Seattle Schools This Week, October 22-28, 2018

Monday, October 22nd
Work Session on AssignmentAgenda.   Highlights:

SATP Updates
  • Name change for "Service Schools”
  • International /Dual Language Immersion Pathway Updates 
  • Highly Capable (HC) Updates
– Updates approved with Lincoln Boundary Changes

– Potential Middle School pathway expansion

  • Grade Level Adjustment for Middle College from 11-12 to 9-12
  • Blending of Graham Hill’s Montessori program
  • Updates to Special Education Language
– Updates requested for the 2018-19 SATP which did not end up being implemented
  • Definition of Space Available 
I see several items that need discussion but one does stand out to me:

  • Clean up of the Advanced Learning (AL) language to indicate that Advanced Learning (Spectrum) is available at all schools.
  • Removal of “Spectrum” tiebreakers from Student Assignment Transition Plan in 2019-20 since AL available at all schools. 
  • This was a proposed change for the 2018-19 plan that did not get approved. 
The Board should again say no UNTIL it is fully explained why Spectrum morphed from one kind of program to another without any notice or explanation to parents.  This is the truth and staff should have to account for this action.  In detail.  And "AL is available at all schools?" On paper.  There is zero quality control on what it is or what it looks like in action.

Tuesday, October 23nd
 Special Education PTSA Meeting from 6-8 pm at JSCEE in room 2700.

 Thursday, October 25th
Magnolia Elementary Boundaries meeting at Lawton Elementary from 6:30-7:30 pm.

Sunday, October 28th
Community meeting with Director Scott Pinkham at NE Branch of Seattle Public Library from 3:00-4:30 pm.


Anonymous said…
If Spectrum is available at all schools, someone should ask them what Spectrum-level Amplify science looks like at all middle schools, and how that differs from GE Amplify science.

Instead of cleaning up the language, they should worry about cleaning up the programs/services, no?

Jet City mom said…
Good question.
I’m also wondering if families with children with sped plans, find it convenient to attend meetings at the Stanford Center, or if they could get better turnout if they made an effort to hold the meeting in different quadrants of the city. Rotating of course..
Improving communication to those families was always such a challenge, because of privacy reasons, you can’t mail info( I am speaking of at the school level) , but it is so critical.
Anonymous said…
According to the agenda, HC updates include "Potential Middle School pathway expansion."

Anonymous said…
So the central staff are out of control and gone rogue, the school board now understands this and won't do anything to stop it, the new superintendent is busy posting selfies on twitter, and parents are sitting around complaining but won't lift a finger to help their kids get treated like human beings.

This is how SPS collapses.

Looking Private
Anonymous said…
Honestly, if they want to clean up the language, it would be refreshing if they would just be transparent about what is actually available. In the case of Spectrum, it would be closer to the truth to say that the principal at each school is free to offer any accommodation for advanced learners that she wishes, and it is available to those students who happen to be assigned to the teachers who provide it. Then at least parents (and the school board) would know that the only way to find out what is offered at a school is to talk to the principal, to learn her approach, and to families at the school, to find out how it plays out for the students.

As far as the assignment plan goes, it would be closer to the truth to say that student assignment staff will place students wherever the staff find it convenient to place them, and written policies will be followed unless staff override them because of considerations not explained in the written policies.

The current and proposed wordings are both so far from actual practice as to be useless.

Anonymous said…
Irene, I couldn't agree more. My child was a Spectrum student in a school gave only lip service to its Spectrum status, and in fact seemed openly hostile to families who wanted their children to be challenged and held to a higher standard.

I'd like to see this kind of transparency applied across various district communications. Here's another example: "We would really like to provide transportation service for your child and other students who live far away from their school, but we'll be honest - you'll probably need to get a carpool together because the bus will be two hours late every day for at least the first three months."

Honestly, I'd rather see this kind of messaging than the kind of hand-waving that seems to plague every district communication. Just give it to us straight so we can deal with reality more quickly and effectively.

Anonymous said…
The slides say they will need a work group "to explore the definition and changes for SY 20-21 re: the term “space available” within the Student Assignment Transition Plan. That sounds like a lot of work to figure out what a seemingly so obvious term means.

Maybe they need a similar work group to figure out what the heck "Spectrum" means. Not an obvious term, not an obvious program, not an obvious curriculum, not obvious goals or outcomes, many reports of inconsistency in implementation (or complete lack thereof), an so on. It's impossible to "clean up the language" to be accurate if it's unclear what the language--in any form--even means.

When did "Advanced Learning" become synonymous with "Spectrum"? There used to be separate programs called "Spectrum" and "Advanced Learning Opportunities" but now they say AL is Spectrum. When they ended ALO's, did they transfer use of the AL term to Spectrum for some reason? Why?

