Gifted Education, Part One

(You didn't think I'd be able to say everything in one post, did you?  Part Two will have me talking about what I hear and saw at various events and what direction I think the district will take.)

As I gather up my thoughts from the Work Session on Advanced Learning,the two-day Equity and Gifted Education Summit at UW and more reading/research, I come away with three main thoughts.

1.  Is there such a thing as a child who is gifted academically?  

I ask this question because it felt to me at the Equity and Gifted Education summit that there were clearly some people in the room that didn't believe that.  Not a large group but there were enough to make me notice.

Or, they may believe it but think that under no circumstances should any child go to any kind of self-contained classroom including AP classes.

I ask this question because of the huge pushback that Advanced Learning - and in particular, HCC - gets at this blog. Is that the case for some readers? 

Of course, it then begs the question of gifted versus bright?

All gifted children are considered bright, but not the other way around – a concept parents of bright children have a hard time understanding, explains Andrea Mishler, who’s been a Gifted and Talented (GT) teacher for nine years. The fact that their child gets straight A’s, but does not qualify for the GT program leaves them frustrated and scratching their heads. Mishler’s district doesn’t look at grades when deciding who is eligible for the GT program. “Sometimes gifted children are such perfectionists, they won’t turn in a project for fear of the evaluation that accompanies it. Therefore they may get poor grades or appear as underachievers,” says Mishler.

Often parents and educators believe a child who can read early is gifted. The truth is, her brain may have developed a bit quicker than her peers, but young kids are known for developmental leaps and stalls. Later on she may learn at the same pace as other kids, or she may continue to outpace them. Only time will tell.
And,  we also have the question, "Aren't all students 'gifted' in some way?  I think there are many kinds of gifts but for the purposes of this discussion, we are talking about academic talents. 

What is it that makes it okay to have a child who has developed abilities in music or athletics but not academics?  (That "developed" part is very important.  We have all met people who are brilliant but not motivated.  No talent/gift will sustain or expand or grow without effort.) 

2.  If there are gifted students, how should those students' academic needs be met in a public school setting?  

Keeping this in mind - the goal of public education is to meet EVERY child's academic needs. However,  just this past fall, some SPS staff person wrote in the Board's legislative agenda this line that ended the agenda:

Good teaching, fair salaries, adequate classrooms and class sizes are all needed to close opportunity gaps for our neediest learners.

I wrote to the Board and pointed out how odd it was for the district to end their agenda for just one group of students when the goal is to support the learning for ALL students.  It got changed.  But someone within the district wrote that and wanted legislators to hear that.  Why?

Purely by chance, I sat with a table of teachers at the UW event.  I won't say what schools but they all had valid points to make but were not all in lockstep on this issue.  One teacher did say something that gave me pause.  She said, "If you are on a burning ship (public education), why would you throw the life preservers to the kids who can swim (gifted kids)?"

I like to think that public education is NOT a burning ship but even if it was, isn't the goal here to save as many kids as possible?  That would be my goal and I might toss the life preservers to the kids who can't swim but ALSO, find some wrecked wood to hold onto for the ones who can swim.

In short, does this have to be reduced to an "either/or" question?

But it feels like many parents believe that gifted education is giving "more" or "better" to those students.  I can say the teachers at the table didn't believe that.  They did not believe the teachers for HCC are better teachers.  They also know that there is no special curriculum, just a faster/deeper pace.

In short, it's acceleration + challenge.  To me, that is the difference between the GenEd classroom and the gifted classroom.  Not the challenge but the acceleration.  ALL kids should be challenged in their classroom.

The vibe I get is that while the cohort model for gifted education is widely known in the research to be useful to gifted students, that there many, including teachers, who believe there are benefits to all kids being in the same classroom.

Or, more to the point, they like it better that way.

Meaning, there is some emotional component for adults to seeing kids tracked.  

That is an entirely different matter than academics.  And it's not being acknowledged or addressed.

For teachers and administrators, there is also an issue that no one within the district wants to acknowledge.

If you take gifted students out of a school, there go their high test scores.  It hurts the school's scores and the teachers' scores.

I asked at my table, "Well, when the test scores are reviewed, isn't the make-up of the class taken into account?"  They just laughed.

Well, if your job review had one component - class make-up - that was out of your control, you might want to try to do your best to advocate for that to change.

I do not fault teachers or principals for feeling this way.  But that is an adult issue. What is in the best academic interests' of children?

Then, there are the parents.

On the one end, parents of the gifted.  My own experience, solely from Spectrum, is not a lot of pushy parents but pretty involved parents.  The teachers at the table felt that HCC parents are overly involved to the point where their children openly exhibited stress in the classroom.  But even if HCC kids were in GenEd classrooms, would that make the parents any less concerned?  I'm not sure it would.

I recall one comment made in another thread, something akin to "If you aren't advocating for other people's children on the issue of equity, you should be ashamed of yourself."

I think we all, as citizens, have to choose our course on advocacy for social justice.  There are ways, big and small, in how any one person can affect change. And, being a passive progressive really doesn't help.  But time is a finite thing and so it is for parents.

I also think it a difficult "ask" to say to parents that they should be advocating for other people's children before their own.  I believe many parents - on all sides - would say, "I can only do the best I can for my child" and frankly, I could not fault them.  Raising children is tough, involved work.

But naturally, as parents in a public school district, it's important to look beyond your own school bubble.  Especially if your child is in a program/activity that has inequities in it.  This is not to say that parents bear the fault; the district and many boards made those big decisions on this program and knew of its inequities.  I know many of us who have advocated for change for the Advanced Learning program for many years (including me) to no avail.

Why the district has finally woken up to the issue is a bit of a mystery except that it seems to have come out of a bigger, harder look at equity. 

3.  How should gifted education be enacted in a district in a way that is equitable? 

One sad thing about that UW summit - it never got to this question.  I was quite surprised to not hear about best practices or districts that were getting it right.

I did find this research that I think very succinctly gives some ideas.  It's from ScienceDirect, Teaching Gifted Children in Regular Classrooms in the USA by Nadezhda Pavlovna Pomortseva.

Lastly, I hope to get back to a partially written post about my perception of how "equity" as a word and a thought is being used in this district.  I truly believe that every single person who works in this district wants to see more equity in the district for all students.  But I also believe that there are some in senior leadership who want to use this term to push other initiatives/directions and will wield it like sledgehammer for those who might raise concerns.

Meaning, if you aren't for their plan for equity, you are against these children.  That's just not true but using that term in that manner certainly works out well if you want to marginalize others.


Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Like most busy parents, I don't have time or expertise to determine the optimal way my child should be taught. Of course I'm concerned about this, but in an ideal world I trust that there is greater expertise than mine exercised by the people who do this work for a living. I trust that they will clearly tell me what they have decided is best for my child and why, and point to all the information they used to come to this conclusion. I can then argue with them about their decision, but probably not the process if it was done in an above-board, thoughtful way using the best intelligence available.

The slow bleed of Advanced Learning programs in Seattle are the opposite of this. Since we started down this path with our oldest 7 years ago, no one in leadership at SPS (staff or board) has ever said "We've looked at the best data, this is what we think AL should be, this is why, and this is the plan". At this point, this is all I want. A thoughtful, transparent decision about the plan for the education that my child is lawfully entitled to, having met the criteria that the District has set for Advanced Learning. Very, very...

Anonymous said…
The "equity" thing drives me nuts. I get the sense that people want equality, not equity. They want services to be EQUAL for everyone, (regardless of what students need), and/or they want the outcomes to be EQUAL (regardless of student ability/potential).

Equity, however, is based on the concept of difference. You need to understand the different challenges and obstacles, and find ways to address those while also supporting everyone.

Outsider said…
I totally sympathize with the teachers who are confronted with mixed classes presenting more needs than they can humanly address. That's the necessary consequence of inclusive classrooms. Teachers have to stiff someone, and surely it should be the brightest kids, the ones with the most resources at home and the most ability to survive on their own. Problem is, the leveler ideology and leveler policies usually goes beyond just leaving bright kids to swim. It actively denies them chances to be challenged even when little or no teacher time would be required.

Progress toward equity is measured according to equal outcomes. So equity is equal outcomes. It's silly to talk circles around that. Equity is achieved when outcomes are equal. And it's always ten times easier to bring the top down than the bottom up.
Stuart Jenner said…
Not all gifted kids come from affluent backgrounds, or homes with strong support. The ones who do should not have to rely on their parents for challenge. They should be able to have after school activities, not time spent filling in gaps or depth not covered in the school day.

And yes, we really don't know how much teacher time is required. It could be less, or the same, or more. Trying to cover a wider range of content in one class is hard er than just having one level to prepare for.

There definitely seem to be people who want to use the higher achieving kids as role models, or as assistant teachers. Unfortunately, that's now how our global competitors work. They track. No wonder all the tech companies want to hire H1B visa holders.
Going thru my own research holdings, I have, in hard copy no less, the two-volume set of The Templeton Report on acceleration - A Nation Deceived, How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students. This is from 2004.

"The Templeton Report addresses this current situation by tackling the misconceptions about acceleration and dispelling their impact through research, examples of effective practice, and real-life stories of students. This multi-pronged approach may help the general public and educators develop more favorable attitudes toward acceleration. Ultimately, much will depend on educator using the report as a prod to action in states and school districts.

Acceleration is an intervention that moves students through an educational program at rates faster, or at younger ages, than typical. It means matching the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum to the readiness and motivation of the student. Examples of acceleration include early entrance to school, grade-skipping, moving ahead in one subject area, or Advanced Placement (AP). Acceleration is educationally effective, inexpensive, and can help level the playing field between students from rich schools and poor schools.

We know that giftedness cuts across gender, ethnicity, social and economic background, and geographic location. There are students ready to accelerate in all of America's classrooms - in rural areas, in the inner city, and in the suburbs. These students are found in every type of school, from public to private to alternative.

While some have criticized academic acceleration as an intervention for children of wealth, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is parents of economic means who can afford to provide for acceleration if a school doesn't. They can move their child to a private school, pay for mentoring, or pay for accelerative summer classes and extra-curricular resources. Poor children, though, often have no hope of experiencing a challenging curriculum if a school says no.

We hope the popular appeal of this report will break through a strong societal belief in a "one size fits all" mentality about education and release the bonds that hold gifted learners back in schools. The time to do something substantial is upon us."
Anonymous said…
"We know that giftedness cuts across gender, ethnicity, social and economic background, and geographic location. There are students ready to accelerate in all of America's classrooms - in rural areas, in the inner city, and in the suburbs. These students are found in every type of school, from public to private to alternative.

While some have criticized academic acceleration as an intervention for children of wealth, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it is parents of economic means who can afford to provide for acceleration if a school doesn't. They can move their child to a private school, pay for mentoring, or pay for accelerative summer classes and extra-curricular resources. Poor children, though, often have no hope of experiencing a challenging curriculum if a school says no."

This! Thank you for posting, MW.

Stuart Jenner said…
A more recent book makes the same points. It is really unfortunate not much has changed in the 12 years since the Templeton report.

Here's the description:

In Excellence Gaps in Education, Jonathan A. Plucker and Scott J. Peters shine a spotlight on “excellence gaps”—the achievement gaps among subgroups of students performing at the highest levels of achievement. Much of the focus of recent education reform has been on closing gaps in achievement between students from different racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic backgrounds by bringing all students up to minimum levels of proficiency. Yet issues related to excellence gaps have been largely absent from discussions about how to improve our schools and communities. Plucker and Peters argue that these significant gaps reflect the existence of a persistent talent underclass in the United States among African American, Hispanic, Native American, and poor students, resulting in an incalculable loss of potential among our fastest growing populations.
I'll talk more about the Equity and Gifted Education summit but one interesting point came out that I believe is at the heart of this discussion.

A great deal was made over the imbalance between the demographics of the district (and I'll have more on that from the Work Session) and the demographics of AL. Those demographics should line up somewhat evenly.

However, one speaker then said, to the effect, that it would be all good and well to get that kind of demographic balance but "what about the rest of the kids?"

Of course, this person meant the GenEd kids. To which my reply would be, "What about them?"

Again, there's that idea that somehow AL kids are getting something better and that ALL kids should be doing what AL kids do.

I would have no problem with that except:

- one elementary - Maple - DID try this (something like a decade ago.) They moved resources around and taught the entire school at a Spectrum level. They ended up with great test scores. All good, right? And yet, they could not sustain that on their own and the district didn't seem to care to sustain it and away it went. And Maple is a school with a high level of F/RL students.

I have never gotten an answer as to why the district didn't continue with this pilot project into other schools.

- the teachers I sat with believed that they could teach all kids in one classroom. I said that the Senate bill on McCleary would do away with I-1351 and so middle and high schools would see no relief on class size. I asked if they felt they had enough PD for differentiating these classes. The answer was no. So without a smaller class size and PD, many teachers, even though they believe in the change, know it would not work.

