Updates coming to Advanced Learning procedure

The Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee reviewed proposed revisions to Superintendent's Procedure SP2190, Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Programs,

Unfortunately, the proposed procedure is very bad. Beyond that, it fails to meet the requirements of the policy.
Here's what the policy says about services for Highly Capable students:
The variety of instructional programs or services for students identified as Highly Capable will include pathways to sites with adequate cohorts of Highly Capable students in order to provide peer learning and social/emotional opportunities for these students, teachers with experience and/or professional development on the academic and social/emotional needs of these students, appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities, and accelerated pacing.
Here's what the policy says about programs and services for Advanced Learners:
Advanced Learning instructional programs will include differentiation, content acceleration, and deeper learning opportunities. Delivery mechanisms may include: differentiated instruction, groupings of Advanced Learning students to work together in subjects or on projects, self-contained classrooms, or accelerated pacing.
The policy then says this about the superintendent's procedures:
The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures consistent with state guidelines regarding referral, evaluation, and identification of Highly Capable students in order to implement this policy. The procedures will describe the programs and services available to students identified as Highly Capable as well as to those identified as Advanced Learners.
All of that is just fine, but the Superintendent's procedure fails to meet the requirements of the policy. The policy says that the "procedures WILL describe the programs and services". There is no choice there. The procedures, however, do nothing to describe the programs and services. Seriously, no description at all. There are catalogs of possible delivery models, but those are hardly a description of the program or services.

Here's the closest they come for Spectrum and ALO:
Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) and Spectrum are for students identified as "Advanced Learners," as well as for those identified as Highly Capable. ALO and Spectrum are for students who perform well above average for their grade level and require differentiated instructional practices to provide appropriate challenge. These students are typically served within General Education classrooms through flexible grouping, acceleration, and/or interventions through the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) model. 
Spectrum is offered at all middle schools and at several specified elementary schools
That is NOT a description of the program or service. It is, at best, a listing of possible delivery models. The two are NOT synonymous. Moreover, the policy says that the "programs will include differentiation, content acceleration, and deeper learning opportunities" while the procedure does not assure those features.

Here's the closest the procedure comes to describing the HC program and services:
Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) service model is self-contained in Grades 1-5 in ELA, mathematics, and science, and may also be offered as self-contained in social studies. The HC Cohort service model is also self-contained in most core subjects in Grades 6-8. For 9th grade, students who were enrolled in the 8th grade HC Cohort will be assigned to attend an accelerated AP pathway at Garfield or they may submit a School Choice form to attend an accelerated IB pathway at Ingraham. Placement at Ingraham is subject to space availability. 
Again, this is NOT a description of the service, but a description of the delivery model for the service.

The superintendent's procedure says that Spectrum provides an advanced curriculum:
The District also supports Advanced Learning Programs, Spectrum/Advanced Learning Opportunities) in grades 1-8 for students identified as Advanced Learners to provide advanced curriculum in reading and mathematics. Spectrum/Advanced Learning Opportunities are open to students who have been identified as Advanced Learners, as well as to students identified as Highly Capable.
So what is the advanced curriculum? No mention of it. Where is the advanced curriculum?  There is none. So what does the procedure mean by "advanced curriculum in reading and mathematics"? Nothing. It means nothing. It's a lie.

The policy says that HC students should be getting "appropriate curriculum" but there is no curriculum for HC students. The procedure makes some reference to enhanced curricula, but there is no enhanced curricula, so what does the reference mean? It means nothing. It's a lie.

The Board has written a policy for advanced learning. The Superintendent is in violation of that policy. It is now up to the Board to direct the superintendent to comply with the policy.

To do so they must write curricula for Spectrum and HC and they must describe the services in the procedure. Not the delivery model, but the services. How is Spectrum instruction different from general education? How is HC different from general education? What makes a program or service Spectrum, ALO, or HC? What is taught that is different from general education?

When it is done right the teachers will know what to teach, the students will know what to learn, and the families will be able to distinguish between Spectrum and general education.


Anonymous said…
I'm surprised that there are no suggestions for HCC locations other than guaranteed spots at Garfield, and "space available" spots at Ingraham IBX. Garfield is predicted to be 500 students over capacity by 2017, due to the large upcoming HCC cohorts combined with all the attendance area students. How is this intended to work? Are they just hoping HCC students will opt out of Garfield due to the predicted overcrowding? Are they planning to shrink the Garfield attendance area (which is already only a few blocks south of the school)? They should be trying create additional locations for HCC students, not just burying their heads in the sand & thinking they will somehow be able continue cramming them all into a school that already has trouble every year with not being able provide desks & chairs for all the students.

