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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Washington Middle School Meeting

At last night's Board meeting, there were several parents there from Washington Middle School.  All were not happy with what is happening at their school.  Here were their complaints:

  • The school has lost a lot of population due to the reopening of Meany.  
  • Courses are not being offered as they were promised previously.  
  • It's not unusual in Seattle Schools for middle schools to offer foreign languages to 6th graders.
  • Didn't the school need approval from the district to offer online courses? Kids are not ready for this kind of learning especially for math.
  • The upending of schedules was not communicated to parents.
  • Wish that the south-end schools were consider as much as north-end schools.  
  • WMS hired an additional ELA teacher while saying their budget couldn't afford a Spanish teacher.
  • Meany has a French teacher and last year there was collaboration to share that teacher.
  • Students aren't even sure now if they are in the right classes. 
  • Principal has changed so much beyond the schedules with policies on backpacks, phones, and bathroom use.
What did the Board have to say?

DeWolf said that he had received many, many emails from parents.  He apologized "for the negative impact to students and families." He said he knew that "trust was hurt" but that the principal issues were being addressed.

Geary said that "I want people to be clear that there is a consequence to this that the administration may not understand" and went on to talk about if foreign language doesn't have a clear path in middle school, it impacts what happens in high school.  She stated her own son had this problem.

Mack said one issue she sees is "clarity around scope and sequence for programs."  If you are in HCC program, what is that for each middle school?  And, is an "honors" course the same as an HCC course?

Burke said the principal was inheriting "what came before" but there's a dialog started. (After attending the WMS meeting, I can say it's not much of a dialog.)

Pinkham thanked the parents and encouraged them to continue to share their voices.

Harris reminded parents that the Board only has two employees - the Superintendent and the Internal Auditor.  She said she was listening but the Board could only make the Superintendent aware of the WMS issues and the deep unhappiness from them.

Washington Middle School Meeting

I attended the Monday meeting at Washington Middle School.  The principal, Emily Ginolfi, had stated in a letter to the parents that the meeting was from 7-8 pm.  By the time she finished talking, it was 8:10 pm so I left.  If anyone stayed longer, please let us know what was said. 

There were probably 150 people there, mostly white parents but at least 15 parents of color.   It was confusing because it was unclear why there were index cards on the sign-in table.  One staffer said they didn't know what they were for.  As it turns out, parents were supposed to write their questions down but there was no announcement about that nor anyone picking up cards.

I did not see the principal until the meeting actually started.  Also in attendance but strangely silent were Sarah Pritchett, the region's ED, Stephen Martin, head of Advanced Learning and Kari Nelson of Student Support Services. I saw Keisha Scarlett of Race and Equity come in later.

The opening slide on the screen said, "Q&A with School and District Leadership."  It's unclear why it said that because during the time I was there, there was no input from district staff and just two clarifying questions allowed from the audience.

Ms. Ginolfi talked straight for about an hour.  Non-stop, ramrodding thru topic after topic.  The only handout looked thrown together and was just stat after stat about the population of the school by different demographics/services and test scores which were also broken out in several categories.  She did say that in the coming weeks, she would be handing out more detailed budget information. 

One stat that was left out - students who had tested and qualified for AL services but were not in either Spectrum or HCC.  That's a category of students that often gets called out.

The PTA co-president, Cliff Meyer, was cheerful as he told the crowd that it was the PTA leadership that had urged this meeting but it was not technically a PTA meeting.  I was surprised to hear - after all the turmoil - that it was the PTA leaders who asked for the meeting.  To me, that shows either a tone-deaf attitude or a "my way or the highway" attitude on the part of WMS administration because of the huge outcry over the schedules, etc.

When Ms. Ginolfi was introduced, there was tepid applause.  She ran thru who was there; I believe I was the only media present.

She then proceeded to talk.  About herself (although oddly, didn't admit the TFA link).  Turns out she was a gifted student from second grade on.

She "enjoys" diversity.  She came to the district excited about SPS' "explicit commitment" to equity.  She said she was there to improve grade level proficiency for the non-HCC population and make WMS a great school for all children.

She put up a slide about her expertise in scheduling and budgeting during her career.  It was quite lengthy.  It appeared to be a bit of a tear to say she was qualified.  She called herself "a bean-counter."

She also noted that she had received "a lot of emails about her commitment to equity along with others."  The "others" being the emails about the upheaval at the school?  Those emails?

She announced that three teachers were going on maternity leave second semester.  One is a PE teacher so they will schedule PE this semester and health next semester. 

My main takeaways from her presentation:

- She says she is for 100% of the students but she gave some conflicting statements.  On the one hand, all those stats in the handout seemed to be - in one way or the other - about HCC/Spectrum. Or as she called it, "gifted services."  But she then said, "The goal is not to bring gifted achievement down, but rather to bring 100% of students to grade-level proficiency."

She also said, "This is an urgent matter and things need to change quickly and things need to change now." She said there was frustration among staff with "doing nothing."

But the overall vibe I got from her many statements was something of blaming/shaming parents(?) into understanding how many students were very, very far behind.  I think that parents should be aware of the demographics and stats at their child's school.   But what I think she was saying - without saying it explicitly - was that parents needed to understand that resources had been rearranged, in great part, to serve those low-performing students and that, well, it was kind of selfish for other parents to want anything else done.

She said she did not want people with students in AL to think she wanted to bring "their students down."  I certainly didn't think that but I do think she believes that it's okay for those students, if at grade level, to tread water instead of swim.

She later said that it was not fair to fund foreign language teachers if the school had less money and more need for low-performing students.

She said that she had been surprised to hear from staff and families about "the concept of 'my student is on a college track.' I've yet to work in a school where kids are on a college track in middle school."  But earlier, she had stated that "We assume all students at ages 11-14 can and should have the option of college."  

She also expressed surprise at the "sheer volume of students in AL." 

