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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Hamilton Moves to Garfield Model for Spectrum Students

Or, at least, that is what the letter sent home by the principal would seem to indicate.  Then letter is printed in its entirety at the end of this post but I'll put out different statements.  (Also, fyi, Hamilton parents, that principal, Tipton Blish, is leaving.)

I've said this before - I might not have as much of a problem with the changes to Advanced Learning IF everyone at JSCEE was being honest about what they are doing.  Changes are not just a Thurgood Marshall thing or Garfield thing and now, Hamilton thing.  This is an Advanced Learning  program change.

And let me just say to those in the district who have anything to do with the program - what a bunch of cowards.  Stand up for what you believe and clearly explain it to ALL parents.  Don't use your principals as proxies.


Given this letter, it seems like the Advanced Learning Task Force will be something of a hoax as staff moves forward with their plan for the program.  What the heck is the Task Force to do but toe this line?

(I'll do a separate thread on the various task forces and advisory committees and their makeups but for AL's it's some usual suspects, a couple of what I hope are happy surprises and, oddly, two people from the exact same non-profit.  How you get a group of people - 20 of them, at least one-third staff - from the same place when you had 70 applicants is a mystery.)

My observations:

- There has never been anything stopping any school from adding rigor to any class.  Nothing.

- As well, what is being described here - and I stop to smile at this - is an ALO (advanced learning opportunity) program.  Some of you probably don't even realize that exists but it is part of AL that any school can adopt to add rigor.  It's adding in more work (or higher level work) so that students who want to work faster/deeper can do that.  In fact, schools that don't have Spectrum or HCC are supposed to describe in the school CSIP how they serve their learners but rarely do they say, "We use  an ALO to add rigor to classes."

- Basically, this is Honors for All instead of Spectrum so they can spread out the HCC and Spectrum kids to other classes.  
 
From the letter:

Hamilton has a successful recent history of how we serve all students.

That's a weird sentence.  You'd think - if you were talking about the history of Hamilton as a school - it would be that Hamilton has a good history of serving all students.  Except for that word "recent."

The crux of the issue around Advanced Learning and especially Spectrum which is in neighborhood schools is why can't ALL kids get this kind of rigor?

The answer is simple - they can.  They can if you have a district that makes it priority.  They can if you have teachers trained to differentiate curriculum.  And, they can if teachers and principals make it so.

Why can't teachers and principals at all schools do this?  That's yet another mystery.  There is not one policy or law stopping anyone.

Hamilton staff do get one thing right - the scope of the courses is the same for all students.  Yup, the curriculum is exactly the same.  It's how it has been presented that is different (and with a cohort but every classroom has cohorts).

Hamilton will "expand" access to the AL social studies courses to all students IF students want to access that rigor.  (That does make it different from Garfield where all students are required to do all the work  but I could have that wrong but naturally when you are in a district where information is handed out piecemeal, it's pretty easy to get it wrong.

What will change slightly is that non-AL students will also get the chance to push themselves

I am astonished that any school would admit that they ran classes where children had no way to push themselves.  Jaw-dropping.  That is a terrible inequity but good for Hamilton for admitting it.

This adjustment is consistent with our belief—with our values—that every student is capable of meeting rigorous standards with the right support and teaching.

Again, what took so long if this was the belief?  Hmmm.

Also, I find it weird that AL kids get an "honors" designation in middle school.  I must have missed this change. 

Lastly, and I'm sorry to say this, but Advanced Learning just needs a sign, "Abandon hope all ye that enter here."  Or, "Anything we say or write about this program is fluid and could change at any time but we won't give you any advanced notice or explanation."

That would be the real truth.

Letter from Hamilton senior staff


We are writing to update you on how we will serve Advanced Learning (Spectrum) students next year. Hamilton has a successful recent history of how we serve all students. We have popular and effective courses for advanced learners with rich and engaging curriculum. These courses are designed to stretch students—reading more complex texts; taking on more complex assignments; exploring a topic more thoroughly. These courses exist in language arts and social studies for students who have tested in to the Advanced Learners (AL) or Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) programs, as well as in science for HCC-qualified students.
The Hamilton staff has long asked the question about how we offer all students the opportunity to push themselves, including students who are not enrolled in AL courses or HCC services. This has been particularly glaring in social studies where in world history, US history, and Washington State history, the scope of the courses is the same for all students.

Because of that we are expanding access to the AL social studies courses next year. Students who are currently in AL social studies courses will see very little difference—the curriculum remains the same, the assignments will look the same, the expectations remain the same. What will change slightly is that non-AL students will also get the chance to push themselves—they will be able to dive into more complex reading, opt to do the stretch writing assignment, include richer sources for a research paper. In many cases this change will be negligible—our social studies teachers often are using the same materials and the same assignments with AL learners as their other learners. Hamilton’s social studies teachers are excited and committed to being able to challenge and support all students in this way. This adjustment is consistent with our belief—with our values—that every student is capable of meeting rigorous standards with the right support and teaching.

We will expect Advanced Learning students to meet the higher standards and earn the honors designation in their report cards. Students who did not test into those programs or services can also earn the honors designation by choosing the more challenging options.

If you have questions or would like to know more, please reach out to any of us or your students’ current social studies teacher.

Tipton Blish ~ Principal
Shannon Frizzell ~ Language Arts/Social Studies Co-Chair
Monica Paris ~ Language Arts/Social Studies Co-Chair

122 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn’t Advanced Learning a service and not a program as you describe it?

Just curious

NNE Mom said...

So, HIMS students can access more rigorous social studies coursework just by asking for it unless they have qualified for AL or HCC status.

If schools are moving to a system where students can request more challenging coursework when they need it, I'm confused why Spectrum and Highly Capable students can't also request more challenging coursework when they need it. Are students able to judge when they need challenge or aren't they?

Anonymous said...

Just in time for Charlie's re-emergence. He said Spectrum needs to be disbanded shortly before he rode off into the sunset.

He also had some choice words for HCC, once he moved to the south and got a daily eyeful of history in action. It had something to do with lack of equity, right Charlie?

A quick blog search will fill you in.

Yes, the delivery model for HC is *services*, as determined by state law. *Program* is for the characterization for the department that delivers the services, as modeled on SpEd.

I agree with MW that the district needs to get the backbone and admit ALO and Spectrum really are a joke. They are outdated ego strokes and pretty much nothing else.

That is because they do not need to exist. Walk-to-math should be commonplace. The district is clueless on this front, but individual schools step up without consistency.

Your child's educational quality should not based on where they live, including high school. My complaint about that (Lincoln) was the lack of evidence being offered
in the comments, and the ensuing speculation.

The lack of district consistency in high school coursework is disgraceful, IMO, but welcome to the club. Having some neighborhood children wear have to wear uniforms to their mandated elementary schools should be raising the same outrage here.

Btw, this hit piece on Hamilton is also based on speculation. The Daily Mail approach to *reporting* is appealing to emotions, not reality. Not cool at all.

In fact Charlie has been open to self-selection of advanced learning for years.

Delete Me

Melissa Westbrook said...

Uh, I printed the letter...that went out to parents. I didn’t speculate but gave observations based on my decades of history and what was stated in the letter.

And yes, AL is a service, not a program. Not sure at this point what that matters given the district’s action or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

To your credit, you printed the letter.

The fact that it did not bear resemblance to the mandated inclusion at Garfield and TM, since this is optional at Hamilton, was the source of my reaction. Your headline, therefore, seemed like a disconnected appeal to the emotions rather than evidence.

Hamilton, according to the letter, did not *move to the Garfield model*, despite your attention-grabbing headline.

Students who want to do the work should be given the opportunity to do the work. If they fail, the evidence is in place that they (and-or their parents) had the motivation.

Deleted

Anonymous said...




i have no problem with this offer of choice. in fact i applaud it. and i agree with above, can hcc kids ask for more rigor too?

where have you seen the altf member list? is the nonprofit the same one that was bumping speakers against board policy most of the last 18 months?

no caps

Anonymous said...


I agree that any student that wants the rigor and challenge should be able to have access to it. The wording of the email makes it sound like that is what HIMS will be offering, but there is no mention of any student being able to opt into HCC-level Social Studies classes if that is what they want. If this was really about providing the right level for each student, why not allow access to HCC classes for students that did not qualify for HCC. The fact that this was announced a week before the end of the school year and the fact that this only affects AL classes and not HCC classes leads me to the conclusion that this is more about dissolving AL classes than it is about offering rigor to everyone.

-Not convinced

Anonymous said...

Ohhh the iniquities!

Some nonHCC kids offered rigor. How will we ever survive? Rigor and advanced learning is for HCC, not everyone else! I mean, what’s the point of advanced learning if everyone can have it? Content, teaching, depth, curriculum was never the purpose of HCC. It’s the same curriculum for Pete’s sake! As Charlie said many times, “it’s the cohort stupid”. The HCC program was always about who was in, and most importantly who was not in. Now they’re going and messing it all up. Shame on them! Offering challenge to everyone! How dare they!

Another Parent

Anonymous said...

no it isn't, you sure you don't need your sleep? it is clearly NOT ABOUT HCC. this is about the final push against spectrum. much better than wms that just said no more spectrum it is just HCC and scholars. oh well nothing to see here unless they do actually keep the rigor! that would be excellent... but as said above i doubt it.

no caps

Anonymous said...

@NO CAPS

As long as it does not affect you and yours, you are all on the equity bandwagon.

As long as it only involves *those others*, who may have missed HCC by 1& or are single subject gifted or have the motivation to succeed regardless, then the mob should be free to infiltrate classes--according to you.

But HCC is your golden lamb. Red Alert, this is a mediocre public school system, not Phillips Academy in Andover.

Do you have any idea how obvious you are about preserving your own self-interest? Your act of desperation is so obvious.

How about if YOU get some sleep and, while you are at at, some self-awareness.

Getta Clue

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

Sorry, Pal. You have already told us multiple times here that you are a current HCC parent, protecting the family jewels to the max.

Trashing anyone who threatens your upward mobility trajectory, to the point of compulsion, has become your identifiable M.O.

Too late to take it back.

Getta Clue

Melissa Westbrook said...

they fail, the evidence is in place that they (and-or their parents) had the motivation. “

What does this mean?

I always say, “ Want to start a fight here? Talk about AL.” So a couple of things.

Don’t make this personal. There is no need to attack anyone and it deflects from the topic.

Also, I’m fine with rigor for all and have been for years. My problem is with this slow but sneaky pulling off of the bandaid that is Spectrum. My problem is a lot of blah, blah from the dais of the Board and then they punt for more than a year for any systemic change.

Instead there are all these piecemeal experiments here and there.

It’s no way to run a service and parents, prospective and current, deserve better.

Helen said...

The HIMS principal was up front with parents when he came to speak about Hamilton to my daughter's 5th grade class. He said that the decision hadn't been made yet(in April), but that most likely social studies Spectrum would be combined with the other kids. No one in the audience questioned this new idea. I have an HCC kid, and I wish they would start mixing some of these classes, too. Especially science since kids who are really good in math but not English are cut off from more advanced science.

Helen

Anonymous said...


Helen - That's interesting because he did not mention any of this when he came to my 5th grader's elementary school. Nor has this been mentioned to current 6th and 7th grade parents with AL students. Perhaps no one in the audience questioned this idea because it does sound like a good idea in theory. I have my doubts about how it will actually work out.

