Tuesday, October 31, 2017

HCC Pathways Updates

HCC Advisory Committee Position on the High School Boundaries

Dear HCC community,

As you are probably aware, the District is considering changes to the high school boundaries as part of the Student Assignment Plan that will go into effect for the 2019/20 school year.

Meetings are happening and feedback is being collected, and the HCS AC has sent the email below to make clear our position and recommendations regarding the highly capable and high school pathways.

Today the HCS AC sent an email to the Superintendent and the Directors expressing our position (see below) in advance of staff preparing their recommendations to the Board in November. Final votes by the Board are slated for January 2018 with implementation in Fall 2019.

We strongly encourage the HC community to participate in the Boundary Meetings and provide immediate feedback to the District regarding any potential changes to the HC pathways. Emails can be sent to schoolboard@seattleschools.org - superintendent@seattleschools.org and growthboundaries@seattleschools.org

The three most recent proposals can be found here:
Remaining meetings include:

  • Monday, October 30, 6:30 to 8 pm, McClure Middle School, gym, 1915 1st Ave W. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Wednesday, November 8, 6:30 to 8 pm, Cleveland High School, lunchroom, 5511 15th Ave S. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
  • Thursday, Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8 pm, West Seattle High School, lunchroom, 3000 California Ave. SW.  Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
    Email sent 10/30:

    Dear Superintendent Nyland and Directors Blanford, Burke, Geary, Harris, Pinkham, Patu, and Peters,  

    As you consider changes to the Student Assignment Plan and specifically to the High School Boundaries, the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee would like to make its voice heard on potential pathways for HC students.

    Right now, Highly Capable students have a guaranteed pathway to Garfield High School with an option to attend Ingraham IBX. The HCS AC recognizes that Garfield High School is significantly over capacity at nearly 2,000 students this year. With the recent expansion of HC sites to three middle schools in the north end of Seattle (Hamilton, Jane Addams, and Robert Eagle Staff) and one in West Seattle (Madison), we also recognize that an expansion of the HC pathways for high school is a pragmatic option.

    HCS AC strongly recommends that the Superintendent and Board consider adding no more than one new pathway for HC high school students in the north. Furthermore, there should not be an expansion of pathways in the south, and Garfield should remain the HC pathway for students in the south end. We strongly support and encourage the expansion of Advanced Placement courses at additional high schools, but that should not mean dispersing HC students into all high schools. We further recommend that all HC identified students be grandfathered in at their current school.

    This committee has long held the position that decisions regarding program placement should not be driven by capacity issues. The integrity of the program at all levels is contingent on having a cohort size that can sustain robust and rigorous offerings. This is also the case at the high-school level.

    In our District, the highly capable service delivery model is a combination of acceleration together with increased depth. This means that HC students have experienced this style of learning with a group of their peers for years (perhaps even since first grade). For this reason, there should continue to be options for accelerated study at the high-school level. The most common incarnation of this in high school is Advanced Placement classes. Garfield as a pathway school has a robust offering of AP classes in the arts, math, science, literature, social sciences, computer science and foreign languages together with additional offerings in theater, music, visual art, and journalism.

    If an additional pathway were to be created in the north for high school, it is critical that a site be selected that can offer a comparable array of classes as those offered at Garfield and that any site allow students to continue on with their learning without needing to repeat any coursework already completed.

    As the District opened new HC sites at the elementary and middle school levels, this Committee--along with the Advanced Learning Task Force in 2015--recommended that cohort sizes remain strong in order to maintain the critical mass necessary to provide the academic and social emotional supports to meet the needs of this population of students. A robust cohort size helps enable efficient use of the limited resources available for the social emotional needs of this population.

    Over the course of several decades, the parents and teachers of HC students in Seattle have advocated for the same set of principles for the service and program delivery to HC students. Those that specifically relate to program placement include:

    1. Provide consistent and appropriate curriculum across all sites
    2. A critical mass cohort at each site
    3. Principals, teachers and counselors that are truly committed to and experienced in supporting highly capable and 2e students and their education
    4. Sites with welcoming and supportive communities
    5. Providing a continuum of strong and rigorous programs for highly capable students

    We strongly urge the Superintendent and Board to take these points into consideration as they consider any changes to the pathways. Rapid proliferation--or even elimination--of pathways through high school would cause too much inconsistency across the District for HC students and it would create a lack of opportunity for many students who have been accelerated in their learning for many years.


    Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee


Anonymous said...

I understand the points made in the letter, but I think it would be helpful to also request that the proposed boundaries be reviewed with respect to the capacity impact of assigning HCC students to whatever school(s) it is anticipated they will attend. If the boundaries are drawn based on the assumption that HCC students will attend their neighborhood schools, then it seems likely that, when the capacity issue eventually raises its head, staff may propose sending all HCC students to their neighborhood schools as a means of balancing enrollment with capacity, without any meaningful consideration of program placement issues. It is my understanding that *all* of the currently proposed boundary options make this assumption.

Also this wording is a bit odd: "We further recommend that all HC identified students be grandfathered in at their current school." Do they mean all students enrolled in HCC? If they really mean all HC identified students, wherever they attend school, then maybe it would make sense to recommend that all students, period, should be grandfathered in at their current school, which makes good sense, but it's not clear that staff would agree to it.


Anonymous said...

This email outlines the reasons behind advocating for only ONE additional north end pathway similar to Garfield, and keeping ONE south end pathway at Garfield. Having the program/service splintered into too many linked schools would be very problematic for the budget and for course scheduling. My assumption is that Ingraham continues to be option as IB/IBX is not an analagous pathway to Garfield for all in the North end.

kellie said...

While I don't agree with everything in this letter, I do concur with their conclusion.

For a wide variety of reasons, it does make sense for Garfield to continue as the HCC site for South Seattle, and to continue their long-standing relationship with Washington as both a neighborhood feeder school and the HCC feeder school.

I also concur that one HCC pathway location in North Seattle, plus IB as an option would work well.

Another Parent said...

I like the proposal of only 1 new north end HS, but the reasoning is not that solid. The fact is there are already 5 HCC Middle Schools. So then, why only two HCC High schools? The Logical follow through would be 5 HCC High Schools. This would keep each of the HCC middle school cohorts together. Probably something along the following lines:

Eagle Staff + Whitman -> Ingram
Jane Addams + Eckstein -> Roosevelt
Hamilton + McClure -> Lincoln
Meany + Mercer + Washington + Alki Kurose -> Garfield
Madison + Denny -> West Seattle

If someone knows why this would be impractical, please speak up, because it seems the obvious solution to me.

GIGO said...

Because Madison is a tiny cohort which should have never been opened. And because Roosevelt has their own proud program that will not accept change. Which really leaves few other options as IB isn't great for HCC. So find another school up north wanting to take HCC on. Reasonable and achievable.

Anonymous said...

@Another Parent-- High school scheduling of classes is much more difficult and expensive to schedule without critical mass. You need critical mass in high school for sections to make schedule easily.

Eric B said...

GIGO, in what way is IB not good for HCC? Ingraham's program has been extremely popular.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth do we need TWO different tracks in the northend?

The HC population is already at 20%. Why do the need to be separated?

Will the HC students return to their neighborhood schools when 50% are id'd as HC?

Or will they always need their own "cohort" even if they are the majority?

To an outsider it sure sounds like the HCC parents just want to exclude certain students they feel will be detrimental to their own child's education.

That's just plain wrong and prejudiced against non-HC kids.


Eric B said...

BT, they may need to be separated to maintain reasonable boundaries. An extreme example is Garfield. If they stay the default HCC school, the boundaries will need to shrink by 25%-50%. Likewise, Ingraham may get overwhelmed if they get 100% of the north end HCC, even with the 500-seat addition.

It's a fine line between enough critical mass to make it possible to have the advanced classes, but small enough not to mess up enrollment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To an outsider it sure sounds like the HCC parents just want to exclude certain students they feel will be detrimental to their own child's education."

That's your take on it. I would say those parents want their child to be in a program that has a cohort aspect to it. It doesn't mean excluding anyone because they don't create the program; the district does and they are legally obligated to have a program with a cohort. Does that mean separate? No and anyone is free to advocate for something different.

But don't use language that pits parents against each other.

Meg said...

BT - where are you getting your 20% number? I don't think it's even close to correct, but if there's data that supports your estimate, then well done in finding it.

I took a quick look at the 2016-17 October p223 enrollment form (I usually use October, since that's the count that funding is based off of - some people prefer May, because it shows how schools finish the year). At the elementary level it looked like HCC was 5% or less of elementary enrollment, and at the HS level, 12% or less. In both cases, likely less (I counted pretty crudely, including all GHS students as HCC and all Thurgood Marshall as HCC, but there are multiple other programs in both of those buildings).

Anonymous said...

Jeez, BT. It might sounds like that to an outsider, but you'e wrong. Should we talk about prejudice against HC kids?

Thinking critically here, we had a big cohort of HCC kids at Garfield, right? And lots and lots of AP classes--more than any other high school could offer, both in terms of range and and number of sections. Why was that? Because there was a critical mass of students wanting those classes. If you don't have a LOT of kids, it's hard to offer enough, since many GE students aren't interested in taking any/many AP classes. Having large cohorts at a few schools makes more sense than smaller cohorts at lots of schools.