- She also seemed to want to blame many people for the current situation.  For one, she said the last principal had created a budget that could not work.  If so, I have to wonder who - like an ED or someone in Budget - could have signed off on a school budget that was not viable.

She mentioned having to have someone resign so she could hire a new teacher.  

She seemed quite surprised - in her experience of 11 years in the Baltimore School District - that a district could have so many offerings of music and foreign language in a middle school.  Almost like SPS was doing something wrong.   She said it should be "exposure over choice."

She seemed unhappy that some teachers taught just General Ed students and some just HCC students.  And apparently, WMS was using the term "scholar" for Gen Ed students and it offended  her. 

She mentioned the district being under corrective action from the State over Special Education but seemed to not know that was years old and had been corrected.  I was surprised that Ms. Nelson from Student Services didn't say something.

She said that if this were a "normal" middle school, the scheduling problems might have taken a week but with HCC, it would take a month.

She also thinks math placement is done too late and it should be done further in advance.

- She seemed to want to emphasis that not much had changed for classes - same self-contained HCC for Social Studies and LA.   She said that she just removed "student labels" but everything else is the same.  She also said she will continue the practice of moving some students into HCC classes.

She said that students testing at Level 1 or 2 "earned" a double block of LA.

She said that all these changes were "based on data" and got scattered applause and a few whoops that seemed to confuse much of the audience.

- She did finally acknowledge Board policy on HCC classes being self-contained.

- As for foreign language, she again seemed unhappy at so many offerings.  She said it was an advantage in middle school to take a language in 7th grade and is "such an advantage that all kids should have it."  Well, if you force some kids into two hours of LA, they don't have that opportunity, no?

- She pointed out that WMS had four music levels and Garfield only has three.  I cannot say if that's a fair comparison.

- She said there would be PE waivers "for medical or religious reasons" and that middle schools kids needed to move.

- Her portion of her talk about cell phones was slightly incoherent to me.  She said that it was hard to enforce rules and that there would be signage - red, yellow or green - in each teacher's classroom on tech use.

- She said that students couldn't leave their backpacks in the lockers because some lockers didn't work so they will be allowed in the classroom.

- She said they needed lunchroom monitors.

- When she finally finished, she said that they would take the questions and create an FAQ.

Frankly, it felt like she was explaining and bullying all in one.  It did not feel like an opening for dialog.  She could have created a handout with the many topics she covered and taken parents' questions.

I told the Board and the Superintendent at last night's Board meeting that I did think they would continue to hear from WMS parents.  If that meeting was to allay concerns, I don't think it did.

64 comments:

E. Eagle said...

Did she apply to be principal of that specific school or when you apply to be a principal in SPS, do you apply to some kind of principal pool and then get randomly assigned to a school? Does anyone know? Like the principal hires at Bryant and Thornton Creek recently, she seems like a surprising pick.

mom of a brown boy@WMS said...

I for one applaud her. I agree all students should have to rotate through PE, Health, Art, Tech, WL and Music rather than allowing kids to just take WL and music. The federal govt gives school x dollars for teachers based on student numbers, then you have to figure out how to staff what you need based on the number of teachers you get. So to ensure that students of color get access to music and WL that means some of the HCC kids wont be able to take it for three years, I don't think that is unreasonable. It's similar to high school, you take a a verity of classes to be well rounded. End of story, by over demanding that HCC gets WL and music for three years you have to under enroll non-HCC kids. There's a pie and it has to be divided. The fair thing would be that all kids rotate through the 6 electives and move on. This principal is courageous for addressing these issues that I have personally been upset about for years. Follmer wouldn't do it, she knew the parents would go to the school board. God bless Emily and I hope she keeps fighting the fight.

Anonymous said...

"She also said she will continue the practice of moving some students into HCC classes.
She did finally acknowledge Board policy on HCC classes being self-contained."

So I am unclear. If she is stating she will continue moving non-HC students into HCC classes it is no longer self contained.

KL

Anonymous said...

Parents are not asking for 3 years of WL, just at least one WL for 7th and 8th grade, which is the minimum offered at every other comprehensive middle school in SPS. (Why there are 3 years available at some schools is another matter.) And HCC students don't have preference in getting into WL classes and parents aren't asking for preference. They're asking for WL to be available to all 7th and 8th grade students that want to take WL as an elective.
Facts Matter

Anonymous said...

I have a gen ed child coming to WMS next year. It has always been a great school, and I am upset to see all this right before we get there. Can someone explain to me how HCC keeps them from getting Spanish? It seems to me the class was there before that my child could take, and now it is not. Were HCC keeping gen ed kids out? I still don't understand why they can't have electives and what is wrong with students choosing what they want for electives.

5th grade parent

Anonymous said...

whoa. she sounds like a nightmare.

i have a daughter in middle school and i was kind of annoyed at some of the stuff going on at her school, but after reading about this i thank my lucky stars she is not at WMS.

hope this can be figured out. i feel sorry for the kids.

sps mom

E. Eagle said...

Middle school students who are at K-8s or option schools generally do not get to take a world language. The exceptions to that are Pathfinder, Hazel Wolf, Broadview-Thomson, and Salmon Bay which all seem to offer one world language.

But aside from that, middle school students all over Seattle get to pick between at least two world languages. McClure and Aki Kurose are the only ones that only offer one world language. Most middle school students at most middle schools all over Seattle get to take multiple years of a world language and get a choice of which world language they would like.

I find it horrifying that students at Washington Middle School are having this choice taken away from them in the name of equity. If students at all other middle schools are not being forcibly rotated "through PE, Health, Art, Tech, WL and Music," regardless of their wishes, why should this be happening to students at WMS? 13 Black and 9 Hispanic students at Washington wanted to take a world language and will now not be allowed to. In the name of equity, for crying out loud!

When Black and Hispanic students who happen to attend WMS get worse choices than Black and Hispanic students who happen to attend other SPS middle schools, something doesn't smell right. And when parents are told that this is being done for equity's sake, well, parents ought to start sniffing to see where that smell is coming from.

