Friday, April 08, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Here is your semi-weekly opportunity to use this blog as a space to talk about what you want to talk about.


Charlie Mas said...

Here's something that I've been thinking about. This week, in Court and under oath, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, Dr. Nyland, affirmatively stated that he did not read letters sent to him by student family members. These letters were specifically about the Carol Burton case, but I have to wonder... is it his practice refuse to read letters sent to him by members of the public on all issues or just personnel issues?

ConcernedSPSParent said...

My own experience of sending email to Dr. Nyland is that it is an utter waste if time, he will not reply or delegate. His last performance review, led by his now departed cheerleaders could only boost his 'communication skills' up to the level of 'basic', i have yet to see even basic communication skills from him.

Outsider said...

I wouldn't normally defend the central office. My voodoo dolls are full of pins, in very sensitive places. But being real -- in a system with 60,000 parents in a complainer culture, reading emails to the supt. would be a full-time job. If Dr. N did that, he wouldn't do anything else. If he hired someone to read his emails, he would be criticized for spending money at the central office, not in the schools. Not to mention that the emails themselves represent a diverse array of irreconcilable complaints. And the system exists to pursue its social engineering mission and buy crap from well-connected publishers, not to please parents or anyone else. Forget it. He's not going to read your emails now or ever.

Pres. Obama doesn't read your emails either. If you write to your Congressthing, the message is only ever read by a pimply-faced intern who matches it to a canned reply. If you want the ear of powerful people, you need to write a five-thousand-dollar check, not an email.

Anonymous said...

Outsider is right but the district (and Superintendent) need a better system to identify such complaints, but I am not so cynical as to believe the only way to fix it is with donations in SPS. It's not that hard (from a customer service process point of view). I've built such systems in organizations before.

SPS has a customer service manager / ombudsman. That person should have processes to identify and triage the really hot button issues and bring them to the superintendent's notice. A lawsuit is always one of the biggest hot button issues.

-Been There

ConcernedSPSParent said...

His behavior is in complete contrast to MGJ who answered or delegated every email i spent, so yes it can be done - it just takes effort.

Anonymous said...

Outsider, Nyland does not receive that many emails from students or parents, the school board members receive 100 time more email and several board members respond to most.

Watching Nyland

Catherine said...

So if he doesn't read letters from Parents and Students, does he read letters from the Gates Foundation, the pro-charter crowd, the testing companies, or anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Outsider wrote "Pres. Obama doesn't read your emails either."

This was probably just a rhetorical flourish, but every email/letter to Obama gets read and answered by someone. And he personally reads 10 a day. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/30/AR2010033004260.html


Lynn said...

I knew he wasn't reading email. Who would continue to make the same grammar mistake after it has been helpfully explained to him?

Ensure and insure are two different words. It's true!

On to a topic more interesting to me, my child is considering attending a Canadian university. Does anyone have experience with that?

Anonymous said...

@ Catherine said..

Yes, he does respond to emails from those groups and others.

Watching Nyland

Anonymous said...

Lynn: On to a topic more interesting to me, my child is considering attending a Canadian university. Does anyone have experience with that?

A few thoughts:

The social aspect is a big consideration. Who you meet in school forms your social network for years to come, especially important for job networking. Unless your student is planning on immigrating it's much better to study where you believe you will be living/working.

And Canadians are not US Americans. There are many subtle differences socially, academically, culturally, and otherwise. It takes a very mature student to adjust and thrive long term in a new environment. This is an additional burden when the focus should be on academics.

If your student wants a foreign country experience, I suggest a year abroad.

Canadian universities are still reasonably priced compared to US schools. My information may be outdated but you may need an extra year before entering a Canadian university since Canadian high-schools go to grade 13. I attended a US university for a year and then transferred.

Hope this helps.


Anonymous said...

Hate to generalize, but I'll do so anyway, based on my experience.

SPS administration disdains parents. At best they consider parents a nuisance to be "managed." They hold the more vocal ones in contempt.

