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Saturday, October 05, 2019

Important Curriculum & Instruction Meeting Coming Up about HCC

Update: fyi, I will not be at this meeting.  But if you go, take notes, take video (upload to YouTube) and let us know your thoughts.  I’m thinking they will likely move the meeting to the auditorium as the Board conference room can fill up fast.

End of update

At next Tuesday’s Curriculum&Instruction committee meeting, a policy change around HCC is going to be introduced (and likely pushed by) Chair Jill Geary.  The meeting is in the Board conference room, starting at 4:00pm, instead of the usual 4:30 pm.  Agenda here.   Looking at the agenda, I would say the topic would come up around 4:30 pm; however, sometimes items get pushed to the top for various reasons.

The Advanced Learning Taskforce hasn’t even made its recommendations and word is that members of color do want to keep the cohort model.

If HCC parents are able, I would suggest showing up to this committee meeting. To understand, this is a public meeting but not one where the public can comment.  However, if you wanted to show up and hand committee members a sheet with your thoughts, you can do that.

I predict that this will be one meeting that Director DeWolf actually shows up for.

The agenda also has an “anti-racism” policy update by Director Geary as well as an update on Ethnics Studies.

Last week, I sat down with Wyeth Jessee, at his request,  to talk about HCC.  We covered a lot of ground.  From that discussion, here’s how I would sum up what is likely that staff wants to see happen; how much of this will follow the Taskforce’s recommendations is unknown. (Editor’s note: my apologies to Mr. Jessee for misspelling his last name.)


 - He said he is committed to providing HCC services.

 - Basically, the HCC cohort system would remain except it will be smaller by virtue of the percentile going up.  Meaning, students in the HCC program would have to score in the 1% rather than 2%.

So, they would keep separate classes at some schools.  (We were not able to go into, say,what would happen at Washington Middle School but perhaps they would move HCC out altogether since STEM by TAF does not support separate programing.)

 - But, of course, many more HCC students would return to their attendance schools with no separate classrooms.  But he was quite clear that this would take time because principals and teachers need to be given a framework to work with and would need PD following that framework. He said the district would need to do all that in order to have accountabililty for the HCC services those students were receiving.

 - In speaking about the AL Taskforce he said that there area “complexities in structure and services provided that the Taskforce was tackling.  He said there is “a technical piece” and “a community piece.”  And that “the policy should be moved to reflect where the principles and norms they want to follow are.”

Other Issues and Updates
  • SPS is not using the same test as they had in the past.  They are now using the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test which, according to the National Organization for Gifted Children, may be more effective for students from culturally and linguistically different or low-income backgrounds to eliminate barriers.
Clearly that is a step in the right direction to increase diversity in the program.  It would also be interesting to look at who goes into the Rainier Scholars program. 
  • MAP test results used to be weighted more.
  • The district is doing more outreach to Title One Schools. 
  • The district is offering more translated materials about the program.
  • The Taskforce was absolutely looking at serving twice-exceptional students.
  • He said that, especially for math in elementary school,they would look at bringing back Walk to Math to service those students.
  • He said he was aware and did encourage a minority report from the Taskforce if those members felt it important. 

107 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you said that moving forward, "students in the HCC program would have to score in the 1% rather than 2%." However, I believe that has been the case for the past two years.

Flummoxed

HCC Organizing said...

Transparency is critical. I encourage HCC parents to attend the C and I meeting and report back.

Anonymous said...

1% percent was for iq appeals. 2e kids will still require private testing for achievement which is expensive.

That said I thought all the Board Members except Geary and Burke said no to this... especially since there has been zero public engagement and the ALTF hasn't made their recommendations.

APParent

XX said...

The top 1% risks being skewed heavily male as males are apparently far more likely to score at both tail ends of the bell curve than females.

Stuart J said...

Rainier Scholars first screens based on assessments in 4th grade, then on CoGAT. Info is here:

https://www.rainierscholars.org/our-program/admissions/

I don't think they invite all students who live in the districts they mention, I think there some geographic limits in which students need to reside. At least that used to be the case.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the test used are able to reliable enough at the tail end to identify a 98th percentile student from a 99th percentile student. Maybe from a high 99th percentile student, but not a low one. I suspect that many of those scoring in the 98th percentile one year will score 99th in a later year.

Before making that change, I'd love to see the breakdowns re: how many SPS students have qualified via a 98 vs. a 99. Are we talking about reducing the HCC-eligible population by half, more, or less? Do we have a lot qualifying at the 99.6th percentile or higher--because those students really are likely to be pretty different than those at the 98th.

More importantly, how would such changes do anything to help address the racial disparities they say they are so concerned about? How does this address 2e single domain gifted?

I'd also like to see a research-based justification for a change from 98th to 99th percentiles. I've never read anything that suggests this distinction is key--especially when the tests used aren't good at discriminating between a 98 and a 99. I can't find CogAT score reliability data online anymore (or many it was MAP I found them for before), but if anyone knows where to find them or can answer this question for me, I'd appreciate it.

If the cohort were for only 99th+ percentile students, I hope they'd at least change the service to more of a gifted ed approach rather than simply a couple years ahead on the standard curriculum. If you're going to deal more with outliers, the curriculum and approach should reflect that.

all types

Anonymous said...

On the Rainier Scholars website it says they take the CoGAT and reading and math achievement tests but does not say what thresholds for eligibility are used. I would be really interested to know how this compares with thresholds used by SPS as they also use CoGAT and subject achievement tests to determine eligibility. Are the thresholds used on the IQ and achievement tests lower, higher or the same as those on SPS does anyone know?
Applicants also have to provide report cards for 2 years, behavioral reports, standardized testing records, teacher recommendation writing sample, and parent questionnaire and more. All in all it sounds more akin to a private school application than the process of applying for the HCC program is.
Rainier Scholars is sometimes held up by posters here by HCC-haters as a being more equitable, less-biased option compared to the HCC program but I'm not sure why that is if the screening tests used are the same.
If anything, it sounds like the application process for Rainier scholars is more rigorous and onerous on families. Perhaps SPS could consider this sort of application process if the goal is to offer HCC to a smaller cohort of students who are exceptional in all dimensions, but I can't imagine doing so would improve diversity, probably quite the opposite.

Longtime lurker

Anonymous said...

That’s a whole lot of lip service. Just like spectrum was supposed to serve students. Also, can you guess the racial makeup of that 1%?
This proposed model would do nothing to help black and brown students who get looked over by teachers or whose parents don’t know about the program.

Fake equity

Outsider said...

Just for the record, the claim that they will ever provide services in neighborhood schools is totally fake. Teachers aren't sitting around with a lot of free time at the moment. They are already maxed out dealing with basic classroom management, and trying to get as many 3s as possible on the SBA, and addressing to some extent (never enough it seems) the needs of students with IEPs. There is zero chance that they will ever take on the additional burden of providing advanced learning differentiation to lower-tier HC students or anyone else. I have done that conversation a half dozen times and the result was exactly zero at best (and retaliation against at worst).

Many principals and teachers are ideologically opposed to providing any advanced learning, and will refuse for that reason alone, no matter how much PD is offered to them. Even teachers who would be willing in principle don't have the time or capacity. PD does not create hours in the day. So it's double totally not ever going to happen.

