Thursday, September 05, 2019

Stories of HCC

Crosscut has an article about a book that a 17-year-old trans person has written about their experience in HCC.  The book is called, "You Failed Us."
It was two years ago that Azure Savage began writing their first book, the origins of which can be traced back to their kindergarten year at Seattle’s Thurgood Marshall Elementary. It was there, they said, that they first noticed inequities in how different students are treated.

In August of this year, Savage published You Failed Us: Students of Color Talk Seattle Schools. Part memoir and part collected oral history, You Failed Us interlaces Savage’s personal journey with the experiences of approximately 40 other school-aged youth in the Seattle area.
Through 11 chapters, Savage's literary debut candidly explores issues surrounding race, as well as gender identity, mental health and structural barriers facing students navigating the city’s K-12 education system.
I am trying to recall when Thurgood Marshall took on HCC students but was it more than 10 years ago? Maybe the book explains.

Brazile chooses to focus on Savage so we don't get a read on what the experiences of the other students Savage included in the book are.

One explanation for Savage feeling singled out comes from her mother who told reporter Liz Brazile that the differences between her own experiences and how Savage navigates society as a person of color were apparent long before the teen was school-aged.
Later in the book, Savage points to a difficult choice facing underrepresented students in advanced learning tracks: remaining in classes where they feel culturally isolated but reap educational benefits, or being in general education classes where they are more likely to find community.

“It’s more than having someone to laugh with during class,” Savage writes. “It’s the advantage of having someone to ask for help on homework, to study for the test with, to stand up for you, to confront the racist teacher with.”
It sounds like Savage didn't make friends in class and felt more like a token and not a person.

Perhaps the Advanced Learning Taskforce and the Board and the Superintendent and Wyeth Jessee should read the book before revamping HCC.


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting but how the heck can I get the book? Can't find it anywhere.

Anonymous said...

Am I interpreting this correctly? The ALTF draft procedural recommendations seem to be this:

1. PD for all school staff to help them identify and serve students who would benefit from AL services.

[Question 1: Since they're so good at PD? And seriously, how many years to think this would take???]
[Question 2: What exactly would AL services even BE under this new model?]

2. Eligibility will be determined at the school level, not the district level, via school-based multidisciplinary selection committees that develop their own eligibility criteria and processes, which need to ensure equitable access.

[Question 1: Eligibility for what? Tier of services?]
[Question 2: If by “equitable access” they actually mean equal participation, does this mean some highly capable white and Asian students will be excluded from services in order to ensure the desired “access” outcomes?]
[Question 3: If eligibility criteria differ across schools, how does this impact the continuity of services when a student changes schools?]

3. MTSS will be the framework for service delivery. They’ll deliver some “enriched” Tier 1 services for all students, and some mysterious Tier 2 and Tier 3 “supports” for those who need more. They’ll determine the T2 and T3 supports via “routine and systematic review of outcome data,” which will also make sure sure there is no racial disproportionality in identification, participation, or outcome data. Sure they will.

[Question 1: If they are “enriching” T1 services for all students, aren’t T1 services just basic services?]
[Question 2: Seriously, MTSS??? Because of how awesomely it’s been implemented thus far? Is there ANY evidence it can/will work for those who need it? It is essentially just differentiation, which most of those in HCC found to not exist sufficiently in their neighborhood schools, or they would have stayed.]
[Question 3: How is this different from setting race-based quotas for participation in T2 and T3 services?]
[Question 4: Will T2 services be consistent across schools? What are the distinctions between T2 and T3 services, both in terms of who needs them and what is provided?]


Anonymous said...


4. The procedural guide should include guidance for schools on traditional and non-traditional learning characteristics of HC students as defined in law.
[I’m sure this info was already provided on the district’s website, and it should also have been included when they were asking teachers and parents for nominations, and it should also be covered in #1 above, but sure, emphasize it again.]

5. Just provide all the differentiated services everyone needs—it’s as simple as that! While you’re at it, and give every student who needs T3 services an individualized learning plan, developed in conjunction with their family, while also ensuring that participation across the different tiers is proportionate!

[Question 1: Do teachers really have the time for this? It sounds like a lot of work. It also sounds like a disincentive to identify students for T3 services. Note also that with single domain services, students could need a combo of T1, T2 and T3 services, and it sounds like every student who needs any T3 service will need a formal plan, that will need to be developed with the family, and presumably modified as needed throughout the year. Fun!]
[Question 2: Do they have significant evidence that this is at all feasible?]
[Question 3: If you're one of the presumably few kids who needs T3 services, how exactly does this provide the social-emotional support an HC student needs?]

6. Report all students receiving T2 and 3 services as “highly capable” to the state.
[Question: Does this mean a big uptick in our HC numbers, or that many who currently get HC services will only get T1 basic services in the future? If the latter, what about that state requirement that once HC services are begun a students must get them through grade 12?]


Anonymous said...


7. Develop a clear, transparent, accessible for referral to AL services.

[Question 1: What again ARE the AL services?]
[Question 2: Will this referral process also include clarity about the number of students that can ultimately qualify by race per school?]

8. End discriminatory referral practices, by which they seem to mean applications and out-of-school testing.

[Question 1: If the eligibility process is more teacher-driven, as it sounds like it will be, haven’t studies consistently found that to be MORE biased?]
[Question 2: If private testing cannot be used for appeals, won’t that discriminate against 2e students?]
[Question 3: In the MTSS context, what even are “appeals”? Is it when a parent/guardian approaches a teacher and says a student needs more than T1 services, since T2 and above are considered “HC”? Is it also an “appeal” if a parent says the T2 service aren’t working—or aren’t being fully implemented—and the student needs T3 services?]
[Question 4: Since there has been concern in the past that some types of parents are more likely to apply for services or appeal eligibility for services, would this be considered a “discriminatory referral practice”? Is it discriminatory to allow parents to advocate on behalf to their student if some racial or income groups of parents are more likely to advocate than others?]

all types

Anonymous said...

I'm so disappointed. I had thought (hoped?) the ALTF was on the right track, that they seemed to really "get it" that there are many students out there who really do need something different and just can't be effectively served in a regular classroom. However, it seems like, in the end, they just gave up and agree to what the district wanted all along--a one-size-fits-all approach with the likely-false promise that HC students who need something more or different will suddenly receive it in their regular classroom, even thought that never panned out in the past. It seems very naive, and/or possibly and intentional effort to deny access to a legally mandated basic education (aka HC services) for many students. Probably a mix of both.

all types

kellie said...

Here is the link to order the book


kellie said...

The decision to place HCC at Thurgood Marshall was made as part of the 08-09 round of school closures.

Because the entire round of closures was based on faulty projections, and all of the schools in the central area were already full, but not bursting full, the only way to close TT Minor was to re-distribute all the students.

One more example of how SPS is more than happy to create chaos for the sake of chaos.

HCC students would have started at TM starting with the 09-10 school year and then the NSAP started to assign neighborhood students in 2010-11.

Which re-created the previous problems at Madrona when a neighborhood school is expected to "make space" for a service. The theory, is that this process is supposed to make the experience more comfortable for non-dominant groups, by creating artificial diversity.

How did that theory work out?

Outsider said...

"Eligibility will be determined at the school level, not the district level, via school-based multidisciplinary selection committees that develop their own eligibility criteria and processes, which need to ensure equitable access... give every student who needs T3 services an individualized learning plan, developed in conjunction with their family."