Is "Advanced Learning" distinct from "Highly Capable?" It would seem so--and they should be--but why then does JSCEE so frequently conflate the two?
- Example 1: In these slides, the Advanced Learning term is discussed under the HC header. AL would thus seem to be a subset of HC.
- Example 2: The currently ongoing Advanced Learning Task Force has the AL name is generally focused on AL, but a few little comments under the description of its work indicate it also includes HC services. In this case, it would seem that HC is a subset of AL--the reverse of what's seen in example 1.
- Example 3: The survey (last year?) re: "access to advanced learning" seemed to talk about general access to advanced classes, as it had nothing to do with meeting either "Spectrum" or HC eligibility criteria. Is that a whole different type of Advanced Learning, or are they now saying everyone should have access to Advanced Learning AKA Spectrum, in which case there's not really a Spectrum program so there's no need to clarify the language to make clear that it's available at all schools.
- Example 4: The Advanced Learning office name itself. If "Advanced Learning" is the overarching departmental name, it doesn't really make sense for one of it's most poorly defined, inconsistently implemented, and not mandated services to take on that same name. That creates additional confusion as to whether HC is a subset of HC or vice versa.

Yes, clean up the language. But first, clean up what's behind the language.

Anonymous said…
Ack, typos! The last part of Ex 3 should have a question mark, and please ignore that apostrophe that snuck into Ex 4--it should read "one of its most poorly defined..."

Talk about needing to clean up language...!

Anonymous said…
I remember this blog calling Denise Juneau the “new John Stanford” a couple months ago.

Yeah she went on a listening tour, but has she done anything to shake up SPS yet? I haven’t seen any of the staff replaced. I haven’t seen any substantive policy changes. Just more of the same from JSCEE.

A better title:

Is Denise Juneau the new Jose Banda?

Keep Dreaming
Anonymous said…
Running start numbers went up, again, while total high school enrollment dropped very slightly.

The trend is unmistakable.

When you starve students from rigor, when you make getting a coherent schedule difficult, when you meter out high-level AP courses like they are a scarce resource, the best and the brightest flee because RS is an elegant solution to avoid all of those problems.

Last year This year
RS 1,313 1,421
total HS 14,251 14,211

In 2009, RS was 5% of total high school enrollment (651/13,003).

This year, it is now 10%.

That is a huge leap in 9 years: an entire high school worth of kids who've run off to running start.

So, to review. Running Start enrollment grew by 8% this year, while high school enrollment shrank -.3%.

The market share analysis betrays the no confidents of the clients.

Last year, for the first time ever, cohort survival from 5th to 6th grade for SPS went down to 81%. Typically, that number was always 95% system-wide historically, and, very stable. Those missing kids will not be coming back. Families in the system leave once they hit secondary comprehensive offerings.

The district does not know this or care about this. They are incurious as to why their intake value has not been full.

Maybe the leavers and the accelerating rate of leaving could have something to do with the education part of education? Greener pastures are elsewhere. While enrollment is mostly sticky because 'switching costs' are high (barriers to exit are high, i.e. moving costs are expensive), enrollment is not entirely fossilized. Families migrating to the region can intentionally choose bypass Seattle and locate in Bellevue, for example, and families in Seattle can quit and go to the eastside. We have seen this pattern before.


Anonymous said…
"Is Denise Juneau the new Jose Banda?"

I think you nailed it there, Keep Dreaming. Juneau has come in and totally deferred at every turn to the current SPS leadership, becoming an out of touch figurehead. I know she had higher political ambitions, but if she still does, she's burying them here in Seattle by refusing to undertake the thorough purging and reforming that is so desperately needed at the JSCEE.

I hope that the school board realizes if Juneau won't fix the broken culture at JSCEE, then the school board will have to be replaced en masse until we get directors who will finally fix this.

2019 voter
Anonymous said…
FYI, at my child's SPS Elementary School the only "Advanced Learning" opportunities available are "Walk to Math" which the principal is not a fan of (due to the time it takes to transition and the lost education minutes) and there are talks under way to eliminate.
Anonymous said…
I thought Juneau would be good, but I had also thought Swift the superintendent from Michigan (also named Michigan's superintendent of the year 2018) would have been really good. I was disappointed she was not picked.
Anonymous said…
I saw somewhere a statement that Washington Middle School has resumed giving the MAP test to students. Can anyone confirm if that's true? If so that is a huge slap at the parents and teachers in this community who worked so hard to scrap that racist test.

Scrap MAP
H.M. said…
I don't understand why the district can't tell the difference between "highly capable" and "spectrum" and "advanced learning" as terms. They have an advanced learning department. They have state-mandated highly capable services. They run a spectrum program. It makes zero sense that the people running the show drew up the agenda and titled a page "Highly Capable (HC) Updates" and the mostly talked about Spectrum, which really has nothing to do with Highly Capable students or services. They actually have no idea what they're doing, right?

I have a kid in both programs and I have zero difficulty keeping them apart. You would think the people running them would be able to do that, too.
Whittier Dad said…
If they start offering Spectrum in all schools, will they grandfather in the students who are are going to the current Spectrum sites but whose geozone school is something else? Spectrum sites:
Arbor Heights Elementary
BF Day Elementary
Broadview-Thomson K-8
Fairmount Park Elementary
Hawthorne Elementary
Hazel Wolf K-8 (formerly Jane Addams K-8)
Lafayette Elementary
Lawton Elementary
Lowell Elementary
Muir Elementary
View Ridge Elementary
Wedgwood Elementary
Whittier Elementary
Wing Luke Elementary

Or do those kids have to go back to their geozone schools? There's not really any reason to go to a special site anymore if the program is offered at their home school...
Scrap Map, I, too, have heard this. I'll try to get confirmation.