There is plenty of precedent for advanced learning being falsely promised by neighborhood schools. Lots of them have ALO boilerplate in their CSIPs, behind which there is zero reality (other than possibly walk-to math). HC services will be the same story. They would be really just eliminating half of HC, after having previously eliminated Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

So many lies. This was never about racial equity and segregation. Changing the cutoff to the 1% will make the cohort even more racially disproportionate.
Wyeth wanted to sit down and share his message to do damage control, and hopefully dampen the uproar that is coming. It’s coming from parents, teachers and the community. From parents both in HCC as well as parents in neighborhood schools who already don’t get AL services.
The notion that walk to math will come back is totally untrue. Over the past 5 years, elementary schools have been getting rid of WTM because the district tells them to create balanced classrooms and avoid tracking, in the name of equity. Schools will teach the same thing to everyone, and check a box saying they used MTSS.

This whole thing is all about closing the achievement gap. It’s much easier to lower the ceiling than to raise the bottom. The district fails students of color across the board. If they really cared about equity, they would expand programs that are working.

Fake equity

Anonymous said...

Melissa, what did WJ say about students who have twice exceptionalities.

reader

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

This is very reassuring. 1% is what many school districts use. It is not any more arbitrary than 2%. The HC cohort in Seattle is a little shy of 10% of the student population, at least in part because of the attraction of Seattle for highly educated parents. Restricting to 1% would make the cohort size more manageable from the district's perspective. It will also elevate the opportunities at local schools. But they do need to provide walk-to-math - that's critical. Those supportive of HCC need to continue advocacy to make sure the district follows through on their promises. I have to say that I am delighted and reassured by the district's stance.

OPTIMIST

Dear OPTIMIST said...

Where are the cohorts in low income schools, OPTIMIST? Let's talk about effective differentiation when middle school teachers have case loads of 150 students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, about 2E, Jessee said the program would support them. Not much more than that but I brought it up and that’s what he said.

Anonymous said...

A commenter said:

"Anonymous Dear OPTIMIST said...
Where are the cohorts in low income schools, OPTIMIST? Let's talk about effective differentiation when middle school teachers have case loads of 150 students."

I don't fully understand your concern. Is the your concern that we should not move from 2% to 1% for HCC? Or is your concern the opposite, that we need to fully abolish HCC? A little extra clarification would help me here - thanks.

OPTIMIST

Anonymous said...

I agree with others that changing from 2% to 1%, does not seem like it would increase identification of more kids of color. Also a personal story, I have a kid who first tested at the 97% through Cogat school testing. The kid was an academic outlier throughout elementary school, especially because so many other kids had left for HCC. We retested prior to middle school, and the kid was well into the 99%. The HCC middle school cohort was life altering for them socially and academically, for the first time kid had friends. The kid was also still an academic outlier in HCC. Both tests were SPS given tests. My kid also had health issues when was younger so maybe that was a reason for the discrepancy. But I do believe kids could for various reasons vary within a couple of points. Maybe they also have growth spurts of a sort in cognitive development, similar to physical growth spurts. Either way any change should be backed by a data driven decision, national data and national best practices. If districts across the country adhere to a 1% threshold than perhaps that is best practice.

A Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments, please):

“FWIW, we did AL testing last weekend at Thurgood Marshall and our "cohort" (K/1) was at least 80% African American. I've done testing a few times in recent years and never seen very many non white/asian kids there. I'm curious what is different this year, and encouraged.”

My comment to this is that I had wondered - with the active parent group there and many students of color - why there weren’t more kids in their HCC program. That would be interesting to know what changed this year.

Another Parent said...

Does the change to 99 mean 99 on the quantitative and 99 on either the verbal or nonverbal?

Or does 99 mean 99 overall. Because if you get a 98 on the verbal and a 98 on the nonverbal and a 98 on the quant, overall your score is going to be 99.

I believe, but I am not sure, that at some point in the last five years it was possible for example to get a 98 on the quant and a 98 overall to qualify, which did not mean necessarily getting a 98 on more than one of the batteries. I think at one point you had to have a 98 on two of the scores, one being the quant, and the other being overall or on the verbal or non-verbal.

If a student scores 99 on the quant and 99 on the verbal, I believe their overall score would theoretically be higher than 99.

This is because it's unusual for kids to do well on multiple batteries.

So Seattle requiring a 98 on two batteries would be the same as another school district requiring a 99 overall.

Anyway, it seems to have changed over the years, so just curious if anybody knows exactly what this means.

Dear OPTIMIST said...

Classrooms need a percentage of high achievers for meaningful differentiation. Will low income schools produce these numbers? As I see it, the district's plan will hurt high achievers in low income schools.

SEA has been absent in this discussion. Do teachers really believe they can differentiate-especially when some middle school students are 4 years behind their peers?

Deciding to offer advanced learning for those in 98th or 99th percentage is a hair splitting conversation.

Dear OPTIMIST said...

Anecdote: A wonderful teacher with 25 years experience informed me that it is impossible to effectively differentiate. Content is geared towards the middle.

District Parent said...

Can I take a video camera and tripod to the Curriculum & Instruction Meeting so that I can video the meeting and post it online?

Does anyone know if that is allowed? And if there is a specific district procedure or rules?



Anonymous said...

Sorry if this is obvious, but was he saying that students who are already enrolled in, say, Cascadia, will be reclassified and transferred? I don’t have a personal stake in this one but I can only imagine how it’d feel to make the decision to send my kid across town, form a new social group for some number of years, only to have it yanked away later. And those kids have been moved around so much as it is. If that’s the case, I imagine they’ll get major pushback from parents of kids older than second or third grade.
-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

No, the desegregation of Highly Capable cohort and expansion of advance learning at neighborhood schools will take years. Their timeline to eliminate the HCC model is set to be over six years.

PEACE

Anonymous said...

As an advanced learning skeptic, I'm glad to see some practical ideas here about how the district can address this complex problem. we can dither about top one or top two percent, but the fact of the matter is that currently 9% of the district is enrolled in HCC, so that's not sustainable. Most, if not all, of the districts surrounding Seattle have moved to top 1%.

I agree that PD does little to grow teacher capacity for differentiation or specialized instruction. Another strategy used in other districts is to weight students with different needs in the calculation of FTE for the general education class size. So a student with a high-needs IEP would could as 2.0 or even 3.0 students. A student with a resource room-level IEP would count as 1.5 students. Similarly, an HCC qualified student could count higher to dispel the notion that these students are "easier" to teach and to encourage planning for specialized instruction. We pour money into special programs but rarely support the general education teachers -- isn't that what inclusion should be all about?

Emile

Anonymous said...

What districts have moved to top 1%?? And top 1% in what? CogAT? Achievement?

Just randomly checking some neighboring districts:

Shoreline is 97%ile (and some may qualify at 95-96). They have services at home schools for those qualifying in a single area, and self-contained cohorts for those qualifying in both math and reading. In Grade 6, they provide a 7/8 math curriculum telescoped to one year.

Bellevue 98%ile CogAT and 95% achievement.