This is like throwing cats in a sack. Surely they see what will happen. I am sitting here having a hearty laugh, but probably half the teachers of Seattle are having asthma attacks thinking about how it would go.

There is a certain bureaucratic beauty in the current system: The Wizard of Cog, somewhere off in Emerald City, taps certain students as HC, and they can either stay or leave. Staff in the neighborhood schools can completely ignore the whole thing. Which they do. All of the politics are kept out of the schools. Teachers are not hounded morning to night by parents about what intervention level their students should have. Principals don't have to dress like riot police. Teacher assignments rarely result in screaming. Sometimes power is a burden, and I am guessing the power to determine who is HC is something neighborhood school staff mostly don't want.

Anonymous said...

They are part of the HC cohort that was split, moved, and split and moved again. Some students from that cohort attended at least 5 different schools before they started high school, all without a change of their family's address. TT Minor students probably had it the worst during that round of closures. On top of the change in schools, SPS moved to a 3 tier bus schedule (remember those days?). If someone had told students "change is hard" one.more.time…

almost out

Anonymous said...

Can't private testing reports be used in determining whether or not a student qualifies for an IEP or 504 plan, such as by showing a significant discrepancy between expected performance and actual performance? If a student qualifies for an IEP or 504 plan based on such a disparity, and if the IQ testing (expected performance) identifies the student as being in the 99th percentile AND other testing identifies the student as also having a learning disability, how could the school reasonably not allow a parent to use that private testing report to also appeal HC identification?

Or are they saying that would need to go via the school's counselors or whoever else actually has reasonable cause to see such private testing reports and determine IEPs and 504 plans? So maybe what needs to happen in 2e cases is that parents end-run around the teacher and go straight to the disability folks, and get Tier 2 and/or Tier 3 level services included as a requirement of the IEP/504 plan? I don't see how the district could leave it up to classroom teachers to determine whether or not a 2e student was able to get advanced learning services.

Also, with all the teacher-based assessment and reassessment as to appropriate tier of services, how does that work in middld and high schools? Would each teacher need to develop an individualized plan for each subject? Would the parent/guardian need to come to the school multiple times to meet with each teacher differently to discuss tier of support for that particular class--or multiple times, as the tier changed? Not only is this unreasonable for teachers, but it's incredibly unwieldy for families. And to think the ALTF was supposedly worried about the "burden" of completing a parent rating scale! Oh, and I hope we have tons of translators available to sit in on these what-should-be-confidential meetings, too...

So many issues it's hard to know where to start. It really feels like the ALTF just threw in the towel. Sad.

all types

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Eligibility will be determined at the school level, not the district level, via school-based multidisciplinary selection committees that develop their own eligibility criteria and processes, which need to ensure equitable access."

I did laugh right out loud at that one.

Show me any urban district that does it this way. There is ZERO chance that for any given school, you would not have it become political. And, if School A is pretty loose but School B is strict, how is that fair for parents?

Also,as has been pointed out, do schools even WANT to be doing this in addition to everything else?

And the pressure from parents? Yeah, sure, like that won't happen.

Naturally, doing it this way will shift the burden to the schools and save the district lots of money.

Outsider,thank you for the humor.

Anonymous said...

Uh, no. Private testing does not qualify a kid for an IEP. You are allowed to bring outside evidence like testing or a medical diagnosis to the district’s evaluator. And, they’re supposed to consider it as they conduct their own evaluation. Private testing does not determine eligibility or services. Often it’s barely acknowledged.

So maybe what needs to happen in 2e cases is that parents end-run around the teacher and go straight to the disability folks, and get Tier 2 and/or Tier 3 level services included as a requirement of the IEP/504 plan?
Oh yeah? What disability folks? You must be a newbie. If the student is 2e, then they qualified for special education through IDEAS process not Altf.. It’s the parents driving this golden ticket approach to 2e services, not the mythical “disability folks”. If there is no golden ticket, these parents will probably just retreat back into the walls. The biggest advocate for the student at school in these cases is the teacher, probably the special ed teacher.


More Monocles! said...

Teachers will use pin the tail on the donkey, exorcism, and careful scrutiny through a monocle to determine which children need extra worksheets. What could go wrong?!

Anonymous said...

WAC 392-170-055
Assessment process for selection as highly capable student.

(1) The superintendent of public instruction must require school districts to have identification procedures for their highly capable programs that are clearly stated and implemented by school districts using the following criteria:

(a) Districts must use multiple objective criteria to identify students who are among the most highly capable. Multiple pathways for qualifications must be available and no single criterion may disqualify a student from identification;
(b) Highly capable selection decisions must be based on consideration of criteria benchmarked on local norms, but local norms may not be used as a more restrictive criteria than national norms;
(c) Subjective measures such as teacher recommendations or report card grades may not be used to screen out a student from assessment. These data points may be used alongside other criteria during selection to support identification, but may not be used to disqualify a student from being identified; and
(d) To the extent practicable, screening and assessments must be given in the native language of the student. If native language screening and assessments are not available, a nonverbal screening and assessment must be used.
(2) Students referred for selection as a highly capable student, unless eliminated through screening as provided in WAC 392-170-045, shall be assessed by qualified district personnel;
(3) There is no single prescribed method for identification of students among the most highly capable;
(4) Districts shall have a clearly defined and written assessment process; and
(5) Consistent with RCW 28A.185.020, district practices for identifying the most highly capable students must prioritize equitable identification of low-income students.

There is a reason most districts have a clearly defined selection process overseen by qualified, district-level staff. We have, what, around 100 schools?? The idea that individual schools can oversee the identification process in an objective and transparent manner is just not realistic. Plus, the Multidisciplinary selection committee is supposed to consist of 4 professionals. This is to be replicated at each and every school...why? Just why??

WAC 392-170-070
Multidisciplinary selection committee.

The multidisciplinary selection committee for the final selection of the most highly capable students for participation in the district's program for highly capable students shall consist of the following professionals:

(1) A special teacher: Provided, that if a special teacher is not available, a classroom teacher shall be appointed;
(2) A psychologist or other qualified practitioner with the training to interpret cognitive and achievement test results;
(3) A certificated coordinator/administrator with responsibility for the supervision of the district's program for highly capable students; and
(4) Such additional professionals, if any, the district deems desirable.


Update said...

The board will hold an Advanced Learning Taskforce meeting on September 25th. This meeting should be televised.

The ALTF meeting intersects with boundary changes and enrollment. Sounds like the recommendation is to eliminate Advanced Learning Pathways.

These children have already experienced multiple moves. Director Burke calls attention to AL changes with need to prevent disruption. Does anyone care?

Anonymous said...

So, is the student asserting that they couldn’t be in a general education classroom and have their gifted academic needs sufficiently met? That a teacher in a gen ed setting could NOT differentiate for a student whose needs would make them a minority demographic (ie academically gifted in an academically typically-developing peer group)?

So, they’re clearly pointing out that differentiation is impossible and is a lie and that ability-based academic groupings for academically gifted students is necessary in order to have their academic requirements met (keeping in mind the law of the land specifically says that gifted education is basic education for gifted students - AND that basic education is a constitutional right of every person in the state of Washington).

