Garfield Honors For All Update

On May 23, 2017, the Garfield PTSA hosted two Garfield teachers at their regular meeting to talk about the progress of Honors for All.

To note, there were roughly 30 parents in attendance; it seemed like a small turnout but then again, given that parents were not notified about this change until right before school started and Principal Howard did no 9th grade parent orientation, maybe parents just thought it not worth attending.

There were two teachers presenting; Tim Zimmerman, an LA teacher, and Nathan Simoneaux, a History teacher.  They spoke to the concern that "honors" would not be honors-level work.  They handed out a group of papers that contained a test that students took two days prior, one from last year's Honors class and a paper from a student.

They each spoke about their experiences and then took questions from the audience.  Unfortunately, they did their PowerPoint slides in such a way that the audience could not read them so they did from their phones. 
Their Statements

- Over and over, "this is not dumbed-down material."  They say the class average was about a B.  (I'm not sure how anyone could verify that.)  They compared the material to what was being taught in Bellevue SD but again, I'm not sure how to verify that.  The test did look challenging but not particularly difficult. 

- They said Honors for All was to show that everyone has a range of talents and experience and that would create an environment for all students to learn in.  An example they gave was a student from China who had been here less than a year was able to create a podcast in Mandarin and the other students were impressed.

- They felt very strongly that they saw more mixing of different racial groups (unlike what happens in the hallways of Garfield).  They said the students chose on their own who to work with.  

But then there was a tangent where one teacher said that students could see that African-American males (he were specific here) could be seen as "leaders" in the classroom as well as "intelligent, worthy and empowering."  

Frankly, I was taken aback. First, the teachers had never met these students prior to these classes.  Did they assume that all the white, Asian and Latino students thought African-American students didn't/couldn't have these qualities?  That's quite an assumption to make about some students in terms of how they saw other students in their class. 

- They made a point of telling parents what they were teaching and then Simoneaux asked, "Is that what YOU learned in World History in high school?"  First, I'm not sure many of us can accurately recall but is that relevant?  I'm not sure I think it is.

- The teachers collaborated during the year (although it seemed that not as often and some were more available than others).  Zimmerman said SS classes were more "lockstep" but not all the same.  But they admitted it was hard with seven teachers to all get together.

- This was their first year and there were growing pains.  

- They shared "data" with the School Board that was "fascinating."  Oddly, they did not hand out that data here.  From what I saw previously of what the Board received, it was more anecdotal stories than real data.

- Reading Romeo and Juliet is a "rite of passage" for 9th graders.  They saw movies of it (not sure which ones) and they had students stage scenes (but with latitude on the presentation i.e. in the Wild West).  They made masks for characters and did Renaissance dances.

I'll just interject here that I really don't like Romeo and Juliet.  They did this in my son's 8th grade class and he, along with many other boys, really disliked it.  I think King Lear or The Tempest or even MacBeth would be better choices.

- The Social Studies unit had more about the Holocaust than previous years

- They did mock trials - unclear to me which class - and had the students write briefs and make arguments

Changes for Next Year

1) They will have academies with grouped teachers for LA/History and the same 90 students
2) It will continue to be only at the 9th grade; 10th grade will have two tracks - AP and General Ed
3)  As far as tutoring, they will try to be more specific in what tutoring will cover.  Apparently, some kids showed up but there was no one to help them with specific topics.

Their Call to Action

1) Continue to support the program
2) They claim that they have made calls to parents that did not get returned "and then, in May, we get caustic emails for not doing our job" rather than parents who didn't answer e-mails.  I'm not sure that's going to win over many parents.
3) They claim that Garfield is the only high school in the district getting their funds cut for the "collection of evidence" option for graduation.  They could not say why that was but they wanted parents to call the district about it.  (I'm not sure what that has to do with Honors for All but that's what they said.)
Discussion After the Presentation

1) I love teachers, I really do.  But I have found, just from my own years of experience, that you really can't ask teachers even simple questions about curriculum without the teacher feeling you are challenging their skills.  Both Mr. Zimmerman and Mr. Simoneaux seemed defensive from the get-go and did not really seem to want to hear any parent questions.

2) One parent - who was clearly not happy but spoke quietly but firmly - stated that her child's class had only gone thru only two-thirds of the syllabus  in LA.  Mr. Zimmerman conceded that they did need to do better but to consider the skills their child learned, not how much was covered.  (But I'm thinking if it were the reverse - a student telling the teacher he had mad skills now and didn't need to read all the texts - the teacher would not be so impressed.)

And, when your child brings home a syllabus and you are thinking he/she will be covering X,Y,Z texts and they don't, you might wonder if it is your child being lazy or is it the class.  It's not a dumb question for a parent to ask.

I felt that the one woman who asked the most direct questions seemed to get piled on by teachers and a couple of parents.   She did say that there were other teachers and that much of what was being stated was anecdotal.  She said they needed "evidence-based" proof or "you won't convince us."

One teacher - I didn't note which - shot back and said "your child's experience is not all kids."  And, that there were different quality of teachers throughout the school.

Even though, Mr. Zimmerman said they had "data" and were collecting it, he didn't say when it would be available.

Data parents did want to know - and was not available here - was how many students were enrolling in Honors for All next year versus this year.  (Mr. Simoneaux claimed they didn't have access to that info.)

3) Another issue was who to talk to about the program. Mr. Howard has clearly held parents at arm's length and should parents talk to their child's teacher or were these two teachers the representatives for the program?  They said to talk to your child's teacher.

One parent chimed in that she was sorry about the first parent's child but that there hadn't been a geometry teacher all last year.  (I was perplexed how that made sense.)

One parent said she was the Equity advisor for the PTA and felt "uncomfortable" that parents have to defend the quality and quantity of education in SPS.  She felt that some parents were saying that some students didn't want to learn.

I found it odd that she spoke out about some parents she believed thought that some students "couldn't learn" but seemed to miss that there was the assumption made about the beliefs of fellow students about the skills of male African-American students in their classes.

4) As to discipline in the classes, the teachers said that discipline referrals had gone down and that they were seeing more "socialization" in classes.  They stated, "What we had before was not perfect and students were not all docile, quiet kids and angels who came down from on high."

I'll just let that statement stand on its own except to say that clearly, these two teachers have no fear of speaking out against some kids.

They continued saying that kids were "harmed and marginalized" by the previous class set-up and "not given access to public school classes."  

I don't understand the latter part of that statement.

They ended their presentation saying that they encouraged parents to come volunteer and that there had not been a single parent in their classes all year. 

In summary, it seemed to be a one-sided and defensive assessment of a newly-minted program.  I suspect that defensiveness is not about working out kinks but feeling pushback from parents.

I also note that I have spoken to several different parents of 9th grade students (who do not know each other).  To a person, they said that, for whatever reason, the make-up of these classes is not evenly HCC and Gen Ed.

The same theme emerged - the HCC class moved much more quickly.  And it seems that the more mixed class had more behavior issues (not serious but more obvious than in the skewed HCC class.)  Again, I don't know how two classes could be that different in make-up but that's what I am told.

As well, HCC students felt that with many group projects, they ended up having to take charge and do larger amounts of work than other students.  They felt the other students did not get the academic support they needed to be in the class.


Anonymous said…
Can you add more details? Thanks
I spent my time to go to the meeting and now I spent the time to write this up and I get, what? Sarcasm? Move along, Curious.
Lynn said…
Why would a high school English or history teacher need parent volunteers in the classroom? What would they do?

I should be surprised by the willingness of Garfield staff to show open contempt for students and their parents but am not.
Anonymous said…
Maybe curious was making that comment because the blog is displaying differently now than it had in the past, making it hard to see there is more to the post than you see in the first few lines. Giving curious the benefit of the doubt here, since it was not obvious to me at first, either, they may just not have seen the full post. There was another post (the one with an update about the KUOW story on the philanthropy question) that also was displaying in a weird way, at least on my computer.

