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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

From the Tilth Alliance:

Are you a teacher, parent, community member who works in school gardens?


Join us for the Seattle School Learning Garden Network Winter Workshop! It’s Sat., March 3, 8:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at Washington Middle School. Choose from six learning sessions, connect with local organizations, network, and take optional, local garden tours after the workshops are done.

The workshop is free thanks to: Seattle School District, Tilth Alliance, Slow Food Seattle, Washington Green Schools, and others. RSVP to Sean McManus: smmcmanus@seattleschools.org.
The Network for Public Education is interested in your thoughts:
Recent surveys on gun violence in schools often report their finding by political party affiliation and whether or not you own a gun. They do not report out results for the most important groups of all--those who suffer the consequences of gun violence in schools.

If you are a pre-K -12 parent, a teacher, or a student between the ages of 14-25 we want to hear what YOU think.
 
Please take this very short survey here

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NPEgunviolence
 
Then please share the survey link on social media and with friends and family. We will report our results out to the press and on our webpage on the topic of gun violence in schools.
From KUOW on teens and depression:  
Pediatricians Call For Universal Depression Screening For Teens
Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. And as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don't get the care that could help them.  

"What we're endorsing is that everyone, 12 and up, be screened ... at least once a year," Zuckerbrot says. The screening, she says, could be done during a well-visit, a sports' physical or during another office visit.
The SAT in SPS is coming up next Wednesday, March 7th.
Every March, Seattle Public Schools administers the SAT, the college admission test, to juniors during school hours. The test date for this school year is Wed., March 7, 2018.

The SAT is offered to all juniors free of charge, no pre-registration required. 

Questions about specific administration details should be directed to the testing coordinator at the student’s school. Visit our school directory for school contact information.
The local League of Women Voters sent a letter to the City Council voicing their belief that the Council should not be changing zoning code to support charter schools based in Seattle.   The letter was cc'd to the Mayor as well.

I find their reasoning sound.

From the letter:
The Seattle School District is governed by an elected school board and coordinates its
enrollment forecasts and projections to identify capacity and program needs and suitable school sites within Seattle. It works through a public process to identify locations and school costs.
Charter schools are not governed or overseen by the Seattle School Board, nor do their
operators or owners have any responsibility to coordinate with community needs and vision.


Recently the Seattle School Board adopted Resolution No. 2017/18-9, opposing changes to the City of Seattle Municipal Code SMC 23.79 that would allow charter schools to apply for departures from building development standards. The League of Women Voters finds it reasonable that Seattle city government — managed by those who are accountable to the electorate — maintain its special consideration for requests of the similarly situated Seattle School District. Both are elected by Seattle voters to oversee and ensure the appropriate use of our precious public resources and to act in the public interest. The same special consideration should not be extended to charter school owners and operators who have no such mandate.
 What's on your mind?

31 comments:

Eric B said...

According to what teachers at the school told my child yesterday, the teacher who resigned around the Garfield shooting threat did so because of classroom stress and not because of the threat itself. Personally, I find it hard to believe that it played no role, but it's certainly possible it wasn't the major role.

There are significant security changes coming to Garfield, including making doors that are currently normally just locked during the school day into doors that are emergency exit only with alarms.

Anonymous said...

What information do families have about HS scheduling for next year? Will most high schools keep their existing bell schedule for next year? And if not, how and when will families get the info? We understand class scheduling is being done online this year, starting this week, so the number of classes students choose could be an indication of the number of periods they will have.

HS parent

Anonymous said...

Are initial enrollment projections out yet? What are schools hearing?

Curious George

Anonymous said...

SPS had a HS language arts adoption some years back, which has suggested titles for each year, 9-12. Some titles with more mature content, such as Morrison's Beloved, are listed for 12th. What do you do when a teacher uses titles from 12th in younger grades, when they clearly contain more mature content? I would hope most teachers consider age appropriateness when choosing texts, but there are clearly differences of opinion on what is age appropriate - the concern is not just about individual sensitivities to particular content, but students having the maturity to discuss and handle difficult topics.

cp

NESeattleMom said...