It is sad that this individual felt that they had no community within their student life within their classroom. However, this is not necessarily an uncommon experience for these uncommon learners. Even within a gifted program, there are zebras amongst the horses. One of my students, who is cis gendered and not gay (although in elementary school, sometimes those characteristics are not necessarily manifest within an individual because identities are still forming), has no friends... he was really ‘different’, and as such, didn’t find a fit or a simpatico person with which to build friendship. No birthday parties, no sleepovers, and it’s really challenging to develop social skills and become competent in reading social cues when you’re perpetually left out (this was not a student of color). And this example is not an atypical example within the ranks of those classrooms. There are zebras who are kind and smart and sensitive and socially appropriate yet who just don’t fit in and don’t have friends.

I take the author at their word about their experiences as an HCC student, but I diverge from a point of view that necessarily ascribes their negative experiences to particular aspects of this individual such as race or gender identity, because there are numerous HCC kids for whom there is no fit of friendship for different reasons.

Indeed, one lovely but lonely individual student who spent early years at Lowell being with the low incidence students because that was where they self selected to be ended up coming into their own not until their later high school years, and went on to a full ride at a UC campus.

It’s not uncommon for academically gifted young students to face social and emotional challenges, especially given their asynchronous development that is the hallmark of academic precociousness.


Anecdote said...

A friend just sent their child to a private middle school. The parents tired of fighting for dyslexia services. Anyone that thinks the district can differentiate is seriously mistaken.

NE Parent said...

Here are the HCC 2018 Numbers by High School Attendance Area Total Grades 1-12.

Ballard Attendance Area HCC = 787
Franklin Attendance Area HCC = 301
Garfield Attendance Area HCC = 458
Ingraham Attendance Area HCC = 274
Nathan Hale Attendance Area HCC = 302
Rainier Beach Attendance Area HCC = 116
Roosevelt Attendance Area HCC = 862
Chief Sealth Attendance Area HCC = 101
West Seattle Attendance Area HCC = 265

HCC Numbers are not reported by grade and HS Attendance Area but are reported by grade across the entire district, so if we assume that the grade distribution is the same across high schools, we can estimate as follow:

Ballard Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 55
Franklin Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 21
Garfield Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 32
Ingraham Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 19
Nathan Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 21
Rainier Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 8
Roosevelt Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 60
Chief Sealth Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 7
West Seattle Attendance Area HCC Per 9/10/11/12 Grade = 18

Note that 7.6% of all HCC students are in 7th grade and 6.0% of all HCC students are in 12th grade, so the number per grade in high school drops offs a bit.

NE Parent said...

Correction: 7.6% of all HCC students are in 9th grade and 6.0% of all HCC students are in 12th grade, so the number per grade in high school drops off a bit.

Anonymous said...

"I diverge from a point of view that necessarily ascribes their negative experiences to particular aspects of this individual such as race or gender identity."

Have you walked in this student's shoes or are you an observer?

If it's the latter, which seems rather apparent from your post, how can you possibly minimize their experience in order to fit your narrative?

Race experiences are very real.

Listen and learn.

take heed

Anonymous said...

@peace, I have one of the HCC zebras, too. Unfortunately, when distributing HC services across all schools, there will be even more such students who find themselves socially isolated and without peers.

@Spedite, Sorry if my shorthand use of "the disability folks" confused you. Of course that's not the the ALTF. If a parent wants to pursue an IEP for their student with a known or suspected disability, they might, for example, contact the district Special Ed dept. If they want to pursue a 504 plan for their student with a known or suspected disability, they might, instead contact their school's 504 coordinator.

I said private testing "could be used in determining" eligibility, not that it was the sole factor. I also mentioned 504 plans, not just IEPS, and the process is different. Private testing is often extensively acknowledged in the 504 process. And teacher feedback is often incorporated into private testing reports, which are then reviewed by the 504 coordinator, who may also verify the report is consistent with teacher observations. It's a collaborative and intertwined process, and for parents/students with private testing results, these results often play a key role. In fact, reports are summarized up front in the final 504 plan.

Under Section 504, denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") constitutes disability discrimination. Since WA state has mandated that "basic education" for highly capable students is access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction, it would seem problematic for a 504 coordinator to accept a private neuropsychological report that identified a student as both highly gifted and learning disabled but then only address the learning disability in the accommodations, without also addressing the giftedness portion. If I were a parent in this situation, I would request a revised 504 plan that included the fact that the reports reviewed indicated the student was gifted and thus 2e. In the accommodations section, I would also request that there be some note that the student needed sufficiently challenging work for their ability, even if it were "masked" by their disability.

In the event that a parent were to instead request an IEP for their student with a known/suspected disability, providing copies of prior testing results--by multiple providers over multiple years, in some cases--would likely help to make the case for the district to proceed with its own evaluation. If the district were to conclude that the student, even thought they were performing well on grade level work, was indeed eligible for an IEP due to the significant discrepancy between cognitive ability and achievement as evidenced in the neuropsychological and/or neuroeducational testing, the district has then also acknowledged the student's intellectual giftedness. To then deny them advanced learning (T2, T3 services) would seem to be discrimination on the basis of their disability.

It gets complicated because we're not just talking about federal laws here, but state laws as well--and, potentially under the proposed approach, bizarre new procedures that allow teachers and schools unprecedented power to decide who they want to qualify for HC services. To be clear, I'm not talking about HC eligibility under the current procedures; I'm talking about how to deal with potential disability discrimination under the proposed new plan, which is more likely to discriminate against 2e students.

Oh, and it's not only special ed (IEP) students who count as 2e. Students with 504 plans can also be 2e. As well, 2e students with 504 plans could also potentially qualify for IEPs. It's not all black and white. People often go with what they (or their school team) perceive as fastest, easiest, and/or best for the situation.

all types

NE Parent said...

One thing that we can see from the HCC high school attendance area numbers is that the impact on HCC students if the pathway is eliminated will depend greatly on their attendance area high school. Those for example that attend Roosevelt or Ballard will be the least impacted because those high schools will still have large HCC cohorts of 50 to 60 students per grade and will be able to offer advanced classes. Conversely, the grade level cohort at Rainier will be only 8 students, assuming they don’t leave.

It’s one thing to claim “MTSS” in each classroom because the reality is no one ever measures what services are provided, so it can be faked. But it’s not so easy to fake the Course Catalog that lists, for example, the Advanced Placement classes offered at a given high school.

I’m sure some people in the district would simply like to redistribute HCC qualified students equally amongst all high schools, that seems very unlikely to happen.

Anonymous said...

I still fail to see how sending advanced learning back to reference schools will not disproportionately hurt kids in areas where few HCC students have been identified. Those students will likely fall through the cracks, when the class sizes are too small to justify being offered. Meanhile students in schools with higher concentrations of HCC kids will have the enrollment numbers and the disparity between neighborhood s in Seattle continue. Seems to be exactly opposite the goal set out here, or an I missing something?

SE parent

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you SE parent. HCC has always been the district’s scapegoat for equity. Never mind all of the awful things that have happened in the past year, such as WMS.
Please voice your concerns to the school board.

Fake equity

Anonymous said...

@NE Parent, we commented at the same time, with the same sentiment. My kids would be one of the 8 at Rainier Beach...

SE parent

Anonymous said...

All Types, nope. you are highly ignorant of rights in special education, and of limitations. Students who aren’t served under IDEA are not entitled to FAPE that confers benefit. FAPE, basic as it sounds, is defined and limited to those served under IDEA. Students under IDEA are also protected under 504. They still get a FAPE. Students served under section 504 alone, are simply entitled to reasonable accommodations and non discrimination. It is a civil rights statute. 504 recipients aren’t entitled to individualized plans to acquire FAPE. In fact, most people don’t even know who the 504 administrator even is, and usually it’s the principal. For an explanation of that you ED.gov and wrightslaw.com.


