Sunday, November 25, 2018

Seattle Schools, Week of November 26th-December 2, 2018

Tuesday, November 327th
Work Session on Families, Education, Preschool and Promise levy from 4:30-6:00 pm.
Work Session on Secondary Revisioning from 6:00-7:30 pm.  Both at JSCEE.


I note that the City certainly takes a lot of credit for improvements in outcomes regarding closing the racial gap.  It's unclear how they can be sure that the work that is done from the levy is the sole reason that some of those gaps are closing.

They say there are 25 health centers in schools but don't give a list.  I know of about 15 of them but I'll have to ask about the others.

Interestingly, the City has the chart below (which I presume came from the district) but I have never seen this information in quite this form. 


There will be two public meetings - one in Jan, one in Feb - for the public to give input on the City's plan.

Here's interesting reading that was in the levy language but that got overlooked by many (and is probably the key to charter schools receiving funds)

“Proceeds may only be leveraged to support Seattle School District and Seattle Colleges programs or functions with the existence of a current, effective Partnership Agreement.” (bold theirs) 

I would think this puts the pressure on the district to agree to what the City wants to do (and leaves open the door for charter schools to ask for dollars).  I'll be interested to read what the agreement looks like.

As to the Secondary Revisioning Work Session, this may be a helpful slide for parents of teens:

It looks like CTE is to get a major push from the district (see slide 5).

Slide 7 has important information about going forward on planning.  Like:

We are not able to move forward with the modified 7 period schedule for 2019-20.

Slide 11 is striking; it shows the percentages of 9th grade students by race earning 6+ credits (out of 4,000 9th graders,600 did not earn 6 credits).   What I find interesting are the numbers between "Black- East African" and "Black (English)".  As well, while American blacks, Pacific Islander and Hispanic students did not do well, Native American students did quite well. 

On Slide 18, there is a case study of how Chicago does "on-track interventions."  The district doesn't need to look across the country for this; Everett has been doing this - to great success - for a long time.  And, I'm sure their superintendent would be happy to speak with Superintendent Juneau to explain how.  I know this because I've talked to the Everett superintendent, Gary Cohn.

Wednesday, November 27th
 Special Education PTSA Meet & Greet at Meany Middle School from 7-8:30 pm.

Work Session on Budget from 4:30-6:00 pm.
Work Session on Advanced Learning from 6:00-7:30 pm.

Both at JSCEE.

Agenda/presentation (only available for AL; Budget to be added).

Slide 3 - check it out! Kind of amazing to see these statements said out loud.

But then you get to Slide 5 where, after the AL Task Force does its work, by the summer of 2019, then the district will start to talk about implementation.  Quite a lot of foot-dragging here.

I also note in Slide 8 that there is a list of what will be examined as "data" to use.  It include the Superintendent's "Listening and Learning 'commentary'" feedback.  I think that a bit hollow as the Superintendent had time to have a session for nearly every group and program but not Advanced Learning.

Saturday, December 1st
No director community meetings: Board retreat from 9:30 am to 3:00pm.  No agenda yet available.


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

Wow. 400 out of 6000 9th graders last year didn’t earn 6 credits. That’s 15%. That was the first year of students subject to the “new” 24-credit requirement, and they are now in 10th grade. If another 600 miss out on a full 6 credits this year, that’s even more students at risk for not graduating. Assuming that there’s some overlap between those who earn too few credits this year and those who earned too few last year, we could be looking at 20-25% already off track to graduate—after just two years of high school. And unless they work some magic to get kids back on track, the problem will only be compounded in that first cohort’s junior and senior years. SPS reall blew it by ignoring this issue for so long. They were supposed to have a full plan in place last year, and now it looks like it’ll be fall 2020 before it’s done and fully implemented. What a disservice to these kids. Maybe they should just assign them all mitigation credits a la Monolpoly: “SPS incompetence error in your favor—collect 2 credits of whatever subject you like.”


Melissa Westbrook said...

Another Name, so tiresome to hear the same thing from you, over and over with no evidence. Either explain your thinking or stop posting the same thought.

Barleywine said...

wow, that SPS Formula for Success is one of the first times I've ever heard anyone in Seattle say anything so positive about eliminating opportunity gaps:
-positive adult beliefs and deep commitment to the success of each and every student
-positive learning environments are inclusive and support belonging and identity safety
-positive relationships that foster student academic success and resiliency
-positive partnerships with families and community partners to eliminate gaps

It's a breath of fresh air. I'm sensing Juneau's touch, and I'm liking it.

Anonymous said...

The advanced learning stuff in that slide show is the most disclosure families have gotten in YEARS about the purpose and plans for advanced learning and hcc! I'm a little floored by how forthcoming it is. It's almost like Michael Tolley is no longer running the show. I'm cautiously pleased.