-Not convinced

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

Right Getta-Clue! Nocaps doesn’t seem to realize that when they let the masses have spectrum.... they’ll be letting the masses have HCC next. Yes. We all know that. What kind of world would it be if we educated everyone? Oh the horrors. Having a class designated for “honors” and rigor means precisely that those things are not offered to others. In the era of minimist public ed, what else could they do? And that has always been the point.


Another Parent

PS What kind of world would it be, if the circle the wagons mentality was applied to something besides AL and “I got mine, don’t worry my PTA sent $1,000 to our sister school in the south end”.

Challenge 4All said...

HCC is not all about who is not in HCC. HCC is all about parents who have begged and pleaded and emailed and met with and debated and argued with their local elementary schools, with the teachers and the principals and sometimes the executive directors. And their demands? For the school to challenge their kids. The ALO schools are largely completely failing at this. So, if you have a kid who needs more challenge in order to thrive and get a basic education, you're stuck.

You need to move to a neighborhood that has a school where they somehow are willing to educate all children. This is hard to do in Seattle, because where is that neighborhood? People pop up on here and say they're happy with their school and it does accelerate, but then they won't say what school it is. Or you need to get your kid into an option school that will challenge children. But there aren't many of them and they have massive waitlists because there are more families who want challenge than can access it.

My kid needed more challenge at school in order to thrive. I was on the verge of homeschooling. HCC has allowed my kid to stay in public school.

What I don't understand is why middle schools are suddenly willing to allow kids to opt for more challenge in social studies and to take a placement test to go into whatever math class they're ready for. But in elementary schools, kids who want challenge are screwed. That doesn't make much sense. Either our district wants to let students be challenged at school or it does not. And so far, hundreds and hundreds of families have experienced first hand that most elementary schools do NOT want children who are above grade level to be challenged. So, it's bizarre and suspicious when the district suddenly pretends it's interested in allowing this. And it's more bizarre and suspicious that the district is only interested in allowing this to only the students who have NOT been clamoring for, begging for, emailing for, requesting, holding meetings, etc. to get it.

Why would challenge only be available to middle school students in social studies and math but not in other subjects and not to most elementary school students? Who is making these decisions. Any student who needs challenge should have access to it.

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

So will HIMS still have 3 levels of SS--HCC, AL (for Spectrum-qualified or others who opt in), and standard?

Are they saying that both HCC- and AL-level will get the essentially meaningless "honors" distinction on their essentially meaningless middle school transcript? I'm not sure who cares, but whatever.

The letter says: "What will change slightly is that non-AL students will also get the chance to push themselves." Cool. Will they give AL students the change to push themselves, too, such as by opting up to HCC? How about HCC students--will they get a chance to push themselves, too? My HCC student found HCC-level classes unbearably slow and boring, to such a change would be welcome.

The letter also says: "This adjustment is consistent with our belief—with our values—that every student is capable of meeting rigorous standards with the right support and teaching." Are they suggesting that all students are capable of meeting the same rigorous standards, or that all GE students are capable of meeting Spectrum-level standards? Actually, aren't the "standards" the same for all? Or if AL students are using the standards 1 year ahead, are they saying all 6th graders are capable of meeting the 7th grade standards? If so, why are those the 6th grade standards--or are our schools just so awesome that all students can perform at least a grade level ahead (even if our SBAC scores might not be consistent with that)?

I'm all for letting all students have access to challenging work. Since students have varying abilities, and our teachers don't have infinite capacity to differentiate, that often means offering different levels of work. The different levels of work mean some sort of sorting takes place--e.g., HCC, AL, GE. If the leveling doesn't work perfectly--and I'm not saying it does--and thus we need to allow more GE students to "opt up" for the appropriate challenge, doesn't the same apply those "sorted" into the AL and HCC levels as well?

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

@ Save the South End, how is referring to the Garfield model a racist or dog whistle statement, when Garfield is the current HCC pathway and thus the main "advanced learning" (theoretically distinct from AL) model?

Melissa's headline may not have been 100% accurate because of the HIMs opt-in feature, but looking at it a different way it IS accurate--both the Garfield model and the new HIMS model eliminate the need to "qualify" for honors level courses. The HIMS change does not fit with the current district Advanced Learning website that says for Advanced Learners/Spectrum grades 1-8, eligibility testing is required and there are eligibility score thresholds.

Not seeing how opposition to the crazy science realignment was racist or elitist, either, but OK...

POV

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, no name calling or you will be deleted.

And don't make it personal.

Anonymous said...

HCC and access to rigor will continue to be teacher/class specific. Actually, the HCC classes that we experienced at HIMS were the least rigorous classes that I have ever encountered. My husband and I sat in on the math classes and saw a shocking lack of rigor and math incompetence in the instruction. Note, that this is teacher specific - there are good math teachers at HIMS, we just never got into those classes and eventually had to change schools to achieve a modicum of rigor.

For this reason, all this "access to rigor" is, IMO, a lot of hot air. There will be no policies in place to ensure this. You will be at the mercy of the registrar and the class in which your child is enrolled whether you MIGHT get AL instruction. None of the volumes of complaints of the HC parents have altered this reality over the years - and in fact the district's response has been to water down academics even more. Only the threat of a lawsuit with change anything. Task forces are a waste of time.

One problem I see is that the deceptive practices of the SPS are demoralizing to the excellent teachers in the district. Thus, in the future you may not even be able to get an adequate education by this lottery method either.

-Cynic

Opt Up said...

Interesting article in the Seattle Times Education Lab over the weekend about an engineering program (STARS) at UW to help disadvantaged students. The article points out that the program "makes up for the reality that math instruction in Washington's high schools is wildly uneven. Students who go to mediocre high schools often don't have the math foundation they need to be admitted into engineering."

Apparently the program has "proved what its founders expected to prove: That to boost into engineering, it's necessary to create a 'community of excellence' and to remind students that what works is, simply, putting in the hard work to master complex math and science problems..."

https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/uw-program-helps-disadvantaged-students-thrive-in-tough-engineering-college/

So, yeah, it would be great if public school students in Seattle could opt into rigorous math and science (and, sure HIMS, why not) social studies. There needs to be a way for students in an neighborhood to opt into rigor. Public schools students can't just be excluded from studying engineering. That's B.S. So, get your schools in order, SPS. Kids should be able to opt up into rigor. Or test up into rigor. Or magnet program up into rigor. Or self select into rigor. Or grade skip up into rigor. However you want to do it, SPS. But you can't just say that public school kids cannot become engineers.

Anonymous said...

As a Hamilton teacher I have some perspective to offer. I teach or have taught Gen Ed, Spectrum, and HCC all of which are inclusive of students who require SpED services.

There are some unfortunate misreadings of this letter regarding the rigor HIMS teachers provide. Please see our test scores and it averages out that each student at HIMS is performing above grade level and since only 25% of the school is HCC this actually speaks to gen ed as well.

I believe in Spectrum because there is no diagnosis required. If you work hard you get into a class more appropriate for your skills in order to be pushed to the limit of your ability. With a strong oversight and inclusivity effort this is affirmational and brings students up with an intention to accelerate any student who wants it.

Since Spectrum is not legally protected like HCC is it is well within the rights of the Principal to dissolve it. I don't dispute this. I lament it because there is no 'one size fits all' curriculum. Nor should the expectation be that teachers teach 3-4 ability/skill bands in the same classroom. There is this contagious idea that somehow Language Arts and Social Studies aren't real classes like Math and Science, or Music, or even Sports. That somehow all the levels of skill and ability with which we create cohorts of students vanish at the door to these classes.

How will these decelerated classes operate? Where is the support rather than the demand to fill in all the blanks in a policy that is mostly blank?

There are major differences for example, the time to finish a novel is vastly different. In Gen Ed I give three weeks to finish. In spectrum I give 2 weeks, and in HCC the students are generally finished in 3-5 days. What do you do with the extra time other than extra work? Moving on to the next unit for one portion of the class doesn't make sense in our industrialized and unsupplied situation.

Identification needs to be intentional. Where I see my Gen Ed students succeeding beyond the course level I conference with them and start requiring a higher level as preparation for their transfer to a like skilled cohort in Spectrum or HCC. This is what intentionality in and for advanced learning looks like. This does not formally exist. It is at best an email that goes around rather than a meaningful discussion or a visit from Advanced learning reps. By the way the idea that someone from AL actually visits a school to help train teachers, help the principals make sure each teacher is appropriately trained, and best practice for student identification? Yeah, this is my 6th year here and that has never happened. Now when I was at RBHS that happened a few time a year.


In a world of best practice we would simply be grade accelerating students who are performing above the norm. Trying to serve multiple grade level abilities in one class of 32 or more students will be fine if you consider that anyone exceeding standard will be left to their own devices. This isn't democratic principles in the classroom rather this is the wholesale abdication of the leadership component of teaching.

There is no formal metric for serving advanced learners. We are not judged by how we serve those exceeding standard only by how we serve those who are not meeting standard. A fairly damning fact is that in our student survey over half of students in Spectrum and HCC stated they are not being academically challenged even in cohorts. Our CSIP goal is to increase that satisfaction to 58% next year. Which is a damning statistic.

So while we are definitively serving Gen Ed students very well we are failing at least half of all of our AL students need for rigor and acceleration.

I sincerely hope that the new principal and superintendent will take this in hand, and however the delivery model, makes sure there is hard data on outcomes from which to base decisions on.

Sincerely,

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Cynic's comments and Mr. M's discussion of student surveys fit with our children's experience at HIMS. Districtwide, HCC has pretty much taken the place of Spectrum, and there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge the realities that Mr. M discusses. The reading pace for various classes offers a good example of differences in learning needs.

In a world of best practice we would simply be grade accelerating students who are performing above the norm.

Is that truly best practice? District materials used to say: The primary purpose of APP is to provide a differentiated, challenging curriculum for highly capable students that meets their intellectual needs while being sensitive to their developmental level. Straight up acceleration, without differentiation or awareness of developmental levels, is what schools resort to when there is no gifted programming. And perhaps that's the ultimate plan.

nc

Anonymous said...




Bellevue High School



Long shot: anyone on this blog able to chime in with experiences about moving out of Seattle to Bellevue specifically to attend Bellevue High School? Or, Interlake HS in Bellevue?

Rigor and excellence is what our family is seeking. We wish to explore options to ensure growth in learning, and it appears Bellevue may be the place to do that (one metric: Ballard and Roosevelt each had 0 national merit schools; Garfield had 4; Lakeside had 16. Bellevue HS had 11, Interlake had 27).

Considering direction of Seattle public schools (we could cite multiple objective data and curricular lapses), being proactive about moving is all we can (and will) do.

There appears to be no equivalent community blog about public schools for Bellevue; is there a facebook page or PTSA website? We would deeply appreciate your sharing of your experiences. Thank you.



MovingOn


(PS - this is 'related' to this post in that our students' needs are not being met because of things like "Honors for All": teachers naturally have to support the learners in their classes who are unable to keep up and need extra support, it slows the whole class down. Ergo, our students have been left with the pretense of 'going deeper', for example, reading "The Giver" over a course of an entire semester in middle school, which is a book they already read and wrote a literary essay on in 3rd grade! A book they could read in 2 hours! Having watched this trend for far too long, and observing many concrete and unchallenged deteriorations, we simply must do due diligence to have our students' needs met.)



Melissa Westbrook said...


"Since Spectrum is not legally protected like HCC is it is well within the rights of the Principal to dissolve it."

