Monday, February 25, 2019

High School Updates

Update - Tuesday night:  These two high school policy items have been postponed to a later meeting.

end of update

The Board meeting this Wednesday has a couple of items of interest for high school parents.  I am honestly shocked that these changes were not widely distributed and discussed at high schools before any kind of change.

The first is Amendment to Board Policy No. 2024, Online Learning; Repeal of Board Policy No. C16.00, Acceptance of Correspondence or College Courses for High School Credit.

Per reader Yikes' comment from the Friday Open Thread:
Significant procedural changes are being proposed for school approval of on-line courses (or "out-of-district" courses, as SPS is calling them). See this week's board agenda (vote on Wed).
Board Policy C16.00, "Acceptance of Correspondence or College Courses for High School Credit," would be repealed and the reworked policy would be put into a revised Superintendent Policy 2024SP.
This takes it out of Board oversight, as SP's can be changed without Board approval (or public comment). Intentionally or unintentionally, the revised policy will severely restrict options for students wanting to access advanced coursework outside of SPS.

From a decision tree in the newly proposed SP:

• Courses must be taught by one of the following:
o OSPI approved online course provider;
o Accredited community college, technical college, or university in Washington State;
o Approved private school in Washington State. All private schools in Washington must be approved in order to operate, so any private school where a student might take a course is approved;
o High school or online school in a school district in Washington State.

• If the course is provided by one of the above institutions, proceed to the next question. If not, deny the request.

According to current Policy C16.00, institutions include:

- Community colleges, technical colleges, four-year colleges and universities (either private or public), and approved private schools high schools in Washington state;

The new policy would eliminate courses taken through out-of-state colleges and universities, unless on the list of approved OSPI providers (it's a pretty short list, and only BYU seems to be listed).

Another commenter, Concerned Parent said this:
 Yikes, thanks for the heads up that the Board will be voting on this online course policy this week. I have just sent an email asking the Board to amend the policy to allow high school students to take online foreign language classes from non-OSPI approved providers who might be out of state.

 I have a current senior and an incoming freshman. I'm well aware that some of our high schools have limited foreign language choices and teacher shortages. My older kid wasn't interested in any of the languages offered at his school and took an online Hebrew class instead offered by a college in Philadelphia and designed specifically for high school students.

He wasn't subject to the new high school graduation requirement of two years of foreign language study, but he applied to colleges that required 2 or 3 years of foreign language in high school. So far, every school he has applied to has accepted his transcript from the online course. No problem.

 My daughter wants to do the same thing,but under this new decision tree, she won't be able to. I don't understand why, when we know we have scarce resources for foreign language study in our schools, we would restrict students' access to online courses to meet this new graduation requirement. If you agree with me, please write to the Board. I'm also going to try to sign up to testify about this.
Lotsa Questions had these queries:
What seems missing from the work group analysis of online coursework - actual analysis.
  • What classes are being taken online, by whom, and for what reasons? For credit recovery? To access more advanced courses? To access classes SPS simply doesn't offer (like Hebrew)?
  • Where is the data to suggest online coursework in MS may leave some students unprepared for HS courses? 
  • Haven't some students been forced to use online providers (at WMS and RESMS)? And why shouldn't MS students be able to receive HS credit for a HS level course? 
  • With the new 24 credit requirement, you'd think SPS would be looking for ways to increase pathways for students to get those credits. 
  • Shouldn't the decision tree work toward flexibility for students? The limitations put in place because of supposed "shopping around" and GPA boosting is just odd. 
  • Are they talking about academic scholarships, or sports scholarships? 
There is also this item from the Board agenda, Amending Board Policy No. 2420, High School Grade and Credit Marking Policy.

I would also urge parents to contact their legislators about Core 24.  From reader Stuart (from Highline SD):

Core 24 is driving changes in lots of school districts. Renton moved to a trimester system this year. Highline wants to do so in fall 2020, with three terms of five classes. The five classes would be slightly longer each day, but only last 12 weeks, vs 18 weeks in a semester. Students could earn 7.5 credits per year, up from 6. But a “year” of two credits in a trimester system would be very unlikely to cover the same amount of content, or provide the same opportunity for reflection and mastery, as a semester system’s two credits.

  • The bills in Olympia that would address Core 24 would modify the waiver language so kids could get 2 credits waived with ‘individual’ circumstances, not ‘unique’ circumstances. Can you imagine counselors having to work this out for the hundreds of  9th grade students who are not on track? 
  • Sequencing - Math teacher: “I will not have a  guarantee of teaching classes in sequence to the same kids. Every 12 weeks, I could have a different group on a different level. So, Alg 1A in the fall, Geometry 1A in the winter, Alg 2A in the spring could happen.” 
  • IB HL English will be crammed from two full years into four trimesters.
  • Teacher at one high school stated “ we are going to have 12 week classes. We will reduce the content we cover. We won’t try to jam 18 weeks of content into 12 weeks. We will have 12 weeks in 12 weeks. We didn’t think going against this was worth it because we’d just get some new administrator and we like the one we have. We are trying to make the best of it and completely redo our curriculum. We do hope to have full year AP classes.”  
 This all sounds like a lot change happening very quickly without much notice and, seemingly, without as much discussion as would seem to be warranted.


