Superintendent to Meet with Washington Middle School Staff Today

Update: the new WMS principal was apparently not the only topic the Superintendent discussed with WMS staff.

As I previously reported, at the last Executive Committee meeting, the members were notified that the district was in discussions with the Technology Access Foundation to create a TAF academy in an SPS middle school.  The discussion at the meeting did not mention an MOU (which apparently exists) and which school was vague until a staffer slipped and said Washington Middle School.

This brochure was handed out; it certainly looks like a done deal.  It would do away with honors classes which effectively ends HCC as we know it in the SE.  The picture of what is happening with Advanced Learning becomes clearer every day while being carried out without process or notice.

While I love the work TAF does, to spring this on that community is appalling.  The Board should be upset because this is NOT how the discussion went at the Executive Committee meeting.

I will ask for the MOU and a timetable but I thought I understood the Academy to be coming in Fall of 2020.

Also to note, at the staff meeting when the issue of a science teacher came up, the answer was that their hands were tied if the current one is on medical leave. Huh?

end of update

The message is around the "leadership" at WMS.  The message further said families would have news no later than tomorrow.

Hopefully this means that the principal will not be part of the budget process for next year (given she's not going to be there) and will be leaving now, rather than at the end of the year.

That school needs to regroup and heal. 


Anonymous said…
The real question is:

WHY IS #EmilyButlerGinolfi STILL THERE AT WMS?

If Ms. Ginolfi only supplies divisiveness, chaos, destructive practices, and aloofness, why keep her at WMS for a minute more?

The solution, if she can’t be fired, put her on administrative duties within JSCEE and install Jon Halfaker as the acting temporary principal until September.

It is inexcusable that Ms. Ginolfi is still there.

Are WMS kids not as worthy of a positive leader as all other kids in the SPS system? Clearly not, or the district would not have let them keep suffering and doing without. Isn’t this a district who constantly mouths the importance of equity equity equity? Where is the equity in having the students and families endure this?

Obviously, equity is only an SPS lipservice thing, because real damage occurred to children’s learning journeys but the district didn’t bother dealing with it until there was a massive and sustained and unified outcry.

And now all they/we get is a photo op.

Juneau to teaching staff: “look how I care ever so much?! I’m here, see?”

Juneau popping by for a visit WON’T FIX ANYTHING. If she truly cared, she would have shown up months ago when news crews filmed the kids picketing their own school. And done something to fix it.

It is galling to the max. But, not at all surprising.

Juneau’s leadership is also sending a clear and distinct message: go ahead and go rogue and I’ll only step in if and when there’s a massive outcry that the general public gets wind of.

Anonymous said…
It's funny how the "horrible" principals are always at HCC sites.

Anonymous said…
Here's the announcement, received just after 5:00 PM today:

Dear Washington Middle School community,

Ms. Katrina Hunt has been appointed as the next principal of Washington Middle
School (WMS). During the selection process, families, staff, and students were asked
to provide feedback on the next school leader’s qualities. We heard that the WMS
students want a leader who listens to their voices and perspectives; a leader who
cares, is hardworking and transparent, and one who will be visible. Parents and
staff also want a leader who is approachable, a strong communicator, and an advocate
with exceptional leadership skills; a leader who will work to bring the school
community together. Ms. Hunt embodies these characteristics, and her scope of
experience in both middle and high schools will be a great fit for the WMS

Ms. Hunt will be joining WMS from Garfield High School, where she has served as the
assistant principal since 2017. As Garfield’s assistant principal, she focused on
creating small learning communities to foster strong interdisciplinary connections,
learning, and peer collaboration. Her knowledge of what it takes to thrive at
Garfield will be valuable as she assesses and works with the WMS community to make
sure every student is prepared for high school and beyond.

Her prior leadership experience includes serving as the school transformation
facilitator at Aki Kurose Middle School through Johns Hopkins University, where she
led major initiatives to improve student academic mastery and acceleration. This
work resulted in an 11% increase in student attendance and a 50% decrease in
behavioral incidents.

Principal Hunt earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of
Washington; her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix;
her Master’s in Education from City University in Seattle; and her Principal and
Program Administrator Certification from the University of Washington’s Danforth
Educational Leadership Program.

Principal Hunt’s dedication to collaborative problem solving and her commitment to
high quality learning for all students, combined with her transformational
leadership experience, will be a great fit for Washington Middle School. Her
official start date will be July 1, 2019.

Please join me in welcoming Principal Katrina Hunt to Washington Middle School.


Denise Juneau

(posted by Ruthie)
So they are not exiting the current principal early and she's still likely involved in the budget planning for next year?

Louise, you must have missed how the principal flipped the table at WMS this year. When semester change came, she made students get completely different schedules. All of them. Which is incredibly disruptive for students AND teachers.

She put the names of students up who got detention in the cafeteria for all to see.

And, you must have missed my thread about the hearing that stated that she had verbally abused a black Sped student.

Sorry you missed all that.
Anonymous said…
It's hard to believe this blog will gone in 14 days. Hopefully you can move forward and focus on more positive things.

-longtime reader
Longtime Reader, the blog will not be gone. Apparently, you, like Louise, don't read the blog often enough or you skim.