Charlie has said this before: if the district believes that GenEd classes need more rigor, there is NOTHING stopping that. If you want to add acceleration to that rigor, I suspect many teachers would push back. Most kids need the more slow and steady pace of learning but probably could do well with more complex ideas and project-based learning.

But how is HCC or Spectrum interfering with that?

When Garfield was changing to Honors for All in the 9th grade, I asked one teacher, "Did you consider trying to get students of color in the HCC or Honors classes to sit down with peers and talk about why they are happy in these classes AND that more of their peers should join them?" He did not answer that question but said he believed it was better for kids of all abilities to be in the same classrooms.

So what I am hearing and seeing is districts saying that they need to figure out how to find more students of color for advanced programs, but even if you did and got those demographics evened what about the rest of the kids?

That's a whole other discussion but apparently for AL, it's NOT all about kids who can move faster.
Anonymous said…
"A great deal was made over the imbalance between the demographics of the district (and I'll have more on that from the Work Session) and the demographics of AL. Those demographics should line up somewhat evenly."

Likely private school enrollment (30% in Seattle) in the mix are likely affecting this imbalance. Who stays and who goes? I personally know middle and affluent HCC qualified kids of color who are attending private schools. I also know white families who could afford private schools but keep their kid in public HCC. As income correlates with achievement it would be great if the district could also collect more nuanced data on HCC and socio-economics. Then create a program that eliminates barriers for kids of all races who are poor, so they may access advanced learning services.
Many of asked how come Rainier Scholars manages to find these students of color. I'm looking into that but as it turns out, it appear SPS helps them.
Holding Hope said…
Thanks for writing this up, Melissa!

My kid is exactly the kid in the right column of that “Bright Child or Gifted Learner” chart. This type of child (whatever you choose to call them) is currently not well served in many SPS schools and classrooms.

SPS’s failure to do universal screening for advanced learning needs causes the district to fail to identify the advanced learning needs in some children. Correctly identifying all the children with this type of learning need would be the necessary first step to meeting those needs.

Most teacher education programs do not educate teachers in how to identify or serve highly capable students. Educators, like the general population, tend to expect highly capable students to “look like” the inaccurate and exaggerated stereotypes portrayed in movies and on TV. Providing teachers with research-based information on needs and characteristics of highly capable students helps teachers identify and serve them.

Serving these students appropriately is important to all public school students in Seattle. Advanced learners and highly capable students whose academic needs are not being sufficiently met in Seattle’s public schools are more likely to leave the public schools. They leave to drop out of school or end up in the school to prison pipeline or switch to private school or homeschooling.

Underchallenged highly capable students underachieve and are more likely to drop out of school than the general population.

The presence of highly capable individuals in the prison population is 4x that of highly capable individuals in the general population. About 20% of our prison population is estimated to be highly capable. Better meeting the needs of these students while they are still in school could change the course of their lives and reduce our prison population by 20%.

Highly capable students face unique social and emotional challenges because their interests are out of sync with those of age mates. In the worst cases, they can become antisocial. Estimates are that 4 out of 5 school shooters were unidentified or unserved highly capable.

Appropriately identifying and meeting the needs of highly capable students within Seattle’s public schools could lure students back into public schools who have left. 28% of Seattle students currently go to private school, a few of which focus exclusively on educating highly capable students. Many families move to other nearby districts that reportedly do a better job of meeting the academic needs of highly capable students. If more of these students could be retained at Seattle public schools it would bring more money into the schools and build healthier, more robust communities more reflective of the neighborhoods Seattle families live in.

My neighborhood elementary school is notoriously bad at meeting the needs of advanced learners and highly capable students and as a result, of the 18 elementary school age children who live in just a 3-block radius of the school, only two are still attending the local elementary school. The rest have all switched to 8 other public and private schools. Better addressing the needs of advanced learners and highly capable kids would have prevented many of these kids from switching to different schools.
HCC Parent said…
SEE is forming a group called ITAG. ITAG means Information To Action Group. The purpose of the group is to promote detracking.
DeTraction said…
Wait, are HCC students tracked? Are Spectrum students tracked? Aren't they accelerated more than tracked? Are SPED students tracked? Are ELL students tracked? Aren't these students in specific programs to meet specific needs? Doesn't tracking (and detracking) just apply to students in the general education population?
Anonymous said…
Yes, the ITAG is using the deliberately inflammatory word "tracking" to get liberal Seattle riled up. Apparently, tracking is OK in music or foreign language, though. Somehow grouping high ability kids is damaging to everyone else? There really is no basis for the belief beyond optics.

open ears
Anonymous said…
Gifted kids absolutely cannot "swim." "Swimming" is function as an adult and adapt to the marketplace and higher education. "Swimming" is knowing how to learn new things. No 6 year old can do that. Some 6 year olds know how to add and subtract, and so a math curriculum directed at the kids who don't teaches them nothing about the ultimate "swimming" goal of learning how to learn new math concepts. Same for reading. Frustrating.

SusanH said…
Melissa: Rainier Scholars finds those kids and then gets them into private schools. That's part of the interview process: "Would you be willing to change schools?" I know Rainier Scholars at Billings and Lakeside and Explorer West. And that's just the few I know personally.
SusanH said…
Wait! And Northwest! :)

Sorry, that doesn't answer your question about how they find these students.
Anonymous said…
What those teachers may not realize is some of these elementary kid's reading has been assessed at 3+ year's ahead while their math is 2 years ahead(not saying this is their actual level, just the cap on acceleration for math in HCC elementary). After considering the specifics, I bet those teachers would all agree they couldn't actually meet these student's instructional needs.

Subject acceleration is the only viable choice for certain kids.

Not learning any academics in school is inequitable. Not learning anything academic for a whole year in gen-ed is much more stressful than finally being challenged and learning how to exert effort and persist in the face of frustration. One stress is based on lack of growth and the other on finally being challenged.

Has SEE et al thought for one second what the impact will be on the district when private school increases from 28% to 38%?

What is the Mayor's obligation to major employers and impact on the tax base when we reduce advanced academic offerings?

SEE's plans are short-sighted and biased. They don't seem to realize many will take their voucher and run.
Anonymous said…
TAG is a common acronym for Talented And Gifted programs...what an interesting choice of acronyms.

Harrison B

Anonymous said…
SEE does not understand that they are playing into the hands of the corporate education reformers they have spent years fighting against. The Gates Foundation, Betsy DeVos, and their ilk are promoting this attack on advanced learning and special education in order to put all kids in a single class, with a single curriculum, with iPads replacing teachers. This is also what SPS is promoting.