Unlike the IDEA, Section 504 does not create a right to a free appropriate education from which the child receives educational benefit. Section 504 does not require schools to invite parents to the meeting where the 504 Plan is developed.

And you can bet... the 504 meeting is really the principal sending out an email, if it happens at all.

Basic ed, where you get acceleration, isn’t much. Especially when you aren’t really entitled to a meeting or a plan with individualized differences. Sure, you get those under IDEA. You just don’t get much out of the ADA alone.


Anonymous said...

Why do people without SpEd knowledge often get on this blog and act like experts?

Thanks, Spedite, for setting the facts straight for all types.

I was honestly too tired to dissect that hot mess.


Charles said...

"The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a 'free appropriate public education' (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met."

Anonymous said...

“As adequately as it does for non disabled people”. Which is, not all that adequately. The point. It isn’t specially designed instruction. It isn’t data collection. It isn’t progress reports. There is no automatic right to due process (enforcement) except under idea. The other point. And, to evaluate that need, your kid will need to qualify under IDEA to prove that they will qualify for services. But oh yeah. We are assuming someone who doesn’t qualify under IDEA. Well, if you disagree you can file an OCR complaint since upholding civil rights legislation is its only function. But that really hasn’t gotten anyone any HCC goods that I know about. I assure you, wrightslaw is the go to reference for all things Sped including 2e.


Anonymous said...

@NE parent

I understand the numbers you gave are intended to be estimates. Here is a snapshot of actual HC numbers for 9th grade last year from 4 high schools most HCC eligible attend. You can contact advanced learning to learn what they were at the other high schools. However also keep in mind that schools like Ballard and Roosevelt also have tons more spectrum eligible kids than some other schools example Ingraham. That creates a much larger peer group for advanced classes. How schools, grades and subjects offer honors classes also varies. Last year for example my kid had honors and non-honors in the same classes for 2 out of 3 subjects. However this year there are separate honors classes for the same three subjects. Already the kid is noticing a big difference between classes from last year versus this year.

9th grade HC-eligible for 2018 at:

Ballard - 93

Ingraham - 120

Roosevelt - 79

Garfield - 175

A NW mom

Anonymous said...

Spedite, no need to be so confrontational. You also don't seem to be that familiar with how things are often actually done on the ground. Give parents a little credit. You're also very stuck on how things are done purely under federal law, while I'm trying to talk about how this relates to some of the activities that would happen at the school level AS PART OF this proposed new HC approach.

Yes, Section 504 is a civil rights law. According to Wrightslaw (which I've accessed many times in the past), "the purpose of Section 504 is to protect people from discrimination because of disabilities. Section 504 is intended to provide access and remove obstacles. Think about Section 504 as the law that requires schools add ramps and elevators to buildings if this is necessary to give disabled children access to the educational opportunities that are available to children who are not disabled."

And...for a highly intellectually gifted student student in SPS, that would be HC services. Or T2-T3 MTSS services under the new plan.

Think about it. Providing T2 or T3 services to a student that a teacher thinks might be gifted--or might show potential to benefit from gifted services--based on a few things they've observed, while at the same time denying T2 or T3 "HC" services to a student who has already been extensively tested and objectively determined to score, say, at the 99.6th percentile of IQs, because the teacher didn't think that kid was really so smart after all since their disability played a role in performance (or, under the proposed, participation equity requirement, maybe the kid was the wrong race and upset the balance?)? That sounds like legitimate ground for a big stink. No student should be denied access to services because of their disability. I'm surprised to hear that you seem to think this would be ok because of technicalities in the law.

Guess what? IDEA and Section 504 laws and requirements can be confusing. You know who else is often confused by them? SPS staff. If you approach your school administrator about setting up a 504 plan, I can pretty much guarantee that responses will differ across schools.

Maybe this stems partly from the fact that the US Dept of Ed says: The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

BUT, you argue, FAPE under IDEA is different than FAPE under 504, so you point out that 504 says "as adequately as it does for non disabled people." Fine. But I'm not using "adequately" to refer to the effectiveness of services (or a requirement to provide federally defined SDI, progress reports, etc. )-- rather, I've been referring to ACCESS to services. In the case of the proposed new HC approach, that would be access to T2/T3 services. I fully agree with you that "basic ed, where you get acceleration, isn’t much." But that's what we do for HC in SPS, and a highly gifted student with disabilities should get the same--ESPECIALLY under the proposed plan, which is likely to have highly variable eligibility criteria.

all types

Anonymous said...

I'm also not talking about SDI or data collection or hearings or individualized plans in an IDEA or FAPE context, so please stop being so focused on simply federal law. I'm talking about the proposed new HC approach, which itself requires data collection and parent meetings and written plans. SPS seems to want to write those into the procedures for delivering HC services, at least at the T3 level. Fine--but then they'll need to follow through. If SPS wants to "count" anyone who gets T2 or T3 services in their "HC" count to the state, they're also going to need to inform the parents that students are eligible for/receiving HC services--and, those students will continue to be eligible for HC services until they graduate, right?

Oh, and I'll take you up on your bet that "the 504 meeting is really the principal sending out an email, if it happens at all." I know plenty of parents who HAVE been involved in 504 meetings and plan development. Section 504 may not "require" schools to invite parents to a meeting where the 504 Plan is developed, but some do. Many times multiple teachers are pulled into the meeting, too. Often draft plans are submitted to parents for review and approval. Maybe that's not officially required, but it often happens.

As to whether or not most people know who their school's 504 coordinator is, it's not that hard to figure out, if you need to--you just call/email the school and ask. Give parents and schools some credit for trying to work things out collaboratively when they can. I'm sure it really ticks you off if a disabled student gets something they aren't legally required to receive, but most schools and parents are trying to generally do right by their students when they can. But since this proposed new HC approach would seem to give a few random individuals within a school more power to determine who qualifies HC services, I'm just saying I think it's a good idea for parents of 2e students to make sure there's some record of their HC-ness in their 504 plan, in addition to their disability. That may come in handy if this new proposal goes through.

all types

Anonymous said...

P.S. - You may have missed it, @Spedite, but we're talking here about advocating for appropriate services, not filing legal complaints. Some of the kids to whom I'm referring WOULD be eligible under IDEA if they were evaluated, and some probably would only qualify under Section 504. Regardless, most parents spend a lot of the time on the ground, advocating with their schools, teachers, administrators on behalf of their kids, trying to get appropriate services. If the student's record at the school shows the student is 2e, you're going to be in a better position when advocating for T2 or T3 services. If a particular school's "multi-disciplinary selection committee comes up with an eligibility process that seems to exclude 2e students, parents will need to push hard. Based on what's currently listed as the potential multiple data sources schools might use for evaluating who potentially might benefit from advanced learning services, many 2e students could be overlooked. I don't think this is the goal, but I think it's a likely result. Parents of 2e students will need to help these TBD selection committees understand any (hopefully unintentional) anti-2e bias in their procedures.

all types

Anonymous said...


The author mentions her kindergarten experience. That would have been the 2007-2008 school year. HCC moved to Thurgood Marshall when the author was in second grade. What was happening at Thurgood Marshall prior to the arrival of HCC when the school was a school filled with children of color and only a handful of white students?