Anonymous said...

I re-read the BAR this morning. I also noticed that there is no mention at all of Special Education. Did anyone ask how many high school students with IEPs take online courses as part of their program? Was the Special Education Dept consulted about this change in policy -- did anyone ask whether the changes could have an adverse impact on special education students? I have a third kid with an IEP who will be starting high school next year. I don't know if he will want or need to take any online courses during high school and how this will affect him. It would be good to hear from other parents of kids with IEPs who are in high school now or have finished high school.

But, fundamentally, I don't see how the School Board should vote to change this policy without considering the impact on special education students who have a very low graduation rate in our district. Based on the BAR, it doesn't appear that anyone has considered special education students, who are general education students first.

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mel for ferreting out this kind of damaging, tectonic rift the staff is trying to pull.

WHY oh why must they continue to make things worse, less, harder, anti-student learning AT EVERY TURN?!?

I’m too tired of this fight. Intellectually I understand that having 2 systems (ie charter schools alongside a public system) is destructive to the overall system of education because it fragments it and thus tends to grow disparities rather than solve them, but, I am so done with watching my kids go to school every morning and come home in the afternoon having learned little and done little. Yes, I would happily jump ship to a life boat charter school if one was around that promised a clear focus on academic excellence with high expectations - like an English course that had kids reading assigned books every other week with essays due every other week as well.

The staff think they are on a perpetual gravy train: no matter how hard they kick us, we keep voting in levies, which is the only thing that will grab their attention (they can always bring back a failed levy for a vote in 6 months). Unless they get spanked by a failed levy, they’ll keep at it with unaccountability. Changing school board members has no affect. It’s only money honey that has the possibility of stopping them from being such smug arrogant a**holes. Yes, I’m angry. Knowing what I now know, I wish we moved to Bellevue years ago.

This is not the teachers’ fault. I don’t blame them.

I just want my kids to learn. And gating all the exits to keep the herd in the pen tells me the district knows they have a crap pasture and so resorts to this shi**y maneuver instead.

It’s like a nation that has capital controls. If you have a great country, people/residents/citizens don’t try and flee & dump your currency as fast as they can. It’s a harbinger of a dire future when a nation gates currency. It’s a sign of health and prosperity when a nation has no such controls. Currency gates are meant to imprison citizens who can’t emigrate because they can’t take any of their money with them. The parallel here is obvious: The district cooking up a scheme to make it MORE difficult for kids to fill their minds by seeking alternatives elsewhere (because the students are not getting satisfaction within their schools) is a betrayal of the district’s lack of confidence in the ‘product’ it offers. If it had a great brand, people would be knocking at the door to get in, instead of fleeing for a running start. This is a naked money grab by SPS. There’s the will of the people, and then there’s the won’t of the people. If you’re keeping students by making them hostage so you get your money out of Olympia, it doesn’t bode well for the future. Enrollment trends don’t lie. District arrogance, continually putting students last is why striving students are forced to go elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Is Highline going to a trimester? Is that why they are talking about 12 weeks vs 18 weeks?


Unknown said...

Taking online classes is something the privileged can do that everyone else cannot do, so it has to go.

The district has a laser focus on closing achievement gaps (they say "opportunity gap," but then measure achievement gaps to prove opportunity gaps), and until black boys take online Hebrew classes at fancy Philadelphia universities (which is good on you, parent, and I've done similar things with my kid), the district is going to close that off.


Anonymous said...

What ? you're being sarcastic I get that. Minortites specifically black students have more local, state and federal program opportunities than I can count. It's the middle class family who are getting the squeeze in this city.

Pity the student just above the FRL cut off.

Color irrelevant

Anonymous said...

Yes, this can have an adverse impact on special ed students. It can have a similar adverse impact on HC students. Neither group was considered in the "equity" analysis.

The Board should reject the Work Group's recommendations because they are based on shoddy and incomplete work--or, possibly, based on biases that were intended to skew the results the way they wanted, toward a more on-size fits all approach the does NOT work for all.

Consistency in access to alternative learning across schools is great (no more principal fiefdoms on that one), but we need to think about the needs of all types of students. This change clearly does not accommodate all. While they present it as an effort to ensure rigor and avoid this (hypothetical?) shopping for easy classes, the policy change has the effect of limiting access to more challenging coursework as well. More ratcheting of rigor.

Mediocrity 4All

Anonymous said...

SPS can not supersede OSPI on running start, red comet or any other access to education OSPI approves. Parents can petition OSPI for approval but running start and red comet are all ready approved and there is nothing SPS can do to kill it.