To improve clarity on the recent safety issue at GHS, my student said that the teacher had resigned prior to the 2nd warning, coincidentally on the same day. That teacher resigned for personal reasons not related to the incident. My student also told me that the teacher did not recall the original warning. My student heard this info through the student network. Like someone posted on the GHS thread recently, it is best to reserve judgment until the facts are in. Monday at GHS they made some changes to increase safety for students that are easy to implement without too much effort.

monkeypuzzled said...

I thought some of you might find this piece interesting: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/02/the-student-activists-of-marjory-stoneman-douglas-high-demonstrate-the-power-of-a-full-education.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

Great article, MonkeyPuzzled. Thanks for posting it.

Rufus X said...

re: the previous post titled "Field Trips: Again, a Source of Confusion": There is still a question whether students attending the environmental science trip to Maui will be granted excused absences for school days missed; at least one student's parents have been informed absences would not be excused: "The Hawaii Marine Biology trip is not a school trip field trip. This trip is not excused."

Yet somehow, students wishing to attend the state basketball tournament in Tacoma will have their absence from school excused if they have a ticket stub & note from a parent.

Email to parents:

"Garfield Boys & Girls Basketball teams have qualified for the State Tournament in Tacoma, Washington on March 1st-3rd. The purpose of this letter is to let you know about the procedures and guidelines for students who plan to attend the State Tournament in Tacoma.
We encourage the GHS students and families to support the team by attending the tournament. However, we will have school at the regular time. We expect students who do not attend the tournament to be in class.
• It is important for you to be aware that the school cannot provide supervision of your student in Tacoma except in the student seating section during the GHS scheduled games.
• If your student is riding the rooter bus on Thursday, March 1st, the times are listed when the bus will arrive and depart the Garfield and the Tacoma Dome. If students choose to stay they are responsible for their own transportation. Students will be expected to be on time for departure back to GHS if they are riding the school bus.
Student not riding the rooter bus are expected to bring their ticket stub and a note from their parent/guardian excusing their absence. RETURN NOTE AND STUB TO THE ATHLETIC OFFICE by Monday, March 5th by 4:00p.m.

With our promise to hold school during the state tournament, students who wish to be excused from the school to attend the tournament must remember:

• Students who are attending the state tournament are responsible for class work and exams missed while they are gone. Students who attend the tournament without filling out the field trip form or having a signed note from their parent and ticket stub from the Tacoma Dome will not be allowed credit for make up work and may face disciplinary consequences with the school and /or court through the Becca Bill attendance requirements.
Please do not hesitate to call us or look at the Garfield website if you have any questions about the field trip form or about any part of our State Tournament involvement. Thank you for your help in making this event an opportunity to show the rest of the State what a special student body we have at Garfield High School.

Bus will depart Garfield HS @ 9:00a.m., loading on 23rd Ave side bus loading zone.
Bus will return to Garfield at approximately 1:00 (boys only game) or 6:30p.m. (if girls game too.) Bus will depart the Tacoma Dome at approximately 12:00 noon or 5:30p.m.

Sincerely,


Ted Howard
Principal"

How exactly did this field trip get the fast-track to approval from district HR/legal? Who are the chaperones & how were they vetted? And finally, thanks for showing your priorities, Mr. Howard. The "rooter bus" has been a tradition, but in the context of disallowing excused absences for actual educational trips, well, not cool.

Anonymous said...

TFW you're pointing to the SPS board as the paragon of democracy in action. LOL

Publius

Anonymous said...

@Rufus X You're right, that is a double-standard. Either all students should be given excused absences or none.

Athletics are obviously Howard's priority. When was the last time Garfield was in the news for Merit Scholars? Instead these are the recent headlines:

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/texas-player-prompts-investigation-garfield-high-school-football-recruitment/

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/homeless-students-lured-to-seattle-schools-by-sports-are-often-cast-aside-when-the-seasons-over/

Remember the special classes the school held just for athletes?