I'm not going to write about the district but I am going to write about public education. After listening to the Board meeting from last week, I really want to write about it because some troubling things were said.

But, no, not positive. But again, don't shoot the messenger.
Anonymous said…
I don't understand how this new principal was selected and I don't understand why the present principal is in a position of influence over 2019-2020.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ram Parent, I'll reprint your notice in tomorrow's Open Thread. This thread is about Washington Middle School.

JJ, your comment is completely off-topic so I"m deleting it.

Anonymous said…
There are many different ways to provide HCC services. TAF at Washington is a brilliant idea. It encompasses both the historic AA community in the Central District and provides extra enrichment to kids ready to go beyond their standard classroom lessons. It's a way to more thoughtfully include both of the current communities in Washington in a way that hasn't happened to date, even with the best intentions and skilled work of teachers and administrators. (Current principal snafu not included in that comment.) When it is up and running the middle school will be in high demand and a perfect lead in to Cleveland, Garfield, Aviation Academy. Further, Trish, head of TAFF, is a class act and wanted to be located in Seattle a decade ago, but the Seattle superintendent and middle management blew it.

That said, as usual downtown is a day late and a dollar short in introducing this idea to the communities of interest it will impact...specifically the Washington community and the HCC community. Will downtown never freakin' learn? Time for the administration to get busy. Inclusively.


RP said…
It has been clear for a long time that many students in the SE need something more from SPS that they have not been getting. I am glad to see the district doing something for Washington's assignment area middle school students that could potentially make a difference. It sounds like a project based learning stem middle school. Hopefully that will help prepare students for high school better than the old approach, which was to send students with really high test scores to WMS in the hopes that the school's average test scores would rise, which would make it *look* like students were testing OK. Plus they're going to have Amplify and enough computers, so, looks like it's all good at WMS.

We'll see what the ALTF decides should happen to WMS's other batch of students.
Anonymous said…
Not having HCC in the SE means that primarily students of color will not have that option. When a student is identified as gifted, AA families are much more likely than white families to shift their student into the gifted program. Much more likely, as in, they almost always do. That's nationally, Seattle may not align with that national data trend. Thus, if we identify all students correctly, they will come. So either SPS will have to toss HCC at all schools or live with the inequity this creates. But something for HC students is nonetheless required by state law (falls under Paramount Duty as basic education and is constitutionally enshrined). Will be interesting to see what unintended consequences ensue.

Unknown said…
Yes, Butler-Ginolfi has driven the budget and the reworked class offerings for next year. No 7th grade language option, only one high-school level year in 8th. 7th graders supposed to take an art class and a tech class (in addition to music if they want). 6th graders can't take art or tech, and i think supposed to take music. Less choice for everyone.
Anonymous said…
The state requires that students identified as highly capable have "access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction." Is there evidence that the SPS-TAF partnership will provide that? @EdVoter wrote: TAF at Washington is a brilliant idea. It encompasses both the historic AA community in the Central District and provides extra enrichment to kids ready to go beyond their standard classroom lessons. How does TAF provide the extra enrichment kids need, particularly for kids ready to work several years above grade level? I'm not familiar enough with TAF's program to know that (and there's no clear info about it in the brochure, or on TAF's website, which always makes me skeptical).

It's also interesting that the Federal Way school district website has a "Highly Capable Learners" link (, but the TAF school is not one of the listed HC services.

We need more info about what this all means and how it will roll out. Before open enrollment.

Anonymous said…
Um RP? You miss point. TAF could serve both groups of students. Well. DO you know the first thing about the program or do you just jump to "this won't work for our kids." Point is less division of 2 cohorts in one building. You say "Let's just see what ALTF says about it?" Really? That's the divisive attitude that landed Washington in the spot it's in now. Sheesh. When TAF comes in other schools will be whining that they don't have the program. HCC Washington can count its blessings if this if the program format for the cohort of ALL students at Washington.

Better Together
kellie said…
From a purely capacity point of view, TAF at Washington is ideal. HCC was originally placed at Washington because there are not enough neighborhood students to fill the school, as geographically Washington is very close to both Meany and Mercer.

TAF will most certainly be incredibly popular and successful as they have been in Federal Way.
Anonymous said…
TAF is a wonderful STEM based program, but as it is a STEM based program should then be an option school program like dual language so that all students not just those zoned Washington, WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STEM have an opportunity to participate.

The HCC program if not able to exist alongside, should then be moved elsewhere as that program should be same as other HCC programs in middle schools across the district.

Anonymous said…
Annnnnnd it took exactly one morning for voices in HCC to spin into This Won't Serve My Kid mode. Agreed. It won't. HCC students definitely wouldn't be served by a project-based curriculum with STEM concepts worked into all core curriculum areas. They definitely wouldn't be served by traditional and nontraditional electives. They definitely wouldn't be served by a staff committed to serving cross-cultural student bodies.