Maybe you're confused, but we're not talking about having two tracks in the north end. The advisory committee recommended ONE north end HCC pathway, and Ingraham would remain an option as it is now. Ingraham is an IB option, and the IB approach is not for everyone.

Eric's reason is also a good one. Because there are more HC-identified students in the north end, it makes sense that we'd need more than one school. If Garfield couldn't handle them all, why should a north end school be able to?

50% id'd as HC? That's absurd.

bigboy pants

Anonymous said...

I think many parents do in fact feel that having gened students in core classes is bad for their kids' education.

I must have read parents express that a thousand times right here on saveseattleschools.org.

"Honors for all, a complete waste of my child's time" "my kid was bored to tears" "my kid was uncomfortable knowing all the answers", etc.

All right here over and over and over.

It's this blog and the HCC diehards that pit families against each other over AL services.

"We need something different" they say. "Not better, just different and also it has to be a test in program and while poor kids get a free appeals test, if we can afford it, we get UNLIMITED retakes of the GogAT and as much tutoring and prep as we like."

That is the very definition of elitism.


Anonymous said...

I think if anyone could find the data we would see several elementary schools with upwards of 20% of students cohorted in self-contained classrooms by the time the students reach 5th grade and even more schools who have 20+% when the students hit middle school.

Apparently many parents wait until middle school to move to the cohort.

The district is the main player as they control the delivery of the service, which someone erroneously stated requires a self-contained element, and the as such the district deserves the most criticism but HCC parents are very condescending and patronizing in their comments about those students who do not qualify for AL service.

Lead paint, single parenting, poverty, cultural differences; all pretty mean, IMO.

I think somebody heard the best defense is a good offense.


Anonymous said...

It's not having GE students in the classes that's a problem--it's having students who are working at a lower level or who can't/don't keep up. Nobody cares what labels are attached to the bodies (race, income, HC/Spectrum/GE, etc.) if the instruction is at the appropriate level. But if "Honors for all, a complete waste of my child's time" or "my kid was bored to tears" or "my kid was uncomfortable knowing all the answers", etc., and if that's because teachers are teaching at grade level and are not able to effectively teach HC students and GE students together, then yes, having GE students in classes would be bad for their kids' education. That's obvious, not outrageous.

bigboy pants

Meg said...

There are HCC parents who say and write offensive things. One once told me the qualification standards were "lowered" so that minority kids could qualify, and that "those kids" couldn't really keep up, and the program had been "watered down" for them. When I disclosed that I'm Mexican-American things got AWKWARD. The thing is, few groups are like their most offensive members. I've heard gen ed parents say equally offensive things. Denying students an appropriate education because some of their parents are offensive would be wrong. A discussion of the benefits or drawbacks of an HCC program shouldn't be a discussion about their parents.

Expecting differentiation to be able to span 5 or more levels of student learning in crowded classrooms isn't fair to anyone - teachers or students. All kids should be able to learn at school. ELL, SpEd, gen ed, HCC, LI. Every single student.

As for 20%? Based on the publicly available data I'm aware of, 20% is wrong. I primarily use the p223. If anyone has a better source than that, or a supplement to it, I would love to see it.

Ultimately, whether HCC is 2% or 75% of enrollment, SPS administrators set the criteria, not HCC parents. It's extremely similar to the criteria of other districts with programs for academically gifted kids.

Anonymous said...

@ bigboy,

The problem with your scenario arrives when we get to the students who have some challenges and are, as you say, working at a lower level...

Because these students are to bright high achieving gened students what gened students are to HCC students, again, as you said, it's a waste of time to try and teach across such levels.

your words

Anonymous said...

tofurkey you need to check you tripping-tophan levels. cuz you are spinning on a bad hinge my comrade. i am wondering if all these race baiting post are part of russian propaganda. they seem so uninterested in the facts. just want to scream appartheid. screeching like they have some skin in the game when in fact they don't. and no one in their right mind would pay a thousand dollars (two cogat test) when they could just retest the next year. they just want to spread racial hate.

no caps

Anonymous said...

your words, the fact is that gen has a range of kids as does hcc. 2e kids etc. really mix things up. but inherent in acceleration is a real hard way to mix gen ed and hcc. that is why honors for none has no reported outcomes. because it's hard to tell parents that we wasted a year of your kids english opportunity and for the gen ed kids we made it so frustrating coming from lack of rigor to modest rigor that they now despise school. should have called it lose, lose. tm's social experiment social studies has had the same result. i have heard of kids running out after test when they realize they were the only one to get >20/100.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Forgive my idealism, but I'd feel a whole lot better if the fine educators of Seattle (and I include many in the JSCEE) spent their energy on make every comprehensive high school in Seattle excellent and just that, comprehensive. Let's ensure there are great advanced classes in every school -- there are surely enough students given the size of these schools. Here's where I also wish everyone's energy could be focused on school funding rather than fighting over dividing the crumbs we have. If we had enough money we could say we need an AP Stats class at a high school, start it and over time watch it fill.

As for the "cohort" model, I'm sorry Melissa but that is just justification for comfortable exclusion. Public schools must be organized around serving all kids with a comprehensive range of options.

Let's stop this silliness and get down to the business of expecting appropriate excellence and rigor for all students, including my HCC-qualified, neighborhood school sophomore.


Anonymous said...

I think the 20% is referring to Spectrum + HCC. We need a better system.

You've got to have a cut-off somewhere, but the reality is most kids who test in the 95% Cogat and the 95+% for achievement (and most kids who test 98-99% Cogat and don't have the achievement scores) are just as bored and underserved in a Gen Ed class/honors for all than someone in HCC at Garfield or Ingram. They are just as underserved and bored in elementary and middle school without acceleration and rigor. And if 20% of kids were stripped out of Gen Ed classes, especially in elementary school before there's more math differentiation, the remaining kids would be imbalanced in terms of the # of kids in special education. Which cities/schools actually do a good job of differentiating instruction across a wide level of current achievement, being inclusive and addressing the needs of the truly gifted?

NE Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Most of the research I have seen supports the cohort model BUT it does not have to be a separate class. As long is there is a cohort size in classes and the work is differentiated, that would be fine. You have to wonder why the district doesn't try this, no?

NE Parent, someday I will have the time and figure that out.

z said...

Emile, you're right about one thing, your thinking is idealism. A dash of idealism is great, but unfortunately in the real world we need to face realities, and some of what you say just flat out isn't true.

Let's ensure there are great advanced classes in every school -- there are surely enough students given the size of these schools.

This is completely false. There are NOT enough students in most If we had enough money we could say we need an AP Stats class at a high school, start it and over time watch it fill.

How do you propose this would happen? By magic? Where would the kids come from, and how would they magically have the prerequisites? A better example would be AP Calc BC, where there are only 3 individual sections available in the entire city. If you were to divide those students among all high schools, how many classes would be available? Yep, zero. How would that be better? It wouldn't. And it wouldn't make it any better for the other students either, not a win/win or even a win/lose, it would simply be a lose/break-even.

All this said, we certainly should all be striving to make sure that every high school in Seattle is excellent. But not every kid has the same wants or needs. Trying to homogenize education means that virtually no one gets what works best for them. That's not just HCC, but language immersion, SpEd supports, everything.

As for the "cohort" model, I'm sorry Melissa but that is just justification for comfortable exclusion.

This is just BS. The above example clearly show why kids need to be cohorted, and it has absolutely nothing to do with exclusion. Classes will literally not exist in high school without a cohort.

z said...

Sorry, blogger ate part of my comment.

Let's ensure there are great advanced classes in every school -- there are surely enough students given the size of these schools.

This is completely false. There are NOT enough students in most schools ready, willing and able to take the advanced classes that (most) HCC students are ready, willing and able to take. You (and I!) might wish it was true, but it's not.

GIGO said...

Eric, not great doesn't equal not good, right? I believe it is not great because the track they are already on. So you need to do IBx and then you need to do an absent senior year. Not great. So one program is not just right for HCC middle schoolers.

We need to redo GHS in the north.

Anonymous said...


The SPS HC identification protocol has this result: a cluster of identified students composed of heterogeneous abilities who share mostly homogeneous demographics.

The lack of rigor and positive outcomes in the current HCC model have been detailed--most clearly on on the APP blog for the former, and in the NMSF and competitive college admittances for the latter.

Parents condemn the HCC mediocrity, especially behind the "closed doors" of the (public) APP/HCC blog, and then turn around and spend post after post on this blog trying to desperately keep the model of this service operating. Tellingly, they mostly focus their criticisms of HCC on "those other kids in HCC" who are slowing down the instructional pace for their own. On this blog, that message gets translated into complaints about a "lack of curriculum." Gotta keep the "real" in the family but put on a good front to the outside...

Here's the caveat: The proof is in the pudding. HCC students who join the "cohort" have no (or show even less) benefits from the model than those who don't "join" (and don't get their state mandated services in their neighborhood or option schools).

Statistics defenses by highly educated parents who say that the the discrete variables aren't accounted for in the numbers? Nice try. Doesn't work.