Have these SEE teachers ever once stopped to ask themselves why SPS leadership - which has usually fought SEE every step of the way - is suddenly so willing to support their attack on advanced learning? Do they understand how they are getting manipulated and played?

Teachers' jobs are to provide every child with the education they specifically need - especially when those needs are not the same. SEE has to demonstrate how they will meet the needs of advanced learners or their proposals should be rejected.

Stop DeVos
Anonymous said…
One wonders where SEE members will be working when even more advanced students have moved to private and charter schools.

WS Mom
My comment didn't come thru.

Again, I'm just trying to understand how Rainier Scholars finds their students. Several people here have said that they don't seem to have a hard time finding bright students of color but I think there is more/less to that than it seems. I have inquiries in about how they find them but they do not seem to only seek bright kids (their application asks if a student is in a gifted program/honors classes) but also kids with what I would term as determination or the new word "grit."

Harrison, I did note that sameness to the new SEE group and the TAG name. Makes you wonder.

Again, I do question what seems to be an almost coordinated effort - from many directions - on equity. (I think sometimes when groups work together, they do not realize how it looks from the outside.) This can be a good thing except if people have differing voices on what equity means and goals not visible to the naked eye.
HCC Parent said…
SEE is promoting a one size fits all education model. I thought individuals within that group fought against one size fits all.
Anonymous said…
So if public gifted programs and private School are where Rainier Scholar sends graduates, SEE will recklessly remove SPS HCC as an option for well deserving scholars.

HopeItDoesntComeToThis said…
Curious what area private schools bubble up as best serving gifted/HCC-qualified kids?
Stuart Jenner said…
At the equity summit, I had an interesting conversation with two students who are in the Rainier Scholars program, and also with one of the program directors. Here are a few highlights.

1. someone talked about how the private schools tend to be easier to work with. They have information sessions and explain how their processes work. At the option fair the other day at Cleveland, there were option schools, but not option programs. So no one from Ballard is explaining what they have to offer for someone interested in their Biotech or Marine programs. No one from Sealth or Rainier Beach is there to talk about IB. etc. The schools are full, and take very few out of service area kids. So, they don't need to market. And they do have their own information nights, though going to every one is a lot of work.

2. Rainier Scholars is small. They serve maybe 50 students each grade, and some come from nearby districts, not Seattle. Students have to do a lot of extra work: go after school on Wednesdays, go on Saturdays, some summer work, etc. The first 14 months are the hardest. I think people do this in grades 5 or 6 to 6 or 7.

3. Rainier Scholars cares about drive and resilience . Yes aptitude matters, but I think they said something about top 10%, not top 2%. It takes a lot of family support to stick with the program, though RS does provide transport to at least some of their programs.

4. I get the sense the anchor and extra support they provide is key. Having someone back you up when a teacher says "you couldn't be doing that well, you must be cheating" is really important.
I missed that section of the Summit that Stuart is describing so thanks for that.

RS's strength is absolutely in the belief in each student they are supporting. There appears to be mentoring every step of the way, for both kid and family. However, it is a tough program that requires commitment from both student and family. From reading their website, I get the impression that some kids give up because of the commitment of time and effort. It does look like a two-way street in terms of that commitment and I think that's important to emphasize.

It's interesting because the summit had the superintendent from Everett and boy, what a speaker. That guy is on fire and so is his district (and they are up over 90% graduation rate from about 53% about 13 years ago.) I chased Dr. Cohn down to ask him about his success as I had read about a program they started about 13 years ago where they rearranged resources so that they had a couple of resource people whose job was to chase down students who had missed 5+ days of school and/or were failing a class. (No waiting for the end of the semester.).

The kids apparently warmed to this unyielding attention ("I saw you were on Facebook; why weren't you at school?")

Dr. Cohn said, oh yes, that's one part of a three-part program we have to get those graduation rates up. (I would really like to do a case study of the district.)

But he said - as most people know in their hearts - the work of education is not the greatness of a building itself or the number of iPads or so-called "personalied learning"; the work of education is that hard, intimate, one-to-one "I'm not giving up on you" work.

It seems to be working well in Everett.
muh said…
Melissa - this is a great write up. There are so many issues here, its hard to focus on just one. I think you did a good job of laying out some of the basics, and giving people are starting place, while asking some questions.

I'm curious as to where the teachers you sat with knew HCC parents from? It has been my experience, in HCC, that the parents are not driving the students hard. Parents are INVOLVED, yes. (There is self-selection; in order to be in HCC parents need to have taken at least one active step to get their students there.) But I don't see that parents push. The the contrary, many parents are very concerned with giving their kids balance, and see HCC as one element in providing that balance. (Parents do NOT want their kids to feel like they have to be the top of the class, or to need to do extra work beyond the normal classroom work just to get some challenge.) Many parents are there to take advantage of the social-emotional or soft-skill programming, not the sheer acceleration. Many gifted kids are very passionate, and interested, and want to pursue a lot of activities, or one activity deeply. I don't see the parents pushing this, though.

Frankly, in HCC, my kids get to be normal kids. They don't have to do academics with older kids to work at their level, and they get teachers that understand that a 1st grader reading at a 5th grade level may still struggle with having the emotional regulation to complete a simple 3rd grade writing assignment.

I know that the HCC parent group has this reputation has being pushy, but it really is not something I see in action, so I'm curious if there is more evidence that it is true than I see in my regular life. Were those teachers experience in the HCC setting? (I trust our teachers to know a lot more than I do!)

Anonymous said…
I have two mixed race children, both in HCC, though one stayed at their reference school until middle school. We were mailed a letter from Rainier Scholars at the beginning of their 5th grade year inviting us to apply to the program. We didn't meet the financial cut off for application, and are happy with our school choices. So, somewhere, the district must have provided our test data with our racial designation (and contact info). It wasn't just being at an HCC school since they both weren't, and it wouldn't have been a teacher recommendation. Wish I'd saved the letter.

Jams Fam
muh said…
Examples of acceleration include early entrance to school, grade-skipping, moving ahead in one subject area, or Advanced Placement (AP). Acceleration is educationally effective, inexpensive, and can help level the playing field between students from rich schools and poor schools.

I think this is really key to all these conversations. No one I know would claim that the HCC /AL programs are perfect. There is some dissatisfaction with the fact that HCC is accelerated, but otherwise not actually specific gifted ed. And many parents wish that they could have kept their kids in the neighborhood community.
BUT, the cohort method is very inexpensive and easy to implement. Serving these same kids in gen-ed would be much more expensive and complicated.