- Another reader
Anonymous said…
Thanks for posting the report on this meeting. As a parent of students who have had each of these teachers, my sense is that they both work hard to teach students in an inspirational way. For example, I know that Mr. Simoneaux offered after-school sessions to prepare students for the AP exam, even for kids not in his class. Students seem to be learning a lot in the classes taught by these two teachers, and I've heard several students say they are among the best teachers they have had.

I can compare this year's class to the pre-Honors for All era and say it seems not that different this year.

It is accurate to say that many kids do not like the group projects (I have heard several students complain about this), but group projects are a problem in other classes, too, not just the H4A classes. Even in the AP classes kids find that not all members of the group will pull their weight, leaving the diligent and/or more organized kids carrying a heavier load. I have tried to see it as a way of learning a life skill (adults often face similar problems with colleagues not doing their share of a task). But I think it can be very frustrating for kids whose grades are negatively affected through no fault of their own, or who are up late doing the work of several other kids so that they can make sure the project is complete and done well.

I would also add that if these teachers were looking for volunteers to help in the classroom, that message did not come through to the parents.

- Bulldog Parent
Adan said…
This article didn't display properly for me. I saw only the first few paragraphs and then it looked like it ended (rather abruptly). When I clicked on "comments" and then clicked on "Show Original Post," then it revealed the whole article.

I don't understand how Garfield is the pathway high school for all HCC students in the city, but Garfield doesn't seem to want them. It just doesn't sit right for a school to hate on one group of students who have been told to go there.

I hope the district will open up an HCC high school pathway north of the ship canal where students' access to academics will not be rationed and where all students will be valued as human beings of value regardless of how well they do on tests.
not mc t said…
yikes and thanks another reader. mw it does display goofy on chrome browsers. i saw this (below) and thought thanks but what about the details. there was zero indication there was more to the story. not sure if you truncate it or if google does but it makes me want to go back and see what i missed in other post.

i do appreciate all your great work mw! and the response by another reader and curious show great appreciation too. thanks and you should run for sb if that is something that you want to do... i would also vote for you as sup but i guess i don't have a vote for that. sure you would do better than sup tolley and pensioner nyland.

no caps (here is what i saw on the post without any indication there was more).

Sunday, June 04, 2017
Garfield Honors For All Update
On May 23, 2017, the Garfield PTSA hosted two Garfield teachers at their regular meeting to talk about the progress of Honors for All.

To note, there were roughly 30 parents in attendance; it seemed like a small turnout but then again, given that parents were not notified about this change until right before school started and Principal Howard did no 9th grade parent orientation, maybe parents just thought it not worth attending.

There were two teachers presenting; Tim Zimmerman, an LA teacher, and Nathan Simoneaux, a History teacher. They spoke to the concern that "honors" would not be honors-level work. They handed out a group of papers that contained a test that students took two days prior, one from last year's Honors class and a paper from a student.

They each spoke about their experiences and then took questions from the audience. Unfortunately, they did their PowerPoint slides in such a way that the audience could not read them so they did from their phones.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Bulldog, for the reality check. Having children involved and being able to speak honestly is a breath of fresh air. Knowing they go the extra mile for all students lowers the temperature on the Garfield teacher "hater" "racist" narrative that has been the gut response by too many who fear their child may lose a lap in the rat race.

Maybe the teachers seemed a "little defensive" because of the vitriol that has been directed against them. Who knows?

Funny that way
not mc t said…
MW - They continued saying that kids were "harmed and marginalized" by the previous class set-up and "not given access to public school classes."

Anyone could sign up for these classes unless ted had some "don't let them in" policy for less capable students. reminder:

it was honors for those who chose
then it was announced it would be honors for no one
then when al office said "hey i need a box to check in hs for the state" it became honors for all

why? senseless changes with zero net benefit to any group and a huge deficit to most hcc kids. show us the data. no data no more silliness.

we were promised data and all we have is anedotas and tm has the same problems.
they also are both asking for family tutors that never were needed before. more resources lends me to believe that this whole thing has failed and it isn't for lack of trying - or browbeating parents- it is because hcc kids fall in the 2 to 8 years advanced range and gen ed can fall 3 years behind. meaning a teacher is trying to teaching a grade range of -3 to +8 or a total of 11 years. now of course that isn't happening at ghs but the range is significant and those making these decisions don't get it. at ghs any child could take an honors class before now those that want that rigor can't get it. period.

so ask yourself why are these only "solutions" for south of the ship canal. north of the ship canal they can have self contained elementary schools. south nope and at fairmount park not even self contained classes. north of the ship canal with ibx you can have self contained classes in hs. south you can't have opt in honors hs classes. ms is a mess everywhere but al still has a place there, not at wms. that has been obliterated. now wms is going to no specifically trained teachers for hcc to be added to no specifically developed curriculum. tolley you are a master at nothing but division; too bad you couldn't multiple so you geniusus weren't tens of millions over budget. think about all those hcc kids scared away from sps. times that by 10k and you start closing the budget gap.

no caps

not mc t said…
reposting for funny that way as they can't count to two it seems:

Thanks, Bulldog, for the reality check. Having children involved and being able to speak honestly is a breath of fresh air. Knowing they go the extra mile for all students lowers the temperature on the Garfield teacher "hater" "racist" narrative that has been the gut response by too many who fear their child may lose a lap in the rat race.

Maybe the teachers seemed a "little defensive" because of the vitriol that has been directed against them. Who knows?

Funny that way
Anonymous said…
The entire HCC program is based on anecdotes. It's only an issue when you are afraid of losing a lap.

Funny Face
Owler said…
Melissa, I don't think curious was trying to be snarky. The "click to read more" or however it was worded isn't showing anymore, and I'm guessing that Curious thought that you had ended the posting after "Unfortunately, they did their PowerPoint slides in such a way that the audience could not read them so they did from their phones." I thought the same, and it wasn't until Another reader posted that I realized there was more to your writing.

Clicking on comments doesn't show the entire posting either; it's only if I click on the headline that I see the whole article. (on a Mac with Safari browser, btw)
Anonymous said…
"now of course that isn't happening at ghs but the range is significant and those making these decisions don't get it. at ghs any child could take an honors class before now those that want that rigor can't get it."

Don't mistake thinking skills for paper and pencil skills (or survival skills, which are too underestimated in some bubble worlds). That is where you are sadly mistaken.

funny face
not mc t said…

you are correct the vitriol and racist claims have been fierce and one sided... by paid ghs teachers. not by parents. show me the post statements by parents please. this blog has many reported post by teachers that are shameful and should have been addressed with corrective action.

bulldog parent,

wth are you talking about there is no ap test associated with honors classes. you have zero credibility in my book sorry. and they need extra help because teachers were pushed into a racial narrative that is not correct. many of the underachieving black/hispanic kids at ghs are homeless and newly immigrated from war torn areas which is represented in their low scores. good kids who have extra burdens to catch up and should be given the resources needed to do that. should they be forced to do work years ahead of their ability? no! ghs's solution, without data i need to assume, is take a year from app that they accelerated and twiddle their thumbs. easy grade but it will show up on sats i suspect.

no caps

Anonymous said…
There was a deleted thread from Teacher Appreciation Week in May that had a
post from yours truly...meaning you...that called Garfield teachers "racist".

It seemed like such a great way to honor them.

Funny Face
not mc t said…
funny face (stick to a single moniker your bs pervades in all your post so i would rather just skip them).

i don't live in a bubble and neither do my kids. mw i thought kids were off limits? i believe ff just called all hcc ghs kids bubble kids = snowflakes (ala ghs staff) = white privilege. i find their post objectionable in so many ways. some of those ghs/hcc kids are also recent immigrants and black and brown. are they bubble kids too? \

don't waste this thread with your hate just move on...

no caps
not mc t said…

racist comments come from racist people. there have been a lot of racist comments from ghs staff. i will stand by that. trolls use my moniker all the time, for some reason i doubt what you are saying is something i posted.

no caps
Anonymous said…
"many of the underachieving black/hispanic kids at ghs are homeless and newly immigrated from war torn areas which is represented in their low scores."