Charles said...

FYI, based on 2016-18 enrollment numbers:
5-12% of total HCC eligible students students in SPS have IEPs
Of all SPS elementary students with IEPs, 5-7% are HCC eligible

I haven't seen numbers for 504 students in SPS, but given the prevalence nationally of ADHD (about 9%) and dyslexia (5-10%) alone, we would expect it to be quite high if SPS is doing their duty to find students who have these conditions.

A student with ADHD doesn't necessarily need specially designed instruction or data collection or progress reports. They may or they may not. But a student with ADHD does need access to FAPE and is legally entitled to it. Teachers who don't understand the difference between a student's ability to do the homework and a student's ability to remember to turn in the homework are a big problem in SPS.

And there is no link at all between dyslexia and intelligence, so we would expect to see dyslexic students all over the place in SPS (if we looked for them):

Just as two examples. Students might also end up with an IEP or 504 plan for a mental health condition and/or eating disorder (possibly like the student whose book was discussed in the Crosscut story).

Anonymous said...

From the Comment Section in the Crosscut article where Azure (the author) replies to a comment


Nobody’s claiming they’re the best students. They’re students that learn differently and require different instruction. Providing that instruction and access to a classroom of their peers is in no way bad for them, their schools or the city.


Azure Savage LynnSeattle
20 hours ago
You could’ve easily said: they are white students who have parents that are aware about the program, and fight to get them in it in order to have their child receive a privileged education. Like everyone else in this comment section, you clearly haven’t read the book, and I’d be interested to see how your comment would change if you had. Best of luck to you."


AL Numbers said...

Advanced learners need a cohort of students. I agree with others.Students in the south end of Seattle will suffer the most.

I'm not inclined to look at current numbers of advanced learners in Ballard, Garfield HS etc. because some of these students will transfer to Lincoln High. Additionally, boundary lines will be drawn in a manner to decrease racial imbalances. In the past, there were discussions about extending the Ballard high boundary lines into Lake City.

The numbers of student that will attend Running Start and online learning, in the years ahead, are unknown.

Numbers of advanced learners in high school are meaningless.

Which Directors will vote for this half baked plan??

Anonymous said...

One of the challenges of the acts toward the students in this program is that it shows the lack of cultural competency in the district. Giftedness creates community when like finds like. This is expressed in intensities and idiosyncrasies but ultimately the HCC program is an affinity group as well as a class. The district like affinity groups for racial/cultural groups but doesn't understand that HCC is also one because the people in charge do not seem to have that understanding. HCC is also the best social-emotional learning group that gifted students can have. The cohort creates a home and place of safety where students build relationships and teachers help students feel safe. This is also the stated goal of the district yet in their misunderstanding they attack both affinity groups and social emotional best practice.

This is one place where they are ahead of the game and instead of being the people in power who change how that power is wielded they simply throw it on the fire of homogeneity and differentiation. One major step that must be implemented is universal testing. Next, re-screening for a continuation of services during grade 5 so that students may be appropriately placed in secondary ed. Next, actually have trainings for teachers for what giftedness is and isn't. What we hear on the ground is a litany of the myths regarding giftedness being presented as best practice.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Theo, I agree with what you say. But the district already doesn't like the amount they spend on testing so I doubt if they would want to pay even more for universal testing.

It's interesting that you talk about affinity and cohort groups. There were two parents of color that testified at the last Board meeting about this need for their own children. One father, who appeared to be African-American said that his son's behavior when he had been in a Gen Ed class was problematic and he feared if HCC were dissolved that his son - as an AA boy - would get singled out. The mom who testified was very honest that her daughter had been exhibiting bad behavior at school including bullying another child. She said that she had worried about them leaving the neighborhood school but that her daughter had done so much better in HCC.

I also agree with retesting kids before middle school. But again,in this district, money is always a factor.

And yes, yes, yes to PD for teachers.

Thank you for the professional insights.

Anonymous said...

Universal testing will not work unless it is accompanied by scoring in local norms. The NAGC includes local norms in best practices.

Retesting at grade 5 is critical, along with honest evaluations by teachers.

Too many students have qualified too early. More than a few have been coached thanks to Amazon books. This is different than some basic test prep, which is recommended. David Lohman, CogAT creator, says that savvy parents can get their kids into most gifted programs through extensive test prep.

Social needs are important for all students but it isn't part of the state law for HC. There are plenty of EL students who are basically living to lives--one at home, one at school.

They learn to navigate.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Fred, I took down your last comment because you didn't reference it back to your spelling error and I had no idea what you meant.

He meant to say, "living two lives--"

Your comparing ELL to AL doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

"More than a few have been coached thanks to Amazon books."

You have absolutely no proof of this. Next time, use a qualifier like "I'd bet."

Anonymous said...

@ Fred,

The "they've been coached in" argument is getting so old. If they weren't really a good fit academically or socially and only qualified because they had "savvy" parents who put them through "extensive test prep" in order to access a program/service that really wasn't supposed to be a good academic or social fit for them, wouldn't they tend to do poorly in HCC? If they aren't, doesn't that suggest maybe kids/parents sneaking their way isn't the problem some people seem to think it is?

Alternatively, if those who get in illegitimately do well in the program/service, doesn't that suggest that HCC probably isn't well designed to match the needs of those who are actually supposed to be the target population? I think that's probably the case to some extent. If so, the district could solve both problems by making revising the curriculum and delivery to be more consistent with the needs of highly capable students, such as providing more challenge, a faster pace, deeper investigation, etc. That would kill two birds with one stone if (a) HC students who needed something significantly different finally got it, and (b) students who couldn't keep up opted out of HCC.

Also, local norms will only work if the services are modified accordingly. Depending on how local norms were implemented (race-based norms across the district, or within each school?), you could end up with a situation in which students of one race (say Asian, which is overrepresented in SPS HCC), do NOT qualify for HCC if they score at the 99th percentile overall, while students from an underrepresented group DID qualify after scoring at the 85th percentile overall. That 99th percentile student who was not eligible for HCC might be easily working 2-3 grades above grade level, while the underrepresented student might be working at grade level. How does that then work for service delivery?

Yes, local norms can be important. But as the developer of the CogAt pointed out, local norms should only be used when there are services designed to align with the level of the students. Further, he pointed out that if you were qualifying students for a simple achievement-based program (e.g., SPS's acceleration approach), universal cutoffs would be appropriate, not local norms.). I'm not advocating for not using local norms--just not with the current service and service delivery model.

all types

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, if retesting at 5th grade were presented as a way to kick kids out, I'm sure the district would be all in.

all types

Anonymous said...

That’s true about test prep books, know one knows if parents use them or not. However one book:

Gifted and Talented Test Preparation: Gifted test prep book for the OLSAT, NNAT2, and COGAT; Workbook for children in preschool and kindergarten (Gifted Games) Paperback – August 18, 2016 is ranked 3000 out of all AmZon books, so somebody is sure buying it.

Check it out, you can “Look Inside” for free and see what it’s like.

Good to qualify with a “I’d bet” because Seattle parents may not be trying to game the system, who knows?

Let,s not forget that HCC’s progenitor, IPP, was designed to keep white parents from fleeing the district when busing started, as illustrated in a Very interesting article by Ballard High drama teacher Sean Riley about how busing favorably affected him when he was a SPS student.