Mom of 4

Mom of 4
Anonymous said…
Seattle Public Schools BEX IV capital projects team and Bassetti Architects are hosting the Lincoln High School BEX IV Project Community meeting to discuss the early design progress on Thurs., June 23

Maybe this is the place to ask some questions.

So this was QUITE the discussion at the C&I meeting yesterday. Highlights:

- Stephen Martin, the head of AL, had to apologize - yet again - for misinformation from his office to parents. "Sorry for the confusion." I have to say, this seems to happen quite a lot and, at this point, I don't think sorry is enough. There needs to be more vetting of information BEFORE it gets to parents.

- He said some changes to the procedure were "editorial" and then pointed out five other ones.

- He said they would be seeking engagement before August 8th (read on before you comment.)

- For those applying for high school, students will have to write an essay based on a standardized prompt that the AL offices gives them. Apparently this has always been the case but not clearly stated.

- They will use MAP test data for kindergarteners.

- Appeals. Martin said some parents thought if they did private testing and got the scores needed that would be the deciding factor. He said a single score would not be and that it is a committee decision based on several factors.

- "Flexibility" for staff at HCC sites. This is where it got real. Martin said that Thurgood Marshall wanted, as part of their social studies program, have more "socially responsive" teaching. He said they needed "permissive language" so they can go ahead with the program they have planned with input from department of race/equity.

Director Geary - you know this will cause "some stir" within the community and that it needed to go thru the community engagement tool and she didn't see how it could be done by August 8th (which is some kind of deadline for Thurgood Marshall to have the program in place.)

Martin said that it was up to the Board but it was just for one school.

- He also said that there was a clarification that only Garfield was a guaranteed high school pathway for HCC and not Ingraham. (He made it sound like Ingraham was never intended to be and I'd have to go back and check but I thought it had been.)

Director Burke said he was worried about the TM issues because they would be amending a procedure for a practice. He said it is "out of alignment for inclusion" and could "create polarization."

He said the district didn't seem to be serving AL students well OR closing the opportunity gap and having underserved kids at either end wasn't good. He said there were "optics" around this issue.

Then Director Harris quietly laid into Mr. Martin. She said she didn't appreciate getting this info on a late Friday for a Monday meeting. She said she felt blindsided and parents may as well. She said she didn't see how there could be true community engagement in the middle of summer.

She said, "This is not the best we can do." She said that "we have got to do a better job for every child, every day."

(Burke pointed out that Martin had walked each member of the committee thru the changes before the meeting. Harris wasn't a member so she didn't get the walk-thru. She did state that as a Board member, it was important for all of them to understand the changes in any program in the district. She said she heard from parents at her last community meeting and "it was not pleasant."

Michael Tolley mentioned that staff would take the info, work thru changes and it ultimately goes to the Superintendent.

Now that's true and this is the super's procedure but the procedures flow from policies.

Between this discussion and the one around MTSS (see my next comment), I was gobsmacked. Trying to make AL even more hard to understand? Allowing schools to decide how they want to present advanced learning opportunities? Sure, why not? It feels like that is what has been happening all along.

I cannot see the Board going along with all these changes and especially being presented them right before school ends and then coming back to them in early August.
I'm going to veer off topic here for a minute to let you know an earlier discussion in the meeting about MTSS. The three committee members - Pinkham, Burke and Geary - were there along with Director Harris. Staff was saying that teachers are being encourage to create their own formative assessments or use one the district has. Harris said, "So we could have 99 assessments?" The answer was, in theory, yes.

So Harris said, what if you have three schools that have developed great assessment tools AND their results are good. Wouldn't it make sense to direct other schools to use theirs?

Michael Tolley said that would take "a change in culture." Yes, it was dumbfounding. Senior staff are saying they cannot give schools a mandate on assessments. Harris went on to say, "Maybe that culture has gotten us to the opportunity gap" by not maximizing success.

Tolley said they would like to move faster but we aren't "investing in the work as we would like." I wanted to tear my hair out - okay, WHAT is the district spending all this money on?"

Wyeth Jessee, who was at the table to discuss Sped issues, chimed in and said that principals have been using "site-based management." If that is true, then it's a bit of a hazy vision because sometimes it feels like principals get to go their own way and sometimes they don't. How are parents to know what is and isn't negotiable within the system?

Then we have the case of the head of literacy and LA, Kathleen Vasquez, also at this meeting coming in to give an update on the LA K-5 adoption. She said that the committee did pick three and two of them are beyond the budget. Apparently - and who knew? - they can't do a RFP with a price tag. They have to do it blind first and THEN figure out what they can afford.