H.M., I think AL doesn't know because it's all in the hands of Jesse and Tolley. And they have then put that into the hands of principals. 104 different principals.
Anonymous said…
@DisAPP You would think "space available" seems obvious but it really is not. There are lots of different ways to use space (regular classroom, special purpose classes, computer lab, library, lunchroom...), and a room can accommodate different numbers of students depending on how it is used. Some rooms are used for classes for part of the day and as common areas for part of the day. Portables can be added or removed, but the square footage and other facilities to support them vary from school to school.

I think there have been some good explanations from Kellie about how some of these issues interact with program placement and student assignment. Sorry, I don't have links to them handy.

Anonymous said…
Yep, WMS is definitely taking the MAP. Here is the section of the principal email sent out re: MAP (sent out after the testing had already begun, natch. No warning or ability to opt out prior to tests being taken.)

MAP Testing: We communicated with students in classes last week that they would begin taking NWEA’s Measures of Academic Progress assessment. MAP is an online assessment that adapts in response to students getting right or wrong answers until their performance level is identified. Some quick facts about MAP:

MAP testing is part of a district approved testing calendar that is created by a Joint SEA/SPS testing committee.
MAP in many ways is being utilized more similarly to classroom created assessments this year and because of this many teachers did not feel the need to send home information. Tests are part of the learning process for our students and should be expected in classes.
MAP testing was chosen to replace SBAC interims and SRI tests because it offers a wider range of student questions (and therefore better assesses student growth). The SBAC interim provide information regarding where a student is performing in relation to grade-level, but does not provide the information needed to pinpoint how far above or below grade-level they were performing. Given so many of our students are well above grade-level, or, in some cases, far behind, MAP is an invaluable resource to teachers at WMS.
MAP testing is NOT required by the district, but is being used by teachers at WMS to help inform classroom instruction, to target specific areas of need or growth for students, to set goals, and to discover holes or gaps in students' knowledge base.
We want to build a culture in our school where we are emphasizing growth for all students,. MAP is a unique assessment that, unlike grade-level assessments, generates a growth goal for students based on where they perform at the start of the school year. In many classes, students will be looking at their own scores and strand information (which identifies specific areas they can/need to work on), and tracking their own progress throughout the year. We will celebrate students who meet or exceed their goal at the end of the year, regardless of where they are performing at the start of school.
In non-Math classes, MAP will help teachers select appropriately challenging texts both for entire classes as well as for groups and individual students. The data will also help teachers make smart choices in planning vocabulary teaching.
MAP is not used for any course or school placement and is purely an instructional tool for teachers.
MAP is being taken in Math class, Social Studies class (Language Usage test), and ELA class (Reading).
kellie said…
DataDon'tLie is absolutely correct.

There are some very disturbing trend lines in enrollment that clearly show problems and clearly shows that families are making other choices. The big drop in cohort survival means that capacity problem should no longer be such a concern. I would not be at all surprised if this is the beginning of a downward trend.

I have also been quite disheartened to hear the rhetoric about how choice, advanced learning and transportation is now equated with privilege. IMHO such gross oversimplification is detrimental to everyone.

NESeattleMom said…
DisAPP, I agree with you. I think there must be a Ven diagram that shows whether AL is part of HCC or whatever. I thought Spectrum was dead.
kellie said…
While it is true that space available can vary substantially, it is actually not to challenging to make a functional space available definition, by simply creating an ideal capacity number for every building. Up to this Number, there is space.

If this was my problem to solve, then I would handle this very simply and based on some historic precedent. If you go back to the 2008 enrollment numbers by school, you have a really good approximation of what the potential baseline for "space available" capacity of a building. 2008 was the height of the choice system, before capacity problems forced many schools to start to expand. The number used to cap schools in 2008 can reasonably be presumed to be a number up to which, the building can function very well and this was a number at which, enrollment put a closed sign on the door and started to assign students to other schools.

Here is a simple example, Eckstein Middle School had a historic enrollment of 1100, with a long wait list. This number was very consistent for a over a decade. Student #1101 was not assigned to the school and was placed on a wait list.

If you just pull the 2008 enrollment by school, you can quickly get a sense of what people believed was the space available capacity for an effective teaching program. It would be pretty easy to use this number as a high water mark. We have many schools today that are vastly over those numbers. Those schools would not have space.

However, a school like Whitman with historic enrollment of about 1,000 should NEVER have a waitlist. There is plenty of space available. You simply need to assign the students and then do a post open enrollment staffing adjustment.

All of this pain about "space available" has NOTHING to do with space and instead is simply about attempts to create staffing stability and avoid making post open enrollment staff adjustments.

Enrollment varies. Staffing varies. When you make a system too rigid, you just create different problems.

MAP is not used for any course or school placement and is purely an instructional tool for teachers."

This may just be turn of phrase but yes, MAP is used for placement for HCC.
What Kellie says makes sense.