That administrators are reluctant to create a trail of correspondence with parents, unless sanitized by the legal department, probably also contributes to the non-communication.


Anonymous said...

Memo to the families of more than 1,000 Washington charter school students: Congratulations, you did it.

You regained the upper hand in defense of the charter school initiative, approved by state voters in 2012 as a safety net for disadvantaged and nontraditional students.

Like children in 41 other states, your kids can keep learning at three innovative, privately operated campuses in Tacoma and five other charter schools around Washington into the foreseeable future.

You’ve won a hard-fought battle to preserve a publicly-funded education largely free from public school constraints.

Statsmom said...

Why talented minority kids go unreported..look at the section on benefits of separate classrooms


Anonymous said...

@ Statsmom,

The article mentions something troubling, although the author doesn't seem at all troubled by it. Why am I not surprised?

The researchers found that the district’s specialized classes had little effect on the academic achievement of students who had been specifically identified as gifted, through I.Q. tests. They are not sure why. In Broward County, as in many other places, classes for the gifted use the same curriculum and textbook as other classes.

So the gifted classes seem to work for high achievers (those who had not been id'd as cognitively gifted but who were placed in the program anyway), but does NOT seem to produce gains for those who had been id'd as gifted. Doesn't that suggest that the program isn't working, if it isn't working for the primary target population? That's great that it works for others, and it provides good evidence that raising expectations can be effective in improving outcomes. But trying to decrease the achievement gap by putting gifted kids in a program that is shown not to work for them seems unfair. Are those kids not also entitled to a program that allows them to grow? Or should they just be there to set a high bar for others while they themselves stagnate? You know, in the name of "equity"?

It's also interesting to note that the researchers found no negative effects for those who remained in regular classes. In other words, pulling out the gifted and high achieving students did not hurt those who remained in GE classes, in contrast to the argument often made here in SPS.

Not Surprised

Charlie Mas said...

My daughter is in her second year at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. What specifically do you want to know about Canadian schools?
You can ask me here in this thread or send me an email at the address provided by my profile.

Anonymous said...

Happy to answer any questions re: Canadian universities. I'm a Canadian but have lived here for over a decade. I attended 5 different universities 3 in Canada, one in the us, and one abroad. McClure watcher - only Ontario ever had grade 13, and they did away with that decades ago. Quebec had a vocational year. Canada is definitely different culturally but not impenetrably so and going from Seattle to vancouver is likely less jarring than from Seattle to Texas for example (though I can't really say as I've never actually been to Texas!). And anyway the campuses I attended were very multicultural. One advantage is they exchange rate is great right now!

If you are considering a university in BC it is good to know that a few years back they "upgraded" a bunch of community colleges to "universities" that can grant degrees. Although the education may well be just as good as the big schools most don't have as solid of reputations.


Watching said...

Danny Westneat: "The good news is, Mayor Ed Murray is trying to tackle yet another of the city’s most vexing problems. The bad news is, he’s convened another committee that meets in secret."


Anonymous said...

My kids have friends at UBC & McGill in a variety of majors. All are very happy with their experience. IB diploma with certain scores can count for 1st year at McGill. UBC was high on my kids' lists.

-HS Parent

Lynn said...

Thanks everyone - it's UBC we are looking at. I'll email Charlie with my questions.

Anonymous said...

Just read the Westneat column - what a surprise that the Mayor thinks this should all be done without public/press attendance or scrutiny. Oh the dangers of us pesky public to a "robust conversation" - gee I wonder what the real goal might be?


Anonymous said...

Kids these days...


A federal judge in Oregon on Friday ruled that the lawsuit brought against the U.S. government by a group of youths last August can go to trial—a huge victory for the case climate activists are calling "the most important lawsuit on the planet right now." (more)


Anonymous said...

Is the SPS school calendar for 2016-2017 decided/available yet? If so, does anyone have a link?