Here are the language choices other middle school students get to choose from, the students whose "equity" is more equitable than the equity available to WMS students.

Hamilton- Japanese, Spanish
Eaglestaff- French, Japanese, Spanish
Whitman- French, Spanish
Eckstein- French, Japanese, Spanish
Jane Addams- French, Spanish
McClure- Spanish
Meany- French, Japanese, Spanish
Mercer- Chinese, Spanish
Aki Kurose- Spanish
Madison- French, Spanish
Denny- Chinese, Spanish
https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/International%20Education/WorldLanguages/SPS_Regional_World_Language_Offerings_Spring2018.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

E.Eagle, I missed your question. Who hired this principal?

Well, like all matters of principal selection, placement and autonomy - it's a mystery. I told the Superintendent, in front of a room full of people, that if you want to strike fear into the heart of any SPS parent, talk to them about principal change.

In this case, I think I see the fine hand of Michael Tolley.

Stunned in Seattle said...

@5th Grade Parent

HCC has nothing to do with access to world languages. Ab-so-lute-ly nothing. Schools that have zero HCC students also offer full multiyear sequences of world languages. For instance, Eckstein offers three with zero HCC students. The presence, or absence, of HCC has nothing to do with world languages, or art, or music.

The principal at Washington Middle School is scapegoating HCC for nearly all that school's ills, but we must see the scapegoating for what is: smoke screen and diversion tactics to shift attention to the principal's incompetence and/or to her personal agenda, which she likely knows is unacceptable to the community here.

At some point we must shift discussion from her incompetence to malevolence and, indeed, professional malpractice. I'm stunned that lawsuits haven't been filed yet.

NESeattleMom said...

The WMS info session seems to have been mis-titled. Nice of the PTA to call the meeting, but it doesn't sound like it was a Q&A. That is so frustrating when you go to a meeting and it is all pre-canned. I've been to Seattle Schools meetings where they make you break up into tables and write down your concerns instead of getting a chance to ask questions and let everyone hear concerns. The lack of help from Sarah Pritchett does not surprise me at all. If any parent thinks they will get help from her, I would predict disappointment. It sounds like the new principal has a goal of getting every student up to grade level. That is a fantastic goal, and I hope she has success. Taking away choice from those who are at or above standard does not help that goal, in my opinion.

kellie said...


Because of the way the master schedule process works, the MORE students who take music classes, the MORE resources, are available for the school. This is because music classes are not contract limited to 150 student. Music teachers often have 200-300 or more on their roster.

The high schools with large music programs have much greater ability to build the master schedule, than the high schools with smaller programs. Because music program are one of the least expensive ways to provide both the appropriate number of credits and a highly desired curriculum, I have long been shocked that pushing more music programs has not been an official capacity management strategy.

The narrative that HC students are somehow bogarting resources is simply not correct. But it is another lovely us-vs-them narrative.

NESeattleMom said...

Kellie, That is totally true. At JAMS some of the music classes were very large, which gave them the ability to have several levels of music, including absolute beginning, with instruments provided. It has been so special to see how much a total beginning orchestra can play at the winter concert. At GHS B and C orchestras were too large to play combined on stage last year. That huge size gives flexibility to have smaller sizes for other classes. That might also be the case for PE being larger.

z said...

NESeattleMom said: Taking away choice from those who are at or above standard does not help that goal, in my opinion.

She's not just taking away choice from those who are at or above standard, she's taking away choices from those who are below and far below standard. Requiring two ELA classes and removing an elective from those kids. It's punitive. All stick, no carrot.

How is it that she's not being shamed out of the building by those families as well?

kellie said...

It is also important to note that Washington is substantially under-enrolled and a sizable part of the problem at Washington is because the deeply flawed boundary process.

When the boundaries for Washington and Meany were drawn, one of the feeder schools for Mercer was supposed to backfill Washington. This change was not implemented. As such Mercer is now the most over-capacity middle school in the district and Washington is the most under-capacity.

It might simply be that middle schools with less than 600 students will require some mitigation in order to provide the same access that is fundamental at the larger middle schools.

Greenwoody said...

This should all set off alarm bells for every parent at every school across the district.

What seems to be going on here is a veteran of a hard-edged version of education reform popular in the Eastern USA has been parachuted into WMS. You saw these same things in places like Newark, DC, Chicago, and elsewhere - narrowing the curriculum as if it somehow helps improve test scores. I once saw a schedule for a middle school in Newark that consisted solely of ELA and math - no other courses or electives.

This has a crushing effect on student morale. It's been demonstrated that when the curriculum is narrowed and kids can't take electives, their learning suffers. Being constantly drilled on English language arts or math causes scores to *decline*, not increase. But those who believe in this model, like WMS's new principal, absolutely refuse to consider any other course.

(And that authoritarianism is another key piece of corporate ed reform.)

Then there's the idea that in order to help kids who are struggling, kids who are doing well or who have more resources have to be held down or held back. This is a nonsensical, cruel approach that pits kids against each other. It's an austerity mentality that assumes there will never be enough resources to go around, so rather than get the resources from those in society who have money, we'll go take those resources from kids who were through no intention of their own placed into different classes. It won't solve any problems or improve student learning but it may make a few adults feel better.

Finally, there's Leslie Harris being incredibly dismissive and passing the buck, basically saying "not my problem, I can't do anything about it." That's not true, and the president of a school board has quite a lot of power. Why is she abandoning her leadership role? Parents absolutely must not accept that answer from her.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, MW, for attending the meeting and providing a summary. So many issues, but one jumps out as something the Board can address. The Board may have only two employees, but one of their main jobs is setting policy. The PE waiver process should be uniformly flexible at all schools. This was a problem at HMS, which was more restrictive than state statute. When it was brought to the attention of a school board member, she worked with the school to make it less restrictive and more in line with other schools. Same goes for WMS. If other schools allow PE waivers for school sports or other outside activities, so should WMS. What we don't want is some numbskull response where they decide no schools will allow PE waivers for sports, and then say "equity."