In the meantime, an actual witness like Emile (who is functioning with no state-guaranteed services for his child because he chose to forego the "cohort") gives an alternative view of the situation.

The mob impulse of "This is BS...This is completely false" shows the desperation to cling to a model that has no measurable results.

Why the predictable mobfest? Fear? Hubris? Both?

What is known, by research, is that highly educated white (not playing a card but simply conveying the research findings) parents are very "status conscious" about education.

About Time

Anonymous said...

p.s. The SBAC scores also show no different (or worse) outcomes for those in the "cohort" vs. those in neighborhood schools.

Apples vs. Oranges? Personalities??? Not a "good fit in the cohort"???

yeah, right

--About Time

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@GIGO I really hope that we could aspire to something better than "redo GHS in the north".

It may be your opinion that GHS is the best the district has available, but it is definitely in the "needs improvement" category. Plenty of people here have identified things at GHS that need improvement.

If I had a student in high school who was headed to university, what I would really like would be a solid college-preparatory high school program that would teach them how to do university: how to do research papers, literary analysis, proper laboratory reports and scientific papers, citation/footnoting/bibliography systems, academic ethics, time management skills, etc. AP courses are, by design, definitely not that. AP courses are a credentialing system designed to teach students lots of information so that, by taking an exam, they can get college credit for having learned the material, and not have to take the first-year courses in college. That has value too, for many students, and can sometimes save lots of tuition dollars, but it is not optimal for all college-bound students. IB is also not optimal, but for some students, especially those headed for Ivy-League type schools that don't hand out lots of credit and that do make AP students take their first-year courses anyhow, IB has worked better than AP, and even IB-with-an-amorphous-senior-year has been very good for some students.

It makes sense that not all students will make their best progress toward their full potential with a single approach.


Anonymous said...

OMG! We can’t take BC calculus if we don’t keep our own crucial cohorted pathway! We really, really need Calculus BC! My kid is, of course, going to retake Calculus in college but DS MUST have AP calculus BC for his college resume to beat out kids at schools that don’t have it. And he could never, ever take it at running start. He’s just not “socially” ready for it. He would sit next to kids that would lower him. Just look at Honors for All, it has ruined the smart kids at Garfield. AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC represent 1 year of college math that my extra smart kid gets to spend 2 years taking. Isn’t that what accelerated means? Take 2 years covering 1 years’ worth of material? That way. my kid will be really good at it when he repeats it at UW. You know, before he cures cancer or becomes a world leader as he’s destined for.

And absolutely! No Naviance for SPS! Let’s march JSEE to protect privacy. It will just provide easy data for everyone to see. We don’t need more fodder for the masses to reduce the privileges my kid needs.


Anonymous said...

Math is no longer part of HCC starting at Middle School and there are kids that are not HCC-qualified that are taking HCC-level Math classes (mine included). They will need the same level of Math as the HCC kids and they would've completed the prerequisites in Middle School. So, the need for having a cohort -- is it just for the Science classes because non-HCC kids will not have completed the prerequisites? Just trying to understand.

-Confused parent

Seattle Citizen said...

bigboy pants, could you cite a source for this claim:
"If you don't have a LOT of kids, it's hard to offer enough [AP], since many GE students aren't interested in taking any/many AP classes."

How do you know this to be the case? You use this as a rationale for the HCC cohort, that they bring a critical mass that allows more AP offerings, but perhaps if AP is offered, anyway (as it is at, say, Ballard) then GE students WILL take it?

Source, please.
: )

Anonymous said...

@ Seattle Citizen, the source is observation of what's happened in SPS. Garfield, with the large HCC cohort, has traditionally been able to provide a greater range of AP courses and more sections of them, which makes it easier for schedules to work out. Garfield has also said that it's hard to get non HC-identified students to take AP classes--that's why they wanted to go with the the "honors for all" approach, to show kids they can handle the extra "rigor" and encourage them to try AP classes as a next step.

Yes, some GE students will take AP classes if offered. A few of our high schools have offered a variety of AP classes when not designated an HCC pathway, although it's important to remember that these schools still include quite a few HC-identified students who didn't take the pathway (and probably higher proportions of Spectrum-identified students, too). As more and more HC students are avoiding Garfield in favor of Ballard or Roosevelt, the AP offerings at those schools have increased. That's not coincidence, just simple supple and demand.

bigboy pants

Anonymous said...

@Irene wrote; "If I had a student in high school who was headed to university, what I would really like would be a solid college-preparatory high school program that would teach them how to do university: how to do research papers, literary analysis, proper laboratory reports and scientific papers, citation/footnoting/bibliography systems, academic ethics, time management skills, etc. AP courses are, by design, definitely not that. AP courses are a credentialing system designed to teach students lots of information so that, by taking an exam, they can get college credit for having learned the material, and not have to take the first-year courses in college. That has value too, for many students, and can sometimes save lots of tuition dollars, but it is not optimal for all college-bound students. IB is also not optimal, but for some students, especially those headed for Ivy-League type schools that don't hand out lots of credit and that do make AP students take their first-year courses anyhow, IB has worked better than AP, and even IB-with-an-amorphous-senior-year has been very good for some students."

I would like that too. And not just for my kid. Under no circumstances should this opportunity be limited to HCC students or a GHS North pathway. This is what a quality education is and there is no good reason to cohort it or give it to an elite few.

Anonymous said...

I understand why the emotions are flying here. I would love my child, who is only two points out of 100 away from qualifying for HCC, to have access to AP classes in high school. And by keeping the HCC cohort separate, it almost seems like that is a justification for not offering multiple AP classes at every high school. My kid doesn't deserve the same level of education as others because of a 2% score difference?

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
My issue with this debate is that Garfield is a neighborhood school, not just the HCC high school.
Hundreds of GHS kids this year did not get their requested classes because the school is simply too full.
So to keep HCC kids at GHS (their birthright?) now SPS going to draw the boundaries tighter so kids who have a 10 min. bus ride to their neighborhood high school will get moved elsewhere with a long commute in order to accommodate a HCC kid who lives in West Seattle? Where are your environmental concerns about excess pollution now?
My GenEd GHS student successfully took AB calculus as a 10th grader (yes! it happens) and was told this year "too bad" that the BC calculus was "full" but that she could take photography.
GHS counselors are overwhelmed with 500+ kids each. There are lots of HCC capable kids all over Seattle who will do just fine at their neighborhood schools.
Not many HCC kids are getting into fancy-pants colleges anyway. Ivy League schools are taking kids from multiple suburban HS which all seem to manage to offer tons of AP classes that aren't bursting at the seams.

11/1/17, 9:07 AM

Reprinting for anonymous above - unsigned comments are usually deleted.


Anonymous said...

NW Mom - We are in the same boat. My child was one point away didn't qualify. I understand that there need to be cut-offs. But does that mean my child cannot do or will not want access to the higher level classes? That is a flawed argument. And lumping all GE kids together and saying that they will not want to take AP classes isn't accurate either.

-Confused parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

To note, I myself rarely read other local blogs; I just don't have the time. So whatever is being said at the HCC blog is not something I know a lot about. Apparently some of you (cough, AT) do (and a lot).

DisHCCappointed, you are getting very close to being deleted. Do NOT make comments about other people's children.

"I would love my child, who is only two points out of 100 away from qualifying for HCC, to have access to AP classes in high school."

NOT true - tell me what high school is denying access to AP courses and I will talk to the district. Truly.

Because every single kid in high school is supposed to be able to sign up for AP classes and rarely are they overenrolled for most subjects.

All the high schools have AP and some even require all students to take an AP class (last time I looked, it was Roosevelt and RBHS). Do some have more AP variety? Yup, because HCC kids have been moving at a pace from 1-8 to take more.

What I think many want is rigor and good all-around GE classes. That's exactly right. Why that isn't happening would be a question, not for HCC, but the district and high school principals. Don't blame it on a program that does not even have curriculum.

"My GenEd GHS student successfully took AB calculus as a 10th grader (yes! it happens) and was told this year "too bad" that the BC calculus was "full" but that she could take photography."

And your child was told she could not take BC Calculus because of HCC students? Again, let me know and I'll ask at the district.

"There are lots of HCC capable kids all over Seattle who will do just fine at their neighborhood schools."

Again, not without enough AP/IB available or - gasp! - honors classes. Again, ask non-HCC high schools why they don't have more AP or honors to serve kids who want rigor. It's called money and space. But if you have a great plan - other than "everyone go to your high school" - then tell the district.

Also, let's get rid of that tag "neighborhood high school." No such animal (unless you, like me, live right next to it). The district does NOT say there are "neighborhood high schools." Why? Because we have 10 comprehensives (plus one more coming on-line) and a large city. There is NO way every single "neighborhood" could have a high school.

And every big city has magnet schools/programs in high school. You can look it up.

"Not many HCC kids are getting into fancy-pants colleges anyway."

Really? And you know this how? Source, please. And "fancy pants?" Well, there are elite - meaning high rigor - institutions in every single category you can think of. Not all of them are full of "fancy pants" students. My late husband, an immigrant, was one of them. His college roommate at Stanford, one of nine kids in an African-American family where he was the only one to go to college, was one of them.