-Seattle parent

Lynn said...

The draft calendar is on page 24 of this document: https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/committees/Exec/2015-16/20160407_Packet_Exec.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lynn! You're so good at locating this sort of stuff. I appreciate it, and hope that schedule will be approved.

-Seattle parent

Lynn said...

You're welcome!

lowell parent said...

I sent a letter to the superintendent with no expectations more than a subordinate might read it. I received a reply the next day that the email was being forwarded to Sara Pritchard ( that's where it will go no where).
Do parents really expect a reply or phone call from the super. He is managing a 50,000 student school system. I agree that the district is dysfunctional in many ways, but too many parents are know it alls who provide no solution to their particular problem and just want to complain.

lowell parent said...

I sent a letter to the superintendent with no expectations more than a subordinate might read it. I received a reply the next day that the email was being forwarded to Sara Pritchard ( that's where it will go no where).
Do parents really expect a reply or phone call from the super. He is managing a 50,000 student school system. I agree that the district is dysfunctional in many ways, but too many parents are know it alls who provide no solution to their particular problem and just want to complain.

seattle citizen said...

Article in today's NYT about Finding a Fairer Way to Decide Who's Gifted

Seems they've found a way to help increase minority I'D through a short non-verbal test with high scorers going on to take an IQ test. Doubled minority ID and avoids teacher bias, evidently.

seattle citizen said...

Finding a Fairer Way to Decide Who's Gifted

seattle citizen said...

Hmmm, hyperlinking not working....


Lynn said...

Universal screening is a good idea. Dropping the threshold IQ score for some children (to 115) isn't a new, improved method of identifying gifted children.

seattle citizen said...

I didn't see anything about dropping the IQ to 115 in the article...Was it in a linked report?
I agree that dropping the level might not be wise, but I like the universal testing.

Lynn said...

Here's a paper on the referenced study. That information is on page three. I am really surprised the Times didn't include it.


seattle citizen said...

Could one suppose that IQ numbers for "advantaged" children might represent as higher by 15 points because of their advantage?
Could the age 0-6 enrichment, the ostensibly more safe environment, mean that they will show a higher IQ at age seven than a child who had neither enrichment nor a secure environment?
In other words, might the two have equal potential, equal "smarts," but those of the advantaged child are more developed?
If so, perhaps that 115, in assuming potential, is similar to the 130...

Lynn said...

It's entirely possible (and I think likely) that a group of children could begin with equivalent potential and at age seven, the relatively advantaged children end up at 130 and the relatively disadvantaged children end up at 115.

Are we trying to identify children who have high cognitive ability or those who could have been gifted, given different experiences in infancy and early childhood? The studies I've read indicate that for most children IQ stabilizes by the age of seven.

If we're interested in creating equitable opportunities for children, we have to provide their parents with the resources needed to support their development from birth.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, indeed, I concur wholeheartedly. In the meantime, until that happens... ;)

Would it be efgicscious to use an arbitrary generalization like the "disadvantaged children might evidence a lower IQ due to lack of preparation through enrichment", 115 instead of 130, to steer more f/rl and minorities into gifted programs? Make the assumption that the potential is there and admit on that basis?
Would there be a downside?

Lynn said...

We identify highly capable students in this state because these are children whose basic education needs cannot be met in our general education program. In Seattle (as in most of the country) we identify them by measuring their cognitive ability using IQ or ability tests. There is no basis for assuming that a child is highly capable when the test results indicate they are not. Do you believe that the accumulated cognitive affects of childhood experiences are likely to be remediable at the age of seven?

The downside of mislabeling a student is that services are provided based on labels. A student who does not have the potential to perform at significantly advanced levels when compared to others their age will not be well-served in a program that is (in theory) designed for students who do.

This makes no more sense to me than taking family income into account when identifying students who need special education services.

seattle citizen said...