That's legally true about Spectrum vs HCC but you see, it is/was a district-supported and tested program. If the district had intended to dissolve it, they should have made that know but instead, allowed principals to do whatever they wanted.
"Nor should the expectation be that teachers teach 3-4 ability/skill bands in the same classroom."

Sure you can. The Board says it's possible so that must be true. I so appreciate your example, both from your working condition to the kids in your class. Apparently you should be able to differentiate all that time.

"By the way the idea that someone from AL actually visits a school to help train teachers, help the principals make sure each teacher is appropriately trained, and best practice for student identification? Yeah, this is my 6th year here and that has never happened. Now when I was at RBHS that happened a few time a year."

Now that's interesting. Hmm.

"A fairly damning fact is that in our student survey over half of students in Spectrum and HCC stated they are not being academically challenged even in cohorts. Our CSIP goal is to increase that satisfaction to 58% next year. Which is a damning statistic."

I should go look at those climate surveys; thanks for this info, Mr. M.

Moving On, I'm not sure I know more beyond what you have written (and that many magazines that use ratings think Bellevue schools are good). I urge you to visit them. I don't know of any blogs but you might check on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Wow MovingOn, your kids read the Giver in 3rd grade? And wrote literary essays? So incredibly gifted. You must be proud! Reading something again when your kid are socially different and bring a different perspective to it, obviously that is worthless. They need to have way more books, and be required to finish them in 2 hours, because that’s really the 21st century skill we need from public ed. Read the most books, as fast as possible. And you are so very fortunate to be able to sit in every class, naturally to watch the teacher lavishing every bit of her attention on the undesirable students who clearly bring nothing to the discussion, and are literally years, if not lightyears behind yours. What a waste! You deserve so much more!

Btw. No need to move. Lakeside may have only 16 NMSF, but then, it also only has 140 seniors. So, still better results than Interlake. Very high IVey matriculation as well at around 30%. And 100% of financial need is covered, if you can’t afford it. Beats moving. Your kids could apply with their “Giver” essay. I’m sure they’ll be begging you to join.

Giver

Anonymous said...

More reasons to move to Bellevue...

The children are offered free after-school enrichment courses paid for by the local levies. ALL children have access, not just free-lunch.

Additionally, their local levies include funds allocated to the Gifted Program, SPED, the arts, world languages, athletics and additional nurses, counselors and security which support students in achieving a higher level of performance and well-being.


https://bsd405.org/2017/12/levies/

Outbound

Melissa Westbrook said...

Giver, pretty unkind words. You could have made the point without doing that.

Outbound, yes, what a district prioritizes is an interesting thing. Also, what the Board talks about - a lot - many not be what gets done.

Anonymous said...

I love the Seattle Scold it never gets old. And the return of Charile only just makes this even better.

Giver has a point you may not like or agree with it but they have their right. But wait Seattle scolder did they not insult a child!!! OMG and I see NO caps is as dull as the day old dishwasher.

Man I don't miss Seattle.

- Seattle Flew

Michael Rice said...

I posted this over on the APP blog, but I will post it here, also.

MovingOn. Before you decide to try to cross a bridge, please know that Ingraham had 11 National Merit Finalist, just like Bellevue High. I would encourage you to give IHS and the IB program a long hard look.

Anonymous said...

I find Seattle Public Schools' overall philosophy and approach to advanced learning to be incoherent and, in part, punitive.

I suspect this is in part intentional in the hands key long-time staff who lack an appreciation and understanding of the importance of advanced learning in a modern educational system and who incorrectly scapegoat the program for district failures to implement modern, equitable practices. At times I wonder if they think they're helping, but most of the time I think it's simple hostility to something they don't understand. Ignorance, in other words.

There is an outspoken but surprisingly small group of activists and educators who are quick to speak and act in the area of advanced learning without proper professional development and training in it. One need only peruse comments in Soup for Teachers to gain some insight into an intense animosity held by some against advanced learners generally and HCC students specifically. This saddens me when such training is widely available and often free for CE credits.

There is also an unintentional side to the problem, the result of neglect by a string of ineffectual superintendents, a lack of PD resources, and teachers who simply don't know how to differentiate for advanced learners because they haven't been trained how to do it properly. Extra worksheets are a common solution, which was state of the art in 1910.

But the buck stops with the Board of Directors. They have refused over the years to take a strong, coherent stance on advance learning. Without leadership from that body, I doubt anything can change, not even if Superintendent Juneau proves as knowledgeable on this subject as I hope she is. The responsibility for the state of advanced learning in this district is squarely on the board.

Neighboring districts embrace and support advance learning. Seattle Public Schools seems as a matter of policy to actually relish depriving students from opportunities for advanced learning. We allow what should be a nationally recognized model of a highly capable program to creak along in ironic mediocrity.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

There were 4 reported NMSFs from Ingraham for the most recent year (2018): https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/27-from-bellevues-interlake-high-among-this-years-national-merit-semifinalists/

There were 11 in 2017, though, similar at Garfield, and most schools (both private and public) in WA had a subsequent drop following year as the cut-off was raised.

Anonymous said...


yeah simone, "Neighboring districts embrace and support advance learning. Seattle Public Schools seems as a matter of policy to actually relish depriving students from opportunities for advanced learning. We allow what should be a nationally recognized model of a highly capable program to creak along in ironic mediocrity."

ipp from the robinsons was a gift that mgj squandered (and michael tolley) every year there is a change. since the first split we have gone from 3 to 11 campuses. now there is talk of more splits with fairmount at capacity, as well as rems bursting too.

okay on the nms and the illogical post. you know that there is a thing about apathy and culture standardized test, right? everyone of those schools that are performing well have a >100 to one college guidance counselors. ghs has 400 to one. all are recommending psat prep... that is all the difference. so yeah you could chase psat scores if you want, but imo they have little to do with anything. much like regional spelling bee finalist. big tacos.

no caps

Charlie Mas said...

The fundamental problem - for all students - is that the District thinks in terms of a finish line for learning and that finish line is the grade level standard. Once a student reaches the grade level standard, that student's learning is no longer supported. For Spectrum and HCC students the finish line is set just a bit further down the road, but those students also lose support on the other side of the line.

The District gives lip service to the idea of supporting all students to the limits of their learning, but the teachers are not directed to do that, are not supported in that effort, and the district culture is opposed to the whole idea.

If the District culture and systems actually supported all students at the frontier of their knowledge and skills - whether that were below, at, or beyond standards - then there would be no need for programs or services for Advanced Learners or Highly Capable Students.

As Melissa wrote, it is positively shameful that Hamilton (or any other school) announces that they will now provide students with rigor and challenge if the students are ready to succeed with it. That announcement is essentially and admission that they were not doing that before. And what - other than the rhetoric - is changing? What additional supports are the teachers getting? None that they have mentioned. What assurances is the school providing? None that they have mentioned. How is this rigor measured? Not by on any objective scale reported. So how likely is any of this to happen? This is exactly what a bullshit "aspirational goal" sounds like.

Without real support for teachers, real assurances for families, and real measures of rigor, this development is bad for all students.

Anonymous said...


mw what happened to the additional emails where stephen martin tacitly acknowledge that less whites was desirable. as i remember you said there were more to come. and it was stephen who ignored a parents concern that if we had truly universal testing we would have too many whites in the program, right? was it also the board monopolizer or did you say who it was?

regardless, that is the only evidence of institutionalized racism that i am aware of (too many whites being a bad thing) regardless of all the changes being made in the name of equity. see honors for none/all. social experiment social studies at tm. none will solve that prejudice.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Ballard, Roosevelt and Ingraham are loaded with HC qualified and non-HC students who are very challenged and perform way above standards. That's how they get into honors and engineering and CS programs at UW.

All this hand-wringing over the loss of self-contained classrooms is silly. The dual track at Hamilton has damaged as many HCC kids as it has ostensibly helped. The atmosphere in the HCC classrooms at Hamilton is toxic for many of those kids psychologically.

SPS in fact does a fine job of challenging HC and other kids not getting self-contained service who can do harder work. Just look at where kids from those three schools are going to college next year. The proof is in the acceptance rates to UW in particular. I know somebody will poo-poo UW as not that great a school, but I would remind them that a large percentage of Lakeside grads, some say 30 to 50%, can't get into UW. At least 2/3 of Seattle Prep kids can't get in either.

HCC is bad for kids in the program and bad for the district. It needs to be returned to its roots as the IPP program, a place for the exceptional and rare outliers working four or more years ahead.

old timer

Anonymous said...

He’s back, and as all knowing and elitist as ever, yet purposefully uneducated and ignorant.

For starters, the fundamental problem is not a simplistic notion of a finish line. There is no fundamental problem here. Some people feel entitled to a monocultural education based on standards and finish lines, and when they achieved a certain score on something they feel a certain satisfaction with their ordained spot in the universe. In actuallity, public ed is mandated to grow citizens, and standards and bars are a weak approximation of the acquisition of citizenship, and an even weaker measure of anything we might agree was “advanced learning.” Did Newton invent calculus after acing the SBAC? It’s laughable. The fact that the bars and finish lines are constantly changing wildly, should put a huge question mark on the notion of “finish lines” as the point or measure of a quality education.

Charlie claims teachers are not directed nor supported to maximize all students and therefore nothing should ever change. Evidence? He heard it. So it must be true. Really, why do they need special support for thiis? Charlie didn’t mention about all the special support they were getting before. for the exclusionary segregationalist model. His pontification could just have easily read... teachers aren’t directed to provide advanced learning in self contained classes, and are given no support in teaching advanced learners. Isn’t that just as true? Remember, the old cry? It’s the cohort stupid! It’s not about the teachers or the advanced learning. It’s the club!!!

And then there’s the regurgitated cry “we need assurances and measures”.,, What assurances and measures are in place now? Oh yeah. None. But somehow, the good ole cohort model is just fine without validation or assurances. The audit we had noted that outcomes for non enrolled HCC students was actually better than those cohorted. But hey, if it’s segregation, we’d better be sure to keep it. And by all means, never ever require a student to demonstrate the need for continuation in the club.. After all that private testing for club admissions, who wants to do it over for a new and different bar.

Unless HCC can prove its worth as a to providing tangible results, beyond what regular ed is producing for HCC eligible students, it should be drastically reduced or curtailed as service delivery model.. Why? Because the club model of education, leaves tons of students out and creates a stark world of haves and have nots. It’s beyond painfully obvious. It clusters minorities, the impoverished, the non English speakers, the homeless, and the disabled by huge margins. If we’re going to stay the segregationalist course, it better be worth it, and produce truly outstanding results on a large scale beyond what similarly abled students can do without it. Because we can’t afford it, based on citizenship.

Giver

Anonymous said...

AL Task Force

Sharmila Williams Community Organization, Equal Opportunity Schools
Christine Tang Community Organization, Families of Color Seattle
Dominique Daba Community Organization, Rainier Scholars
Kari O'Driscoll Community Organization, The SELF Project
Jonathan Carroll-Madden HC Student in Seattle Schools
Andrew Siegel Parent of a Seattle Schools Student, identified AL
Mary Kunce Parent of Seattle Schools Advanced Learner
Joanna Noonan Parent of a Seattle Schools Student, identified Highly Capable (HC)
Ji-Young Um Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Ursula White-Oliver Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Joy Sebe Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Richard David Bash Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Valeri Makam Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Julie van Arcken Parent of a Seattle Schools Student identified HC
Laurie Bohm Parent of a Seattle Schools Student
Daniela Hall Parent of a Seattle Schools Student
Jenny Miller Staff, Indian Education Services, Seattle Schools
Rina Geoghagan Staff, Principal at Decatur Elementary
Vanessa Meraki Staff, Teacher at Emerson Elementary
Nancy Hertzog Subject Matter Expert: Professor, University of Washington
Colin Pierce Alternate: Staff, Teacher at Rainier Beach High School
Theresa Yeh Alternate: Parent of a Seattle Schools Student, identified AL
Kari Hanson Director, Student Support Services, Seattle Schools
Stephen Martin Supervisor, Department of Advanced Learning, Seattle Schools
Faizah Bradford Coordinator, Department of Race and Equity Advancement, Seattle Schools
Wyeth Jessee Chief, Student Support Services, Seattle Schools

Info

Anonymous said...