Now some of these same survivors are geniuses?

"some of those ghs/hcc kids are also recent immigrants and black and brown."

Get your self-preservation...

not mc troll said…
oh correction there have been a small number of ghs teachers who have made racist comments about hcc. i guess the fact they stopped was it was pointed out their jobs would no longer be there for them if they persisted ... our they were enlightened or the ghs hcc cohort became un-snowflaked in their eyes. your bubble comment is racist though in my opinion. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW WRONG YOU ARE.

no caps
not mc troll said…
right it is not that easy no moniker. hcc comes in all shapes, backgrounds and sizes. it is not black/white. it is just a nuanced group of high achievers who also have really high iqs. get over yourself; back to ignoring you...

no caps
Anonymous said…
Don't be so easily offended.

I doubt if Garfield teachers were scared off by you
and your own when you globally called them racists
on this blog and the APP blog. You don't matter to them
(no matter what you may think).

They have bigger fish to catch and your opinion doesn't
matter to them.

Backtracking isn't so easy in the digital age and

life is...

Anonymous said…
Is there something stopping the high achievers from reading the all books that were on the original syllabus? Was someone hiding the books trying to hold back the high achievers? And here we were led to believe we need HCC because gifted students love reading light years ahead of mere mortals and lap up learning at every turn. As gifted students, they definitely shouldn't have to show any basic initiative or anything banal like that. And imagine the horror of high achievers taking the lead on the group projects. That's downright criminal. And by all means, Somebody should sue. And heck yeah! Let's keep endlessly re mediating, homeless, foreigners, minorities, all the non advanced learners. Because it's working so well right? Is it any wonder that staff ignores parental input?

Anonymous said…
no caps -

Fine if you don't want to believe me, but I never said there were AP tests for 9th graders. There are, however, AP tests for 10th graders who take World History, and the World History class is taught by some of the same teachers who teach the 9th grade class. The material taught in 9th grade is covered on the AP World History exam, along with what they cover in the 10th grade class. Some people have taken the view that spreading the material over two years is "dumbing down" the content from the time when 9th graders took the full World History AP class in one year. Maybe there is some truth in that, but I think the kids are learning history well, and the 10th graders I know felt well prepared both for the AP exam and for the SAT World History subject tests.

Just sharing my experience, which I realize is anecdotal, but some people may find it helpful especially since the data does seem to be rather scarce.

- Bulldog Parent
Cap hill said…
This is a hugely unproductive and unfortunate situation.

As a district, we need to change the HCC programs. Advanced learning is a not a scarce resource and not a large cost driver for the district (the primary costs are testing). Rather than an all in or all out program, we should offer a more flexible program that allows more students to participate, but insist on the excellence of the offerings and have verification through measures of student progress. Self contained units, not a self contained program.

Doing this will broaden participation in the program and allow more students to benefit from acceleration. The lack of diversity in honors classes at Garfield (which was the primary reason presented by the teachers in proposing the program) is the result of a rigid K-8 tracking which probably is not the right solution for Seattle. Having a more flexible program will also likely help with the issue of teacher referrals which appears to be the #1 issue in getting better diversity at an earlier age. As a city, we should commit to the idea that advanced learning programs are good, and that all populations have advanced learners in them, and that we may need to apply more resource to some populations. Let's fix the intake mechanisms and adjust how we deliver, to ensure that everyone can buy in. But to deny students the material and pacing that is right for them is just counter-productive.

We also need to address the issue that the governance model at many schools is completely broken. The family survey favorable scores on "the school partners with families to improve the learning environment" are: Garfield-39%, Lowell-46%, Stevens-34%, Washington-44%. Those scores reflect a deep frustration among parents with the lack of real school-family partnership. We need to build a consensus on the school board that the school leaders must do a far better job on positive and productive leadership. It would be really hard to look at the situation at Garfield and conclude in any way that this was well managed. This program was announced to parents in the Seattle Times after school was out, and the school has missed many commitments to deliver additional information - such as a promised 9th grade orientation, and measures of individual student progress.

At this point, we need to step back and agree on what problem we are trying to solve. Is the district trying to assert that self-contained units for advanced learners is the wrong model, and that great outcomes can be predictably delivered through differentiation in large classrooms, with a very wide range of skills and aptitudes?

Or are we trying to deliver equitable access to advanced learning for all populations? I believe we should be solving the second, and that HCC parents need to lean in to drive that discussion. I don't think this issue is going away, and there are three seats on the board at stake this fall. The best outcome is that we can create a consensus to positively address this on the board.

Anonymous said…
I cannot agree more with Cap Hill. In fact, I'm tempted to copy and paste your email into a letter to Nyland and the Board (I won't, but I hope you send this well-articulated post to the folks in charge). It is mind-boggling to see how the district and some individual schools set themselves up from the very outset to be at odds with students' families. Parents say, over and over, that they want more challenge in the classroom (AL or not, many parents feel their kids could be learning more). Parents say, over and over, that they want transparency and clear, regular communication. Parents say, over and over, that they want to be involved in their child's education (not all parents, but why ignore the ones who DO say this?)

Given this reality - and this is a POSITIVE reality! - why create programs on the fly without parental input? Why act defensively when parents have questions about what is happening in the classroom? Why distance yourself from the very community you serve and is often more than ready to support you? Is this about a lack of confidence? Is the district so confused about its motives or muddled about the problems it is attempting to solve (as Cap Hill pointed out) that nobody can speak clearly about what is actually going on and why?

Anonymous said…
Commenting on post format - I, too, thought the post oddly ended with "...they did with their phones." Only after clicking on comments, then "show original post" could I see the full post.

The entire HCC program is not based on anecdotes. For starters, it's based on law to serve these kids. (I'll have a thread on the GREAT presentation at the Board Retreat on Saturday on equity in Highly Capable education.)

Funny Face, I find some of your comments to be cryptic; maybe you might consider being clearly.

Seriously, of course the students could have read all the books. But reading them without the guidance of the teacher and in-class discussion makes them less useful to a student.

As for the programs with viewing threads, I had no idea this was happening. I suspect it's whatever browser you are using. I wish I knew how to fix it but I don't.
Anonymous said…
If you click on the title "Garfield Honors for All Update" it show the entire article. -TeacherMom
Anonymous said…
I agree with some of what Cap hill said, but not all.

Yes, we need to change/improve HCC. Advanced learning should not be a scarce resource to be rationed, and is not a large cost driver. Some increased flexibility to allow more students to participate is probably a good idea. However, it needs to be done appropriately. The level or rigor required needs to be increased over what it is now (at least for high school and middle school; elementary may be fine), otherwise there's not a lot of point to separate offerings in the first place. For example, if an "honors for all" approach can truly deliver enough challenge for highly capable students, why do we even need honors and AP classes in later grades? Probably because the the honors for all approach doesn't really provide such a high-level experience, which means some kids are getting an artificial ceiling placed on their in-school learning.

Should the goal really be to open up HCC so more students can participate, or should it be to make sure that the students who really need it are able to participate? In my ideal world HCC would be smaller, serving those students whose needs really and truly couldn't be served by a stronger, more challenging GE program that provided differentiation and acceleration to students who wanted or needed it.

I don't understand the suggestion that we need "self contained units, not a self contained program." If the units are the same--as they are--what's the point? Or are you suggesting that we need a more rigorous curriculum for HCC, tailored to the unique needs and abilities of highly capable students? For example, a unit that covered 4x as much material as the GE equivalent of that unit, since HC students don't require all the repetition? That would be great, but what would happen to the students who opt into that unit and who DO need more repetition? If the units are truly designed with the needs of HCC students in mind, they aren't likely to work well for most other students. If they DO work well for anyone else who wants to do them, they probably aren't well-designed for the target population they are intended to serve, in which case they only serve to segregate. My point is, we need HC services because the needs are different, so the program needs to be different to respond to those needs.