With IQ and Special Ed services both, are we to assume that ability and need is innate? Low income could indeed correlate with manifested behaviors that might place one in a SpEd setting, just as high income might provide one with the early learning that supports a better score on an IQ test.
Unless IQ and various aspects of behavior or ability are innate...organic.
Is IQ something one is born with? Are behavior issues?
You mention the "potential to perform": might a child from an enrichment-free household who scores 115 have the same potential as a child who benefited from enrichment who thereby scored a 130? Or are the test scores all determined by birth, by innate potential?

Lynn said...

I think an upper limit on cognitive potential is present at birth. Some children's experiences support their intellectual growth and allow full development of their potential and other's experiences do not. The years from birth to three are so important - much of this development takes place before children enter preschool. The children in your example might have had equivalent potential at birth, but by the age of five or six or seven they no longer do.

As for special education services, obviously some disabilites are present at birth. (Blindness, deafness, specific learning disabilites for example.) Traumatic childhood experiences can also create a need for special education services.

Anonymous said...

Reacting to a couple of Lynn's comments:

There is no basis for assuming that a child is highly capable when the test results indicate they are not. Do you believe that the accumulated cognitive affects of childhood experiences are likely to be remediable at the age of seven?

Actually, the NYT article suggests there IS a basis for assuming just that. The disadvantaged students who were admitted based on the lower score threshold did well in the "gifted" classes and saw gains. And while disadvantages such as poverty have been shown to negatively impact child brain development (e.g., decreased brain surface area and, yes, test scores), the smaller brain size only accounts for a portion of the achievement gap. There are other factors at play, and it's likely that some of those are remediable to some extent, even after age seven.

The downside of mislabeling a student is that services are provided based on labels. A student who does not have the potential to perform at significantly advanced levels when compared to others their age will not be well-served in a program that is (in theory) designed for students who do.

As noted above, those kids who were accepted into Broward County's gifted program based on the lowered IQ requirement tended to do well in the program. They WERE well-served by the program.

But your point way still be valid. Just because they did well in that program, doesn't mean that they'd do well in a program that was appropriate for highly capable kids. Results showed that the program didn't really seem to meet the needs of those who qualified for it using the higher IQ cut-off, but it did work well for those "high achievers" who got in using the more inclusive criteria. So perhaps the design of the program was more appropriate for that group, and the gifted program was inappropriate and ineffective for the highly capable it was meant to serve. Children who are very highly capable should be able to learn much more quickly and deeply than other students, so if you're not seeing that in your test results, your program isn't doing a good job. It's still possible that the disadvantaged kids who got in using the lower cutoff would do equally as well if the gifted program were truly tailored to the needs of the highly capable population, but it's also possible they'd struggle under that scenario. Hard to say, since we don't have sufficient research to answer that question.

Not Surprised

Anonymous said...

One other related thought: Since our schools are not really educating highly capable children to their potential as it is, I'm not sure it makes much sense to worry so much about exactly how much cognitive potential is present at birth vs. a few years later. While it may be true that a child with a 130 IQ has a greater potential to perform than a child of IQ 115, most gifted programs aren't really designed for 130+ IQ kids. If the programs being developed for gifted children work better for children in the lower range than they do for those 130+, why not expand access? There doesn't seem to be any effort or political will to ensure that such programs are truly effective for and meeting the needs of those in the 130+ range, so might as well let some kids benefit!

Not Surprised

seattle citizen said...

Thank you, Lynn and Not Surprised, for an interesting discussion. So many needs to be met, and how to do that....it's a conundrum.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. Boo hoo hoo, low standards for APP, HCC. (as if other students are getting higher standards somehow) Every new building goes to HCC, as do loads of "extras" such as foreign language education, lab science, excellent music programs - and the list goes on and on. "Other kids just won't benefit like ours will," they say. And now - we are hearing "We awesome parents have made our kids IQ higher and those other parents - not so much. That's why discrimination is really ok."

