Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Yoo Hoo, Seattle School Board - Here's the 411

Dear Directors,

As the late, great Anthony Bourdain said on Top Chef, "What kind of crack house are you running here?"

Naturally, that is some measure of hyperbole and yes, I know, you are running nothing.

However, your job is oversight.  And frankly, I think you are doing a piss-poor job on oversight (except, of course, for Director Hersey who just got here).

Here's a few suggestions for improvement:
  • Not accepting every single explanation you are given.  Tell staff, "That doesn't make sense to me?" "What is the context?" That kind of thing. I saw this one time at a Board committee meeting in the spring with Director Mack who twice said, after staff said their enrollment numbers were correct, "I don't believe that."  She didn't expand on it but made it clear that she was not buying what they were selling.
  • If you don't get answers to questions after a second time, demand to know why not and ask for a firm date.  President Harris has asked, over and over, for more than a year to see data on Honors for All at Garfield.  It's as if she wants to know the highs and lows so that if the district decides to put this out to all the high schools, those schools will know how to avoid those issues. 
  • If the district is making a quiet and unexplained shift in programming, again, demand why that is the choice being made and why the district does not want to be clear and transparent with parents (see Advanced Learning which has quietly morphed into something almost unrecognizable except for HCC but wait for it! that's coming as well).
  • Be clear on the use of Intro/Action at a Board meeting.  My understanding was that was for true emergencies, NOT that staff couldn't get things done in a timely manner.  I see this happening more and more and I cannot fathom why you would allow that. 
Here's a not-complete list of what my readers have to say:

- In a nutshell and throughout the district:
"The most frustrating aspect of math at SPS is the lack of clarity. Regardless of the reasons why families want to know how to get to 8th grade algebra/12th grade calculus, there should be clear, district wide policies and options. Sadly there are not. And even at a school level there is rarely a well documented and communicated answer."
Kellie LaRue
Downtown says "Parents, you need to trust us. We know what is best for ALL students. This time will be different. I promise."

Parents say "Trust is based on promises kept."

Downtown makes it clear over and over again, that putting teachers into school buildings, is not the number one priority of the school district. This year's drama can be boiled down to ... 'We find overstaffing the entire district by even one teacher so fiscally offensive, that we understaffed by 45 teachers instead. You are welcome."

Seriously, parents have every right to be skeptical that any plan based on PROVIDING MORE SERVICES at the school building level will be yesterday's news before the ink is dry on the press release and will be long forgotten during the next budget cycle when those services need to be paid for with real money, not lip service.
True real meaningful differentiation is the holy grail in education. It can be done, but only with a lot of funding for small class sizes and professional development.
IB has been in Seattle Schools for 15 years now. IB requires a tiny amount of additional funding, in the form of test fees and an IB coordinator. Just look at the history of paying for that small promise and you can easily understand the skepticism / hysteria.  
Why does staff choose to use racially charged words. Because Juneau likes it.

Why does staff use false history. Because Juneau likes it.

Why was Washington middle School allowed to simmer in hate for the whole year and then the perpetrator of that hate was placed at licton springs. Because Juneau likes it.

Why did staff silence the third ALTF in 5 years. Because Juneau likes it.
Since our family has been in Seattle Public Schools:

* Walk to Math was eliminated in our neighborhood school (kids that were ahead had to redo a year of math)

* Spectrum was eliminated in our Service Area Elementary School
* Advanced Language Arts was eliminated in our middle school for “Spectrum” qualified students

* Advanced Language Arts was eliminated in our middle school for “HCC” qualified students

* HCC Elementary Reading standards were changed from two years advanced to one year advanced and new curriculum was purchased that was 1 year ahead. Our child received the same grades on the same school level report card to years in a row.

* Regular Math Homework was prohibited school-wide in our elementary school
* Regular Writing Homework was prohibited school-wide in our elementary school

* The Wednesday school day was cut short

* Separate High School Honors English was eliminated
* A new “Science for Dummies” curriculum was adopted district wide

* Our son spent 2 weeks at the end of the school year watching movies in math class because the planed materials had been completed.
* I was twice been told, once by a senior district administrator, and once by a principal, that providing advanced learning, such as walk to math, added logistical complexity.
- Hazel Wolf is phasing out walk to math at the elementary level.
No one should kid themselves. MTSS is not about ensuring advanced learners are challenged. Rather, it is about (1) helping struggling students catch up; (2) keeping advanced learners from staying ahead, and (3) making things easier for district administration.
Reader about The Source 
Apparently the district is about to announce that the Source will no longer be available for regular grade monitoring, and parents will get only 8 grade updates (progress reports, report cards) per year now.
Reader on Strategic Plan goal for African-American Males

Today, my high school student daughter shared something concerning. Students sit at tables in one of her classes and get up to 3 points for participation. She learned today that her teacher had given her 2.5 points. She went to the teacher and asked why she hadn't gotten 3 points, pointing out that she pays attention, asks questions and doesn't talk during class. The teacher said she was right and would give her 3 points this time. But, the teacher told her that she won't be able to do that in the future because the other students at her table are black and two of them are not paying attention, but it wouldn't look good if she gave the only white student at the table 3 points. 
Me on the Budget
Directors Mack and Pinkham refused to approve the budget because of these enrollment concerns.  I have been watching this district for decades and I almost have never seen this.  Did this not register with some of you?

Reader on Enrollment
Can we approach the board to adopt a policy that errs on the side of over projecting enrollment? Staff can be let go easier than they can be hired and the long term implications of what happened this year have far reaching implications, for affluent and especially for FRL schools.
Kellie La Rue on Eric Blumhagen's assessment of the high school enrollment issues:
Eric Blumhagen's essay is very well written and gets directly to the point. This situation was entirely preventable.

Eric's conclusion is also equally clear and illustrates the interconnections of budget, enrollment and capacity. The change we need to make is straightforward. We need to prioritize teachers and students in the budget process.

The phrase "it goes without saying" was practically invented for this situation. It should go without saying that prioritizing teachers and students in the budget is the core work of a school district. However, that simply is not the case with SPS.

I attended the 5/8/19 Board Work Session, and staff make their priorities quite clear during that meeting. It was stated that there was "not enough money to take the risk of over-staffing schools". They repeatedly mentioned that once teachers are in place, they are nearly impossible to remove, because of board and public pressure.

Because over-staffing a school building by even one teacher was so fiscally irresponsible, staff was very clear in their assertion that they only fiscally responsible option was truly to RIF teachers in June and then re-hire in October, if necessary.

That is a plan created by bean counters, not educators. So the "solution" to the problem of "over-staffing" is to create chaos for the start of school process. If staff wanted to prioritize teachers and students, there is a very simple solution.

Every year, we have millions of dollars in underspend for budgeted teaching positions. This is because some positions go unfilled and because new inexperienced teachers are less expensive than the budgeted amount. These dollars that were already budgeted for teachers could easily be converted into a staffing stabilization fund.
Reader on Capacity

Dozen of capacity-hardened parents contacted the district. By this point, many parents have been fighting capacity related battles since their high school students, started Kindergarten.
For just high school, there were 300 new registrations for high school after open enrollment and before the start of school. That is 10 teachers worth of students, added over the summer. Budget flexibility is a requirement.
Kellie La Rue on the Crosscut story by Liz Brazile on RBHS and its teacher cuts :
"Community based funding" can't help enrollment and budget swings of this size. What can help is the district guaranteeing that the current year's staff at Title 1 schools is continued into the next year. Title 1 schools need some semblance of staffing stability. That should be the budget priority. 

While all high schools were needlessly harmed in this process, some schools are able to bounce back faster than others. Liz's article clearly captures that dynamic.

Eric's article captures all the nuances of the problem, most likely because Eric has served on multiple SPS Task Forces related to capacity, enrollment and budget and has followed this topic for more than a decade. Liz's article captures the situation with fresh eyes but misses many of the more complex and more troubling and longer lasting problems from failing to center the budget on students, particularly Title 1 students.

Rainier Beach's 2018 enrollment was 740. Rainier's Beach's enrollment has been growing every year. Despite that Rainier Beach was budgeted for 685 for the 2019 school year. The projected 55 student drop necessitated removing two teachers from the budget.

The first day count was 806. That number is completely in line with the steady year over year growth that Beach has been experiencing and would require adding two teachers. That makes a total gap of 121 students.

RIF'ing a teacher at Rainier Beach was myopic at best. IMHO, it was just cruel.
Director Hersey, as it is in your district, here is Kellie to explain it:
So here is the much longer lasting damage to Rainier Beach.

High School is the Master Schedule and the Master Schedule is set in the Spring. A high school can only deliver classes that are on the schedule and the schedule is set by the budget.

Rainier Beach's schedule was set to 685 students. Now you can overload teachers past the 150 mark and stretch that a bit. But you just can't give 6 full classes to 806 students.

That means many students just have holes in their schedules or a lot of TA slots.

So what can a student do? Those with another choice, leave. Some students who were planning to attend Rainier Beach, but don't have the classes they need, leave for charter schools, Running Start or other districts.

The failure to appropriately staff a high school can easily cause the predicted enrollment drop. This then justifies the projection and the chaos is swept under the rug.

Rainier Beach has worked hard to grow their enrollment and their community. They have done this despite the bean counters short staffing the school, year after year.

This is not a WSS problem. This is not a fundraising problem. This is a management problem.

Using the equity lens, Rainier Beach is the only Tier 1 high school. As such, Rainier Beach is supposed to be protected in the budget. Manipulating the enrollment projections as work around to that protection is beyond inappropriate.

 On Nutrition services. 
You saw the KUOW story? And the letter to the Superintendent by Local 609 where they voted for a motion of no confidence in Aaron Smith, head of Nutrition Services?

Disgraceful.  This the food that children - mostly F/RL children - eat every day.

Readers on Advanced Learning
The district just wants some quick and easy equity points. They don’t actually care if students of color get access to advancement. If they did, they would have listened to the recommendations of the 2014 ALTF. They can change the identification practices anytime. 

The current proposal would send everyone to their red-lined inequitable schools. The well off, low FRL schools with supportive leadership will serve their AL students well. The high FRL or middle of the road ones with unsupportive leadership, bias teachers and with high number of struggling students won’t serve their AL students. Fake equity at its finest. 

This district still has teachers who call the police on their 5th graders, where principals publicly shame their black students, where classrooms go a whole year with no teacher. So now, magically, all teachers will have the resources, capacity, cultural competency and racial training to see and serve their black and brown students as advanced learners. It’s sad that the equity problem will get worse, but the conversation about equity in AL will end because these kids now will be invisible.
"An immediate challenge is that not every building has services to provide even if they all implemented local norms tomorrow. According to a new study published in Gifted Child Quarterly that used data from the Office of Civil Rights, over 42 percent of U.S. schools have zero students identified as gifted. This points to a major implication of what we propose: All schools would need to proactively plan for how they would challenge their most advanced learners."

The first or second slide suggests that advanced learning was set up to stop white flight during the 1980s, which is totally wrong and a historical and should not be allowed to stand unchallenged. (Editor's note - hey Board, Dr. Nancy Robinson whose work help start the program, is still alive and probably would be glad to tell you about it. Contact me for details.) 

DeWolf has never recanted his claim that HC is 90% white.

"RECOMMENDATION 5: Enhance equity in access to Highly Capable and Advanced Learning services and programs. The District should provide additional pathways for identification of students who need Highly Capable services at all grade levels. In addition to teacher nomination and parent nomination, the District should investigate testing all kindergarten and/or second-grade students with an unbiased, non-verbal, cognitive screener (such as the CogAT screening form). In addition, the District should design and implement plans to support students who demonstrate potential for high achievement, especially those from underrepresented groups (including special education and high-poverty students), through talent development
initiatives. Details of administration and implementation would be developed jointly by the Advanced Learning office and the Equity and Race Relations department. "

Yeah that was 5 years ago and nothing. happened. I see nothing but inaccurate data, bordering on propaganda false history, smoke and mirrors in this bogus deck. 

Teacher Theo Moriarty

A gifted cohort IS an affinity group. It is THE most effective service for students diagnosed with giftedness.

A gifted cohort IS the best social emotional learning environment for these asynchronous children.

But since SPS is relying on demagoguery rather than research based best practice they are blaming the children for their own needs rather than owning up to being directly hostile, encouraging staff ignorance through a lack of training, removing what few qualifications a teacher needed in order to teach the program, and now saying that since they don't like how they've run it they are now going to fix it by killing the hopes and dreams of these children? 

Reader on the Documentation for today's Work Session on Advanced Learning

@Raceless who said "15% OF HCC STUDENTS HAVE NO RACE!!!
The percentages in the chart on page 5 don't add up to 100%. Which is weird given how the whole AL part of the document is focused on race rather than academic need.
Yes and the new demographic form is just as bad. It specifies ethnicity from 7 regions for "Black" Americans. They broke down every other racial group but "white" and "Asian". "Asian" can be a multitude of diverse people with diverse backgrounds, no different than Black people. "White" is also not a region, country, or unified ethnicity. European American is not even accurate. Historically "white" has been an elusive ever evolving term and only those specifically of Christian Northern European Anglo-Saxon heritage being clearly considered "white". This continues even today with Jews being targeted as "other" by white nationalists. What the heck? White and Asian are just as diverse!
MTSS is not the answer. As stated near the beginning of the district's own slide deck, there is already serious variability in schools' ability to provide differentiated services. Asking even more of teachers is not going to change that.