Couldn't find cutoffs for Northshore, but they universally screen Grades K, 1 and 5.

fact checker

Public Meetings said...

Public meetings are public. There should be no problem bringing a video recorder into the room. Similar to the city of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools should be broadcasting committee meetings.

Will the district's proposed HCC (1%) be a racially balanced program? Is Juneau using hate tactics to divide communities to dismantle existing HCC program for capacity management? If so, it is incumbent upon Juneau to stop with hateful language that pits communities against each other.

Anonymous said...

Fact checker - Lake Washington School District uses 1% for its HCC equivalent.

Thanks

7% said...

The district says 3,800 (7.3%) students are "cohorted" although that includes middle and high school students.

Truth said...

The district is in the midst of moving boundaries. No one can predict local numbers.

Anonymous said...

Lake Washington is ONE district. N=1. Demographically, Lake Washington is also higher income (median income above Seattle's, FRL=11% compared to 34% in SPS), so not exactly comparable. Looking at Lake Washington's curriculum adoptions, they also seem to be using more traditional texts, especially in grades 6 and up for math and science. They adopted Amplify units for elementary only. So while they may have higher cutoffs for their HCC equivalent, they seem to have higher expectations for their non-HCC students.

See today's Seattle Times article by FYI Guy, "The median household income of Seattle hit a new high last year, but on the Eastside, several cities had some of the highest incomes in the country."

Still looking for facts to support the suggestion that "Most, if not all, of the districts surrounding Seattle have moved to top 1%."

fact checker

Anonymous said...

Lake Washington SD uses 2 subtests at 99% or 99% composite. As someone mentioned earlier, scoring 98th percentile on both math and verbal likely puts you at the 99th percentile overall.

In other words, by requiring both quant and verbal to be at the 98th percentile as SPS does now, it is essentially already requiring 98th percentile overall.

98/99

kellie said...

At this point in time, I am deeply skeptical of any multi year plans. I wasn't always skeptical.

What I have learned over the years is that we have a new school board every two years. A new superintendent approximately every 3 years. Principal turn over is very high. Teacher turn over is relatively high.

MTSS was started by Maria Goodlow Johnson in 2009 as a way to reduce the amount of self-contained sped classrooms. We are 10 years into that implementation, that was estimated to take three years. During the 2013 boundary conversations, a big premise was ... well now that MTSS is implemented, we don't need to set aside space at neighborhood schools for sped.

A six year plan, is not really a plan. Anything that falls into the "later pile" tends to stay in the "later pile."

Dear OPTIMIST said...

I'm glad Emile has admitted that PD won't result in effective differentiation.

I think we are dealing with a district that is trying to manage capacity. Will HCC cohorts look any different under the district's new proposal? Denise Juneau is using hate tactics to divide the community. Does anyone care to defend her actions?

The budget has increased from $600M to $1B and the district continues down a path to destroy e programs. I hadn't realized the MTSS has been in effect for 10 years? Where are the results?

Anonymous said...

Did you mean to say:

"In other words, by requiring both quant and verbal to be at the 98th percentile as SPS does now, it is essentially already requiring [99th] percentile overall."

fact checker

Anonymous said...

FYI Decatur Elementary is also having a Q&A session on Tuesday, Oct. 8th, from 6-7pm with a SPS district staff member. Questions are supposed to be submitted ahead of time by 3pm Tuesday.

NE Dad

Anonymous said...

Has the district presented data on what percent of the existing cohort qualified at those levels? Let's not forget that achievement scores are also a component of the "multiple measures." The goal is to identify those who need services, and have the qualification criteria match the services (or vice versa?). Without knowing how many students this change will impact, and how the district plans to serve what will presumably be a smaller cohort (but how much smaller?), how can the Board even weigh the pros and cons of potential changes?

many unknowns

Anonymous said...

Absolutely please record the committee meetings. It's absurd that they're not recorded now. They are PUBLIC meetings. If the district is really all about equity, they would recognize that many (if not most) parents are unable to physically attend these meetings due to work and family obligations.

Please post video. And perhaps we should circulate a petition to push the district to tape and post these meetings themselves.

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks for catching my typo, @Fact checker. I did in fact mean to write:

"In other words, by requiring both quant and verbal to be at the 98th percentile as SPS does now, it is essentially already requiring [99th] percentile overall."

98/99

Anonymous said...

@Dear OPTIMIST said

I hadn't realized the MTSS has been in effect for 10 years? Where are the results?

I'm not sure that "in effect" really applies. I don't think they've ever gotten around to fully implementing it--especially for those on the advanced end of the curve.

Here's an MTSS thread from a few years back that might make interesting reading now:
https://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2016/01/mtss-unfulfilled-promise.html

Half Full

Outsider said...

I'm an optimist too, where there is any actual chance. For example, I still think the Mariners could win the World Series this year. But on issues like advanced learning in neighborhood schools, I think we need to be realistic. There is even a whiff of cruelty in statements like "those supportive of HCC need to continue advocacy to make sure the district follows through on their promises." It sets parents up with an impossible task, and implies that it's their fault when they fail.

School staff are expert at deflecting, stonewalling, gas lighting, and ghosting parents trying to advocate for AL. They do it so well, I think there must be a semester course in Ed school on just that topic. Parents have no easy way to even know what is really going on in classrooms, and it takes a long time to accumulate evidence that no differentiation or advanced learning is taking place. Add in some ignored emails, missed appointments, and "maybe next year", and it's no problem to string along parents indefinitely until they are out of the school. The best way to understand the parent experience of trying to get a Seattle school to take AL seriously would be to read "Before the Law" by Kafka (http://www.kafka-online.info/before-the-law.html). It's exactly like that. Except that the school also may have the capacity to add some social shaming against any parent exposed for advocating AL. Why should your little precious get special treatment, when special ed and disabled students with much greater need don't get all the help they could use? Why indeed? There will be no answer to that. Don't even bother with "because Wyeth Jessee promised ..."

If you think I am just a hopeless crank, consider the helpful suggestion by Emile, which I don't doubt is sincere. Emile says SPS should allocate more FTE for HC students. Seriously, how likely do you think that is? If the likelihood of "expansion of advance learning at neighborhood schools" is equivalent to the likelihood of Emile's suggestion, I rest my case. Other than possibly walk to math, AL services will be delivered in a cohort setting or not delivered.

Which raises another question. The agenda for the Board work session indicated a push for complete elimination of the HC cohort (which in practice means a complete elimination of HC services; see above). But MW quotes Wyeth Jessee just wanting to shrink the cohort. And it's left ambiguous whether he means application of the HC label would be scaled back, or two tiers of HC would be created, one meaningless and non-cohort for the 98th percentile, and the other cohorted for the lucky 99s.

Melissa Westbrook said...

District Parent, I concur - you might ring up the Board office and let them know you will be recording but it’s a public meeting. I have often been at press events and meetings where the reporters put their phones on the table to record audio.

Pragmatic Xennial, good question and one that Jessee brought up. He said he had had a call from a parent about what happens if their HCC kid is already at one school, could they be grandfathered in? The answer is yes.