Poor HCC students not getting the opportunities to reach their true potentials, that only they possess. You want to hear a real hue and cry? Ask HCC families to requalify their kids to demonstrate continued "need" for their program. Certifiably genius by age 7? If it is truly a "special need" - then have triennial evaluations that comprehensively assesses needs. That's always been required for special education. But asking HCC families to demonstrate need has always been problematic. THey say "no" to any sort of standardized test (though those are just great for others) and feel they don't even need to be at grade level. Too smart for that.

Bottom line - you can't constantly reject requalification and reassessment for "giftedness" and then also complain that the program has been diluted. How not? The 2 go hand in hand.


Melissa Westbrook said...

AR, you are mistaken that every new building goes to HCC. That's just not true.

As well, could you explain how you know HCC kids get foreign language education before other kids? Because none of the dual language schools have an HCC focus.

"We awesome parents have made our kids IQ higher and those other parents - not so much. That's why discrimination is really ok."

Could you please tell us the source of that quote or did you just put your opinion in quotes?

Also, how do you know that HCC parents don't take standardized tests?

You are throwing out a lot of accusations here and it's important to state if they are opinion or fact.

Anonymous said...

Re AR: Another example of open resentment against HCC kids in Seattle, with no basis in fact. If you want to argue about HCC kids getting better buildings... there's a mountain of evidence that HCC kids have been in demonstrably inferior buildings for years, besides the fact that they keep getting shuffled around like capacity-solving widgets for the district.

Yes, HCC schools have impressive music programs, but they are dependent on the same reasons that schools without HCC programs like Eckstein MS and Roosevelt do - their parents raise money and volunteer tirelessly to fund and run those programs. It's not fair that the district doesn't provide those resources to all schools, but HCC and other parents make the best of the situation and provide those resources themselves.

Stop blaming HCC parents for failures of the district. Believe me, the district often puts us last in taking care of the needs of our kids and our community. We've been shoved around quite a bit - like my child being moved to new schools with his HCC cohort for both 5th grade and 8th grade, and having to create from scratch new PTSAs, new music programs, new athletic programs and everything else. Just when we just wanted to finish out elementary school and middle school with some stability, we got shoved around because of the district's capacity issues. Kids in general ed got to finish out their schooling in the same school, while the HCC kids were forced to move out.


Anonymous said...

My goodness, AR. Someone posts an article on identifying giftedness in underrepresented populations and a perfectly reasonable and respectful discussion ensues...until you feel the need to go on the attack, spewing your ill-informed opinions and prejudices as fact? Interesting.

As for whether or not you can reject requalification and reassessment for giftedness while also complaining that the program has been diluted, sure you can. Program dilution is primarily a function of the curriculum, not the students. If the curriculum is appropriately challenging, students for whom it's too hard will opt to leave or will be counseled out. Or families will think twice about joining in the first place. If a student is doing well with a rigorous, advanced, fast-paced curriculum specifically designed for highly capable students, there shouldn't be further need to "prove" that the student is qualified.

RE: testing, you said they say "no" to any sort of standardized test (though those are just great for others) and feel they don't even need to be at grade level. Too smart for that.
Well, I'm sure you'll be pleased (not really) to know that 134 Cascadia 3rd graders took the SBAC last year, with about 83% exceeding the standard and none of those who took the test scoring below grade level. Only 8-10 3rd graders opted out. And there's probably a good chance that many of those who did are "2e" kids (gifted + special ed). Opt-out rates were highest among 5th graders, but still only 10-11%...which is similar to some of the non-HCC schools in the area.

Feel better?

Anonymous said...

Ok Melissa - let's see where those inferences come from. (All you really need to do is read all the various "gifted" posts to find them.

The children in your example might have had equivalent potential at birth, but by the age of five or six or seven they no longer do.
"We awesome parents have made our kids IQ higher and those other parents - not so much. That's why discrimination is really ok."

Pretty darn similar if you ask me (and you did).