I believe that if SPS would focus more on improving the offerings at neighborhood schools and less on reducing the offerings for the gifted population many of the issues would resolve naturally.
not mc-t said…
"Many of asked how come Rainier Scholars manages to find these students of color. I'm looking into that but as it turns out, it appear SPS helps them."

rs is not a gifted program(PERIOD) they are defined as a 'get you ready to do something your parents didn't do: graduate college' program. they aren't race based either. but as you might guess with racial considerations, and no federal money they can decide who are eligible candidates. i am totally cool with that. (does change the sps black kid's achievement scores but not nearly as much as recent immigration and ses status. and that there is success should be all that matters).

RS single goal is to scaffold those kids less likely to make it into college - into college. i applaud their work. they do that by getting kids out of sps into private placements. right you get it= OUT OF SPS TO BE COLLEGE READY. good for them. and that really is telling. they aren't getting kids into hcc they are getting the hell out of sps to be college ready. i wish rs was the norm. were kids needed help they could get it from outside agencies and increased family support.

but rs is a volunteer group and do that at sps with 6 layers of bureaucratic stagnation it would be stealth bomber expensive. suffice it to say there is really no comparison to the great value rs offers and the lack of value that sps dt offers. thanks m. tolley!

other groups who could use rs like support but i guess are just not as worthy: sped, ell, 2e, ses and medically fragile/504 kids. but supporting those that need it let's just get rid of hcc and drown those little kids in boredom. (how does that teacher have a job i must ask).

no caps
not mc troll said…

does anyone have a link to the - see itag- info? i ask because i goggled it nothing. do you mean sea?

speaking of perhaps a dyslexic posting mw did you catch this typo on the write up of the article you cited for gifted learning ?

"The purpose of this paper is to select the most wife-spread practices..."

can't make that stuff up.

in fact when i google that i get the article review. when i search see and itag i get nothing. i also get nothing for sea itag. so a little help would be great.

no caps

Anonymous said…
No, it's not just about getting into college and moving the dial of the family SES a notch. It's about excellence. Facts matter. From the Rainier Scholars website:

"Vision: Our vision is a legacy of successful and inspiring leaders who make a positive impact in our community and our world through: Greater number of diverse students successfully graduating from TOP TIER COLLEGES.

Our Scholars: We now have 600 scholars in 14 cohorts, with a new class of 60-65 students added each year. After successful completion of the 14-month Academic Enrichment phase of Rainier Scholars, more than 95% of students in middle and high school are enrolled in private, parochial or public Advanced Learning programs, with approximately 40% public (APP/Spectrum, Challenge, Discovery, AP/Honors) and nearly 60% private (independent, parochial and boarding school placements).

A program for hard working and motivated students of color.

Currently, we serve 650 scholars through 15 cohorts with 60-65 new scholars added each year. We serve African-American, Hispanic/Latino, first generation Asian and Native American students who are most underrepresented on college campuses.

The playing field isn't going to level itself.

Students of color account for two-thirds of all students in Seattle Public Schools. Yet, by high school they make up just 10 percent of the students in the district's advanced learning programs, the most rigorous academic preparation for college success. Similarly, students of color are not proportionally represented in local independent schools. When layering an income factor into the equation, the disconnect from educational advancement opportunities is most clearly defined."

Get real. Stop trying to put down others to protect your own little bubble, nc. It's especially grating when you misrepresent and minimize an honorable program that has done remarkable work.

not mc-t said…

stop. cut bait or fish on the rs issue. i addressed it as it is do understand and appreciate the program. i have also posted that appreciation repeatedly. i know how this is tough for you fwiw. you see something and then you make it into something else. for the next 6 months you will be making up facts about rs and how they do this and we do that. sorry. not analogous. get close the nearest door and grab a handle.

40% of their multiple district kids go to advanced learning groups of which some might be hcc (at sps). great.

so yeah too far from lakeside and your sd has some program to support you stick with that. otherwise. drive around the lake? easy choice.

SIXTY PERCENT get out of public schools all together to get college ready. enough said.

i offer you the chance to reread my complete and utter appreciation of what the RS do in my post. when you say " It's especially grating when you misrepresent and minimize an honorable program that has done remarkable work." you obviously have no ability to read for context. and you teach kids?!?!?!? thankfully not mine.

no caps (not nc as there is a nc out there) it is just no caps fwiw.

not mc-t said…

so yeah jams fam, is sps duplice in sending 60% of their black students to private school through rs and is that wrong, nope. what do you think fwiw? private schools have 26k seats here in seattle. our district is 52k so a ton are going private who could have the best education ever!

and you are a public school teacher fwiw ,what do you say about losing hcc students to the competition (poster above said - and i agree- not sound business for a teacher to chase hcc kids away.)

no caps (not nc)
z said…
@FWIW at 12:46am

It doesn't seem like you're reading (or comprehending) the same post I am. no caps, for all their rambling, certainly seems to be complimenting Rainier Scholars, not disparaging or minimizing them.

And this comment: "Students of color account for two-thirds of all students in Seattle Public Schools. Yet, by high school they make up just 10 percent of the students in the district's advanced learning programs" is just BS. You need to make up your mind whether Asians are or are not "students of color". You can't make up your own definitions and change them mid-paragraph just to attempt to make a (poor) point.

Anonymous said…
z, take your concerns about the quote to Rainier Scholars. It comes from their website not me. It was within the quotation marks that I indicated. I also didn't use the word disparage.

If you need to defend this poster, that's your problem.


Anonymous said…
Who gets excluded from Rainier scholars? Poor kids whose family checks a white box. Poor Asian kids are recruited. Generational poverty affects achievement. There needs to be a program to support for all poor kids. This group is being left out of the discussion and that really sucks.
Charlie Mas said…
If the quote is part of your argument, then you are responsible for its veracity.
Charlie Mas said…
I found a web site for SEE but it appears abandoned.
kellie said…
Megan Hazen's comment is spot on.

The self contained model exists because it is not just inexpensive, it is downright cheap. All the other models cost money as well as time and focus. Things which are always in short supply.

With the capacity problems in North Seattle, the self contained model solves two problems - it provides capacity relief for multiple schools that have "no capital solutions" and it is less expensive that surrounding schools, thereby adding money to the general pot.
Anonymous said…
We need more tracking, not less. Ability grouping works at all levels, not just for the top 10% like in SPS. Spectrum self-contained worked for the next 10%, the top 20% minus the 10% in APP at the time. The next 10% after Spectrum would also have benefited from a self-contained environment, and so on, down to the lowest 10% who would get focused attention for their needs instead of being always behind the other kids.