RCW 28A.230.040 Physical education in grades one through eight.

Every pupil attending grades one through eight of the public schools shall receive instruction in physical education as prescribed by rule of the superintendent of public instruction: PROVIDED, That individual pupils or students may be excused on account of physical disability, religious belief, or participation in directed athletics.

*Participation in directed athletics* It's allowed by state statute. Push back on the more restrictive MMS "policy," families.

rule reader

Anonymous said...

Adding to the churn at WMS, the principal has embargoed core course syllabi for 6th graders. Teachers are not allowed to distribute until she authorizes the allowed content.

checks/balances

Melissa Westbrook said...

Greenwoody, Harris isn't abandoning her role but rather, staying true to what her role in. I believe all the directors have likely weighed in to the Superintendent and several have said they know that district staff is hearing this loud and clear. Remember that huge ding against the Board over "micromanaging?" That's why Harris is being clear.

But I think you are right on the mark; it almost feels like a KIPP charter school principal.

And thanks to Kellie for her usual good input. I know boundary changes are coming and this definitely needs to be one of them.

Also good point, rule reader, but to my point about principals - how much autonomy do they get? I agree, if they don't have a real waiver, they don't get to ignore district rules.

As I told the Board, the problem is not solved.

Greenwoody said...

The job of a board member is not to sit there and say "I only have so much power" - it's to fix what is broken. Parents in this district don't worry about "micromanaging" - it's ed reformers and Seattle Times editorial board writers who care about that. But the effect of backing off due to concerns about "micromanaging" means problems don't get fixed.

Is it micromanaging when a member of Congress calls in a Cabinet Secretary for an oversight hearing? Is it micromanaging when Congress changes budget allocations in order to force change in a recalcitrant bureaucracy?

And if the board only directly hires two people, well, they have the power to hire more, or to require reconfirmation votes of senior staff as a condition of employment contract renewals. A credible threat to eliminate the funding for all the Executive Directors would likely light a fire under them real quick.

If we don't insist on better from our board members, then we're going to get principals who treat our schools like a KIPP charter school. And that would be a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

The board has the authority to set policy. They can make a policy re: what the middle school curriculum needs to look like, such as science, math, ELA, SS, PE/ Health combo (unless waived in accordance with uniform waiver policy), and an art, music, or foreign language elective. The policy can say that students who meet the waiver requirement and don’t want PE can take take two electives. To ensure any sort of consistency across schools—in other words, to ensure equity—the Board should create a policy that outlines the basic requirements at each grade level.

The Board can be as powerful as they want. They simply need to have the courage to take that power, rather than feigning helplessness.

DisAPP

Richard said...

I completely agree. The board has all kinds of power it not only can wield but MUST wield in order to represent the public who have elected them. The board controls the purse strings; they can fund and unfund certain things, certain jobs. They set policy. They can even set policies on penalties for failure to follow policy.

Board members also have powerful "bully pulpits." Their public words and actions are listened to intently and scrutinized by tens of thousands of people. If they called for parent protests, parents would protest with them. If they called for this or that, people would step up and do that and this. They need only ask.

I would go so far as to say the public wants the board to be more like this. Micromanaging, no. But certainly the board should routinely take strong action to compel compliance with its policies.

Anonymous said...

"I've yet to work in a school where kids are on a college track in middle school."

Wow- that statement is terrifying. Of course kids can be on a college track in middle school. It would be great if ALL kids were assumed to be on a college track until they choose not to be.

Talk about lowering the bar.

-DMR

Anonymous said...

Here’s an idea—the Board May only have 2 employees, but they can exert some control over principals by making things onerous for a superintendent who does not exert some control over principals. To prevent messes like what’s happening at WMS, they could be more explicit in what HCC requires (by including some of what’s in the procedures in the policy itself), and they could say that any deviation from that requires the Supt to do this, that, and the other, plus provide data on blah blah blah, plus convene multiple public meetings, plus draft a letter of Supt justification and support for the change, plus submit a full evaluation plan that includes, among other data, a parent survey with data disaggregated to show the impacts on the target group(s) and other, with preliminary results due within 9 months and final results due with 1.5 yrs, and the Supt must then publicly report these findings and make recommendations for whether or not to continue the deviation, addressing equity issues in terms of race, income, special service needs, etc.... You get the idea. If they want schools to follow policies, make their employee—the Supt—also want them to follow policies.

All types

Eric B said...

If the Superintendent will not exercise her authority to rein in excesses by staff, then the Board must make policy to do so. More importantly, they can hold the superintendent's feet to the fire to enforce that policy. If the staff don't like it, they can clean up their own messes so the Board doesn't have to step in.

Anonymous said...

Why so riled up when arguably the richest school, McClure, has only Spanish available and when we were there a few years ago, orchestra had only one period for both beginning and advanced and no jazz?

Aki also has only one language, so why do some schools get three?

McClure and Aki kids just start their language of choice in high school, if it isn't Spanish. If you take music and PE, students have no room in their schedule for language anyways.

I think some of the WMS HCC parents are being overly sensitive. Middle school doesn't have a college track, that's silly. All kids in middle school are getting prepared for HS. Appropriate math and LA and music education for those inclined are what is needed to prepare for high school.

Maye if WMS was more inclusive and didn't have HCC self-contained classrooms, it would be more like Eckstein with huge offerings of music and language, lots of HC students who stay and blend, and a satisfied community.

88 keys

WMS & GHS mom said...

Following all of this closely, as my older child has finished 3 years at WMS and my younger child is starting there now as a 6th grader.

Regarding the hiring of Butler Ginolfi: I do not know anything about SPS principal hires as a whole, but I do know that BG applied for at least one other principal job in the district. She interviewed for that one and WMS. Both schools offered her the job and said she could choose; she chose WMS.

Jet City mom said...

Our kids are blue collar first gen college.
Oldest took SAT in 7th grade to keep her best friend company who was taking it at 6th grade.
If that isn’t on the college track, what is?