@cynic "HCC and access to rigor will continue to be teacher/class specific. Actually, the HCC classes that we experienced at HIMS were the least rigorous classes that I have ever encountered. My husband and I sat in on the math classes and saw a shocking lack of rigor and math incompetence in the instruction. Note, that this is teacher specific - there are good math teachers at HIMS, we just never got into those classes and eventually had to change schools to achieve a modicum of rigor. "

For a balanced view, we have had the total opposite experience at HIMS, yes must be teacher dependent. We found classes extremely rigorous and most teachers excellent. In fact could not ask for better! But we also have a child who pushes themselves to excel no matter what anyway.
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to just start ignoring any posts made between the hours of 11PM and 4AM.

As far as PSAT scores, do high achieving students perform well because of or in spite of their schools? Hard to say, isn't it? School offerings get supplemented or supplanted with independent reading, online learning, tutoring, summer enrichment, part-time homeschooling, travel abroad, math clubs, etc., years before students even take the PSAT.

2cents

Anonymous said...

This won’t help any group of students. In the most recent school survey, just 40% of staff at HIMS responded favorably to the statement I receive the support I need to differentiate and modify instruction for my students. 27% agreed that This school has a consistent process for identifying students who struggle academically. 14% agreed that This school implements a clear plan of action when a student struggles academically.

https://secure.panoramaed.com/seattle/understand/55321/summary

If the district is going to allow these types of changes, it must first put commit to providing the resources (training, curriculum, staff) teachers need to differentiate instruction and support students.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

@MW

Bob V. used to stop by RBHS fairly ofen when I was the AP Coordinator/Gifted Coordinator there. He took the time to get to know what our situation was and provided truly meaningful help on a regular basis.

If I could change one thing AL or Admin does is to actively verify the categories of staff assigned to HCC or Spectrum. There is a process where staff teaching outside their endorsement are flagged by a computer alert. That's a big deal. However, in order to teach HCC there isn't an endorsement but a Secondary Gifted teaching Category. When I was hired this meant you had to have Alternative Learning and Advanced Placement or IB training in order to be qualified to teach it.

Either this isn't screened for or isn't able to be screened for but it does make a great deal of difference in how teachers are prepared for their students. It is also very trainable it just has to get on the training docket.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Melissa Westbrook said...

Simone is right and this is really my central point - the lack of coherence in the AL program and its continuing (and yet not explained or truly announced) changes. Propective parents could go to the AL webpage and read one thing and believe they know what the different services are and yet, it's really now a school by school service. That's wrong.

"It’s the cohort stupid! It’s not about the teachers or the advanced learning. It’s the club!!!"

Nope, you have that wrong. In the face of any teacher training or curriculum, then it's the cohort because it's that and acceleration. No district worth their salt would call that a good advanced learning service.

"It clusters minorities, the impoverished, the non English speakers, the homeless, and the disabled by huge margins."

Nonsense. HCC does all that? No, it's far more the issue of a segregated city than one service but if you want to lay that all there, go ahead. It won't make it true.

As for that list of who is on Advanced Learning Task Force, I'll have to compare it to the early one I saw. I see some changes.

Anonymous said...

As a side note: if you do read anything on the AL website that you use to make decisions about enrollment - prepare yourself by taking a screen shot of what you see! Note the date as well. Sometimes when we would "call out" our school on spurious policies we would see the central SPS website change accordingly - sometimes within hours (usually so the policies became more vague). Now, as Melissa says, the "services" are extremely vague - it is almost as if they have prepared to cover themselves for any eventuality - ya think? Ten years ago, you could actually find policies on the AL website but they have been diluted over the years into a dull grey paste.

AlmostDone

Anonymous said...

no old timer. guarantee you that all those non-hcc hs kids were hcc 1-8 at some point. researched best practices has shown the lowest cost most effective way to teach hc students for a district seattle's size is self contained classrooms 1-8. what has happened is that the self contained programs have been spread thin across the district. 11 campuses now, verses three before the first splits, but the number of hcc kids have only doubled. So nearly half the kids in each building. divide and conquer.

and then add on top of it building level control means less and less there, there. thanks michael tolly. and yeah the third altf in three years will certainly be pushed to solve this problem. welcome to nothing there, there.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, so true, @AlmostDone.

seen it

Anonymous said...

Mr. Moriarty, thanks for sharing that info re: whether HCC students feel challenged. I don't think that information appears on climate surveys, so I assume HIMS did asome special analysis? Is this lack of challenge a problem across the board, or was this unique to the HCC sub-population at HIMS? In other words, are HIMS GE and AL students feeling challenged?

DisAPP

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Giver was quoting Charlie's mantra on this blog for years: "It's the cohort" that matters. It did always seem spurious.

Now that Charlie has stepped back into the conversation, he seems to apparently think people forgot that he stated Spectrum should be ended, HCC is inequitable and that he defended Garfield Honors for All.

Re-entering the conversation without taking responsibility for these prior positions is problematic, IMO. I also think that his sweeping negativities are disrespectful to the many teachers who do amazing work, despite SPS.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

"If the District culture and systems actually supported all students at the frontier of their knowledge and skills - whether that were below, at, or beyond standards - then there would be no need for programs or services for Advanced Learners or Highly Capable Students."

This is a fundamental misunderstanding giftedness. Even though the district allowed the original IPP program to turn into an enclave for mostly well-connected families, APP (which they simply converted to HC, and now need to clean up), actual giftedness exists, and those students usually need supports outside of general education.

Delete Me




Anonymous said...

Correction: This is a fundamental misunderstanding of giftedness.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

Delete Me/Giver/FWIW,

You're absolutely right. Not taking responsibility for prior positions is indeed problematic. A perfect example of that is the parent head of HCC for Equity using an appeal to gain entry to the gifted program and then using privileged access to JSCEE Directors to remove appeals in a policy change that impacts the entire district.

Did that parent ever "take responsibility" by righting her wrongs?

Nope.

But, yeah, keep on lecturing Charlie without acknowledging your own...

...Hypocrisy

Anonymous said...

@ Delete Me, how would you have the district define "actual giftedness"?

HF

Anonymous said...

Conflating every post and person who disagrees with you into a single bogeyman seems to make this more bearable:

The district polling for the new superintendent showed overwhelming public support for more equitable access to advanced learning in SPS.

Self-interest preservation can cause blinders, according to research, even in a liberal place like Seattle.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

@HF

Check out the NAGC website.

Delete

Anonymous said...

Delete Me,

Yes, using appeals while trying to remove for everyone one else exemplefies smug self-interest. So much less painful to direct the loathing outward.

H

Anonymous said...

the only survey worth taking from the district is the school climate survey. thought exchange and all the others coming from tolley to justify anything he wants are a waste of time.

that said everyone should be taught to end of their envelope of learning (ipp) but few are. unless through luck of draw get a teacher that pushes them to that extent. my hcc kids had a handful. far fewer than you would hope. i am sure gen ed kids have the same number.

no caps

juicygoofy said...

I only have anecdotal evidence, but while our family's experience in HCC at Hamilton was excellent, I have heard less-than-stellar reports from gen-ed parents. I do understand the concern that the changes appear to be at the discretion of staff and possibly not vetted, but I think/hope it's a step in the right direction.

Regarding rigor in HCC at Hamilton, I agree that it was teacher dependent, but with support from the school. Teachers trained and/or those experienced with gifted students (such as Mr. Moriarty) were effective, inspirational, and appropriately challenging.

Conversely, our experience with 8th grade HCC at Eagle Staff has been highly disappointing. It feels as if my kid's teachers have not had any gifted training. Some are not challenging at ALL while others are going overboard with unnecessarily repetitive homework. Either way, the best practices for gifted education seem to have been ignored, overlooked or misunderstood.

Anonymous said...

A real gifted program is needed. Now the truly gifted are either stunted in HCC, can't even get into HCC because of its bizarre and worst-practice entry requirements, or they go to the Robinson Center and spend their formative years in classes with no age peers.

SPS, in its zeal to placate potential private school parents, has created a monster that they are now trying to get in a cage. Many young lives have been damaged. Sad!

Orange

Anonymous said...

Ha! I wish SPS had zeal for anything (besides hand-waving). The idea that it is attempting to placate parents who might "go private" is laughable. From top administration to school principals, the prevailing attitude seems to be: "Want to leave? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out."

I love public schools. I have worked in them and fought for them for twenty years. Sadly, it's getting harder and harder to defend the public schools in Seattle or criticize parents who pull their kids out to "go private."

So done

Anonymous said...

On the definition of giftedness (of which, I would like to emphasize with a furrowed brow, the majority of people on the HC Task Force likely are unaware):

There is no universally used definition in educational psychology and child development, but in general - if you read the copious literature on this topic - giftedness is almost always defined as a complex of traits including high IQ (typically 130 and higher), Debrowskian overexcitabilities (note: this is a technical term that refers to sensory and intellectual intensities that have a neurological etiology and that extend well beyond the norm in a category), and pronounced asynchronous development (very advanced development in many areas, very delayed development in many areas, including social-emotional, fine motor, and gross motor development). Also very common is delayed maturation of the frontal lobe, which often causes mild to severe executive dysfunction not otherwise associated with AD(H)D until the frontal lobe fully matures in such individuals. This is another neurological difference in this population.

If you think of these traits as a set of volume dials, each will be set differently in a given individual, but the combination of these three areas are generally thought to constitute giftedness in the technical sense. Some researchers explore ways of including other, hard-to-measure aspects of giftedness such as creativity, etc., but the literature generally points to the trifecta of: high IQ, Dabrowskian overexcitabilities/intensities, and asynchrony. The simplest expression of these traits taken together is the common addage, "these kids are just wired differently."

Many people ignorant of this area of science construe "giftedness" in its generic sense ("having gifts"), and this creates whole ranges of problems in communicating about the needs and vulnerabilities of this population, because while we can all agree very child has gifts, indeed not every child has high IQ, Dabrowskian overexcitabilities, and asynchrony. Indeed, an IQ of 130 is in the 97th percentile, or in the top three percentiles of human IQs. No one in the field is happy with the technical term "giftedness" because of the obstacles to communication it causes, but we are stuck with it because it is the commonly accepted technical term. In education science, the term "highly capable" or "hicap" or "HC" for short is used as a synonym of this term. I rather like it, actually, especially because it emphasize capability, not achievement.

Giftedness in no way necessarily involves high achievement. Famous examples include Einstein, Jobs, Gates, etc., who like many or even most gifted people actually struggled in school. High achievement is a widespread myth about giftedness that is exploited by many, including Seattle Public Schools, to block access to hicap services by the very students who need it most.