SPS is systemically trying to stop the bleeding of students choosing running start and online classes. I smell SEA here.

For lots of kids going and sitting in over crowed rooms just is not appealing and I expect more and more students to go with other options.

REtool SPS

Onliner said...


You have it exactly backwards. Credit retrieval options are very important to lower income students, of all races, and online classes are one of the most important ways they can still get credit and graduate at all, let alone on time.

A lot of lower income students do not have access to computers at home (but many actually do have a computer at home). The ones who do not, still do have access at the library and at school, and almost all have phones that can usually be used as well.

Richer kids who need to make up credits can do so online easily from home, but their parents can also afford to enroll them in accredited summer courses and the like, get tutors, and everything else. Those kids have many options. Credit retrieval for low income students is much less flexible, and the online option is sometimes the only easy way they have to make credits up.

Richer kids have more options overall. So, whenever schools reduce access to options, in whatever category, it does NOT impact wealthier kids. The kids it MOST hurts are lower income kids and middle class kids whose families have limited or no funds for this stuff.

New Normal said...

Online learning is here to stay. CORE 24 and labor costs make online learning an attractive option.

Anonymous said...

Seattle is the US’s MOST highly educated city. And, we want FU*KING EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS. Grrrrrrr. Are you listening, board?!? I AM SO SICK OF THIS SH*T. Can Juneau even think her way out of a paper box?


Seattle has for decades ranked as one of the most educated cities in the country. And that's especially true for people who have moved here recently.
By Gene Balk Seattle Times columnist

A report released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau shows 35 percent of Americans age 25 and older have completed a bachelor’s degree — that’s equal to the percentage that had completed high school in 1950. And the number of folks who hold an advanced degree has doubled since 2000.

Even in the context of this nationwide education boom, Seattle stands out. While we have long been counted among the best-educated U.S. cities, the rise in the number of college graduates here is still remarkable.

As of 2017, 63 percent of city residents age 25 and older had a four-year college degree. Among the 50 largest cities in the country, we’re the only one to hit that 60 percent mark — something we first achieved in 2015.

In 2000, less than half (47 percent) here had a college degree.

There are now a total of 337,000 college graduates age 25 and older living in Seattle, plus another 23,000 under the age of 25.

With each new generation, the level of educational attainment increases. Among Seattle millennials (ages 25-34), 73 percent are college graduates. For the city’s senior residents, it’s slightly more than half.

Another shift has occurred along gender lines. Among older adults, more men than women have completed a college degree. The reverse is true for younger Seattleites.

When you look at educational attainment among America’s largest cities, the gap from top to bottom is astounding. Along with Seattle, there are five cities where the majority of adults have college degrees: San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis. Portland is right at 50 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, a mere 15 percent of Detroit adults have a college degree. In 13 more cities, it’s less than 30 percent.

It’s as good an illustration as any of the troubling gap between cities that are winning and those that are losing in the new economy. Successful cities like Seattle draw thousands of college-educated people from all over the country and the world to work in tech and other sectors.

That’s great — but are we producing enough of our own college grads in Washington? Compared with other states, it appears that we don’t actually send a high percentage of our high-school grads off to college.

According to state figures, 59 percent of students who graduated from Washington public high schools in 2016 enrolled in college within a year of graduation; about 54 percent went to a four-year school, and 46 went to a community college.
Among Seattle residents, 59 percent of those born in Washington are college graduates, compared with 70 percent of those born in another state, according to census data. And among those say they’ve moved to the city from another state within the past year, an incredible 80 percent are college graduates.

More than one in four (27 percent) people who live in Seattle have an advanced degree, such as a master’s, a professional degree, or a Ph.D. Only one major U.S. city has a higher percentage than Seattle: Washington, D.C.

From an economic standpoint, it makes sense that so many here have a college degree or higher. We all know it’s not cheap to live in Seattle, and those degrees tend to translate to significantly higher salaries.

In 2017, the median earnings for a Seattle resident with a bachelor’s degree was $66,000, and for someone with an advanced degree, $80,000. For a Seattle resident who had not completed high school, the median was just $22,000.

Among midsize cities, Bellevue ranks among the most educated, and has an even higher percentage of college graduates than Seattle — as of 2017, 68 percent of residents 25 and older.

Anonymous said...

How many of those moving here have families with school aged children? When we moved here, we were told Seattle was were you might live while your children were still young, then you uprooted and moved to the Eastside (more kid friendly, better public education). It would be interesting to compare the numbers going public vs private for the cities listed above (DC is not exactly known for good public schools). Nationwide, Seattle, DC, and San Francisco have some of the lowest percentages of households with children under 18.


bigger picture

Anonymous said...

This policy change may not affect as many students as you might think--I know of at least 1 high school that does not allow any online credits to count toward graduation unless it's for credit retrieval, another allows up to 6. If every school had to follow this policy rather than writing their own more restrictive rules, it could actually expand access to learning opportunities. The current system is highly school dependent.