But if you have a different end game, then, of course, this all makes little sense.

Again, there are too many bright people at JSCEE for this to be this way; it's by design.
Anonymous said…
I hear a lot about how Michael Tolley wants to dismantle HC/AL. Can anyone point to any evidence/documentation on this? Has he articulated what the end game is assuming he is successful in his endeavor? What are the metrics by which this strategy's success is measured? No tracking within schools? More representation of racial/ethnic minorities taking honors/AP classes?

Can anyone shed light on this?

Concerned parent
Anonymous said…
I just really feel like so many pressing problems in the district might magically disappear if Tolley and Jessee were replaced by someone who knows and is responsive to what Seattle's parents want. Not all problems, no, but really a lot of pressing problems indeed, which those two individuals seem interested only in worsening, not making better.

Anonymous said…
HCC kids used to be able to take AP World History in 9th grade. Tolley was behind eliminating that option.

Also, DataDon'tLie, please don't use the phrase "best and brightest" to describe Advanced Learners. It really perpetuates a stereotype. No kids are better than others. Different kids have different educational needs. Needing more challenge does not make a kid better than another kid.

open ears
NE Parent said…
I believe that the district administration is trying to effectively eliminate any type of advanced learning that takes place outside of the regular classroom. But changing programs and services that large numbers of parents support is difficult. So, I believe that the district intentionally obfuscates what it is doing to make it hard for parents to object.
Here is my evidence:

- When standalone Spectrum was eliminated at our elementary service school over 5 years ago, no effort was made to communicate to parents how the new MTSS replacement would work. The teachers refused to say anything. The principal refused to say anything. And there was nothing written. This was not an oversight, it was clearly intentional obfuscation. The impression parents had was that a new principal was hired specifically to dismantle the program.

- This year at our neighborhood elementary, the walk-to-math program was eliminated. Students that had been walking to math a year ahead suddenly found themselves retaking the same math a second year in a row.

- HCC used to be defined as 2 years ahead for Math and ELA, and Spectrum 1 year ahead. These definitions were written on the district website (still available using the WayBack machine). But without any discussion or action by the school board, these definitions were removed.

- Last Year a new elementary ELA program was adopted. But rather than using materials 2 years ahead for HCC, the district adopted materials that were one year ahead. So, if HCC ELA is 1 year ahead, what does that make Spectrum ELA? Nonexistent.

- Last Year for elementary HCC the report card ELA standards were switched from 2 years ahead to 1 year ahead. So, if HCC ELA is 1 year ahead, what does that make Spectrum ELA? Nonexistent.

- This year at Eagle Staff its entirely unclear whether HCC students are mixed with general education or are in separate classes. When asked, the principal said look at the website, where of course there was nothing written. The impression that some parents have is that the new Eagle Staff principal is hostile to Advanced Learning.

- Last year the district tried to do away with high school pathways, but the decision has been delayed only because parents and the school board pushed back.

- Lincoln, which is supposed to be the HCC pathway for the north end, has a principal that many parents feel does not support HCC.

- From Year to Year, the “HCC Advisory Council” becomes the “Advanced Learning blah, blah”, etc. The fact is that last year when the decision was being made about high school HCC pathways, the “HCC whatever” was not consulted, and the superintendent didn’t even realize it existed.

- At this point, Spectrum exists in name only for legacy reasons. If it hadn’t previously existed, it certainly wouldn’t be created today. The district provides each school with a list of students that meet certain criteria and leaves it up to each individual school to do as it will.

- Years back the old Advanced Learning “director” level position was replaced with a “supervisor” titled position that clearly has no power related to the above issues. Advanced Learning is responsible for student identification and teacher development, and that’s it.

- The list goes on…

My experience with the district is that they are masters of the bureaucracy. The will ignore you. They will act like they don’t know what you are talking about. The will stall months and years until your child has moved on. They will document as little as possible, and what they do document, the won’t willingly share.

In my opinion, if you want to fight and win, you first need to realize it will be a fight. That means submitting FOIA requests for all related documents. It means organizing together with other parents. It means speaking at the school board. It means getting vocal. It means planning ahead (like during the hiring process for a new principal) And it means convincing them, you won’t go away.
Anonymous said…
DataDon'tLie, do you have a student in high school that has made the decision whether or not to do Running Start? I do and your assumptions regarding why students make this choice is much more complex than you make it out to be.

For my child and many friends as well, these were big factors in their decision to take Running Start classes...
- Guaranteed college credit at any Washington state college for any passing grade rather than having to get a certain score on one AP test at the end of the year.
- Free college credit that will save huge amount of money in college tuition; 2 years of full time running start is worth about $50K saving at a Washington state university
- Ability to get more college credit by taking a full course load through RS over AP classes. Students have only a 6 period day in high school but can take the equivalent of 9 classes with RS.
- My child found classes to be easier than high school classes
- More free time to pursue other interests and work; ability to sleep in...

Your experience with students you know in RS is clearly different than mine, but I don't know of any students that chose RS for any of the reason you gave. I think you need a bit more data before coming to your conclusion.

kellie said…
@ 1down,

The information that datadon'tlie posted is accurate. Running Start enrollment is up and high school enrollment is flat.