True gifted education in a best-practice scenario involves four pillars:
- Support for social-emotional development and executive function support
- Support for motor skills development
- Dramatically accelerated pace of learning
- Developmentally appropriate depth of study

What SPS offers is only one pillar: accelerated curriculum. That said, the elementary HCC programs at Decatur and Cascadia do an excellent job with the needed social-emotional support as well. High-quality support is lacking at other elementary HCC sites. SPS does not offer support for motor skills development for highly capable students, and it does not offer developmentally appropriate depth of study at all (because it uses only an accelerated curriculum).

-Simone

Anonymous said...

"The idea that it is attempting to placate parents who might "go private" is laughable."

Look at how this parent base has attacked Jill Geary and district employees who try to rein in this monstrosity. The same group practically had Sue Peters on speed dial, as in "call or email" Sue, every time there was a semblance of threat to the status quo. Until recently, "Rick" was another favorite go-to. He seems to have seen the writing on the wall and isn't so reliable anymore. As a result, he is being treated accordingly.

The fact that this "program" has grown exponentially, despite any data in favor of it efficacy, speaks volumes about the power of this base of parents. They have long had an outsized voice in the mechanization of HC in SPS, and have collectively resisted any attempt to calibrate HC with best practices.

The proof is in the record on this blog, the APP/HC blog and in public records.

Truly gifted children have been excluded or been denied adequate services as a result.

--Deleted

MLK Gifted said...

Other examples include Martin Luther King, Jr., who skipped two grades in high school and entered Morehouse College at age 15. And Shari Huhndorf, professor and dept. chair of Native American Studies at UC Berkeley who skipped two grades in school and graduated high school at age 15. Venture capitalist Rafael Corrales skipped two grades, graduated high school at 16 and graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Tech at 20. Steve Jobs had trouble functioning in a traditional classroom, frequently misbehaved and was suspended a few times. John Legend skipped first grade and seventh grade and started high school at age 12 and graduated at 16. Thurgood Marshall skipped grades twice. He also got kicked out of college twice for fraternity pranks.

Anonymous said...

"Truly gifted children have been excluded or been denied adequate services as a result."

Deleted, present your evidence.

First, how many, how often? Annual trends?

Second, define "truly" gifted.

I know you can't define it, because it's really just intended as a jab at the children in the program.

Why didn't you join the AL Task Force if this is such an all-consuming issue for you?

Data

Anonymous said...

Deleted, I can't speak to the HCC "parent base." All I know is that my child is bored out of her mind at our local middle school. She tested into Spectrum, but that literally meant nothing at her school. There was no "testing into" a higher level math for her - if she didn't take the prerequisite class for advanced math, she couldn't take advanced math. Period. Any questions or concerns I had about this situation were summarily shot down by the teachers and principal. Many other parents at her school have expressed concern about teachers showing movies in class, losing assignments, not updating the grade book...not to mention failing to maintain control or academic rigor. The school's response? Crickets. Or: "deal with it - our teachers are doing great."

Perhaps the HCC "parent base" is comprised of a bunch of entitled, strident noisemakers. I wouldn't be surprised if the system isn't set up to serve all gifted children, or even most gifted children. All I know for sure is that my kid learned NOTHING in science or language arts this year. NOTHING. I am deeply disappointed, but the principal and teachers seem fine with the status quo. And if I took my kid out of the school to enroll her in private, nobody would blink. I'm not sure anyone would even notice.

So done

Anonymous said...

@ Simone: YES YES YES YES.

We had to pull one of our children from SPS because there was zero interest let alone capability of the system to address these kids. A "failing" gifted kid? Impossible. That proves he's not gifted says SPS. Funny that with the most basic of learning accommodations, he went from failing to honor student handling advanced classes in one semester. Gee, do you think a school that cared about his learning quirks and viewed him as highly capable instead of problematic was the reason for the turnaround? Nah? Must be something in the water at the new school.

Get Out



Anonymous said...


simone my review of the altf -3 seems hc loaded actually. is that what you mean, hc can't mean gifted? i don't agree necessarily. you say so but then you don't having watched multiple hcc classes in action i would say they meet the four criterion you have outlined.

deleted thank you for pointing out that there is no real tracking of the hcc efficacy. it should be happening and that is a real shame. and the fact there are best practices. now only one more step is to actually review said best practices and realize that 1-8 self contained classes for a district seattle's size is a smart way to handle those kids. i would add the need for more pd, stable school sites, larger building cohorts at some sites, established curriculum, limited site based management and cut the racist labeling.

oh and doubling in size in 10 years is hardly exponential.

no caps

no caps

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Look at how this parent base has attacked Jill Geary and district employees who try to rein in this monstrosity."

Hyperbole much? C'mon HCC is not the reason this district has problems. Parents may have attacked Geary because she says a lot and yet little happens to change the issues with the service.

"Truly gifted children have been excluded or been denied adequate services as a result."

Oh so now you are concerned about gifted kids?

Charlie Mas said...

I don't believe that I have ever advocated for the end of the Spectrum program. I would like the person who made that claim to show the evidence. Acknowledging that Spectrum no longer exists at a number of Spectrum schools (and never existed at a few) is not the same as advocating for its elimination. On the contrary, I have always advocated for a well defined Spectrum model and for accountability applied by the District to assure families that schools were providing the promised academic opportunity.

I have, for a long time, advocated for self-selected admission to Spectrum and I still do. The HIMS model would seem to have that feature, but what is Spectrum at HIMS? It's unclear. If you read the sections of the CSIPs in which schools describe how they serve Advanced Learners, you will find that a number of them offer nothing more than "We have Spectrum" - as if that were meaningful. It's not. They say that they have Spectrum, but what is Spectrum? Often they cannot say.

Here's what Hamilton's CSIP says:
"Students identified as advanced learners continue to be supported in self-contained classes for a one-third to one-half of their school day and we offer six levels of math to meet all students’ appropriate math level."

Funny that their CSIP says that when they are saying that the classes will not be self-contained anymore. Apparently the whole program is nothing but the cohort and now it won't even be that.

The reason that the cohort was stressed wasn't because the cohort was key. The cohort was stressed because it was the only thing that was assured. It was the only thing that a family could know for certain their child was getting. Are they getting acceleration? Not sure. Are they getting additional depth or breadth? Can't tell. Are they getting a compacted curriculum? Don't know. It all depended on the school and the teacher. But you did know that you were getting the cohort. That was the only guarantee. Everything else was "if the teacher can provide it, has the resources to provide it, and chooses to provide it." And even then it is tricky to measure and impossible to enforce.

It's not just Spectrum. A lot of HCC is fake as well. If HCC students are working two years ahead in English and Social Studies, then why aren't the HCC students getting high school credit for their 7th and 8th grade English and Social Studies classes? Why aren't those classes equivalent to the 9th and 10th grade general education classes? The kids who are working ahead in Math can get high school credit for the high school level classes they take in middle school. Why don't the kids who are working ahead in English and Social Studies eligible for high school credit for those high school level classes? Ask and you'll find out that the District acknowledges that HCC is not, in fact, being taught two years ahead. That's a lie.

Anonymous said...

@Charlie,

As I recall, you concurred that Spectrum leaves the gen ed classrooms too impacted around the same time you said HCC is inequitable and you touted Honors for All.

Does this jibe with your memory of this flood of events?

You certainly were changing your prior tune as you checked out of the discourse.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

The problem isn't the finish line. The problem is that kids enter the system at age 5 at dramatically different levels, on dramatically different trajectories, with dramatically different home situations, and SPS is tasked with equalizing their academic abilities and is given 13 years to do it. All that is measured is "the gap", and failing to close it is failing, period. The kids at the top must be held down and forced into a mediocre mold, and even then it doesn't work.

Why these kids come in so different, and why the differences are not distributed evenly among races and social economic classes is the real issue. Complicated, a result of systemic racism among other things, and also a result of the fact that success perpetuates itself. But, IMHO, the solution of shoving everyone into a machine and making them come out the same regardless of how they start out is stupid and unworkable. We see the unfairness, and decide that our whole objective is to fix it with school. Can't be done, and only increases the "gap" as people with any means at all and/or who really value education pull their kids out or supplement, which yields even better outcomes for those kids. For example, If SPS had supported our mathy daughter even a little bit, we would not have homeschooled math, which put her on a vastly steeper trajectory than any of her similarly talented peers. We would have been ok with "good" instead we got "poor", and in taking matters into our own hands, she ended up with "excellent".

We have to address inequity in a much more holistic way, and the ham-handed efforts to fix it via SPS equity initiatives will never, ever solve the bigger problems. So argue away...this argument will still be happening and outcomes won't have improved 10 years from now, give how things are going.

Ex-SPS

Floor Pie said...

I was happy to get that letter! My incoming HIMS 6th grader did not qualify for HCC either time she tested, but she is an enthusiastic learner. Loves challenging books, loves the Japanese class she takes outside of school, loves geeking out on D&D.

She'd been worried about Hamilton because even though her HCC-qualified older brother has had a GREAT experience there, she knew she wouldn't have access to the same opportunities. This letter made her feel better, and to me it feels a lot more fair.

I'm not really looking for an argument or anything; just sharing this perspective fwiw.

Anonymous said...

fwiw,

i looked at cm's "support" of honors for none/all as a let us wait and see. (regardless of the fact it was started as let us get rid of honors classes to let us have everyone forced into honors classes. ) what i recall is that he just made the case for prudence. and review. well it is two years later and no review. and next years schedules have been set so any guess what is going to come from the prudence?

diddly! i know first hand how disruptive this has been. but just one more sacrifice for optical equity. meanwhile, don't test all kids as that will allow too many white kids in is rewarded with a change to the individualized testing for appeals that has historically admitted more white kids. do you know anything about that disgraceful history fwiw?

no caps

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that SPS no longer has HCC, but rather has HC. The last c for cohort has been dropped. Both MW and CM are referencing HCC when it no longer exists. This confounds the issue.

Just curious

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

On cohorts:

SPS does have an HC cohort in K-8. HC students are not required to join it, but they have a right to it if they want. Cohorting is a best practice in K-8 nationally.

A cohort also exists at high school level in the sense that HC students can opt into one high school, currently Garfield, but cohorted classes don't exist there. This is done for economic reasons (affordability of advanced coursework sequences) and not because it is a best practice. HC students could be assigned to neighborhood high schools, but only if full advanced coursework pathways are offered. That is currently not really possible or prioritized at Hale and some others.

On Honors for All:

If HC students do not have access to accelerated coursework pathways, then an Honors for All model does not comply with OSPI guidelines. An HC-identified ninth grader who is not working at a tenth- or eleventh-grade level but wants to be is being denied Basic Education under state law and the state constitution. However, only the board has the power to enforce this.

@no caps

My apologies, but I think you're asking me a question, but I can't decipher your language to understand what you want to know. Happy to follow up if I have time with clarification.

On Director Geary:

Director Geary has a long track record advocating for vulnerable populations in SPS, and her work there is to be commended despite perhaps a lack of fruit for her efforts. That said, she holds many incorrect beliefs about HC students and HC education, and she is intractable when HC parents try to give her correct information. This is unnecessarily upsetting to parents. Sue Peters is no longer on the board, so I'm confused about comments referring to her. Other current directors all seem open to understanding the needs of HC students better and doing right by them. Directors Harris and Mack in particular have a very up-to-date understanding of HC education. Director De Wolf is an unknown, as he has not communicated enough to gauge his understanding on this (or many other) issues. But this is overall an excellent board.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

My HC child's experience at HIMS was same as juicygoofy who said "I only have anecdotal evidence, but while our family's experience in HCC at Hamilton it was excellent".