"Doing this will broaden participation in the program and allow more students to benefit from acceleration." Acceleration is not the gold standard, nor is it appropriate for most students. Why do we necessarily want more students to accelerate? In middle and high school, acceleration are currently only available in math and science as it is. Do we really want MORE students taking Algebra in 6th or 7th grade? Biology in 8th instead of 9th? Is that really so important? Or would it be better to offer students stronger, more challenging classes that are more appropriate to their grade level? I fail to see how taking a basic, shallow, GE-type class a year or two earlier is a benefit. We need to focus on offering much stronger programs, not accelerating access to weak programs. If really challenging, truly-honors-level classes are too easy, acceleration should be an option, but ideally the number of students needing that would be small.

Re: teacher referrals,I disagree. Increasing the role of teacher referrals is likely to decrease, not increase, diversity. Study after study has shown that when you move away from a referral-based system, diversity increases. Teacher biases result in fewer referrals for minority students.

Anonymous said…
@no caps suggested, "north of the ship canal with ibx you can have self contained classes in hs."

IB classes are like AP classes in that anyone with the pre-reqs can take them, but unlike AP, you have to wait until 11th to access them (or 10th if on the IBX pathway). Want to take IB Chemistry or IB Physics in 10th, before starting the IB program? No can do. Starting the IB diploma in 10th (IBX) is the only way to access IB classes sooner.

Is it possible IHS is changing as well? 9th grade "IBX" LA as delivered this year at IHS had lots of soft grading and next to no extended formal writing - there was maybe one typed paper. Is the curriculum being modified to shift to an opt-in honors model? 12th grade class options for IBX students have been pared back for next year, and new students are being discouraged from taking the IBX pathway.

Fewer students on an accelerated IBX pathway mean there won't be enough students to justify many advanced classes come 12th grade. IBX students may find Running Start (or early graduation) the only option for 12th grade, which is what they were trying to avoid by choosing an HCC pathway option.

For all the talk about improving access to AL, the trajectory for AL in SPS somehow seems one of rationing, not expanding.

GarfieldMom said…
Melissa, you have a well-known bias against Garfield, so it's impossible to take your report of this meeting as a true accounting of how it went.

Anonymous said…
@ Garfield Mom, care to give your own side of the story in areas where you feel Melissa's reporting was inaccurate?

Lynn said…
Cap hill,

HCC is a different issue than advanced learning. Those kids are best served in self-contained classes. This may not be necessary at the high school level - if truly challenging opt-in honors courses and AP/IB courses are available to them beginning in the ninth grade.

The real problem the district needs to work on is a plan for the large number of elementary and middle school students who have mastered most if not all of the standards to be covered before the school year begins. These kids should not have to take the CogAT in order to access challenging classes. Every school must have a plan for meeting their needs. This should be included in the implementation of MTSS and monitored by executive directors or other central staff. If schools did this well, we'd see fewer families opting for self-contained HCC. In fact, losing a large number of students to HCC should be a sign that a school's staff needs more oversight in implementation of MTSS.

not mc troll said…
garfield mom, go report yourself then. seriously. it really is simple: data was promised and data was not delivered. even the times couldn't boch that, sorry. howard has lost control and is throwing whatever considerations he can to tolley to keep his job imho. is this the end of hicap learning in seattle? no. does it offer dire times are ahead for hcc. yes.

no caps
Anonymous said…
Just a little plug for Mr. Zimmerman admidst it all. My child had him for L.A. and said he was one of the best teachers she's ever had, including both public and past private schools. Challenging, imaginative, compassionate teaching. Hooray!!

Sorry to sidetrack the discussion but just had to pipe up.
Anonymous said…
GarfieldMom, Melissa's reporting is credible for two reasons. 1) she has a long record of reporting accurately on what happens with this district. 2) This is far from the first report that the Garfield teachers don't give a f--- about what parents or students want and are happy to plow ahead without having *any* meaningful engagement or discussion or dialogue with parents. These teachers repeatedly treat parents and many students with outright contempt, talking down to them, treating them like idiots and children.

Even for those who think the Garfield teachers are doing the right thing, the way in which they are doing it is a disaster and undermines the success of this effort.

Patronizing Pedagogy
NESeattleMom said…
The first time I opened the post, it was very short with no detail. Then I opened the comments, saw the first two comments and went back to the post, and it was longer....not sure why, but the first post was not sarcasm. Yes, it is a long detailed post.... Haven't had a chance to read it through yet.
NNE Mom said…
Seattle is one of the 20 biggest cities in the country and Garfield High School is supposedly our premier public high school for highly capable students. We take highly capable students from all over the city and intentionally assign them to Garfield and... what? Refuse to offer them challenging academic coursework? Who designed this system?

When you start rationing and metering and choking off the amount of educational challenge that public school students have access to, this disproportionately harms high achieving students who can't afford private school. So, you're harming lower income students. So, here's the question: does harming lower income students harm students of all racial and ethnical groups equitably? Or are students of certain specific racial or ethnic groups more likely than others to be harmed by programs that harm lower income students? Good thing equity is our main focus here at SPS, because I'd like to see some answers on this one.
I do NOT have a bias against Garfield. It a great school and I know many people who went there and have their children there.

What I'm against is bad leadership that allows problems to occur that don't have to. The arguing right now is evidence of bad leadership and not necessarily a bad idea.

And, you can ask the PTA presidents who were there what I got wrong. I'm sure they took minutes.

I am told that both the teachers at the meeting are considered two of the best at Garfield but what I reported that was said is true. I stand by my reporting on this one as I tried to take notes verbatim.

Anonymous said…
@NNE mom-the people who designed the system are different than the people steering the system and those setting current direction want to put a squeeze on the achievement gap, rather than lifting numbers at the bottom, and/or they believe those high achievers will learn more by watching others struggle with hicap work when they're not ready, and/or they believe tracking creates institutional barriers for students who are late bloomers or didn't have access to stretch curriculum before 9th grade.

Nyland needs to be replaced with someone ready to set a vision for the system that lifts everyone to their highest potential and doesn't ration resources and put communities against each other.

Further, principals at "ALO" elementary schools who refuse to offer any acceleration beyond grade level need to be called to the carpet.

Fix AL
NESeattleMom said…
"Data parents did want to know - and was not available here - was how many students were enrolling in Honors for All next year versus this year. (Mr. Simoneaux claimed they didn't have access to that info.) "

Don't all 9th graders have to be in Honors for All?

Also, maybe the classes get skewed between HCC kids and Gen Ed kids from scheduling their other classes.
SusanH said…
Yes, all 9th graders have to be in Honors for All. Maybe the data point they meant to say there is how many previously GenEd students will opt to take Honors LA/SS in 10th grade. That's really the crux of this experiment, right? To give some students the confidence to sign up for Honors classes moving forward, students who may have previously been hesitant to do so.
Anonymous said…
I was frustrated with that meeting. The teachers did a thoughtful job of showing the positive effects they've seen in their classes from honors for all. It sounded like they took parent concerns around rigor seriously. What was stunning was that the administration was content to allow classroom teachers to do all the work of explaining school policy. At a minimum, Ted Howard should have been at the meeting; counselors (to speak to course selection data) or APs (discipline data) would have been a nice bonus. I'm deeply impressed by the dedication of the Garfield teachers I've come in contact with. Unfortunately, from my parental vantage point it looks as if they have little meaningful support from their administration. I wonder how long these relatively young, engaged teachers will last teaching...