--online creditless

Washington's Best? said...

Show of hands, anyone know people who moved to Seattle and have school aged children? My hand is up, and I'm guessing anyone else with kids in school probably has their hand up as well. Ask your kids' friends and classmates where they were born.

The average age to have kids is higher for people with a college degree -> 30.3 vs. 23.8 (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/04/upshot/up-birth-age-gap.html). So if 63% of Seattle residents have a college degree, you would expect the city to have a relatively high number of childless 20-somethings. Add into that the cost hurdles of raising children in the city.

It's myopic of SPS to try to allow only Washington state online courses. It's almost as if learning doesn't matter to them. Aren't they the ones that have forced middle school students at WMS to take their next in sequence math class online?

Plus how ridiculous is it to allow high school students to take dual enrollment courses for college credit but not allow middle school students to take high school classes for high school credit? It's one thing if the district is offering something equivalent or better. But when there's a vacuum of, for example, advanced math classes or foreign language classes being offered, what the heck is the harm of taking a reputable online course? Obviously students can take these classes anyway for the sake of learning in the fields that interest them, but why in the world would you not give them credit if such and such specified criteria are met?

Stop Education Rationing

kellie said...

Before getting into the nitty gritty of how this is a change that actually hurts students, which several commentators have already highlighted, there is a policy aspect of this that is equally critical.

There is a reason for board oversight. There is a reason to have checks and balances in a system. The process of board oversight is really public oversight. When something is a superintendent procedure, the entire process is opaque to the public. While we can debate how much influence either the public or the board actually has with regard to the day to day of public schools, it is crystal clear that board oversight translates to a PUBLIC board vote, with the opportunity for public testimony.

In recent memory, the board gave away their oversight with regard to "program placement." Staff successfully argued that program placement is a superintendent job and that it does not need to be annually voted on by the board.

Within one year, staff used their new powers to close Middle College in West Seattle as a program decision. School buildings receive protections and board oversight via state law. However, there were no protections offered to this SCHOOL, because staff declared it as PROGRAM.

The board objected, strenuously, but they were powerless. Subsequently, the board took back this oversight but it was an arduous and complex process to restore this board oversight, once it has been removed.

OSPI has decreed the MINIMUM requirements that all districts must honor for online credit and dual credit. This change makes SPS's maximum, that absolute bare minimum under Washington State law. What is the problem or situation that is so egregious that it requires such a draconian change?

I don't know about any real issues with regard to online credit at high school. As high school is the master schedule, many students run into all types of challenges when it comes to getting the courses they need for college or life. There are hundreds of high schools students who take a TA slot, instead of class because they can't access for credit class, of the type they need, every year. Core 24 creates so many barriers to graduation for students. Reducing options is bad for students.

Reducing oversight of critical functions is bad for the public.

kellie said...

High school is a 24 credit experience. How you define a "credit" is how you define high school.

For the board to give over this oversight is to give over all oversight of the high school experience. The title "Repeal of Board Policy No. C16.00, Acceptance of Correspondence or College Courses for High School Credit" may seem rather innocuous. However, within this policy is the board oversight of what constitutes a "high school credit" by defining the equivalent of a high school credit.

I can't imagine any upside for the public to this policy. And the draft Superintendent Procedure makes it clear that the procedure will be worked to ensure that students may only access the minimum defined by OSPI.

You know where the upside for this will reside? Charters.

SPS is clearly having a hard time understanding that families have now been given a legal public option, in the form of charter schools. Over 800 students have already taken this option in Seattle. It simply beggars belief that SPS continued response to the reality of charter schools is to continue to remove any semblance of options or choice for families.

Online credit options really work for a lot of students and for many families a part time online high school is a far better option than part time running start. Since running start works on a completely different calendar, juggling running start and tradition high school can be a logistical issue. Relying on public transportation can make this option impossible for many based on geography and the timing of the classes.

This policy effectively says ... if for any reasons, you can't get 100% of your 24 credits from SPS, please leave SPS for another district or a charter school, where they will happily honor your credits.

Unknown said...

I've been snarky and digressive, but let me reply to those of you who are clamoring for choice and options: choices and options allow privilege to open up gaps.

Therefore, SPS is trying to close different pathways to create a more unified pathway that is more or less identical, building to building. This keeps privileged students from exercising freedoms and options that less privileged, "further from educational justice," students don't have and therefore can't exercise.

The middle school model of students running ahead in languages and math (I had a former student who did Algebra II as an eighth grader at McClure) is horribly inequitable because this kid, whose parents are professors, has all kinds of advantages that they used to leave the other students in the dust.

SPS wants to shut down a lot of this in order to create equal opportunities and those close the opportunity gap. They're trying to lift up the less privileged and cut down the more privileged so there's equality.

Competition and freedom are inherently inequitable.


Anonymous said...