A few reminders:
-the AL program was developed by SPS. At this point I don't care about it's provenance. From 1977 or whenever. It's no longer relevant. Every other school district that I can think of recognizes that there are kids who work and learn at different levels. There are kids who are advanced, there are kids who are behind and they all need to be given their version of basic education. Don't tell kids who are to hurry up-so why is it of to tell advanced kids to wait?
-most of the reasonable voices within AL have been advocating for years, yes years, that the identification process is flawed. And what does SPS do? Double down on flawed. And also, use tests like the SBAC as a gate for apparently rationed services i.e. Middle School Math.
-SPS has lied along the way. They have lied about services, they have lied about identification, they have lied about putting an actual curriculum in place for AL.
All of you folks who are up in arms about how awful it is to have bright, gifted kids in SPS have been duped by none other than SPS who will ultimately lie about everything they promise to implement. Like capacity issues, this will be a self fulfilling prophesy in that those who can, will leave. And viola, the AA Male gap issue--will have been solved. Because you know, those AL kids are taking resources from everyone else, right?

That's the way that SPS has rolled.

Finally from Kellie LaRue  - The basics of project management go like this.

* Plan to accomplish X
* By doing Y
* As measured by Z.

This presentation utterly fails that rudimentary lens.

* Plan to accomplish racial equity
* By a mysterious 6 year, undetermined plan to make identification the problem of the homeroom teacher
* As measured by ... (crickets)
What should be in this (AL)  presentation is something more like this.

* Plan to increase AA participation in Advanced Learning
* By hiring gifted education specialists trained to identify gifted learners in historically underserved populations.
* As measured by our goal of 8% participation in AL by African American Students.
And then the real way, you can identify an actual committed plan

* Using this budget code and this funding source.
All we have in this entire presentation is one more unfunded mandate placed onto homeroom teachers.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the board has research staff? It’s already bonkers that these positions that have oversight of a $1 billion budget, do this in their “free time” in addition to paid day jobs. Please tell me they have support staff to do the heavy lifting.


Anonymous said...

Truly, you have to be cruel to be kind: if you love and wish to defend public k-12 education in Seattle, vote NO on the ed levy.

FAIL A LEVY! Please, please, fail a levy. No other message of correction penetrates their disconnected thinking.

We can vote in new board members, but we had a half decent board a couple of years ago, and still, they made horrible, horrible decisions that cost millions. Special ed still is not a service where all students thrive, let alone get treated with respect. The test score gap continues, without significant progress, and schools in the north are underserved from statutorily required PE and art education.

More than a billion dollars and our elementary schools don’t have counselors. There are not enough family support services either.

And now to cover up their pathetic inability to have their one identified target demographic, African American males, do well in school, they are pushing hard to take away learning from other kids. That is never going to boost AA male test scores.

This needs to get fixed.

SPS CAN ALWAYS BRING BACK A FAILED LEVY 6 months later, vote yes then, BUT UNLESS AND UNTIL OUR DISTRICT GET REBUKED, the “powers that be” at the top will keep arrogantly harming and ultimately destroying the viability of Seattle’s public schools. Families with means will flee to Mercer Island or Bellevue. Families in the SE clearly are embracing charter schools. The only thing that solves a quality problem is quality. Let the teachers teach. Let the principals support.

SPS’s CFO Berge willfully RIFed teachers out of highschools, shorting 1,600 high school kids: and all of this teaching FTE had to then be replaced anyway - but the fire/hire cycle disrupts learning, leaves kids scrambling for courses, overcrowds classrooms, destroys moral, and shrinks enrollment.

This Board brought in Amplify and thus destroyed lab science and thus entrenched a “second class citizenship” for kids who parents and guardians are unable to go outside the system and procure real science learning for their kids.

This SPS JSCEE destroyed WMS. The year of lost learning for children at Washington Middle School, that too means that school’s “fortunes “ have reversed and meant that Capitol Hill family have fled for other options.

Please, vote NO on SPS levys until one fails

They ONLY CARE ABOUT MONEY. WITHDRAW IT FOR 6 months, and yes, we will get their attention.


Watching said...

The district is in a state of chaos. I've not seen the district in this bad of shape since 2008.

Digital Balloons said...

Meanwhile, my 9th grader is doing Physics A. Guess what they've been doing in class all week? Static electricity. Today they sat in front of a computer and pretended to rub an image of a balloon against an image of a scarf. +s and -s appeared on the screen. Voila, static electricity!

Anonymous said...

@Vote NO

I agree. There are few levers that would send the message more quickly than a lack of money. When is the next levy?

Frankly, I have to wonder if there were to be analysis, how all the money that the district has received in the last 5-7 years and used has been spent according against plan?

That would be a very interesting analysis for all votes to have.

-long road

Anonymous said...

"President Harris has asked, over and over, for more than a year to see data on Honors for All at Garfield. It's as if she wants to know the highs and lows so that if the district decides to put this out to all the high schools, those schools will know how to avoid those issues. "

Melissa despite not providing data on Honors For All, they have already quietly rolled out Honors For All English at multiple and perhaps all high schools. The same has been done for other subjects at various schools. There is also no consistency in how honors is provided either between subjects or grade levels within or between schools.


911 said...

This is what happens when the board majority Harris, Geary, DeWolf +1 rubber stamp everything the district puts in front of them.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Taxpayer, they have no research staff. This has been noted for years. It's people like Meg Diaz, Kellie LaRue and others who have expertise and do the work for free.

No Vote, I have said this for years. Nothing would get their attention better. The world would not end. And the next one is BTA V and it's smaller than either BEX or Operations. I believe it comes up in Feb. 2022.

Digital Balloons, you're kidding, right?

FYI, I wonder if the Board knows this about Honors for All. This is the new MO - don't talk about it, explain, just do it and say "transparency" and "equity" all the time.

"There is also no consistency in how honors is provided either between subjects or grade levels within or between schools."

Of course not. Every school is SO very different that every principal just has to do it differently.

Anonymous said...

Where is the info about no longer being able to access the Source on a regular basis, and is it for all grade levels? I can't imagine grade info being restricted for high school students.

what's next?

Anonymous said...

Re "the district announcing that the Source will no longer be available for regular grade monitoring, and parents will get only 8 grade updates (progress reports, report cards) per year now." Apparently teachers have been sent emails about this change. When will parents be told? What is the rationale? Where is the community engagement? My kid is upset - as are many who take a healthy interest in their academic performance. I'm annoyed that this limits parent's ability to participate in their kids education by checking kids are turning in their assignments, retaking tests that they don’t do well on, seeking help from teachers or outside tutoring if necessary and generally holding students accountable in real time. Not at the end of each month. Some kids really need this. Last I heard parental involvement was a good thing and important to a child's academic success. That's one way way to close the achievement gap LOL. - knowing SPS they think it’s just the privileged white parents that monitor The Source so of course we can't have that. Or maybe bcause some students don't care much about what grades they get, they want all students to care less about their grades- there that's equitable now.
Shouldn't grades recorded in the gradebook be equivalent to ones medical record - they belong to the student and therefore student should be able to view recorded details when they want to.
Perhaps I will resort emailing each of my kids teachers to ask for their latest grade details on a regular basis, more work for me but more for the teachers too, so perhaps they will push back if enough parents do this.


Anonymous said...

I hope this news about limited updates to the Source is not true. My high schoolers check it daily - often multiple times a day. Their main check is to see if assignments turned in have been recorded. There has been more than one occasion, normally about once a month,where an assignment has been recorded as missing when it was turned in, and turned in on time. My kids were able to notice this via checking the Source. If kids have to check in with each teacher, each day to see their current grade and such that will be a lot of extra hassle for teachers.


Anonymous said...

I don't know I was pretty impressed with all the board members tonight. I think Harris does a great job. I can't think of one comment made that I wasn't shaking my head in approval.

Staff are way over their skis and I thought the board politely reminded them of that.


AL Meeting said...

The district had an Advanced Learning Committee meeting. The district only accounts for 85% of AL students. Where is the other 15%? There are 4889 students in the program. The district lists 14% of these students as "mixed race".

Advanced Learning Department promises to offer challenging curriculum, offer models for those with atypical needs (How is the district presently managing dyslexic needs?),support social and emotional needs (CBA offers 10 counselors), and high quality professional development (in addition to New Science Standards, Amplify and Race and Equity training.)

Many boundary changes to SE schools. Each option school will be incorporated into Geo Zone...impacted schools : Cleveland HS, Cedar Park ES, South Shore PK-8, Hazel Wolf K-8, Orca K-8, Salmon Bay K-8, Stem K-8, Thornton Creek ES.

Similar to Amplify, the district has been dismantling advanced learning in schools. The plan appears to continue down the same path. For example, middle schools will only offer advanced math. High schools will have Honors for None type program.

Documents contain unnamed racially charged quotes. NO from POC that support existing model; the individuals that we have seen testify at board meetings.

Anonymous said...

Jeez Louise, is catering to the best and brightest via advanced learning in SPS the only national topic of interest???? Is there no issue any more important than 9th grade “Honors for All” in the entirety of western civilization? Have the 1000s of lamenting blog posts on the poor plight of advanced learning possibly missed an important point somewhere? What could possibly matter more?

—Moving On
(Or so I thought that was the promise, or is this just HCC blog?)

Anonymous said...

"Staff are way over their skis and I thought the board politely reminded them of that."

If staff are way over their skis, maybe they need more than "polite reminders."

@ Moving On, first of all, please don't refer to HC students as "the best and brightest." Whether you mean it as a slur against those students, or other non-HC students, it's obnoxious and uncalled for. Please grow up and engage in civil conversation. You can be sick of tired of hearing about HCC or AL, that's fine--then don't read the threads that are clearly on that topic. Second, for parents of HC students who need HCC services--such as kids who were really struggling in regular classes and finally began to get by/thrive/behave/learn/etc. once they entered HCC--the attack on HCC service in SPS is a matter of utmost importance. If your kid is sick, getting them health care is a priority, right? This isn't all that different.


Franklin Update said...

Franklin teachers were calling attention to class sizes:

Pre Calc: 36 students
Algebra 2: 35 students
US History: 36 students
World History: 35 students

Anonymous said...

Cute that people keep bringing up (is the total now 2?) "POC" that testified recently at some board meetings.

Underserved *does* mean historically underserved AND underrepresented. Trying to add mixed race to that statistic isn't valid, especially when parent education attainment is a variable.

Welcome to Autumn 2019, folks! People aren't taking the same old, same old injustices anymore.

The gravy train on the public dole (also known as the underwhelming HCC/HC in SPS) is on it's last breath. The actual outliers will get the self-contained services they need, like the IPP and early APP used to be. The rest will legally get some continuum of services locally that will fit their lesser capabilities. All legal.

There will also likely be local norming, which is the only way to increase historically underserved student identification. Yeah. I know. I used to be such a radical. Look what has happened in three years! Now I am practically a moderate.

Were "the program" producing anything close to the results of the east side in NMSF, you might have an argument for business as usual.

The results speak for themselves. They are lame.


AL Meeting said...

Advanced Learning Department wants to offer learning opportunities to provide consistent practices and minimum offerings at all schools. How many times has the district tried to cut IB funding?

Licton Springs would move to Webster building. I don't see anything about Cascadia.

Washington Middle School would be an HC pathway- no cohort. Those in HC pathway will be invited to attend local school.

October 10th there will be a SE elementary boundary change meeting at Mercer.

Anonymous said...

It's notable that Jill Geary and her acolytes think the most important thing to do in this district for racial equity is killing HCC. I'm personally fine with getting rid of HCC, I don't really care one way or another about it, but eliminating it will do precisely nothing to achieve equity.

What have Geary or Juneau or Hampson or Slye or Rankin said or done about huge class sizes? What have the said or done about flawed enrollment projections? What have they said or done about the loss of teachers of color from the classroom (caused by those enrollment projections)?

I really wish people would just call BS on these folks. They haven't done a damn thing for racial equity, and no, going after HCC ≠ racial equity.


Anonymous said...

People should be up in arms about moving Licton Springs K-8 to Ballard. It's a racist, colonialist move that literally breaks a treaty SPS made with the Native community in this city. The open contempt which SPS has for Native education is just shocking to behold.


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

That is a straw man argument.

Making her the bogeywoman as a way to avoid the injustices in HCC continues to get you nowhere.

I'm a veteran teacher. I have no foals in this game.


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

But FWIW, there is no injustice bigger than the travesty being perpetuated against us whose children have been “diagnosed” gifted. What could be more important than gifted kids? Licton Springs over run by giftedness? Don’t they truly deserve it for 8th grade Algebra? Sped, homelessness, immigrants in camps, the planet? Small potatoes compared to our kids getting their fair challenge. Kellie, Meg Diaz, all obviously right about everything precisely because they have gifted children, so clearly they know. “The master schedule “ is a huge revelation. Obviously middle schools don’t have master schedules, do they?