It's crazy that policies that demand mixing abilities in school are so sacrosanct. School is for LEARNING and should be as efficient as possible.

Tyler, I think there is tracking going in many classrooms, particularly in elementary school. It may not be every day or an obvious thing, but I suspect teachers sometimes group by ability.
Anonymous said…
"If the quote is part of your argument, then you are responsible for its veracity."

The purpose of the quote was to refute misinformation and minimizing (see "argument" in my lead sentences) which it did and, hence, its "veracity". The quote can be googled at
Rainier Scolars.

Anonymous said…
Scholars, not Scolars! Looked like something about Devos.

Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
"The self contained model exists because it is not just inexpensive, it is downright cheap."

Legal protections for students trump convenience and cost cutting. See LRE laws for SpEd, ELL laws about warehousing and clustering students, and the HC state law on demographics and continuum of services. Same goes for "tracking" students in Tyler's model.

FWIW, if all you say is true, why, in all the decades of HCC and Spectrum, hasn't anyone sued? I agree how the law reads but I think most districts make their own interpretations (just as they seem to do for Sped).

You seem to enjoy beating a dead horse.
ALO Poorhouse said…
My HC kid was warehoused in every single one of the general ed classrooms the state required me to put her in. That was not a free (still had to pay for kindergarten back then) or appropriate education. SpEd laws apply to 2E HC kids. My kid is both SpEd and HC. Now, finally, in the HCC program my kid is receiving a free and appropriate public education. And you are arguing that I move her back to the my local HC kid warehouse that is my neighborhood ALO school? Not gonna happen. My child suffered enough years in that warehouse. She'll leave the public schools before we ever re-warehouse her there.

It is true that HCC is more convenient and cuts costs for educating HC kids, which benefits all SPS kids. But in the case of my kid, it IS also the LRE, which as a SpEd kid she is entitled to. You could easily convince a jury that the gen ed classroom was sooner warehousing my kid than the HCC classroom.

If legal protections for students trumped convenience and cost cutting, kids with advanced learning needs would receive a free and appropriate public education at ALO schools. A large number of SPS schools are demonstrably unwilling and/or unable to provide this.
ALO, you nailed it with that last sentence. ALOs are a joke and schools don't care.
z said…
FWIW, you're so full of crap it's not even funny. Do you have these kinds of arguments with people in person?

"Stop trying to put down others to protect your own little bubble, nc. It's especially grating when you misrepresent and minimize an honorable program that has done remarkable work."

nocaps and yourself disagreed on nuances of the RS program descriptive language, but in no way does his/her post misrepresent or minimize the program. His/her post is complimentary in every way. It may be hard to digest, and frankly I ended up reading it 3 times, but it seems like you have so much hatred inside yourself that you can't even understand when your "opponent" is on your side.

IMO, if their program was only about, to use your own words, "moving the dial of the family SES a notch", that would still be a great program. The word "excellence" is soft, squishy, vastly overused, and frankly meaningless on its own. It should be the goal of every district, program, school, principal and teacher, but how many times have we heard that word used in SPS for naught? All. The. Effing. Time! So if you want to say that using (or not using) that word is some kind of golden standard, then you are flat out wrong. Words are just words without results.

So what are their results? Overall, pretty awesome, right?

About 40% of their students move into APP/Spectrum/Challenge/Discovery/AP/Honors in SPS.
About 60% move into non-SPS schools.

But wait. How many move into your beloved everyone-forceably-mixed-together-in-perfectly-racial-balance-regardless-of-academic-sense classes and programs in SPS? Looks like approximately zero. "Challenge/Discovery" programs are obviously muddy, but they're negligible compared with the rest in any case. Apparently Rainier Scholars have their own hopes and dreams, and have moved beyond yours. They are the ones who are taking charge of their own lives, working hard to get ahead, moving themselves and their families forward. Good for them, huge applause!

There is no better equalizer than supporting the education of kids who need support and are willing to take advantage of it. Most of the other stuff is just an exercise in futility.
z said…
You seem to enjoy beating a dead horse.

Thanks for the literal LOL Melissa.

That's what's so painful about FWIW comments. They seem to keep pulling out the same dead horse arguments over and over again, long after they have been refuted and beat to death in a painfully lingering manner.

I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It's just tiring to hear it over and over and over. And over.

And over.
Anonymous said…
"Students of color account for two-thirds of all students in Seattle Public Schools. Yet, by high school they make up just 10 percent of the students in the district's advanced learning programs"

Wow - that has got to be FWIW posting under the influence. I would entreat Melissa to remove FWIW from the posts. The tactic of repetitive, redundant posts riddled with lies is a classic Troll tactic. Trolls repeatedly post lies as an advertising tactic - the lies can be easily discredited but even discussing them gives them a certain credence that is undeserved.

Anonymous said…
My kid just isn't getting enough. I have every foreign language opportunity, every music and art opportunity, science far beyond others, math to nearly an undergraduate degree level, running start, and ONLY 5 high school choices. But it isn't enough. My kid was reading Harry Potter in kindergarten and is way more inquisitive - how smart does he have to be to prove it? And now, they want other kids to have the same opportunities as mine. Can you believe that? It's so unfair. My kid is the BEST and the BRIGHTEST - but he can't get more than others. It's downright criminal. How will we ever maintain the advantage of being smarter if others are permitted to get smarter too? Don't we want to have make sure that smart kids STAY smart? How will we run the country if we don't know who is smart? I'm really glad we have Melissa on our side.

Another Horse
Anonymous said…
Just keep in mind that the ed reformers who are pushing this attack on advanced learning (and duping people like SEE into going along with them) also have the exact same approach to special education. They don't think those special needs exist, they want to warehouse those kids in general ed classes, and they want to repeal IDEA and all the other laws that protect sped kids. Remember how Betsy DeVos "forgot" about IDEA and then removed it from the USDOE website?

Teaching sped kids cuts into charters' profit margins. It means higher taxes to pay for schools. It makes it harder for companies to sell "personalized learning" to districts like SPS that are eager to embrace it (another thing NOBODY is paying attention to, aside from Melissa, certainly not our do-nothing school board). Same is true with advanced learners. The ed reformers want it gone and found a way to get liberals to help them do it.