Dear Optimist, that remark from a teacher who has 25 years experience saying if the district makes this change, most teachers will teach to the middle? Want to know who else said that? Nancy Robinson who, with her husband, created the gifted program at UW for high school kids. These teachers know that. The district would have to do a lot of set-up work for them in order to make it easier/more possible for teachers to differentiate.

MTSS and where are the results? Great question. They’ve been at it 10 years and it’s still not in every school?

Changing HCC means change in multiple directions for the district - the Superintendent and Board should think long and hard.

I do read into all this that the district is aware they MUST provide decent information to OSPI about fulfilling their duty to those HCC-identified kids.

Danny Westneat said...

I don't understand the point of making HCC smaller. They should be trying to make it bigger, as it's a great program and almost certainly fails to capture many Seattle kids who should or could be in it (because they weren't tested at all).
They should test everyone, rather than having testing be opt-in. Why is it accepted that the program is too big and needs to shrink? Making it smaller will just make it more elite (unless the real goal is to just get rid of it). Seriously I'd love to hear what the explanation is, from those of you who know. Expand what works, expand HCC, make HCC testing universal!
Danny Westneat
2 cents from an APP dad (back when they called it that)


Anonymous said...

@Westneat Please consider writing about this important issue. There is a lot to unpack here.

More Noise Please

Anonymous said...

@ Danny,

SPS has been pushing a standard experience really hard the last few years and have doubled down on it this year. Perhaps there is some political cover in standardization under "targeted universalism". There don't seem to be any form of intent to improve rather than restrict or eliminate gifted services. I've been doing this work for over a decade in this district and it seems like the trend as it has filtered down to the classroom level.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

"I don't understand the point of making HCC smaller."

I think there are multiple goals behind this.

1. Reduce the achievement gap, by lowering the ceiling of services available to high-performing students.
2. Promote a one-size-fits-all approach, which staff think will be easier to administer. [Although if they were going to do MTSS as promised, it would be much harder--if not impossible.]
3. Reduce the size of the "HCC parent cohort," decreasing their voice. [Although in reality, if HC students are being ill-served in neighborhood schools, parents may get louder.]
4. Reduce the overall number of students served in a TBD possibly still cohorted program, so that even if the racial disparities were still there--which they likely would be--we'd a list be talking about a smaller number. [Optics, baby!]
5. Out of a misguided sense of "equity," punish kids for the fact they did nothing to "earn" their intellectual abilities and thus don't "deserve" to be taught at their level.

They seem to not be thinking about some of the complications, however, such as:

1. Need for a complete re-do of the school assignment plan, with major shifts.
2. What the new program for outliers would actually look like.
3. How this solves racial (or income) disparities in AL.
4. How to address the fact that the level of in-class differentiation that would be required is completely unfeasible. Without significantly smaller classes, significantly more PD, and significantly supplemented curricula, etc., it just ain't gonna happen.
5. How this will exacerbate disparities between schools, and limit opportunities for HC-type students at lower-performing schools.
6. What this means for 2e student identification and services.

And so on.

all types

Anonymous said...

@Danny Westneat
Welcome back. I was also around when HCC was APP and what the district has accomplished since you've aged out is that they managed a name change (APP to HCC), eliminated Spectrum and ALO, and began to make it more onerous for parents to get their kids tested and in to a program that works for a large number of kids The movement right now is to eliminate the cohort, and realy the program, and send all back to their neighborhood schools with another promise that teachers will miraculously differentiate. They didn't then, they don't now and I don't see this to be even remotely delivered on in the future. Magical thinking. Further, several dept heads within SPS are also using this opportunity to call the program racist and segregationist and that it must be dismantled because it is the root cause of racism in SPS. This is generally being led by SPS's own head of Ethnic Studies who believes we should "blow.it.up." It-being HCC. There is no discussion to be had with this individual. Anyone who counters is labelled a racist, even POC in favor of the program, because those at SPS and their supporters believe that SPS or shall I say public school is a white folx construct but it appears that HCC is the worst part of it. Never mind that parents within HCC have been advocating FOR YEARS to re-evaluate the identification process and address other issues such as single subject giftedness, 2e students and additional diversity. SPS has done nothing, nothing but it's easier to make the HCC parents and the kids out to be the scapegoats vs actually addressing things that have been asked. It appears that our Superintendent supports this premise because the one thing SPS is really excellent at is sowing division-and she has never shown a bit of interest in gifted ed or learners since she has been here. Also because of this view, principals are able to make their own site based decisions to change it up. Back when you were a parent, there was a promise made about actual HCC PD and curriculum development. Still not there but there is now a proposition on the table to give staff the power to change or adopt curriculum without Board oversight-that's where we are headed. Overall, given the other issues that SPS has not managed well (capacity planning, core24, boundaries, site maintenance, SPeD, curriculum adoption, school lunches, transportation, etc) I have little faith that the district cares about this issue or can effectively bring differentiation back to the schools from whence HCC kids came. Apparently, all problems will be solved by our now 10 year MTSS implementation that was supposed to take 3 years, with no additional funding. However, I guess the optics all sound good by eliminating HCC. Sure, the school district will lose families to private schools but that's not a complete fix either since it's expensive and many folk can't afford that in this already expensive city. So kids will learn less over time and it will be a self fulfilling prophesy and lo and behold, when the ceiling is lowered, the achievement gap for AA males (strategic plan focus) is miraculously smaller. As you start digging in to this, it doesn't seem so crazy. Except it is. And it's also rationing services, as usual. Weren't people up in arms a few years ago, saying that we should be building our tech and other workforce here and educating and hiring more locally? It seems that other parts of the country and world have young adults who are just better prepared and more competitive. Doubtful those colleges my kiddos would want to attend are going to make an exception for Ethnic Studies Math pedagogue but here we are. And that's on the table. Doesn't this sound like an interesting topic for your readers/taxpayers to understand?
-long road

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hi Danny,
For years, I have watched the district struggle with the issue of serving Highly Capable students. Here’s what I learned over that time:

-The district has used Advanced Learning students as a moveable feast (but not as bad as Sped students). So move them whereever you want. I note that the late Superintendent John Stanford, after seeing the APP program housed with Madrona (which, at the time, was a K-8) said that the district should NEVER co-house APP and yet the district continued to do so.

- There is definitely a contingent of parents, teachers, and administratrors who 1) believe that a true “gifted” child is one in a million and otherwise, it’s just a bunch of pushy parents trying to get more for their kid and/or 2) believe that kids should never be separated out for academics and therefore, APP and Spectrum are/were the wrong ways to deliver state mandated highly capable services.

That those teachers and administrators in that group don’t want to say out loud is that it helps their classes to keep their brightest learners in them. Having academicallly enthused kids in a classroom helps drive discussion and curiousity. (A few teachers seem to think bright kids are there to help “teach” other kids. NO kid is in class specificallly to help teach and that’s wrong. Kids all have things to learn from one another but specifically teaching is not one of them).

As well, with the push for high stakes testing, more principals and teachers than ever wanted to keep those kids in their schools to help balance their test scores.

And the district started using MAP test scores as a gatekeeper to get into Advanced Learning. One, MAP was not created for that purpose and two, it was blackmail for parents - want your kid in AL, take the MAP test.