What's funny to me is so many parents arguing against HCC as if only you got rid of it, somehow everything would be better for all students. What an odd thought pattern.

Solutions, folks, not complaining.

Anonymous said...

SPS has no interest in meeting HCC kids' needs. Or SpEd kids' needs. Or low-income kids' needs. Or the needs of kids of color.

SPS has an interest in promoting charter schools.

SPS has an interest in promoting computerized learning. One single curriculum, delivered by an iPad and not a teacher. No specialized programs for anyone. "Differentiation" to come via different levels within the online program, not from a teacher, not from rigorous curriculum.

This plan isn't even secret. SPS staff freely admit this is their end goal. Every single policy choice they make can be explained by this imperative - it's the only thing that ties together a bunch of otherwise bizarre, contradictory, and confusing proposals.

Yet hardly anyone here is willing to see that this is the overall path and plan. People still think "oh, if I just show SPS staff enough evidence, they'll listen!" Or even "if we get enough parents to talk to them, SPS staff will listen!"

No. That won't happen. Because SPS staff don't care about you or your child or their needs. They don't care about equity. They only care about pushing parents to charter schools and putting everyone who remains on Summit Basecamp. And they expect the Board to roll over and let it happen, as they always do.

If you want to fix HCC or deliver real equity, you need to demand a total housecleaning at the JSCEE. Demand Nyland and Tolley and Neilsen (among others) lose their jobs. Go to every Board meeting and Board director Saturday meeting and demand it. Make it clear you know what's really going on and that you expect the Board to act to save real public education.

Otherwise you're all just chasing your tails.

Fire Everyone

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you just go both ways in your post. You express outrage on behalf of the person who’s kid just missed qualifying for HCC who wants her kid to have access to AP classes, saying you’ll go talk to the district and then turn around and say that HCC kids shouldn’t go back to their neighborhood without enough AP/honors classes available.

Maybe I am misunderstanding, but I don’t think the original posters issue was not having any access to AP classes, but having enough. It seems to me right now that if your kid doesn’t qualify, you’re SOL depending on which neighborhood you live in. So even if you’re ready for BC Calc or whatever, it isn’t an option. Now every school can’t provide everything, but the reality is there are a ton of kids who are wildly underserved right now. Yes, technically, they don’t qualify for HCC which is what the state requires the district to support, but really? Should they actually be ignored?

I do see a lot of parents both staunchly defending HCC as it stands and complaining about it. I think that’s really unsurprising. It frankly doesn’t seem like it does a good job of addressing truly gifted kids needs and the acceleration trails off. Still, I suspect they are fighting because it seems like the district alternative is basically just to do nothing to support/accelerate/go deeper. Which is not a good alternative. So you’ll fight for the garbage you've got vs risking losing everything.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

I don't personally see anyone defending HCC as it stands. They're under siege from a tiny but loud group who want HCC and all forms of advanced learning to end. (Perhaps because they're in league with those who want to replace teachers with iPads?)

But most HCC parents see the flaws to the system, including how kids are identified, as well as curriculum problems, and want improvements.

HCC parents would prefer a restoration of advanced learning at the neighborhood schools. But those were all eliminated, the Board did nothing about it, which emboldened the staff to go further and propose even worse things.

The only solution here is to...

Fire Everyone

Anonymous said...

For some students, taking precalculus as a freshman (or even Calculus) is just where they are. This pathway means the only way of getting 4 years of high school math (at school) is to take AP Calc AB, AP Calc BC, and AP Stats. Why is it so hard to accept some students are actually working at that level and weren't pushed there as some sort of college resume booster? And working at that level does not necessarily mean they are good candidates for early entrance at the UW. Most of these students were served in years past with little fanfare by following the pathway to Garfield.

Yes, students can be working at an HCC level in math even if they are not in the cohort. That was a means of accommodating single subject qualified students in math/science (yet SPS somehow hasn't managed similar single subject acceleration for LA/SS, they simply eliminated acceleration). On the flip side, it also allows SPS to abrogate any responsibility to provide a K-12 HC math pathway by saying well, math isn't part of HCC. Most students in HCC are on a math pathway that leads to Algebra in 7th, Geometry in 8th, and Algebra 2 in 9th, but some are accelerated a year beyond that (Algebra 1 in 6th), and some are following what would typically be a Spectrum pathway (Algebra 1 in 8th). It's like they are talking out both sides of their mouth, really. They provide a means of accelerating (that's really the only accommodation) in elementary and middle school (though it varies by school, even between HC pathway schools) and then high school becomes a big unknown.

It's a small number of students, maybe some 100 high schoolers district wide, but if they are spread out among more schools it becomes harder and harder to schedule, and either a student will have schedule conflicts or schools will simply not offer the course. Teachers are also contractually limited to 3 different courses, yes? How many teachers can take on a single class of AP Calc BC if they are already teaching 3 other courses?

The reality is that these students are the least of SPS's concerns. There is no indication of this changing in the near future.


Anonymous said...

@NW Mom and others-- Many schools if most most offer AP classes. That's not the issue. The issue is that you have kids who have been working ahead two years who need different classes and enough sections to make a schedule. From a programmatic and budget standpoint you need enough students to offer enough sections. High school AP and IB classes are open to all kids at the school. But some kids might have to repeat curriculum if they cannot get into their next class. With budget limitations it is very hard to offer half full sections. If you have a few kids at Roosevelt or Ballard or some other school they could maybe manage to enroll in a section of a class. But what happens when more HC enroll, but yet not enough to fill a second section? If you do not plan programs and fully understand budget and enrollment it might be difficult to understand. But there needs to be deliberate planning and a critical mass to offer classes.

Anonymous said...

@R and others. While your preferred solution offers an ease in scheduling for the HCC cohort, it does not offer any guarantee that the non HCC students are able to get the classes and acceleration they need. I am presuming that is how Running Start became such a big part of many high school schedules in many of the Seattle area schools.

I am happy your HCC students are getting their needs met. But don't fault me for wanting the same for my kids.

-NW Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"You express outrage on behalf of the person who’s kid just missed qualifying for HCC who wants her kid to have access to AP classes, saying you’ll go talk to the district and then turn around and say that HCC kids shouldn’t go back to their neighborhood without enough AP/honors classes available."

How is that both ways? I'm saying that AP is open to ALL students and, if there are barriers at any school, that is not district policy. But I'm also saying that some schools do have more AP classes than others for a reason. I don't see that as a contradiction. You don't have to pick a side in this and I choose not to.

But you are right about people fighting for the little they can get from this district.

R, I will say it again - every single high school (comprehensive) has AP classes. All of them. I have no idea where this thought that they don't all have them or there are restrictions on who can take them comes from but it is WRONG.

But you, like Kellie, understand that the master schedule in high school is a huge driver in these discussions and there is no magic - "just add a class" wand that exists.

kellie said...

There is a critical piece of this conversation that is missing.

While HCC is self contained in elementary school, it is NOT self contained at high school. There is no self contained element of HCC at high school. All advanced classes at high school are open to everyone, who wants them.

The challenge once again is the master schedule. Advanced classes are added to the master schedule LAST. This is because graduation requirements are the priority. Anything that is over and above graduation requirements can only be offered with whatever space happens to be left over in the master schedule.

Advanced Students are pushed to Running Start for advanced classes, district wide. Running Start enrollment has doubled this year and it doubled the year before. This is true for BOTH HCC qualified for students who were not qualified, as BOTH are being directed to this result.

The Calc BC example posted by the Anonymous Garfield family is an excellent example. There are ONLY three sections of Calc BC offered DISTRICT WIDE. Anyone else that wants Calc BC needs to go to Running Start. This Garfield Student did not receive the math class that they wanted, not because of HCC students. The class was only available in the first place because there were enough students, via the cohort.

We are all in this together.

Lynn said...

About Time,

Would your family and friends recognize you from your comments if they read them? While I don’t use my real name on this blog, the people whose opinions I value are able to identify me. Knowing that my teenager could be observing is particularly helpful as a reminder to stay true to my values. I too feel the impulse to respond hatefully to those whose remarks I find infuriating but I try to resist the temptation.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, people. You are like hawks, always accusing the other "side". As someone who moved to SPS just one year ago, I still struggle to understand.

1. I grew up in a different country. Every single HS in that country had mandatory placement-type tests: before entering 9th & 11th grades. Results were public. You get assigned according to these and this is the end of the story. Were they identifying kids correctly? Surprisingly, yes. Also, there was (still is) a mandatory graduation exam. It was (still is) called "baccalaureate", without the entire country being enrolled in an IB-type of program. 7 (seven) tests. And this was (is) just to graduate high school.
University was another entrance exam (2 or 3 different subjects, that is). You are above the line, you are in. Below, you wait one more year or have the option to go for the fall session at universities with available spots (the ones nobody wants).

No "honor-for-all" / "discrimination-for-some". At every point of their academic journey, kids know their (intellectual) place and what/where they can do/go in the next step. No broken dreams or smashed expectations.