The scariest thing is watching all these smart people in Seattle totally lose their heads and help people like DeVos gut schools. You don't know what you're doing and as a result children across this district are going to get screwed. Oh, and the kids of color are going to get the worst of it.

Stop DeVos
Anonymous said…

The problem is that SPS is currently ignoring the needs of the students that Rainier Scholars is left to serve.

nc's post speaks for itself. It was full of inaccuracies that minimized the scope of the program and who it serves. Again, defend it for your own reasons.

My goal is to increase the access to advanced learning for the students who are systematically denied access in SPS. The demographics of identified HC say it all.
Any search on this blog would attest that I have supported a continuum of services for HC and groupings to advance challenge and achievement, include walk-to-math. I am all about "growth not proficiency" which has been my MO since I started teaching.

Doing a Kellyanne by basically calling me a hater is not only untrue but ridiculous.

As a parent of students who are benefitting from the state law, good for you. There are many, many more in this district who aren't. That is who I am talking about. I have been an advocate and actual teacher who has contributed to high achievement for many years. I am a far, far cry from the cult of mediocrity and am the opposite of one-size-fits all in word and action. I don't need to prove it to you. The parents of my students know.

I summarized the Rainier Scholars vision statement "Our vision is a legacy of successful and inspiring leaders" as meaning excellence, but they said much better in their own words.


p.s. Beating the dead horse has gotten results. It work--as anyone working for change knows. The public is waking up. You can always skip my posts if you don't like what I say. ItsYourBlog, that wasn't my quote; it is from the Rainier Scholars website.
Lynn said…
Who are the students who are systematically denied access to HCC? If it's those whose reading and math skills are below the 95th percentile, let's change that. Let's drop the achievement score hurdle from the identification process and screen every student in kindergarten and second grade with the CogAT.
Anonymous said…
And wow. So awesome we also have Kellie tooting our horn too. She's so smart. We all know for a FACT - that the dumber than average white kids are the ones going to private school. That's why it's really completely fine and great - for the HCC program to be nearly ALL White and Asian, even if our public schools are minority white. That's because we all know it - we're the SMART WHITE kids in HCC. And, those private school WHITE kids are the less than smart WHITE kids. None of those private school WHITE kids - would or could be in HCC! So, it all works out fair and square. We're not racists even though it appears that we are.

I'm sure Kellie has data on private school demographics proving that the private schools are full of dull-normal white kids and super smart black kids. No-caps-mct also pointed out that the smart, well coached, well enriched RS black kids are going private. When they go private (and there tons of them) it robs us of the opportunity to show we're not racists. And, I know he has the demographics showing tons and tons of black kids are in private schools. Because we all know this too - private schools are chocked full of HCC qualified minority students. Drive by any one of those schools - you will spy it with your own eyes.

If you don't get into the wonderful, HCC program. It's so simple - you go to private school. There's not a single smart white kid in private that I know in private school. It must be true.

And, so big deal - our best and brightest HCC students don't do so well when it counts - like NMFS. That National Merit stuff is for the birds. We aren't test takers in HCC - we're just smart. We all know that our kids really and truly are the best and brightest even when that 1 single test doesn't show it. There's a simple answer for that too - HCC hasn't given us nearly enough! We have to let other kids in our honors classes - making them less honorific. I mean, if other kids aren't working hard to prove they deserve honors - it totally destroys my kids abilities.

Another Horse
Another Horse, you said:

"I have every foreign language opportunity, every music and art opportunity, science far beyond others, math to nearly an undergraduate degree level, running start, and ONLY 5 high school choices."

Except for the number of high schools (and every student has a choice of at least 3), every student can take foreign language (including AP) and science and math and Running Start. I can prove that statement; can you prove yours?

As for music and art, it does vary from high school to high school but they all offer music and arts. All of them.

As well, RS only takes kids of color and I'm sure you could ask them about stats on where their students go to school. Their list of schools includes Lakeside, Bush, etc.

You can be snarky but you need to be truthful.

FWIW, I have asked you before to make new points or points pertinent to the thread because yes, you are repetitious and yes, it is my blog.

not mc troll said…

"The problem is that SPS is currently ignoring the needs of the students that Rainier Scholars is left to serve." no again rs is not a gifted program. it is just the opposite. drill and kill which would kill a hc kid. and fwiw i am at a loss are you saying you are for ability grouping? that effectively is what rs is. it just happens after school. you aren't going to get into rs if you don't meet certain thresholds on achievement. and you could be truly gifted and not get in if you don't seem to have enough grit and family commitment.

but no you aren't advocating for more hcc kids (more black students) you are advocating for less or no hcc at all, right. don't confuse yourself. you have posted that white kids should have a higher iq to get in than black kids right. that is also why you put forward the equity team (even if you can't prove the inequality) with racist ideas like that?!?! no matter. just keep deluding yourself. and a sincere thank you for continually using the same moniker. unlike currently another horse's blather post. same as yours factual incorrect with name calling and strawman arguments. easy to say who they are based on the repetition though. but we are left believing their is more than one deluded soul out there as bad as they are.

no caps

not mc-t said…

mw, can you say that another horse's post adds anything to this thread? all i see is lie, after lie, after lie. and calling hc advocates racist really should not be allowed, right? it is simply a troll post.

Yes, it should be clear that while Rainier Scholars does look for good students and specifically asks about whether a student is in a gifted program, it does not appear to be a program for gifted students. At all.

No Caps hits on what I am going towards which is that there are some who seem less concerned about who isn't being served in HCC than it being self-contained. I find that troubling.

I didn't see Another Horse call anyone a racist but yes, that person has made their point.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon said…
There are two separate issues:

1. Equity in Advanced Learning so that its demographics reflect the district.

2. The absolute and legitimate need for a HiCap program per se for kids who are identified as such, a program based on best practices following the abundant scientific research in the field.

These are not mutually exclusive issues even slightly. However, the equity discussion is too often used as a proxy for destroying the HCC program. The HCC program and Advanced Learning in general should be greatly expanded, not destroyed. Addressing equity should be part of that expansion. Title I and Title II funding could be used under ESSA to do universal HiCap identification in grades 2 and 5, for instance. (I say "identification" rather than testing on purpose . . .)