Director Harris requested that C&I draw up an FAQ for parents and the taxpayers to explain how the process for adoption is done so that directors are not inundated with questions.

This district seems to operate in a manner that no outside person can discern as having any real and consistent flow. Everything is more complicated than it would appear it needs to be (or can be explained.)
Anonymous said…
The most shocking thing about this is that MW, who has covered the district closely for a decade, and probably knows it better than anyone on the outside, is constantly discovering new reasons the district claims they can't do something.

Anonymous said…
The procedures that I see here are mostly about selecting which students will and will not be allowed to participate. I don't see much about how they will be provided with anything once selected. Maybe the selection process takes up (nearly) all of the resources of the Advanced Learning department. With such limited resources, maybe we need to find a less expensive selection procedure, so that there will be something left over for planning some consistent services instead of leaving it all up to individual teachers.

Anonymous said…
On Ingraham, it was a guaranteed HCC assignment, if requested during Open Enrollment, since at least 2013. This year the wording in the transition plan changed to "space available." However, the "space available" wording was not updated on the AL website so HCC parents were blindsided by being wait listed vs. enrolled.

On the RFP it would be a standard business practice to NOT put a budgeted amount on the RFP. You want the bidders to give you their best competitive price. It is uncommon that the organization issuing the RFP be ignorant of their budget beforehand.

Irene, from your lips to the district's ears. Testing IS where most of the money goes and that's both sad and ridiculous.

Thank you, StepJ. I was pretty sure that was the case.

As for the RFP, the district knew what its budget was going in. I'm fairly ignorant of these things but why get bids for things you can't afford (the analogy at the meeting was "all the cars we want are too expensive."
Anonymous said…
According to the proposed procedure, AL will only be conducting CogAT testing and reviewing appeals - the achievement portion of the AL testing will now be limited to district administered tests, presumably MAP and SBAC, which are taken by students at their school. This should free up some time and resources for the AL department, so they can hopefully focus more on program implementation. If you have opted your child out of SBAC or MAP, well, expect to pay for private testing for AL eligibility. How unfortunate that the MAP and SBAC are the district assessments...

Anonymous said…

The waybackmachine https://archive.org/web/ has historical copies of the district website.

It's sometimes useful when holding the district to what they've said.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous, no anonymous comments. Give yourself a name next time, please.

"Vasquez knew the budget, but the adoption committee is made up of teachers and parents and their work is not influenced by district staff. The goal was for them to pick the best 3 curriculums and they did that. I think SPS is doing it correctly in this instance. It's been over 13 years since an adoption so the pot should be as large as it needs to be. MIF was over budget, by a lot."

Well, there was discussion that the top picks weren't exactly as the committee hoped so they recalibrated the choices. Number one became number two and vice versa. The amount Tolley stated was $5M. As I recall, staff initially said MIF was way over but when Director Peters drilled down, it wasn't as large a difference as originally thought.
Anonymous said…
"According to the proposed procedure, AL will only be conducting CogAT testing and reviewing appeals" - this is actually how it has been for years. There is really no change here so there is no reason to expect it to free up any resources. Over the last few years the number of applications received has increased enormously, and just reviewing the applications, scheduling and administering CogAT, reporting results, and handling appeals is a full-time job for more people than the AL department has. It's a wonder they find the time to do anything else at all.

The school board has never stated in its policy exactly whom the HC/AL programs are meant to serve. High achievers? Students with high aptitude but low achievement? Both of these, or some other group? Whoever it is, it is likely that MAP and SBAC are not the right tests to find those students. AL has to use those tests because they are what students take. In my opinion the poor fit of the tests for the selection process suggests that the results of selection are so questionable that the process no longer merits the toll it is taking on the AL department.

If we had well-defined programs that were described to parents and teachers with honesty and clarity, perhaps they could agree on suitable placement for most students, and some appropriate testing could be found for cases of disagreement.

Anonymous said…
I can't confirm it all the way back to the start of IBX in 2011, but the wording in the SAP has been "space available" for Ingraham since at least 2013. The wording on the website was "guaranteed" at the start of this year and they changed it when increased demand led to the discovery of the inconsistency. I suspect it has always had an unspoken cap, and this is the first year that limit was met.

I wish I had a better link, but this is the controversial redlined SAP from earlier this year. The red strikethru sections are the previous plan, 2013-14, showing the "space available" wording was present then.