I agree that electives are critical to all students.
Students need to own their education, and one important way is to have choices, whether it be instructor or class.

Anonymous said...

@ Greenwoody: "What seems to be going on here is a veteran of a hard-edged version of education reform popular in the Eastern USA has been parachuted into WMS."

Yes,that's what I saw, too, from the first letter to parents that was published in the HCC blog. The principal comes off as a reformer who thinks she has all the answers, and puts herself in the center of the story. Really, no one needs to hear how she "stayed up all night making schedules". That's a failure, not a sign of commitment. She doesn't seem to have an understanding of her community. I am sympathetic to the notion that some parents voices are heard more than others and that administration staff has to make sure that they hear and voice the concerns of those families. But the leaders should be amplifying those quieter voices, not speaking for those parents and children, who, not being trees, can speak for themselves.

@mom of brown boy: you are a dissenting voice here and I hope you keep speaking and that your voice gets heard. If you are in the mood to listen, too, I don't see why students of color shouldn't have the same access to music and WL as the other students. If we were at WMS, that's what I and my brown boy would be fighting for.

zb

Anonymous said...

For incoming 6th graders, Hamilton only offers Spanish to all students now. Only students coming from McDonald and JSIS can take Japanese.

Helen

Anonymous said...

@DMR quoting WMS Principal Butler Ginolfi
"I've yet to work in a school where kids are on a college track in middle school."

@88 Keys "Middle school doesn't have a college track, that's silly."

WMS Principal and 88 Keys should acquaint themselves with the law.

The State's "High School and Beyond" requirement mandates that each student must engage in high school and post-high school planning which must begin in middle school. It's not a "track" but preparation by all students so they can meet their goals, and it is required by law to start in middle school.

https://www.sbe.wa.gov/our-work/high-school-and-beyond-plan.


High School and Beyond Plan
Staff Contact Linda Drake

The High School and Beyond Plan is a graduation requirement for every student. It's a tool for students, parents, and teachers to guide students through high school and think about their future. Plans are personalized and designed to help students set, visualize, and work to achieve goals.

Requirements
High-Quality Plans
Additional Resources
Requirements

The following are the requirements in statute and rule related to the High School and Beyond Plan. Decisions about whether a student has met the requirements for the High School and Beyond Plan are made locally per RCW 28A.230.080.

With the passage of ESHB 2224, beginning with 2017-2018 school year, the High School & Beyond Plan has the following requirements:


Initiation in the 7th or 8th Grade.
Identification of career goals, aided by a skills and career interest inventory assessment.
Identification of educational goals.
Four-year plan for course-taking plan that fulfills state and local graduation requirements and aligns with the student's career and educational goals and individualized Personalized Pathway for student in Class of 2019 and beyond.
Resume or activity log by end of 12th grade.
For students who have not met standard on a state assessment, interventions and academic support, courses, or both, that enable students to meet the high school graduation requirements, must be a part of this plan.
The plan must be updated to reflect assessment results, student progress, changing student interest, goals, or needs.


ALSO: High-Quality High School and Beyond Plans and Processes

The following is guidance for components of a high quality High School and Beyond Plan. Components listed in bold are required by law.
Plan Components

Identify a career goal
Determine interests and skills
Interest inventory and skills assessment, by the 7th or 8th grade: who am I? What do I want to be? What skills do I have and where do I want/need to develop?

Identify educational and career goals


ALSO: Process Components

Begin plan by at least 8th grade


-- Follow the Law

Anonymous said...

@ 88keys, that's funny...and sad. "Middle school doesn't have a college track, that's silly. All kids in middle school are getting prepared for HS." Are you saying the bar for middle school is that we provide the bare minimum they need to be able to graduate high school, ready for a vocation? By you logic, we should just offer Math 6-7-8 in middle school, then they can take Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 in HS. Maybe PreCalculus if they really want a 4th year, and even then, only if the school has the resources to offer it to those greedy seniors who want more than the minimum. No need for Seattle to be one of those uppity school districts that offer AP Calculus. Heck, we could get rid of all AP and IB classes while we're at it--the HS goal is to prepare students for college, not give them early access to it!

As Follow the Law mentioned, students need to plan for their futures BEFORE college. If a student wants to get into a STEM field, unless they are planning to go to community college they're probably going to need more than PreCalculus in high school.

We also happen to have a law about providing accelerated learning to students identified as highly capable. That's "basic education" for them. Accelerated instruction puts them on the college track earlier than those who don't have a full grasp of the situation might expect. I know of HCC students who were not just on the college track in middle school, but who were actually taking college classes and middle schools classes at the same time.

Oh, and nice job blaming the HCC students for the administration's inability to find a way to offer a well-rounded and sufficiently challenging schedule to all students. Classy move.

off key

Anonymous said...

off key is correct that access to advanced learning for Highly Capable students is required by law, and is part of the definition of "Basic Education."

Therefore if a school principal is denying or curtailing access to advanced learning to such students, which appears to be the case at Washington Middle School,
these students are being denied their access to basic education and that is a violation of the law.


(1) The legislature finds that, for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.185.020

ALSO:

Highly Capable Programming and Basic Education
The need to guide and support districts as staff identify and serve gifted students has intensified following a landmark change in Washington State’s Basic Education Act. In 2011, the Legislature acknowledged the need to widen capacity for the identification, delivery and evaluation of HCP services with state law RCW 28A 185.020, which codified the education of gifted and talented students as basic to a K-12 public education in Washington state.

Districts must define an educational program for highly capable students, and comply with specific program-related provisions that, integrated as a whole across the K-12 continuum, will deliver a comprehensive and equitable education for gifted and talented students.
Highly Capable Program & Basic Education │ Table of State Law and Regulation │ Define a Highly Capable Student


http://www.k12.wa.us/HighlyCapable/HiCapPLUS/default.aspx

--Follow the Law

Anonymous said...

