfortunately there are many of these.

One size fits all is not a feature, nor a political necessity. We have large classes and that requires differentiation. Students will be at different levels - no matter how you slice it, even in advanced learning where so many students gain access through private testing, not their own school performance.

Seen it.

Anonymous said…
In advanced learning, students are still at many different levels, but not because they aren't qualified, as "Seen It" implies. HCC students are at least 2 grade levels ahead, but some are 3, 4 or even 7 grades ahead. And some students who are 6 grades ahead in math are only 2 grades ahead in reading - and vice versa. And there are some who are multiple years ahead in reading and math, but have a learning disability in writing so need a 504 or even an IEP.

Lynn said…
In the case of multigrade classrooms - it is simply undeniable that it is not only possible, it is done, and done well, and is not a big deal at all. And if these schools obviously are doing it as part of everyday work, then everyone can do it. And everyone does.

Seen it,

You have not seen every classroom in every school. You cannot possibly know what every teacher is doing. You clearly have not observed the multi-age classroom sleeper's child was in.

There are no children who gain access to advanced learning through their school performance alone. Some gain access with CogAT scores, some with IQ scores - neither are based on school performance.
seattle citizen said…
Ballard HS non-white students:
2001 44%
2002 40%
2004 38%
2006 37%
2008 35%
2009 33%
2013 30%
2014 28%
Above from OSPI. Below conjectured:
2015 less than 25%
2016 less than 22%

Given above, minority population halved between 2001 and 2016
Anonymous said…
What's significant is how the question of NSAP is framed. That's part of the problem. When criticized for its role in potentiating the disparity between schools, defenders default to the "societal" or "institutional" problem, implying a problem beyond the scope of individual responsibility and fix. It succeeds in making NSAP a societal problem too big to fix while acknowledging the 'concern' for such societal problem. This concern masquerades as empathy while at the same time provides the cover to do nothing, except to support the segregation status quo.

What's significant is SPS FRL population is the lowest it has been in 15 years, @37%, yet the city still has high poverty schools with FRL numbers which haven't budged or have gotten worse. When you have schools with FRL at 65-89%, that's real segregation. The same with schools with < 16% FRL which also are predominantly white as in 60-75% or more.

The schools which have traditionally been white have gotten whiter with dips in FRL. That's true if you look at Whitman, McClure and Hamilton post-Reno with larger changes, or Ballard. If you look at the ES today in poorer neighborhoods (neighborhood which hasn't gone through as much gentrification), their FRL numbers are steadily climbing, the white student populations declined since 2001. Give it enough time with this city's systemic policies and tolerance for those policies by those residents not at-risk, this city will succeed in pushing out most of the poor. Then you'll have segregation solved like childhood poverty in this city.

People can defend NSAP all they want. Don't look at the number in context of time or economic boom or bust, if that makes them feel better. But if schools and building staff want to look at ways to focus on their at-risk students or keep trying even though past attempts failed, then I'm going to be there to do my part with action, to prod and cheer, and question when necessary.

Anonymous said…
Not defending the the NSAP, NP. Just saying it did not cause the problems we have today. Look at Seattle Citizen's numbers--the trend was clearly underway before the NSAP changes. In some cases, the NSAP hurt. In other cases, it helped. Hawthorne and Leschi, for example, were heavily minority and very high FRL prior to the NSAP, but both are significantly more diverse now, and the percent FRL is much lower. (At Hawthorne white increased from 7 to 18%, FRL decreased from 84.8 to 67.3%. At Leschi white increased from 14.7 to 29.4 percent, FRL decreased from 73.3 to 53.4%.)

Your point that the numbers, and the assignment policies, need to be taken in context of the larger demographic realities and trends is valid, and I have acknowledged this all along. Gentrification is changing the landscape of our neighborhoods, and our schools. It's likely to get worse over time if these trends continue. SPS and the City can--and should--do more to provide wraparound services for students in need. We need efforts to help level the playing field--not by reducing opportunities for those at schools that are better off, but by drastically increasing the supports and opportunities to those in more needy schools.

What do you suggest? Are you proposing that school placement be by demographic factors? That we have quotas for each race and each income level in each school?

Anonymous said…
Louisville's response to the Supreme Court ruling was to keep diversity alive (as even the majority of the court stated was a goal) without making it happen by race (which the ruling prohibited), while "progressive" Seattle's response was strict neighborhood schools.

More option schools, some gerrymandering and some school choice have been solutions that have been suggested/stated many times as alternatives to the current model.

The context of larger demographic realities is a huge part of this whole math equation and is not about comparative percentages, as your original reference to the Seattle Times indicated. The district has become richer and whiter, and the NSAP has exacerbated segregation--"trends" or not--even though it is masked by the demographic changes.

What are you going to do about it, rather than ask what we should do about it? A little JFK for you.

--about time/enough
Anonymous said…
Where do your children attend school?

Wondering minds
Anonymous said…
As I stated on an earlier comment, the most efficient and research proven way for "drastically increasing the supports and opportunities to those in more needy schools" is by lowering the amount of FRL students in a building below the threshold where it has and exponentially negative impact. Once a school gets above that threshold, supports, money, etc. usually have little or no impact. Hence the emphasis here on highly segregated schools.

Your solution, not having to give anything (i.e. "reduce opportunities for those are at schools that are better off") of the pie to make it happen, is the opposite of "What are public schools?" about.

Fritz Perls says to ignore whatever someone says before words like but or not, because the speaker only means what they say after those words. The beginning of the statement only exists to preserve one's positive self concept.

--about time/enough

Anonymous said…
Where are you going to find non FRL students to push into SE elementary schools to reduce the poverty levels of those schools? The geographic distribution of poverty in Seattle means that for many schools there are no affluent families anywhere nearby.

If this is the solution, you must be more specific. Do take into account that history tells us affluent families will not bus their children long distances to improve conditions in schools in other neighborhoods. This response must be taken into account if any plan for economic integration is to be effective.

Or are you simply complaining?

Be specific

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