So bring TAF to Washington. Enroll only the Gen Ed kids from the area plus any other students for which there are room. Run it as its own program. No entry for HCC. HCC can have its very own program which will be supported with the funds based on the numbers of HCCers there. Doubt that will include language or the fine arts, which TAF offers at a middle and high school level. Whatevs. HCC will still get to sit in rooms with "appropriate" textbooks and teachers. OK, maybe not teachers because there isn't money for specialized HCC cert teachers. But maybe an advanced math class. No wait, math is not part of HCC. Well then, big books for English and lots of papers. Maybe some science labs when TAF isn't using the rooms. Or since HCC will have access to Amplify, no need for labs, they can just use computers.

Witness: The minute HCC can't access the TAF program is the minute that parents will scream about the inequity. Not all parents. Many are fine folks. Just the ones determined that the only HCC solution, as always, is a separate program with exactly the course that their student "needs." Because that's how high school college and the real world works. And the collaborative learning and STEM concepts TAF offers, together with its cultural competency in teaching plans, is most certainly NOT what HCC needs. And it definitely doesn't need the insight of the brilliant ex-Microsoftie who has dedicated her life to reaching the needs of students who don't always succeed in standard GenEd classrooms. What an abomination to have TAF in the same building, really. Probably best for HCC to just move.


Anonymous said…
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Number Looker said…
Federal Way school district (where TAF is located) has one of the lowest proficiency levels for Black students of any of the 25 largest school districts in the state. Pasco and Spokane are the only districts where Black students tend to do worse than Federal Way.

If we look at 3-year pooled SBA results (2015 to 2017) for grades 3-8 combined, only 21% of Federal Way's Black students are proficient in math (in Seattle it's 33%). And only 32% of Federal Way's Black students are proficient in ELA (in Seattle it's 35%).

Meanwhile for comparison look at the proficiency levels for Black students in the districts where Black students are doing the best:
Northshore ELA (59%) Math (51%)
Lake Washington ELA (58%) Math (46%)
Issaquah ELA (54%) Math (46%)
Edmonds ELA (54%) Math (43%)
Everett ELA (54%) Math (38%)
Bellevue ELA (50%) Math (38%)
True, Edmonds is the only one of those that has very many Black students, but why aren't we looking at what Edmonds is doing rather than what Federal Way is doing?

Only 31% of TAF's 8th graders met standard on the WCAS. By contrast, 64% of Washington MS school's 8th graders met standard on the WCAS. TAF is also 57% male and 43% female.

Anonymous said…
I really don't understand all the snark. We are talking about a community that has struggled mightily this year for a variety of reasons. We are talking about children with a variety of needs and abilities. Parents who care deeply for their kids and the school they attend. Teachers who are underpaid and over-mandated, and for all their human faults did not get into this line of work for nefarious reasons. I wonder if it might be useful to dial back the sarcasm and (generally) assume good intent. I realize tribalism is almost a requirement for participation in online discourse, but it isn't going to improve the educational experience for our children.

Stuart J said…
This story in the Federal Way Mirror gives some good background about how the TAF program has changed over the years. Until 2017, they had a specific program in their own facility. The Saghalie location is very new, just a few years old. It is not really fair to judge an entire school district based on what's happened at one school.
Anonymous said…
Some kids test better than others. I'm the type of person who remembers information like needed for answers to test, but by no means does it mean I understand the answer. Some kids just can't remember as much but do very well in a lab setting. There is not going to be one approach that serves different types of learners.

Anonymous said…
@ Solutions-Oriented: There is snark because the first, the very first, words out of (some) HCC parents are about why TAF won't work for their kids at Washington. Its just so predictable. How about a "Wow, now that's an unexpected development. Maybe this could be a great solution to serving both populations."

But because you are Solutions-Oriented, you are right. You don't deserve the Snark. No matter whether you are staff, parent, HCC or GenEd, you are already modeling an attitude that means you are likely to make the school work for you and your student(s). Good for you and those within your influence.

But for the rest, perhaps the Allen Institute isn't such a bad idea. When a school's leadership isn't working and the district finally owns up to it and is willing to try something that could potentially honor the school's African-American population as well as excite its high capacity learners....when it's the very earliest of days...when TAF is just a rumor (shame on SPS for not getting MOUs out to the community early not late) and no details are known other than that the program has a great reputation...and HCC parents are already digging in their heels and throwing around numbers casting doubt on a program (numbers that have little bearing on the specific school situation and population) and further, when they continue to forget that *every* child has special learning needs and most of them will have to exist in the same classrooms of under-resourced public education, and that good is much more achievable than perfect and at no time is good worse than they abysmal year Washington just experienced...well then...

I know Trish Dziko and I think this would be great.

That said, the district is doing its usual bang-up job in announcing it. From where I sit, the members of the Ex Ctm were lied to about them not knowing which school since they already either had or were writing an MOU (that did NOT get mentioned).

I think TAF could easily be good for all kind of students including HCC. But again, there's news that this is coming WITHOUT explaining what it might look like at WMS given it has the HCC population.

No, the blame belongs to the district, not parents who are asking questions. But read it however you want but, for me, it is a weakening of the power of the Board when staff feel confident in lying or misleading them.
Anonymous said…
Exactly, @MW. Also, my apologies for not identifying myself as WMS parent, reprinting my comment here:

The district handed out a brochure (co-branded SPS/TAF) about a potential program at WMS that says "no separate advanced classes" in a school where nearly half the kids are there BECAUSE the school offers separate advanced classes. (Leave aside for the moment whether that's a good model, and let us all acknowledge that not all students have equal access to HCC.) I have heard great things about TAF but it's bad form for the district to announce that they're eliminating "separate advanced classes" with zero family engagement and without stating how HCC students will continue to be served. Also, this announcement seems to have blindsided the Advanced Learning office.