As to refusal of HCC parents to submit to standardized tests. This blog is replete with examples of YOU repeatedly stating that mediocre performance of the HCC students relative to their giftedness on WASL, MSP, (and whatever comes next) is due giftedness. Amazing. Too smart to show it. Here's one example:
(Interestingly, not all APP/Spectrum kids score 4s as you might expect. However when you get a question like "Where is the moon?" and the answer is "the sky" and a Spectrum student tells his teacher the moon is in space, you can see the problem.)
(posting about why other kids are well served by ridiculous test - but not gifted kids)

(Again, you ask me where readers get these ideas. That is but one of your previous posts on gifted ed and assessment.)

But you are absolutely right. Kids in HCC/APP/Spectrum - do not perform as well as you expect.


Right feel better. My point EXACTLY. Thanks for the newer data. Only 83% percent of our HIGHLY capable students are able to score above average? These students are supposed to be in the top 1% of academic PERFORMANCE. As measured how? Clearly this program is not serving them well! (or maybe they aren't really in the top 1%) If parents really cared that their students were performing in the top 1% they'd be pretty upset by the testing information. If it is the test that's the problem, they'd be clamoring for a different test, showing that their students maintained the highest academic performance. But if you only want a "gifted cohort", which excludes other people and provides your student special opportunities with extra benefits, - then you'd love this program.

Really - gifted parents like to find the 1 test, usually with a private practitioner, that their kid does well on (to identify the giftedness, no matter how culturally biased, or racially biased), and then opt out and never have those extra special "needs" assessed again! Because - imagine the hassle - having to find all those private testers every 3 years!

Identification for "special education" is supposed to be frequent and informative - and it is supposed to answer these questions: 1) Could a regular education classroom serve this student? 2) What specific needs does this student have that are different from the needs of others?


Anonymous said...

Maybe they just are pretty sure now, after years of listing to hecklers, that there is no number of hoops their small children will be able to jump through to assure some people on a blog the program is needed, so they have turned back to the work of educating their kids, and shrug their shoulders if one time the kid scores kind of low on the super weird and non informative SBAC.

Also, it's not top 1% in performance. It's top 2% in cognitive ability, but top 5% in performance (95's on reading and math). There's a large error bar around scoring at that level. One idea people have had is making it 99's in both achievement and cognitive ability, but the thought is that achievement is the more biased of the two tests, so making the bar that high exludes children who are just as smart but have not been exposed to material as more privileged kids. You would get your test scores that way, though.

Many people would also like to get rid of the achievement scores altogether, since the two are not that well correlated, but I think as long as we are going to use acceleration of content, which is free, (and not make an entirely separate curriculum based on depth and research on gifted education- can you imagine the uproar if we devoted those kinds of resources? Can you imagine your own comments?), we need an achievement bar to make sure kids who are coming do not have yawning gaps and can keep up.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I may be dim but your first example makes no sense to me.

That example about testing was about HOW some kids might not test well, not that they can't. As for the lower numbers of students passing, it is a new test, you know.

But look, you have given examples and that's fine. You don't believe HCC kids need any program. Clearly, the district, the state and other states disagree with you. It's not my call or the call of any parent in the district. You'd have to take that up with the legislature and/or the Board.

Anonymous said...

Sure, new test, no test prep, bad test, whatever. We hear all the reasons for relative lackluster perf. True high cognitive ability shouldn't require test prep for good performance. I never said we don't need a program. We need a range of services, most of which should be in general education. The state mandates service, not self contained privileges. We need assessment to determine qualifications and needs. Lynn clearly thinks her parenting skills have made her kids smarter than others, and that it justifies the various inequalities we see. In short she deserves it. If so, lets see some proof and need. I see an incredibly low rate of national merit awards coming from our HCC schools. Given the huge rate of HCC participation, and the claims of superior intellect in Seattle, we should be seeing many more of merit scholars than we do.