The story in Crosscut is really sad. Racism’s ugly backwash continues to poison our schools and society and to be honest, white folks might have to give up some of their privilege and suffer a bit like black people have for centuries. In this case suffering might mean staying in a blended classroom.

I urge people to read Mr Riley and check out the test prep books and draw your own conclusions. This argument has gone on since before we entered SPS and we’re now done and it rages on.


Anonymous said...

Per David Lohman, using local norms is only best practice if the program is matched to the participant. In other words, program needs will differ for the kid who scored 160 vs. the kid who scored 115. The former may need 2 or more year’s acceleration while the latter needs enrichment and more challenging grade level work. He was very specific that local norms shouldn’t be misinterpreted as both students needing the same thing.

Local norms aren’t the magic pill unless learning plans are based on the individual student as the ALTF is proposing with MTSS, and even then Principals already said they can’t guarantee implementation of advanced learning via MTSS.

When Principals honestly say they can’t guarantee delivery and decentralization ensures it can’t be enforced, what do you think will happen?

I’d also argue against your use of EL students as a point of comparison. Their key indicators of success, per the District Scorecard, are, in aggregate, the lowest among all groups by race or program. SPS is not doing right by these students as the outcomes are very discouraging.

Navigating two worlds isn’t just a language issue, more importantly, its a cultural gap with child as the bridge. Acting as a conduit puts the child in a position of increased adult-like responsibility and, at times, stress and conflict.

Anyone in that position would benefit from an affinity group.

And while social/emotional needs aren’t state law as you stated above, didn’t the union just fight for focusing on the whole child?

Empathy Gap

Anonymous said...

NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) advocates for local norms.

Melissa, some of us have been around the block a few times. So, no, I don't need to qualify the obvious. Yes, plenty of parents are buying the Amazon books and more than a few are using the local, Eastside services that tutor for the CogAT. We're adults here, for Christ's sake.

Empathy means recognizing issues outside of your own bubble and learning the tools of resilience to endure. EL students model that every day.

Look at the names on the National Merit Semifinalists on the Eastside. They put SPS to shame.


Anonymous said...

The existence of SPS parent test prep is an opinion that can neither be proven nor disproven. Its a Rorschach blot.

Someone would have to sue and supeona Cogat publishers, distributors and test prep companies and disaggregate customers by geography and application to SPS HC program. Then you’d have to prove they actually used it and determine if there was a meaningful benefit or difference as measured by passing entrance criteria.

Or we could just persistently believe in folklore that supports our pre-existing beliefs without ascertaining the truth.

Empathy Gap

Anonymous said...

Oh, brother!

Well educated people know how to find tools. David Lohman has written about how test prep has invalidated the scores on the CogAT.

Just because no one is taking you to People's Court over your Amazon purchases doesn't disprove the obvious.

Get Real!


Melissa Westbrook said...

All Types, all I know (eons ago of course) is that they DID exit kids from Spectrum for sure. It happened at our elementary and the parents were shown that their child was struggling to keep up. No idea if that ever happens now.

JJ, you said:

"In this case suffering might mean staying in a blended classroom."

I'll just first say that hoping that any child is suffering is distasteful. Next, I'm ALL for a blended classroom - let's go out and find all those brown and black kids who ARE gifted and put them in HCC and serve their needs.

Mr. Riley's story is one of many; I can't give one person's experience that much weight.

Fred, you can't look at Amazon's numbers and make that kind of determination but if it suits your narrative, be my guest.

Are we going to try to compare SPS to Bellevue? Tried that, not apples to apples.

Fred, check that tone.

Anonymous said...

"Let,s not forget that HCC’s progenitor, IPP, was designed to keep white parents from fleeing the district when busing started"

Calling BS on that claim. IPP was started as an extension of a UW study/program for "precocious" children. It was designed to serve students working some 4 grade levels above the norm. It originally served a very small group of students. When did HC grow exponentially? When SPS effectively eliminated Spectrum.

"Look at the names on the National Merit Semifinalists on the Eastside. They put SPS to shame."

Semifinalists should be named this week. Washington's qualifying score went down one point from last year's. It will be interesting to see the distribution among schools - I'd expect more BHS and RHS students qualifying this year, as more of the HC cohort has split away from GHS and IHS.


Anonymous said...

It actually grew exponentially when the word got out and parents started to appeal to get in.


Anonymous said...

"Fred" would have us believe that the majority of students receiving HC services are there because:
1) Their parents prepped them extensively with Amazon books, or
2) They could only qualify with private appeals, and
3) The "proof" of the lack of "true" qualification is the low number of NMSF compared to ?

So much wrapped into those assumptions. Assumptions which have yet to be proven, but which continue to be asserted here AD NAUSUEUM.


Anonymous said...

OK, Freddie. Big breath. One more time. Like all standardized tests today, Cogat is normed assuming all takers are doing test prep. The publisher provides test prep materials when districts buy it, and results are valid only if all students actually did the prep. The problem is not test prep. The problem is teachers don't or can't take time out to do practice test and sample batteries especially in low income schools. Test prep is normal. It's so normal it's the norm and included in the norming! Now exhale. Attaboy.


Isolation from Peers said...

Some students benefit from having access to peers who are like them, from not being the only one like them in their class or school. This can be true for a variety of students.

Is it better to force Native American students to all attend their geographically assigned neighborhood schools even if there is only one Native student per grade or per school? Doesn't this increase isolation for that student to deprive him/her of peers who have this in common?

When deciding where to send their kids to school, do parents of African American students consider how many other African American students attend the school? Does it increase isolation for an African American student to not have access to other African American peers?

Do deaf and hard of hearing students benefit from access to other peers like them? Does this help them learn language and allow opportunities to socialize with peers like themselves? There are numerous studies that show that mainstreamed deaf/hard of hearing students experience isolation and numerous articles citing a huge risk factor to mainstreaming deaf/hoh children because it increases isolation for that student without access to peers like them.

Do GLBTQ students benefit from having access to GLBTQ peers? It increases isolation for that student to not have access to peers like them.

Do highly capable students benefit from having access to HC peers? It increases isolation for that student to not have access to peers like them.

Just mixing everyone blindly based on address can CAUSE some students to feel isolated from peers who are like them.

Anonymous said...

From WAC 392-170-055
Assessment process for selection as highly capable student:

(b) Highly capable selection decisions must be based on consideration of criteria benchmarked on local norms, but local norms may not be used as a more restrictive criteria than national norms;

An average person would probably read that as benchmarking the selection criteria to the local norms on a DISTRICT WIDE basis, not on a school-by-school basis. A lower performing district, for example, might have a lower bar for HC qualification than a higher achieving district, but if they set the cutoff at say 95%ile, that 95%ile shouldn't exclude those who would score at the 95%ile with nationally normed benchmarks.

rule reader

Anonymous said...

@ Fred,

"Well educated people know how to find tools."
Do you really think being able to find an Amazon test prep book is really what's giving the children of well-educated adults an advantage when it comes to HCC eligibility statistics? The children of well-educated people are more likely to be well-educated themselves regardless of test prep books. Do you really think the disparity started when test-prep books and centers became readily available?

"NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) advocates for local norms."
They also advocate for actual gifted services, designed to meet the needs of gifted students. The NAGC article I read referred to school-based gifted services, not a consolidated service like HCC. Big difference. The article also acknowledged some of the limitations and challenges of using local norms, too--it's not so black and white. It's always interesting to me how people advocating for use of local norms don't ever seem to want to engage in a deeper discussion of the pros and cons, even when those such as "Empathy Gap" and myself bring them up in ways meant encourage dialogue.