--WMS Parent
Anonymous said…
At yesterday’s School Board meeting, Denise Juneau was clearly alarmed by the impression that TAF was a done deal (as suggested by the flier mentioned by 'WMS Parent.'

Juneau stated that:
- The MOU that SPS has with TAF is for discussions about, not implementation of, a program at WMS.
- If something is happening, it will not happen until 2020-21.

That said, Juneau's lack of community engagement at WMS is unfair to incoming Principal Katrina Hunt, and is forcing the WMS community – all of us, not "just HCC parents" – to further distrust the SPS administration. We are owed apologies and a clearly stated, significant role in whatever happens next at the building.

– Cliff Meyer
[WMS PTSA Co-President, but speaking for myself]
Anonymous said…
Seems so typical of SPS to announce significant programmatic changes AFTER open enrollment. Whatever your opinion of TAF or HCC, families should generally know what to expect in terms of programming BEFORE they enroll at a school.


Another Name said…
Very likely the community would welcome TAF. This is not an inexpensive program. The founder spends a lot of time fundraising.

This comes at a time when 2 former SCPTSA board members and current school board candidates (Rankin and Hampson) pushed forward with a SCPTSA resolution that involved themselves and Seattle Education Association with PTA funding. We won't know the details until SEA makes contract public. These two candidates better have cogent answers to these vexing issues.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Board Policy 2190 says that for highly capable students, a self-contained cohort option is available in grades 1-8. Unless the board chooses to change the policy, the district cannot disband the separate classes for advanced students.

This program is not equivalent to our comprehensive middle schools and must be an option school so that students who are not interested in TAF’s program can access a traditional middle school. If WMS becomes an option school, another location will have to be found for the central region’s middle school students, both general education and highly capable.

There’s no point in creating a program that prepares students for Aviation High School as admission there is now solely decided by lottery.

Fairmount Parent
Fairmount parent, in the discussion at the Executive Ctm meeting, it was noted that WMS is an assignment school and that will not change. So it'll be a middle school but with a specific focus i.e. STEM. Question is, if it's STEM, does that mean those students get a bump to get into Cleveland because it's the high school STEM school?

And what about music? Take away or reduce that program and I suspect that Garfield will howl because that's where they get a lot of students in the Jazz Band.

I do agree with you about the policy, however, I suspect the ALTF will say that self-contained classes will have to go. I'd bet money on it.
Anonymous said…
TAF may be amazing, but to place it in an attendance area middle school seems very inappropriate. It sounds like a great option school.

We need to define what is needed to be a neighborhood school at each level, then what supports are required for special education, ELL, low income, trauma, etc (ideally based on actual research and best practices from the few places that do close achievement gaps). How many field trips per year, do kids go to camp? when?, how many years of math, science?, do middle school kids get foreign language exposure? when? should elementary students have art AND music (yes!), what basic supplies do schools need? Then we should fund it. High FRL schools could still have lower class sizes, they could have basic experience should not be very different depending on where you live.

This should not only reduce the discrepancies with schools based on neighborhood (highly inequitable), but also reduce dependence on PTA funding.

North Seattle
Anonymous said…
That was supposed to read:
High FRL schools could still have lower class sizes, they could have more counselors or interventionists, equity dollars, and community partnerships for food/clothing/etc, but it sets a much more reasonable educational floor. And the basic experience should not be very different depending on where you live.

North Seattle
ideologues said…
North Seattle,

Explain how all of that would work with real numbers for 100 different schools. Include grant and title 1 funding. Explain the manner in which low income students, without title 1 funding will have their needs met.
Ideologues said…
Are you suggesting that it is ok for some schools to have K class sizes of 26 students?
Anonymous said…
Fairmount Parent: Exactly why would HCC not work alongside TAF? Because the school would have a STEM emphasis? Come on. You have exactly zero proof that the programs couldn't co-exist and share resources. Zero. Nothing formal has been proposed and any implementation would be more than a year away it seems. Nope, definitely not a chance that with planning it could work.

The alternative to HCC refusing to be in TAF classrooms with non-HCCers? Fine. Then HCC operates as self-contained at Washington. Subject to budget and staffing and resources of course. Careful what you wish for. See above posting by

NoTAF 4You
Anonymous said…
Given the hand-wringing by SEA members over segregation, I don’t believe there’s a chance the district will operate two separate schools in Washington’s building. If they did, they would need separate administrators and separate budgets. Then there would be an end to crowding 35 - 40 students in HCC classes to fund small general education classes. That would be an improvement.

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…
@NoTAF 4You, you really seem to relish the idea of HCC students getting screwed over one way or the other, don't you?

The "snark" here is coming primarily from you, as are the "HCC parents are digging their heels in" type of comments. Your anti-HCC biases are showing. Most HCC parents are simply expressing concern or raising legitimate questions.