And to Sleeper. Small disabled kids are assessed often. No tears about child size there. If you view requalification as a means to identify needs and services, as parents in special ed do, then it's not a big deal. If you view them as an affront to your entitlement to an exclusive education, then you resist.


Anonymous said...

No tears about child size? What? HCC kids are also reassesed often. And counseled out if they are not able to keep up with the work. But you can't have it both ways, that HCC should have the same requirements as sped without the same rights. It is state based with state based requirements, which are not the same as SPED, and do not need to be the same as SPED. They are just entirely different systems. For all of the hoops you jump through to qualify for an IEP, you have many federally legally actionable rights, above and beyond the average student, which HCC students certainly do not have now. THey have a state based right to access advanced learning in a researched based best practice way. Given that our district is more than large enough to support a self contained program, moving away from that (best practice) system would be a violation of their state based rights.

It's also true that it is easy to underperform but not overperform on most academic tests (meaning we will catch some extra kids for SPED services, but then lose some who need HCC services). I'm sure that doesn't bother you, but I find that a conundrum not easy to deal with. Supposedly IQ is stable, in a way that many other testable attributes are not, so no requalification should be necessary. It sounds like you either do not believe or have not heard that. I can see an argument for requiring higher test results to enter the program at 5 (when IQ is less stable except at the very tail ends) than at 7 (when IQ should be very stable). But I think that would be contrary to our top 2% mandate.

I am also not sure children should lose access to services because the services are not strong enough, though, no, so I do have my doubts about requalification. Especially given the hostile and punitive voices calling for it, who seem to not know the difference between the tests in use now. It'd be different if people who actually support teaching gifted students had a plan, part of which included requalification. I am in favor of greater ability to get off the pathway, which many people choose on their own now. What I would like to see is further acceleration, and then people can just get off the pathway if it is too hard. A lot of people disagree with me, though, and they honestly have a right to their opinion, since my plan has the extremely obvious pitfall of giving kids nowhere to be educated appropriately since advanced learning has been completely gutted out of most neighborhood schools.

What Lynn said was that early childhood trauma and instability can affect academic achievement. Which is...borne out by a new study every other month lately. We have to both educate the children who are before us and get at whatever unfair root causes have made them different before they got to us, on top of natural variation. You can disagree about what to do with the reality of different ability in our school systems, but pretending things outside the school system do not affect kids' academic achievement, and then just accusing people who say so of elitism is...not helpful at best.

National merit scholarships correlate much more closely with parental income than any of the tests we use to demonstrate need for HCC services. The SAT is famously the most socioeconomically biased test there is. I for one am glad we don't use it for anything, and don't think it means a thing.


Anonymous said...

AR, so I guess instead you're a fan of "differentiation" to meet the needs of HC kids, even though it rarely happens in practice? Hmm. Or maybe you think there's no such thing as a HC kid in the first place, or that they don't really need anything different? Curious.

I will agree with you on one thing: our gifted programs clearly aren't serving some kids well. But that doesn't mean GE would be better, and it would probably be much much worse for those kids.

Lynn never said what you said she said, but you know what? You're probably correct that her parenting skills HAVE made her kids smarter than some others. Research indicates that parenting practices DO impact child brain development. Parent education, parent income, diet, cognitive simulation provided, etc. are all parenting factors that impact brain development. Certainly you're not suggesting that parenting and early childhood experiences don't play a role, and that cognitive abilities are 100% set at birth are you?

I see an incredibly low rate of national merit awards coming from our HCC schools. Given the huge rate of HCC participation, and the claims of superior intellect in Seattle, we should be seeing many more of merit scholars than we do.

First of all, there aren't HCC schools in high school, when national merit qualifying happens. And second, kids from HCC often end up at private high schools. Because, you know, they are less antagonistic toward giftedness.


Anonymous said...