L&E mom
Susan H., you are right on that data point; I should have been clearer.
Bull Dog said…
I hear that Garfield High School doesn't care what parents think, but I for one am thrilled to learn that the school's new Football For All program provides every student an opportunity to play football. Students do enter high school with a wide range of athletic abilities. Unfortunately for my child my family does not have a culture of valuing sports at home so my child has not had the benefit of watching football games or learning about the sport outside of school as many other students so obviously have. A safe, highly engaging collaborative approach to football is exactly what my child needs to learn to thrive in the sport. I look forward to the program fostering my child's growth in the sport and deepening and increasing the rigor for my child in developing, practicing and mastering a wide range of football skills. I hope Garfield's Football For All program will engage my reluctant learner in the sport. It's a relief to me to learn that Garfield's athletics curriculum won't be "watered down" or modified because that could put students at a disadvantage in later years. Yes, it's probably true that some of the other players will have to take charge and do larger amounts of work during group work assignments (and possibly in games?), but what's great about Garfield's Football For All program is that that feels OK. I feel good knowing that all the teachers had three days of training in how to deal with such wide-ranging athletic abilities among teammates and appreciate the school's commitment to supporting my student and making Football for All beneficial to all learners of the sport, regardless of ability level. Tracking players by ability level has been shown to have detrimental effects on students like mine, who, let's be honest, rarely make it onto the varsity team.

Garfield's Football For All program is going to be just the thing for my geeky, bookish daughter. Bring it on!
Anonymous said…
What happens when the teachers directing the change are no longer at Garfield? A program that relies on particular teachers can only be sustained for so long. That same situation was called out as problematic in the 2007 (?) review of the APP program.

We have yet to see incoming HCC numbers for GHS/IHS/BHS/RHS - where did most of this year's HCC 8th graders decide to enroll and did the Honors for All have an impact on enrollment choices?

Jet City mom said…
I agree that team sports are invaluable in high school Bull Dog.

My daughter and her friends came from a much smaller school before attending Garfield, and I encouraged them to join sport teams which they did.
Sport teams attract students from all over the school, especially the no cut sports.
This encouraged them to branch out in academics as well.
While some students started out in honors in every class they could, others needed more support. They all eventually took AP courses and did well.
Setting goals on the soccer pitch, assisted them in setting goals in the classroom, in high school and college.

I think rugby is probably a bit safer than football, but different strokes...
Anonymous said…
@ Bull Dog, it really wouldn't be fair for your bookish daughter to end up sitting on the bench during games--she should get equal playing time, even if that means the team loses more (or even all) games. After all, the point is for them all to be in this together, to mix socially, right? It's not about scoring high and winning games. Maybe if your daughter gets to play on the varsity team in an equal role she'll improve and decide she likes sports and wants to keep playing in future years. Apparently the school would be thrilled with that, yes?

not likely
Anonymous said…
How did the Garfield teachers address the concern we've heard that 9th grade students coming from HCC found their LA/SS classes to be easier than any LA/SS classes they had in middle school? Given how weak we found middle school HCC LA/SS classes to be, that's a big problem Do the teachers have an accurate perception of what an appropriate level of challenge is for these students?

Giving out a copy of a test or a paper is silly. How about sharing some sort of matrix that provides detail on what the prior expectations were for 9th grade GE vs honors-level LA and SS prior to HFA, and what the expectations are now. Also, how each version relates to the 9th grade standards. That would allow us to better understand what's changed.

I'm also hoping they'll provide stats on the "uptake" rate of honors and AP classes in 10th grade, broken down by HCC vs other groups. And further down the road, stats on how each group fares on AP exams. Without these data, it's hard to see how teachers could seriously report that the experiment is "working."

data seeker
Anonymous said…
@wondering-I'm the parent of an HCC 8th grader and we've made the decision not to go to Garfield. In our/our kiddo's circle of friends, most are passing on Garfield and while I can't speak for the other parents, our decision was based on what appears to be solely building based decisions and issues that give me little confidence in the leadership there. I have even less confidence in Nyland and the HQ leadership to hold anyone accountable (including the Board). HS is not the time to "see how it goes" when it's clear that there is and will be no data before during and after because it doesn't fit the narrative. Wondering, you are absolutely correct that teacher led changes, while admirable, are not sustainable. It's either complete BS or completely frightening that SPS "doesn't have data" on who goes where and when. I predict that the HCC community numbers will trend downward at Garfield and from the outside looking in, it seems this is what Garfield leadership wants.
-Long Road
Anonymous said…
Where is the demand for data for the entire HCC program? How effective is it compared to those who opt for neighborhood schools? Why are students allowed to remain when they aren't performing? Why does SPS only send data from Cascadia to OSPI and act like it is for the entire K-12 range? Why do parents zero in on demanding data for ninth grade Honors for All but say crickets when the district isn't providing any real data for HCC?

Data Seeker, as I said, the teachers handed out a test from last year versus this year so that was a point of comparison.

Data4all, I'd be fine with that but I'm not sure how you would know some students are not performing?

And, I, for one, have asked and asked for data on ALL of Advanced Learning and really not gotten what I sought.
Anonymous said…


Yes, the Football-For-All program is going to be great!

Truthfully, I am more looking forward to Basketball-For-All: my kid is short and skinny, and we were too busy supporting his other interests (choir, chess, etc) so that he has never played basketball really. And now, because he is 14, he is too intimidated to play because the other kids have played for 5 years or more. Now at Garfield, he'll get to play, and because of equity, because he has a right to access education the same as everyone else, he gets to play with the best players, the kids who have worked hard on their game and are naturally very athletically gifted! That is great for him, because they can be role models for him, and so they can teach him, they could even be partnered with him on drills so that they could tutor him. As Eckstein faculty once told us, students teaching other students is an authentic learning experience. Plus, in Melissa's reporting, the Garfield staff talked about kids seeing certain kids as leaders, so, it will be great for those kids who have to slow down and not lay up 500 shot in order to help my son to be seen as leaders. Our kids have grown up with an African American male President all of their conscious life, so of course they already see males as leaders (but sadly they don't see females as leaders), but hey, more reinforcement, the better.

Also, I hear music is going to now be Music-Honors-For-All, because it makes sense to have a musician who has played for 8 years, and is very musically gifted and has perfect pitch, play alongside someone else who is the same age but never played before. That is what equity looks like, right?

Honors-for-all is a farce. It was never about learning language arts. And yet, that is what the course is for.

Having the cohort of HCC students go to Garfield IS the program of HCC: by having the critical mass students who require higher level courses, the principal has enough demand to run high courses and multiple sections of them. Like statistics, Cal B/C, Latin, etc. Which, any student, HCC or not, can take, and therefore ALL students are Garfield benefit by having the cohort programmed there.

The HCC parents are active supportive bulldogs, part of the community that raises money for the PTSA, which mostly gets disbursed for supporting students who are struggling.

Mark my words, this is what is triggering the transition of Garfield from what it is today to something that it was back before HCC got pushed in there. Don't believe me? Look at Lowell. The district is stealthily going about sucking the life out of HCC. Pulling it out of Garfield and pushing it into Lincoln, how do you think Garfield will do after that? 600 HCC high school students live in Ballard/Roosevelt. One may dislike HCC, but one might do well to consider what a post-HCC Garfield will be like. To keep the PTSA funded and the support services thriving, all bulldogs should start advocate for meeting the needs of all learners, and that includes HCC. Honors-for-all does not support HCC learners. Perhaps put down your apartheid signs and consider supporting all students. Or not. Your choice.

Stevens, Montlake, McGilvra, TOPS parents, look closely. Look across to Lowell. Then fight like hell to keep HCC at Garfield. Not a piece of it, all of it, because once it goes below a certain critical mass, and it simply dies, it becomes it name only.


Anonymous said…
Fix AL and Lynn, about schools failing to offer appropriate acceleration, do you know of anyone who's ever tried to gain traction by claiming their rights to this?

Is it required for a child who qualifies as Highly Capable to attend one of the Highly Capable Cohort Schools? Do they have to leave their reference area school?

No. Parents may choose to have their child remain at their attendance area school to be served there. Schools are required to have a plan (ie: School CSIP) in place to provide for the needs of all children, including Highly Capable students. It is important to note that by law, a child who qualifies as “highly capable” is entitled to highly capable services as part of his/her basic education .

We have some written communications about not allowing students to progress beyond a certain grade level of material and I feel that it's in direct violation of this policy.