SPS reasoning (per BAR on revised Policy 2420, High School Grade and Credit Marking Policy):

...regarding the changes to high school credits for middle school students who take out-of-district classes, equity was strongly considered. When students take out-of-district courses, they must pay for them. Students from lower income families may not be able to afford these classes, and thus lose out on one of the ways to earn high school credits while in middle school. By deciding not to award high school credit for these out-of-district classes, we are taking a step towards leveling the playing field for students from different income levels.

...The change regarding preventing middle school students from earning credits for out-of-district courses would benefit students in that it would protect them from taking online classes that may not sufficiently prepare them for the rigors of high school work. High school principals who were involved in recommending this policy change noted that students often take online classes in middle school, then move into more advanced classes when they enter high school. Often, the online class has not prepared them for the higher level high school course, and they struggle to do well in that high school course.

The BAR for the revised policies starts off quite reasonably - they did an audit, agreed some changes were warranted, wanted to have more consistency (a decision tree, if well crafted, is a positive step), and then it veers into discussions about shopping around for easy classes, needing to protect students, etc. The irony, of course, is that many families are shopping around for *harder* courses, while they try to provide learning experiences that will *better* prepare them for courses taken in high school, whether they be online or summer courses through the UW Robinson Center, private schools, etc.

This new policy will not prevent families from enrolling their MS students in online courses. As long as they file a Declaration of Intent, they can part-time homeschool and choose whatever provider they want (or even work out of a textbook at home, or hire a tutor, or whatever - that's a parent's prerogative). For advanced students, there's little incentive to seek HS credit, as the honors weighting only gets figured in for courses taken in HS. It will not change the fact that some families are in a better position to seek alternative learning experiences.

As kellie reminds us, the most important change is that the policy is moving out of board oversight (Board Policy vs Superintendent Procedure). If approved, the SP can be changed again and again, with no opportunity for public comment or a board vote. That, and the restriction of online providers, along with the apparent lack of consideration for IEPs/SPED, seem the most concerning.

delay vote

Anonymous said...

The decision tree in revised Policy 2024 does include the following:

"Exceptions to this procedure may apply to students with individual education plans and/or 504 supports. Please see procedures 2161SP and 2162SP for more information."

delay vote

Anonymous said...

Whether it's charters or moving, middle class families will exercise choice and options regardless of the district's attempt to manage their free will and inculcate progressive left theory as a valid underpinning for policy development sans direct evidence or analysis.

Eastside Bound

Anonymous said...

Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems like they would be severely limiting any access to any online courses except for specific situations.

There are students who for example take health online so they can have room in their schedule for a music class or other elective. With this change if the class is offered at the school (ex health) they will be forced instead to take it at the high school.

I read this statement in the school board action report indicating this would be the case in the recommendations from the task force "They should only approve the request if the student needs the course to graduate, and cannot take the course at his or her school, or if the student needs the course in order to get on track to access college preparatory courses during junior or senior year."
Link https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/February%2027/A02_20190227_Policy%202024%20BAR.pdf

another concerned parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, limiting online coursework seems to be the intent. Hadn't thought about the health requirement...

• If the course is not offered and/or there is no room in the class, approve the request. If the course is offered at the school and the student can register, proceed to the next question.

What does it means, "[if] the student can register?" There does not seem to be a clear provision for schedule conflicts with elective courses like band/orchestra, though the new Core 24 graduation requirements include 2 art credits, plus 1 CTE, for which some arts courses would also qualify. It seems one could argue for an online health course in order to meet the Art/CTE requirements.

Did you also notice:

In-district courses are defined as courses offered by Seattle Public Schools to actively enrolled students. This includes state and/or district approved dual credit programs such as Running Start and College in the High School. All other courses are considered 0ut-of-district.

If a course is available through Running Start, even if a student was not planning on RS, a student could potentially be denied permission to take an online course for HS credit. Additionally, RS registration begins in Spring, while SPS course schedules are released in Sept, so planning for RS courses is not exactly easy.

clarity needed

Learning Diet said...

choices and options allow privilege to open up gaps
Yes, privilege opens gaps. These gaps are not contained within one neat sandbox of Seattle Public Schools. 30% of Seattle students go to private school. 800 so far go to charter schools. Many are behind before they even begin kindergarten and kindergarten readiness predicts 3rd grade achievement.

Closing pathways to learning pushes students who have any choice at all out of the public schools and collects in the public schools the student who have the very highest levels of need.

This approach absolutely does not keep privileged students from exercising freedoms and options that less privileged, "further from educational justice," students don't have and therefore can't exercise. Many privileged students have already exercised their freedom to go to private school. Many more have left the district. What we're left with in SPS is the ones who don't have the privilege to escape this crazy no-math-for-you mentality. Educational justice NEVER won by preventing kids from excelling in math. I call BS!

If SPS wants to lift up less privileged students, they would find ways for them to excel in math, too. They would find ways for them to access online classes, too.

The only competition this kind of pushing down creates is a competition to figure out how to get a kid's academic needs met outside of Seattle Public Schools. And you'd better believe that a family's freedom to do that is inherently inequitable.