As SPS does not track ANY DATA on why students choose RS, your conjecture is as good as mine or datadon'tlie's conjecture. There are lots and lots of reasons to pick Running Start as it is an excellent program. That said, the data around high school enrollment is not very encouraging.

The current high school enrollment is large enough to cause the need for Lincoln to reopen. During the last 5 years, all of the projections, based on students already enrolled in SPS, had indicated that opening Lincoln would not be enough and that a 12th comprehensive high school would be needed. Now ... the cohort survival rates have plummeted and there is no longer a need for a 12th comprehensive high school.

SOMETHING has clearly happened to cause high school students to vanish from Seattle Public School. What has happened? I have my guesses but it would be nice if there was some better investigation by SPS and some actual data on families that have left.

Datadon'tlie mentioned the most challenging data point of all. The cohort survival rate from 5th grade to 6th grade. Most people make changes at the big break points of 6th and 9th grades. Historically, there is a small drop at 6th grade and then an increase at 9th grade. Currently the 6th grade drop is increasing rapidly and there was no 9th grade increase this year.

Families are making choices other than SPS. The "why" for the other choices is left to conjecture because there is no official data collection by SPS.

Anonymous said…
...Given so many of our students are well above grade-level, or, in some cases, far behind, MAP is an invaluable resource to teachers at WMS.

Gaaaah! MAP has a ceiling which many HCC students have already hit by middle school. Scores for many students will just bounce around some upper bound. You will not be able to measure growth for students who are already hitting the ceiling. And wow, no prior notice to parents? No chance to opt out?

What the
Anonymous said…
I’ve long said that SPS should ask people why they leave, but apparently they don’t care. That lack of giving a s#!¥ comes through in so many other ways, which is a large driver of why people ultimately leave.

@1down, while I don’t begrudge students/families for going the RS route to save money, I find it sad that RS classes are often easier than high school classes. No wonder our universities end up doing so much remediation. It’s a sad state of kids are opting for RS because it’s the easy way out. It’s equally sad if kids are taking RS for more challenge, only to find that’s not the case. I hope at least some RS classes do provide challenge beyond what one can get in high school, but from experience and anecdotes, the percentage doesn’t seem too high.

Anonymous said…
SPS may not have info on why students choose RS, but they should have data on the numbers of RS students identified as Spectrum or HC. If the % of AL identified students choosing RS has gone up significantly in the last few years, it could be an indication that high schools are not offering enough advanced coursework. But does SPS really care? Probably not.

Yes, there are many good reasons for choosing RS, but there are also students who feel forced into RS as a means of having a continuum of appropriate coursework. It's not the best placement for some students. There's a difference between freely choosing RS and being left with no other option.

data needed

This comment has been removed by the author.
Outsider said…
If Spectrum means "lip service to advanced learning" then it would be true that Spectrum is offered at many schools. It's all in the definition.

Hats off to those of you who fight for clarity of language. You are fighting the good fight. But you are destined to lose. Weasel words and obfuscation are the essence of SPS communication strategy and they aren't going to change.

It's very interesting and significant that public institutions no longer feel they can tell the truth about their own policies. They believe they can only achieve their goals through lies and deception. You can learn a lot, pondering that fact (but don't say too much or you get in trouble.) How long can a society last this way?
Deleted last comment due to typo error...

It would be very good to see what is the cause of families leaving SPS. Is it high housing costs that are driving people to move to the suburbs? Is it concerns about the direction of SPS? Are the new charter schools and new private schools grabbing a significant share? I've heard anecdotal examples of all of the above, but some hard data would be really useful.
Anonymous said…
@Whittier Dad,

If a "Spectrum" student is attending a formerly designated Spectrum school that is not their Attendance Area school they will be able to stay at the school per the current enrollment rules.

They obtained their seat at that school via a choice application. Once accepted they can stay through the highest grade at the school.

Anonymous said…
Concerned Parent, Tolley's endgame is single standardized curriculum that is easily converted to iPads and apps. What we see in middle school science classes where Amplify is replacing teachers and kids are bored out of their minds is what he wants for entire district. Will anyone stop him? School board terrified of him. New Superintendent too busy posting selfies. Only parents will stop this. Will we?

Amplified, I'm trying to figure out what to do.

Meanwhile, Flip Herndon is leaving SPS for Tukwila.
Anonymous said…
NE Parent: Any light you can shed on your statement? Why do many parents feel Ruth Medgsker does not support HCC?

"Lincoln, which is supposed to be the HCC pathway for the north end, has a principal that many parents feel does not support HCC."

Concerned parent
kellie said…
It is impossible to make absolute statements comparing high school and running start, as easier/harder, better/worse, etc. Both high school and running start are highly variable experiences, based on the school, the access to courses and most importantly, the TEACHERS.

We all know that there is huge variation between the comprehensive high schools in terms of access and offerings. The same is true at the colleges. The Seattle Colleges have a completely different math placement policy than Shoreline, Bellevue and Cascadia colleges. The English 101 experience can vary widely both from college to college and instructor to instructor.