Moving On

Washington MS said...

Let' s talk about Washington Middle School. Families recently went through hell.

It is not uncommon for HCC students to experience upheaval. It is not uncommon for HCC students to get moved - multiple times- throughout their educational experience. Now, the district will allow them to go to WMS without guaranteed rigor. Of course, they could return to their community school without any guarantees of advanced learning.

FWIS- if you don't like the conversation...move on.

Washington MS said...

How does the district plan to meet the needs of students that are four years behind their peers?

Anonymous said...

Good question. Historically by cramming full HTC classes saving a ton of money and using that money in the south east and South Central area.

The cohort model has also been used to shut people up. Yeah you're at a high school and your kids are in third grade. There's no playground You're in the middle of a cramped neighborhood. You don't have any grass. Every room you will be in will be crowded. Every room you will be in hasn't seen children in decades. Please shut up and enjoy the ride.

The sacrifices they made made it so FRL schools can come online. World school.

HCC is the Bitcoin for Seattle Public schools. They spend it when they need it.

Kari Hanson has been trying her damndest to flush that bitcoin every chance she gets. I know why. She's part of the in-crowd. She talks to Devin Bruckner and Brian Terry. There's rumors that the district paid for Devin's advocacy website. Man bites dog.

Geary and Bruckner have more in common than that. They are anti-HCC and proud of that. But their kids are in the HCC.

So HCC is not gummy bears and roses. The cohort is often asked to do more than most schools. I have to believe that when staff is asking it is so that the money can be spent on those kids who are three four five years behind.

Otherwise I would guess that the money that was saved by the cohort what's bent on repeated task force that they had no intention to listen to. Or it may have been spent on thoghtexchange contracts.

Funny that Juneau is hitting the ground stumbling. It is as if she only listened to Nyland. Who did no s*** about what he was doing. She didn't do any really outreach. Now she's trying to go behind the back of the board to bring in TAF.

Helium high

Anonymous said...

Oh crap I read below not above. Another good question. Contact Robinson center.

Me above

Unknown said...

Politics over pedagogy... It's the SPS way.


Anonymous said...

Can someone please clarify what exactly is the proposal for HCC? I am hearing several different things on this thread. Are they leaving a cohort in place but for a smaller group of HCC identified kids? What is the proposed criteria? If it is local normed for neighborhood does that mean some kids who test within 1% percentile will be left out of services if there is a limiting "quota" allowed in that neighborhood? Are some middle schools (WMS) eliminating a cohort altogether, but others (ex HIMS)continuing a cohort model? What's happening at the elementary level? Is the Cascadia cohort being dismantled?

As an HCC parent I would like to share an opinion. I have had really mixed feelings about the cohort because there are some HCC kids who are left alone in their schools when all the other kids are gone. My kid entered in middle school and it was life altering socially and academically because there were few HCC identified kids left at their elementary. They self identified as a "nerd", not meant in a bad way, just that they felt very different.

I also know of a (lower income) kid who went to our neighborhood middle school who had it really tough socially, when all the other HCC kids had left the school. These were kids who were missed, or maybe just missed the cut-off for one of the tests. The kid is a self described "nerd" and has gravitated toward other HCC identified kids we know in high school. He shared his lonely middle school experience with me and said he finally has friends who are also "nerds". We know of HCC kids who score high enough on cognitive but might be single subject gifted. It also seems like the neighborhoods with high enough populations of HCC kids could serve their kids in their neighborhood schools. It's the kids in the areas where there are few others such as areas in the south end IMO that would really need a cohort.


kellie said...

@ Moving on,

I will address your middle school master schedule comment on the high school thread where it is less likely to be lost in the AL discussion.

That said, the nice thing about blogging with your own name, is that you get to own you own voice and not be lumped into hundreds of anonymous comments. For the record, I could care less about the cohort/no cohort debate. I have a long record of caring about budget, enrollment and capacity and using SPS limited resources wisely.

My most conservative estimate to provide guaranteed advanced offerings at high school without a cohort will require a minimum of 30 teachers across 12 comprehensive high schools. That's the minimum and the real answer is more likely 50 teachers. That is just high school. The cost to do across all of K-12 is enormous and frankly, there are so many unmet needs, I think it is absurd that somehow the most pressing need in the district is proving AL at every school.

Anonymous said...

But Kellie, focusing on the budgeting and funding challenges that come with an actual commitment to meeting the needs of every student would require leadership. It is so much easier to roll out a slide deck full of this year's buzzwords, take the applause, and stand back while groups of parents tear each other apart.

This would be a worthwhile angle for the education reporters who cover SPS.


Anonymous said...

The cohort provided an assurance of some minimal level of acceleration. Having experienced the changes in APP/HC over the years, and the inconsistencies from building to building, administrator to administrator, and teacher to teacher, the current proposal to leave it up to individual teachers and schools means that there will be MORE inconsistency, not less. It will create inefficiencies in scheduling and budgets. Budgets will take precedence, and teachers will be blamed for not providing enough challenge (because they will have been tasked with unrealistic expectations).

"Consistent offerings" at all schools means the most advanced offerings - those that were made possible because of a critical mass of accelerated students at a pathway school - are very unlikely to be offered. Whether it's Algebra 2 in middle school (or even Geometry), or AP Physics C, AP Calc BC, or just additional AP science options in HS, those classes will most likely be on the chopping block. More students will consider online courses or Running start as their only option, leading to a self perpetuating cycle of not enough students to offer advanced coursework in SPS high schools. Perhaps SPS is just fine with this, but Running Start costs families $ and requires students to find their own transportation to the community college. Yes, low income students may get some financial assistance, but there are many in the middle who may find it a financial burden but are above the threshold for getting aid. Yes, some students have ORCA cards, but they may not be in a location well served by Metro. While the proposal suggests the changes will result in more access to AL opportunities, the burden will actually be shifted to students and families.

not hopeful

Anonymous said...


1. That you are a veteran teacher doesn't carry much weight. Most of those who have discriminated against my children in the past were teachers, too. That's the problem.

2. There's no HCC "gravy train," but yes, HCC/HC services in SPS are underwhelming. It's no surprise that students who face more and more limited opportunities for academic growth don't do quite as well on the PSAT as those in neighboring schools that actually support HC students. Being a teacher and all, I would think you'd understand that.

3. Exactly where in the "plan" does it say "the actual outliers will get the self-contained services they need"? And what constitutes and "actual outlier"? If we're talking "profoundly gifted," that might be 1 in a million (so 0-1 students). Add in "exceptionally gifted" (about 1:10,000 - 1:1 million) and we might have 5 or so students--so absolutely no chance of a student having a cohort of peers. So maybe we add in "highly gifted" (1:1,000 - 1:10,000), and end up more like 5-50 students...which, when spread over 13 grades, and after accounting for those who don't want to or can't participate in some small program that sends them off to be treated as the anomalies they are, might have a couple students per grade level. Or possibly NO other students your grade level, or even within a year, but hey, they're all so unique they can bond over that, since surely kids like that don't really need any choice when it comes to developing friendships, right?

4. What exactly is this magical "continuum of services locally" of which you constantly speak, but NEVER clarify when repeatedly asked? Do you seriously think MTSS is the answer? What tier of services do you think all these former-HC but now "lesser capability" students will get, and what will that look like? How will these "lesser capability" services look compared to these mysterious and also-unexplained "IPP-like" services--will the IPP type services include instruction at 4 years above grade level, while the former-HCC/new-lesser-capability services will include instruction, if you're lucky, at 1 year above grade level? Do all teachers have the time, ability, and willingness to also add in instruction at a year above grade level? Will they have access to curricula a year ahead? Is SPS essentially saying that, for any particular grade level, all teachers will teach at grade level, below grade level (for those needing remediation), one year above grade level (for those former HC students of lesser capability), and then 4 years above grade level for those IPP-type students? Will there be any recognition that there are students 2-3 years ahead of their grade-level peers, and if so what will they get and how? Or are they just too inconvenient to deal with, or their existence is a reflection of injustice and they must be swept under the rug? These are a lot of implementation-related questions, I know. But I'd think that, you being a veteran teacher and all, implementation and feasibility of this new "plan" would be of great interest to you, and that if there were actual answers that suggest this could all work, you'd be in a reasonable position to share how it might be possible...


all types

Anonymous said...


5. Nobody is claiming that using local norms is inherently bad, and everyone understands that their use can potentially increase historically underserved student identification. (You can keep patting yourself on the back about that one all you like, but really, it's unbecoming.) What people ARE saying is that there are real questions about how to use local norms, and those questions have actual implications for services. For example, ignoring that pesky business of local norms not being more restrictive than national norms, what if the top 2% at each school got HC designation and them some special school-based services? What would that really get them--what specific services beyond the differentiation that any classroom teacher could already provide them now, regardless of label? And how many of those top 2% at historically underserved schools will meet the criteria for "actual outliers"? These are important questions, and there continue to be no answers. Unless changes in service delivery are aligned with changes in identification practices, there's really no point aside from optics. You being a teacher, I would think you'd understand that.

6. Did you seriously say that "were 'the program' producing anything close to the results of the east side in NMSF, you might have an argument for business as usual"? Wow. So you're saying that what you consider a grave injustice would be ok if another dozen or so SPS students aced the PSAT? I find that deeply troubling. I also find your statement to be lacking in terms of critical analysis of the reasons for potentially less-than-desired (by some) outcomes. The obvious answer to poorer outcomes is that the intervention--which in this case is the HC services/HCC curriculum--is not as effective as we'd like. We have a lot of stories from parents that back that up, so it seems a very plausible explanation. But instead, you choose to think it's the students' fault, and that they are just inherently of "lesser capability" than those in surrounding districts? That's another troubling statement, especially coming from a teacher. You are paid to believe in your students, not belittle them.

You continue to amaze me with your unwillingness to answer tough questions, yet your complete willingness to denigrate students and fall for the SPS line that "it'll all be good, just trust us...." And, of course, your ability to too your own horn with the constant "I told ya so" comments.

all types

Digital Balloons said...

Nope, I wasn't kidding. Physics A students are really learning about static electricity by rubbing a digital balloon against a digital scarf on a computer.

Anonymous said...

It would be great if more of the socially agile mainstream gifted students (likely 50% of current cohort) were well enough served in their neighborhood school that the cohort reverted back to a niche program for the outliers. HOWEVER...Bottom line: the foundation to make MTSS work -- small classrooms, great teachers who are well supported, simply is not a reality in SPS.The idea that MTSS will provide the differentiation needed to serve a spread such as 3-6 years of ability and/or achievement in a classroom only works with small classrooms and stellar teachers. SPS's ruthless policy to cut teachers in the spring and hire whom ever is available in the fall could be a weed out effort, but sadly, we are losing good teachers, and students are experiencing HUGE classrooms, all the way down to 2nd graders sitting in classrooms of 26+.

Once again, capacity management policies and tactics aren't supporting learning goals or the strategic plan.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

@Moving On, don't worry, I am confident that parents who care about decent public education for their (and/or other families') HC students also care about the issues you mentioned, as well as many other important local and global issues. But, as this is an education-related blog, we're not posting a lot here about issues of politics, immigration, climate change, poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, human trafficking, mental health, racism, etc. Sometimes those issues come up in relation to education and/or local events, but for the most part this isn't the place for them. Trying to spin the lack of comments here as an indication of not caring is not only inaccurate, but demonstrates that your comment is really about spin, not reality.

If you have particular SPS education-related concerns that you feel are not getting appropriate air time, post about them and clearly explain them and identify what you think those not directly involved can do to help. I'm sure many would.

all types

kellie said...

Ruthie said focusing on the budgeting and funding challenges that come with an actual commitment to meeting the needs of every student would require leadership. It is so much easier to roll out a slide deck full of this year's buzzwords, take the applause, and stand back while groups of parents tear each other apart.

I see you have read the SPS playbook. Congratulations!

This is why I refuse to respond to attacks. In the nearly 20 years, I have been active in the district, the "parents tear each other apart" scenario plays out every year, because it works. Parents get distracted by the infighting and trying to protect little scraps of sanity, and the next crazy initiative rolls forward.

I think the most important comment on this thread so far is about the overcrowding at Franklin, but that will be swiftly swept swept away by the AL conversation. This district just produced a disastrous budget and that is already "old news."

The thing that really struck me about the AL slide deck that it was intentionally designed to inflame and upset. There were hundreds of ways to present the same information. But this time, it was crystal clear that the intent was to make the HCC crowd react for the sole purpose of distracting from the rather obvious fact that there was ZERO ACTUAL PLAN in the presentation.

My old mentor used to say "Nothing meaningful happens without a budget code. Everything else is a press release."

Anonymous said...

@ Digital Balloons, that is just bonkers. I have to wonder if this is really going to help those "furthest from educational justice" learn, and remember, much about static electricity. I also suspect that many of those with the resources to do so will receive some form of supplementation that enhances their learning on the topic, widening the gap.

Amplify Disparities

pm said...