Is SPS's goal really to try to keep public school students from Seattle from getting into UW? Winning!!!

Anonymous said...

Delayed Vote --

Thanks for pointing out that the proposed Superintendent's Policy 2024SP accompanying the new policy says that there may be exceptions for students with IEPs and Section 504 supports and references two other procedures. I reviewed one of the referenced procedures, Procedure 2161SP, which deals with Special Education, and could not find a single reference to online courses for students with IEPs or any guidance that a principal could use to justify an exception to the new decision tree.

Do I think that a savvy parent with a special education attorney could argue that IDEA trumps this policy and in appropriate cases, the district must allow for exceptions for students with IEPs. Sure. But, what about everyone else? All the parents who don't know to argue that and who can't afford a special education attorney. That's why we need a policy and a superintendent's procedure that is transparent and includes consideration of the needs of students with IEPs.

Concerned Parent

Concerned Parent

Unknown said...

@Learning Diet

You and I know all of this, and I agree with you, and SPS knows all of this too, but their number one metric--the number they live and die on--is closing that "opportunity" gap (which they measure using achievement metrics). That's what the politics of the city wants. That's what the district says it wants. That's all my principal talks about. Etc.

SPS wants to lift up less privileged students, and it is, and it's doing so pretty well. We looked at a graphic in a professional development session a couple of years ago that showed that SPS's students of color were outperforming students of color in almost all of the nearby districts. They didn't want to point to that aspect of the graphic at all. They just wanted to look at the gap, which was the worst in the area.

If the "students who are furthest from educational justice" are gaining one unit of achievement every year while the "students who are closest to educational justice(?)" are also gaining one unit of achievement per year, then the gap is not closing.

Even if the "students who are furthest from educational justice" are making gains and outperforming the "students who are furthest from educational justice" in nearby, comparable districts, then SPS is failing because they're not closing the gap.

As many here have pointed out: the school board is a political animal, and the superintendent is subordinate to the board (except when they're not), so whatever the rhetoric and politics of the community dictates is the highest priority of the board. We live in a socialist city where racial activists have a lot of political power, so the board is going to do what it's been elected to do: close the gap.

Anonymous said...

What does it means, "[if] the student can register?" There does not seem to be a clear provision for schedule conflicts with elective courses like band/orchestra, though the new Core 24 graduation requirements include 2 art credits, plus 1 CTE, for which some arts courses would also qualify. It seems one could argue for an online health course in order to meet the Art/CTE requirements.

Or, they could say you're not allowed to take 4 years of band and/or 4 years of a world language, because you need to leave room in your schedule for the Core 24 requirements, and since they offer them on site, you can't take them elsewhere because you don't really NEED 4 years of art, or Spanish, or heck, even math. Only 3 years are required, so they could deny your senior year request for health because you could simply give up math instead, right?

This is all so absurd. At a time when they need to be creating more flexibility in order for students to meet the new graduation requirements, they are going the other direction.


Anonymous said...

It's good to look at neighboring districts to realize there are area schools working to EXPAND opportunities for students. Take Northshore, for instance. They provide a district approved pathway for accelerating in MS math over the summer. They recognize that students may be on different pathways. No need to take online courses.



Anonymous said...

@titanic Or sometimes students are enrolled in pathway programs in which electives are filled year after year. So they need to take a course such as health online so they can participate in a pathway program offered by the high school. Seems like it also blows up established pathway programs for kids. Foreign language is needed not just to graduate but also as a minimum for entrance to college, so that is not an "elective" for most kids. This is an idiotic policy in which ramifications were not well thought out for high schools in an entire district.


Anonymous said...

Thank you to those scheduled to provide public comment on the proposed policy revisions.

(And look...BT again scheduled to speak on "equity in AL." I'm interested to hear what the "Freedom of speech and fascism" comment is about.)


Learning Diet said...

so whatever the rhetoric and politics of the community dictates is the highest priority of the board. We live in a socialist city where racial activists have a lot of political power, so the board is going to do what it's been elected to do: close the gap

But the city politics are to vote in FAVOR of educational stuff. Every levy? Yes. Preschool? Yes. Promise Program? Yes. The voters actually WANT students to be able to study math and foreign language and electives and all that. I actually don't buy the theory that Seattle voters (55.8% of the population in the 2016 midterms) want to choke off students' access to learning if they get ahead of other kids their age or if they want to study something their school doesn't offer. Seattle voters LIKE having a consistently top ranking university in town. Seattle voters want kids to thrive. Even when they're good at math or want to learn Hebrew or want to be in band instead of health.

You don't bring up the bottom of the gap by outlawing excellence for anyone. Not going to work. Not what voters want. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

We ran up against this 5 years ago before these proposed changes. Small, overall excellent school whose one abyss for my kid was math. No interest or to be fair resources for multiple levels of math per grade. No interest from administration or teachers in differentiation. Finally went down the path of homeschool for just that class. Bunch of bureaucratic nonsense to make it work - like paperwork, clear annoyance by staff and kid literally made to leave the campus during that one class instead of just sitting in quiet space and doing work. But we had the ability to handle that. No longer an issue once kid hit high school.