- I also learned that the district NEVER had a champion for these services. Not a Board member, not a superintendent (and Maria Goodloe-Johnson wrote her dissertation on gifted children), not a senior administrator at JSCEE.

- Parents not in the program uniformly - and without evidence - say that HCC kids are gettting more. (I would add Spectrum but the district allowed principals complete leeway and all of them drove it into the ground.). Or that HCC parents think their kids are too precious to be around non-HCC parents.

But my biggest learning experience has come in the last two years when I figured out:

- Apparently Asian children are not minority children. Astonishing to me because I’d bet their parents would say something different as would the State and the feds.

- Biggest takeaway of all - the district is NOT interested in finding more minority kids who would benefit from the program. All along here I thought that was the goal and those kids were being underserved.

No,Danny, the goal is the flatten public education in SPS. To teach to the middle while concentrating on the highest risk students. Those kids at the top? “They’ll be okay.”

I think the district likes to believe they WILL find more kids of color who are in attendance area schools and serve them there. Question is, what was stopping them before? Nothing.

Very shady.

And speaking of shady, watch for final recommendations from the AL Taskforce (which I believe is about the third one in about 10 years - they didn’t listen when I was on one). I’m sure those recs will line up just fine with what staff wants.

One last point - please go find the minority members of the Taskforce who wanted to caucus together. I guess they got a bone thrown to them with a “minority report.”

Anonymous said...

Is the above poster really Westneat? Just curious why he/you might be chiming in after all these years.

Times reader

Dear Danny said...

Dear Danny,

Melissa, Theo and others provided some useful information. The district has been systematically dismantling advanced learning for elementary and middle schools, for years. They have moved into high schools. Honors LA and History classes are replaced with "Honors for All".

The district is proposing sweeping changes to Advanced Learning while making enormous boundary changes- beginning in south east Seattle. You've been around long enough to understand the complexities of these issues.

To garner support, Denise Juneau is shouting from the rafters that HCC is a racist program. She is perpetuating hate, division and pitting communities against each other. I hope you look into future numbers. I'm having a hard time that the district's plan will create a racially balanced program.

Dear Danny said...

In closing, I will say that parents with children of color are testifying at the school board meeting. These parents do not want to eliminate the existing structure. They fear that their children will be given medical diagnoses (one child was throwing tables until he/she got into HCC) and disproportionate discipline.

suep. said...

Hi Melissa,

Why do you say this? "I also learned that the district NEVER had a champion for these services. Not a Board member, not a superintendent (and Maria Goodloe-Johnson wrote her dissertation on gifted children), not a senior administrator."

I was an advocate for APP/HCC, Spectrum and ALO programs and services when I served on the Board, as were some other Board Directors, including current Director Eden Mack.

And as you recall (and Danny might be interested in this info), I invited the President of the Northwest Gifted Child Association, Austina de Bonte, to a School Board retreat (despite pushback from some staff) to give a presentation to the Board and JSCEE staff on how to make the district's gifted and advanced learning programs better serve more students, particularly those who are underrepresented in the programs now.

De Bonte's presentation can be found here: "Peeling the Onion: Equity in Highly Capable (HiCap)"

- Sue Peters

Anonymous said...

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/boycotted-test-finds-smart-kids/

Vaughan, who served as head of AL prior to Martin, certainly seemed a champion of identifying and serving AL students. Interesting that the MAP test, brought to SPS during MGJ's tenure, helped to grow the program, even though her tenure seemed to be the beginning of increased efforts to weaken AL programming.

(article just happens to be authored by Westneat)

remember MAP?

Danny Westneat said...

The above poster really is Westneat. I'm not that aged out, I still have a kid at Garfield. I chimed in because I genuinely don't understand the point of purposefully making the program smaller. I could see the arguments for eliminating it entirely (though I don't agree with them) and, as I said, I can see the arguments for expanding it (the best of which is that we could try to find the kids who could or should be in it but who are being missed). But keeping it and making it smaller makes no sense whatever -- it only exacerbates inequities.
Melissa, I realize the MAP test was controversial and perhaps misused, but one of the best things about it is that because it was so widely administered, it "found" kids who potentially qualified for HCC who otherwise would have been missed (according to Bob Vaughn ... ) It led to an expansion of HCC, which in my view was good for the kids, good for the district, good for everybody.

2009. 2014. said...

SPS included the 2009 OSPI pamphlet "Addressing Under-representation of Student Populations in Gifted Programs" in their Oct 8 2019 C&I Policy Committee Meeting Packet. Uh, did they just notice that or what?

And here's what the 2014 task force recommended:
1: Maintain existing delivery model.
2: Define the Advanced Learning Office’s role in services, programs and curricula.
3: Enhance the Advanced Learning Office’s role in professional development.
4: Improve communication from the Advanced Learning office.
5: Enhance equity in access to Highly Capable and Adv. Learning services and programs.
6: Expand Advanced Learning opportunities.
7: Rename the Accelerated Progress Program.
https://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2014/08/advanced-learning-task-forces.html

Anonymous said...

Science Test Scores for SPS Schools (for the 2018-2019 School Year) are now available.

https://washingtonstatereportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/

Take a look at SPS Middle Schools. These schools are already starting their 3rd year of Amplify Science Curriculum.
Low-Income Students are still not passing the State Science Test. Despite all of the hype from SPS Staff about Amplify being the best means of teaching science to Low-Income SPS students, and closing the Achievement Gap (but this is not happening). Crickets.

Now the SPS Staff are saying that "Eurocentrism" and "Eurocentric Math" are to blame for poor SPS student performance in math. Who is oppressing students with Eurocentric Math, and Eurocentric Science, within SPS? Teachers? Parents?
Get real, SPS.

Do some simple statistics (linear regression) on the OSPI test data. One can easily see the strong correlation between the % of Low-Income Students in a given school, and the % of Students not passing the State Science Test.

Poverty, and lack of education within a given family, are two major factors that connect to poor student performance. Small class sizes, tutors, social services, and using validated teaching curricula, are known interventions to help struggling students. Yet the Staff and Superintendent now want even more latitude from the Board to impose even more experimental curricula on SPS Students.


Head Spinning

Anonymous said...

@ Head Spinning, sorry, but linear regression is eurocentric. Can't do it.

@ Melissa, I have to disagree with you somewhat that "having academically enthused kids in a classroom helps drive discussion and curiosity." While that may be true overall, you seem to be suggesting that HC students are academically enthused. Put them in a GE classroom to help drive discussion and that's likely to backfire--because the kids are bored, and/or they are misbehaving, and/r teachers have instructed to them to not speak up so they don't make the other kids feel bad. The type of discussion many HC kids would be enthusiastic about often isn't tolerated by teachers, who sometimes even mistake it as "challenge" to their authority as the subject matter "experts."

all types

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that we may be interpreting Wyeth Jessee's "99th percentile" comment incorrectly. It's possible the district was envisioning it as scoring at the 99th percentile within a school, not necessarily re: national norms. While local norms can't be more restrictive than national norms, the district could theoretically say anyone who scores at the 99th percentile per national norms, OR at the 99th percentile per local school norms, qualifies for the new TBD HC program.