Anonymous said…
SPS can't claim site based management as an excuse any longer - the same old excuses are old and tired. If leadership can't make any mandates of principals/schools then we will continue to operate in chaos and inefficiency. What is more important? maintaining the status quo and keeping all of the school based noisemakers happy - or ruffling some internal feathers to enable real change that closes the opportunity gap. I don't care if principals feel like they lose some element of choice and autonomy. The cost of providing this to them is too great. There are constant complaints that our systems don't talk to each other and we can't get data out. If each school does their own thing there is no way to centralize the data collection and report out on it. There is a culture of no ownership and no accountability. This must change if we want a different result. These people are making BIG BUCKS to sit around and maintain the status quo. Let's hire leaders who will actually lead and manage. Get some courage, SPS leadership.

Charlie Mas said…
What we've come to see is that "site-based management" isn't a strategy; it is a euphemism for the culture of lawlessness. When the administrators at the JSCEE cannot get the people in the buildings to follow the rules, that's "site-based management".

Every time the Board hears a central administrator say "site-based management", they should ask if it is intentional to allow school communities to address local variations or a result of the administrator's inability to impose a district-wide practice (or procedure, or policy, or state regulation, or federal law).

Assessments should be standardized. There are not local variations that require different assessments at each school. That is an equity issue. The District has been talking about the need for district-wide uniformity of assessments for MTSS for years. The superintendent needs to make it a procedure and the executive directors of schools - who don't appear to ever do anything - need to enforce those procedures.
"There are constant complaints that our systems don't talk to each other and we can't get data out. If each school does their own thing there is no way to centralize the data collection and report out on it. There is a culture of no ownership and no accountability. This must change if we want a different result. These people are making BIG BUCKS to sit around and maintain the status quo. Let's hire leaders who will actually lead and manage. Get some courage, SPS leadership."

YES! If data is the thing, you really can't make any real determinations if each school is doing its own thing.

And, if the district does a yin/yang thing with schools, each gets to complain about the other without any accountability.

What was weird at the C&I meeting is how Mr. Tolley hedged around this meme of "change is hard." Not if you are large and in charge.

The Superintendent - today - could write up a memo about changes in the district - with the Board's blessing - and I'd like to see principals refuse. I think the principals' contract - still NOT available to read on the Board agenda for tonight's meeting - should be gone over by people with a fine-tooth comb.

It IS important for principals and their teachers/staff to feel a pride of ownership but the main tenants of curriculum and other district-level decisions have got to be made by the district.

Otherwise, you really won't ever know why a school is succeeding or not succeeding because you will be comparing apples to oranges.
Anonymous said…
Before you ever get to comparing apples to apples or oranges, you won't know whether a school is succeeding or not if you have never said what you want the school to accomplish. It is possible that the specific learning goals ought to be different for different schools, and that different approaches and even different curricula might be needed. That is no excuse for the district not to know and keep records of goals for each school, curricula in use, and accountability measures.

Anonymous said…
Tolley's comments are just reflective, once again, of the district's inability to get a handle on their own day to day operations.

It's not just maintenance, and IT issues. It also includes implementation and fidelity to curriculum and the assessments that measure those issues.

MW often notes that we should be listening to "teachers and parents" because they are the experts when it comes to the kids. Don't disagree. But most of the senior leadership in the district are former teachers turned administrators. They should know something (hopefully, a lot, based on their experience and education) about teaching, learning, and curriculum. All of them.

And yet, they are totally unable to turn their knowledge into success in the classroom, across the district. Is that because the skill set that led them to advance through the educational bureaucracy is not the appropriate one to lead a large district? Do we need Assoc. Superintendents with a background in business operations, leadership, and project management instead of education?

I don't know the answer here... I'm just throwing it out there. But this district has had a parade of leaders over the years with education bona fides, none of whom were able to get it done. Do these degrees provide the right skill sets to lead an organization of this size?

My suspicion is that you could replace Tolley with someone with a similar educational and career background (teacher->principal->administrator) and you'd get a similar result. But what would happen if you put someone in with a different educational and career background? Would you get the same result?


Anonymous said…

I don't know NWer, but I sure think it would be worth a try. His breaking down HCC has been as close to malpractice as it comes. Diffusion of responsibility is all you get with this no-plan plan.

checking in said…
I think you said that Tolley described it as a matter of "culture?" Well, that's a euphemism for blaming teachers. Teachers don't want to ....bla, bla, bla. Yes, we do! My school used some math assessments prepared by another school's teachers because we had an assistant principal who served both schools. Those teachers bit the bullet and put together some wonderful assessments for early grades. I was so grateful for them because I didn't have to reinvent the wheel with my time. And by having such great assessments, I knew what was important to teach. That's not teaching to the test but knowing what is relevant and important and how to ask for solutions in a way that shows mastery.