Point is it isn't like SPS was already keen to let students do online learning. This codification attempt just puts long existing attitude into black and white. Maybe at certain schools there hasn't been a philosophical "no" to online learning, but for sure as a system, it has been a no. And did it seem as though the pushback was toward kids wanting to accelerate or toward families wanting to take a class not offered at a specific school? Yes it did. Though why schools would be against lower income kids accessing computers during, before or after school to increase their learning and to show self-motivation, if the course is from a legit source, is puzzling. There are some fantastic online language, math and science courses out there from world-class educational institutions. And I'm talking at-level and remedial courses...not just accelerated ones. Or electives that schools can never offer.

In a town that is at the upper end of high tech growth, this proposal is absolutely - if I can be so bold and IMHO - asinine.

11-yr. parent

Been there

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Ingraham had a leak in the dike with a large % of students going to red comet and running start. This is a response to stop that trend.


Leslie said...

FYI, BAR Policies Nos. 2024 and 2420 have been pulled tomorrow’s Leg. Mtg. By Supt. Juneau and myself to be referred to the C and I Committee for more discussion, community engagement and potential unintended consequences.

Thank you for your input and conversations - stay tuned.

Leslie Harris
Director, District 6, President

Anonymous said...

Thanks Leslie. oh and can take a peek at why SPS is trying to force students to pay for their red comet classes? It was my understanding that SPS via state funding would cover the fees.

Margo Stein

Anonymous said...

Thank you for staying on top of this, Director Harris!


Learning Diet said...

Thank you, Leslie!

Anonymous said...

Leslie, thank you.

As you clearly realize, it is flat out wrong, ridiculous, nonsensical, antagonistic, counterproductive, and even dangerous to ACTIVELY deny/bar students from learning.

How would this district purport to be supporting student learning by curtailing access to learning?

What kind of education policy supports *education* by cutting OFF an education pathway?

How do you “lift” kids by crushing other kids? That’s not lifting. That’s squelching. Yeah, there’s a big difference. And oh, by the way, it’s not gonna make a damn bit of lift for the kid who needs the lift.

It’s insane.

There’s no conversation to be had around this with your sole employee (other to demand your employee document HOW students consistently WILL get to have credit recorded on their transcripts regardless of what high school they attend if they’re taking courses that are approved courses - that right there is the gap - the highschool principal fiefdom racket not the student striving to learn effort)

This whole pathetic staff-driven attempted clusterf*** is like that Dr. Strangelove movie, or how I learned to love the bomb...

Please, Leslie, don’t be drinking that purple koolaide that staff are going to try and sell you to convert you to a podpeople.

Please remember:
You represent US to THEM, and NOT them to US!
And we, unlike them vigorously support learning. If a kid wants to take portuguese to be able to talk with his grandparents or take statistics because math turns her on or take flight ground school because aviation is a passion, your answer as a board member should be “Hell yes! Grow, kid, grow!”

blue bus

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Leslie. We have a large district. This policy was not well thought out as to how it would affect all the high school kids in the entire district. Thank you for being on top of it.


Grouchy Parent said...

1. The internal auditors completed audits of online learning at Franklin High School, Cleveland High School, Center School, and Rainier Beach High School. And they seemed concerned that students at these schools are shopping around for easier online classes to artificially inflate their grades. If students are doing that, they are HURTING their own futures. What is the point to a stellar high school GPA except for going to college? And if you've taken fluff classes that haven't prepared you even for high school classes, let alone college classes, you're screwing yourself over. Because:
* learning is fun and satisfying and you're depriving yourself of it
* you're not fooling anyone, the colleges are onto you
* even if it works and you're valedictorian, you're a sham and a cheat
Nationwide, only 50% of students complete their undergraduate degrees within 6 years. How much do you want to bet that the ones with the fake fluff online courses are not among them? These students are hurting themselves and their high schools should care and should intervene.

2. They find that the online class has not prepared them for the higher level high school course, and they struggle to do well in that high school course.
* so only allow courses from accredited providers or
* courses that cover as much or more than the SPS equivalent or
* offer a placement test before allowing students to take the higher level HS course or
* find some other way to determine which high school students are prepared for a class before allowing them to take it.
There are so many ways to overcome this! Ways that would be much better for the students. They're not going to be in HS forever.

kellie said...

Thank you Director Harris!

Sending this back to C&I to look at unintended consequences is a great outcome.

I would suggest that as this goes back to C&I the distinction between privilege and choice is considered. While there is substantial overlap in those terms they are not synonymous and the distinction has dramatic impacts on policy formation.