That said, I have concerns. First, as Melissa you pointed out, there were no listening sessions with advanced learning or hcc families, so whatever "data" they have from that must be taken with a grain of salt. There was a lot of al/hcc feedback from the thought exchange business, but that's not really "data." It's mainly a platform for cherry-picking and viewpoints to support preconceived plans. 2e families did attend one special ed session, so perhaps they will include some 2e-friendly stuff. (About time.)

I do think the current ALTF should never have been convened. It's an obvious stalling tactic, since the district has known for years what it must do but somehow doesn't want to do. Tolley, Jessee, and Hanson already have solid advice coming from the HCSAC, plus how many al task forces have there been in recent years? Something like three? All with good advice, with research to back it up, that was mostly ignored. The main thing they've done over the years is change the name from APP and HCC. And there are the 2010 recommendations from OSPI that already spell out what the district should long ago have been doing. As a group, they run the risk of looking incompetent and their work ultimately being set aside if they proceed without full awareness of the extensive work that has already been done (and ignored), but they also run the risk of making equity problems worse rather than better if they just uncritically roll with whatever the Tolley-Jessee-Hanson agenda is. The slow time frame is highly problematic on top of it all. Thus I worry about the current altf and its slow pacing.

Speaking of equity, does anyone know of the results from the universal al testing in title i schools?


Michael Rice said...

Core 24 wrote: Wow. 400 out of 6000 9th graders last year didn’t earn 6 credits. That’s 15%. 400/6000 is 6.667%.

Here is what the presentation said: 600 out of 4000 9th graders did not earn 6 credits. That is 15% and what you meant to say.

Rep. Gerry Pollet said...

That 15% not earning 6 credits is why some of us who opposed an ironclad 24 credit graduation requirement feared it would start more students down the path to dropout, particularly when the state doesn't pay for 24 credits (e.g., 7 periods or summer school).

Also, of importance today:

Charter Schools Performance Audit released. They do NOT serve the populations they claimed for the low-income neighborhoods they said they would serve. The Charter School Association is going to tout (per their response to the Auditor) that the report finds that they enroll higher proportions of low income, at-risk students than statewide averages. But, that is not the appropriate comparison. The appropriate comparison is to the neighborhood public schools where a charter is located - a comparison that the charters mostly fail.
The State Auditor released their Performance Audit of Charter Schools today. I had urged that the audit take a deep look at claims that charter schools made in their applications and other materials to serve "at-risk" populations in the neighborhoods they said they would serve (including the highest risk students with disabilities for special education services); to review if they include representation on their governing boards from the families in the communities they are chartered to serve; whether they meet our state's public records and open government laws to be accountable.

The results: No to each of these.

The headlines may say some charters serve more low-income students than the entire school districts they are located in. But, that is not the real test of serving the populations they were chartered to serve. The State Auditor, as I suggested, also reviewed their serving low income and English Language Learning (ELL) students in comparison to the neighboring schools in the same area of Seattle, Tacoma and Spokane. That's where many charter schools fail. That is not a shock because: a) they recruit the better informed and involved parents and guardians, who are not in the population that is at high risk of moving homes repeatedly in the course of a year or during a child's attendance in elementary, middle of high school; b) they recruit from outside the neighborhood (some quite heavily); c) they do not have to accept every student who lives in an area and wants to attend - unlike the overcrowded neighboring public schools.

Only 2/10 of the charter schools in WA serve more English Language Learning students than their entire school district, much less the neighborhood they are located in. Only 2/10 enroll a greater proportion of students of color than neighboring schools.

For Special Education, I was very interested to see if they serve only students with low requirements for services. Schools that serve only students with low requirements for students with special education service needs actually make money on the students and the audit found that this is exactly what the charter schools are doing. This is because the State gives all charter schools and districts the same average amount for every student with an Individualized Education Plan (qualifying for Special Education services). We send more money per special education student based on the philosophy that districts will use the low service need student funds to help pay for those with many more hours per week of service needs. Of course, this amount is woefully inadequate for our school districts actual costs - which is why they are spending over $300 million of local levy money annually on special education services - driving almost all our school districts into deficits in the next few years.

Rep. Gerry Pollet said...

Here's the rest of comment re Charter Schools:

Here's the specific finding:
"Students needing more than 16 hours (or 960 service minutes) per week form a higher percentage of district school populations (20 percent) than charter school populations (7 percent).
"The greater use of resources often associated with providing specialized or resource-intensive
services is a source of challenge to all schools because special education funding is distributed
based on the number of students who require services rather than by severity of disability or
cost of the resource."
What about ACCOUNTABILITY? I believe that charter schools should have elected boards accountable to the community they claim they will serve and to our elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. They are not - and the State Auditor found that most lack the basic procedures under our Public Records Act to be accountable. Charters failed to train board members about their duties under the Open Meetings and Public Records Acts (a law I sponsored), they failed to properly approve payments in open board meetings and document those meetings with publicly available minutes.