Please, share the wealth. It will save all teachers time and effort. Tolley doesn't know what he's talking about. I think the mess at the district level absolutely reflects the incompetence, confusion and fatigue we are seeing at all levels in schools today.
darkmom said…
We support allowing social studies to be taught in blended classrooms at Thurgood Marshall

As parents at Thurgood Marshall, including both HCC and General Education parents, we are excited to

support the plan for blended social studies instruction across programs at Thurgood Marshall. We see it

as a conscious decision to leverage the vast benefits of diverse learning environments. A growing

body of research shows that, “students exposure to other students who are different than themselves and

the novel ideas and challenges that such exposure brings leads to improved cognitive skills including

critical thinking and problem solving.” (Stuart Wells, Fox, Cordova-Cobo 2016) Learning in diverse

communities, “stimulates an increase of complexity with which students… approach a given

issue.” (P. Carter, 2009) Both HCC parents and General Education parents at Thurgood Marshall want

this access to increased complexity, critical thinking and problem solving for our children.

We also appreciate this proactive decision to confront the detrimental effects of implicit bias that

occur in culturally and racially segregated environments. Research shows that the experience of

managing bias for white students and experiencing the effects of bias for students of color

inhibits executive functioning for all. (Stuart Wells, Fox, Cordova-Cobo 2016) Thurgood Marshall is a

unique community. The stark cultural and socio-economic segregation of our classrooms is

obvious and confusing to our children. They ask us why, and we are forced to attempt an explanation

of the institutionalized racism that is playing out before their eyes every day. Often their next question is,

“What can we do about it?” This proposal to integrate social studies instruction gives us all, most

importantly our children, an opportunity to do something about it.

As our principal Ms. May wrote so clearly, “If we are undertaking the study of social studies to develop

responsible citizens in a culturally diverse democratic society, what better way to do this than to teach

social studies to groups of students who look like the culturally diverse, democratic society we are

preparing them to live in? Our General Education and HC programs are aligned to the same standards.

We believe that the unique experience each of our students bring to this study will actually enrich

their learning and push all students to think more deeply.” (Pup Press, May 2016)
Anonymous said…
If your general education and HCC programs are aligned to the same standards, your principal and teachers are doing something wrong.

Once again we see district procedures being altered because poor program placement decisions require adults to face the economic inequality of our society.

Instead of changing the program to ameliorate the discomfort of adults, why not instead follow the advice of the experts from the University of Virginia who studied the program in 2007 and recommended it be configured as self-contained classrooms in an ALO setting where talent development of all learners has been identified as a priority among educators. They advised that the program should not be situated in a low-performing otherwise divisive setting.

This was recommended to enable general education and APP faculty to collaborate and facilitate the sharing of resources or expertise. Imagine that. Recommendations based on elevating the skills of teachers rather than the hope of confronting the implicit bias the principal assumes highly capable children bring to school with them.

More BS
Anonymous said…
They advised that the program should not be situated in a low-performing otherwise divisive setting.

Why are you assuming that the gen ed program at Thurgood Marshall is low-performing? It has a large immigrant population, mostly kids of color, but that does not mean they are low-performing.

Talk about bias!!

Anonymous said…
When was APP/HCC placed at TM? in 2008-2009, 13% of 4th graders were proficient in math on the whatever test we were using then. 8% of 5th graders were proficient in science. That sounds pretty low performing to me. 90% of the students were FRL- did they lose Title 1 money by placing APP there? Those numbers sound like kids who need a lot of money, one on one support, and wrap around services. Not very advanced kids sitting in the same classroom or building with them, with their own lesser but still distinct needs.

The next year I see FRL drops to 47%, test scores go up, and the overall student population doubles. I wonder if anything actually improved for the students who were there in 2008-2009. I am sure the district used this as an example of "success."

Anonymous said…
This is the OSPI report card for Thurgood Marshall in 2008-2009. That particular 4th grade obviously had some issues. The test scores for that grade were very low, but bracketed by 3rd and 5th grade scores between 50 -61% for math and reading. And they were 51% transitional bilingual!


In 2008-2009 there were 18 white students at TM. In 2009-2010, when APP started cohousing at TM, the white population jumped to 168 and the transitional bilingual percentage dropped to 18%.

Gen ed at TM are bilingual immigrant children who may not score as high on standardized tests as white kids from relatively affluent American families who have not moved as refugees to this country. But this does not make them low-performing. If anything, they are the opposite.

Anonymous said…
"Institutionalized racism?" Prove it or retract it. It was a ploy by MGJ to put APP in two of the highest FRL buildings (and as a reminder TM was going to be north building. Hawthorne was the south building). Why? Well to shine the numbers up to make her look great to those not aware of the real numbers. Not for the kids, no. It just added commute time to most APP families and the kids already in the building lost title 1 money.