Anyway, I also think the hostility to advanced learning generally and to HCC specifically is rooted in a kind of anti-intellectualism or anti-science attitude that is all too pervasive in society right now. It's not like HiCap/gifted education is some mystical, arcane area of knowledge. It's extremely well studied with a great deal of scholarship in education science, psychology, child development, etc., with first-hand data available from all kinds of gifted programs and projects throughout the US (we even have the Robinson Center right here in Seattle), and in states like Nevada you actually need an endorsement to even teach HiCap. To me, it's a bit like climate change denial: a substitution of ideology for science ("HiCap education is elitist"), and an unwarranted universalization of one's own experience ("how can there be gifted kids when I've never encountered any").

not mc-t said…
"it robs us of the opportunity to show we're not racists." i don't need such an opportunity, but they claim that is what i believe. seems clear to me but if you don't think that was a trolling post... your blog.
kellie said…
@ Another Horse and FWIW,

I have no information on the demographics of the Seattle private school population. That information may exist. However, I have never looked for it, as I don't believe it adds to the conversation.

My background is in system engineering and capacity managment. As such, I try to do the silliest of things in our post-truth world and insert basic facts into capacity related conversations. And unfortunately for all of us, those both pro and against various advanced learning solutions, capacity issues are a big piece of this puzzle.

Self-contained HCC may or may not be the best answer for advanced learning for a large urban public school system like Seattle. However, SPS is chronically short on funds and capacity. The simple fact that the self contained model is both cheap and capacity efficient is a PART of the conversation, not the entire conversation. Any solution based on a different model will need to contend with fact that other solutions will require both more capacity and more money.

My personal opinion is that we would all benefit from a variety of services. There have been a variety of very successful programs over the years, like Maple elementary' program, TTMinors program. However, they have all suffered from a lack of support and focus or any effort to bring them to scale. I have long admired the Everett miracle that has been produced with sustained focus and great metrics.
not mc-t said…
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Gifted Education, Part 2? I think this thread has run its course.

and that is just why you are posting lies right?

yeah. well said simon.
Silly Horsebeater said…
@Another Horse

I don't personally know anyone whose kid was reading Harry Potter in kindergarten. In a city with 52,000 school kids, I'm sure there are a few. I know plenty of people whose kids were reading the books in 2nd and 3rd grade. And of course I want all the other kids to have the same opportunities as mine. If kids are reading Harry Potter, they should have access to books at that reading level. All kids should have access to books at the reading level they're reading books at. That is exactly what I'm urging. That's why HCC is critical for some kids. Do you know what some SPS 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms provide kids to read? Berenstain Bear books. Wayside School is Falling Down. Magic Tree House.

Giving kids access to books at their reading level is NOT special treatment. It is what schools should be doing for all children. Why would a school system work so hard to keep kids access to reading material at the level they're reading at? Why do so many people confuse children's reading levels with their value as human beings? A kid's reading level does not affect his or her value as a human being. It simply affects what books they should have access to.

SPS needs to stop deciding what reading level children are at by looking at their age. They should assess the kids' freaking reading levels and then give them access to stuff to read at that level. This should be done for all children in their care. And it should be done ASAP. For all children. At every school. Immediately.

I don't know why you think the HCC program is so wonderful. My kid got suckerpunched in the head there today for looking at a classmate wrong. It's not some kind of Shangri-La.
Apple Pie said…
SPS should stop capping the upper limit of what children are allowed to learn. For all children. In every school. Period. There should be no upper limit to what children are allowed to learn in school. If they are going to use MTSS it needs to contain a plan for what to do if the student needs access to harder work. All children should be provided to access to harder work if they need it. All children. Not busy work. Re-teaching only when the child needs re-teaching. All schools should have an actual plan that they actually implement for what to do with children who need access to more advanced work. Period. All children. Every child. They're freaking schools. Teach the darn kids. Stop refusing to teach our kids. Stop capping the upper limit of what children are allowed to learn. For all children. In every school. Start today. Start immediately. Children would flood back into the public school system if it stopped artificially capping the upper limit of what they're allowed to learn. For shame, SPS, for shame.
muh said…
I just want to correct something that was said above:

My kid just isn't getting enough. I have every foreign language opportunity, every music and art opportunity, science far beyond others, math to nearly an undergraduate degree level, running start, and ONLY 5 high school choices. But it isn't enough.

You know, this just isn't true. My kids aren't in high-school yet, so I don't know how that will shake out. But I can tell you that in elementary school the parents of AL kids must make decisions about what they are willing to sacrifice for AL. For example, language immersion schools do exist, but they do not offer AL services in those schools. The Access program (for special ed support) exists, but not in the HCC school. Parents must choose between these things and AL services. Right now, in HCC/Cascadia, students are well below state mandated gym hours, and behind many elementaries in music education, due to space constraints. Again, parents have to choose whether the benefits of AL are worth the things you give up leaving your neighborhood school.

I'm not saying any of this to complain. Every school in the district is having to make really hard choices about what they can offer, what they can fund locally, what they prioritize. But, I do think it is really important to understand that the AL programs aren't BETTER across the board. AL kids aren't automatically given more services (lowest funding per capita in the district!).

Maybe its time to call our legislators (again) and demand fully funded schools so that every school can offer music classes and a full time counselor.
SusanH said…
Megan: that post you commented on is just snark. It's someone who is very-anti-HCC just trying to call us all whiners. Not to argue your (sincere) point though.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
unvarnished said…
On the SBAC math test, 11.7% of Black/ African Americans 3 graders in Seattle scored Level 4 last year. 50% of White students scored Level 4. For reading it was 12% level 4 for blacks compared to 58% for whites.

This difference in these scores is not caused by appeals. This difference in these numbers is not caused by a racist selection process. The difference in these numbers is not caused by an unfair application process. Everyone takes the SBAC.

If you take any given class, you face exactly the same issue; far more white students than black students score Level 4. So when the teacher divides the students into different groups, there are a disproportionate number of white students in the high group and a disproportionate number of black students in the low group.

If the district uses “local norms” for testing to lower the HCC entry criteria for under-performing schools, it’s going to again help a disproportionate number of white students.

This leaves only two real ways to get proportionately more black students into the program: (1) the district can either lower the entry criteria specifically for black students; or (2) the district can significantly enrich the educational experience for the black students at the top of the range so they are more likely to qualify. Unfortunately, both 1 and 2 are pretty hard for the district to do in any significant way without getting sued.

The district can’t eliminate HCC identification because it’s required by state law, but there are some things the district can do: (1) eliminate or redefine tracked services to eliminate perceived “segregation”; (2) shuffle program placement around so the problem is less grating; (3) make noise to obfuscate the real issue; and (4) create a multi-year committee to study the problem so it looks like something is being done.

I believe the HCC community should be advocating hard for 2, 3 and 4.
not mc-t said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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