A solution for this would include having each school have its own board (not one board for the corporate parent of the schools) include a majority of members elected from, and accountable to, the community purported to be served.

Grouchy Parent said...

Fascinating in the agenda/presentation for Advanced Learning that the district says they want "policy and procedures for identification and access that promote barrier free access." Wait, really? This seems like it's saying that the district is interested in providing access to advanced learning for students who need it? You mean, like, based on what the students need? Could someone help me up off the floor? I think I fainted.

As opposed to the current system where students who need advanced learning have to notify the district of their interest by the secret deadline a couple of weeks into the school year, show up for multiple mandatory Saturdays worth of testing (in English in a group setting, with disability accommodations only if they can convince their neighborhood school that a student CAN have high cognitive ability AND a disability) and meet every deadline and every hurdle at every point. Then of course the students academic needs will be met. After some hazing at the local school and a few more critical deadlines are met.

Imagine if they switched to a system where kids who already knew the material could learn things they don't know!!! This could be amazing. For kids, and their parents, and their teachers. Here's hoping!

They (our district??? They've never said anything like this during my years as a parent here) also say, "Need for clear and consistent guidelines for
delivery of services to students at all schools

Hallelujah. So that means that HCC students at Washington wouldn't need to be screwed just because of where they live, right? Or HC-identified students who live in zones without very many other identified HC students (Sealth, Rainier Beach, Ingraham, West Seattle, Franklin and Hale) wouldn't necessarily be screwed just because of where they live. Again, this could be amazing-for students and their parents and their teachers. Here's hoping the district makes good on this.

They want to share timely and accurate information. Wow. Really? Again, that would be great for kids and parents and teachers. Fingers crossed. Timely and accurate information? No time like the present, people!!!

They want to review student growth data. Commendable. Well, I think the federal government is requiring them to do this, but still... laudable. Someone at the district is interested in students' growth. It brings a tear to the eye.

They want to train and support teachers for access to appropriate Specially Designed Instruction and tier one instruction. Even if that ONLY means they let bored first graders read quietly in the corner, this would be a tremendous leap forward. And any training and support for especially the teachers who just don't get what highly capable even is would be so welcome.

Data tools to monitor growth for learners performing above standard There's no way that can be a bad idea. Plus I think this is a new federal requirement anyway.

Evidence-based practice guidance to schools resulting in school action aligned to C-SIP. Again, this has been very apparently and very desperately needed by many of Seattle's public schools for a long time. Woot woot!

So many great things to hear a school district articulate.

Melissa Westbrook said...

As I said, it's an interesting presentation (and I hope to attend that work session).

Thank you to Rep. Pollet for his insights. I note that the Charter Commission said that one of their legislative goals was to get more sped dollars. I think you are probably correct that they only serve the lowest scale sped students and yes, it does cost more to educate all students.

I really couldn't understand that touting of "we serve more low-income kids" and know we know why.

Anonymous said...

@ grouchy parent:
The slide that mentions promoting barrier free access describes the ongoing work of the task force in defining their mission and vision statement. It’s not coming from the district (the ALTF is made up of parents/community members/teachers). The task force will make recommendations but the implementation is up to the district. So, based on their track record and history...don’t expect much. They have been saying MTSS will save the day.


Anonymous said...

@Rep. Gerry Pollet

Thank you for speaking up for special ed, but where have you been over the past years on this issue?

I ask of you only this, investigate SPS use of "studies skills" classes (SSC) and I think you will find proof that SPS warehouses students with SDI requirements in SSC for the purpose of redirecting the monies to other needs.

I believe it would be a different story if SPS could show evidence of success with SDI in SSC, but they can't.

SPED parent

Anonymous said...

I feel like it’s also important to say that “barrier free access” should really be more like “barrrier free access for students who need, or who want and are qualified for, AL services.” I worry that “barrier free access” sounds a lot like “honors for all,” and while such approaches may raise the rigor bar for some, they lower it for others. We want to eliminate barriers based on race, income, ELL status,disability, parent educational status, teacher bias, etc., but shouldn’t there be SOME barrier to AL participation—namely, readiness/ability for success in AL classes?

If the task force truly does see advanced coursework as distinct from typical classes and wants to eliminate access barriers for those who could benefit from more advanced classes, great. But if their vision of “barrier free” is a more one-size-fits-all approach, that’s not so great. It should also be noted that many/most/all(?) high schools already offer barrier free access to AP classes, but there are differences in who opts to take them. If the real barriers are more about preparation and mindset, this are things that need to be addressed in earlier grades.