However, that creates a lot of challenges, and I'm not sure the district is all that good at thinking things through... Once you increase the threshold (for some schools) to 99th percentile per national norms, you're talking about an even more "outlier" type population. That would likely yield kids working/thinking 3-4-5 or even more years ahead of grade level. However, at some of the lower-performing, high minority, and/or high FRL schools, those in the 99th percentile by local norms might be working around grade level. The numbers are also very small--in a school of 500, we're talking about 5 kids. At those schools where people now complain that it seems like 1/3 are HC-eligible, let's say under the (slightly) revised criteria we end up with only 25% eligible. That might mean over 100 kids, with the majority likely to be white and Asian. So...we're going to invite the 5 possibly-advanced students from an underserved school to go join a program with the larger and even-more-selective-than-now group of high performers? Unless there is some effort to first help prepare those newly HC eligible students, this seems to just set them up for failure. If I were a parent of such a student, I'd think twice about sending them, if this were the situation.

So whether Wyeth Jesses was talking about 99th percentiles across the board based on national and/or local norms, I'm not sure either would lessen racial disparities.

all types

Melissa Westbrook said...

I owe Sue Peters an apology. I was drifting so far back in time that I forgot the near-past. I do indeed remember her speaking up, even when not politically a great idea, and that fantastic talk from Austina de Bonte (and I urge everyone to check out Sue’s link). I wrote about that Work Session saying, here’s the way forward. Here’s how to change how SPS does outreach. De Bonte had solid ideas and suggestions.

It was all ignored.

All Types, my line about academically bright kids was one I heard from teacher after teacher. I should have made that clear but it’s not my opinion but what teachers have told me is lost when kids go to HCC.

Cap Hill Mom said...

Melissa,

Did he explain the "why" behind largely dismantling the cohort model to send most kids to neighborhood schools while also maintaining a 99% admission for a smaller program? These two things seem to be at odds. Draining the program of students, which drains the advocacy pool.

As an alternative, couldn't they make HCC classes available to students who score 98% on either English or math, not limited it to those students who hit the mark on both?


Melissa Westbrook said...

“Draining the program of students, which drains the advocacy pool.”

Bingo! We may have a winner.

Anonymous said...

"Draining the program of students, which drains the advocacy pool."

Since it's not supposed to be a "program" but a service, maybe they decided to do a continuum of services model and reserve
self-contained for for outliers.

The winner was really behind Door #3 all along. It's a services model, not a parent advocacy/privilege model. It really isn't always just about you.

MonteHall CarolMerrill

Anonymous said...

All of these changes sound eerily like those that I have proposed for years on this blog and was villified and deleted while Melissa kept saying that the demographically entitled program is "open to all" and all types kept hammering home that those children can't fit into HCC because they aren't performing like our kids. And local norms cannot work, etc., even though they are in the language of the state law.

The arc of justice and all that.

FWIW

Anonymous said...

@FWIW (who really does never seem to tire of saying “I told you so”), all these changes sound eerily like a whole lot of vague—and likely soon-to-be empty—promises.

Its probably pointless as usual, but I’ll go ahead and ask once again how this all might work in the end. You know, the ol’ logistics. You always seem to run when the tough questions come. See my comments above for some of them, plus you can probably recall many others that I often ask and you never answer...

All types

Anonymous said...

2013-14 ALTF 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."

I believe all the recommendations were adopted by the Board. Was this work even initiated? It surely was never completed. Why no universal screening? Seems like a good thing. Every student should have access to suitable education. So much more could and should be done but a wholesale dismantling of the program is not going to help any of the students including those furthest from educational justice.

This blog post struck me as very well thought out by former Board member Peaslee:

http://sharonpeaslee.com/2019/10/advanced-learning-seattle-fix-dont-cut/?fbclid=IwAR25Mxb77ijE5TloTvyfGZRn2kBXdh6cuXMlYJl0-_wBAj_b6xa2Rsa9BSg

Advanced Learning in Seattle. Fix it. Don't Cut it! - Sharon Peaslee
Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools is once again on the chopping block. On September 25 Superintendent Juneau proposed the complete elimination of the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC). Two years ago, the School Board passed a resolution directing the Superintendent to “implement, by school year 2019-20, more equitable identification practices for advanced learning and highly …

APParent

Anonymous said...

yeah fwiw, just because staff and you came up with the same bad idea doesn't really mean much. And juneau and kari hanson have your flare of hyperbole too. segregated and red lined. Sheesh. and as i recall you were deleted because of your broken record talking points... which still are front and center. and your off topic post. like devin bruckner member of the current altf and her board comments regardless what was on the docket. brian terry is now carry on the propaganda with claims of white supremacy. good golly.
no caps

Anonymous said...

Unrelated
There is an article about the ethnic studies math in Seattle Times Education lab. Interviewing Wayne Au and TCG. Seems like positive spin, damage control. No link to the actual framework. I wish they would have shown it because some of the questions to things to examine make it sound like its about indoctrinating kids to either consider themselves as victims/blame the system or feel guilty about being perpetrators of oppression. And this is math FFS, God knows what the other subjects would look like!

And then theres this that was posted on an earlier thread in the weekend

Blogger StepJ said...
This made me go Hmmmm....

Today, I looked at the OSPI Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee page. https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/workgroups-committees/currently-meeting-workgroups/ethnic-studies-advisory-committee

I wanted to take another look at the reference documents they had listed, that included the SPS Ethnic Studies Math Framework.

None of the reference documents are listed on the OSPI site now!

And another hmmm...

This is the last paragraph for the proposed Amendment to Board Policy No. 2015,

"Procedures

The Superintendent
The School Board may adopt additional guiding principles as appropriate.or designee is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy including, but not limited to: • the adoption process for core and extended core instructional materials, • the approval process for supplementary instructional materials, • a process for reviewing complaints regarding instructional materials

This part is lined out (I don't know how to replicate that) The School Board may adopt additional guiding principles as appropriate.

Please note "The Superintendent" has replaced "The School Board" in approving an adoption process for everything listed including "extended core instructional materials." My understanding is that Ethnic studies would be in the category of Extended Core Instructional Materials.

As usual when it comes to whats going on in SPS I have a

SPSuspicious Mind

Anonymous said...

For all those interested in the Ethnic Studies issues--and there are many issues!--if you haven't been reading this blog lately, there's more info in this recent post, particularly re: how ethnic studies may be integrated into math.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=5236717300926659403

keeping track

Anonymous said...

Honestly, that "article" in the Seattle Times Education Lab section is pretty pathetic--it's clearly just pro-SPS fluff. I wish the reporter behind it had done some digging, some thoughtful analysis, some consideration of what the pretty words on the SPS papers will mean in the real implementation world.

@Danny Westneat, any chance you can contact the reporter and provide some mentoring as to how to do higher quality work? Or maybe collaborate on a follow-up piece that actually looks more deeply at the issues involved? This is serious stuff and the issue merits much more thoughtful consideration.

pro-math

suep. said...

Thanks, Melissa. By the way, my former colleague and Board President Sharon Peaslee has written a blog post in support of keeping and improving HCC:

HCC in Seattle Schools. Fix it. Don’t Cut it!