One thing that I really don't understand is how eliminating HCC would help students in low-income schools. According to the district's own map (https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/AL/HC_ELIG_15.pdf),0-7.6 students are eligible for HCC per square mile in the attendance areas for Concord, Emerson, Rainier View, etc. So, if HCC is eliminated, that means that a handful of students will return to each low-income attendance area school. However, schools with wealthier students will be overcrowded with new returnees.

Wouldn't it be a better idea to redraw attendance boundaries and reinstate busing? I know that Seattle parents would never put up with it, but despite popular opinion, it's a very effective strategy for reducing the achievement gap. For example, please read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/effective-but-never-popular-court-ordered-busing-is-a-relic-few-would-revive/2019/07/07/dce439c8-9d40-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html

Anonymous said...

"I think the most important comment on this thread so far is about the overcrowding at Franklin, but that will be swiftly swept swept away by the AL conversation. This district just produced a disastrous budget and that is already "old news."

This is so important and it is happening not only at Franklin but all the other high schools. I can imagine what Garfield is going through having lost 10 teachers. Didn't one person state on a thread a couple weeks ago, there were also 40 kids in a physics class at a high school, was it Sealth or Franklin?

HS Parent

Anonymous said...

The current cohort model for HC students is badly broken.

No single subject gifted allowed. How can that be?

No affirmative action for historically discriminated against groups. How can that be?

No accommodations for ELL?

No proof that outcomes are better for cohorted students compared with non-cohorted HC?

Demographics skewed strongly to privileged students.

Outliers not served well.

I agree the district has not done much if anything to educate teachers on the needs of gifted students, they have just appeased parents who don’t feel their students are getting appropriate challenges at local schools.

However, the cohorting of 10% of the district as “highly capable” and therefore implying they are too unique to learn in the company of non-gifted or even gifted but non-cohorted students is ridiculous on its face.

Many, many, dare I say, most of the cohort would do better in a blended environment.

When college comes around the real segregation by ability begins and the experiences of cooperating with those of other abilities in K-12 becomes invaluable.

I’ve been intimately involved with AL for over 15 years in SPS and had children in Spectrum and HC and know many students in GE, Spectrum, HC not cohorted, and many in the HCC cohort., as well as students at Summit and Lakeside, Prep, O’Day, Holy Names, U Prep, Blanchette, Bush, Seattle Academy, IB at Ingrahqm and cohorted students who went to Garfield.

We stayed out of the cohort in HC, but spent time in cohorted Spectrum before it was dissolved.

In my opinion SPS is in need of an overhaul of Advanced Learning service that will keep, as much as possible, students of various abilities together.

Cohorting is not the best practice for gifted students in all cases, in our district it is worst practice in its implementation.

The privilege exemplified by some of the proponents of our current system is frankly unseemly and divisive.

Students are in need of compassion and guidance, all of them. Telling a student they are not good enough to be in a special group is unhealthy for those students as well as those who are included.

Cohorting is both unnecessary and harmful, except for the extreme outliers, just as is SpEd.


Anonymous said...

I do not want to diminish the issues with classes of 40+ students, but I would offer that this is not new and MS/HS schools may be focused more on getting students into the needed class while managing TOTAL student load for a teacher (even if some individual classes are large). A teacher may have 3 sections of the same course, but because of the master schedule, they could have a 2nd period class with maybe 25 students and a 3rd period class with maybe 40 students. Their total student load may still be within the 150 range, and they may be willing to accept this imbalance because it means students have the classes they need (thank you, teachers!). It's not ideal, but the alternative (students not getting a needed class) could be worse.


Anonymous said...

Just the way some folks on this blog refer to “ HC families” tells you there is a big, big problem in SPS.

Shouldn’t we be be the SPS family?

Encompassing our new immigrant families, our SpEd families, our homeless families, our GE families?

HCC has become a special interest group within SPS, that has carved a space of privilege which it does not want to surrender.

That is not what a public school system should be.

Advocating for your student is one thing,

but advocating for a whole apparatus of exclusion that demeans other students, offers no measurable gains and entrenches and perpetuates historic inequality is entirely and completely unacceptable in 2019 in Seattle Washington, in my opinion.


Anonymous said...

Yes! The class size issue, and any failure to provide classes that high school students may need, are hugely important issues. They are harder to convey, however, because most people don't have access to the type of information posted by @Franklin Update. The district's lack of transparency often makes it hard to push back except on issues that involve their own schools or children. It's incredibly frustrating.

I wish teachers at all schools would follow Franklin's lead and get this sort of information out in the open. The Seattle Times should do a story on it, too, reporting the overcrowding district-wide (not just at cherry-picked schools), so we can see what exactly we're getting for this extra education funding.

I'd also like to see someone daylight the updated figures for the percentage of high school students on track to graduate under the new 24-credit requirements. It didn't look so great after the first impacted cohort (class of 2021) finished 9th grade, and I would anticipate the numbers are worse now that they've finished 10th grade. How bad are things, and what's the district's plan to finally/someday/never implement a plan to deal with the changed state graduation requirements? [Note: The new state graduation requirements were adopted in 2014(!), and SPS received a 2-year waiver to beginning implementing them with the class if 2021 rather than the graduating class of 2019. The waiver was to allow time for the district to do its planning so it could begin implementation with the class of 2021. The class of 2021 started high school way back in 2017, yet even after 2 years of planning time SPS was still not ready with a plan when that cohort started HS in fall 2017. Now it's 2+ years later, and still no plan is on the horizon.] WHAT IS THE PLAN, SPS?


kellie said...

@ perspective

I do not want to diminish the issues with classes of 40+ students, but I would offer that this is not new and MS/HS schools may be focused more on getting students into the needed class while managing TOTAL student load for a teacher (even if some individual classes are large).

Yes, that is a valid point. This does happen every year, that some classes are large, while maintaining the 150 teacher contract load. Not ideal. But it is incredibly rare to perfectly divide 150 students into 5 sections with 30 each.

This is not one of those cases. The official budget shorted high school by almost 60 teachers. Due to various work-arounds by savvy principals, the reported shortage was 31 high school teachers district wide.

Until these additional 30 teachers are folded into the master schedule, it is safe to assume that many (most?) high school teachers are well over the 150 mark. Some may be overloaded for a few weeks and others may be overloaded for the whole year.

There is no transparency on this as downtown is busy declaring victory with their 98% accuracy and hoping schools treat this as yesterday's news. Various schools are reporting the impacts as they see them and unusually large classes is an easy data point to report.

Stuart J said...

The Washington State report card data for school on track rate is from 2017-18. I'm not sure when the new data will be uploaded. Go here:


then go to Other Student Measures , then "ninth grade on track".

Note the definition: "Ninth graders are considered on track if they passed all credits they attempted in 9th grade". So, a student who is at a 7 period school, or Cleveland with 8, could be in much better shape for earning 24 credits than a student at a 6 period school, but that would not be reflected in this data. Still this data is better than nothing. You can look at individual schools too.

Anonymous said...

@FWIW calls it the HCC gravy train LOLOLOL. If you knew anything about it you'd see its more Dickensian, the educational equivalent of "please sir may I have some more"

Can anyone seriously blame parents with HCC eligible (or even close to meeting criteria) kids for wanting their kids do more than the computer simulation of rubbing a scarf on a balloon that passes as physics in 9th grade, for example. The HCC 7th graders are presumably doing this but it sounds like aspects of the course are better suited to 2-3rd graders.
It's fine if you this is the appropriate level of instruction and challenge for your 9th grader but realize that many students will be well beyond this, they get the concepts quickly or already knew them, finish the class exercises quickly, then play around on the computers or chat and get up to mischief (disrupting other students who need more time).

Which brings me to this ..... why we can't have streamed classes - I mean aside from the parental jealousy they seem to provoke. I mean what exactly is wrong with a walk to math (or any other subject) type system where kids who are achieving a certain level in any subject can be grouped together in a class and given instruction appropriate for the at level. The ones who are solidly just making it a grade level get grade level instruction, the ones who are a couple of years ahead get instruction at that level, the ones who are struggling to meet grade level standards get specific instruction and additional help to get them up to grade level. Mobility between groups would account for improvement with the goals being to increase the numbers of higher level classes offered and reduce the need for those classes providing extra help. Someone will no doubt say it would be unjust because there might be more privileged white kids in the higher level classes - but it's thats all about optics not real educational justice. If schools offered this I'm sure there would be less need for a self contained HCC type program. Academically advanced kids will not disappear simply by dismantling HCC, and those that are struggling academically will not suddenly improve by virtue of having a handful of 'formerly known as HCC kids' in their classes.
HCC is just the scapegoat - SPS isn't offering any practical solution for addressing the achievement gap.

Also you use the NMSF numbers as evidence that most HCC students are not worthy of being classified as such, yet fail to consider the role of resources and curriculum. Is it any wonder SPS HCC students don't do as well as Lakeside students - I guarantee you the Lakeside kids are not sitting in front of a computer in classroom with 35 kids simulating static electricity using this sort of unproven Amplify software. SPS needs to get out of the business of social engineering, politics, and enabliing mass data collection by educational technology companies and back into the real education business.

Injustice my *ss

Anonymous said...

(O'Dea. Not O'Day. Blanchet. Not Blanchette.)

JJ: "Students are in need of compassion and guidance, all of them."

Agree, but:

JJ: "Telling a student they are not good enough to be in a special group is unhealthy for those students as well as those who are included."

How do students at O'Dea, Lakeside, Seattle Prep, Holy Names, U Prep, Blanchet, Bush, etc. get admitted? They take achievement tests!! Then, they pick and choose their students for a limited number of spots. In contrast, SPS tests students and offers services for the students who meet a clearly defined threshold. Bellevue? You may qualify, but are not guaranteed a spot in pathway school.

Comparing public and private is comparing apples and oranges, and the "special group" language is completely unhelpful. And how do private schools accommodate learners on the extremes of either end of the spectrum? They generally don't. Lakeside is an exception.

get real

Watching said...

The district's presentation resembled the National Enquirer. It was intended to pit communities against each other.

Anonymous said...

@JJ "Telling a student they are not good enough to be in a special group is unhealthy for those students as well as those who are included."
And everyone deserves a trophy for participating, right!

FFS, this is life! What about the soccer team? There are tryouts and not everyone makes it in the varsity squad. What about music or dance? There are auditions and not everyone gets in the top level band or gets a role. What about private schools? Many kids don't get in and have to stay at their public school. What about instagram? Some people keep posing but never amass thousands of followers and social media fame. What about college - not everyone gets in to their first choice college. Lots of people interview for jobs they don't get. It goes on - all of our life, in every endeavor, there are people who are we can compare ourselves to and come up feeling 'not as good'. You know what is unhealthy? Trying to protect a kid from this reality. Because sooner or later they will face it. Healthy is dealing with it, striving to improve, but understanding you are more than just your grades (or the team you play in, or college you go to, or whatever).

Real world

Besides, you can take away the label, but the kids still know that certain kids are smarter than them, or get better grades or whatever. Or perhaps we should get rid of grades too because it's unhealthy. (oh, wait, maybe thats the reasoning behind the rumor about restricting access to grades on the source!)

NSP said...

Perspective, the teachers I have talked said that all of their classes are 35-40 students. Total loads in the 175-200 range.

Anonymous said...

Sooner or later they will face segreagstion by ability.

OK, I agree, but it doesn’t happen in sports when them kids are young, except in private leagues.

There are also no cut sports in every SPS high school and young children are hurt emotionally by programs like our HCC, I believe.

Kids in the cohort and those outside of it. It’s privilege and name-calling at its worst.

Yes, students can identify differences in each other and that’s why the district should not be saying to students “ you are worthy, you are not”.

Indeed they will be judged come college time, and they will be adults, or nearly so by then, and hopefully able to handle it.

But for 10% of students to be removed from the company of the other 90% because they are too “advanced” or “gifted” or “highly capable” sends a harmful and destructive message to both groups.

These are children who attend compulsory public school, not athletes. False equivalency.

O, and sorry for the bad spelling,


College ≠ said...

"When college comes around the real segregation by ability begins and the experiences of cooperating with those of other abilities in K-12 becomes invaluable."

LOL! College is the real equalizer? 20% of SPS students don't graduate from HIGH SCHOOL. Another 40% don't graduate from college. How can you equalize people who aren't there?

63% of Seattle residents over 25 have college degrees. 8 in 10 newcomers have college degrees. The median income is $90,000 a year. Our SPS population looks weirdly nothing like the population of the city.

The experience of cooperating with those of other abilities begins with your relationship with your siblings. And it continues in every interaction you have with the rest of the world because no one has the same pattern of abilities that you do, no matter what school you go to, no matter who your friends are, no matter what sport you play, no matter what club you join, no matter who your classmates are.

Anonymous said...

I want to second the concern about Core 24, especially for students in a high school with a 6 period day. I have a student who is in orchestra, which is extremely important for her as she may want to pursue music study in college. If she wants to take classes in the four core subjects of english, history, math and science for four years that leaves her exactly one period per day to fit in all the other distribution requirements under Core 24. It's not possible. Can't be done. As it is, we put off a world language for a year while we try to figure out if it would be possible for her to study a foreign language online that is not offered in SPS. It makes my head spin. A 7 period day would solve the problem.