2. Older kid attended middle school in a different state. Was labeled as gifted in 1st grade. Elementary-grade programs were on the light side. Academically, kid was at grade level upon finishing elementary school. A couple of weeks before the end of 5th grade, assigned middle school had mandatory placement tests in Math & Language Arts. So middle school started with 3 levels: 1 for GenEd, one Advanced, one Very Advanced (although absolutely no labels were attached, I just made them up now so I can explain). Kids were in classes based on their abilities. So one could be in GenEd for Math, but Very Advanced for LA, for example. Every year, the classes were recalibrated by teachers & kids had the possibility to move between "levels". Long story short, the "Very Advanced" kids graduated 8th grade academically on par with SPS' HCC kids. My kid took the same classes as SPS' HCC (and then some).

My experience in "the other school district in the other state" is similar in many school districts in many US states. I have several friends whose kids took mandatory placement tests and were enrolled in levels based on that. No overextending for kids or teachers.

3. Back in "the other school district in the other state" (with so many less resources than SPS, btw), every single HS has plenty of AP offerings (like 7-9-15 AP subjects). Yes, even the neighborhood ones. Maybe sometimes they had only 1 class per AP subject, but it was there. My kid's current SPS HS has 3 glorious AP offerings, with 3-4-5 classes per AP subject.

AP (or IB) classes are for kids who want to challenge themselves academically. No other label needs to be attached. It is not a special gift or privilege. If they are offered, the kids will sign up.

Why you people need to engage in endless discussions about how to sink the others' boat? Why do you people use pompous language hoping to reinvent the wheel while just generating noise? So much fighting, so much energy wasted.

Northgate Mom

Smell the Irony said...

Melissa just said it all: "But you are right about people fighting for the little they can get from this district."

Which is to say, people are fighting for the little education they can get from this school district. We're fighting to get education for our children out of a school district.

juicygoofy said...

This is all too darn depressing. The district's lack of funds and planning is causing arguments over limited resources. If there were enough space and money to support potentially under-enrolled classes, HCC could go anywhere. But that's not the situation.

I'm with Melissa's statement: "solutions, folks, not complaining." Please.

I understand that Ingraham had a very large 9th grade HCC waitlist this year. More than 40, I think. Does anyone know how to find out what school/s these students ultimately attended?

Anonymous said...

I am happy your HCC students are getting their needs met.

I'm not sure that is true - that HCC students are generally getting their needs met.

Repeating what @Irene said, again: "If I had a student in high school who was headed to university, what I would really like would be a solid college-preparatory high school program that would teach them how to do university: how to do research papers, literary analysis, proper laboratory reports and scientific papers, citation/footnoting/bibliography systems, academic ethics, time management skills, etc."

Exactly, and this preparation starts in middle school, if not earlier. I would suggest these skills are valuable for community college as well, not just 4 year colleges.

Our experience, however, has been that SPS does not build the skills in middle school, then if students are asked to do the above in high school, they are magically expected to know how to do it, albeit poorly, with little to no instruction on the part of their high school teachers. Classes that adequately prepare students seem like an exception. Concerns about courses that don't teach writing (even though they're titled something like "Literature and Composition"...) or about teachers not modeling academic honesty, seem to be ignored.

I, too, moved from another state. Public schools were able to provide what Irene describes and then some. Why SPS can't manage is still beyond me.

just ranting

Anonymous said...

Kellie's clarifications and perspective, shared at 10:57 AM are a breath of fresh air. Thank you Kellie.


Anonymous said...

@Kellie, wrote "The Calc BC example posted by the Anonymous Garfield family is an excellent example. There are ONLY three sections of Calc BC offered DISTRICT WIDE. Anyone else that wants Calc BC needs to go to Running Start. This Garfield Student did not receive the math class that they wanted, not because of HCC students. The class was only available in the first place because there were enough students, via the cohort. "

I am not following this logic. It sounds like Calc BC was only available at GHS because of the HCC cohort, but only the cohort kids could take it which is why the other poster's kid couldn't. How is that equitable or helpful? Do GE kids only get the leftovers or classes on a space available basis? Please clarify - thanks.

Another Parent

Lynn said...

Where did you get the idea that the Calc BC class was offered to HC students first? That was not included in the original post.

Ice Cream Please said...

@Northgate Mom,
In the U.S. we pretend that all children enter school with a "blank slate." Despite overwhelming scientific evidence this is not the case We believe all students should go to college even though most majors (and for some students college itself) are too difficult if not impossible for many students to complete. Our national inability to admit that human beings come with differing levels and combinations of strengths and weaknesses causes us to walk around bumping into walls. And we disserve all students by doing this. (Note that Melissa was one of the only people in this whole conversation to bring up what the schools are doing for gen ed students and how we should look at how it can be improved).

The reason so many countries beat us on the PISA test is those countries feed only certain students into a pre-university pathway and have them take the PISA test. PISA test scores correlate with student intelligence:

The PISA test also correlates to ice cream consumption:

We should be working to improve outcomes for all students no matter how they test, no matter what's written on their not-so-clean slate. We need great education for students who won't go, shouldn't have to pay for, don't want to, and likely won't benefit from college. And all the other students with all their combinations of strengths and weaknesses.

Not educating HCC students well does nothing to improve the educations of any other student.

kellie said...

To clarify the Calc BC Example.

There are BOTH general education students AND HCC students who would be eligible for Calc BC. The district is NOT providing this class to BOTH groups equally.

I have posted variations on this information many times. Because the State of Washington does NOT fund at least 5% of SPS high school students at all. Yes, there are ZERO DOLLARS allocated for 5% of high school students.

This means that there simply are not ENOUGH OF ANY CLASSES. 5% of students represents about 2-4 teachers per high school that just don't exist.

There are not enough advanced classes, there are not enough remediation classes. There is just plain old not enough. This is why there is always a fight over the scraps.

kellie said...

Thank you Fireside. Much appreciated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...kids know their (intellectual) place.."

I can only say "yikes." I may make things easier (somewhat) for schools and parents and students but a lot of kids find their footing later than others. I would not want anyone put in their place too soon.

I will note here that this is the direction that our nation is going and I wouldn't be surprised to see it start happening here.

It sounds like Calc BC was only available at GHS because of the HCC cohort, but only the cohort kids could take it which is why the other poster's kid couldn't. How is that equitable or helpful?"

I wish you wouldn't say this "because of the HCC cohort." You don't know that but you've now said it. The person who originally said it did NOT provide any evidence of its veracity. And that's why I said, tell me what school and I will definitely look into it.

It isn't equitable or helpful. Also not helpful, repeating things that you don't know to be true.

kellie said...

@ Another Parent,

There is an urban myth, perpetuated by a few trolls on this blog, that HCC High School Students are getting something "special" and part of that something special is "self-contained."

There is no such thing as self-contained or even a priority in high school. High School is the Master Schedule. If a class is on the master schedule, that class is available for ANYONE that is qualified to take that class.

Language Immersion students follow a pathway. These students are then offered classes in a language, other than English. Heritage speakers also access these classes. These classes were offered on the master schedule because of the pathway, but once the class is offered, it is available to anyone. The reverse is also true. While there may be more than enough heritage speakers to warrant a class in that native language, that class would NEVER have been offered without the pathway.

The reason why the HCC pathway is important for ALL STUDENTS, is that a pathway school is REQUIRED to offer the advanced math and science classes. The only thing that happens is that the cohort generates some basic classes for the cohort that would then be advanced classes for the ENTIRE SCHOOL.

Once the class is on the schedule, the class exists and the counseling office uses whatever mysterious method they are using to assign classes. The original poster made it "sound like" their student didn't get the class because it was full of "other kids." It was full. Of course it was full.

Every advanced class in the district is full. If you are not one of the lucky ones to get the class, you can go to Running Start. Because this escape hatch is built into the foundation of the funding model. Running Start is SUBSTANTIALLY less expensive to the State of Washington and to SPS, than providing the classes students need.

The IRONY here is that HCC pathways ultimately provides greater access to advanced learning for general education students, than it does for HCC students.

Anonymous said...

Priority entrance to AP classes is as follows. I have this direct from the Advance Learning office because of a scheduling question for my student:

HCC Cohort
HCC-qualified but not in cohort
Seniors needing class for graduation purposes
All others

"blog reader"

Anonymous said...

I generally appreciate Kellie's insight into capacity and enrollment but she posted just before my entry above. In that case, Kellie is incorrect. There is a hierarchy for enrollment priority to high school AP classes and the HCC cohort is at the top of it. For better or worse depending on your perspective.

I have a perspective that differs from the dogged HCC parents on this thread. I will have to think about whether to share it.

"blog reader"

kellie said...

I just can not repeat this enough.

It is my opinion that the process of funding high school based on Average Attendance and not on Enrollment is criminal. Every year, high school students arrive ready for high school and there just isn't a teacher or classes for them. The classes just don't exist.

We have more than enough students who arrive ready to do work that is over and above the basic graduation requirements. But these classes are added to the master schedule LAST. So every year, SPS is require to ration all classes that are over and above the minimum. It is just tragic.

Sadly the way high school really works is you get a lucky schedule or an unlucky schedule. Many of the students with the unlucky schedule then depart for Running Start and this opens a few slots.