@offkey you got it right!
-long road

Anonymous said...

I remember my daughter marveling at the salary for vending machine repair jobs when she was at McClure.

But to think SPS middle schools should be tracking students is flat out wrong. They should be providing academic opportunities to all kids at as many levels are needed.

If a kid wants to be a barber or a weapons designer in 7th grade, the district should be encouraging them to work towards their potential and to be aware that they may want or need to get a job that requires math derived skills or LA derived skills.

The whole notion that there is a track of college bound kids that should be treated differently is inappropriate.

If kids are taking the SAT in 6th grade or going to college, they are in need of a strong program for such high IQ kids. HCC is NOT such a large program, it doesn't help these outliers. HCC drives kids into early entrance at UW and the researchers at the Robinson Center.

I would like to see a program like the original SPS gifted program, IPP.

It was having kids work four years ahead. I think high IQ kids would do better in such an environment than at UW.

88 keys

Anonymous said...

I meant HCC is such a large program it can't serve such high IQ students as described.

88 keys

MonikerMom said...

Just my 2 cents: one of the reasons it has been so important for my middle schooler to take language in middle school is because language is not reliably offered in high school in a way that is user friendly. I have read over and over on this blog about students who have only one option: taking a 3rd or 4th year of a language that meets at exactly the same time as their level of science or math, or band, or whatever. I've also read on this blog of students who simply cannot get the language section due to overcrowding or who are told to take it in community college. Foreign language is required on college applications, and right now at many high schools in Seattle, it is difficult if not impossible to take foreign language for 4 years in sequence without giving up other educational opportunities. The kids at WMS will have trouble getting it all done in high school and will have fewer options as high schoolers if they start high school with no years of foreign language under their belt. This is a disservice to all the kids who want to take a language and can't.

and to be told that instead you should take PE, and that there is no such thing as a college track in middle school is really educational malpractice. especially with the system as it is in Seattle high schools.

E. Eagle said...

The whole question of whether there is or is not a college track in middle school is some kind of bizarre side show.

59.4% of adults living in Capitol Hill/Madrona have college degrees.
70.9% of adults living in Eastlake have college degrees.
75.9% of adults living in Montlake/Madison park have college degrees.
These numbers are from a 2016 article
https://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/techflash/2016/01/seattle-one-of-top-10-most-educated-cities.html#g/279502/26

Obviously there are plenty of adults around who don't have a college degree. But the rate for Seattle overall is about 40% of adults with a college degree. And probably rising.

You can be as dismissive as you want of parents, but the ones who have been to college actually do have some good insight into what all was involved in that process. And parents with college degrees routinely give SPS bad marks on those school climate surveys. So, the WMS principal might be harming kids' futures here all the while saying she's doing it in the name of equity.

You don't need parents who went to college to get into college yourself. But it's not the dumbest idea to hear what people who did go to college have to say about the process. There's plenty of parents out there who were first generation college students, or who went to a historically black college, or who got an amazing scholarship and would be happy to tell you about it.

When a principal says there's nothing you can do in middle school to mess up your potential to go to college or improve your odds of success, it is a bald face lie.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Maye if WMS was more inclusive and didn't have HCC self-contained classrooms, it would be more like Eckstein with huge offerings of music and language, lots of HC students who stay and blend, and a satisfied community."

Oh snap! Good one. I note that I pointed out that the principal did not include those HC students who are identified but not in the program. Hmm.

Volunteer Teacher said...

Maybe it would be like Eckstein, or maybe it would be like Aki Kurose where they need a volunteer Spanish teacher because there's such a low number of students interested in trying a world language. I'm not sure why the teacher's union allows a volunteer teacher...

I wonder, does Aki Kurose have huge offerings of music and language, lots of HC students who stay and blend, and a satisfied community?

Anonymous said...

@ 88 keys, I admit it--you lost me. On one hand you argue HCC classes prevent schools from offering a huge range of music and foreign language classes, while on the other hand you say schools should offer academic classes to kids at all levels that are needed. Huh? Is your beef that the HCC-specific classes are only for identified HC students--even though that's not the case, as Spectrum-identified (and sometimes advanced but not AL-identified students) are in these WMS Honors classes? Is your complaint with HC identification in general, and that you think all schools in all districts should, and would, just do the right thing without a law requiring accelerated for services? Do you think it's feasible for all schools to offer all levels of everything, or can you see how creating a critical mass of students (e.g., HCC cohort) helps make providing services more cost-effective?

"Maybe if WMS was more inclusive and didn't have HCC self-contained classrooms, it would be more like Eckstein with huge offerings of music and language, lots of HC students who stay and blend, and a satisfied community."

If WMS didn't have HCC-leveled classes, many of those who go there because it's their HCC pathway school wouldn't go there in the first place, so they wouldn't be "staying." As to "blending," I don't even know what that means--maybe some sort of self-imposed ceiling? Like not acting smart or not wanting advanced classes? Here's a newsflash--no matter how much you want HC students to just blend in, many are very different than their typical grade-level peers...and they couldn't blend in if they tried. Some could, sure. And many of them do just that--at their neighborhood schools rather than at the inconvenient HCC pathway school.

HCC is not really tracking. Students can enter/exit any time they meet the cognitive testing and achievement criteria. Additionally, HCC students and non-HCC students alike are more and more tending to end up in the SAME levels of core classes in high school. If HCC is trying to put some students on a college track and on some alternate track, they're doing a pretty crappy job of it. HCC primarily seems to be about meeting students where they are in elementary and middle school, so that they have the opportunity to learn something (aside from learning to hate school, which is the other option). In high school, it's anything goes--for pretty much anyone.

off key

Anonymous said...

If the goal is racial equity, how the hell is that achieved by denying kids of color a chance at taking the same range of course offerings as kids who are better off get at other schools in the state? All this does is reinforce huge class distinctions and makes it a lot harder for kids of color at WMS to get into good colleges. It's tracking an entire school.