It was your 6/6 @1/29 comment in which you declared: "Annnnnnd it took exactly one morning for voices in HCC to spin into This Won't Serve My Kid mode." Please find me the posts prior to yours that support your statement. I can't find any, and am concerned that you may be hearing voices. (Note: legitimate questions about how TAF works and whether this model would satisfy the state requirement for HC services don't count.)

And now your recent 11:54 suggests you maybe think parents should just take a leap of faith and assume that TAF@WMS would work for their HC students, because, after all, we don't have evidence that it couldn't? You're missing the point. Most of these parents have tried a neighborhood school--often a high-performing neighborhood school--and that didn't work, so why should they just assume this would? When there is no evidence, aside from people saying "Trish is great" and "but it's STEM!"? You may say nothing formal has been proposed, but the flyer suggests otherwise.

Oh, and please dial down the incendiary language. You know, things like "HCC refusing to be in TAF classrooms with non-HCCers...," which is completely untrue, and inconsistent with the HCC model in the first place. Which you probably know. Sigh.

Bitter much?

Anonymous said…
If you consider for a moment that the new administrtor of advanced learning is an MTSS expert and not an equity expert, what that means is that most adv learning is going to switch to MTSS in the assigned schol, regardless of what the task force recommends - introducing TAF at WMS in 2020-2021 alings with that time frame.

Anonymous said…
@NOTAF4U I said the below and it sent you into a "tizzy".

"TAF is a wonderful STEM based program, but as it is a STEM based program should then be an option school program like dual language so that all students not just those zoned Washington, WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STEM have an opportunity to participate. The HCC program if not able to exist alongside, should then be moved elsewhere as that program should be same as other HCC programs in middle schools across the district."

FYI Less money (not more) are spent on HCC students. And you will not silence my or anyone else's opinion with snarky and disparaging comments, sorry. How about expressing your opinions without adding the hateful comments? Let it go, it's not good for you.

Also, as north Seattle expressed "TAF may be amazing, but to place it in an attendance area middle school seems very inappropriate. It sounds like a great option school". Same for Fairmount Parent who spoke about the state policy.

To assume every kid is interested in STEM and that it will be appropriate for all general ed as well as HCC students at that school is a mistake. It needs to be an option. We know kids who hate STEM and taking science and/or math classes are very frustrating. In addition, what about kids interested in STEM zoned outside of Washington? It would be best IMO a magnet program open to all kids in the area.


Anonymous said…
"Then there would be an end to crowding 35 - 40 students in HCC classes to fund small general education classes."

Ain't that the truth. Also, it's not o.k for kids to have 26 students in K. Ours had 28. Baseline of what should be provided to all students in all schools is needed.

Anonymous said…
Maybe TAF would be great for WMS and maybe it wouldn't - there is no way to know yet since there has been ZERO discussion with the school community. We know nothing about TAF, and TAF knows nothing about us.

Separately, the District is once again charging forward without thinking about secondary and tertiary effects. One of the problems the District is presumably trying to solve here (although we don't know, since they won't talk to us) is that WMS is under-enrolled following the WMS/Meany split. TAF might help increase enrollment at WMS, but will it decrease enrollment at Meany, which is also under-enrolled? And if TAF sends large numbers of WMS kids off to Cleveland instead of Garfield, Garfield is going to be under-enrolled. Starting with the 9th grade this Fall, Garfield's feeder schools are Meany, TOPS and part of WMS. (Part of WMS feeds to Franklin.) That is already a pretty small number of students, even if 0 choose Cleveland.

Frustrated WMS Parent
Anonymous said…
It's a relief to hear that a possible TAF entry to Seattle is at least a full school year away. For any new program that would be the bare minimum. If this has been in the works in the background then, again, it is time for SPS to loop in the community, especially if Washington is the proposed location of TAF, because Washington doesn't need more avoidable turbulence given the past year. It is the respectful and practical thing for the district to do. Because middle school is only three years, only incoming 6th and 7th graders would be impacted by a TAF program placed at Washington or anywhere else. Therefore, the district would be wise to include anyschool's geographic community and impacted communities of interest in any planning and communications. These are the communities that remain in place long after any single grade cohort passes through.

There is a tortuous history in SPS around whether special programming merits designating a school an option school. A consistent taxonomy has not been maintained, much to the consternation of parents and students, because of turnover of downtown decision-makers as well as episodic practicalities of not having enough assignment schools in the optimal places to serve geographic communities. A much longer thread could recap history around this but to stay on topic for this thread, I think folks interested in TAF at Washington would be wise to place a bet on it remaining an assignment middle school for coming years. TAF does currently operate as an assignment school, despite its tech focus, in Federal Way. In fact, it places emphasis on the fact that it serves its neighborhood. (But Federal Way does also allow choice placement into TAF as well as most of its other schools as room allows.)

With the current strategic plan's emphasis on educational equity and focus on the male AA achievement gap, I see little reason for the district not to welcome the idea of TAF to Washington (or some other middle school). Yes, I also see a number of problems and inconsistencies that would come with TAF at Washington, but I doubt the negatives would block the positives that the district would see.