Anonymous said…
@C--many parents have tried AND tried and were always encouraged to go to Cascadia or simply sent home an extra homework packet for parents to use to Tudor their kids after they finished their waste of time work sheets for their Gen Ed class.

No traction, lots of effort, then finally people give up. Many people would prefer to stay at their neighborhood schools, the institutional barriers and segregated system some people complain about is not an easy choice for everyone, but typically the best option for HC-qualified elementary students.

Fix AL
Anonymous said…
@data seeker, your suggested matrix comparison and "uptake" data would be logical info to present if this had been a formal district led initiative. But it wasn't. It sounds like the teachers are in charge and are reviewing themselves.

"Do the teachers have an accurate perception of what an appropriate level of challenge is for these students?"

That's an issue for many classes, not just Honors for All at Garfield, because there is generally no agreed upon curriculum or meaningful teacher training for AL classes. Even with AP and IB, which have more defined standards, class rigor is largely dependent on the teacher.

Anonymous said…
I know you're all trying to be funny, but really. We all know there are profound, life long implications for kids who aren't successful in school. Our society needs every kid to successfully complete high school. How awful to joke about your own kid's lack of sports skill/interest as if it is in any way comparable to kids missing core academic skills, usually due to circumstances they've had little control over rather than choices leading them to other useful activities.

Part of the problem at Garfield is no one trusts parents to see the big picture and advocate for a common good... Comments like these make us look petty and unreasonable, which, based on my experience in multiple PTAs, we aren't!

Anonymous said…
Reminder to current and upcoming high school parents - Lincoln planning meeting at HIMS tonight, 6:30-8:30.

Anonymous said…
State law (Chapter 28A.185.020 RCW) requires that high schools provide gifted services as part of the K-12 continuum of services for the gifted and talented.

Here is the issue: SPS uses AP and IB classes as gifted services. Services which are for those students diagnosed with the need for intervention. By removing those services from students you are denying them the services they are required by law to receive. Every single HCC qualified student should by SPS designation of the AP/IB classes as their gifted services delivery model be enrolled in those classes starting in 9th grade in self contained LA/SS/Science cohorts.

Unless there is some other program that is implemented to provide the mandated gifted services then GHS is out of compliance with the law and is actively denying students their services.

Now, AP/IB are actually fairly poor examples of gifted services but AP is exceedingly cheap to implement since you just need texts and a training and the tests are optional. IB is different in that it is vastly more expensive and an expense that may be denying students gifted services in the 9th and 10th grade if IBX gets modified or eliminated.

The gifted students gifted services are to be paid for, again by law, from the per student funding allocation. This is generally why gifted campuses are easier to run because the funding goes to all the students who are all gifted. The challenge for this is when you have programs that are pushed in to other schools how can we know the monies are appropriately allocated without distinct departments and staff?


Mr. Theo Moriarty
Mediocre said…
"They will have academies with grouped teachers for LA/History and the same 90 students"

Am I correct in saying that last year Garfield did not have Honors for All history classes?

Our middle school eliminated advanced history and LA classes. I don't care what teachers say, content is watered-down. I don't care what teachers say,mixing all abilities make their work loads a lot easier.
Anonymous said…
Self-contained is not part of high school HCC.

Schools, by law, should be providing on-site HCC services to neighborhood schools;
they also, by law, should be providing services for single subject HC eligible.

Again, where's the real pressure by HCC parents for these? Pressure instead is
focused on a ninth grade class and a 5th grade social studies class.

Thanks, Melissa, for seeking data. HCC, parents, by and large are crickets about getting real HCC data and pressuring SPS to follow HCC law.

Outsider said…
As some posters have mentioned, life lessons are also valuable even when your time is being wasted academically. "Honors for all" is well positioned to teach one lesson: people lie. Institutions lie. People will piss on your shoes and tell you it's raining. Perhaps by ninth grade most students know that already, but Garfield will certainly deepen their understanding.

The official PC line seems to be that falsehood is a recent innovation, invented last summer by Donald trump. But SPS is capable of teaching you otherwise, if you pay attention. It's a valuable life skill to recognize well crafted lies, put forth by institutions who work hard at the con. It's valuable to learn who you can and can't trust. They can take almost everything away from you, but not that.
Anonymous said…
The Garfield counselor denied my request that my rising 9th grader go straight into 10th grade Honors LA, skipping the Honors for All 9th grade LA course. We are coming from out of state and my child has already covered all the 9th grade books during middle school, plus has the grades and CTP scores to support advancement. She suggested instead we talk to the teacher about picking different books for my child to analyze separately. Wouldn't this be much more onerous for everyone than simply moving my kid into the 10th grade class? The course guide says "None" under prerequisites for LA 10H, and the 10th grade books hold particular appeal for my child at this moment in time. It's very disappointing. Is this something that was formerly permitted but is no longer under the new Honors for All policy?

We are bringing to Seattle a thick folder of my child's written analyses of the 9th grade books as proof should I get enough nerve to plead our case with Ms Alston in person.

Lynn said…
They will not let your child do this no matter how much sense it makes. Your student will have to have four years of high school ELA credit to graduate and if they start with the 10th grade course, following with 11th and 12th grade there's no fourth class to take senior year.
"..kid's lack of sports skill/interest as if it is in any way comparable to kids missing core academic skills, usually due to circumstances they've had little control over rather than choices leading them to other useful activities."

Let's that that apart.

You do know that some parents don't want the bell times changes because of sports. So, it's not really an exaggeration to see what some parents do value and yes, if you made sports for all, you would get a very big fight. (That and kids would be "on" the team but never play.)

But the bigger issue in that sentence is this: kids who come in disadvantaged need additional supports. I absolutely agree with that premise and any extra dollars should go that direction.

BUT, I will not budge that ALL students deserve an education that meets them where they learn. For kids who learn faster, that's not an extra expense so it's not saying to take from kids who need extra help. It's just, let kids learn at their pace.

I think when I get to the thread on the presentation at the Board retreat on highly capable students, it will become clearer. I will be quoting Mr. Moriarty there.

Anonymous said…
There are no prerequisites for LA 10H because the expectation is that your child will do 9th grade LA Honors for All. I don't think any of the SPS high schools are interested in making exceptions to the curriculum for individual students. I hope you can understand that from an administrative point of view doing what you request for your child opens up a huge can of worms.
Anonymous said…
I want to follow up my comment above by also saying that the denied class request is the only negative I've encountered thus far. The Garfield administration and staff have been wonderfully helpful and responsive. I sent an email off to Principal Howard late one night and he replied within an hour. Our various neighbors whose kids are at Garfield are happy with the school and their kids represent the gamut from HCC to Gen Ed. This is our first foray into public schools and I do think it likely my request would have been denied at most. We are really looking forward to joining the Garfield community.

Anonymous said…
Sunset and Theo Moriarty,
Thanks for your words of wisdom.

FNH, we also had a very unpleasant experience with SPS regarding credit for work already done. In our case we had to change schools to resolve the problem. The fundamental issue that was never told to us (but was obvious) is that the class that would have suited our child was full. Adding her would have forced the school to split the class and take on another FTE. We moved to a school where the class we needed was not full. And, surprise surprise, all the reasons that the previous principal touted for denying our child access to the class evaporated. This underscores the problem with the lack of state funding and forcing the SPS to maintain faculty so close to the bone. It ultimately hurts children and it promotes a culture of blatant prevarication in the district administration. This is because denying access to necessary classes based on capacity has always been illegal based on Washington state law. So the district and the principals figure out ways to deny access based on the phases of the moon....or anything else that can give them the appearance of compliance.

Stuart J said…
FNH: to get a year of LA, instead of taking 9th, you could take a home school class through K12 (Washington Virtual Academy) or other providers. There are a lot of options out there. The credit process is easier if a program is approved already by the state DLD. This would then free up a slot during the school day for your child to take something else of interest.
Lynn said…
Each principal chooses whether to give credit for classes taken outside of their high school. Ted Howard only gives high school credit for Running Start (he is required to do so) and online credit retrieval courses for classes previously failed.