Also, I noticed that all the excerpts from mission and vision statement drafts include some form of “equity.” Unfortunately, we are still unclear what the district means by this. Maybe the ALTF should at least define what they mean by it if it’s goung to play such a prominent role.

Words, words

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing the levy language out, with the charter school entry point highlighted.
There was an attempt to draw attention to that language in the rebuttal of the levy in the King County Voter's Pamphlet. It didn't get the readership that would've tilted the vote. Levy language and the rebuttal:

From the Levy “Bill Summary”:

“… Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Colleges will be required to establish current Partnership Agreements with the City prior to receiving any funds for services…Partnership Agreements will cover items including, but not limited to, data sharing… program evaluations and course corrections, standards for delivery of services, curriculum alignment, sharing of facilities, direct contracting, and other…methods for identifying…students and schools…as appropriate.”

“but not limited to” = And the barn door is…open!
“data sharing” = Sharing children’s private information
“program evaluations” = Testing, testing, testing
“course corrections” = Funding may be pulled without warning
“standards” = What standards, exactly?
“curriculum alignment” = The City’s curriculum- not Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf,
“sharing of facilities” = Seattle schools currently face significant capacity challenges
“direct contracting” = ‘contractors’ may access personal student data and circumvent
privacy laws
“other…methods” = The barn door is now off the hinges

Taxpayers, advocates for public education and, sadly, students, will pay a price for this recently passed legislation.

--It's Over

Anonymous said...

Isn't Gerry Pollet the legislator (serving mostly white north Seattle and Lake Forest Park) who told a small group of low-income, charter school students of color to "check their privilege" when they went to his office to speak to him?

Maybe this isn't the guy who people should be listening to when it comes to charter schools and the students they serve...


No 1240 said...

There is still NO mechanism to tract the amount of students expelled from charter schools for behavioral issues.

I hope State Representative Gerry Pollet works to set-up a system to track this issue.

More from the Seattle Times:


kellie said...

Thank you Rep Pollet for continuing to apply real metrics to Charter Schools and continuing to press for accountability and transparency.

@ Francis,

In the 2010 census, the highest poverty census track for Seattle was in Lake City, right in the area Gerry Pollet represents. IMHO, Rep Pollet is a credible source on all things regarding public education.

kellie said...

There is a lot of great information in this presentation. Of note, is the Algebra 1 in 8th grade as a strategy for getting kids closer to 24 credits.

I hope someone who has been following the middle school math adoption more closely can comment as I have not followed this in depth. That said, my understanding was that the new adoption was intended to slow down or even stop middle school math acceleration.

This is a great example of how SPS works in these deep silos. One department instructs schools to slow down the process of placing students ahead in math and another department includes placing students ahead in math as a solution.

Does anyone have additional insight into this? Algebra 1 in 8th grade has lots of meaningful implications, including the possibility of giving some students a "double dip" of math in middle school. A long researched strategy for getting students college ready and closing achievement gaps.

Anonymous said...

kellie, I clearly don't share your opinion regarding his credibility on most things regarding public education, not just charter schools.

Nice of you to cherry-pick his district. It also includes Maple Leaf and Lake Forest Park. And please note I said "mostly white."


Anonymous said...

Yes, Maple Leaf with its grotesquely high median income of $88,000, is a well-known hotbed of white nationalism, where the children at Idris Mosque, Sacajawea, Olympic View, Jane Addams, and Nathan Hale are aggressively indoctrinated from a young age to eventually elect monsters like Debora Juarez and Gerry Pollet, who by virtue of his race alone, is no able to have any understanding of education policy.

aka My Eyes Are Rolling So Much I Can't See the Maple Leaves Outside My Window, Oh, Wait, It's Fall and There Aren't Any Left

Anonymous said...

@Words, Words

Rigor has nothing to do with barriers of access to highly capable programs. Highly capable programs do not exist to provide rigor. They exist to provide opportunities for faster pacing, greater depth, access to developmental peers, and social emotional developmental scaffolds that are missing in gen ed classrooms for them, without which they are less likely to thrive as people, let alone as students.

Rigor does not require acceleration, greater depth, or the peer/social emotional component. Gen ed classrooms and sped classrooms must also have rigor. Rigor is an important element in highly capable programs but only as a tool to support grit/growth mindset, and peer/social/emotional developmental scaffolding. Rigor is a separate conversation that has to do with challenging and not frustrating learners at each learner's level.