And yes if they ELL students and HCC students are being taught to the same standards Katie May is not doing her job, sorry.

Anonymous said…
Is it just the phrase that bothers you? Do you think they really need no support above and beyond the basic staffing accounted to a non ELL, FRL student (5500 as opposed to more like 10k)? Wrap around support, services to help their parents navigate bureaucracy, tutors? the proof for need of which is kind of embedded in those low test scores and statistics? How about "need support that is extremely different from the distinct needs of HCC students, who also have needs, though the fact that they are lesser- and so those students will come with 1/2 the dollars an ELL, FRL student will- poses problems for adults when they see the two groups next to each other"? I think that is what low performing otherwise divisive setting means. I am often somewhat cynical about the ability of dollars in a public school system to disrupt the effects of generational poverty and societal level inequality, but it seems like once place it could do a great job is with refugees who are adjusting to life here. All the worse that they place an advanced program in that school and take away title 1 dollars.

Rereading this it sounds very flip, but I don't mean it to be. I just think this is semantics, but that the larger point is valid.

Anonymous said…
ELL support is a huge burden, I don't think we can continue to support it across the entire district. Instead we should create a center of excellence where ELL students can quickly develop English language skills and perhaps we could include any adult parents of ELL students that could use the support.

Anonymous said…
ELL, you do know they just decentralized the whole district because of state mandate. So no even if that does make sense it won't happen.

Anonymous said…
Transitional bilingual at TM went from 51.9% (May 2009, pre-APP) to 18% (May 2010, w/APP). The number of transitional bilingual students went down almost 50%. It was not just that APP demographics shifted the percentage, there were significantly fewer transitional bilingual students at TM. The most recent OSPI report shows TM with 9.3% transitional bilingual students (on average, fewer than 10 per grade). TM's May 2015 enrollment was 503.
Lynn said…
In January of this year total K-5 enrollment at TM was 525. 320 students were in HCC, the remaining 205 were in general education classes and the self contained Peace Academy. 54 of those 205 (26%) were receiving bilingual services. Here are the number of non-HCC students at TM by grade:

K - 45
1 - 50
2 - 34
3 - 25
4 - 27
5 - 24

HCC students by grade:

1 - 28
2 - 45
3 - 84
4 - 91
5 - 72

The district is doing the general education students at TM a real disservice by assigning them to a school with just one class per grade for most grades. They should be attending a school where their teachers can collaborate with grade level colleagues and where students can be mixed up between classes from year to year. This would be much more helpful to them than implementing heterogenous social studies classes.

Prior to the implementation of the new student assignment plan and the arrival of APP students, the school's annual report described it's services as:

Thurgood Marshall offers three distinct programs: Gender-separate classrooms for implementation of instructional strategies that are effective for boys and girls, Bilingual Orientation Center (BOC) for students new to the country with the emphasis on English development through communication and academic instruction and the Autism program that focus on communication, academic and life skills for students with autism.

The school's enrollment was very low at this time - most students were there either because it was the only place the services they needed were provided or because they had moved into the district after the enrollment period and it was the closest building with empty seats. The low enrollment was the reason APP was moved into the building.

Here are the enrollment figures for 2008-09 and one year later in 2009-10:

Hispanic/Latino 56 - 44
AI/Alaska Native 1 - 5
Asian 42 - 70
Black 151 - 164
White 18 - 168
Total 268 - 451

FARMS 260 - 211
Special Education 46 - 68
Transitional Bilingual 154 - 81
Migrant 4 - 0

Unknown said…
Just weighing in as the parent of a child in HCC at Thurgood Marshall with my thoughts on the blended social studies proposal. I am really supportive and excited for TM to offer blended social studies. I think it can enrich the learning of children both in HCC and Gen Ed and will give children opportunities to learn in more diverse environments and build more diverse friendships, which I believe will better prepare them for the future. I trust that the teachers can and will appropriately differentiate (which is their plan), and believe that my child (and all children) will learn more from this blended experience than without. The suggestion came from the Thurgood Marshall community and leadership, and is designed as a small step to address equity issues specific to Thurgood Marshall, given the more segregated nature of the school (due to multiple programs), which I believe has a negative impact on all students.

As further context, I am part of a group of parents, teachers and administrators at TM working to improve equity at the school, and am leading a sub-committee that is working specifically to improve equity in HCC. Our group is excited and supportive of this change! While it doesn't begin to address broader HCC equity/diversity issues (which we are concerned about, think are critical to address, and are working towards) it is a small step to address unique issues at TM now. Longer term, our goal is to improve the diversity of students in HCC, such that it reflects the diversity of the district overall. In the meantime, I hope we are able to find a way to make this blended social studies change possible for the TM community!