- Sue Peters

suep. said...

Sorry for the redundancy! Just saw that APParent already mentioned Sharon's post.

Honest Quesion said...

How will Geary's advocacy help HCC students in low income schools?

New Look said...

The district's proposal will look like this:

Elementary school: All students would be served at their local elementary school with the
exception of the top 1%.

Middle School: Math would be the only advanced learning opportunity.

High Schools: 9th and 10th Honors for None in LA and History. There would be AP, Running Start and IB offerings. Large comprehensive high schools would have the opportunity to offer multiple math tracks. The district has never been committed to funding IB. Why would anything change?

suep. said...

@SPSuspicious Mind 10/8/19, 8:08 AM. That is definitely something to keep an eye on. Anything that is taken out of Board Policy and placed under Superintendent Procedures, or anything that is made a superintendent purview rather than the Board's, often eliminates or truncates Board oversight.

By extension, that means it limits public oversight, since Board members are our elected representatives. This can be dangerous. It can weaken the Board into irrelevance.

We saw that happen with the waiver policy that was used in 2017-19 as an end-run around the Board to implement an unvetted unapproved curriculum -- Amplify Science -- in as many as 69 SPS schools without Board knowledge or approval. Waivers currently do not require Board approval. That creates a huge loophole for abuse. That policy should be changed.

(Documents from public records requests confirm that SPS staff placed Amplify in many elementary schools as well, without waivers and without Board knowledge, and worked very closely with one vendor, Amplify Education, Inc., developing and promoting its product, testing it on SPS students, with the intent to adopt its product district-wide, long before an official adoption process was even begun. As many of us had suspected. So, sometimes suspicious minds are right.)

Consequently, I believe there are various Superintendent Procedures and Board Policies that should be reviewed and revised in order to return or add Board oversight, not the opposite.

Anonymous said...

"Since it's not supposed to be a "program" but a service"

You are arguing about semantics. Districts can call their program of services whatever they darn well please. A program is a service.

moving on

Anonymous said...

Yes @ pro math - Fluff piece is exactly how I would describe the Seattle Times story. I wish there would be some critical analysis of the claims too, instead of just regurgitating the positive benefits lauded by TC. For instance, delving deeper and actually reading the link to the Stanford study cited shows this was a totally different program to what is proposed here with the ES math framework etc. Firstly it involved high schoolers, and it was a specific ethnic studies class. How can the assumption be made that what TCG is developing will have similar benefits? Once again, there is a lack of clarity about the form, implemantation, goals and potential benefits. Either TCG et al do not understand that you can't compare apples to oranges or it suits them to muddy the waters.

From the https://news.stanford.edu/2016/01/12/ethnic-studies-benefits-011216/ t

(Start) "In the study, Dee and Penner gathered data from three San Francisco high schools participating in the pilot ethnic studies program from 2010 to 2014.

Enrollment in ethnic studies was automatic for students who had eighth grade GPAs below 2.0 and voluntary for those with GPAs above 2.0. The scholars narrowed their observations to a population of 1,405 ninth graders, and compared attendance rates, GPA and grade credits earned for students who came in closest to each side of the 2.0 threshold. Looking at students near the cutoff allowed for the best analysis of the program because a student with a 1.99 GPA, for example, was likely to be very similar to a student with a 2.01 – except that one student was encouraged to enroll in the course, while the other was not.

“It’s similar to a randomized trial where one group of people are assigned to a treatment and another similar group is asked to take a placebo,” explained Dee, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
The researchers found that attendance for those encouraged to enroll in the class increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points and credits earned by 23. (End)

SPS needs this right, not subject nearly 50 000 students in the largest School district in Wa state, to some sort of half baked sociologic experiment by a doctoral student - might make for a good thesis but not at the expense of our kids education. I wish the national media would pick up on this and do some real investigative journalism - Or better still John Oliver for a laugh!

Just the facts

Melissa Westbrook said...

FW, you simultaneously make me sigh and smile.

Moving On, re: program vs service. It’s a bit like Alice in Wonderland in SPS:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

Anonymous said...

I think the districts conundrum is that differentiation means, to me, that each student has a need and we need to meet that need. Students come as they are and that varies wildly even within a single child. Where I think they fail is that they are at the intersection of standardized factory style educational paradigms and student need which runs exactly contrary to standardization. What is needed is a paradigm shift to personalized education, and not as a buzzword for sitting students in front of a screen. Students should be placed in classes that suit their ability and should be able to promote out of courses based on acquired skill or ability. Why can't students choose their teachers or course schedule like in University? But that level of individuality would require SPS to give up that level of rigid control. If they can just accept that students needs aren't suitable to a canned curriculum of factory style progression much of this angst would evaporate.

Services aren't places but when you need to deliver services to thousands of students it makes complete sense to differentiate classes by need. Now you can define 'need' in a number of ways based on your philosophy. SPS spends a great deal of effort hammering the community flat, hammering the curriculum flat, hammering the teachers flat, and seems to only have a hammer in their toolbox. Yet, they are incredulous when you point out that what they say is a helper is actually a hammer. Complete disconnection from reality on the ground because they are almost never on the ground. They show up to schools like they are red carpet affairs and are there to 'see' but never interact. I would faint if a district admin asked me "how can I help or be more efficient?" It just isn't done. They're all at least a generation out of the classroom if they ever taught. SPS also chases fads that are debunked by a decade of experience. When other nimbler districts pivot away we sink ridiculous resources into things that just don't work.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Moriarty for stating what seems to be not only incredibly obvious, but extremely unpopular in this district - "Students should be placed in classes that suit their ability and should be able to promote out of courses based on acquired skill or ability." Why are the district and many teachers and parents, so opposed to this?
Why do they continue to throw money at various faddish pet projects which have lofty goals that never come to fruition, when it could be spent on staff in schools where it could actually produce real benefits

Nailed it

NESeattleMom said...

@pro-math--Reason for slanted coverage about education: "Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Amazon and City University of Seattle. Learn more about Ed Lab."

Anonymous said...

@ Just the facts, that largely irrelevant "study" on which the whole ethnic studies is supposedly based is something else. If this is what passes for an acceptable evidence base for new SPS programs/services, no wonder there are so many problems.

First off, the programs/services/approaches are not at all comparable. The "evidence" in that article does not lend any meaningful support to SPS's in-development approach. Particularly for math.

Second, it was a pilot program. Are there no other studies of the implementation of ethnic studies programs or curricula? What sort of other outcomes have been studies? What were the outcomes on various groups of students? I'm guessing a meta-analysis wouls show more mixed outcomes, so let's stop with the cherry-picking of studies that support only the desired approach.

Third, that the study author (doctoral student?) who wrote it said “It’s similar to a randomized trial where one group of people are assigned to a treatment and another similar group is asked to take a placebo” is sadly hilarious. Similar to a randomized trial when one group got automatically assigned to the class and the other group opted in? That's not how randomized trials work. (Nor do they work like the author described them with one group assigned to treatment and the other group "asked" to take a placebo. The whole point of a randomized trial is for patients/subjects to not known whether they are getting the treatment or not. You don't ask them to take a placebo--they agree to take something, and they don't know whether it's a placebo or the thing being studied.