"Look at the names on the National Merit Semifinalists on the Eastside. They put SPS to shame."
Maybe it's the constant rationing of rigor that happens in SPS. Higher quality schools, or schools more focused on test results, are likely to produce more students meeting the NMSF cut-offs. Or are you suggesting that kids in Seattle are just, overall, not as smart as kids on the east side--and our approach and priorities have nothing to do with it? That's hard to believe.

all types

SPS Parent said...

The reality is that the fixation on the COGAT is a distraction. If the district eliminated the COGAT and just used the SBAC Achievement Tests, there would still be huge racial disparity.

Only students that score at least a 4 on both the SBAC Math and ELA sections have a shot of getting into HCC because students must score at least in the 80th percentile on the SBAC to receive a 4, and the cut off for HCC in even higher at the 95th percentile.

The following SBAC Demographics have been reported by the SBAC Consortium:

SBAC Third Grade ELA Demographics
- 7.2% of American Indian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC ELA.
- 7.7% of Black/African Americans third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC ELA.
- 8.2 of Hispanic third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC ELA.
- 23.3% of White/Caucasian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC ELA.
- 31.5% of Asian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC ELA.

SBAC Third Grade Math Demographics
- 4.7% of American Indian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC Math.
- 7 % of Black/African Americans third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC Math.
- 8.6 of Hispanic third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC Math.
- 22.3% of White/Caucasian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC Math.
- 30.3% of Asian third-graders score a 4 on the SBAC Math.

* Asian Do Best: Based on the SBAC results, we would expect more than 3 times as many Asians to Qualify for HCC as African Americans. And we would expect 6 times as many Asian third graders to Qualify for HCC as American Indians.

* Whites Do Next Best: White’s don’t do as well as Asians on the SBAC, but Whites significantly outscore Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians. Because students must pass both the SBAC ELA and ELA Math in the 95th Percentile, we would expect at least 3 times as many Whites as Blacks to qualify for HCC, and 4 times as many Whites as American Indians.

The SBAC is given to all students in SPS, in the classroom. No one is “privately tested”. And it's pretty hard to argue that the tests are racially biased towards Whites when Asians do so much better than Whites, even on the ELA test.


Anonymous said...

"Or are you suggesting that kids in Seattle are just, overall, not as smart as kids on the east side?"

My guess is that the tons of kids on the Eastside NMSF list study more and study harder.

Their parents put the onus of success on the efforts of their kids.


Anonymous said...


Or maybe their school district provides more opportunities for challenge, and thus they need to study more/harder to be successful? Look at all the advanced opportunities students in those highly rated (and typically high NMSF schools) have at school:

Seattle, on the other hand, seems intent upon trying to close the gap by limiting access to advanced learning opportunities, so why wouldn't our NMSF rates be lower than "expected"?

I suspect parents in Seattle are pushing their children just as hard to "succeed" at school--it's just that success might not require the same thing here as in some schools.

Regardless, I thought your original argument was that HC-designated students in Seattle worked the system to get in, whereas HC students on the east side were presumably more legit, and thus the higher NMSF representation? But now you're saying their high rates are actually because parents push them harder over there? If so, then how does it make sense to use NMSF stats as an indicator re: HC?

all types

Stand Back said...

If all you have to do to be "gifted" is buy a test prep book off of Amazon (and I guess maybe work through it), I don't understand why SPS doesn't just buy a book for every student or maybe all the non-Asian students since we're targeting our universalism. Then the whole district could be gifted! There wouldn't be any need for any private testing or appeals since ALL the students would be gifted.

How much time could it possibly take to run through one of these test prep books? We could just run a 2 week summer school gifted boot camp for all SPS students. Or maybe just devote a couple of weeks during kindergarten to this.

East Side said...

Bellevue also definitely reaps the benefits of "brain drain" from India and China. 40% of foreign born tech workers come from India.

More than half of our software developers were born abroad. And software developer is the number one IT job here.
1. India (40.8%)
2. China (13.5%)
3. Canada (6.0%)
4. Russia (5.9%)
5. South Korea (3.5%)
6. Vietnam (3.0%)
7. Philippines (2.1%)
8. Mexico (1.9%)
9. England (1.7%)
10. Germany (1.5%)

In 2017, Microsoft applied for 5,029 H1B visas, and Amazon for 2,622. 22% of the Seattle area’s civilian workforce was born in another country. Um, and Microsoft is not hiring high school dropouts from India and China.


Anonymous said...

Great idea, @ Stand Back! Then we can really and truly have "Honors for All" classes!

Also, think about how great Juneau will look when we Seattle is thrust into the national spotlight because all our students are scoring 4s on the SBACs!

Brilliant. Who knew it was all

so simple!

Anonymous said...

Chance favors the prepared mind, as the saying goes. Given the SPS choices of curriculum (Discovery math, Readers and Writers Workshop, and a general aversion to teaching and reading advanced texts), it's a wonder we have as many NMSF as we do. You don't need to have HC designation to score high on the SAT/PSAT, but you do need to read broadly and voluminously, know basic rules of grammar and English usage, and have a very solid math foundation through Algebra 2. Our children part-time homeschooled for math (so much easier than slogging through SPS adopted materials), learned grammar from a 1970's English textbook found at Goodwill, and just happened to love reading 19th century novels with all of their archaic language and sentence structure (also found at Goodwill...). They did respectfully well on standardized tests, even though that was not the intent of outside learning. No outside test prep. No Amazon study guides. Much of the meaningful preparation happened well before high school.


Anonymous said...

Seriously, folks, the kids are well-prepared because the study A LOT. So did their successful immigrant parents.

I'm sure they record hours more time per week studying.

Stop blaming your segregated, 2 years ahead program that you keep desperately clinging onto.


Anonymous said...

We left SPS two years ago for the eastside, Fred, and it's that the classes are better. I don't think the kids are studying a lot more. The kids don't seem to come in any smarter in elementary, but they have many, many more advanced classes, with real textbooks and teachers dedicated to helping kids with difficult material and everyone is encouraged to take them with help from the district to advance if you want. Studying outside can help a little, but nothing replaces being in a rigorous class every day, year after year with a system meant to help you achieve. SPS just doesn't have anything like that. Seattle hcc kids start off just as smart as their Eastside peers, but SPS works really hard to keep them from achieving- and it works.


Anonymous said...

@Fred, you're still not making any sense re: how this has anything to do with your initial statement about giftedness and SPS's NMSF numbers.

Also, please stop with the "model minority" stereotyping. You have no evidence they are studying more, whereas there's plenty of evidence their schools provide more advanced opportunities for learning.

So your new argument is that Seattle's HCC students are not just not-gifted, but they're also lazy?

Funny, using your logic one could also argue that maybe Bellevue's students actually aren't as gifted as Seattle's, since Bellevue students have to study "A LOT" in order to do so well.

You might want to get your story straight on the supposed or potential relationships between HCC, test prep, NMSF stats, hard work, parental immigration status, school-delivered services, etc. You seem to be contradicting yourself and/or changing the story as you go.

all types

Anonymous said...

Outta, you know they are studying more, likely A LOT more.

@all types, if you want to call facts a stereotype, then that's on you.

These disparate bits of information are parts of the whole, not contradictions.

The fact is that the behemoth SPS program really hasn't had strong results.



Melissa Westbrook said...