There was a teacher here and there (like anywhere) that did not challenge etc. However, there were also some really great superstar outstanding teachers who challenged my child. My kid normally pushes themselves to the max anyway and geeks out on projects etc. Some HC kids do not push themselves, just like other kids. It's not always the teacher. It was interesting to hear from Mr Moriarity the differences on how much time is given for projects etc for general ed, spectrum versus HC. I have a hard time understanding how that could be done in a single class with all the kids mixed in and have kids understand and adhere to it.
KL

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to read and absorb all the good comments but aren't Spectrum and HCC at Hamilton getting conflated? Eg, floorpie, does this change anything about your daughter's access to classes? My understanding is that this change affects only Spectrum/AL, not access to the HCC classes.

Missing something?

Anonymous said...


"I have a hard time understanding how that could be done in a single class with all the kids mixed in and have kids understand and adhere to it." agreed.

yeah it is just that allowing gen ed students to choose rigor. i read fp's concern was that her daughter did not get into hcc and spectrum but now can choose spectrum classes. you may be right though.

simone, are you saying hc doesn't mean gifted and vice versa? i have sat in on many a 1-8 hcc gathering. those kids fit your four characteristics and by definition they also meet the hc criterion by definition.

so are you saying hc is not gifted? i couldn't decipher that.

no caps

Anonymous said...

@ Missing something?, I'm in the same boat. I think there's been a lot of confusion going around because the district (intentionally? unintentionally?) conflates all the terminology, even though access "advanced learning" (e.g., honors and AP/IB classes) is different than meeting the "advanced learner" eligibility criteria. Then add in the fact that the SPS Advanced Learning dept is the one that administers HC services, and it's easy to see how discussion gets messy.

My understanding was that the letter essentially means they are disbanding Spectrum at HIMS--they'll still have HCC classes, but non-HCC classes will be a mix of Spectrum and GE students. This may mean an increase in rigor and challenge for GE students, and may mean a similar decrease for Spectrum-level students.

@Floor Pie, since your daughter bothered to test for HCC but didn't qualify, I'm thinking she likely DID qualify for Spectrum/AL. In this case, the changes announced seem to mean she'll get less challenge, not more. Before, she would have been in a couple Spectrum-level classes, which may have provided sufficient challenge (or at least a good jumping off point for independent exploration, since she seems so-inclined). Now, it's essentially GE in her future--with a sprinkling of Spectrum kids thrown in. Teachers may try harder to raise the level of GE challenge now that they have Spectrum students in there, too, but they were always free to do that before, so it's unclear why the policy change.

HF

Anonymous said...

Teacher quality varies. Period. Whether it's a Spectrum/HCC/honors/IB/AP class or not.

Charlie, HC students generally don't take credit for MS classes. There is little benefit as it can negatively impact high school GPA (there is no honors weighting given) and it may block them from classes in HS. A school can say, "you've already met the credit requirement for subject X, so you don't need class Y," despite the student wanting to take 4 years of science or SS, etc.

parent

Anonymous said...

parent it really isn't gpa but class ranking. you rank higher if you have the .5 for ap/honors classes. you will never see a transcript with the extra .5


no caps

Anonymous said...

and i should add that i believe it only relates to biology the only ms class that is accelerated into hs. it could be much more. sadly not though.

no caps

Anonymous said...

@ Mr. Moriarty, do you know if this HIMS policy change is based on data? You mentioned that in a HIMS "student survey over half of students in Spectrum and HCC stated they are not being academically challenged even in cohorts" and that a HIMS CSIP goal is to increase that satisfaction to 58% next year. This raises a couple other questions:

1. Does staff think the elimination of Spectrum-level classes will somehow increase the level of challenge for Spectrum students, when it sounds more like a decrease?

2. What percentage of GE students felt they were being academically challenged? You stated that even though HIMS is not meeting the academic rigor needs of most HCC and AL/Spectrum students, Hamilton IS serving Gen Ed students very well. Are there similar survey results that can help us understand that statement?

3. How does HIMS plan to increase overall satisfaction with challenge level for HCC- and Spectrum-qualified students in order to meet that (sad) CSIP goal? What are the concrete plans to move that needle? Most of what I read in the CSIP sounds like things that are already happening, which would be unlikely to produce different results.

DisAPP

P.S.- In our many years of experience at HIMS, Mr. Moriarty stands out as the HIMS teacher who best understands the needs--and capabilities--of HC students. We were also very impressed with his initiative in researching 2e students when an issue arose.

Anonymous said...

Yes, class ranking is based on weighted GPA. The rumor was that they were doing away with class ranking, but who knows what's what anymore. College apps do ask for weighted GPA, however, separate from class rank. Students can ask for a transcript with their weighted GPA included.

parent

Anonymous said...

@no caps

No, just the opposite: "gifted" and "highly capable" are synonyms. "Gifted" is still the correct technical term, despite the problems it causes when used by laypeople. "Highly capable" means the same thing but is more common in school administration settings. The two terms refer to the same population of individuals with the traits I discussed higher up.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

Why can't any kid who can do the work and succeed in Biology while in 8th grade have the opportunity to take Biology?

Same with math, why do kids have to pass the requirements of HC enrty in order to take accelerated math classes?

It's completely unfair that an interested, motivated student is not allowed to take accelerated classes.

Umpqua

Anonymous said...

Here's a great example of that district-level confusion/conflation re: the various AL-related terms. The district's CSIP template includes this in the "Terminology" section"

ALO (or HC -highly capable): Advanced Learning Opportunities. Building based program that serves students with a designation of advanced learners.

So for CSIPs "Advanced Learners" refers to anyone designated as Advanced Learner AND those designated as HC, whereas the district's Advanced Learning office website has different eligibility criteria and programs/services for "Highly Capable" and "Advanced Learner/Spectrum" designations. So they are different designations, or the same, depending.

Also, weren't ALOs originally more widely available and not completely dependent on designation? For example, there were a few schools that were HCC sites, some schools that offered Spectrum, and then most other schools offered some sort of ALOs for advanced students (HC, Spectrum, or based on teacher recommendation). At that point--not too long ago--ALO was a more broad term that included more access to advanced learning for GE students who needed greater challenge. This subtle shifting of language and reassignment of definitions over the years is part of the problem.

DisAPP

Anonymous said...

@Umpqua, students do NOT have to pass the requirements of HC entry in order to take accelerated math classes.

Here's what the district says re: placement.

6th & 9th Grade Math Course Placement Information

In early spring, schools will receive placement recommendations for students based on each student’s current math course, grade in that course (for 8th grade students), teacher recommendation, most recent state test scores, and MAP data. The data will also be used to make recommendations for students who will benefit from either additional support or a more accelerated mathematics pathway as they enter middle or high school.

Note that students can also "opt up" to the next higher level than recommended (https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=17572).

DisAPP

Anonymous said...


disapp - i don't see it as getting rid of spectrum but allowing students to choose spectrum (honors classes). this is really what ghs had before ted howard chose to get rid of rigor and got knocked back into place -- because it was illegal. i hope that it works. this was the exact same thing about no pathways. ironically, ted said that was ludicrous and that tolley did not even ask principals what they thought especially current pathway programs.

"Yes, class ranking is based on weighted GPA. The rumor was that they were doing away with class ranking, but who knows what's what anymore. College apps do ask for weighted GPA, however, separate from class rank. Students can ask for a transcript with their weighted GPA included.

parent"

that is not my understanding. ghs will never release a weighted transcript.

thanks simone!

no caps

Anonymous said...

I think JAMS does this fairly well. There are only two levels of classes, regular and HCC, but all the Spectrum kids are placed in HCC (but can opt out) and any gen ed kid can opt into an HCC class if they want. But they don't slow the HCC classes down for the other kids. I don't think. It's hard for me to judge. I have an HCC outlier there (who is not doing very well because the classes are not appropriate for him--but they weren't when there were only HCC kids in his classes either) and a non-HCC-er in HCC classes who's getting A's and B's with a lot of hard work. It seems like it would make more sense to have something in between regular and 2-years-ahead, but my non-HCC-er is not very close to being HCC, and it seems to be working sort of okay for him. It would be fine if he were more interested in doing homework, I guess. (There should also be something for the outliers, of course, but not holding my breath.)

2x Dad

Anonymous said...

@disAPP,

I don't think all or even most elementaries offer walk to math and not all middle schools are going to have teachers for kids working two or three years ahead in math.

As far as Biology, I don't think anybody but HCC students, or as 2x Dad seems to say, Spectrum kids at JAMS.

What about science lovers who can do the work who go to other middle schools? By taking Bio in 8th grade, HCC students get a leg up on taking more science AP or CIHS classesin high school.

The problem with the district's testing regimen is it is completely against best practice by denying students who may be very strong in math and science, but slightly less strong in language arts, access to the math and science offerings that HCC students receive.

Everyone is concerned about delivery, self-contained vs. blended or clustered, but the real issue for me is the wasted potential of the single subject gifted. How many are there? How many kids met the criteria for one subject but not both and are being unfairly and against best practice, denied appropriate, and I might add, legally required by WA statute, service?

Umpqua

Anonymous said...

@Umpqua:

You raise an extremely important point, one that I hope the new HC Task Force will tackle competently despite the lack of training and background in this field by most people on that task force.

Gifted individuals often present as gifted in only some but not all areas in terms of achievement. This is one of many reasons why achievement testing is not the best way to equitably identify highly capable students, or at least why achievement testing should not be used to exclude students.

Sometimes, different levels of achievement in different subject areas has to do with what we call "twice exceptionality," usually abbreviated as 2e. This refers to gifted individuals who have some kind other condition that may alter test scores in a way that masks their giftedness. (Remember: giftedness is a complex of traits, not just high test scores.) For instance, a gifted student with dyslexia will sometimes still score quite well on reading tests, but only at grade level. The dyslexia has masked the student's giftedness, but it has not truly made up for everything that giftedness involves. The student will still have Dabrowskian overexcitabilities/intensity, asynchronous development, etc., and will still need faster pace and depth of learning. But we deny that student the highly capable education she needs because of achievement testing. This is misguided and borders on malpractice because it is actually harmful to the very people whom highly capable programs are meant to serve.

Sometimes, the reason for high achievement in one area but not others cannot really be identified.

In either case, those students should still be placed in highly capable programs. Renzulli and other researchers strongly argue for placement in hicap programs when there is conflicting data (see for instance https://gifted.uconn.edu/schoolwide-enrichment-model/identifygt/). That is also the national best practice.

Seattle instead actively "gatekeeps" our HC program and limits access to it, keeping its numbers artificially low and, indeed, keeping students of Color, 2e students, and others disproportionately out of HC. Many of Seattle's gatekeeping strategies are no longer permissible under the state's new legislation and forthcoming OSPI guidelines to implement them.

-Simone

Anonymous said...


simone what in your experiences show that sps al dept is gatekeeping against color? mine would be increasing the bar for appeals test (after trying repeatedly to get rid of appeals altogether (common theme for sure). this was to decrease white enrollment. i also learned on this blog that a member of the equity team warned against universal testing as it would identify too many white students.

so are you saying by color that it is gate keeping to keep whites out?

otherwise, fwiw's norming and jill geary's institutionalized racism claims all ring hollow to me. it is a slippery slope and i would appreciate it if we all could stay above the fray.

i will give you social economic status but i will not give you race. sorry there is no appartheid or racially segregated classes in sps. although it may appear that way thanks to mgj and michael tolley.

and should we ignore those white kids to placate fwiw and jill?

no caps

Anonymous said...