Anonymous said…
Give HC service in every school, stop the self-contained classes. Problems solved!!!!

Amy, not sure if you are being sarcastic or serious. Of course that's the answer (for the most part). But this district - despite all its talk about equity - hasn't done that. Not will they because 1) no real commitment to HCC students and 2) PD and curriculum costs, with both of those absolutely needed to get that premise to work. Oh,and probably smaller class sizes but that's a big lift as well.
Lynn said…
Amy - That's not the answer. We need services for advanced learners in every school. Highly capable students are best served in self contained classes (through middle school at least.)
SusanH said…
And as Sunset points out above, you need a critical mass of these advanced learners clustered into one school to be able to have enough sections of advanced courses.
Anonymous said…
Each principal chooses whether to give credit for classes taken outside of their high school. Ted Howard only gives high school credit for Running Start (he is required to do so) and online credit retrieval courses for classes previously failed.

@ Lynn, that doesn't sound right. Are you saying if a student is home-schooled for all of 9th grade and starts Garfield in 10th grade, they have to repeat a year of school to graduate? I don't buy it. Home schooling, whether full time or partial, is allowed by law. Even at Garfield.

If I had a student who didn't want to repeat 9th grade LA and preferred to take a more challenging LA course via an outside entity, I'd go for it. Submit all your documentation, appeal to higher forces, sue the district if you need to, but don't let stupid practices by rogue administrators kill your child's love of learning any more than they need to.

sorry ted
Anonymous said…
Some WA school districts check the box for online courses when submitting their HiCap grant application - the state acknowledges it as a means of serving HiCap students. Yet, Garfield, default pathway for HCC, restricts online coursework. Backwards, isn't it? My understanding is that online courses are not categorized as homeschooling if they are approved by the school as an alternative course of study. There is a form and a process, it's just limited by GHS. If FNH had the wherewithal and desire, they could advocate (at a higher level) for an alternative course of study with an online provider. UW Robinson Center now has on online composition course (see RC online) that may be worth checking out.

Lynn said…
Do not sign your child up for an outside course without prior permission from the principal if the credit is needed for graduation. This is entirely up to the principal and the district will not intervene on a student's behalf. At Garfield, athletic prowess appears to be a factor in these decisions but a student's need for additional challenge is not.

The Counseling Manual is a good resource for information on high school credits.

Community college classes (either free through Running Start or paid during the summer) or summer courses at the UW are likely to be accepted - but even these have to be approved before the class is taken.

Homeschooling is allowed by law but the district doesn't have to award high school credit for it.

I didn't comment on policies related to formerly home-schooled students and it doesn't seem relevant in this case. You might look at School Board Policy 2420 for information on that. Here's what I read:

High School Enrollment for Home Based Instruction Students
Students for whom a “Declaration of Intent to Home School” form is on file with Seattle Public School shall be enrolled in high school according to the following schedule:

 Freshman/9th grade if age 14 by August 31 of the year wishing to enroll

 Sophomore/10th grade if age 15 by August 31 of the year wishing to enroll

 Junior/11th grade if age 16 by August 31 of the year wishing to enroll

 Senior/12th grade if age 17 by August 31 of the year wishing to enroll

Students will be assigned the appropriate grade level during the enrollment process. Being placed at a given grade level does not eliminate the need to complete all graduation requirements if the student is attempting to earn a diploma through Seattle Public Schools.

Anonymous said…
So my kid and several other kids at Hale were allowed to take math classes for credit during the summer either through the online BYU program (which the math classes are terrible) or through a program like Brightmont academy. My kid took geometry between Freshman and Sophomore year during the summer. Credits for algebra had been messed up and my kid had to retake it freshman year so in order to get back on track for Calculus senior year, my kid did geometry during the summer. We had permission from Hale. It is strange that Garfield doesn't allow these options.

Anonymous said…
Amy-- The district has something for advanced learners in K-8 called "ALO". It varies on how it is implemented in different schools around the city with different populations and different needs. In the school my child attended there was no differentiation in anything. They used to have a walk to math program with different levels split evenly, but eliminated it as it did not work and they needed to balance classroom enrollment. In practice your suggestion would work better in a smaller district with a more homogenous population as far as needs. This model does not work in all schools due to budgeting and enrollment balancing considerations.It makes more sense for kids from the school in the 1% IQ to be grouped for services and that means leaving their reference school. There is also a law they need to follow to ensure these kids whose needs are different get a basic education.
Anonymous said…
Yes, it makes sense to group the top 1%. Nearly everyone would agree. But here in Seattle we have a 1percenters social club which has ballooned far above 1%. The exclusive 1percenter club hasn't delivered all the academic value it's proponents claim as a "need" as measured by PSAT scores. HCC students somehow don't maintain their intellectual superiority when it comes to National Merit status. Either the HCC is serving students who are lucky not superior. Or, HCC is not a good model. Either way, it seems reasonable to make the program smaller and something besides a two year ahead social club. Kudos to Ted for speaking truth to power through action.

Anonymous said…
reader, kudos to Ted for speaking truth to power? you get that all of the classes were made available to all kids, don't you?

You may want to check out the scores Garfield gets for being responsive and partnering with families - 37% favorable and 39% favorable. And, since I sense what your counter point may be - break down the respondents by demographics. African American families actually rate the school lower that white families do on some of these measures. It seems like Ted may not be doing a whole lot of speaking truth to power - he may just not really care about working with families.

Note that this whole honors for all thing actually wasn't Ted's idea either.
Anonymous said…
Reader-- Seattle identifies students through Cogat tests that other districts across the country use as well.

" Either the HCC is serving students who are lucky not superior."

In regards to your statement, the tests don't measure who is "lucky". You can state that some (not all- as I know a few free and reduced HCC lunch kids) 1% kids might be "lucky" to come from households where kids went to high quality preschools, more stable, or more resourced households. I would agree with you there, but the answer to that lies in addressing those issues better as a society. The tests measure who is achieving beyond standard & how much, as well as a test akin to an IQ test. Anyone who "appeals" has to meet the same standard through private based IQ tests such as WISC.

Regarding differences in testing, it's nature PLUS nurture. Some kids with innate abilities are groomed to excel in certain sports when they are young, I believe you can make a similar analogy with academics. However, there are also those kids who excel despite their environment. We need to do a better job identifying more of those kids in Seattle schools.
Anonymous said…
Right. The social club is unhappy with him. A segregated environment is a toxic one. Kudos to Ted for taking that on. It doesn't matter if it is by choice or not. And surely that toxicity is felt most keenly by some groups than others. Surely there are more issues than freshman year humanities. We'd like to hear about some of those sometimes instead of the constant barrage of injustices of the comforted.

Anonymous said…
Reader-- I have wondered whether we could develop a program in Seattle that in addition to the current requirements adds the top 1% low income kids. Add the most high scoring, achieving low income kids to the program. Some assume the cogat and achievement tests measure something fixed. However, environment influences achievement and test scores. People used to assume IQ was fixed, now researchers are understanding they are more malleable. Like the rest of our body, children's brains are growing and interact and continue to develop in their environment. Perseverance influences achievement. Some kids that come in with high IQ's may not be as hard working and vice versa. I think there would be low income kids who would outperform kids who entered (initially) with higher IQ.
Anonymous said…
@reader, the SPS cutoffs for HC are top 2% in ability (CogAT) and top 5% in achievement (SBAC or ITBS). CogAT percentiles are based on *national* norms. Basic statistics will explain why not all HC qualified students will also score in the top *1%* in the *State* on the PSAT, the cutoff for NMSF. WA state has one of the highest PSAT cutoffs for NMSF.