As I posted earlier in the thread, I am a fan of the work TAF has done in Federal Way and I do picture a number of ways that the program could well-serve an HCC cohort co-housed with the general ed population under the TAF umbrella...but of course it would take a productive collaboration between the building's leadership, staff, district administration, TAF, parents and community to make it happen, which admittedly may be a tall order after the past year. Perhaps the new energy that comes with a new school year will be helpful on that account.

Anonymous said…
Not bitter. Not anti. Tired of This Won't Work v This Could Work? Yup. Especially when it needs to work.
HCC south students not getting sent back to ref schools for program delivery unless same happens to north students which won't anytime soon because capacity would be thrown for a loop. Enrollment heads downtown would explode. Could be the midterm plan though and I for one support it.

So HCC middle stays self contained right now. Where else is it going to go? West Seattle or further south? Really? Transportation issues worse. Schools unlikely to want program. Program unlikely to want placement at schools. Mutually assured destruction or something like that analogy. So you've got Meany and Washington left. Picture 3 years after Meany reopening announcing HCC is moving to white wealthy north Cap Hill, leaving community of color and lower economics behind. You think there are anti-HCC feelings now? That would be like a stake in the heart. Even JSCEE can't be that obtuse. That leaves HCC at Washington for now with or without TAF. Best for everyone to make friends not dig in heels. Or perhaps HCC argues against placement with TAF. You can picture how well that's going to play in greater SPS, right?

Anonymous said…
Let them eat Amplify.

So I'm so old I remember what John Stanford said about co-locating HCC (then called Highly Capable). Don't do it. It had been co-housed at Madrona and it did not work. So he said that.

I suspect the selection of an MTSS expert for AL was not by chance. Look, I have always said if the district can deliver HCC services at every single school where there is an HCC kid, sure you can keep those students in the neighborhood. A cohort would likely not exist most places but hey, many kids have issues and so what?

Of course, the district would then lose the state transportation dollars that HCC kids deliver. That's a very handy pot of money.

And, of course, the district is just not that good at this kind of thing. They can't even get every school to have an accurate CSIP and that's been at least a decade.

Bottom line is that the district and the Board set the policy and schools should follow it. But district leadership allows every principal to have a fiefdom and they pretty much do what they want. So do I have faith that every principal will put forth a good faith effort? I don't.

It feels a bit like the district is moving towards a Sped model for HCC - it's something nearly every Sped parent I have talked to has felt. Don't like it, sue us.
Anonymous said…
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Reality Bites, that was some ugly comment. I hope you are proud of yourself. We do NOT name-call here especially children which is part of what makes your comment so unworthy.

"Segregation forever, clinging to the “separate but equitable” line,.."

And that? Dog whistle bait. Cut it out.

What most of the anti-HCC people don't get is parents did NOT create this program. Not how you get in, how it operates, where it is, nada. But you want to put all the ills of the program on parents? Sure, that's fair.

I expect better from readers and if you can't make a decent point, you are welcome to leave.
Anonymous said…

Can you explain why you read the MTSS expert as head of AL as the end of cohort HC services? Having a kid in HCC (at WMS, via TM), and a kid in "Gen Ed" at TM, I'm kinda all for the idea of HC without the Cohort -- I hate the division in a building that the cohort creates, having been on both sides under great, awesome, amazing school leadership and under less-than stellar leadership in another building. This is off the TAF topic, but I'm curious what the tea leaves of MTSS spell out to you.

As for TAF, I'm intrigued. But the District couldn't have handled this more poorly if they tried.

-- WMS, HCC, Gen Ed, TM and Central Area parent
Parent (who has too many names), I think that because MTSS has been the holy grail for the district for many issues like providing enough rigor at every school to not need separate programs at a few schools, like streamlining programming so it becomes a lot less different (read: expensive or harder to track outcomes). I could surely be wrong but that they didn't hire someone with any kind of gifted background seems odd.

You might be one of the few HCC parents who doesn't believe in the cohort. I'm not sure I get why there is that big a division; there are many ways to mix classes across grade level so every kid in that grade knows every other kid in that grade. It takes a willingness to do that.

I can see that many parents and teachers and administrators -for several reasons- don't like separate classes. But, again, this is a legal obligation for the district and showing that you are proving the rigor needed - in 102 schools - will be some trick for this district. One extra worksheet will not cut it in the eyes of OSPI.
Anonymous said…
"You might be one of the few HCC parents who doesn't believe in the cohort".

There's a thousand or more HC students who opt out of thee cohort and some who are in it solely because their friends are in.

You see, in some schools, 50% of 5th grade students leave for Hamilton, etc.

If yours is going to lose their best school friends by going to their local middle school, and you're confidant they don't want that, as a good parent you will let them go to Hamilton and put their happiness before your own feelings about the cohort model.

So, I think until AL does a scientific survey of HC parents, we don't know how parents really feel about cohorting.

Anonymous said…
@ JJ --

It was actually Melissa who said "You might be one of the few HCC parents who doesn't believe in the cohort". I'm more of your mind, I think. I believe that there might even be a silent majority who feels like SPS has this whole "gifted education" thing wrong but doesn't know how else to serve our kids given the system that is in place. So we ship 'em off to HCC to get challenged when they're little, they make friends, and now they're in a cohort. If I had it to do over again, not sure I would choose the cohort for my one kid who's in it, but then, our neighborhood school IS the cohort school, so there's that.