Those with privilege have choice. That is something that most reasonable people can agree upon. The simple observation that those with privilege have choice is also the primary reason why so much of the national education debate is fixated on choice, primarily in the form of vouchers and charters. Many philanthropists have been fixated on the notion of providing additional choices to those without the privilege of choice.

Some choice is important to families at all point of the socioeconomic spectrum and at all grade levels. Finding the right balance of choice is not an easy or straightforward task but it is utterly critical, now that public charters schools are the norm in Seattle and are likely to quickly expand.

As Mel noted so eloquently on her other thread, the unintended consequences of charters have been toxic to public education. But for the 800 families that have already left SPS for charters, they all exercised their choice, and one can reasonably suppose that they made the choice for a good reason.

What is often missing from this conversation is that public education, like insurance pools, are reliant on people who opt-in. Health Insurance pools can't work when the healthy opt-out. Public education can't work, when the too much of middle class elects to opt-out, in the form of charters, private schools, out of district transfers, etc.

With up to 30% of Seattle children already opted out of the public system, it is critical to the work of equity to maintain some choices for families and to maintain the overall health of Seattle schools.

It is in no way surprising that the areas of Seattle where choice has been most restricted are also the areas where charters are growing. The restricted enrollment at Cleveland has had the unintended consequence of pushing families out of SPS.

This change at high school would have had a similar impact. There are so many students who need a handful of courses, that SPS simply can not economically provide. A flexible policy allows these students to remain in the system. A too rigid policy simply chases families out of the system.

Thank you for being so responsive to this issue.

kellie said...

@ Grouchy Parent,

Thank you for posting those results as that really does explain why such a draconian shift was recommended.

To be clear, there is no public data on why students choose running start. That said, I suspect that if Running Start were examined you would find similar results to examining online options. There are some students who elect running start to find easier course. Just as there are some students who pick running start to find harder courses and there are students who elect running start to find courses that are a better fit.

The big difference between high school and running start is the ability to select your teacher. For high schools, students are assigned their classes and teachers with little or no ability to pick. There are fairly extensive online reviews of the instructors for the colleges and students are able to select the instructor via their course and time selection form.

Since Running Start, Red Comet and other online Washington State options are protected choices by OSPI, students will still be able to shop around for easier classes. This policy change would not change that at all.

It would be much better to address the reasons why students at these schools are shopping for easier classes. Once again, to really address these issues, you need to direct money, resources and extra adults to the places that need it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone. It's encouraging that the Board is being responsive. Now let's hope SPS can get their stuff together and create more reasonable policy revisions that maintain flexibility for students and families, while keeping the policies within board oversight.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why SPS is holding onto the precious 60-min long class periods and doesn't just add a period and shorten the time of the other periods while keeping the same credits to solve this 24 credit problem?

A related issue is the strict FTE allotment formula SPS gives to schools based on projected enrollment. It's too draconian and results in huge class sizes and minimal course offerings. There is an insistence of registrars and principals to FILL UP each class to 32 students, which is the acceptable contractual max. (Some classes even go above that to 40 students because not all teachers, like world language and art, get overage pay above 32.)

If there was one more class period each day and an acceptable range of enrollment (20-32), then there would be more electives and non-elective classes offered so running start wouldn't be needed as much. Stop this insistence on 32. Stop being cheap with our children's futures.


Anonymous said...

Looks like Leslie Harris has returned to this political blog that excludes some members of the public from being heard.

During the debate about high school offerings last year, MW repeatedly deleted comments that did not support the dominant narrative.

Since being on the school board is an elected position, it is very likely that posting on this blog violates ethics for an official since it excludes constituents who have a differing opinion.

What other social media have you posted this information to, Director Harris?

Office Unbecoming

Anonymous said...

Leslie Harris does not care about teachers or students, but only her elected position. She repeatedly insults teacher and parents, including myself, personally- to my face- although I have received multiple SPS accolades and state-wide teaching nominations. Also,I am not only an SPS teacher, but an SPS parent. I currently live in her district and cannot imagine voting for her.
-South End Teacher

Meeting Mom said...

I'm a parent and a frequent school volunteer and my child and I have been repeatedly insulted and dissed by the previous superintendent, principals, many teachers from South and North, IAs, SCPTSA politicos, etc. Leslie Harris has never offended me AND has offered me lasagna. Thanks for meeting with constituents and listening to what we have to say, Ms. Harris.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Office Unbecoming, this is not a political blog. I am entitled, as moderator, to delete comments and/or exclude anyone who does not follow the terms of this blog. Don't like that? There's other blogs to read.

Have a problem with a Board member? Take it up with WSSDA. Or the voters.

I know that Harris sometimes posts at Facebook pages for schools, parents, Sped, etc. about information that parents and others are interested in learning.

South-end Teacher, I'm sorry you had a bad experience with Harris but I find it hard to believe she would insult anyone. She is blunt to be sure and some find that difficult. Don't like her work? Vote against her if she runs again.

I think since this is getting off-topic, I'll be closing comments now.