There are very real barriers to HC identification in SPS. For instance, low income students are less likely to be screened in the first place. While we do have screeners running now in all Title I schools, there are low income students in every other non-Title I school whom the identification model misses. The tests SPS uses have known biases related to race, gender, and disability. There is a fairly large population of students who would qualify for highly capable services in either math or English but not both, and in those cases there is almost always a disability, even if the child is technically at grade level. These students need rigor anyway, regardless of where they are educated, but their social emotional and academic needs as highly capable students cannot be met until the barriers to identifying them are lifted. Allowing these children into HC programs does not lower rigor, nor is there any data that supports such a view.

That said, students who are "highly gifted" (IQ > 145), "exceptionally gifted" (IQ > 160), and "profoundly gifted" (IQ > 180) are not well served by SPS, nor indeed by most traditional schools whether public or private. A student who needs more rigor ("challenge without frustration") than SPS can provide in HCC or otherwise likely would benefit from placement in a specialized private school or, oftentimes, homeschooling or unschooling. If you have a student who finds HCC lacking rigor, it could be that your child is in the highly to profoundly gifted range and has needs that exceed the ability of most public and private schools to meet. Whenever I hear people complain about lack of rigor in HCC, I immediately wonder if the parents don't have a highly to profoundly gifted student on their hands. This usually turns out to be true. In cases where this is not true, then concerns expressed about rigor are usually not about about rigor at all...


NNE Mom said...

Maple Leaf and Lake City elected Gerry Pollett as state rep. and Pramila Jayapal to congress and Scott Pinkham to the school board and Debora Juarez to the city council. And if we're happy with them, we'll elect them again, too! We've also got some of the most affordable rents in the city (https://www.rentcafe.com/average-rent-market-trends/us/wa/seattle/), so come on up!

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, what did you mean by your statement that "Algebra 1 in 8th grade has...the possibility of giving some students a 'double dip' of math in middle school" and that it's "a long researched strategy for getting students college ready and closing achievement gaps"?

Algebra I in 8th may be a "long-researched" strategy, but I'm not sure it's been shown to be as successful as your statement might suggest. From most of what I've read in the past, forcing everyone into Algebra 1 in 8th grade tends to result in more of an "Algebra-lite" version of algebra being taught--watered down courses, that, importantly, don't pay off in the long run. Later test results have been worse, not better. The racial disparities in who takes what might look better initially, but if kids aren't actually learning the material as well, that's not exactly success.

Also, what do you mean by "double dip"? Are you suggesting that students taking Algebra 1 in middle school would have to double up, taking two math classes and give up an elective?

It also seems like the idea of using middle school courses to fulfill high school credit requirements could lead to a lot of problems and inequities. HCC students, for example, take 2 years of HS science in middle school (well, actually 1 and 2 halves under the new alignment), and often 2-3 years of "high school" math (if they take Alg 1 in 6th). Are those students going to start high school with their state-required 3 credits of math already done, meaning that the school or district wouldn't need to provide any further math opportunities for them? Will they only be guaranteed a chance take the "B" science combo (Physics B/Chem B) in 9th, then not have other science options? Will such students be out of luck until they are eligible for RS classes in 11th? If we're going to start counting advanced middle school math and science classes for HS credits, why not also count other subjects? Why not have kids who take advanced middle school classes just graduate after 10th grade? (I'm not serious here, but logically, it follows.)

Another side of the issue is that many (most?) students who are ready to take and pass Algebra I by 8th grade are likely to want to go further than Algebra II, so they'd be taking at least 3 years of math in high school as it is--which means it doesn't seem to save them much in terms of credit opportunities. It's the students who struggle with math and/or who don't want to take any math beyond the required 3 credits seem like those least fit to take Algebra 1 in 8th.

all types

RPM said...

All types, I am not sure what Kellie means, either, but if it means taking Algebra 1 twice, that could be a good idea. It is a HUGE problem that many classes aren't making it through the particular grade's curriculum. This sets kids behind creating problems for the entire class. I have two recent experiences with this.

We just found out kid #2's class only made it 2/3 of the way through the 5th grade math curriculum last year (in 5th grade). The 6th grade teacher now has kids pretty behind and kids ready to move on. Luckily, we have a great teacher, but if anyone would have let us know, we could have tried to get caught-up over the summer.

Second experience was last year. Kid #1 in Algebra as 7th grader. Kids coming from another school that were 1 year ahead (taking Algebra in 8th) were really behind. They didn't make it through the math 8 curriculum as 7th graders. This held up the entire class so they didn't make it through the Algebra 1 curriculum. Now we are faced with possible holes in Algebra 1 so do we retake in 9th, move on with the holes, etc.

This is a HUGE problem. I have a kid on each side now. One who is holding the class up and one who is forced to review a previous year's material. There should be summer school or something for these kids who don't make it through the curriculum for whatever reason.