Interestingly, every parent I've talked to (HCC and Gen Ed) at Thurgood Marshall is very supportive of this change. I realize, however, that not all parents are supportive….as a parent expressed on another forum that they don’t support blended social studies. My own sense, however, is that the TM community is overwhelmingly supportive of the change, and believe that it is a great fit for the unique TM community.
Anonymous said…

Thank you for your work on equity issues specific to Thurgood Marshall but can you please explain what those issues are? Are the teachers in gen ed less qualified? Is the admin less concerned about gen ed? Do the students get taught in less than best standards or with less differentiation? Does the PTA money only go to the programs that the parents students are in? You name issues what are they please?

As for the goal to have the HCC program match the district how is that practical? Any instance of bias should be eliminated but please understand that the AL team are constantly attempting to make improvements on outreach to less representative groups (like SES constrained kids like performing screening test in title 1 schools) which I applaud. But if your goal is to have the racial mix match the district's racial mix. Where is the merit in that?

I wonder about the test to get in and wish it was more based on teacher and family recommendations. The number of 2e kids who are being turned away I am sure is staggering. But test are the elements of identification that are inherent to all HC programs.

SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
Here is how I see it.

SES diversity is a problem for the HCC.
Racial diversity is not.
Lack of rigor is a problem for HCC.
Lack of mixed classes are not.
Lack of teachers who can differentiate for gen ed. and HCC would be a new problem when there is a lack of teachers who can teach HCC alone.

-SPS Parent
Anonymous said…
I would also add ELL diversity is a problem for HCC.

SPS Parent
Lynn said…
Lack of access for 2e children is a huge problem for HCC.
Unknown said…
Great to hear the additional thoughts, questions, etc. I definitely think the issues are very complex and there are few simple answers. I applaud the important work of the Advanced Learning office to test all 2nd graders in Title I schools this year and last, and look forward to the eventual fruit of those efforts. I hope that with continued and additional efforts focused on recruitment and the eligibility process (again, all very complex) over time the diversity of children in HCC can better reflect that of the district overall.

Currently, the equity gap in Advanced Learning in SPS is very large – and much larger than nationwide. In 2015, black students were 16.4% of SPS, but only 2.4% of HCC/Spectrum eligible students. Similarly, Latino students were 12.4% of SPS but only 4.6% of HCC/Spectrum eligible students. Nationally, the gap is much smaller. Data from the U.S. Department of Education from 2009, shared in a published study (Grissom and Redding, 2016), that showed black students comprised 16.7% of U.S. students total, and 9.8% of students in gifted programs, and Latino students comprised 22.3% of students nationally and they comprised 15.4% of students in gifted programs. These are smaller gaps than in SPS. And they indicate that we can make progress. Figuring out how to get there is indeed challenging! I realize the factors and issues are very complex, and that different things are needed to close this gap. However, I am excited to explore what changes SPS can take to address it further. Some of these efforts are under way, like the universal testing of 2nd graders in Title I schools. I believe there are additional steps that can be explored in the future. The committee I am working with is currently learning about what has worked in other places to see what lessons might apply here (realizing that every school district is unique!).

The social studies change at Thurgood Marshall isn’t intended to close that gap. Instead it is designed to help Thurgood Marshall find a way that works for their school to create the best learning environment for all kids, amidst a relatively segregated school. I also agree with a poster on another blog, that the social studies change isn’t a step by the district to dismantle the broader self-contained nature of HCC, but instead is a small adjustment initiated by TM leadership given dynamics at Thurgood Marshall.

In terms of what the equity issues are at Thurgood Marshall, the school is working diligently to create an environment where there is a positive, collaborative, empowering relationship between students and programs, and a sense of being "one school”. This takes intentional, diligent, thoughtful work -- given the multiple programs and varied racial mix of the classes, which are easily visible to students, parents and teachers alike. Another poster mentioned some of the pros/cons for children of being in more/less diverse environments. The school's equity work is designed to proactively acknowledge the more segregated nature of the school and work to address negative ramifications that can arise and create a positive, empowering learning environment for all kids.

The challenges are complex (and I acknowledge there may be other challenges facing HCC, beyond racial diversity and equity...which I believe is an important issue), and I am excited to find ways to address them in ways that can benefit all students....
Anonymous said…
Without knowing the socioeconomic status of those other communities I fail to see the comparison. I contend that is where the real diversity is as I have many friends who are from african american, hispanic and asian heritage and really see no difference between them verses me or their kids verses my kids (I'm white) because we are from roughly the same SES.