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/firing-at-garfield-stems-from-nonexistent-class-for-hoop-star/

http://old.seattletimes.com/html/northwestvoices/2015076597_garfieldhighfacultycriticizedafterathletesfakespanishclass.html

Sad part is, fake classes and a hyper focus on sports at the expense of academics is not helping the athletes in the long run either.

Fairness4All

Anonymous said...

School administrators must be pro-student direct his/her efforts to support them and meet their needs.

And by pro student, I mean ALL students.

Martin Floe at Ingraham high school is an example of a person who truly wish the very best for every kind of student he has, whether they are an immigrant ELL kid or a twice exceptional kid with autism and academic giftedness. He supports kids who are at risk of dropping out of school and kids who are national merit scholars. Athletes, actors, he loves them all.

Garfield should be thinking about how they can make the marine biology field trip better, stronger, even more of an academically enriching experience. They appear obstructionist instead. It would be fine if the principal came out and said he thought it was a great trip but unfortunately it wasn’t fitting within policy, and he wished the students well, but that unfortunately excused absences were not available and that he was working on getting the trip to have official status for next year as he knows it is a valuable experience.

Missing school to watch basketball game is not something our family sees as an equivalent value to direct instruction like a field trip, so it is puzzling that excused absences are laid out as a procedure.

Our family has until May 31 to choose our attendance area school, Roosevelt high school, or go with the default assignment to Garfield.


Roosevelt is really looking like a far more fitting choice for our academically oriented student, who loves learning and intensely dislikes drama.

(Not) Future Bulldog

Anonymous said...

@(Not) Future Bulldog
A reason we went with BHS as well. Keven Wynkoop at Ballard is also an example of a dynamic, strong principal who supports all his students. He also actively encourages HCC students to choose their attendance area school, and supports them when they enroll. Combined with great administration, Ballard (like Roosevelt) offer great academics, as well as so many other opportunities for a well rounded education.
NW

Anonymous said...

Garfield's Marine Biology field trip was canceled by the DISTRICT. SPS CENTRAL OFFICE will not grant "excused" absences for students attending this non-SPS sanctioned field trip, according to a SCHOOL-DISTRICT OFFICIAL. (From the Seattle Times article, the author being a Garfield parent whose finger seems quite clearly pointed toward the District.) Odd how people condemn Ted Howard over this, too, when the District created the double standard. Frankly, such spiteful and erratic behavior on the part of the District central office remains a risk wherever you go in SPS.

Per an earlier comment, Garfield and Ingraham were the only SPS comprehensive high schools with any National Merit Semifinalists for 2018, with four each. The Center School had one. (Note the 2018 NMSFs met a higher cutoff than previous years.)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/27-from-bellevues-interlake-high-among-this-years-national-merit-semifinalists/

FNH

Anonymous said...

A friendly suggestion, @(Not) Future Bulldog - Take blog postings about Garfield with a large dose of salt. Don't decide whether to send your student to Roosevelt instead of Garfield based on your reaction to Ted Howard's decisions or his public communications. The strength and soul of Garfield are its students, not T-How. The flap over the Oceanography field trip, while truly unfortunate, is a blip on the radar screen. There are great things happening at that school and I am honored to be a Garfield parent. Talk to some students. Talk to some teachers. Read the Messenger.

Bulldogs forever.

Ruthie

Anonymous said...

@(Not) Future Bulldog - Just a note that over the years I have heard a lot about cliques at Roosevelt. I realize cliques occur at all schools, but it seems prevalent there. Not sure why or perhaps that is just the experience of the people I know.

-NP

z said...

@NFB, I'll echo these last 3 comments. Don't base the decision of where your incoming freshman will enroll in high school based on a few blog comments or splashy news articles. There are a lot of different pieces to weigh in the decision.