Last spring I asked one of the counselors at her school how they were going to be able to get kids into the right classes to comply with Core 24 and how they were going to be able to do this for kids who need academic support. I got silence. My guess is that the counselors see the train wreck that is coming.

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said...


Your numbers are way off. Only 20% of public school students who attend college graduate.

Re calc

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

@Concerned Parent
Why don't you ask Juneau what the plan is? During her early "listening tour" she said it was "paused." Also, no definition of "paused."

We have a similar situation and there seems to be no discussion because there is no answer.
-long road

No Johnson said...

@JJ "Telling a student they are not good enough to be in a special group is unhealthy for those students as well as those who are included."

Right? Who's telling them that? First of all, RED FLAG for fixed mindset.

Second of all, taking kids who are really strong in math, real leaders in the classroom, and popping them into math class with kids who are having so much trouble with the same math is a sure fire way to make the kids who are struggling feel feel the burn of being way less good at math. Because the kid sitting next to them in math class is Katherine freaking Johnson. It is hard to feel good about yourself in math class no matter how good you are at math when the kid sitting next to you is Katherine Johnson.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ JJ. Is it not harmful or destructive for advanced students who may never find a peer group and who are ostracized or bullied by the grade-level peers because they don't fit in. That is what is emotionally hurtful. Not only is the pace and academic level more appropriate for most, but the cohort allows them to have a peer group that may share similar interests and intellectual level, to make real friends. They are not all the same, there are plenty of quirky kids or 2 e kids and a range of intelligence within the top 2% ( there is a big difference between the 98th percentile and 99.9th percentile) but they are more likely to find their 'tribe'. This is an important part of going to school.
No one is saying to non HCC qualifying kids that they are 'not worthy'. They simply didn't meet stated objective criteria at that time. Perhaps are the ones putting the loaded emotional language on it are their disappointed parents. No one is calling names- except for these commenters that seem to loathe the existence of HCC. No one has really explained how it's privilege. If you consider high IQ/test scores to be a mark of privilege then these kids are privileged regardless of where you put them or what you call them.

As for no cut sports - that is not fooling anyone. Its great that everyone can participate regardless of ability but the kids still know its not the same level as 'cut' sports.

Real World (that was me earlier too - name in wrong place)

Anonymous said...

I’m not against walk to’s, just against cohorting in elementary and middle school. Walk-to’s can be great, if they are tied to teacher and parent evaluation and not just CogAT and achievement scores. That would help all students like the single subject gifted .

And it would keep students in neighborhoods together.


Anonymous said...

@no Johnson

jj referred to the cohort model, which is self-contained in elementary and tracked after that.

Was there any reference made to flexible groupings? No.


Anonymous said...

Track and cross- country are “real” sports, yet no cut.

And all the talk about “quirky” and “tribes”?

Sounds like every ability level to me.

I know tons of quirky kids who aren’t HC and all kids need a “tribe”.

And “tribes” need not consist of only those of similar academic ability or achievement.

That’s the whole HCC mindset: these children must be with ones like them or they will be hurt.

I don’t believe that is true or healthy.


Anonymous said...

JJ and FWIW: elementary schools that had walk to math eliminated it throughout SPS. Apparently parents and teachers didn't like it because it highlighted that some groups were 'better at math' than other groups and it led to hurt feelings (not sure if it was more the parents vs the kids feelings that were hurt). I think flexible grouping could be a great solution in many ways but when it comes to the crunch, it seems like some parents just can't abide by the idea of other kids being identified as being more advanced at a subject academically and given instruction at a more advanced level than theirs.
I believe that is what underlies much of the strong feeling and animosity toward any kind of 'advanced learning' type initiatives and the eventual dismantling of walk to math, spectrum programs, and soon perhaps the HCC cohort. It suits SPS to fan the flames of this rather than actually come up with a reasonable, practical, palatable-to-most way of dealing with more academically advanced kids, akin to what other local districts manage such as Eastside, Mercer Is etc manage to do.

Green eyed monster

Anonymous said...

@JJ, you said: "Just the way some folks on this blog refer to 'HC families' tells you there is a big, big problem in SPS. Shouldn’t we be be the SPS family?"

Gag me. It's short-hand to refer to "families with a student in HCC or an HC-identified student." Many of these very same families also have a GE student, and many also have a SpEd student. That makes them "GE families" and "SpEd families," too. The might also be Central District families, high school families, WMS families, language immersion families, FRL families, any other sort of families. A family with one kid can be part of many subgroups, and a family with multiple kids may be part of even more.

When SPS starts treating us like family--and I don't mean the kind of dysfunctional family that poops all over each other--then maybe we'll start referring to the SPS family. For now, however, Uncle SeaPuS has decided that he doesn't like my kids and we aren't welcome to join him for the holidays unless we agree to give our kids some tranquilizers to dull their minds first, because it makes Uncle SeaPuS feel bad that my kids always seem to know more then him about anything that isn't Fox News. Uncle SeaPuS says anything he can come up with to make my kids feel bad, but the reality is that they are smart enough to see through him. Still, we might skip the holiday gatherings from here on out.

HCC does not "demean" anyone. It's parents and teachers who may do so, probably based on their own misunderstandings, ignorance, resentment, etc. Changing HCC also does not solve inequality--the inequalities exist in our large society, including GenEd, and are present before students step foot in SPS. Nobody is "telling a student they are not good enough to be in a special group:" if they are doing so, they need some serious guidance about how to reframe things. Why not try telling students that the district cares so much about THEM that they get special classes designed for their grade level, with a curriculum specially selected for their grade level, and, that if they are ready for even more challenge, their teacher will give them even extra opportunities, too? You could also remind them that every students has strengths, weaknesses, passions, etc., and that while some kids might be advanced in math and english for whatever reason, they are really good at such and such. Performance in these core academic subjects is not the be-all, end-all some parents and teachers seem to make it out to be. It should not be demeaning to be part of the national 98 percent, and you should help kids see that. That's called acceptance--of themselves, and those who happen to be in the "tails" of the curve at either end.

I do agree that what we have now "is not what a public school system should be." It should be better--and it should allow everyone a chance to feel that they went to school and learned something that day. This includes those who came in ahead, as well as those who came in behind.

life lessons

Anonymous said...

No walk to’s anywhere?

No advanced math classes in non-HCC middle schools?

Something tells me you are misinformed.


Anonymous said...

If the program was simply called Highly Privileged, which is arguably a more accurate name, would you still think it OK to tell young children to just “accept it”?

Their children for Goddess’s sake, they will be judged worthy soon enough, but should not be so judged as children.


Anonymous said...

Theo Moriarty is,of course, correct that our kids are so out of synch, and that the primary purpose of HCC is to provide an “affinity “ group. It isn’t academic or acceleration. It’s social. A man so incredibly gifted and talented throughout his life is clearly knowledgeable in the best possible position to provide that affinity for the best and brightest in SPS. I’m a little worried about those optics though. Will the board accept or understand the that our quirkies just need to grow up with each other without the distractions of less intelligent kids? I would have hoped that a man so obviously bright would make that mistake in optics.


Anonymous said...

@J, Track and cross-country may be “real” sports and "no-cut," but they still make my slow kid feel bad. I think they should also be un-timed, and the faster kids should stop at some point (hidden from view, of course) to allow the other kids to catch up so they can all finish together.

Also, while true that “'tribes' need not consist of only those of similar academic ability or achievement," in reality, that's often a key component of finding one's tribe and developing a meaningful friendship in which you can have good conversations. Before my kid switched to HCC, do you know who his few friends were? The other kids who happened to also be HC. We didn't know they were HC (they might not have even tested in yet), but when they joined HCC in middle school it became apparent. Funny how those kids are able to find each other. Luckily we had enough HC students in the class that my kid could indeed find some like minds.

Let's get real. My second grader who likes to do math for fun and sit through hours of lectures on physics concepts really isn't interesting in playing Pokemon with your kid. I'm sorry, but that's just how it is. Forcing my kid into a classroom of "normal" pop culture kids isn't going to reprogram their brain to be more like the rest of the class--it's just going to make them feel more different, and it's going to make the other kids see them as more different, too. You may not believe it, but it's true. We know, because we've been there.

I'm sorry if the reality doesn't reflect the way you wish things were.

No-cut, No-times!

Another Parent said...

For some HCC is about the tribe, but not for most. Let's remember that HCC is different across Elementary, Middle, and High Schools.

* Elementary School:

In Elementary school, the principal at our neighborhood school told me that to get appropriate advanced math and reading services, our child needed to transfer to the HCC service area school. This was not because of "tribe" or "emotional" reasons but rather simply because the school couldn't adequately differentiate given its resources. For example, I asked why they couldn't do advanced walk-to-math, and he said it was logistically too complicated.

Differentiation in Elementary school is particularly difficult because the kids are otherwise in the same class all day. The way the district chose to solve this problem long ago was to bus kids needing more advanced classes to a separate school.

There is no HCC kindergarten, so the most HCC kids get out of 13 years in SPS is 5 years at an HCC specific school. And as many don't start in 1st grade, it’s even less.

* Middle school: There are many mixed classes by both grade and program.

There is no "HCC Math" in any SPS Middle School. Depending on the middle school, it may offer six levels of math classes from 6th Grade Math through Algebra 2. While it’s true that HCC students by default place ahead 2 years, other students can also place ahead by taking the district math test. Any single domain advanced student can place ahead. And as for "segregated", it’s not true as for example in Algebra 1 there may be "HCC" students, "GenEd" students, and "Spectrum" students of different grade levels. The only math class that generally would be almost all HCC is Algebra 2. Our son currently sits in a group with older kids, who he helps on their homework.

In our middle school, foreign language is mixed, PE is mixed, choir is mixed, STEM is mixed, social studies is mixed, as are other electives. Classes like language and choir are also mixed by grade. Lunch is mixed, the school bus is mixed, and after school activities are mixed.

Our child has only two specific Advanced Learning classes, Language Arts and Science. Language Arts contains both HCC and Spectrum students, as well as single domain advanced ELA students. Science is both HCC and Spectrum students.

Our son's friend once asked him, "Why would you ever want to take STEM". The point is kids also self-select based on interests, and to expect all students to be in the same classes all day it not reasonable.

By offering a middle school HCC pathway, the district can provide some continuity for the cohort (I would call it friend group) and some advanced classes, but to call it the middle school program "segregated" does not match today’s reality.

* High School: All High school classes are open to anyone, HCC, Spectrum, GenEd. The only thing the district provides is a pathway so the community can stay together, and the district can offer advanced classes. But for many classes, the problem comes back to self-selection.

Another Parent said...

I fully support efforts to increase the participation of minorities in all types of advanced learning. But I strongly believe getting rid of it is poor public policy.

As a simple example, take the Harry Potter books. My son and many of his friends had read them all either in first or second grade. Yet I’ve worked with another student in 11th grade that still struggled to read them. And there are immigrant kids constantly coming into the district at all grade levels. To assume that there should be a “single English class” that works for everyone in each grade is nonsense. According to the MAP Norms, a 6th grade student that scores in the 95th reading percentile has a 221. A 221 is better than 40% of the 11th grade class. In other words, 5% of 6th grade students are ahead of 40% of 11th grade students in reading, or 6 years a head of them.

The statistics are similar for math. The 95th percentile for 6th grade math is a 238. A 238 by a 6th grader puts them above 60% of all 11th graders. In other words, you can take the top 5% of 6th graders and don’t teach them any math for the next five years, and they will still score better than 60% of the 11th grade class.

Most advanced learners in Seattle Public Schools are not HCC. If you look at what the district has done, the most impactful changes have been to non-HCC advanced learners, students who could have also benefited from walk to math, or an advanced marine biology class, or an honors class, even without an HCC designation.

Anonymous said...

@ no cut

You only make my point more strongly.

Your physics watching kid feels different around Pokémon playing kids, OK.

So the options are:

remove your child to a school setting without Pokémon players( which is ludicrous to think HC kids don’t enjoy playing Pokémon in 2nd grade, simply ludicrous).

or, let other kids learn to appreciate that some kids like physics in 2nd grade and let your child learn that it’s OK to be be different, not to have to ride a bus to avoid their neighbors for fear of harassment. That’s a life lesson that is very damaging.

In other words, let students celebrate their differences, like we try to do with SpEd students and ELL and homeless students.

Your child would probably have a richer experience among all types of students, struggling, non-privileged, ELL, and GE, than in a cohort of more homogeneous students.

Academically, if the cohort was disbanded, there would be substantial clusters of HC students at the schools that currently send the most students into the cohort and they could be served well with walk-to’s, which I strongly support.


Anonymous said...

I believe you are misinformed.

Walk to Math is pretty much done and no longer be offered at schools.

Math in MS is not tied to HCC but rather the SBAC (again, not intended use and a gate if you opt out of SBAC) and teacher reco. And Middle Schools all have different levels of classes.

I have seen it as a source of frustration that a kid coming out of Elem who is working at an advanced level is being taught the same math in their first or even second year of Middle School.
-long road

Anonymous said...