JR

E. Eagle said...

Yes! It's tracking an entire school. Yes, that's what it's doing.

Jet City mom said...

As someone mentioned, HC may not really serve kids who are taking the SAT in 7th grade, but that is what advanced learning was for I thought.
Wasn’t it originally for the kids who were in the top 3% or something of the district?
The girl who was in 6th grade, actually then entered the EEP program at the UW from Lakeside.
But most kids don’t need that. She triple majored at the UW in Russian /physics & astronomy, and incidentally did not take Russian until college.( although since she skipped high school, I guess it was like taking it in high school?)

Since the state only next year is requiring two yrs of language for graduation, the priority has to be get all high school kids to that level.
It’s a great idea to have exposure to foreign language from preschool, but as a parent and taxpayer, my priority is to keep more kids in school and get more kids a meaningful diploma.
There are many ways to get exposure to a foreign language in middle school if that is something the student is interested in.


Anonymous said...

SPS needs to articulate its priorities, and what it means by equity. Otherwise, principals are free to do as they wish - I have no faith at all that the EDs exercise any oversight. If SPS decides that its priorities align with Jet City Mom, and that middle school world language is *not* a priority, then that priority should be reflected at *all the middle schools*. Even Eckstein.

JR, I agree with you. Racial equity is not achieved by drastically reducing world language as an option at WMS - or any school - while other middle schools can offer more as they see fit.

If anyone can articulate for me how that practice advances equity, I am here waiting to be convinced.

Ruthie

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If the goal is racial equity, how the hell is that achieved by denying kids of color a chance at taking the same range of course offerings as kids who are better off get at other schools in the state? All this does is reinforce huge class distinctions and makes it a lot harder for kids of color at WMS to get into good colleges. It's tracking an entire school."

What? Kids of color at any school can access any class. Period. Show me where that isn't happening. Now it's not going to happen at WMS because any student at L1 or L2 HAS to take a double block of LA which eliminates an elective. That's on the principal.

HCC makes it harder for kids of color to get into good colleges? Explain that one.

Ruthie, I have told the Superintendent, privately and publicly, that she and the Board MUST define equity for SPS. Oddly, the head of Race and Equity, Brent Jones, won't do that. So someone has to be bold and decide so that, going forward, everyone is talking about the same thing.

Anonymous said...

@Melissa Westbrook- Its a good point. She listened to you! I listened to the Superintendent on NPR recently. She stated that equity needed to be defined. She acknowledged that she did not think it meant the same across the district.

Also, some HC kids and parents have had enough I think. My student's age group are part of the wave choosing neighborhood high schools over Garfield etc. So far, it's going great, you can't beat the commute & they have HC peers & other high performing kids in their classes.
KL

Anonymous said...

I attended the WMS meeting that went from 7 pm - 8:40 pm. Generally, the principal stuck to her script, which she said was developed based on questions and emails she had received prior to the meeting. She answered very few questions from the floor and encouraged people to leave written questions that would be addressed later and posted on the WMS website.

Many people seemed very frustrated, but it's not just about the HCC issues emphasized here. It was things like no communication from her or the school, sweeping policy changes, no bathroom passes, a shortened 4 minute passing time between classes which made it impossible to use the bathrooms and then getting frequent tardies from the teacher, incomplete and inadequate schedules, cell phone policy, the principal using email to communicate but not sending home messages via kid mail for those without internet, etc. It was about not enough lunch monitors and then not being able to go outside and have recess after lunch. It seemed that because they had 2 PE teachers kids were going to get a lot of PE. She didn't seem to understand the PE waiver policy in place in Seattle Public Schools nor why music would help with the master schedule.

"Equity" however defined and perceived seemed to trump learning and enjoyment in school. I got no sense of school being an enjoyable, kind, or community place. I felt bad for parents, kids, and teachers. It seems that the lower student numbers, due to the opening of Meany, have really affected course offerings. Coming after Follmer, I think any parents with means or flexibility will be looking to enroll their students elsewhere for next year or pulling them out now.

Equity, making sure everyone learns, helping kids get to grade level and supporting those that are beyond standard is important, but pitting groups against each other - as she seemed to be doing - isn't the way to do it. It was depressing and sad.

-CapHill Parent

Anonymous said...

Equity is for south of the ship canal, Melissa. North, it's "huge offerings of music and languages" and "a satisfied community." Guess we should all just move.

Is the north/south disparity not on SPS' radar screen at all?

Ruthie

Melissa Westbrook said...

CapHillParent, very KIPP-like. (For those who don't know, KIPP is a chain of uber-discipline charter schools.)

Ruthie, good question. I think it is but not in the way that many parents may see it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. @rule reader above says:

"RCW 28A.230.040 Physical education in grades one through eight.

Every pupil attending grades one through eight of the public schools shall receive instruction in physical education as prescribed by rule of the superintendent of public instruction: PROVIDED, That individual pupils or students may be excused on account of physical disability, religious belief, or participation in directed athletics.

*Participation in directed athletics* It's allowed by state statute."

I don't see any SPS policies dealing with this, does anyone know of anything? Lots of kids at WMS have been pushed into PE instead of other electives (the principal basically said the school was overstaffed in PE) and the principal said PE waivers would only be allowed for medical and religious reasons (because they have the PE teachers and don't want to provide other electives?). So would this mean that kids who are on sports teams or participate in other "directed athletics" are legally entitled to PE waivers & the school would have to let them take some other elective?

--Curious

joanna said...

The consequences of reopening Meany as a middle school and the quest to assign enough students to Meany was never discussed by the district. When enrollment drops in by 3 or 400 and perhaps more, a change in the number of offerings is going to be the result. By every logical map Leschi for certain and likely Madrona students should be assigned to Washington. Yes, resources end up being split, but the politics of the situation never considered solutions so that the resources would be shared not split. Meany is under 3 acres, while Washington is 10 to 11 acres and could easily be remodeled into a great facility that would serve all the students and resources could be shared at one site. The situation is worrisome.

joanna said...

