Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Assignment Plan Changes Being Considered

I attended the Operations Committee meeting last week.  Here's some info on what is being discussed for changes to the Transition Assignment Plan.

Staff needs to get any changes approved by the Operations Committee by November or early December at the latest.  Then they would need full Board approval by late December or mid-January.

There are several changes that the Board already approved:
  • Lincoln HS as an HC pathway site, beginning in 2019-20 with grades 9/10
  • HC or HC-eligible students entering 10th grade in 2019-2020 may opt into Lincoln if they are at Garfield or at their attendance area school and live within the Lincoln HC pathway, even if they were not in HCC in 8th grade
  • West Seattle HS as an HC pathway, beginning in 2019-2020.  HC student from West Seattle who are currently in 6th and 7th grade at WMS can continue to Garfield instead of moving to the new southwest pathway
  • addition of a north-end high school pathway for international/dual language at Lincoln, serving grades 9 and 10 only, beginning in 2019-2020
New Ideas:
  • addition of a southeast high school pathway for international/dual language at Cleveland, beginning in 2019-2020 (engagement with community needed) 
  • clean up of the Advanced Learning (AL) language to indicate that Advanced Learning (Spectrum) is available at all schools.  Removal of "Spectrum" tiebreakers from SAP Transition Plan in 2019-20 since AL available (sic) at all schools.
  • Grade Level Adjustment for Middle College from 11-12 to 9-12, beginning in 2019-2020 (engagement with community needed)
  • Blending of Graham Hill's Montessori program and removal of Montessori tiebreakers for Graham Hill, beginning in 2019-2020 (Requested by school staff but additional engagement with community needed)
  • Changing name of "Service Schools" to Option Schools with Continuous Enrollment and noting they have continuous enrollment all year long. These schools will not have Geo-Zone and the enrollment process will not change.
What I heard at the meeting:

One issue that was made completely clear at this meeting was the intersection of divisions of the district and how there is no real "single" issue to any discussion.  Meaning, the number of times that Dr. Flip Herndon - head of Facilities - said to Operations Chair Eden Mack "And you'd have to ask Teaching and Learning that."  Ashley Davies of Enrollment nodded along. 

Why? Because what programs go where directly impacts how many students can fit in any given building and how they enroll to get into those schools.

Director Mack said the term "space available" was not defined by policy and that the Superintendent procedures are vague.

(I'll note that Dr. Herndon was his usual polite self but he seemed a little irritated by Mack's desire for precision in terms.)

Director Scott Pinkham noted that there was an issue with some students that were able to access either Broadview-Thomson for 6-8 OR Robert Eagle Staff.

Director Mack called out the issue of Spectrum, saying that Enrollment can't just remove Spectrum as a program.  Director Mack called on me (I had raised my hand as I was the only non-staff in the room AND have long experience with this issue).

I stated that the last 10 years had seen Advanced Learning with three levels; HCC (formerly APP), Spectrum and Advanced Learning Opportunities.  I begged them to NOT continue to use the term "Spectrum." That was a different program and to use it as the ALO term would just muddy the waters.  The district HAS a term for offering advanced learning to ANY student at ANY school and that's ALO.  These services are described in every CSIP (whether or not they are truly given).  And, Mack pointed out that the touted (my word) MTSS program is supposed to be supporting this.

I have no idea why the district would want to continue to use the word "Spectrum."  Either redefine Spectrum's true meaning as a program or drop it.  It appears - through the gradually watering down of Spectrum - that it no longer exists as a true and verifiable program.

Herndon pointed out that Advanced Learning would need to do that work if that was the preference of the Board.

As to Graham Hill, it was pointed out that Leschi did this blending of Montessori and General Ed classes and there are no more tiebreakers there.  The Graham Hill school equity team brought forth this issue.  It saddens me because Montessori is a good program and I just wish the whole school did that model to show people how well it works.

Director Harris (not present) had asked about the change for Middle College.  Davies wants to call the type of school Middle College is "Option Schools with Continuous Enrollment."

Apparently, there is to be yet another advisory committee - this one on student assignment, boundaries and capacity management.  That is a HUGE undertaking.  It will be interesting if that committee will try to tackle segregation in SPS schools.  Superintendent Juneau wants this to be a superintendent committee.

Davies noted that they don't have a "clean" number yet for enrollment this year.  As well, she said there had been 2,050 on waitlist which was the fewest students ever.


Eric B said...

Cleveland does not need to have an international pathway added. You can fill that school 100% with people who already want the STEM program. Adding another pathway only increases the length of the waitlist. An international school would dovetail nicely with a school with an IB program, especially if it was underenrolled. Do you think there might be one of those around in the SE?

Oh yeah, Rainier Beach! Why on earth didn't they propose RBHS for the international school?

Anonymous said...

"I have no idea why the district would want to continue to use the word 'Spectrum.' Either redefine Spectrum's true meaning as a program or drop it. It appears - through the gradually watering down of Spectrum - that it no longer exists as a true and verifiable program."

AMEN. This "program" is a joke. Nobody knows what it means, including the teachers. The only way Spectrum was applied at my child's middle school was through assurances that teachers used "differentiated instruction" in their classes. My student and I never saw evidence of this differentiation, and I don't understand why the district keeps slapping the label on "qualified" kids. Just stop.