I love that you bring up MAP scores. I remember when the kids in my kid’s class were maxing out math and reading MAP scores after 3rd grade. Reading at 10th grade level and math in the high 90th percentile; I repeat, this was in 3rd grade.

Almost all went on to regular middle school, and are all now at various colleges, but they learned that despite their gifts, they were like everybody else and the only difference was that teachers would expect them to work as hard as anyone else.

Sure, that meant moving up in math or writing longer papers, meeting their potential as best they could.

It wasn’t a lower bar, it was a demand for equal effort.

And the kids went on to have friends of all abilities throughout school.

So I’ve seen it work in a heterogeneous setting and I’ve seen the cohort fail some students too.


No Johnson said...

Since many families currently opposed to the district's MTSSification of AL have plenty of first hand experience with schools that are openly hostile to walk-to's, seems like the district would go a long way toward winning folx over if they just said that walk-to's would be available and that the students who were most advanced in math wouldn't be forced to repeat a year of math.

Maybe a slogan like-
Everyone back to their neighborhood school! You won't have to repeat math!

Anonymous said...

“Pretty much done”

Whatever, just make stuff up, I guess. My friends at my local elememtaries tell me walkto’s are alive and well.

And middle advanced math is offered as well to those who can keep up.


Anonymous said...

@JJ For the most part, I don't disagree with you. The problem is the wide variety/inconsistency of services currently offered at MS, and no apparent plan to fix this.

For example Whitman, which is the default school for many HCC kids, only offers math acceleration up to Algerbra 1. And parents have to fight tooth and nail to get their 6th graders into 7th grade math (which would result in Alg 1 by 8th grade the way it is tracked in Whitman). Even when the criteria for 7th grade math is clearly spelled out and rising 6th graders meet all the criteria, my friends' kids only got placed in it after multiple emails and phone calls to the principle's office. And this is an improvement over stories from previous years.

I am not aware of honors or acceleration in any other subject at Whitman. Please correct me if I am wrong.

As is, I would not consider sending my HCC kid (who is currently happy at his neighborhood elementary school) to Whitman. This plan eliminates all other options for him without providing any plan for improvement for Whitman or other similar middle schools. Not all neighborhood middle schools are like this. But this is where this proposal leaves us, and I am not happy.


kellie said...

By middle school, ability grouping of some sort is the norm. There are ways to group students that don't have all the implications that JJ highlights from our current system.

Circa 2011 (ish), part of the plan to expand AL and manage spectrum as part of the NSAP was a "plan" to guarantee Algebra, Advanced Language Arts and Physical Science at all middle schools. Part of that plan, meant that spectrum would no longer be self contained. Single subject advanced classes would be possible for any student who had the SBAC scores. Science advancement would be tied to math placement. Biology and Geometry would be added to schools as needed. And schools would have the flexibility to move students into advanced classes as they saw fit.

This plan was pretty descent. Had little to no parent opposition. Math placement was already done by SBAC score anyway and this would expand options.

That plan, like so many, simply died on the vine.

It was a relatively easy and inexpensive plan to implement. You would most likely need just 1-2 additional FTE per middle school to pull it off. And you needed to hire some middle school teachers with high school credentials so that middle school students would get high school credit.

it was such a clear, clean, easy plan, I even believed it would happen.

But it just never happened. Like so many things in SPS it was a good idea that would have given more options to more students. And like all plans that give more, it costs money. That money was never formally committed via the WSS and it just quietly went away.

We have the current system, not because it is good, but because it is cheap. And with this district, cheap seems to win over and over again.

Any meaningful plan to truly do more AL, needs to be realistic that more instruction means more teachers. Expanding opportunities is supposed to be the reason why public school exists. I would love to see meaningful expansion. But without a budget attached, this is all just politics at this point.

kellie said...

@ JJ,

You make a lot of really great points on the optics of cohorting.

And, every reason you stated, I have seen used as a stated reason for removing "walk to math." Walk to math may still exist at a handful of schools, but it is in no way the norm and it is vanishing.

Additionally, advanced math at middle has been seriously curtailed as part of the last math textbook adoption.

I don't recall all the details but it had something to do with the failure to authorize Algebra 1 text books as part of the purchase. At this point, a lot of meetings blend together, but I distinctly remember Michael Tolley explaining the plan to raise the standard for 7th grade math placement for 6th graders and he was very proud that for the year he was reporting, the number of 6th graders in 6th grade math, (as opposed to 7th, 9th or algebra) was way up and he was very excited about no longer pushing kids too fast in math.

Anonymous said...

@No Cute, No Tribe who said this "Before my kid switched to HCC, do you know who his few friends were? The other kids who happened to also be HC. We didn't know they were HC (they might not have even tested in yet), but when they joined HCC in middle school it became apparent. Funny how those kids are able to find each other. Luckily we had enough HC students in the class that my kid could indeed find some like minds."

Yes! Exactly same for my kid. These people really really have no clue. They need to get out of their provincial neck of the woods. I am always astounded how people in Seattle without any training, education about these kids have "strong opinions". Open your mind and read up a bit. And these kids were also considered special education where I grew up.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

So. Kids as young as second grade get a lifelong “cohort” to keep away from undesirable kids playing Pokémon, because they don’t like playing Pokemon, and they’re too smart for it. Students with documented disabilities under IDEA qualifying in the instructional domains of social, emotional, or communication needs get no such consideration. Even having an actual disability in making social connections, does not move the district to place students with disabilities with a known or predictable group of peers. The constant whining and cajoling of those privileged enough to worry about Pokémon exposure, while not a single peep about those who really need a cohort who don’t even get the option of attending their neighborhood school... well, it’s rich. But isn’t that the point?

Not rich

Another Parent said...


You said,

"Your physics watching kid feels different around Pokémon playing kids, OK."

Actually, I think you make my point. You are willing to make ignorant and slanderous comments about another child.

My child puts up with people like you in their classes who make fun of them. And they have learned to deal with it.

The reality my kids have many friends that are not advanced learners, don't watch physics, and play games just like other kids, but even if they did, so what. Fortunately for them, most kids are like you and don't make fun of them because they are advanced readers and advanced at math.

Another Parent said...

You said,

"Your physics watching kid feels different around Pokémon playing kids, OK."

Actually, I think you make my point. You are willing to make ignorant and slanderous comments about another child.

My child puts up with people like you in their classes who make fun of them. And they have learned to deal with it.

The reality my kids have many friends that are not advanced learners, don't watch physics, and play games just like other kids, but even if they did, so what. Fortunately for them, most kids aren't like you and don't make fun of them because they are advanced readers and advanced at math.

Stuart J said...

Concerned Parent mentioned orchestra and class schedules being full.

My advice is to look into what classes from the online providers, such as BYU, that are approved by OSPI for credit transfer can work for your daughter. It may not be world language, maybe it is history or PE/Health. But it is worth checking into these.


Also, has your counselor discussed personal pathway requirement waivers with you? Your daughter can get out of world lang through PPR. However, that is going to cause major problems for some colleges and universities when applying.

Finally, contact members of the State Board of Education and legislators, and tell them about the Core 24 train wreck.

Anonymous said...

At our middle school (Hamilton) we just got word that the district has bequeathed back 2 FTE positions. Our principal told us this will necessitate redoing the master schedule and that our students' schedules are likely to change in October.

Any other schools getting such "gifts" from central office? Is this their attempt to remedy their intentionally disastrous conservative budget from spring that didn't align at all with enrollment reality?

Concerned Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Moving On, in just this post alone, I bring up The Source, enrollment, Walk to Math, homework, budget, high school issues, nutrition. Sorry you missed all that.

Mindblind, I don't like cryptic comments and we don't out people here.

FWIW, I'd say welcome back but I wouldn't mean it.

"Were "the program" producing anything close to the results of the east side in NMSF, you might have an argument for business as usual."

That's pretty low even for you.

I will have a thread on WMS as it seems activity seems to be picking up for the STEM by TAF.

"HOWEVER...Bottom line: the foundation to make MTSS work -- small classrooms, great teachers who are well supported, simply is not a reality in SPS.The idea that MTSS will provide the differentiation needed to serve a spread such as 3-6 years of ability and/or achievement in a classroom only works with small classrooms and stellar teachers."

Yup. It's either just words to print on the next "Look at what we're doing" SPS handout OR it's magical thinking.

PM, I think busing is done. However, as the city has become more diverse at the top edge of the city with pockets throughout the city, it could be possible to gerrymander regions so schools would be more diverse. I can think of schools where parents would push back hard but it could be done.

JJ, you said:
"No affirmative action for historically discriminated against groups. How can that be?"

What did you mean by "affirmative action?" Because the district has tried harder to attract minority parents. Could they do more or differently sure. Or did you mean alternative ways to judge academic talent?

And that's very kumbaya of you to say it should just be the "SPS family" but that's not the reality. Of course, there are different communities based on need, program or school.

JJ, I give you credit for at least phrasing your thoughts as opinion. Others don't do that.

"In other words, let students celebrate their differences, like we try to do with SpEd students and ELL and homeless students."

So that "celebration" is often class/school driven and not the reality on the playground. Kids self select especially on finding kids who like what they do. When I was volunteering which included playground supervision, I would try to get as many kids together as I could. But kids have the right to find their own friends.

Not Rich, you obviously don't live in Laurelhurst because that cohort stuff happens from pre-school. I have never seen such a clubby group of parents. And most of them aren't HCC.

I'm sad that people want to pit Sped against HCC; it's so unnecessary. They have different needs and, with Sped, varied ones so where they get served is different from where HCC gets served. But yes, SPed needs to work better for more students and their families.

Anonymous said...

@Stuart J, thanks for that link. FYI, I contacted OSPI and the 9th grade on track numbers should be posted online at the end of November. I'll try to remember to check and post, but since you also seem interested in this, please post if you check first!


Anonymous said...

For years, decades, HCC/APP drove Sped out of neighborhood schools. Your “need” for an ever growing protected cohorted education at any cost, meant that Garfield and it’s feeder Washington kicked out most Sped kids. Most of the central area middle schoolers with disabilities were packed off to McClure, a highly undesirable middle school. And Garfield’s shipped to the 4 corners. Garfield had a disability percentage of less than 5%. Your taste for a cohort and desire to avoid Pokémon had a huge negative impact on students with disabilities. Now that those schools are becoming less and less desirable, new special ed is “welcomed” back.

MW. Indeed I am quite familiar with Laurelhurst. Seems that you are the ignorant one. It serves very, very few neighborhood kids. That “cohort stuff” in Laurelhurst goes to private school, where it belongs. The public school is completely uncohorted, and has no walk to anything. Most of the neighborhood kids nearby are avoiding the behavior programs at Laurelhurst.

Not Rich

Anonymous said...

@ JJ, you just said something very interesting. You talked about kids maxing out MAP scores (been there!), but learning that "despite their gifts, they were like everybody else and the only difference was that teachers would expect them to work as hard as anyone else."

With all due respect, what planet are you living on?

- Teachers expecting them to work as hard as anyone else?
- Moving up in math or writing longer papers?
- Meeting their potential as best they could?
- Not a lower bar, but a demand for equal effort?

I'm glad that you've apparently seen or heard of that sort of differentiation in classrooms, but I can guarantee you that many others--probably most--have not. We've had teachers who absolutely no clue as to a child's ability, because they were uninterested in assessing beyond grade level standard. We've had teachers who tell a student to just sit quietly and read when they are done early (every day). We've had teachers who insist a child do every single worksheet even though it's clear they had already mastered the material, and if they bothered to finish the busy work early they were just given more of the same. We've had teachers refuse to provide work at a higher grade level, because then what would the student do the following year?

I guess it's not technically a "lower bar" if you're speaking objectively, but relative to a student's skills and abilities it sure is a lower bar. And it is by no means "equal effort" for a kid "maxing out math and reading MAP scores after 3rd grade" to then do 3rd grade work next to a peer who is a few years below grade level and struggling mightily to get up to 3rd grade level.

I'm truly dumbfounded by these comments. It seems you have bought the MTSS/differentiation "promise" hook, line, and sinker, or you are at some "rarified" school in which each classroom teacher is able to teach a span of about 6 grade levels at the same time. I wonder how they do it--and where they are getting all those other curricular resources...

not likely

Watching said...

Our school developed Walk to Math.

Walk to Math was developed to fill gaps in Discovery Math. Families soon realized that Discovery Math would not provide students with basic math skills. Discovery Math didn't provide students with speed and skill required for basic math computations. Walk to Math also began because it was easier for teachers to teach students that fell within a similar skill level. Differentiation was much more difficult...something the district is now promoting.

I wouldn't give Walk to Math too much credit (or blame) because parents heavily supplemented at home.

Middle school has always been a weak link in Seattle schools. Many students leave public schools for middle school and return to high school. Middle school science has always been weak. It is going to be interesting when HCC pathways are dismantled.

Anonymous said...

The need for a separate classroom based on Pokemon aversion was the HCC version of "deplorable."

That was priceless. Thank you!

Should be quoted during board testimony, IMHO.


Anonymous said...