If there were SIMPLY enough adults in a room (i.e., every single elementary classroom had an IA, plus appropriate behavioral supports and social workers/resources in every elementary school) I truly believe 85% of the teachers in SPS could handle a class with kids all across the spectrum of learning at each elementary grade. You'd have in-class groups of learners working at their individual levels, teacher's differentiating, kids learning to work within a larger group. Making friends with everyone. Then, in middle school, fine, have some honors classes for ELA, Math, whatever, but it doesn't have to just be kids who tested or appealed way-back in elementary. That's my dream-world. Enough adults in the room and in the building in elementary school to let teachers do their job, provide differentiated lessons, and let the kids get the real benefit of a public education: learning to be citizens in a world with all types of people.

I truly believe many, many "HCC Parents" would embrace such a model (with proper staffing and funding). But then I might be wrong. We'll never know, because we'll never see that model (funding and fear of change).

-- WMS, HCC, Gen ed, Central Area Parent, a/k/a Parent With Too Many Names
JJ, you are absolutely right. My own experience is most HCC parents like the cohort but I may be hearing from a select group. The main point is that THE district needs to do this work. They based some of the science adoption on PTA funding that they provided no data for. They shouldn't change an entire program without truly understanding what parents want.
kellie said…
The cohort model exists for one reason - money.

The cohort model is the CHEAPEST way to deliver the bare minimum of legally required services. That is truly the heart of the problem. All other models require more money. And the State of Washington will pay for busses to move students to a cohort. They won't pay for other services for students to remain in place.

Some people defend the model because it is better than nothing and SPS has a long track record of replacing "something minimal" with "nothing". (spectrum). There is a very reasonable fear on the part of folks getting nothing other than an inexpensive cohort, that the cohort will be replaced with a promise of something ... that mysteriously remains unfunded for decades.

Many people hate the model - for a variety of reasons - the optics, the distances, etc. But model does not persist because parents defend it. The model only exists because it is inexpensive. Like so many other things in the district.

Anonymous said…
To be clear, the cohort model may only exist AT SUCH A LARGE SCALE because it's the cheapest way to do so, but the cohort model needs to exist AT SOME SCALE in order to really serve some portion of the students in HCC.

IF--and it's a big, big if--neighborhood classrooms were actually able to differentiate to the extent needed (think an average of about a 5-yr span of grade level abilities within a single classroom), and most classrooms had multiple students at the upper end of the tail so that a HC student had intellectual peers with whom to work and socialize, then sure, many/most parents would probably be cool with eliminating the cohort model.

However, that WOULD NOT ELIMINATE THE NEED for some type of specialized services for those who cannot be served by such a model. You know, those highly capable students for whom that model does not provide a basic education. People often assume that a student whose intellectual abilities put them about 2 years above grade level can, theoretically, be served by a regular classroom teacher because it's not that huge of a gap and there may be other students at the same level. Whether or not those assumptions are true is another matter, but let's say they are. What about the student 4-5 years above grade level? An HCC classroom working 2 years above level might put them within 2-3 years of the upwardly-modified "baseline" level so could conceivably work, but in a regular GE classroom that's generally a lost cause. Unless you have a teacher who is willing to provide individualized instruction--and can you imaging the uproar if a HC student actually got that?!--that student is simply out of luck.

People who don't like HCC will say things like "well, intellectual outliers shouldn't expect to be well-served." Why not? Their parents pay taxes, and according to state law these students are entitled to an accelerated/enhanced education that reflects a basic education for them. In other words, it's relative. A basic education for those students is different than a basic education for others. THAT is EQUITY. Not equality--equity.

I would be all for elimination of the cohort model IF teachers were truly able to appropriately differentiate for students working a year or two above grade level; and IF there were enough HC students in a school to provide enough intellectual peers for student social development; and IF there were also a program that allowed the "outliers among outliers" to ALSO get their basic educational needs served. But in the absence of any of those, if the cohort model is the best (and most affordable) we can do, we need to stick with it--improving outreach and identification along the way, of course.

all types
All Types, and class size. It is very hard to ask teachers to differentiate in large classes.
Anonymous said…
Amen all types. Agree with you. "IF--and it's a big, big if--neighborhood classrooms were actually able to differentiate to the extent needed (think an average of about a 5-yr span of grade level abilities within a single classroom), and most classrooms had multiple students at the upper end of the tail so that a HC student had intellectual peers with whom to work and socialize, then sure, many/most parents would probably be cool with eliminating the cohort model."

But, are we kidding? SPS? These kids are last on their list and not their focus. The funding per student is the lowest & class sizes the highest. The resources allocated are the lowest. They don't even pretend to care about our kids.

Many of the neighborhood schools that many (but not all) of these kids came from have loads of spectrum qualified and ALO students. Yet, even the teachers in those classrooms are mostly unable to effectively differentiate instruction, as they do not get enough professional development. How in the world can they do it then in classrooms when you have even greater discrepancies between kids?

Also, demographics of our neighborhood school as well as the HCC middle we attended were mostly the same. However having the cohort of peers that "got" my kid and no more bullying made a huge difference socially.