Students do not arrive in nice neat little packages but high school is funded as if every class is running at full capacity and there is NOT ONE PENNY allocated for a class that is not perfectly efficient.

kellie said...

@ Blog Reader,

You are correct. That is the "policy" but it is not the "practice" because it is impossible to enact that policy in practice.

There are all types of blanket statements made about how high schools are run. But the actual real world practice, aka the street-level-beuracracy winds up being dictated by the master schedule.

Anonymous said...

@Kellie & Melissa as well- Thank you both for the helpful comments and explanations. I am hoping that parents will better understand. I also continue to be baffled by parents who would actively argue for kids working two years ahead to have a gap in coursework or repeat courses. These same parents (whose kids "just missed the cutoff etc") expect a sequential pathway for their own kids. The logic is strange unless they really don't understand how it all works.

Anonymous said...

@Blog Reader- This is not how it works in practice. I had asked the counseling staff at Ballard about priority enrollment for AP classes. I was told by the head counselor only graduating seniors have priority. They are also not accustomed to having many HC qualified kids either. Likely this has not been an issue. I assume same is true at Roosevelt and other schools as well.

NESeattleMom said...

blog reader,
My experience at GHS was only that seniors were given registration priority. Many HCC students experienced scheduling problems so that some students went to Running Start instead. My student did not have any blank periods, but I heard of students going to community college to get their classes.

Anonymous said...

@G Sigh. No I really do want what is best for all kids. In a binary world, here are our options:

1) Every high school offers a variety of classes at all levels so that every high school student's needs are met. Really this is what we all want.

2) No high school offers sufficient upper level classes which results in none of the kids getting challenged. Very few readers of this blog really want this. Us non-qualifying parents really do not want your kids to suffer.

3) The HCC cohort gets their needs met and the parents your refer to are stuck with whatever is left over. I hope this is not what you intended. But this is how we sometimes read the comments in this blog.

Really, what we are all trying to do is figure out how to get closer to option 1. But the world isn't binary, funding is messy, and the central office has goals that many of us struggle to understand.

How do we get closer to option 1?

-NW Mom

Seattle Citizen said...

Ice Cream Please writes that "Our national inability to admit that human beings come with differing levels and combinations of strengths and weaknesses causes us to walk around bumping into walls"

Hmmm.....Do you mean some human beings are BORN with innate levels and combos of strengths, or that they GET a leg up in some areas before kindergarten?

And if ALL humans have "differing levels and combinations" of strengths and weaknesses (intelligences) then how come entrance into HCC is one simple test that excludes a myriad of types of strengths and weaknesses?

kellie said...

Thank you G. Unfortunately, there are very few people who really understand the mechanics of how high school works.

A few years ago, Garfield had 87 students who were unable to get a 6th class of any sort. These students were pushed into a TA slot to fill the time period. You would think that was bad-enough, right? 5% of all students that year didn't get a 6th class.

However, SPS was clear that Garfield was under enrolled and had been allocated 2.0 FTE too many teachers and they wanted Garfield to remove two teachers or 10 slots on the master schedule. I was baffled. I simply could not understand why downtown was so convinced Garfield was over-staffed but yet ... all of the classes were full and there were so many students who didn't get the classes that they needed.

Both were true but yet nobody really dug into why there was such a mismatch. The debate dragged on all year. The teacher was not pulled but ... Garfield's staff was cut for the following year to reflect that 2.0 FTE subtraction. The subsequent year, Garfield had a different problem. Multiple long term subs in the math and Spanish classes because they were unable to effectively hire.

Looking at all of this from a system's point of view, it was crystal clear to me that there was a huge mismatch between what policy was claiming and what practice was really providing for our students.

IMHO, the root cause of all of these tragedies, is the practice of funding based on Attendance, not enrollment. This funding model means that high schools have to have perfect alignment between staff and student needs. Good luck, with that idea. Perfect just doesn't happen.

The only reason this works at all is because STUDENTS who are unable to get their needs met are pushed to Running Start. If Running Start was the the solution, this problem would likely have been daylighted a long time ago.

Smell the Irony said...

How do we get closer to option 1? Move out of Seattle. It would appear that most other area districts and a massive number of districts and states in the country not to mention countries in the world are doing better at meeting the educational needs of high school students than Seattle Public Schools. We need an education revolution.

Anonymous said...

I can assure you that the priority policy was in place and was enacted in my family's experience. I took the central office email to the school, explained the need for the particular class, was polite, was prepared to be persistent, and the policy was enacted. I understand that the schools should enact policy as a matter of course, not because a parent has set up a meeting. I don't like that at all. But having procured the meeting, neither push nor shove took place. The school followed policy. I didn't even get the "HCC eyeroll" vibe, but then again, I took care not to be rude. Tone matters when staff is overburdened. And staff is very overburdened.

"blog reader"

Anonymous said...

So...back to what SPS has planned for high school. We're not any closer to knowing, are we?

what's next?

Anonymous said...

@Kellie - An innocent question: why does Bellevue (and Shoreline and Vashon and other WA districts known for their strong education) not seem to struggle with high school schedules due to WA state funding models? Or do they struggle and we not hear about it?

I don't think we should settle for the "there is simply not enough money" argument. Yes, it would be much better with more money. But I think we can do better with the limited amount of money we already have. And we should continue to demand it.

-NW Mom

Anonymous said...


Placement exams at the beginning of middle school AND recalibration every year (as it is done in many school districts in the US) is not horrible, you know. That way, all kids work at their level & teachers can focus on kids with similar capabilities. One teacher teaching to kids of various capabilities just frustrates everybody, imo. And the buffalo herd will only move as fast as the slowest buffalo, anyway.

Placement exams at the beginning of HS (such is the case in other countries) is fair, too. if they are well prepared (aka know the basics), they will do well. If they do not know the basics, why artificially keep them at a higher level & make everybody miserable?

Similarly, keeping the HCC kids together AND offering clear differentiation to kids that did not test into the HCC would make everybody as close to happy as possible. For the second group (non-HCC, let's call it) the same number of teachers will teach to the same number of kids, just at different levels, while calibrating their levels periodically. The only thing required is more collaboration among teachers teaching the same subject in the same grade.

My 2 cents.

Northgate Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Blog reader, thank you for that. I have never heard that before about ranking who gets AP. However, seeing all these comments makes me believe it's a school by school thing. And again, not good.

Anonymous said...

We are new to Seattle with a Gen Ed 9th grader at Garfield who certainly would have qualified for HCC early on. Over the summer I asked Advanced Learning about HCC eligibility testing and was told that, since Garfield is our zoned school anyway, my 9th grader would test only for placement on the Ingraham wait list. I then asked specifically about priority enrollment in AP classes for HCC students at Garfield and Advanced Learning confirmed that is true, then informed me that there is a non-test referral process for HCC for 9th graders after their first semester which we should use. So, next week we are meeting with our Garfield counselor who 1) denies that there is HCC priority enrollment at GHS and 2) claims to have no knowledge of this non-test HCC referral process. Hahaha.

Even so, our experience at Garfield has so far exceeded our expectations, academically and administratively. We come from a private international school and I've seen for years how difficult it is to accommodate students coming from wildly different backgrounds. The public schools win hands down for the sheer number and variety of courses offered, while private schools quietly show you the door if it's a "poor fit".

Re Bellevue schools, I recently reflected on this when irked by SPS's delay in posting the October enrollment numbers. I checked Bellevue for comparison and found only outdated school profiles, same for the public school district where we used to live. Transparency is a double-edged sword, creating expectations and inviting criticism.


kellie said...

@ blog reader,

Your example aligns very well with my analysis. The policy is a piece of paper and if you bring that paper to the right person, in the right way, there is a chance they will comply. Maybe, maybe not.

The need to bring that piece of paper also shows, that policy is not driving the day to day actions of the counseling office. Graduation requirements and the master schedule drive the day to day of the counseling office.

IMHO, high school counselors are the real heroes in this capacity constrained story. The counselors are the ones on the front lines trying to divide up too-few-resources for too-many-students. My experience of most counselors is that they follow the motto "if they can, they will."

But there is only so much they can do. If every parent, did what you did, they would not be able to accommodate all of them. There just aren't enough slots. Running Start is a very attractive tool in the toolbox for them. The Master Schedule has only so many classes and so many slots. Counselors know that they can't do everything so they triage.

kellie said...

@ NW mom,

That's a great question.

It is my understanding that many other districts use local levy money to backfill this gap at high school funding, so that all high school STUDENTS are funded. This doesn't make it perfect, but it does ensure that there is at least a functional number of classes and teachers in the building. However, with all the recent changes to what levy money can be used for, I have not researched how other districts are managing.

I also agree that not enough money is not a plan. My issue with the formula is different from the classic not enough money. This is not-enough-teachers, which could be solved with extra money.

My complaint is that it looks-like, there should be enough classes and teachers for everyone. But there isn't. This makes this problem invisible. We pretend that we don't need teachers on the first day of school, because some students will drop out anyway, so why provide a teacher at all.

This is tragic in my opinion. There is good reason to argue that this don't pay for a teacher model, causes more drop outs.

Anonymous said...