The big difference is that with high school, students are essentially assigned their schedule and students have very little influence on what they get or the teachers they are assigned. Running Start students have a lot more ability to pick their instructors and courses and switch times to get a different instructor.

kellie said…
I have posted many times that Advanced Learning and Capacity problems are interconnected. When you look at public education over decades, there are very clear trend lines.

When districts are under capacity and have lots of extra space in their buildings, Spectrum-like programs tend to be promoted and grown as a way to attract middle class families into the public school system. When districts are over-capacity, these programs tend to be neglected or actively dismantled.

Spectrum was a space-dependent program. Back in the choice days, spectrum students had priority at many schools over the neighborhood students. When Seattle switched to an attendance area program, there was no longer any capacity set-aside for Spectrum and the program was slowly strangled to death as capacity problems overwhelmed the majority of the schools with spectrum programs.

I am glad that downtown is finally acknowledging that there is no reason to give assignment priority to a program that doesn't exist. Hopefully that acknowledgment could lead to a richer discussion about advanced learning, but I doubt it.

From a capacity standpoint, SPS is "at capacity" While there are more than a few uneven patches, as a whole system, total capacity and total enrollment are pretty equivalent at 52,000 students. At this homeostasis point, districts rarely do anything to be innovative or encourage additional enrollment.

Anonymous said…
The policies instituted by disgraced superintendent MGJ (RIP) have been continued by Tolley to the detriment of the district. This constitutes one of the principle reasons I voted against the school levy and will do so in the future until I see massive turnover among the senior staff.

Anonymous said…
RS enrollment is done at Franklin, AND they have the highest UW Seattle admittance percentage in SPS, and the highest of all urban schools. What's happening there, that isn't happening at other schools,that makes the Franklin program so successful?

Anonymous said…
@ Curious, I don't know that it's necessarily that Franklin is doing something other schools aren't--it may just be that UW looks at Franklin students differently.

From US News rankings (for what they are worth), here are some comparisons:

College Readiness Index: Franklin 24.6%, Roosevelt 65.4%
AP Tested: Franklin 47%, Roosevelt 37%
AP Passed: Franklin 78%, Roosevelt 78%
National Ranking: Franklin #2,423, Roosevelt #320

Minority Enrollment: Franklin 93%, Roosevelt 32%
Economically Disadvantaged: Franklin 69%, Roosevelt 12%

Students who do well at Franklin are going to stand out more than students who do well at Roosevelt, since most students at Roosevelt do well. Also, Franklin students are more likely to contribute to the UW's diversity goal.

Now, if you're asking what Franklin is doing that other schools with similar demographics but lower performance aren't, that would be an interesting question. I assumed your question was more of an overall one, and I haven't checked out all the schools to see if Franklin is an outlier among like schools.

All relative
NE Parent said…

Our neighborhood school this year got rid of walk-to-math. It is an ALO school, not a Spectrum school, and ALO never had school assignment priority.

Is it easier for the administration if all students are taught at the same level? That I would agree with. Is it easier to have more advanced students help the slower students if they are all in the same class? That may be true.

But it's highly doubtful after 5 years that the school eliminated walk-to-math suddenly because of a "space" issue.

Now the district wants to rename the ALO program to Spectrum. I consider this to be misleading and dishonest. Having students redo a year of math is at best disrespectful to both the students and the parents.

Anonymous said…
@Curious The UW has a "holistic admissions policy" that also heavily recruits local African American students in its process. Franklin has a high percentage of both low income as well as African American students.

The UW also admits a very large percentage of foreign students who tend to be affluent and overwhelmingly from wealthy areas of Asia. Those students pay a much higher tuition rate and help the university financially as the state has reduced much of their state funding over the years.

In order to balance the diversity of foreign students with local students they recruit heavily from local schools that also have larger percentages of African American students.

If you are a straight A white student who is not also F&R lunch and attended a middle class/affluent school such as Roosevelt, you would not automatically have any admission advantage over a student who did not do as well and attended a low SES school. I have heard of 4.0 freshman students not gaining admission to the UW, a state school.

I believe in equity and appreciate the goals of the UW. However, it is also a state school and our only local state university so the admission rate to some of their competitive majors (like engineering, computer science etc) should also be more accessible.

However I do have a problem with the "legacy advantage" (like justice kavanaugh had at Yale due to his grandfather) at Ivy league schools in which graduates also enter the most influential positions in society.

At Ivy and prestigious schools very affluent legacy students most who also have attended exclusive private prep schools have an admission advantage.

Kids in the middle class public schools seem to not have any admission advantage anywhere and IMO in Seattle there seems to some concerns amongst parents their kids will have an issue with college admission to a "good" program or school.

kellie said…
@ NE Parent,

I tend to post about institutional memory and macro trends. Individual students choose Running starts for individual reasons. That said, the larger number of individual choices often paints a picture.

The same is true about ALO and Spectrum. Individual schools makes a lot of choices for site specific reasons and then all of those site based decisions in aggregate paints a different picture.