SPS needs to get their math house in order ASAP. Definitely before trying to get every 8th grader into Algebra. My kid #2 would fail miserably since 5th grade math wasn't covered in its entirety!

Anonymous said...

@ Simone, yes, I think I was using "rigor" sloppily. I meant it to refer to the provision of sufficient challenge, such as faster pacing and greater depth. I also kind of assume that students who are able to grasp material quickly and make abstract connections and go significantly beyond the standard curriculum are likely to be in the "gifted" range, and so that programs that do move faster and deeper are more likely to be filled with other gifted students (access to developmental peers), and that the teachers in these classrooms will (ideally) be trained to deal with such students (social emotional developmental scaffolds).

I completely understand that there are many serious and concerning barriers to HC identification in SPS, and there are many things we can do about them. These are things that serve as barriers to identifying students who should otherwise be identified. However, if you'll look back at my comment, I was referring to AL in general, not HC specifically. SPS seems to be very focused on AL these days, and when it comes to AL, the focus seems NOT to be on identifying those who should be identified, but rather on eliminating all barriers (a la Honors for All). While that may or may not be appropriate in some cases, are you suggesting you disagree that there should be qualification criteria for HC services? After all, eligibility criteria are necessarily a barrier--some will qualify, some won't. I suspect that we actually agree on this, and that we are simply interpreting the "barrier-free access" language differently--you see it as barrier-free access for HC students (so including those HC students who tend to go unidentified now), whereas I see this language and the continued line-blurring between AL and HC as a potential threat to the provision of appropriate HC services. When HC and AL are often lumped together, barrier-free access to AL sounds a lot more worrisome.

As to your comment about highly gifted (or more) students not being well-served by SPS, even in HCC, I agree 100%. This was our experience, and we pulled our students. It's a shame that a district this large can't manage to figure something out to serve such students--or at the very least, some way to collaborate with their families to help provide meaningful co-education. In our experience, however, the district primarily threw up barriers--not eligibility barriers for getting in, but educational barriers for getting appropriately served once in. If GE classrooms are expected to differentiate for HC students who opt out of the cohort, I don't understand why HCC classrooms can't be expected to differentiate for HC students who are highly to profoundly gifted as well. At the very least, the district should be clear that this is a highly capable/ high achieving program, and NOT a gifted program. I wish we had known that up front.

words, words

kellie said...

A double dip is a double block of math. This enables students to complete two full years of math in one school year. I'm certain this process has more than one name, I have just always heard it referred to as a double dip.

Once you are tracked for math, it is hard to get off of that track. If SPS is considering Algebra 1 as part of its Core 24 strategy, then it might be possible to get SPS to adopt a double dip of middle school math as a way for more students to reach this milestone.

Anonymous said...

@ kellie, so a couple follow-up questions for you:

1. With that type of double dip approach, would all students need to take 2 math classes in 8th, or would the double block only apply to those who had not already accelerated to that point?

2. Or, do districts using this approach usually disallow acceleration and make everyone adhere to the 8th grade double-dip Alg 1 approach (i.e., Math 6 in 6th for all, Math 7 in 7th for all, Math 8+Alg1 in 8th for all)?

words, words

kellie said...

My experience is that the term “double dip” is applied to the process of using an elective period for a second helping of a required class. This means that the school needs to hire more math teachers as math is both a requirement and an elective.

This strategy can be used for either remediation or acceleration. I have seen cases for “double dip math” that include

6th grade - where 5th and 6th grade math is taught, to catch up to standard.
6th grade - both 6th and 7th grade math is taught, so that 8th grade math is in 7th and Algebra in 8th.
9th grade - both Algebra and Geomety in the same year for acceleration.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I concur with Kellie's double-block idea as long as it is universal. I think some kids are forced to do this while others get to take electives.

kellie said...

To try to clarify my original comment.

I find it interesting, that 8th Grade Algebra is listed as a strategy for Core 24. I have no idea what SPS means by this bullet point.

I had *presumed* that this meant that SPS was focusing on “at risk” students and that this bullet point meant that SPS was considering strategies that had more students who were “at risk” of not getting 24 credits in high school, try to start high school with one credit of math. Double dipping math for at risk students in one way to make this happen and to give a little bit of space for those 15% of students who did not earn 6 credits in 9th grade.

It is possible that I was being way too optimistic in my reading of the presentation but that is the only way that 8th grade algebra makes sense to me in the context of a Core 24 presentation.

It is very possible that SPS means something entirely different with this bullet point and I was hoping that someone who has been following the middle school math adoption more closely might be able to shed some light on this topic.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, I'm not following. Did you mean "as long as it's NOT universal," or that you DON'T think some kids some kids should be forced to do it while others take electives. As written, your statement seems contradictory.


Stop Education Rationing said...