Kellie, what are your thoughts about moving to a 7 period schedule for next year? Will it make scheduling even more challenging? Staff at the boundary meeting said all high schools need to offer 28 credits (4 years of 7 periods?), starting with the 2018-19 school year. I'm curious what schools are planning, how it impacts staffing, etc. If a teacher's student load can't exceed 150, which is roughly 5 periods of 30 students each and a planning period, what happens when students need an additional period of classes?

more change

Anonymous said...

I'd like to add a note of perspective about the math comments.

Despite the pathway angle of albegra->geometry->precalc->AB->BC->Stats, many of the "pre-calc" ideas can be taught with college graduate level problems. There are high school trig/geometry books from 50 years ago that were incredibly sophisticated, and now we have trivialized the pursuit of very deep/broad subjects in sacrifice of some linear pathway that ends where? As an old SPS attendee who did go to Garfield or join APP/HCC, our math team beat Garfield (and Lakeside) every year without HCC/APP/Cohort etc. and the associated "advanced" classes.

Math is a broad subject that requires a big bag of tricks. MathCounts/AHSME/AIME/Olympiad material is much more interesting and relevant than achieving "calc BC" status.


Anonymous said...

Apparently angle bracket characters around "not" go to Garfield were excluded from above comment

Melissa Westbrook said...

"We come from a private international school and I've seen for years how difficult it is to accommodate students coming from wildly different backgrounds. The public schools win hands down for the sheer number and variety of courses offered, while private schools quietly show you the door if it's a "poor fit"."

Thank YOU for this. There are good and bad issues for ALL kinds of schooling and yes, private schools may or may not suit your student/family AND they can show you to the door anytime they like. Ditto on charter schools.

Anonymous said...

It’s very telling that Northgate mom uses an animal herd analogy when describing cohesive learning groups and no-one seems to have a problem with that. Guess what- the science of learning is not animal husbandry nor should it ever be thought to be.

Animal Farm

Anonymous said...

@NW Mom- We want the same thing for all kids to have a sequential pathway of classes. In an ideal world there would be budget to offer small classes everywhere. But that is not reality. A general ed student will enter a school with a critical mass of kids who have taken the same classes. They can choose honors, IB and AP courses. HC kids who have been accelerated 2 years run more of a risk of repeating courses or having no courses available without critical mass. The state WAC requires the district to have a plan to service these students. Accelerated curriculum is basic education that aligns with previous coursework. I suspect may not have a high school age student, and are making some assumptions about adding a second north end HCC cohort impacting the availability of your own kids pathway at their own school in your comments. As Melissa mentioned kids can take many AP classes and IB at their schools. The advisory committee who studied this issue and wrote the recommendation is concerned kids will have to repeat courses, if they are not in a critical mass. I don't think I can explain it any better than Kellie and Melissa have already explained the rationale for supporting additional HC pathways. In addition the neighborhood schools don't have room for all of them to return.

kellie said...

@ more change,

I had to laugh when I first heard about the 7 period day. It is a great example of the huge gap between theory and reality.

From a master schedule and funding point of view, every six students funds ONE slot on the schedule. It really doesn't matter how these slots are divided up.

Without a lot more money being thrown at the system, it is just not possible to give students 28 credits. One teacher will still be teaching 5 classes. Those classes will just be more evenly spread out during the day with the teacher getting two empty slots.

The need to divide up resources will ensure that students get all the graduation credits and most likely an empty period in the middle of the day.

The bottom line of high school is that the MORE EFFICIENT the schedule is, the more students are served. As such, the handful of classes like Band, where the teacher has more than 150 students is the ONLY place where there is extra wiggle room.

Anonymous said...

"The public schools win hands down for the sheer number and variety of courses offered"

Great news! The sad part is that this probably would NOT have been the case had you moved to some other neighborhoods that do not have the offerings of Garfield (and Roosevelt and Ballard).

Moving to a location where you can reap the benefits of HCC offerings (or Ballard or Roosevelt) would make this district seem almost fully functional to the newcomer

Outside of that bubble, however, the offerings are often slim pickings for what you've indicated you prefer for your child's needs. (Sealth, West Seattle, etc. come to mind.)

About Time

Anonymous said...

They can and do dip into special ed resources to fund high school budget deficits. Hire a dual certified teacher, (sped and regular ed), bill it all or mostly, to special ed, assign the dual certified teacher to a boring class like World History or American government, make sure there’s a couple of kids with an IEP in there, and voila! Extra class spots slots all around, including really tiny ones for the cool classes. No sped kids in those! Sucks for the kids with disabilities because they aren’t getting any service, but great for HC kids because all sorts of goodies above and beyond any graduation requirements are thereby made available in the school. BHS pioneered the the funding methodology. Never heard of any BHS kid with empty spots. And it really can’t be detected in a financial audit because the auditor doesn’t audit the actual instruction, only the money. Are all the kids with IEP getting all the individualized instruction as directed on their IEP while their teacher is teaching 35 kids in regular American Govt? Yes of course! Swears the principal. Our teachers are great, they can actually teach 2 classes at the same time! Especially if the kids aren’t the brightest! The auditor has no way to evaluate the instruction, of course the principal must be right.

Sped reader

Anonymous said...

@ About Time, can you provide data on the demand for AP and other advanced classes at some of these other high schools? How many students want which courses? If there are many, why are those schools opposed to providing them?


Anonymous said...

@ Sped reader, how do you blame HC kids for that? To the extent that schools are misbehaving in their use of funds, any classes created are NOT HC-specific. You ownnexample was Ballard--not an HCC pathway (and there were fewer HC there when this was pioneered).


Anonymous said...

SO much acrimony!! The district would be better off following state law by offering service at every school.

Oh ya, they already do!

So just shut down the divisive cohort model and if parents want to move to the eastside or go private, then that's on them.

If they want to stay and help all kids learn together in an inclusive environment then stay.

Happy World Vegan Day

eggplant killer

Anonymous said...

I respectfully disagree the World History and American Government are boring-quite the contrary (if you ask my students) Yes, I have seen that model and there are ways for SpEd students to get their minutes. We also have the model of a Gen Ed and Sp Ed teacher co-teaching the class.-TeacherMom

kellie said...

That escalated quickly.

Sped is particularly challenging for high school. As special education students are also general education students, this incredibly restrictive funding model once again hits sped even harder than everyone else.

If you look at the high school budgets, it is truly appalling. It will say enrollment X, AAFTE can then easily be 100 students fewer than the total enrollment, and then all of the Weighted Staffing is then run off of that reduced number. Sped gets a double whammy with that math as sped staffing is also off of the reduced number.

To the best of my knowledge the issue that sped reader is referencing happened years ago, in yet another attempt to make too little go further, but that practice was stopped. And yes, BHS, just like all of the high schools, have many students who do not get their 6th period class and BHS is sending the largest number of students to Running Start, because Ballard is the most over-subscribed school in the system.

And once again, About Time, does not seem to miss an opportunity to point fingers without any facts to substantiate the claims.

I recently saw an analysis of all of the AP offering for the various high schools. I was quite surprised at how many offerings were at so many schools. Franklin, Garfield, Ballard and Roosevelt all had about the same. The IB schools had significantly less as would be expected. I don't have copy to reference or I would note all the details.

But once again, I was deeply impressed with how our schools manage to do so much with so little. If the schools were simply funded based on their real enrollment, I think that the vast majority of the squabbling on this topic would just cease.

Anonymous said...

Unclear, clearly you aren’t seeking clarity. We know about BHS because it has been the subject of complaints and audits. There’s evidently NO MISBEHAVIOR! So yay! It’s fine to use sped teachers to teach regular ed! That fixes Kellie’s theoretical master schedule problem! And any high school can do it. Read through the blog. You’ll see HCC students can go and do go to BHS to get all the wonderful advanced offerings in Biotech, Finance, etc. Unfortunately it’s a little harder at Garfield to do the dual certified master schedule fix. They’ve managed to drive out almost all students with disabilities. Last I checked it was around 5%, a tiny fraction of the districts percentage. They don’t even offer the promised special ed minimums, like self contained special ed classes for nonverbal Autistic students. They use them to clean the lunchroom instead. Pretty neat right? And if they give em too much trouble, they just ship them out. HCC can’t use them to fix the master schedule though, because there isn’t enough special ed staff allocated for that. But plenty to coach the football team. But yay for “supply and DEMAND” isn’t that the theme? All that DEMAND drives the district to take the resources for the demanders, from anywhere it can.

Sped reader

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a sense among those not involved in HCC that somehow HCC high schools students' needs are all being met, while other students' needs are not. I don't think that narrative is true at all. If we had data on what percentage of GE students get the classes they need/want and what percentage of HC-identified students (whether at a pathway, option, or assignment school) do, I think we'd see otherwise.

SPS apparently recently collected data on which AP classes are available at each school, and how many sections are offered. Did they also look at the demand for these classes--including whether classes were under-/over-filled, whether students who wanted the classes could't get them, and whether students had to go elsewhere to get appropriate classes? Whatever data they did collect, will they share them?

data seeker

Anonymous said...