I remember when Maria Goodlow Johnson announced "walk-to-math" in 2009. It was at the end of the closures and the beginning of the NSAP. Walk to math was "announced" that is would be rolled out at "all schools" in 2010. (BTW, like MTSS was also announced and rolled out). Spectrum at that time was mostly self contained and this was a clear response to the fact that there was no additional space for any additional spectrum programs.

I remember thinking this seemed like a good idea and it had potential. At that time, I had lot of conversation with elementary teachers who "hated" the idea. At first, I really did not understand the intense push back from teachers but I quickly found their logic very persuasive.

Elementary school is a homeroom based experience. Walk to math happens naturally at middle school which is a master schedule based experience. It is easy to batch kids for math when you are working on a master schedule and Walk to Math was essentially trying to push a master schedule like experience into the elementary schools.

The teacher's complaints really focused on how walk to math meant that 100% of teachers would need to teach math at the same time, every day. This meant that if a teacher felt that they needed 10 extra minutes on math, that was no longer an option. Math time was now fixed. It also changed the teacher student relationships. Now the teacher has their homeroom plus, their math students. This meant the the homeroom dynamics was completely different for the math class vs the rest of the day.

As we know, students don't come in nice little packages so there would be some extreme unevenness between classrooms who sent students and classrooms who received students. 5th grade teachers would only be receiving extra students.

I'm not at all surprised that walk-to-math programs are dying out. Space problems do not directly cause this. That said, in the absence of any "empty space" in the system, there is no reason for schools to go over and above with unique and/or labor-intensive programs.

kellie said…
One more institutional memory note.

This Student Assignment Plan meeting essentially announced the end of Montessori as well as the end of the end of Spectrum.

Montessori was also a strategy to try to attract middle class families to under enrolled schools. Former School Board member Sherry Carr helped launch the Montessori program at Bagley as a way to prevent Bagley's proposed school closure. This was very successful. Within a few years, Bagley was fully enrolled.

Montessori required a lot of extra site based management. You need to hire qualified Montessori teachers and you had to managed the classroom enrollment between Montessori and "contemporary" classrooms.

Programs that make families happy, only seem to be matter when districts are under capacity. Language Immersion at JSIS was first launched at one of the all time low district enrollment points.

Anonymous said…
@ NE Parent, I agree about the "misleading an dishonest" part, but I'm not so sure your current school actually is an ALO school... because the district doesn't seem to have ALO anymore. It hasn't been on the district website for a while now--no more description, no list of ALO schools, etc. When did it go away? Who knows. But it seems the district already quietly merged ALO and Spectrum at some point, started referring to it/them (and sometimes HC services) as "Advanced Learning," and now claims Spectrum AKA Advanced Learning is available in all schools--even though neither Spectrum nor ALO was available in all schools.

Anonymous said…

Thanks for sharing the elementary teacher's perspective on walk-to-math. Did they have an alternate suggestion for how to meet the wide range of needs at neighborhood assignment schools including kids who needs more than a year's acceleration?

Anonymous said…
Again, asking NE Parent: Any light you can shed on your statement? Why do many parents feel Ruth Medgsker does not support HCC?

"Lincoln, which is supposed to be the HCC pathway for the north end, has a principal that many parents feel does not support HCC."

Can any others with knowledge of this share?

Concerned parent
Anonymous said…

That’s interesting. I’ve usually seen walk to math grouped within a grade, not across grades, so at least a little easier from a scheduling perspective, but still means all teachers within a grade band need to be on the same daily schedule, at least for math. That probably works better at the larger schools though where there’s more critical mass at each group.

I can see how making all grade band teachers do math at the same time would be more challenging for a teachers. That said, I have yet to see any meaningful differentiation in math in most schools where walk to math doesn’t happen. Given the very high threshold to qualify for HCC and SPS’s lack of single subject high cap qualification, that leaves a lot of kids who are strong in math both bored in school AND on a lower trajectory than they would be in many other districts in the country. Still not really surprising that so many people try to get into HCC if it’s their child’s only opportunity for acceleration, especially in math (I’ve never seen a school that doesn’t do reading in leveled groups).

I’d also argue that keeping grade bands on a consistent schedule is also very helpful for kids who receive special ed services. If the teacher is changing their schedule regularly, kids in special ed can easily fall behind in other areas or miss out on big chunks of learning when their pull out times don’t line up with class instructional time. I saw pull outs be very disruptive last year when I volunteered and and often saw kids playing catch up in science or math to be able to get small group reading instruction or doing pull out and in class math, but missing reading for a day.

NE mom
Anonymous said… seems like there needs to be a balance between rigidity and flexibility.

NE mom
Anonymous said…
So WRT walk-to-math, this is a great example of teachers and administration over indexing for the less inconvenient (to teachers) solution of no longer supporting walk-to-math then it would be to come up with a solution that would allow for advanced learning opportunities around one of the most important(parents) and engaging (kids) subjects . The number of students from our local elementary school we could have "saved" (by providing walk-to-math) from moving to private or our area HCC school is huge. Our son is an example of the latter.

Mad Dad
Anonymous said…
@ NE mom, we had an elementary school that didn't do leveled reading--the kids just picked the books they wanted to read (usually based on titles, book covers, topic). We also had a school that had a ceiling on the level kids could get to in certain grades--maybe it was policy, or maybe it was just based on the levels they had in the classroom? One of these schools officially had ALO, the other had no ALO, Spectrum, or HCC programs, as well as no walk-to-math.