HCC has large cohorts at both Garfield and, for the last couple of years, Ingraham. Kids from HCC sometimes go private, but there is simply not enough room in the only private school HCC kids would go to for challenge - Lakeside (though some might choose the other private schools for varying reasons) - to accommodate more than a handful of HCC 9th grade applicants. Saying HCC kids "often" end up private is a stretch.

Some numbers regarding National Merit semifinalists that might support the cheap seat theories that the bar has been lowered for HCC enrollment:

HCC total enrollment has increased from 1514 in 2010 to 3198 in 2015.
HCC enrollment at Garfield was 427 in 2014-15, 544 in 2015-16 and projected 712 in 2016-17
HCC enrollment at Ingraham was 249 in 2014-15, 290 in 2015-16 and projected 338 in 2016-17

Presuming that the Lakeside population has remained stable from 2010-2015 and before.

For many years, Lakeside and Garfield were number 1 and 2 for numbers of NMS semifinalists. Interestingly, the number of NMS semifinalists hasn't changed all that much over the years, especially if you consider the IHS students as probable HCC cohort kids. The big difference is that the cohort has nearly doubled, but the number of NMS semifinalists has not budged, and even decreased some years.

Lakeside - 34
GHS - 19

Lakeside - 33
GHS - 22

Lakeside - 30
GHS - 20

Lakeside - 28
GHS - 17

Lakeside - 36
GHS - 18

Lakeside - 31
GHS - 22

Lakeside - 40
GHS - 15

Lakeside - 42
GHS - 19

2014 (the first year the 11th grade at IHS would include the APP/HCC cohort, I believe)
Lakeside - 33
GHS - 11
IHS - 10

Lakeside - 24
GHS - 7
IHS - 6

There seems to be a downward trend in NMS with a growing population in HCC at SPS. The real test will be when the huge HCC classes become 11th graders next year. This year's 11th grade HCC class is 167, 10th 238, 9th 262, 8th 324, 7th 419. Lakeside's average class size is 142.


Anonymous said...

@ crunch, it's not just an issue with SPS. Seattle schools overall (public and private) have a smaller number of national merit semifinalists this year.

While there is a lot of variability in the numbers from year to year--which makes sense, given that we're talking about a few hundred individual students and where they happen to go to school--it appears that other school/districts around the state are doing a job job of educating some of the brightest, or at least a better job of attracting them. Redmond, for example, had 39 this year, up from the low 20s in each of the prior three years. That's partly due to a nice jump at Overlake HS, as well as a great showing by the new Nikola Tesla HS.

Bellevue also saw a nice jump: 71 this year, vs. in the 40s each of the prior three years. Interlake HS and Newport HS accounted for most, with both schools having their best showing in the past 4 years. Bellevue HS also saw a nice increase.

So what does this all say? I don't know. Maybe it's all a fluke and next year's numbers will tilt back in Seattle's direction. Maybe it's changing regional demographics, with the east side attracting more highly educated Asian families. Maybe it's more importance and/or focus places on standardized tests like the PSAT in some districts, schools, cultures. Maybe Seattle schools are doing a poor job serving some of the brightest, and some of these other schools have figured out some great new approaches (although whether their apparent success extends to other outcomes and other students at those schools is unclear). Or maybe it's none/some/all of those factors and/or something else.

Regardless, I don't see how your "cheap seat" theory fits, unless you're suggesting that bloated enrollment has also driven down the level of rigor and quality of instruction for HC students. The total number of students in HCC doesn't really affect the number of national merit semifinalists we end up with in SPS, just which school they might be at. Letting in more students doesn't mean we should also end up with more semifinalists. While I agree that the level of rigor in SPS may have suffered over the years, I'm not convinced it's due to the number of HC students--it seems to be more a problem of lack of institutional support for gifted ed. I'm also not convinced that the quality of HC education in a particular school or district or program has any bearing on who ends up as a national merit semifinalist in the first place. I'm pretty sure that participation in HCC had little impact on my own student's national merit finalist status, but that's not the point of HC services in the first place. Nor is it probably a good measure of HC program effectiveness.