It's kind of messed up to have a bunch of elementary school teachers fighting math acceleration and the district promoting math acceleration in middle school so students can earn a high school math credit in middle school. What gives? Are we pro acceleration? Or anti acceleration? The district should make up its damn mind.

kellie said...

Melissa is correct. Double dipping in a required class does mean losing access to an elective like Art, music, PE, Foreign Language, etc.

Many people have very strong opinions on this concept in both directions. I have heard arguments that the double dip for math is both equitable and inequitable.

A big part of the debate is where some students are “targeted” for this “intervention” and/or the only accesses to this service is as assigned.

Anonymous said...

The district's interest in Algebra I as a 24-credit strategy is interesting, especially given that only 3 years of high school math are required. Four years of high school ELA are required, and only 86% of last year's 9th graders earned an ELA credit. That seems like it would mean they are going to need to double up in ELA at some point. Can you take ELA 9 and ELA 10 both in 10th grade? If you didn't pass ELA in 9th because reading and/or writing are a challenge for you, are you likely to be able to pass both ELA 9 and 10 in 10th, when your reading/writing workload would be doubled? It seems like you'd need an additional ELA support class on top of it all, meaning 3 periods of ELA. What a nightmare.

If the district is trying to push some of the math requirement to the middle school years, it seems like the intention would be to limit the math taken during high school (to free up periods for other requirements). Is it really in the best interests of students' college and career success to graduate them with only 2 years of math taken during grades 9-12? I'm not sure what to make of this, but it doesn't feel right...


Anonymous said...

@ kellie, you said "There is a lot of great information in this presentation. Of note, is the Algebra 1 in 8th grade as a strategy for getting kids closer to 24 credits."

Can you please point me to the slide that indicates this? I see a brief mention of Algebra 1 in 8th grade at a metric in the levy part of the presentation, but I can't find anything about it in the "Secondary Re-visioning" piece, which focuses on the 24-credit requirement.

Regarding Melissa's comment on double dipping and electives, your clarification unfortunately doesn't clarify. Melissa said "I concur with Kellie's double-block idea as long as it is universal. I think some kids are forced to do this while others get to take electives." I'm trying to understand if she thinks it should be universal (with all kids losing an elective), or whether she thinks some kids should get to take an elective. Right now, it says both--which doesn't make sense.

Double-blocking as a tool for some kids to "catch up" might make sense, but double-blocking EVERYONE only reduces disparities if you impose a ceiling on those who are already ahead. Double-blocking everyone at a lower level than many are ready for also seems like it would encourage many more to partially homeschool for math, with the end result being that those students enter high school even MORE ahead in math. I would also expect that double-blocking everyone to take Algebra 1 in 8th (later than many would like, and taking up twice as much time as they'd expect) would encourage many more to leave SPS for whatever alternative they can find.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Unclear, I think double-math should be universal. Because even kids who excel could be doing higher level math and moving that much faster while the kids who don't excel would get the supports they need to pass Algebra. I think sacrificing an elective is worth getting everyone up to speed in math. (Of course, it would mean making sure that you were allowing students who could move faster to do so.)

DisAPP, yes, that could be an issue especially for those who take Chemistry or Physics.

Anonymous said...

Algebra 1 in 8th is a very attainable goal for many kids in SPS, a number of which, due to the lack of a universal approach to acceleration in elementary, elimination of Spectrum and walk to math, aren't "ready". It isn't a reasonable goal for all, especially for kids who are substantially behind after elementary school. A number of districts who have tried Algebra for all have found that those kids...fail.

A number of districts offer a compressed curriculum for 6-7-8 grade math over 6th and 7th for kids who are pretty solid in their math skills and are ready for a faster pace. This can get kids to Algebra 1 in 8th without having to double up on math classes. The idea of doubling up on anything in SPS with only a 6 period day seems frankly, fairly awful and decidedly inequitable. Perhaps unavoidable if kids are well behind (though I'd rather see investment in smaller classes and remediation for those kids), but it requires losing valuable electives. PE, languages and the arts are so important.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

Universal double-math, where kids who excel could move faster, would only exacerbate disparities.

And while there may be some math-loving students who would love the idea of ditching an elective for the chance to accelerate another year in math, I have to agree with NE Parent that forcing everyone to do so sounds like a miserable middle school experience. Middle school is often painful enough, and kids really need electives to have a chance to get to know themselves, bond with kids with similar interests, get a break from core academics, try new things before high school, etc.

This discussion is very strange. I hope this is just bloggers and readers getting ahead of themselves, and not something SPS is actually considering...


Anonymous said...