Wrong Kellie. A few years ago, 100% of dual cert teachers were billed to sped. The correction? It can’t be 100% billed to sped. But I can assure that the practice still exists. If there’s even 1 kid with an IEP in a high school dual cert teacher’s class, a large chunk is billed to sped. We all know that if there’s an American Govt class with 35 kids and 1 teacher.... that teacher is not doing any individualized IEP SDI. The amount of special ed happening in such a class is 0. 0 should be billed to special ed. Any teacher who teaches even 1 regular student during a period, should have that entire period billed to regular ed. Additionally the prep period for that class needs to be billed to regular ed too. The kids with IEPs are entitled to regular ed funds, and in those type of funding shenanigans presume that students with disabilities shouldn’t get any. If they even sit in a room, it’s billed to special ed, even if no special ed is happening. But great for the master schedule right! It opens up whole new FTE to the master schedule.

Sped reader

Anonymous said...

Sorry, eggplant killer, that's not accurate. The district may offer "service" at every school, but they don't offer HC-appropriate services at every school. It's just not cost effective given the limited demand.

According to state law, "for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education." Additionally, "once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate." That means if you're going to accelerate a student 2-3 years in elementary school, you need to offer similarly accelerated classes in middle and high school. For example, if an HCC students get a lot of math acceleration in ES, then moves into Algebra I in 6th grade, they need a high school that will offer Pre-calculus, AP Calc AB, AP Calc BC, and AP Statistics. And it's SPS that is required to provide the continuum through grade 12--not community colleges (e.g., Running Start).

Not BuyingIt

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback TeacherMom! Sorry to insult those important topics of American Govt and World Histy. I simply meant a bare bones basic requirement. Nothing fancy, nor of the students choosing. Coteaching models are great! In that case, there are special ed resources available to meet iep goals! Coteaching doesn’t expand the master schedule at the expense of students with disabilities. Great! But that isn’t what we’re talking about.

Think about it. If regular ed teachers could completely teach 35+ kid classes, prepare for all those regular ed students, including prep and passing State in class testing for that subject. AND also provide SDI without any assistance for 10+ kids with all types of disability needs... If that was possible, why do we even need sped teachers? I think it’s more than obvious that this done to benefit the master schedule, not the students with disabilities.

Sped reader

Anonymous said...

You've stunned me, Sped reader, with your description of a "regular ed" class.

This is the kind of classroom we HCC parents have nightmares about, one where our children will loose direction from boredom and lack of rigor.

These kinds of situations are why there is such a need for the cohort. Our kids deserve an education.

not hAPPy

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm guessing "not hAPPy" is a troll.

All of HCC children have experience in gen-ed classrooms unless they transferred directly into HCC from anorher educational environment such as private school or homeschool.

Not True

Anonymous said...

Going back to the topic of increased access to advanced classes for all kids...SPS claims it is moving toward improving the availability of these classes at all high schools. But it's probably a bad idea to give up HCC in exchange for district promises. The HCC shake-up at Garfield is a chance to bring AP to schools that don't already offer many of these classes. A greater number of students could have these class options--since anyone at the school can take them. Once the advanced classes are established in the buildings, that's the time to revisit the implementation of HCC.

Based on what I know about the north:
ROOSEVELT--solid # of AP from what I hear
BALLARD--sounds like a good # of AP
LINCOLN--good place to put HCC, won't displace anybody
HALE--It would take a second north cohort to increase AP here. Trade-off of having more AP classes would probably be a smaller attendance area.

I don't have a good sense of offerings in the south or if any changes are being considered. Is it feasible to have 2 HCC pathways in the south?
Rainier Beach--IB
Chief Sealth--IB
Franklin--pretty good # of AP?
West Seattle--??


Anonymous said...

@Sped Reader- "You’ll see HCC students can go and do go to BHS to get all the wonderful advanced offerings in Biotech, Finance, etc. Huh? Ballard first of all has few HC qualified kids compared to Ingraham or Garfield. I think 25 HC Freshman when I last checked and the school has 2000 kids? Also, Biotech does not line up with the science courses they have already taken. You are making really wrong assumptions here and I urge you to do some reasearch. You may be upset about how SPS treats Sped kids, but please don't take it out on other kids also there are also HC sped kids as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree that we probably have troll but what they said is completely true. My child has been in those gened classrooms and if it hadn't been for HCC we might have lost her to all kinds of trouble. Idle hands and all that. Maybe there are kids who are in HCC who would be OK in gened but from our experience the kids really thrive in the schools we've been involved with, Lincoln and Hamilton. We decided on Ballard for high school and it's been a bit of a transition, the main problem being attending classes with older students as they are generally not working as far ahead. As far as AP classes, we should be OK but AP physics would be something we'd like to see. They offer UW in high school for several classes as well.
IMHO, HCC is good, even essential for elementary and middle school but the only problem in high school is the lack of age peers.

live aboard

Anonymous said...

People here don't understand what is happening and are fighting each other because that's what the JSCEE wants you to do.

Here is what is really happening:

• SPS staff want charter schools
• SPS staff want Summit Basecamp (or some other kind of "personalized learning")

This requires them to eliminate all specialized programs. And that is exactly what has been happening. EEU. Middle College. Spectrum. Dual Language. Option schools.

Do you not see this? Have you all not read Carolyn Leith's articles with emails from SPS staff?

You all are acting like crabs in a bucket and missing the actual problem entirely. The issue isn't whether HCC exists or not. It's whether we turn every SPS school into KIPP or Summit, with underpaid teachers putting kids in front of iPads all day long.

It's whether SPS succeeds in getting parents to believe their needs will never be met in a public school so they need charters, whether they're HCC or SpEd or anything else.

What is it going to take for people to wake up and see the truth? Or does everyone just want to rehash the same arguments over and over again, even when doing so is playing the Gates Foundation's game for them?

Thomas Paine

NESeattleMom said...

No, I haven't read Carolyn Leith's articles with emails from SPS staff. Where do we read them?

Anonymous said...

Personally I wouldn't mind some decent high rigor charters like they have in CA. My nephew attends an amazing charter in Santa Cruz,


The school is rated #1 high school in California and # 10 in the nation. It's a lottery admission. No tests, no requirements except apply and attend one of the meetings which are offered at many different times and days.

If SPS staff is in favor of schools like this, I'm all in.


Anonymous said...

NESeattleMom - this article is a must-read. Unfortunately I don't think many people have seen it:


Thomas Paine

Anonymous said...

@Thomas Paine--Thanks for posting; I have long felt there is a shadow district, or wizard of oz, directing the decisions and recommendations that seem to run counter to the best interests of our public school students and teachers.

Shell Game

Michael Rice said...

Sorry for being a little late to the party.

"blog reader" wrote: Priority entrance to AP classes is as follows. I have this direct from the Advance Learning office because of a scheduling question for my student:

HCC Cohort
HCC-qualified but not in cohort
Seniors needing class for graduation purposes
All others

I do not know what school your child attends, but at Ingraham, student demand drives the master schedule. We have the students sign up for classes and from there we make up the schedule. There is no "priority" for who gets a class. A classic example of this is AP Statistics (which I teach). Over the years, I have been able to go from 40 kids in two sections to 125 in four sections this year. Anyone who is willing to try the class is welcome to take it. I have plenty of HCC students in the class (IBx seniors, mostly), but I have mostly students who what to challenge themselves and know the value of taking a statistics class.

Anonymous said...

Go RAMs!!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Mocha, I visited on the highest rated charter schools in California as well - Preuss in San Diego. There was nothing particularly innovative going on except a very focused staff and students who want to be in school and do the work. When you can shape your student body, you can get better results. I'd bet the charter you name has fewer ELL, homeless and Sped students than the district it's in. Easier to do better when you can shape your student body. Their diversity stats don't reflect the district they are in. F/RL? nothing compared to the district.

Their lottery is open to all and very nice that there are a small number of seats in 7th grade for "first to college" students. But then there are seats for children of faculty and staff, board members, and siblings at PCS.

Shell Game and Thomas Paine, I have been planning a thread on what I see happening and my thinking follows yours.

Anonymous said...


CREDO (Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes) performed an analysis on charter school performance in Los Angeles and found the following:

"...the typical student in a Los Angeles charter school gains more learning in a year than her TPS [The Public School] counterpart, equal to about 50 additional days in reading and 79 additional days in math. These positive patterns emerge in a student’s first year of charter attendance and persist over time. Black and Hispanic students in poverty especially benefit from attendance at charter schools.

A substantial share of Los Angeles charter schools appear to outpace TPS in how
well they support academic learning gains in their students in both reading and
math. Over 48 percent of Los Angeles charters outpace the learning impacts of TPS
in reading, and 44 percent do so in math."

The % of students in poverty at the time of the study was comparable (75% LAUSD Public School vs. 70% Charter).



Anonymous said...

Are students in LA randomly assigned to charter schools or do their parents have to research their options and make an effort to enter lotteries for seats?

Fairmount Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maybe, all you said was fine. I was addressing a specific school.

Fairmount Parent, you have to do the research, you have to know when the lotteries are and what the process is and then know how to enroll your child. As well, many charters have expectations about student behavior/parental support that may not be what many traditional public schools ask for.