Based on the information about the FRL status before I have to assume the gen ed population is roughly the same after the merge which would be very high percentage of kids.

Other factors may pertain too like the Rainier Scholars directing kids to private schools and private schools have better recruiting tools for diversity then do HCC.

I am sorry if they can mix one class why can't they mix another class like art/PE and music which aren't academic. I have zero hope that the SS course will be that differentiated as that concept has never worked in SPS. Sorry, that is why the developed HCC.

Finally, I sense your understanding of this issue is very well rounded so it shocks me that you use the inflammatory term segregated. The HCC program is not segregated it is a tracked program designed not to keep kids out based on color but to include kids based on IQ and achievement. I would kindly ask you to reconsider that word as it is quite unfair to those families in the program.

-sps parent
Leonetta said…
I am grateful for the clear and thoughtful presentation of data by Devin Victoria Bruckner. It would seem that the comments and discourse here on the blog isn't representative of the parent community at TM nor the intention of this localized proposal.

I think the merits of having an integrated approach to learning a discipline like social studies meant to deepen students understanding of human relationships and their world- is actually a critical value add. It would seem that is a point that hasn't been thoughtfully opposed. How could expanding the diversity of experience and thought in the classroom for discussions about human society be less than beneficial for all students?

Given the clear ethnic and cultural disproportionality that exists between the programs, these seems like one effective way in a really strategic discipline to support healthy student and learning integration. In addition, I wonder if isolating the issue of social studies integration will help declutter the very complex set of issues that this exists around the HCC program. This isn't presented as the panacea to all the systemic issues of the HCC program and thus shouldn't bear the burden of being criticized by not fixing all the broader issues or a distraction from them.

Lastly, to the point of differentiation for advanced students in a blended classroom, I suspect that when it comes to studying the human experience and all that the discipline of 'social studies' holds, it will always be more rigorous to do that outside of a homogenous community.
Lynn said…
Adding students to the classroom whose academic skills are at least two grade levels lower and whose critical thinking skills, ability to make connections across subjects and speed in mastering new concepts are more typical for their age cannot possibly be beneficial to students in either group. If this were an advantage, we'd be blending third and fifth grade general education students for social studies.

Social studies is one of the four core academic courses and progress in this area should not be sacrificed to make the staff at TM feel more comfortable.

Lastly, English and social studies in elementary school should be taught together - so that students are reading and writing about the topics covered in social studies. Will highly capable students at TM be losing this opportunity - or will they be spending their time in social studies teaching the material they've covered in English to their new classmates?
Anonymous said…
thanks Lynn, I agree with you again.
CapHill Mom said…
My son just finished 5th grade HCC at Thurgood Marshall; he started there in 1st grade and we feel extremely fortunate: his teachers were excellent throughout and we feel he is well-prepared academically and socially. I have not been involved in the school's equity discussion but have followed it from afar, and here are some observations about TM's proposal to blend social studies, FWIW.

contrary to Lynn's note, and following Devlin's comments, this is not about "making the staff at TM feel more comfortable". This was developed by staff and parents who believe that the TM community will be stronger and children will have a more enriching experience if kids in HCC and GenEd get to know each other better - and that social studies, a soft subject in elementary school, is a reasonable way to do that. One can agree or disagree that it will make a material difference in a child's worldview or friendship patterns; my own view is that it will do no harm and may modestly prepare students to recognize the value of hearing from others with different life experiences, which does help them prepare for the world outside.

However, I think it is wrong to characterize this idea as something that will undermine academic opportunities for HCC kids - it is elementary social studies. Do we need to "build a wall" around HCC kids in every academic setting? It is worth remembering, too, that this school is named after one of America's pre-eminent jurists, who sought ways to equalize educational opportunities for children, and TM also wants to uphold the values that Justice Marshall represented.

I am far more concerned with the report that Garfield HS's principal would seek to unilaterally eliminate honors classes in English and history at Seattle's magnet school for the advanced learning program. This seems to me shortsighted, given the demographic changes that Seattle is undergoing, and also would eliminate opportunities for neighborhood kids who have not been in the HCC program in middle school to participate in an advanced class at Garfield. Danny Westneat writes about a student like this in his column today in the Seattle Times - an 8th grader born in Sudan, who came to the US a decade ago after two years in a refugee camp, who read a poem at the WMS promotion ceremony this week. We were there as well and it was impressive on many levels - only in America! The question for Seattle Public Schools and parents is, how can we work together to raise achievement for children who have had less academic opportunity at every level, while not undermining an advanced learning public school program that works reasonably well for the kids in it.

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