So, according to Simone, it’s difficult to identify HC students based on achievement as their “condition” may mask their capability. In that case could not the same criteria apply to the SPS population at large? Perhaps they are all geniuses, languishing in unsuitable academic environments? If that is the case why not eliminate HC and serve all students without distinction in heterogeneous classes?

Just curious

Melissa Westbrook said...

Just Curious, c'mon, with that question how can we think it's just idle curiosity?

I am going to send the Board this thread if only to show them one of the real and central problems in the district all in one department; a lack of coherency, clarity and transparency. That so many parents here don't know up from down, even in their own schools, is troubling.

I don't care how many website "refreshes" happen or how many Work Sessions there are, the truth is that parents are not getting true information from this district.

Anonymous said...

@no caps

SPS doesn't do universal testing, for one thing. They do only weekend and not in-school testing. And they have multiple high bars for eligibility criteria instead of the legislatively intended single high bar that must be met. These three things are the chief barriers to equitable, broad identification. They are only a start, however.


@Just curious

I assume you raise this point facetiously, but it is a question that many people sincerely have. Please scroll way up to my discussion of the trifecta of traits gifted individuals exhibit: high IQ (maybe not all "geniuses," but typically 130+), Dabrowskian overexcitabilities/intensities, and asynchronous development. These are the traits of a gifted individual, not high achievement per se. When we speak of a condition masking giftedness, the condition (such as dyslexia) may lower achievement test scores but will not have an impact on that key complex of traits. We use testing as a proxy to measure giftedness. It is extremely important to conceive of giftedness as a complex of traits and not as test scores.

Heterogeneous classes (K-8) are not usually appropriate for gifted aka highly capable students because these students require four things they cannot get in heterogeneous classrooms that address the three traits above: (1) social-emotional supports: their social-emotional development is on a different timeline - this is an inborn neurological difference; (2) motor skills support; (3) accelerated pace of learning; (4) developmentally appropriate depth of learning. These distinct needs are part of the basic education they need and are precisely why HC is protected in state law and the state constitution.

To answer your question: if a given student could thrive in an accelerated environment on her own even without testing showing a high IQ or achievement, I would be in favor of enrolling that student in HCC following Renzulli's schema. That should be an uncontroversial practice and is something many districts nationally do. However, Seattle requires both high IQ and high achievement testing for eligibility.

By the way, not all gifted individuals require the kind of intervention that a cohorted K-8 model provides, but individuals who require it would otherwise face major social-emotional developmental problems and life-long complications from inappropriate academic environment as children. Remember that gifted individuals develop social-emotional skills on a different timeline that is normal for them but dramatically out of sync with other students. An intervention like HCC should be thought of first and foremost as a social-emotional intervention with an academic veneer; it is not a primarily an academic intervention per se.

Because these supports cannot be provided in heterogeneous classrooms (if they could this conversation would be unnecessary), isolating HC students and/or holding them back from an appropriate level of work violates the notion of least-restrictive learning environment. Cohorted classrooms in programs with modern and equitable identification practices are considered the best practice nationally for gifted individuals in grades K-8.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

"Remember that gifted individuals develop social-emotional skills on a different timeline that is normal for them but dramatically out of sync with other students."

Simone, you are speaking about atypical patterns of the gifted *population* as though they apply to each individually gifted child.

This is not only incorrect, but very insidious. You are also neglecting to address how gifted behavior manifests differently in populations outside of the dominant culture.


Delete Me

Anonymous said...

@Delete Me

No, I've been very clear that these traits of gifted individuals are like a set of volume dials that are set differently in each individual. This is in part why giftedness is hard for laypeople to get a good understanding of. That said, social-emotional development is very, very frequently on a different timeline in gifted individuals. Thus, while not all gifted individuals exhibit social-emotional delay, we know from research that the majority actually do. This is because of different brain development. For instance, we know that the frontal lobe typically develops more slowly in gifted individuals than in age peers. This doesn't mean they are permanently behind, by the way, but it does mean that they are quite often simply on a different timeline and hit key developmental milestones at a different time than age peers. In some cases, missing these milestones can become permanent and cause long-term social-emotional deficits.

I'm not neglecting to mention this or that; I'm merely providing factual information the best I can to clear up the many mistaken beliefs out there about this population of child. If I choose not to touch on a given issue, it's simply because a given aspect hasn't come up (at least, that I can see). However, if you would like my take on a given topic, I'm happy to share my thoughts the best I can or at least point you to a reputable/reliable source for more detailed discussion.

Now, you do raise an incredibly important issue, namely, what gifted behavior looks like in "populations outside the dominant culture" (i.e., you're referring to how we recognize giftedness in students of Color, in English-language learners, etc.). Understanding this issue critical to improving equitable identification of HC students in this city, but it can also seem formidably complex when even just the basic traits of giftedness are not well understood by enough people!

Rather than rehash the work of others, let me point everyone to some good sources. One of my favorite books on this topic is Young, Gifted, and Black: Promoting High Achievement among African-American Students by Theresa Perry and Claude Steele. Also good resources are Multicultural Gifted Education by Donna Ford, PhD, and The Mislabeled Child: Looking Beyond Behavior to Find the True Sources and Solutions for Children’s Learning Challenges by Brock Eide and Fernette Eide. I also like Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Children by Thomas Hébert.

Perry and Steele (the book is mostly by Perry) can be impenetrable/academicky at times, but Perry goes into great depth on the philosophy of education in the African American community (this will be eye-opening to white educators and parents), but Steele's essay also goes into great detail on how stereotypes of giftedness negatively impact and limit our gifted students of Color. I encourage really anyone interested in this issue to read Perry and Steele.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

Washington State does not recognize the term “gifted,” as described above. It does serve highly capable students. Bringing in a garbage can definition of “giftedness,” to the discussion is deliberate muddying of the waters as it applies to discussion here. These purported “giftedness” traits read like astrological signifiers as much as anything. They are not scientifically credible. One can dress up psychological distinctions as much as one wants but they are not objective academic criteria.

As for the so called IQ scores. Those have long been discredited. The roots of that movement are solidly in the eugenicist field. As a society we should have moved on from that a long time ago.


Just curious

Anonymous said...

I am a parent of an HIMS child with an IEP and I have concerns about this policy from the other end of the continuum. My child is bright, but has learning disabilities that make it hard for him to produce as fast as other children. Even in Gen Ed classes, it is hard for him to keep up with the class work (not with the ideas). He will feel badly about not being able to complete harder assignments, especially if emphasis is placed on the idea of honors. I think this is likely to enhance the already very segregated feeling that HIMS has. I am concerned that is is an uphill battle to get gen ed middle school teachers to recognize IEPs and to follow them. I don’t see good differentiation happening now, so making it even harder for teachers to differentiate seems like a bad idea.

I sympathize with the concerns of those parents whose children aren’t challenged and also want to speak up for the kids who are struggling. This may not be a sound policy for kids on either end of the spectrum.

Gen ed parent

Anonymous said...

thanks simone, really do appreciate your consistency, understanding and approach to what you perceive is going on in seattle's hc identification. and though i agree with most of what you say in regards to hcc delivery, i do want to share what i think are errors in your understanding of identification.


"SPS doesn't do universal testing, for one thing." and why not? the best reason i have heard, is here on this blog, that a member of the race and equity alluded to; the fact is it would increase the amount of white students identified if we screened all schools. this is why they only screen t1 schools.

"They do only weekend and not in-school testing." i believe that has changed back to in school-

"And they have multiple high bars for eligibility criteria instead of the legislatively intended single high bar that must be met." my understanding is the acceptance committee has to look at multiple items not a single item. and test scores are not hard and fast (ses, ell and 2e are also considered against scores - especially if you are in an underrepresented group - including race). and recommendations also play a part (refer to this regarding 2e below).


"These three things are the chief barriers to equitable, broad identification. They are only a start, however." seems to me that is a touch to quickly stated. is it chief or perhaps the most evident and not paramount? if chief we should be satisfied with those items being rectified as nearing a working system.

i am with you on 2e and that is why i am disappointed that the district has changed the testing criterion for appeals testing with no rational other than optics. too many white kids were getting in so there for it was one of those loopholes. (i have been told this more than once.) in fact, dabrowskian overexcitabilities/intensities would probably make a group testing environment very difficult for most gifted kids. so would that perfectionist thing (not on your list).

finally, as for a dyslexia diagnosis it is nearly impossible to get that for a 2e kid. dysgraphia, is evident. the diagnosis is primarily made based on your iq and your reading ability. if a teacher sees you at grade level reader they are less than likely to refer you for al testing. but if you could show that you have a high iq and struggle with reading - well that really is the diagnosis of 2e/dyslexia. yet the teacher referral will be hard to get as you seem normal - based on their gen ed training.

again i do appreciate the thoughtfulness of your post and i agree with almost all of what you are saying.

no caps

Anonymous said...


fwiw, how would you identify hc kids, aside from insuring they mirror the racial makeup of the district, especially if you don't trust iq, achievement test and teacher referrals?

no caps

Anonymous said...


and yeah i had trouble with the gifted/hc issue but that wasn't an intentional ploy to mislead. just a more thorough overview imo. actually a refreshing change from some of the ploys played here.


again i see how this could have some issues for some kids but i applaud the approach to add some choice back into to the system.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Identification is a distraction. Some people, a la Simone, want it to be about everything, from the nebulous social/emotional to phrenology. Others want it to be strictly achievement based. Rather than waste all this energy on an identification process that ends up over identifying or over qualifying dominant groups and under identifying others, we must put the energy into rich inclusive learning environments with an emphasis on constructive discovery and personal passion.

Just curious

Anonymous said...

so no identification and you think that will fit the bill for the state? seems a touch light to me. or have you given up on the state?


no caps

Anonymous said...

"In general, research in the field of giftedness concludes that we simply do not know enough and confirms that much more research is needed to understand these complex matters."

http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10051

@Simone

Your statements as facts about gifted children flies in the face of research. You are focusing on particular theories as though they have full consensus. Furthermore, your references to "lay people" is very dubious considering that you are displaying a serious lack of understanding of giftedness by using sweeping generalizations.

Yes, of course I brought up an important point about how giftedness manifests differently in different populations, especially since you have consistently failed to address this critical area.

A main issue in SPS is their continual lack of including underserved children in HC, which is such a serious issue that the state of WA literally had to step in to force the district to make changes.

You have focused on a very narrow definition of giftedness and have presented theory as fact.

Believe it or not, other readers here have plenty of information about this topic, and some are actually experts.

Please know that your information, while helpful, is far from the final word.

The need to identify students from outside the dominant culture, which you have virtually ignored with your research name-dropping, is not helping these students who are currently languishing in SPS without services.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

Just Curious,

Actually, no, IQ score have not been discredited, but medical associations and research now provide enhanced guidelines on how to best use tests and analyze results in context with other information.

No one here is suggesting biological pre-determinism, but IQ scores are moderately to strongly predictive of school performance which is why schools continue to use them. In general, medical professionals are well aware of the racial disparities in IQ scores, so while there is controversy surrounding IQ, that doesn't mean tests have been dismissed as invalid.

Another important usage for IQ tests are as one part of a comprehensive evaluation for disability or cognitive functioning. Not just the questions themselves, but careful observation of the test taker's demeanor including compensatory strategies and stress points enables professionals to wrap crucial context around the numbers.