HCC parent
Silent Boundaries said…
So, what no one is talking about with this Advanced Learning via MTSS at your local school model is assignment zone boundaries. If students no longer have to travel to a school outside their assignment area to access whatever AL services they need, there will need to be a massive change in some school boundaries.

If there's no reason for Eckstein-zone HCC students to travel to JAMS for HCC, the Eckstein zone is going to have to shrink by about 1/3 of its current size.

The Meany zone will also need to shrink by 1/3 of it's current size. Mercer only needs to shrink by 1/10th.

Eagle Staff will have to shrink by 1/3.

TM would lose 1/2 its students and they'd all go back to their schools. Some of them would need to shrink their boundaries as a result (maybe Muir, Leschi, Hawthorn, Madrona, Montlake)

View Ridge, Bryant and Wedgwood would also need adjusting.

It's just going to be a massive boundary change. This will have a huge affect students all over the city. Why is no one talking about this?
Anonymous said…
I think nobody's talking about that yet because capacity-wise it just isn't feasible at this point to send all those HCC kids back to their neighborhood schools. It would be a huge reshuffling of kids, with probably over half of all families impacted. It would also mean a big reshuffling for teachers, if they had interests in certain populations or programs. Then you'd have the issue of what to do with option schools, which kind of mess up this whole "neighborhood-based" approach--especially in areas where there are mostly option schools instead of neighborhood schools (e.g., Wallingford). I don't think many people downtown have the appetite for the level of disruption this would cause, even though on the surface they really want to move this direction. As I recall, the board passed a resolution or something to try to move in this direction, but I think they made it contingent upon looking at the issue again and making sure it was feasible. Good luck with that anytime soon. The only way I could see it moving forward is with a long phase-in period and a lot of mitigations funds throughout the phase-in.

Just me
Anonymous said…
Which brings us back to HCC @ Washington and FWIW I agree that the cohort isn't going anywhere and will be sharing resources with the general education program there. Sounds like next year is a new principal and whatever changes she makes but not more than that. The year after maybe TAF and HCC there with or without next year's principal. That would be a bigger change. I don't think a STEM focus program is unworkable. I think the bigger piece of TAF that will cause heartburn with some is TAF's approach seems to be project based. I can't tell if it's more individual or group projects that are the focus. For bright kids working in peer groups even at the same academic level can be very and I mean extremely nonstop frustrating. I'm one who thinks that's a reason to have a lot of group projects in kinder through 8th as workplaces want bright employees who have strong interpersonal and collaborative work habits. But I am definitely in the minority among parent friends in liking this approach and even in my family I've had to do a lot of work with my one of my children outside school have him see the positives and lower his anxiety when working in groups and presenting creatively v. a traditional read and oral or written report back approach. So I picture there could be a whole lot pf pushback from HCC families on PBL project based learning. This could be addressed early in a TAF introduction but if the current state of central administration- parent communication at Washington is any guide I see trouble ahead.

Central parent
Anonymous said…
As JAMS, WMS and Eaglestaff all are either planning for Fall 2019, or already eliminated SS and LA cohort classrooms, so some parents may already be questioning why bus their kid out of neighborhood middle only for science. In some cases the SS and LA classes at their neighborhood middle school offer more rigor.

I see the same thing happening at Ingraham where we now have a majority of HCC kids taking regular IB, due to failed issues with IBX. Therefore since IB is all or nothing and they cannot just take a class or two in 10th, it leaves them without AP classes for 10th like other schools. As some neighborhood schools also offer many HCC peers I forsee a future where more kids will choose those neighborhood schools.

So interesting that SPS still calls Ingraham a "pathway school" when they have 2/3 of HCC kids taking regular IB and not IBX. I think it is being kept on paper to satisfy OSPI. In addition, half the north end HCC are in RHS and BHS.

Keeping HCC in name only, but dismantling actual cohort classes is a game of smoke and mirrors. On paper they appear to have something. In addition, it helps out lower income schools by boosting overall test scores etc.

Smoke & Mirrors
Anonymous said…
HC students have been increasingly choosing neighborhood schools over IHS (if their neighborhood school happens to be RHS or BHS) for the last 2-3 years. And before that, the north end cohort of students shifted to IBX/IHS over GHS. HC students at IHS are now most likely to live in the Hale/IHS/Lincoln boundaries. But isn't that the ultimate goal of SPS - to eliminate HC pathways?

Also, based on word of mouth, many of the students still opting for IBX (it's a small cohort at this point) are enrolled in Running Start for senior year, either FT of PT. Running Start is an option listed on the HC grant for OSPI - it's just now more of the default option.

If middle school HC is now moving the same direction, with blended SS (LA/SS at JAMS has been blended with Spectrum from the beginning), and science offers the last assurance of any acceleration (just waiting for that to change as well...), there is less and less incentive to opt into the HC pathway. Combined with the science adoption (we'd look into part-time homeschooling with online or self-taught biology if we were faced with that change), what's left in terms of academic challenge? Anyone else anticipate a more sizable drop in SPS enrollment in Grades 6-8?? Not just for HCC, but systemwide? I'd be interested in the Running Start numbers as well (by school).

downward spiral

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