You are right that SPS is not delivering "academic value," but how much of that is attributed to poor curriculum choices of SPS? It's not just HC students who are being underserved. Discovering Algebra? Readers and Writers Workshop, with no explicit grammar instruction? The dismissal of classic literature? Look at a practice test. Students need to know basic grammar. Readings are taken from classic texts from authors such as Jane Austin, George Eliot, etc.

reality check
Grouchy Parent said…
But it does seem weird for Seattle Public Schools to test students for cognitive ability and achievement and then pluck out the ones scoring in the top percentile(s) from all the students in the city and then tell them Garfield is their pathway high school school, and put them on buses to Garfield High School—from Arroyo Heights and White Center, from Bitter Lake and the border with Shoreline, from Kenwood and Cedar Park, from Ezell's down on Renton Ave S and Rainier View—and then when they the arrive at Garfield SPS puts them in classes that are designed to help students who have been "harmed and marginalized" and (according to Killjoy's comment above) are "missing core academic skills, usually due to circumstances they've had little control over."

This makes no sense, Seattle. If some of Garfield students arrive at high school "harmed and marginalized" or "missing core academic skills," Seattle public schools is responsible for that. Where do we suppose these kids are getting their pre-high-school educations from??? SPS should be fixing this problem in the elementary and middle schools those Garfield students attended before they got to Garfield.

Are you really telling me that when students enter high school unprepared for honors level work, the way to fix that is by forcing them to do honors level work with students who score in the top 1-2% on IQ and achievement tests? How is that helping students who aren't ready for honors level work?

Say you have a fictional student who scores in the 10th percentile on the IQ and achievement tests. And you want them to successfully complete high school. Are you telling me that the way to improve this student's academic fate is to ship the absolute, very brightest kids in the entire public school system all the way to Capitol Hill and then have them read Shakespeare together? Carol Burris didn't ship in high scoring kids from all over Long Island when she did her detracking. She didn't import highly capable kids from Stuyvesant! The point to detracking is not to bring all the highest scoring kids from all heck over creation and have them sit next to the kids you wish were thriving better academically.

An HCC program is not tracking. It is not a coveted "prize" for fancy kids. It's a vital intervention for vulnerable students who at a very high risk of not being successful with a conventional approach to education. HiCap students have significant challenges in social and emotional development, delayed executive function, and are at a significant risk of not developing grit or a growth mindset if school is always "easy" for them.

HiCap students are at an increased risk of dropping out, of self-medicating for anxiety and not fitting in by developing addictions, of ending up in prison. The need for HCC programming is real.

Seattle has authentic social justice problems in its public schools. (Some schools can't afford recess monitors!) These need to be fixed. And busing hundreds of top 1% IQ kids to sit next to students who have been the victims of social injustices? That's what we believe the fix is? Come on, Seattle.
Anonymous said…
@ reader, what makes you say "HCC students somehow don't maintain their intellectual superiority when it comes to National Merit status"? Do you have data on SPS NMSF figures by HCC vs. HC-identified-but-not-enrolled vs. non-HC. If so, please share!

But you're right that HCC is not a good model. It lacks a curriculum appropriate to the learning needs of these students, and opportunities for acceleration and depth are thwarted at nearly every turn. SPS HCC takes kids who are advanced for their age (e.g., working two or more years above grade level in elementary school) and slowly lowers the ceiling on them, so they are allowed to work about a year ahead in middle school and none in high school. That's a warped version of equity.


PS - You'll no doubt be relieved to hear that my own former HCC student did obtain NMSF status, so all is not lost. (Although in truth, I give those three years of middle school HCC about zero percent of the credit for that achievement, so whatever.)
Anonymous said…
Around 50 SPS kids were PSAT NMSFs in 2016. That's around .1 percent of the total district enrollment I think. Again, .1 percent of SPS students made it to the national ranking. Not 1 percent. Not 5 percent. .1 percent.

NMSF semifinalists get academic scholarships from competitive colleges. Very very very few HCC students got the nod.

HCC qualification might show aptitude or it might show elbow grease. But let's not kid ourselves that the program is for special kids who are so high flying* that they can't sit in a general ed classroom and get additional services. *Genius prodigy outliers excluded. Or that minorities without strong scores to date, but who are identified as potentially strong classroom learners can't sit with the HCCers in mixed classes.

There are parents out here whose kids are HCC qualified but who do not support the current program delivery specifically in the pre-high school years. Yes we want services for our kids, but we want them in a way that includes the diversity of our community's kids in family income and ethnicity in our kids' classrooms. That's where our kids are learning to be citizens.In the diversity of this community. I'm no Polyanna. Sometimes that means our classrooms have discipline or motivation issues with some classmates. That's hard, but it offers other learning opportunities. The painful group work sessions? Finding motivation from within not from without? The extra work to find common bonds with kids that don't look or act like themselves? Isn't this all the grit that the newest newest research is the key indicator of success in higher education, jobs, life?

We also don't care if HCC gets torn up at Garfield and Ingraham. Fine. Put these services in all high schools. Our kids won't have access to every advanced class under the sun? So what? They are going to live and there will be other school experiences and rewards. Not the same ones, but that is OK.

Like every community, HCC-identified families have a range of opinions about the program. This is one that isn't on this blog so much but it's alive and well out here in SPS-land. I might be so bold as to suggest it's the prevailing opinion of families and staff in this district.

Mom x2

Anonymous said…
The PSAT is supposed to be the most socioeconomically biased standardized test out there, so if anything a lower number of hcc students qualifying as semi-finalists is proof that Seattle is doing a better job picking high iq students for its hcc program, not just wealthy, well prepared ones (who are the ones more likely to end up with that status).

(Of course, congrats to your individual student, Discussapp, it is still an achievement, even if one is well prepared)
Big D said…
@Mom x2,

What are you even talking about? My HCC kid was at our ALO elementary for years and then switched to enter an HCC program. And all the reasons you give for not switching to HCC are... wrong.

The HCC program my child attends does include the diversity of our community's kids in family income and ethnicity in our kids' classrooms. In moving from our geozone school to HCC, the racial makeup of the students changed, but it's no less diverse. There are fewer muslim students in HCC than our geozone school. But a lot more students from India and Thailand and Eastern Europe. There's plenty of diversity. Way more students with ASD. HCC definitely has discipline and motivation issues with some classmates. My kid has suffered way more physical injuries from classmates in HCC than at the geozone school. (The HCC students have major intensity issues). Or as my child likes to put it, "It's like this: in HCC all the naughty kids are *gifted* at being naughty."

It is hard, but it offers learning opportunities. Group work sessions are painful since the HCC kids tend to be a bit behind in terms of social and emotional development. But they're learning. Finding motivation from within not from without? Definitely a challenge. More so now than at our geozone school because the work is harder and the kid needs to muster up more motivation. But, again, they're working on it. The extra work to find common bonds with kids that don't look or act like themselves? Hard work in both locations, geozone and HCC.

A massive number of the students in the HCC program have spent years in both worlds, geozone and HCC. They know exactly what the differences are. Make whatever choice you feel is best for your child and your community, but don't assume the rest of us aren't doing that.
not mc t said…
sleeper/reader*/amy = no moniker, keep your hate for the district that isn't meeting your needs not those that are fighting to get those services they understand their kids need.

no caps

*i know there has been a reader in the past but this is way beyond their post... i believe they have been hijacked by no moniker.
Anonymous said…
Hey, I have been posting on this blog regularly for at least 6 years under this moniker. Cut it out.

Anonymous said…
FWIW the PSAT-SAT changed in 2016 to get rid of some of the white well off bias. Bye-bye vocabulary tests. Looking at the article link above, the numbers of SPS students named National Merit Semifinalists are not impressive esp. given the "UW and high tech attracts really smart families" argument that is used with regularity to explain the need for self-contained HCC.

There is a difference between the right to highly capable services and the delivery of services. As an individual I would never argue against the former. I can and do argue against the current delivery model. Families whose bottom line is academic excellence and a shot at college scholarships might take a look at those PSAT numbers and start asking more questions.

I also note that not a single student in high schools south of the Ship Canal, except Garfield with the HCC program had even one semifinalist student. That says a lot about our system

So I will end this discussion here because it digress from the topic and I am planning a thread on the equity in highly capable programs discussion at the Board retreat.

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