Anonymous said...

I agree they should not continue to use the term "Spectrum," since there isn't a program there--it's more a category of students rather than a particular program or service. If they want to keep using that term as a program or service, they should CLEARLY define what that service entails, what that curriculum is, how it differs from gen ed, etc.

However, I disagree that they should use the term ALO instead. In the past, ALO was also often a separate program/service, depending on the school. At one of our elementary schools, ALO was a once-weekly math and language arts class open to those who were HCC- or Spectrum-qualified, and (I assume) potentially others if the teachers thought necessary. At another our our elementary school, there was NO ALO program--occasionally there was some in-class differentiation, but it had nothing to do with Advanced Learning testing status. In other words, the term ALO has also never been clear. It used to be something noted on the Advanced Learning page--suggesting some link to AL--but now seems to be gone, and theoretically incorporated into all schools now (when in the past there were ALO-identified schools).


Anonymous said...

To clarify, the district used to track ALO eligibility in addition to HCC and Spectrum--not all that long ago. Here's the URL for SPS demographic data that includes 2015/16 data. It's under the Advanced Learning section, or just search the page for "ALO":


When the district suddenly and without any clarity moved from talking about "ALO" eligibility--which imply there's some sort of program or service--to using "advanced learning opportunities" as a generic reference to any type of differentiation, things got very muddy. They either need to stop using that term as well, or need to be clear that it's not really an advanced learning service or anything, just teacher-dependent, in-class differentiation for students who need more advanced work. In other words, what should just be regular teaching.


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

(reposted with name)
I agree with DisAPPointed, especially with this comment:
"...need to be clear that it's not really an advanced learning service or anything, just teacher-dependent, in-class differentiation for students who need more advanced work. In other words, what should just be regular teaching."

SPS has decided that MTSS is the solution to everything. They should be upfront about saying that there is no SPECTRUM, no ALO, just differentiation that is teacher and school dependent.

Plenty-o-Worksheets said...

Not just teacher dependent but also principal dependent. Some principals simply oppose differentiation.

Anonymous said...

The SPS hasn't decided that MTSS is the solution to everything so much as that it provides a superb smokescreen for the complete elimination of any sort of differentiated learning program.


Anonymous said...

@Cynic. As a teacher, I'll go even further. MTSS is a smokescreen that puts being all things to all students on the teacher with no support. Some how the district seems to think that "saying" something will be provided through the MTSS process somehow magically makes it happen. Think about it. How do you actually expect teachers to teach to 4-5 different levels of reading, math, science, writing etc. AND deal with behavior problems? How much time do they think I have to prep all of that? Even with differentiation, which I totally support and do, how much do you think I'm really going to be able to meet all those different needs.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teacher, you sum up all the issues that I thought were out there.

There are those that have this fairy-tale idea that you can put all kids, learning at all levels, into one (usually) over-sized classroom, and somehow the teacher can do it all. Without supports and PD.

If the district had a visible chain of ideas on how this would happen, I would probably support MTSS.

They don't.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain to me what "HCC pathway" actually means for high school? Has there been a change that restricts enrollment at high school in advanced classes? My 3 kids at Roosevelt, class of 2013, 2015, 2017, all took a range of AP and Honors classes despite entering with different "labels" from middle school. As far as I could tell, there were no restrictions on what they could access as long as they had the prerequisites. Are kids now turned away from these choices if they aren't in HCC?


Anonymous said...

The pathway is a school assignment issue, not a course enrollment one.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...


HCC pathway at high school level just means that HC-identified students' assigned school will be the geographically assigned HC high school, currently Garfield High School. Starting next fall, students south will be assigned to Garfield, students in West Seattle to West Seattle HS, and students north will be assigned to Lincoln. Ingraham has an option program that HC students can try to opt into. Although option seats are limited, there is no limit on the number of HC seats at the non-option HC sites (nor should there be as this would be a form of quotas, which violates state law).

What you seem to be asking about is course sequences. Honors, AP, or IB classes have nothing to do with HCC: anyone, HCC and otherwise, can and should take Honors, AP, or IB classes. It's just that HCC sites need to offer an extra two years' levels of coursework for HCC students, who are up to two years accelerated. Nothing prevents non-HC students from taking those same courses if they are appropriate for those students, but for practical reasons courses at that high a level cannot be offered at every high school.



Anonymous said...

@Seattlelifer, it might be easier to think about it from the perspective of a student who might otherwise end up in a less challenging high school--for example, Nathan Hale (since you're in the north). An Hale zone student who went to HCC middle school but didn't have access to an HCC pathway school would likely end up repeating a couple years worth of science, and might not have access to all the math levels they needed. They would have limited AP options, and would spend a lot of time in advisory and mentoring and some other such thing. While that works for some HCC students, it's not the sort of schedule that most want.

At some south end high schools, HCC students might have even fewer options. Your Roosevelt experience is not typical of all SPS high schools, and I seem to recall that even at Roosevelt students were not able to take AP Calc B up until a couple years ago. It's an issue of critical mass, and the HCC pathways help to provide it.

Crit mass

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