The math issue is confusing me. I've taught 5th grade for about 20 years. Over half my kids, often more like 2/3, enter middle school in math 7, a few at Math 8, though I've never taught an HCC or accelerated class. We provide good instruction, problem solving, lots of work with number sense and opportunities to stretch. I add extensions to cover some of the 6th grade stuff. Another half of the kids who enter at math 6 seem to manage to make it to algebra by 8th grade because the middle schools are on top of it. I realize this isn't a formal fix but it also doesn't require teaching 6th grade math or HCC or have "walk to math" or ability grouping - just making sure all my students are on top of everything plus have thinking and problem solving skills. This has been my consistent experience at multiple schools. I sure hope getting kids to algebra could be managed without making kids take two concurrent math classes instead of playing music or learning a language.


kellie said...

@ unclear,

I am going to try one more clarification.

I started this by stating that I have NOT been carefully following the middle school math adoption and I was hoping that someone who has been carefully following the middle school math adoption could weigh in.

The presentation both used 8th grade Algebra as "success measure" AND then used credit for middle school courses as a strategy to get to Core 24. As this was actually TWO different departments, it once again shows how much stuff at SPS is silo'ed and one departments plans are at cross purposes with other departments.

My understanding of the middle school math adoption is that the adoption does not include any materials for 8th grade algebra and I was wondering how all of that fits together.

I don't know of any district that does universal double math at any grade. I think such a plan would be foolish and unnecessary. However, there are districts that do either targeted double math or option double math.

kellie said...

This is indeed a strange thread and I think it highlights a very SPS problem. In the absence of any official information, you only have conjecture and innuendo.

The one thing this presentation makes very clear is that there has been ZERO progress on Core 24 solutions and the lack of plan is causing problems.

DisAPP highlights the real gating factor for Core 24. "Four years of high school ELA are required, and only 86% of last year's 9th graders earned an ELA credit." As you need 4 ELA credits to graduate, this is going to require some doubling up in some fashion.

That is a huge problem and it is the first time I have seen a public data point of the problem. Although I strongly suspect that had this analysis been done on any other year, we would have seen similar numbers.

Historically, there has been two problems with getting students to 24 credits.
1) Not enough classes on the master schedule and students pushed into TA slots. I have not seen any data that tracks how many students just can't get a class.
2) students who fail a class. This presentation is showing that information and there are some pretty scary data points there.

Anonymous said...

Kellie, re: the ELA on-track credit problem I noted, I agree that “had this analysis been done on any other year, we would have seen similar numbers.”

I would hope that such an analysis HAD in fact been done in prior years—after all, we knew the ELA increase was going to happen back in what, 2014? But then again, I had also hoped the Core 24 planning would have been completed during our 2-year implementation waiver—which was to allow for planning—or at the very least, in the following year. Yet here we are.

It’s really time for the district to get its act together re: Core 24 planning. They can’t keep kicking this can down the road. They also need to re-engage the community on this, since it’s been so long (and since their early attempts were so poor).


Anonymous said...

It seems like summer courses have to be an essential component of Core 24, but my understanding is Seattle doesn't and won't offer credit courses over the summer. Is that true? Is there any particular reason why there can't be summer courses, or is it a union/contract issue or a state funding issue?

Summer Question

Anonymous said...

There isn't and never has been money for remedial summer school for this many students. That's been the word from Downtown for years now. This is why Downtown was trying to squeeze more classes into the same amount of school time. That was rejected a couple years ago by parents and teachers alike. So now, the impasse. Something's gotta give and it clearly won't be the state giving us more money for remedial classes.

Students lose. Again.


Anonymous said...

So the state has mandated 24 credits needed for graduation. Although they gave districts money to figure out a solution, they are not providing any state funding to support students earning 24 credits. This seems to be the problem, another unfunded mandate in the K-12 education world.

Big picture

Anonymous said...

@Big picture, one thing the state DID do was give district’s flexibility in determining what constitutes a credit. My guess is that they thought district’s could add additional periods by shortening them a bit, but they didn’t account for the fact that this requires more teachers or larger caseloads. No matter how you look at it though, packing more classes into the same amount of time means less time spent on each class.

Why can’t the City put up money for credit recovery summer classes? If Durkham wants everyone to be able to go to college, shouldn’t she want everyone to be able to graduate first?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Summer Question, I think it's a funding issue. The City funds the current summer school which, I believe, is mostly remedial. But I would assume it would have to expand - no matter who pays - to include credit retrieval.

DisAPP, that's a good question and one I hope parents ask the Mayor and the City Council.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine's kid took summer school this past summer at a SPS middle school. The kid took 7th grade math so that he could take 8th grade math his 7th grade year. Now he'll be able to take Algebra in 8th grade. How was this paid for? Why can't we do this with more classes?


Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, that's interesting because I thought only remedial classes were offered in the summer. What school was this?