We personally know many students over several years at Garfield, Roosevelt and Ingraham. They all have advantages and disadvantages. We've heard pretty consistently about the cliques at Roosevelt, and that if you're coming from a different school or program than the bulk of the kids there, it may be hard to break through those barriers, but depends on the kid. This has definitely not been the case at Garfield, where there is a very diverse set of students from all across the city, and most of them seem to be able to find their own groups of friends, probably simply because of the diversity. Not just race, but socioeconomic, geographic and academic diversity. If you think you're going to escape drama at Roosevelt, please, don't make me laugh. It's high school. Garfield's issues are just much more public than other schools. Ingraham's administration is solid, Martin Flow is top-notch. There are so many different aspects to consider.

Every kid is different, and has different needs, you have to look at your own kid and guide them based on what you know of their personality.

Anonymous said...

I would add that none of us can create the perfect high school environment for our kids. Schools change - teachers, peers, classes, your child, coaches, music/arts/drama programs - fluctuate. Info on this blog will be last year's news next fall. If we can help our kids be kind,resilient and flexible - to roll with the punches as it were - they will thrive at any school.
Hale Parent

Anonymous said...

Only 4 NMSF's from Garfield and Ingraham each this year, and only one other from SPS? Seriously? I don't put a lot of stock in those standardized tests, but you have to admit the rapid drop-off is pretty pathetic. Ingraham and Garfield each had 10+ the prior year, and Roosevelt had a bunch, too. SPS is losing ground rapidly re: other areas of the state.

Not surprised

Anonymous said...

Not surprised, again, the 2018 NMSFs met the highest cut-off to date for WA. That is, the bar was literally raised and there were big drop-offs in NMSFs even at perennially top represented schools such as Interlake and Lakeside. The exam itself underwent a big redesign in 2015 making historical same-school comparisons invalid.

It is an imperfect measure, to be sure, but one I do look at in comparing high school options across states absent a national standard.

FNH

Anonymous said...

@ FNH, each state has its own cutoff score. The WA cutoff is typically higher than that of the majority of other states, but not all--meaning the top WA students score favorably compared to much of the country. However, a higher cutoff doesn't mean they raised the bar--it means students were scoring higher. If SPS's NMSF's are falling in numbers, it's because other schools/district's are performing relatively better. Maybe that's a good thing--higher quality education across the state?--or maybe it's a sign that SPS is not on the right track... if we were able to control for number of students, income, and parent education, would we find that SPS's NMSF numbers are proportionate to the district, or low?

Regardless, it seems that an academically highly gifted student might have more intellectual peers and more advanced options outside SPS, since that's where the highest scorers seem to be. For whatever reason, other schools/district's are producing more top-scorers. The big unknown is the extent to which these results are due to changes in demographics, academic programs, commitment to rigor/acceleration, etc. SPS has been lowering the ceiling over the past five (?) years, so it's not surprising that we don't have as many students scoring at the upper end of the curve.

Not surprised

Anonymous said...

SPS has identified more and more HC students because of Seattle's supposed "talent pool" of parents. Lowering the ceiling? These students are often in largely self-contained classrooms until fifth grade, and then move into cohorts that, as the recent debate has shown, must be protected by hell or high water.

The results speak for themselves. Maybe these students aren't as "gifted" as we have been led to believe.

Proof/Pudding

Anonymous said...

@Not surprised, the bar is raised precisely BECAUSE more students performed better overall. The likelihood therefore of any one student making the cutoff is diminished, the cutoff being determined BY the curve, not an arbitrary score. The absolute number of NMSFs in year-over-year, same-school comparison means nothing since the test cohort and norm group change each year. Would anyone conclude that Lakeside is suddenly no longer the attractive option it once was because its number of NMSFs plummeted? No, of course not.

Your own comment was that the drop off in numbers is "pathetic", comparing absolute numbers to previous years, yet the same familiar names are represented albeit with lower numbers across the area. In time we will likely see more and more NMSFs from distant schools but that has less to do with school quality than housing affordability.

FNH

Anonymous said...

@ Proof/Pudding, identifying them is not necessarily the same as serving them. with appropriate programs/services, and yes, the ceiling has been lowered (more restrictions on access to higher rigor, adoption of curricula that "work for all", etc.)