Not sure what the deal was with Pokemon. I see HCC kids playing Pokemon at school all the time. But if you all want to latch on to one parent's odd comment as evidence of anything...mkay.


Anonymous said...

@classic and others. Honestly I think you parents are more cruel than your kids would ever be. Or maybe the apples don't fall far from the trees. You can have fun with your little sound bite but that doesn’t change the fact that academic outliers are all too often the social outliers too, particularly at those neighborhood elementary schools where few such kids attend. Maybe they play MTG with teenagers instead of Pokémon or want to talk about "The Fault in the Stars' instead of June B Jones. Maybe they don’t quite get the social mores of the grade group - they alienate their peers by coming across as know-it-alls, or still cry out of frustration - because ....asynchronous development. But you’ve illustrated the benefit of the cohort right there - other kids and their parents (and hopefully) teachers at their school will be more likely to ‘get’ them. Still, its arguably it's the role of SPS to meet their academic needs, not their social needs. The fact is that SPS has used the cohort model because it is a convenient for SPS in terms of capacity management and logistics not because they want HCC kids to have a their own affinity group or anything special. But if you build it they will come. You can not blame families for opting in if it’s available and the kids meet criteria. Other local districts identify highly capable kids and offer programs to meet their advance academic needs in different ways. Why doesn’t SPS look to replicate these successful programs??
I will note that the HCC cohort only applies to elementary school anyway. Middle schools have a sort of semi-cohort semi-mixed model and high schools have no HCC program, just a range of classes levels open to all students who can meet prereqs (with HCC pathway schools in theory offering more advanced options than some of the others).

And JJ - when your kids were maxing their MAP scores at 3rd grade, its wonderful that their teachers expected them to put in just as much effort as their classmates (where was this rainbows and unicorns school exactly?), but I can assure you most teachers would be perfectly content for them to meet or exceed the grade level goals even if it took them minimal effort. The system as it stands judges (grades) students (and teachers) based on outcomes not effort, its based on achieving a certain benchmark. Whether it took a kid hours and hours of toil and tears to make that level or whether it was a breeze and took next to no time is immaterial. This is why kids who can breeze through should be held to objectively higher standards (eg do higher grade level work and meet those standards to show progress). It is just not realistic in SPS with the current class sizes and PD, to expect teachers to do what you describe.

Real world

Anonymous said...

For the record I loved Discovery Math. It was so not boring. What I really loved too wasn’t the parents who couldn’t understand it, although the staff that could not understand it was not so funny.

I think it showed kids Kids the real world of math as mathematicians see it. It did come out of University of
Chicago by some real math heads. The teachers we had taught regular math as well. I wish staff had put more effort into it and integrated it wirpth math they knew already. When you get into more advanced math or the history of math, you see where the strange things in Discovery math originated.

Anyways I think one teacher at each middle school with geometry and Algebra II certification would be in order and demanded by parents. We lost our geometry teacher at McClure but then got a Math PhD who was certified in all HS math.

There was a year gap though and some kids did online math courses and had to repeat them the next year as they couldn’t get the material without a teacher.

So, they can move the certified teachers from the HCC schools to have advanced classes at every middle school.


Anonymous said...

Here is my bottom line:
Vote NO on levy (in February 2020)

Seattle Public Schools has abandoned teaching kids, has abandoned the commitment for kids to grow academically each and every day they attend school, has zero intent to ensure academic progress over the course of a school year in both content knowledge and academic skills.

Don’t know why, don’t care why, just know this has been our experience with our children.

Seems to me commenters on this thread agree, to varying degrees, that:

-SPS does not do a good job teaching African-American male students
-SPS does not do a good job teaching Deaf and Hard of hearing students
-SPS does not do a good job teaching middle schoolers lab science
-SPS does not do a good job teaching highly capable students
-SPS does not do a good job teaching English Language Learners
-SPS does not do a good job teaching American Indian students
-SPS does not do a good job teaching students with ADD
-SPS does not do a good job teaching advanced (Spectrum) students

Individual teachers are trying their very best with commitment and professionalism that does them credit, and yet, all parents we speak with opine that curriculum is dumbed down and standards are low.

The Einstein axiom about the definition of insanity/stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That is why we are voting NO on the ed levies. That is the only throttle we have. A failed SPS levy is the ONLY thing that might dislodge the ideologs at the SPS top from using their non-evidence preferences as flame throwers onto this precious system we have. Because make no mistake, a unified public education system that strives with every fiber in its being for absolute excellence every day is what ensures freedom and prosperity for us all.

The world is moving on.

Petty game playing by the Juneaus and Hansens and Berges of district really don’t matter because nations like China honestly don’t care. They are just going to systemically produce kids capable of the highest levels of math and science as graduates who will drive their economy and with it, their standard of living, to great heights. SPS better get on board or get run over.

Short staffing our high schools creates chaos and lost learning time?!?

And yet, not one of them has to answer for that. That political budget of Berge was her middle finger to Garfield and Roosevelt and Ballard, and she totally got away with it. She must laugh herself to sleep at night.

With the 4th largest opt-out city in the nation, Seattle public schools has a huge problem. We need the generous liberals to get this message and do us all a favor and...
Vote NO

Anonymous said...

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Hey, what’s really the problem???? Is our beloved HCC being cancelled? No way! HCC is alive and well, there’s still testing, qualification, appeals, special busses and classes. The problem isn’t that HCC is being cancelled because it isn’t. It’s that other kids are also getting advanced options. Ohhhh the...


Melissa Westbrook said...

Vote No, I do not believe there is an election in Feb. 2020. I believe that's in Feb. 2022 for BTA V and renewal of the Operations levy.

I will caution all commenters - watch those cracks about children. If you wouldn't want it said about your child, don't say it about others.

Anonymous said...


You’re misunderstanding grade equivalent scores. They’re misleading which is why some testers don’t show them.

The 3rd graders you mentioned who had 10th grade equivalent scores does not mean they’re performing at a 10th grade level.

It actually means they tested as well on 3rd grade material as a 10th grader taking a 3rd grade test. Relatively Useless data right?

The only way to determine if they’re above grade level is testing students using material for that specific grade.

You said they achieved 90%. That’s not hitting the ceiling. Definitely high achieving, but may or may not be gifted. Hitting the ceiling is achieving at or right before the maximum score. So a 145 on the Cogat is 99%, but you hit the ceiling at 160, the maximum score equivalent to 99.99999......



Anonymous said...

If you are referencing MAP scores, it's not as simple as that - the tests are adaptive and cover higher or lower level material based on student responses. Upper elementary students could be getting algebra and geometry type questions. There was a ceiling, but it was higher for math. For reading, the student could hit the ceiling in elementary. NWEA would put out tables every few years and you could look at the numerical score and compare to grade level percentiles as well as percentiles in higher grades.

Once some students figured out the adaptive nature of it, they could challenge themselves to get to higher level questions or intentionally start answering in a way that would make the test get easier. There was no time limit when taking the MAP test, so harder questions could mean more time getting through the test.

side note

Anonymous said...

Once some students figured out the adaptive nature of it, they could challenge themselves to get to higher level questions or intentionally start answering in a way that would make the test get easier. There was no time limit when taking the MAP test, so harder questions could mean more time getting through the test.

That's what my own kids liked about the MAP--they could finally spend part of their school day being challenged. They loved being able to spend as much time as they needed trying to figure out things (including things they had not previously been taught), then seeing that things kept getting harder and harder the more they managed to solve. They thought it was a nice break from the typical school day, in which they covered things they already knew. They actually looked forward to MAP testing, liked that they could delay their return to regular classes by working slowly and methodically through as many questions as the system would throw at them.

Too bad it sounds like the new Amplify science isn't adaptive and won't allow students to work on harder and harder concepts or problems. On the contrary, it sounds like it represents a serious weakening of SPS science, which was already pretty weak in most cases.

It sounds like there will be less and less for academically motivated students to look forward to at school. Academically-involved parents with resources may find themselves stepping up more and more to help fill in gaps and quench students' thirst for knowledge.

Amplify Disparities

Anonymous said...


I agree that the single domain gifted issue is not only broken but non-compliant with the law. I think it was three years ago single domain students were required to be integrated and they are not. I am single domain myself and I've fought hard for this to no avail since most people simply bash the existence of the program and the needs of the students.

You also asked for my diversity credentials. I was the Advanced Placement coordinator, AP teacher, and de facto self appointed gifted identification team of one at Rainier Beach High School for five years. I also taught the credit retrieval course which ensured students graduated and was the reason our graduation rates bumped dramatically before ever there was an IB class being taught. I worked tirelessly to dis-aggregate trauma and survival needs from student potentialities. I used all the data available to find and interview students within our student body who could be developed to do. I created development plans for these students and any other interested student. The former head of advanced learning Bob Vaughn used to come to RBHS to help me and to help me review student cases and help interpret data and interview information.

All of this led me to believe that at least each high school should have a gifted/AL coordinator. Get to know the students, develop their skills and competencies and set them out on a path with a goal. A stipend for that would be about $3,000 annually. So over 10 or so high schools is $30,000ish. We have this for people to send out emails about how to use the already simple grade book. We have this for all sorts of things but this is a very student-centric, gap closing, equity based strategy that solves many of the equity issues that are concerning.

Yet, we have people making $100,000 and more telling us there isn't any money or pointing out the obvious issues that there are in fact issues. Never money for a solution.


Mr. Theo Moriarty

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The problem isn’t that HCC is being cancelled because it isn’t. It’s that other kids are also getting advanced options."

Did kids get advanced options with just some schools having so-called ALOs? They did not.

Did the district enforce that every school DID have ALOs as required by CSIPs? They did not.

Did the district, with no explanation or warning or discussion, allow principals to quietly get rid of Spectrum? They did.

Good ideas, Mr. Moriarty. Sure wish senior leadership would listen.

You can see where this is going.

kellie said...

@ JJ,

Anyways I think one teacher at each middle school with geometry and Algebra II certification would be in order and demanded by parents.

That would be great right. That would actually provide more opportunities for more students. And yet, that is NOT part of the plan.

The plan seems to be replace "advanced learning for some" with "advanced learning by luck of the draw." If you are lucky enough to get a teacher that provides more, you get more. And if you don't, you don't.

I think most people are very clear that there are real and systemic problems with how SPS qualifies and delivers limited advanced learning opportunities. I attended a meeting in 2002 with all the same language that is being used for the current AL conversation and nothing has changed in all that time.

I so hate to be pedantic about this but ... The only way you provide more AL is by PROVIDING MORE. More resources, more opportunities, more chances, more teachers.

SPS has these terrible free lunch blinders. They want to provide more AL AND not spend any money to do this. Well, the bottom line, is that when do you do the same thing, but call it something different, you get the same results.

MTSS is an empty promise, because you have the same number of teachers with the same number of students. But now you have a fancy table for differentiation.

Anything without a robust budget, is a just an empty promise.

Anonymous said...


My student was left to sit in a corner reading most of two years because they were meeting standards while the teacher focused on students not meeting standards. That is the way it really works. Why does the district focus on only what they perceive as the negative of HCC and not look at any successes. There are many. And we are out of here...

NW Parent

Anonymous said...

There are teachers at many high schools teaching Honors For All classes
with a noble goal of eliminating what they perceive as "tracking" although honors is self selected, to reduce racial disparities. HFA classes in our experience have differed substantially from true honors classes, as distinct from core. They move at a faster pace, have challenging discussions and include more challenging materials.

HFA classes in practice are very large due to current enrollment issues. As such teachers are exclusively focused on their students below grade level in the HFA classes. My student has been depressed and unengaged in those classes, but is empathetic to the teacher's motivations.

I understand the noble motivation, but to those teachers I ask how are AP or IB classes any different? Do you believe we should eliminate those options or force all students to take AP or IB classes? What is the difference? Students will continue to self select given the option.

I feel a better solution for all kids would be to offer all students a single HFA class or even better all be required to take an IB or AP class like Roosevelt. In this way the rigor of the class is not compromised because material is a national or international standard. However I am seeing instead a move instead toward eliminating multiple honors only classes.

Challenging question

kellie said...

@ Theo,

That is a beautiful, affordable and pragmatic solution to the actual problem.

It is the absence of anything like an "affordable tactic with a measurable goal" in the presentation that alarms me. The current solution is clearly about managing optics, rather than actually expanding options for any students, let alone expanding options for historically underserved students.

When Superintendent John Stanford rolled Into town 20 years ago, he was faced with the same problems, in AL that we have today. He immediately declared the situation at Madronna Elementary untenable and prioritized action. At that time, Madronna's challenges were very similar to Thurgood Marshall.

Madronna was a "magnet school" in a historically African American neighborhood. The AL kids were bussed into the school. The school was deeply segregated.

I'm really glad that the language of 2019 makes it clear that this "magnet school" approach does not work. It is deeply ironic that our last AA superintendent pushed this "magnet school" strategy and defended it as a way to increase diversity in AL.

Missed Potential said...

With regard to what Mr. Moriarty was saying above, districts are allowed to use Title I funds to identify and serve gifted and talented students now. That should help SPS do the hard work of helping (as Mr. Moriarty put it) dis-aggregate trauma and survival needs from student potentialities.