As to whether IQ should be part of program entry requirements, I believe criteria should be based on the design and content of a program.

A 2 years accelerated math program would naturally have vastly different requirements than a talent development academy.

To Charlie's point, I'm all in for a 100% opt-in program in addition to, but NOT in place of HC. A talent development program would be wonderful. I also favor single subject acceleration or walk-to for anyone who needs it regardless of AL or HC status for all grade levels at all schools.

oct

Anonymous said...

What would these "rich inclusive learning environments with an emphasis on constructive discovery and personal passion" look like in real life? What would it look like for the kid who's performing below grade level? What would it look like for the kid who's performing 2 grades ahead? What would it look like for the kid who reads college level texts at home for fun? Is this something that every teacher in the district is going to be expected to be able to implement skillfully in your vision? Help me imagine it.

I'm not trying to be snarky. I know that even some people who acknowledge the existence of kids working 2 or more (or many more) grades ahead want to eliminate HCC, but I don't have a clear picture of what they do want.

also curious

Anonymous said...

"A main issue in SPS is their continual lack of including underserved children in HC, which is such a serious issue that the state of WA literally had to step in to force the district to make changes."

where is that literal proof? sps, believe it or not is the gold standard with ospi. just because you have said it several times ... doesn't make it so. very trumpian though.

no caps



Anonymous said...

Back to a very interesting point raised by Mr. Moriarty is that teachers have access to the survey data cross-tabbed by Spectrum, HCC and gen-ed status.

If that data is not included in the AL Task Force discussion, it's worthy of a public records request.

So JSCEE already knows program satisfaction on academic challenge, but doesn't release it to parent stakeholders. I wonder if the Board has it?

I think this data should also be cross-tabbed by SPED status.

Let's see whose needs are actually being met as a starting point for the bigger discussion of how well this district meets the individual needs of a diverse student body.

oct

Anonymous said...

I do want to acknowledge Just curious's comparisons with pseudoscientific pursuits such as phrenology and eugenics, which collectively were racist means of categorizing human beings by physical traits and then attributing certain (mostly negative) personality traits to people with those physical traits. These ideas arose to prominence out of 19th century pseudoscience, but they actually go back at least a thousand years and underlie much the racist underpinnings of European and Anglo-American colonialism, slavery, etc. But many people know of these ideas from their study of Nietzsche and the rise of Nazism and fascism in Europe. We see these ideas rearing their heads in modern American political life, as well as in many European countries from Poland and Hungary to Italy.

It is common to see people launch ideological attacks on HC/gifted education while evoking this history, conflating two unrelated fields of study, one pseudoscientific, one scientific. It is important to acknowledge the history of things like phrenology and eugenics because of the systemic racist results of the current HC identification models that SPS uses (which are the only tools we have at present). However, I must stress that this doesn't make gifted students cease to exist, it doesn't make their distinct complex of traits or needs vanish, and it doesn't change state law.

Just curious is also right in saying that identification is, in many ways, a distraction. It serves as a lightning rod and proxy for all kinds of social justice conversations we are having in this district. Yet, ironically, talking so much about HCC identification models leaves us less able to find solutions to our social justice problems that affect all of us, not only HCC. When people suggest just moving all students into neuro-heterogeneous classrooms, for instance, it sounds like a panacea. But, it would have zero effect on opportunity and achievement gaps while leaving the needs of gifted students wholly unmet. Just curious seems skeptical about the existence of giftedness, and that is fine. It is a widely held belief. All that can be done is to offer sound information and hope that the conversation can eventually hinge on a commitment to these kids' welfare and success as students.

With that in mind, here is an accessible source about the neurodevelopmental differences I mentioned before (it includes a link to the full NIMH source study): http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2010/02/what_brain_imaging_shows_us_ab.html

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


I do want to acknowledge Just curious's comparisons with pseudoscientific pursuits such as phrenology and eugenics, which collectively were racist means of categorizing human beings by physical traits and then attributing certain (mostly negative) personality traits to people with those physical traits. These ideas arose to prominence out of 19th century pseudoscience, but they actually go back at least a thousand years and underlie much the racist underpinnings of European and Anglo-American colonialism, slavery, etc. But many people know of these ideas from their study of Nietzsche and the rise of Nazism and fascism in Europe. We see these ideas rearing their heads in modern American political life, as well as in many European countries from Poland and Hungary to Italy.

It is common to see people launch ideological attacks on HC/gifted education while evoking this history, conflating two unrelated fields of study, one pseudoscientific, one scientific. It is important to acknowledge the history of things like phrenology and eugenics because of the systemic racist results of the current HC identification models that SPS uses (which are the only tools we have at present). However, I must stress that this doesn't make gifted students cease to exist, it doesn't make their distinct complex of traits or needs vanish, and it doesn't change state law.

Just curious is also right in saying that identification is, in many ways, a distraction. It serves as a lightning rod and proxy for all kinds of social justice conversations we are having in this district. Yet, ironically, talking so much about HCC identification models leaves us less able to find solutions to our social justice problems that affect all of us, not only HCC. When people suggest just moving all students into neuro-heterogeneous classrooms, for instance, it sounds like a panacea. But, it would have zero effect on opportunity and achievement gaps while leaving the needs of gifted students wholly unmet. Just curious seems skeptical about the existence of giftedness, and that is fine. It is a widely held belief. All that can be done is to offer sound information and hope that the conversation can eventually hinge on a commitment to these kids' welfare and success as students.

With that in mind, here is an accessible source about the neurodevelopmental differences I mentioned before (it includes a link to the full NIMH source study): http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/2010/02/what_brain_imaging_shows_us_ab.html

6/20/18, 6:56 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Here is the Nature journal link directly (if you have university library access, you can read the item for free, I believe SPL also offers a way to read for free): https://www.nature.com/articles/440619b

6/20/18, 7:07 PM


please get a moniker

no caps

Outsider said...

As this discussion devolves into the usual catfight about giftedness, it seems possible to lose sight of the basic issue. Isn't the HIMS policy just one giant lie? They claim to be offering greater rigor and challenge to all students, but one suspects their real intention is quite the opposite -- to lower the ceiling on the level of education available to "privileged" students. Inclusive classrooms nearly always teach to the 30th percentile, because that is the only practical way they can operate. Differentiating and challenging the top students requires training and support, and lots of energy from the teacher, and ideological will, which are rarely all present together in SPS classrooms. Higher levels of rigor and challenge will only ever be consistently delivered in cohort settings. They know it, you know it. Who is fooled?

One option would be opt-in cohorts, where teachers teach to a standard, and students can choose whatever level of challenge they want. It becomes irrelevant whether students rise to the challenge based on passion and effort, or their brilliant neurodiversity. That model actually achieves what SPS says it wants to achieve -- making challenge and rigor available to all students with no barriers. But equity educators are always stridently opposed to this approach.

Faced with this reality, one faction of parents always arrives with their bogus notions of giftedness, creatively gerrymandered to include their kid but not yours. Doesn't bathe, throws backward, picks nose? All signs of asynchronous neurodiversity that indicates giftedness. Giftedness becomes the magic ticket out of the inclusive classroom and into the chocolate factory. If you have enough money and determination, some combination of test prep and Saturdays at Kumon and a well-paid psychologist could be found to label any reasonably smart kid as gifted. (If you think I am just being rude and snarky, note how HCC mushroomed after Spectrum was abolished.)

Owler said...

Outsider, I do think you are being rude and snarky. Spectrum was appealing to families who wanted their HCC child to stay in a neighborhood school. Students who tested into the program could try Spectrum knowing that they could always opt into the stand-alone program if Spectrum didn't work or when the family was ready to move them (Perhaps when a younger sibling also tested into the program). If our neighborhood school had had a Spectrum program back in the day, we definitely would have tried it before leaving our neighborhood school. (As it was back then, our child would not have maintained their HCC status if we had stayed in the neighborhood.)

Once parents lost confidence that Spectrum was a valid acceleration, you can bet families flocked to HCC.

Anonymous said...

Outsider, that was a sloppy 12th round haymaker. If what you said was true, wouldn't the majority of white children who appealed by private test be admitted? The appeals stats don't support your opinion.

Fact Check

Arlo said...

Outsider,

Obviously you're being rude, but also silly. You don't need money to prep for a test. Achievement tests just cover language arts and math, and they literally teach that stuff in school.

There are lots of "tickets out" of the "inclusive classroom" in this city and HC is one of the least commonly chosen ones. Most common by far is private school. About 24,000 students in the city opt for that. And next most common is option schools. About 4,700 students choose those. About 2,200 choose to attend HCC 1st-8th (high school classrooms are inclusive). About 2,000 choose language immersion programs. And I don't have the numbers for how many attend a different neighborhood school than their geozoned school, but that's probably a good sized number, too.

Since many of the neighborhood geozones can be quite undiverse in this city, I don't know which neighborhood you think has truly "inclusive classrooms"?

Anonymous said...


this is how i see it. of course others may correct me but this is just my perspective.

fwiw = no tracking is best. robust rigor for all in every classroom. race is most important and hcc is merely an extension of eugenics and appartheid. anyone who is involved with this program is a supporting institutionalized racism. everyone knows this based on the extended legal battles that have ensued with the district and the state.

outsider = elite cheaters are controlling the system to keep everyone else out. not based on race. perhaps based on hygiene. regardless you can't get in unless you cheat and you are well connected.

dewolf = it is racist how else is it 90% white. (no where near that high and statistically inline with seattle's demographics).

simone = literature and best practices indicate sps is doing an ok job; getting mostly qualified individuals and offering educators that are working in the right direction primarily. they have issues with race though. i'm assuming not enough blacks identified into hc but can't say for sure.

geary = self contained classes are institutionalized racism. geary's kid spent a few years in self contained classes. no pathways are better than defined pathways for hs. her kid went to an exclusive pathway (not everyone gets in).

cm = where is the curriculum that was promised in 2010 as part of the first splits. csip are bogus works of word mash. sometimes we have to give building staff the benefit of doubt (see honors for non/all). pragmatic.

mw = why can't we all get along? does one program/service really steal from the other in a district with 50k students.

me = race is not relevant. ((yes i know about dominate culture)). what is relevant is ses, 2e and ell. that sps is doing an ok job dealing with hc identification and service. that it was the gold seal 15 years ago and now it has been degraded and outdated to the point it gets a pass.
1-too much ballasting of capacity - less concern of program integrity. the program has doubled yet is now over 4 x the sites and they have issues at fairmont park and rems meaning more splits to come. you shouldn't split and re split and then be directed to a new high school, yet that is what is happening to the majority of hcc kids.
2-not enough control over buildings. no ted howard shouldn't be able to claim no more honors or ap classes in 9th grade. katie may is a great non-hcc principal. she doesn't get it.

wa state = what i said above minus the last two points.

stephen martin = trying his best to keep his head above water and has not really made a change that has improved what hcc kids experience in the classroom. race is paramount. willing to turn a blind eye to an equity committee member who said less white students would be a good thing. you make your own judgement.

new sup = asked about hcc pivoted to the well known racial issues. it is early and i trust her to come up with her own opinion.

this is not all the voices. sorry. and i am sure i missed the nuance of those identified's post. but if you are keeping score at home this is what i have on my card.


no caps

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm amused at "why can't we all get along" because that is surely not what I mean. No matter.

I think we are at the point here (and elsewhere) where this dissection of personal belief is not so useful. I'll end the discussion for now but I'm sure we'll come back to it.