What I said earlier is relevant, but can be made worse by administrators who don't understand the offerings that have made Washington a desirable school for decades.

Anonymous said...

@curious, the key word is "may." Districts may, not must, allow waivers for directed athletics. However, since many SPS schools allow PE waivers for school sports and other activities - from karate to ballet to swim lessons, you name it - it follows that ALL SPS schools SHOULD allow them. Equity. If there is not a districtwide PE waiver policy, there should be! That is the job of the Board. They set policy. Parents can and should push back on the more restrictive WMS "policy." Write the Board and cc the Superintendent.

rule reader

Anonymous said...

@ curious, the relevant SPS policy is Policy 2185 (https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Policies/Series%202000/2185.pdf), but it doesn't appear to address the issue you mentioned. Maybe it needs to be update to be more consistent with the RCW? It's probably addressed in the 2185 "Procedures", but what's posted in the Procedures section isn't really the procedures after all, but the annual review--probably a mistake.

Re: WMS, if the school is overstaffed in PE and understaffed in other things, shouldn't they adjust their staffing? Maybe get rid of one PE teacher and hire a music or language teacher? I'm sure it's not that easy, but the goal should be to match the staffing to what kids need and want, not vice versa.

HF

Anonymous said...

Strange that there is no standard SPS Policy for PE waivers.

A quick look at 3 schools - Eckstein, JAMS, and HIMS - shows 3 different forms, all with slightly different rules. Eckstein's seems the best of the 3. JAMS seems overly restrictive in terms of what qualifies as "directed athletics," and both JAMS and HIMS seem more restrictive in granting the PE waivers - they must be enrolled in 2 yearlong electives. In looking at other schools, REMS has no forms posted and Whitman is even more restrictive, only allowing "community based, organized athletic teams...participating in team competitions." What about non-competitive community based athletics? Yoga? Cultural dance groups? Hiking clubs? Sheesh.

so crazy

Anonymous said...

@so crazy,

I think it's worth pointing out that Eckstein sixth graders are required to take one semester of PE(except in cases of "physical disability or religious belief", they cannot waive for "directed athletics" until 7th grade), nor are they allowed to take world language until 7th. It looks like JAMS and HIMS students may apply for PE waivers all 3 years.


~KMG365


Anonymous said...

@ so crazy, it's not addressed in the "policy" but there may be a standard "procedure." Someone should ask the board for a copy of the "Superintendent Procedure 2185SP – Physical Education." Not the Annual Review, but the actual Procedures. If there's nothing in there, it's clearly something the board needs to address. If it's vague, it also needs to be addressed.

The Supt and the Board have so much cleanup to do it isn't funny. "Clean up on aisle... well, all of them."

HF

Anonymous said...

It seems like a fundamental problem now that Meany is open is WMS's program structure of two very different groups: HCC and gen ed students in south Seattle. Neither group gets its needs met while both groups compete for resources. This is probably a non starter but if (as the new principal indicates repeatedly) the priority at WMS is to raise gen ed achievement levels - a worthy goal to be sure - then perhaps the district should make WMS a model school to do that with proper funding. Then find another location where the HCC program can operate w/o being continually characterized as selfish.

- Arboretum mom

joanna said...

The students that would by any stretch of the imagination like Leschi or Madrona could also be assigned to Washington to maintain a decent enrollment. The resources should never have been split.

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Anonymous said...

I realize that I am a little late to this thread, but I was hoping that with such knowledgeable people here, perhaps people could point me in the right direction with respect to a few questions I have.
My 2nd Grade daughter has just been declared HCC eligible. She's currently going to language immersion in McDonald Elementary up near Greenlake, and then she would continue on to Hamilton.
Based on where we live, entering the HC pathway would move her to Thurogood Marshall, and then she would move on to Washington Middle School.
I understand she also has the option of staying at McDonald and being offered HC services or alternatively moving to Montlake Elementary (then Meany) and receiving the same, or even applying to Decatur and/or Cascadia and receiving HCC if she gets in through the lottery.
Alternatively, we could opt out of HC altogether.

With all of the concerns about Washington Middle School evident in this thread, should we be spending time evaluating the differences in educational opportunity at Hamilton vs. Washington MS?
Are the critiques presented here similar in theme but different in specifics to critiques I might find for any other Middle School?
Are there any other forums where I can find out more information about the process here and how to make an informed decision?

FYI I went to Washington Middle School back in the early eighties in the first iteration of Seattle Public School's HC program, called IPP back then (before it became APP). I then went on to the EEP at the University of Washington. I've always felt very fortunate that there are so many great educational opportunities in public schools in Seattle. However it seems that unless you find the right advice / insights, it is easy to end up in sub-optimal settings. Help!

(The foundation of every state is the education of its youth...We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less.)

- DIOGENES ELDER

Anonymous said...

I just heard that the Washington Middle School principal shifted schedules and teaching assignments but is telling staff and students not to discuss it at school. Teachers are being removed from classes they've been teaching all year, kids are being withdrawn from advanced classes like Spanish, and parents are not being told the full story. Is this just another attempt to get rid of HCC or is this just another insane move from the woman who didn't even have schedules done the first day of school and won't allow kids to go to the restroom during class time (because nature calls only during the period for the entire student body)? Are teachers & students aware of the transfer/open enrollment process out of that insane asylum? Is the union aware of this environment? Does anyone know if there's been discussion yet of her removal? I thought the new Superintendent was going to FIX Seattle Schools, not hire Professor Umbridge!

-Lee G.


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Anonymous said...

DIOGENES ELDER - If your student is now in second grade, it is a bit early to predict what will happen at WMS and other schools 4 years from now. Try to keep your options open. You never know what drastic changes will happen at any of the SPS schools from year to year. As of this moment, I cannot recommend WMS for an HCC student. But it might be better than Meany. But that is setting the bar rather low. The other schools you mention are probably better for an HCC student - as of this moment. But that could change i na few years. Good luck.