In the recent debate on the former Soup for Teachers page on FB, a parent brought up giftedness and the school to prison pipeline with an article (https://hechingerreport.org/outrage-pipeline-prison-gifted-students/). The article says that as many as 20 percent of those arrested are gifted. And then an SPS teacher said the parent was trying to appropriate the school to prison pipeline. But ironically the SPS teacher misunderstood the point of the article: gifted POC are disproportionately likely to be arrested. And that is what the article was talking about. And what the parent was talking about.

This parent and this teacher, who BOTH want to prevent gifted students of color from ending up in jail, are arguing with each other. The parent argues wants gifted students to be identified and educated (meaning gifted students of color!). And the teacher assumes "gifted students" means mostly white students and assumes that the parent is arguing to protect their white privilege. But the parent was arguing for the district to better identify and serve gifted students of color to keep them out of jail. And help them live happy, fulfilled lives, to meet their potential.

At recent board meetings when families of color with HC students have testified, the SPS teacher accuses white people of tokenizing families of color. We should listen to families of color who take the trouble to testify or dedicate months to serving on the ALTF, etc. As a district, why aren't we listening to them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Missed Potential, I've seen an uptick of this. When it's the right POC testifying, it matters. If not, then they are "tokens." Who gets to decide?

Anonymous said...

"The article says that as many as 20 percent of those arrested are gifted."

Herein lies the problem. SPS has virtually excluded qualifying gifted underserved students due to their entrance criteria, which is why Rainier Scholars needed to be started.

One or two historically underserved families whose kids were qualified is great for them.

Using their stories to camouflage or rationalize away the systemic issues in HCC is problematic at the least.


Anonymous said...


Yes, Title 1 funds can be used to that purpose but are not. I also was not paid to do the gifted advocacy work I was doing. I was being paid to develop and implement Advanced Placement classes at RBHS (while still teaching full time) I used the one source of data I could use which was the College Board data that predicts success on their exams based on prior student data.

As classroom teachers we do not get any information on the type of giftedness a student presents with. It's simply a designation on their enrollment form. We should have a folder on each child like with an IEP so that we can understand which levers to use and which supports to provide. Absent these the idea that they are simply good at school becomes prevalent and we reinforce this whole mess.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

As usual, Mr. Moriarty demonstrates that he's one of the few in this district to really get it.

My 2e student worked hard in Mr. Moriarty's class and struggled quite a bit, but overall they felt supported and understood--finally. They even said that if they came into a lot of money they'd donate it to Mr. Moriarty to start up an awesome school for intellectually gifted students, as they were confident that Mr. Moriarty had some great ideas about how to work more effectively with HC students, better tailoring instruction to their learning styles.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Using their stories to camouflage or rationalize away the systemic issues in HCC is problematic at the least."

You really think the HCC parents of color who have been coming to testify at the last couple of Board meetings are there to do what you state?

Mr. Moriarty, I have heard several people say that EVERY student should have an IEP plan that covers strengths and weakness. Is that already a practice that most teachers do informally?

DisAPP, I'm still waiting for some smart person to open a gifted charter school. It would fill up in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply and also your work at RB and the work you do now.

My feeling is that you are worried about some students in the current cohort model being hurt if they return to a blended classroom.

I have always felt that the one saving grace of the cohort model was it provides a space for certain students to find a level of acceptance and a space to be themselves that they wouldn’t find in a blended classroom.

Even if 90% of the cohort would succeed in a blended environment, the 10% who wouldn’t are, in my opinion, in absolute need of cohorting and without some backfilling with the other HC students in the cohort would not do well at all.

In other words, that 10%(or whatever it is) need an LRE, least restricted environment, like any student and the addition of students who could in fact thrive in a blended environment is essential for their development.

The problem that I see is the over subscription of the cohort by students who would do as well or better in a blended school and the lack of discretion on entrants.

If entrants were chosen on how well they would provide an LRE to those students in dire need of such an environment, I think we would have a much better system.

So this all comes back to your point on evaluations, and I am in complete agreement. The district should spend some money on evaluating student needs, effects of trauma in learning potential, careful consideration of placement in programs and services - for all students - not only those who may be gifted.

I’ll tell you though, in my experience, it takes parents who have the time and then use it effectively at their schools to make changes.
I hear a lot of talk about terrible staff, but having navigated 13 years of SPS, there are many, many fantastic staff.

Do they understand giftedness? A very few, and I agree, they seem to have zero training in most cases, which in a district with 10% of students id’d as HC is gross malfeasance by SPS.

My experience also has been that trouble arises from parents of gifted students who are frequently gifted themselves and can run into conflict with staff who are not and become overwhelmed and defensive.

And parents can get frustrated as well, and the interaction then becomes non or counter productive.

We have some gifted staff in SPS and I would like to see the district use them as a resource to develop some PD around gifted learners.

You shouldn’t have to carry all this water yourself.


Watching said...

Mr. Moriarity,

Thank you for your comments. Your comment regarding the need to dis-aggregate trauma and survival needs are profound. Comments regarding AP/gifted coordinator has been noted.

If the district's goal is to increase AL opportunities for minority populations, What are your thoughts about the district simply teaching teachers to identify gifted learners?

For years, the district has been dismantling advanced learning. I believe the district has been dismantling advanced education for administrative ease and to decrease costs. Some schools/ administrators don't want HCC in their building for this very reason. It is just easier (and cheaper) to lump students together, It was always difficult for schools to configure classes sizes and needs. IMO, the district is willing to use hate and divisive tactics to accomplish their goals.

Watching said...

I've seen POC testifying against breaking existing HCC program, too. The board would be smart to listen to these individuals.

Anonymous said...

"You really think the HCC parents of color who have been coming to testify at the last couple of Board meetings are there to do what you state?"

Of course not! But I do think some people who are using their testimony on this blog are doing that.


Watching said...

Yes, POC advocating to keep HCC, as is. It takes a lot of courage for people to stand-up.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough, so again,who gets to judge which parent of color's testimony is valid or just a token? Do you watch every Board meeting so carefully that you can judge who is there as a one-off or who is committed to their point?

Universal Screening said...

Teachers can't be the only ones identifying gifted students, because teachers have biases.

1) gender bias
2) race bias
3) a student's interests (unexpected interests attract more teacher attention)
4) classroom teachers tend to focus on student weaknesses rather than strengths
5) teachers fear misidentifying students
6) teachers tend to focus on academic performance skills (not leadership, creativity)
7) culture and socioeconomic status influence teacher ratings

Identification is the key to the whole thing. Identification is the main thing SPS has been doing wrong. And they're still doing it. Their deadline was Tuesday for their next round of biased AL identification.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Universal Screening, I would agree but doing universal screening is both costly (but I think they do use it in 2nd grade) and, of course, the tests have their own biases.

I think there could be other ways to find more kids but I'm not sure that is the goal.

Anonymous said...

Yes, using teachers to identify gifted students has been shown to be biased. In theory, adding in things like universal screening, "screening" via performance on state tests, parent referrals, use of nonverbal batteries, etc., all increase the opportunities to identify kids that might get missed if only relying on teacher referral, since teachers do have their own biases. However, if the screening tests are biases, and/or the parent referral process is hard for some to understand or navigate or they don't feel culturally comfortable referring their kid, those also won't catch everyone. To do a really good job at identifying who needed the additional services--which also depends on what those additional services actually are--would require a lot of additional work, for which the district seems to have neither the money nor the will.

@JJ, I actually agree with you on something! You said: "I have always felt that the one saving grace of the cohort model was it provides a space for certain students to find a level of acceptance and a space to be themselves that they wouldn’t find in a blended classroom." That is absolutely the case. Even if it's only the 10% figure you threw out as an example, that's over 500 kids, isn't it? That's a lot of kids who need that space. It's actually probably higher, since so many of those in HCC left because GE was absolutely not working. But yes, there is likely a decent proportion of those in HCC who would also do fine in GE, if teachers were better able to differentiate. That's a big if, though...

Unfortunately, the job of determining who really needs HCC (or similar) services would be a huge and complex and expensive task. It's further complicated by the fact that HC students can change so much over the years, such that a student that seems to be doing ok one year might really struggle later. There are so many other things to consider beyond what's already been mentioned, including local school building attitudes, the number of HC students likely to be at a school and in each class, parental attitudes toward HC students at a school, learning challenges, mental health issues, etc. While it would be great if schools really were able to see and evaluate our students more holistically, at the same time that thought terrifies me.... Do I really trust SPS would the sort of sensitive information that might be required to demonstrate that a student really does need special gifted services--information beyond simple test scores and/or neuropsychological testing, which would no longer be enough? Things could get very invasive, and SPS doesn't do a great job of protecting student data. Sensitive family data would probably also be included in such evaluation, too. Ugh.

I'm glad you're had such great experiences with teachers, and it sounds like they were able to differentiate in ways that most of us at other schools have not seen. Please understand that your experience might not be the norm. Maybe all those great teachers you remember can help with PD for the others.

all types

Anonymous said...

Geometry at McClure as referenced by JJ was baby Geometry (4 years ago). Algebra at McClure was baby Algebra. If your kid is really advanced, I wouldn't be too comforted that they are in advanced math there. I wonder how well the other SPS middle schools do. If your kid is very mathy, they would benefit from a serious math class.

Your mileage may vary

Anonymous said...

“Mr. Moriarty, I have heard several people say that EVERY student should have an IEP plan that covers strengths and weakness. Is that already a practice that most teachers do informally?”

In my experience, teachers don’t even read the Cliff Notes version (IEP at a Glance) of IEPs for sped students in their classes. The expectation is, “Your goals for my student are not my problem.” A similar document for every student? Not gonna happen.

Sped Staffer

Anonymous said...

If Algebra and Geometry are being taught with the Discovering texts, I'd agree that the advancement is not all that advanced. But this is an issue district wide, whether we're talking about science, math, or reading. SPS does not seem to want to offer, nor do they want to plan for, both accelerated AND advanced materials for AL/HC. They believe you can just "go deeper" with materials that have already been simplified to cover fewer concepts with less depth.

Well, more magical thinking.

Some students get access to more complex material through math clubs (volunteer run), online coursework (paid for by parents), part-time homeschooling, tutoring, etc. But through SPS? Only if your child gets a teacher who supplants or heavily supplements the district approved materials (and actually has content mastery themselves).


Anonymous said...

This is not correct. Making yearly adequate progress is not difficult to measure since we have standardized tests.

The are many students living with high ACE scores and trauma. They are not getting special placement based on their mental health profile.

"Unfortunately, the job of determining who really needs HCC (or similar) services would be a huge and complex and expensive task."

News from...

Outside theBubble

E.S. said...

It has been estimated that 68% of children 0–17 years old have experienced one or more ACEs. There are children who have experienced trauma at EVERY school in the district. The district needs to provide them all with a basic education.

Do you want schools to profile the mental health of each student? Schools can't even make sure they have enough time to eat lunch! Do you want schools to count and track a student's ACEs? Should they enter it into Naviance? Do you want schools to look into a student's parent's history of abuse, neglect, violence, incarceration, poverty, relationship problems, mental health to assess a student's risk of ACEs? What about FERPA?

Melissa Westbrook said...

E.S., good points. You would need people with very specialized backgrounds to do these kinds of assessments and then would nearly need a team in every school to support those students. At what point is this also the City's responsibility?

And, of course, all the data gathering. Very dangerous.

Anonymous said...

ES and All types make very valid points. Who would want to entrust SPS with that sort of information. Half the time our own family physicians probably don't have that level of info. I doubt that most families would be forthcoming about many of things, nor should they be expected to be. There have been breaches of private information involving SpEd families in the past been (letters sent to the wrong family etc) and imagine the data collecting opportunities.
Obviously just looking at academic testing outcomes does not give one the full picture into a students needs but we have to be realistic. In a district that routinely has to RIF teachers and for whom school nurses and librarians are a luxury, we are never going to have the ability to truly address the needs of the whole student. At least they should do a good job of identifying and providing for academic needs - whether advanced or remedial.
I think a huge source of dissatisfaction with the district and one that underpins a lot of the angst both about advanced learning and the various curriculum adoptions is that SPS seems to have an aversion to providing higher level educational materials for all students. This district seems to select the weakest or most dumbed down curriculum in every subject, it limits access to advanced coursework for Gen Ed students and waters down the offerings for HCC students, and does not show any sign of striving to produce, or celebrate, excellence in academic outcomes. Why is this?

Longtime Lurker

Anonymous said...

@ Outside the Bubble,

This is not correct. Making yearly adequate progress is not difficult to measure since we have standardized tests.

Can you clarify what this comment was in reference to? Was it in response to the comment by @reality that "advanced" classes in SPS really aren't that advanced? Or was it in response to my comment that it would be difficult to determine who "really" needed HCC classes?

Regardless, I didn't think AYP is an effective measure for advanced learners, since the tests are at grade-level. Scoring a 4 one year and a 4 the subsequent year doesn't mean the student actually made any progress--it may just reflect they were more than a year ahead the first time around. Some kids could sit in the corner all year and not get any above-grade-level instruction and still score a 4.

all types