One argument FOR unlinking walk-to-math and grade level is that the range of math abilities often exceeds the number of classes that could be offered. Most kids will end up in a grade-level type class, with smaller numbers below and a little above level. For those significantly above grade level in skills and complexity of thinking, they aren't likely to be well-served by grade level WTM. Letting them walk to a class 2-3 grades higher might help--although as they get into the highest grade levels at that school they need different solutions.

Appropriate differentiation in regular elementary schools is not all that common, in our experience.

reality bites
Anonymous said…
I've never understood why people are so hung up on grade level acceleration, whether as an intervention for an advanced learner or in the form of walk-to-math, walk-to-reading, etc. In Seattle Public Schools, some huge number of kids are "redshirted" in a given grade, typically the wealthier ones whose parents could afford another year or two of preschool. It's not uncommon for kindergarten cohorts to have kids who just turned 5 in class with kids who will soon turn 8.

"But your kid needs to be accelerated in math? Oh, no. We can't do that. It wouldn't be developmentally appropriate!"

Anonymous said…
@Concerned parent, the only feedback I'd provide is based on one of the early community meetings for the opening of Lincoln (before the HC pathway was even added). The video presentation came off as anti-intellectual, with lots of warm and fuzzy ideas about project based learning and none of that "horrible" learning of skills and content. There was additional discussion of each year having some sort of theme (despite students not really moving through high school on the same trajectory). It was like a wishful reimagining of high school, separate from the reality of what nearby comprehensive schools were offering, as if there was no need to offer something comparable. Some 50% of HC enrolled students (Gr 1-12) live in the current Ballard and Roosevelt boundaries - they should anticipate a high demand for AP coursework at Lincoln (even in 9th and 10th). I left unimpressed and very thankful my kids were on the way out in the near future.

Anonymous said…
Are you rolling your eyes at the parents of redshirted students, or the schools resisting acceleration?

It's especially frustrating for students who haven't been redshirted, but who are working above grade level. Spectrum once offered a modicum of meaningful acceleration. It was enough for many students. Yes, it sometimes meant leaving your neighborhood school, but it came with a better guarantee of appropriate level instruction.

It seems the ultimate SPS goal is some empty promise of ALO at every school, meaning next to nothing. The stated intent is increasing access to AL, when the reality is a reduction of AL opportunities.

lowered expectations
Anonymous said…
@Eyeroll, really???

“In Seattle Public Schools, some huge number of kids are ‘redshirted’ in a given grade, typically the wealthier ones whose parents could afford another year or two of preschool. It's not uncommon for kindergarten cohorts to have kids who just turned 5 in class with kids who will soon turn 8.”

I’ve never seen that. Can you be more specific about this “huge” number—and the data source?

Are you suggesting that the people who hold their kids back are the ones who want acceleration? In my experience, parents of “highly capable” students have often wanted the reverse—to have their kids start school early. I’m not sure what point you’re attempting to make with the redshirt argument.

Anonymous said…
@HJ and others - Below is an article about UW and their admissions:

UW draws biggest freshman class in its history | The Seattle Times
Jul 16, 2018 - More than half of in-state students who applied were accepted at the UW in a “historically diverse” freshman class.

I hope this article dispels some of the myths that people hold about UW admissions.

Anonymous said…
A student can be admitted to UW, but be denied direct admission to one of the more competitive majors. UW has increased the numbers directly admitted to CS and engineering, but you are still talking about maybe a 5% DA rate for CS.

UW had a large incoming class, not just because of a record setting number of applications, but a high number who then accepted the offer of admission. The freshman class also has some 800 students from China.

another fyi
Anonymous said…

There are no myths, just different data. Admission to the UW is a separate from admission to competitive majors.

As another fyi mentioned getting into competitive majors at UW such as engineering and CS is currently highly difficult for incoming Freshman. This includes local students from WA state.

It is disappointing there are few spots as it is a state school, and STEM positions at local companies are being filled with many applicants who come from outside WA state. Seattle resident high school graduates don't have alot of options for an affordable state school (commuter) in their vicinity.

The UW does plan to increase its number of direct admits after 2019, but the stats still make it very difficult. I have heard an average also 5% DA overall historically, but that will increase a bit after 2019 after the UW expands their DA to CS, engineering. The rate of admission for a WA state freshman will depend upon number of applicants.

In fact recently I was told by a UW CS dept that if a student does not gain admittance through direct admit, if they are committed to a specific major such as CS, it would be wise to apply to other colleges because it will become the primary route to admission.

In addition, the UW admission (including program admission) follow a "holistic" admissions policy to help diverse students access their programs.

I personally know of Seattle HS graduates with high GPA's top students etc who were admitted to the UW but did not get into competitive majors such as engineering and CS and transferred elsewhere.

As another fyi also mentioned there is also a very high percentage of international students at UW who are admitted. As I mentioned, these students also pay a higher tuition rate and it helps offset costs as the UW is challenged by dramatically reduced state funding over the years.


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