Stand Back, you seem ignorant of what gifted children are. You might want to educate yourself or you can go on believing there is no such thing.

I would ignore Fred as he is so certain of statements that he cannot factually prove.

Stand Back said...

I was just following Fred's ridiculous logic. If it's the test prep books that do it, why not just give all the students test prep books. That would be so much easier.

Fred is super concerned with SPS's "behemoth" program, but ironically, the answer is to make it even bigger. If the district would just stop trying to keep kids out and try to find kids and let them in, then far more kids would get their advanced learning needs met. Look for kids who could benefit from a variety of levels of acceleration/depth options and move them along.

Equity doesn't mean everyone gets nothing.

TM said...

Grade acceleration should be promoted as one option for gifted kids. It would allow students to remain in their neighborhood school AND access acceleration. It shouldn't be the only option. It should be one of the options. Clearly lay out what the prerequisites are for allowing it and then allow it for students who meet those prerequisites and chose to do it.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Students identified as in need of self-contained services may attend the self-contained program where they are placed in classes with like ability peers at Cherry Crest, Medina, Somerset, Spiritridge, Odle, Tyee, and Interlake. Students may also choose to remain at their neighborhood or choice school and receive differentiated instruction in a general education classroom."

Bellevue has all sorts of ways to help advanced learners; it's impressive. But Fred, they do have self-contained. Not sure if you are still so high on Bellevue SD.

TM, there are not enough parents who would want to do it. If there were, we'd hear more about it.

Anonymous said...

@ Fred, your various statements may be "disparate bits," but unfortunately they do not add up to "the whole." And yes, they still seem to be contradictory--or at the very least, there's no apparent logic behind them.

First, you said too many students are qualifying in SPS, because of test prep. (Although presumably Amazon sells books across the water, too, and as others have posted before, there are test prep companies over there...)

Then you said the east side's superior NMSF stats put our to shame, implying that Seattle's HCC students aren't really gifted but those on the east side are. (But I thought you were arguing that test prep skews eligibility, which prep could just as easily happen as much, or more, over there?)

Then you said east side kids on the NMSF list "study more and study harder," and that "their parents put the onus of success on the efforts of their kids." (If it's just that they're working harder, no wonder their NMSF numbers are better. But your first statement seemed to suggest the difference was because SPS was overidentifying HC students, no? So which is it?)

Let me help you out with a more plausible and internally consistent argument.

1. Both SPS, AND the east side, might admit some students who have qualified partly due to test prep. They are definitely very smart kids, but they might have just missed the cut-off that year had they not prepared.
2. When it comes to HC service provision, however, SPS is significantly weaker. East side schools provide greater access to rigor and challenge. There is less of a concern about the appearance of equity (which isn't real equity) over there; they want to help all kids thrive, not hold some back. This is true even for those who might have "questionably" made the cut (see #1).
3. Students who have benefitted from a more challenging education (east side) do better on the PSAT than those who have been in classes and sequences designed to slow them down (SPS), so east side students tend to outperform Seattle in NMSF numbers. As would be expected given #2.

Those all fit together logically, don't they? Also, please note that if NMSFs is really an indicator we want to use to measure HCC success, then our first question, if our outcomes are poor, should be whether our not our intervention is effective. Even though that very-old APP evaluation was flawed in many ways, it suggested that the SPS version wasn't doing much in the way of improving outcomes for participants, so there's another strong basis for thinking it's the service itself is ineffective--not the kids.

all types

PS - Much of the success you attribute to the hard work of immigrant children is probably more closely associated with parental income and education. Asian parents are not all working their kids to the bone.

kellie said...

My oldest graduated from SPS last year and as part of that process, we reconnected with many families that had moved "for the schools" years ago.

While everyone had some "war stories" what really struck me was the overall stability in surrounding districts. Seattle just ping-pongs from one extreme to the other, and is always chasing some magic bullet that is going to fix everything.

I was really struck by how much changes with some utter basic operational stability. Families took for granted the dead basics of their schedules - start and end times, for BOTH the school day and the school year, the full schedule of holidays and in-service days, transportation, course selection, etc.

Seriously, people were scheduling multi-year activities with confidence of their schedules. I gave up on that a long time ago. My work schedule needed to shift every single year around some change in the school schedule. The three tier time system was crazy making for so many families.

Let's just be really clear about this. SPS struggles with the absolute basics. It is not reasonable to have confidence that SPS will suddenly excel at anything advanced, based on the latest pronouncement.

SPS can't even count enrolled students with confidence.

There is one ironclad rule with all things SPS - NEVER underestimate the ability of the latest initiate to make things WORSE.

Anonymous said...

kellie, your words really jive with our experience as well. My colleague at work, who lives in Shoreline, is mystified by the SPS drama. He said once, "wow, our kids just go to school and come home and we never have to think about it". I'm so glad to be done with SPS - dealing with them was a full time after work job. I've always thought they should maximize STABILITY in services for families over everything else. But instead everything is a moving target based on what fiefdom is running the show from week to week. They really do not deserve the levy money they get.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie and FutureNoVotes, excellent points and ones I've made over and over.

Many people want the only focus for the Strategic Plan to be race and equity. This is the most important work there is BUT if the buses don't run on time, no one is getting an education.

Why this district struggles financially is a mystery. I mean, me of all people, understand how the public education of today is different from when I went to school. But the district passes those levies which bring in even more money so what's really the problem?

It isn't any one person although FNV's observation that a new head of the district doesn't help. It's the same, year in and year out. I will say - again - what Moss Adams said: If you don't change the culture of the bureaucracy, you change nothing.

JSCEE is just full of people who mean well but somehow there are the same problems. You'd think Juneau would notice this.

I'd have to guess, but I probably have written to the last six superintendents, telling them all this and saying I would be glad to help in any way I can. Most of them got back to me and thanked me for the information I provided them. Did any of them get what I said about Operations? Clearly not.

Operations change IS in the Strategic Plan and SHOULD be as visibly addressed as the race and equity issue.

Lastly, I believe most parents want what Bellevue, Shoreline, etc. have. A decently run district that they don't have to think/worry about throughout the school year. They want to think about their kid's school, not what's happening downtown.

kellie said...

@ Mel and FutureNoVotes,

I completely empathize with the desire for the district to focus on equity and equity will make everything "work."

It is almost impossible to comprehend the amount of bandwidth that is absorbed by families, students, teachers and building administrators just managing the constant changes.

IMHO, capacity issues are the real equity issue. Capacity management, vis the intersection of the budget and enrollment is the PROCESS by which teachers are assigned to schools.

Getting teachers in place in a timely fashion is absolutely critical to doing anything at all. We expect our teachers to be super-heroes. And now we are going to expect them to differentiation and acceleration over and above everything else.

That's a wonderful theory. But how is that going to work, when SPS struggles to find any teachers at all. Then there is the issue with a chronic shortage of substitute teachers.

I would really love to see this district get the basics handled with some operational efficiency so that there is some bandwidth to rally tackle more complicated issues.

Anonymous said...

I would really love to see this district get the basics handled with some operational efficiency so that there is some bandwidth to rally tackle more complicated issues.

No kidding. Unfortunately it seems that the one thing to which SPS is consistently committed is taking on complicated issues via overly simplistic analyses and approaches that don't seem to recognize the complexity at hand and that are thus bound to fail, further decreasing operational efficiency.

Bass Ackwards

SM Schwartz said...

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