Your final paragraph perfectly sums up the bias many have against these students, which is what drives the lack of appropriate services (which in turn leads to disappointing results). If the students who receive a particular intervention aren't doing as well as expected, step 1 is to make sure they are receiving an appropriate intervention. If the intervention (I.e., HCC and HC services) sucks, outcomes are likely to be poor.) Clearly other public and private schools in the area are doing better in this regard. If the disparities are partly due to the kids everywhere else just being that much more gifted as you suggest, that's only because families with some of the most gifted students see that many SPS administrators and teachers share your biases (refer again to your last paragraph) and as a result our services have suffered. Were I to do it again, we most definitely would have left SPS for someplace with a real commitment to helping HC students excel, too.

Not Surprised

Anonymous said...

As a newcomer to SPS, my impression is that most HCC-identified kids are unexceptional, merely good students, while the identification process misses truly exceptional learners. I have one of each.

Honestly, this issue is not unique to SPS. Very few public schools/districts manage perfectly the latter group (can you provide specific examples?) while practically all meet the needs of the former just fine.

FNH

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

@ FNH, what a statement. "As a newcomer to SPS, my impression is that most HCC-identified kids are unexceptional." Pretty amazing that, as a newcomer to SPS, you've already had the opportunity to really get to know students all across the district so well.

Surely this all depends on your definition of exceptional. If by "exceptional" you mean "unusual, not typical", you're obviously wrong, because scoring at/above the 98th percentile in both math and verbal IS pretty atypical. After all, most students can't do it. If you're talking about students who are considered exceptionally or profoundly gifted, then sure, most (whether id'd as HC or not) won't meet those criteria, since "exceptionally" or "profoundly" gifted students will still represent a minority of the larger "gifted" student category. And whether or not a "truly exceptional learner" gets identified for HCC isn't really the point, as HCC isn't likely to serve that student well anyways, and many of those truly exceptional learners aren't likely to take the PSAT in 10th or 11th grade or whatever because they're likely to be doing some other sort of truly unique, independent educational program since there's little for them.

It's likely not your "truly exceptional learners" who achieve NMSF status. It's the top scoring 1% in the state--so probably mostly a pretty ho-hum group of unexceptional kids in your eyes. But they are getting services somewhere, and those who get those services outside SPS seem to do a little better in terms of being able to score in the top 1%, right? There are probably a number of reasons behind it, and I am simply suggesting that the quality of SPS's HCC services, which are not geared toward that top 1% of students in the state (which may be more like those at the 99.6th percentile nationally, who knows, given the national skew...), might be a factor in it. Other districts don't seem to have the same levels of anti-gifted bias that are so prevalent in SPS and Seattle.

Assuming similar percentages of "truly exceptional learners" exist across the state, you'd expect similar proportions of SPS students to be NMSFs. With Seattle drawing more highly educated and higher income people, you'd actually expect disproportionately HIGH percentages of NMSFs. Instead, we see low and declining numbers in SPS, especially compared to our neighboring districts and private schools. What's your theory? The the kids in Seattle just aren't as inherently smart or capable as their neighbors? Why are SPS's students so unexceptional compared to those around us? Are they just inherently different, or are they potentially getting an inferior education?

Not surprised

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is whether cohorting kids works. Are there any data about college acceptance at UW for HC qualified students in the cohort and those who stay in General Education?

curios 2

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious2, I can ask the district. I haven’t seen that data.

Anonymous said...

>>Why are SPS students so [] unexceptional?

It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? Seattle students do as well as other regions, just not in SPS. Most students in Seattle who are actually exceptional ...are in private schools where they attain NMSF status, which is an aptitude test like CogAt. Only difference is, you don’t get to take the PSAT 25 times for the purpose of gaining an exclusive education. And you can’t get a note from your doctor.... stating that you’re gifted despite lackluster performance otherwise. The private schools in Seattle out perform publics by huge margins in terms of PSAT and selective college admission.

Obviousity

Melissa Westbrook said...

Obviousity, I don’t care for your tone. If you have a point to make, say it.

Anonymous said...

No MW, you don’t care for my opinion. Tone was utterly irrelevant. The point was made. And it was simple.

Obviousity