Can we please use high-quality, relevant, peer-reviewed, evidence-based research to support our programs and services? With a little transparency, to boot? This is mad.

pro-math

Anonymous said...

Ah, so it's not journalism, it's an advertisement. Got it.

Maybe a strong journalist can take this up for a solid and timely piece?

pro-math

Anonymous said...

Or maybe TCG can provide the board with a list of (and links to) studies that demonstrate the positive and negative outcomes of incorporating critical race studies into math instruction?

The board will surely want to review such evidence before approving such drastic district-wide pedagogical changes, right?

pro-math

Anonymous said...

We have a program that contains one or more services. If a program has no services then what is it. Services by definition exist in the container that is called a "program"

The current Marxist strategy is to redefine language and in fact they go so far as to call definitions "racist".

Your SPS student or local college student is being subjected to this type of cognitive dissidence which is based off of Marxist beliefs.

If you check in with the "The Seattle Promise College Tuition Program" you will see a couple of interesting mandatory classes that are basically Marxist indoctrination classes. Beginnings connecting, learning and identifying culture is a class where they are shaming students into rejecting everything they think and attempting to re-program them. Look into this class and who and what is behind it.

People should be very worried about these teachers and the other who are working to destroy public education.

Reality check

Anonymous said...

@ pro math - exactly! Ever since I saw it trumpeted on SPS's own webpage https://www.seattleschools.org/academics/curriculum/ethnic_studies that "Ethnic studies has been shown to improve academic engagement and success in every unit of measure regardless of race or socio-economic status.", I have been curious to try and find the data supporting this broad and impressive claim. I confess I am skeptical that the introduction of ES can improve everything in everyone but I am open to being convinced. However, as you point out, the evidence is not directly applicable to what is being proposed here.

Ethnic studies in the context of the educational literature seems to refer to standalone classes. Not a pedagogy imbedded in every class (which may be more aptly called antiracism teaching - and that is something different with different research). As far as I can see the goal of SPS and TCG is not to create a curriculum for a standalone ES class (I think this would be far less controversial than what they are doing) - so it's not an apples to apples comparison to compare it to programs that report successes with those. They are either being deliberately disingenuous or they don't understand the fundamentals of research and evidence-based decisions. (Although I note the math framework poses the question "Why/how does data-driven processes prevent liberation" so that could explain where they are coming from haha).

The other issue is that most education research is pretty 'soft' - it's not like real hard scientific or medical research - so I'm not sure how much weight you can give many of the findings anyway. However, there are reports of positive benefits in studies involving both ethnic studies classes and those using anti-racist teaching practices - whether the curriculum or approaches used or the student populations studied are be applicable to this setting isn't clear. And I don't see any evidence that what TCG is developing is going to improve academic outcomes among groups that are not doing well in any meaningful way. I mean, spending limited class time exploring racial injustices in math instead of teaching and practicing actual math skills is not going to improve math scores in any group.

All in all it's troubling that this appears to be undertaken in a rather unobjective manner; it seems very much driven by the agenda and ideology of a few parties.

Just the facts

Anonymous said...


After much heartfelt deliberations Burke and Pinkham said staff should let the process continue and wait for the ALTF's recommendations. Makes sense. After all they've been at it for over a year.

APParent

Linh-Co said...

Dying to know the outcome. I just got home from work and Rick had to go out to dinner with Korean clients.

Anonymous said...

Didn’t make it out of committee. Waiting for ALTF recommendations and community engagement.

Breaking news

Horse Pony said...

Denise Juneau is trying to push policy changes before the ALTF made their recommendations? We need board oversight more than ever.

Sadly, the district has been putting on Horse and Pony shows.

No doubt, Geary was complicity.

Anonymous said...

So crisis averted. Staff doesn't like HC as it makes it really hard to predict where students are going year to year. Overall they want no choice and easier enrollment projections (lord knows they need help with that). Everyone can read the same books in the same class. ell/2e/FRL/AL/HC - MTSS to the rescue.

Please Listen

Anonymous said...

What happened to all that told you so talk.

Huh-fwiw

Anonymous said...

Maybe staff can open a thesaurus and find less racisl charged terms. These are dedicated people who have come before you that have developed these programs. Certainly not white supremacists like Brian Terry likes to claim. Can we all get along?

Segregated redlines

Anonymous said...

“Students should be placed in classes that suit their ability and should be able to promote out of courses based on acquired skill or ability.”

Sorry, but this is exactly the educational belief system that needs to change. It is counter to differentiation, inclusion, and equal access. And it is outdated. It is the idea that educators are providing a skill or a talent to students, instead of an opportunity to learn, or access to content. Think about it. It is a key problem with special education. Students with disabilities are bashed over the head with certain skills trying, that they get stuck at very primary education levels. Kids who don’t “master” skills deemed as necessary are never “promoted out of courses.” As a consequence, they are denied any access to content, variety, or a typical range of peers. All students learn at different rates and at different levels of mastery according to their own aptitude, interest, and preparation. They should not fail to learn just because they never got the opportunity.

Sped Parent

Public Meetings said...

We have heard from Brian Terry over and over, again. It is time for him to allow others to speak.

Anonymous said...

Yeah look at Chris Jenkins has he ever repeated himself? Brian Terry and Devin Bruckner single-handedly made this a race versus race issue. It is not. Yes there are racial issues but it is not us against them. Cohorted programs work because they save the district money and allow the district flexibility when it comes to capacity management.

The biggest fault of the program is the lack of identification of those students we all know are out there but the district is too lazy to find. The prior task force on Advanced Learning recommended for universal screening. That has never happened.

Danny Westneat has it right in today's article. Grow the highly capable cohort not dismantle or shrink it. Juneau has it wrong and seems to be playing politics with our kids. Interesting point is that the real proponents of the dismantling of the HCC are Geary and DeWolf who both sought other positions within months of being elected. That's commitment. Oh and Juneau.. here's what Westneat says to her.
Or put it another way: Juneau labeled the system now as “educational redlining.” But how did they bring an end to mortgage redlining back in the day? By forcing the banks to expand lending, not by shutting down home loans altogether.

WIWFN

Anonymous said...

@ Sped Parent

You've come with your own point of view but it's exactly best practice to meet each child where they are and support them to whatever is next. It in no way means less content though there is a war on content in favor of skills all across our district. I also agree that we need to pump much more dollars into the ground level service delivery model to drastically cut the staff-student ratio for SpED service delivery model.

However, your assertions will actually deny other students what they need in favor of the students you're advocating for. If you tell one student they can't go to LA 9 in 7th grade because another student isn't ready for that then you're denying education to the first and using the second students situation in an unethical manner and I think in a way that objectifies the special needs service needing student. We need to loosen up the heirarchy not tighten it and that means people have to approach all the students like teachers must. That students come in as they are and there is a goal we all need to help them get to. Maybe per-student formulae for funding needs to change and we need real costs to met per student. I don't think arguing that denying any student an appropriate education is what you're saying at the core of your argument but it sounds like that in that snippet of a comment.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Alarming observation:

There used to be a section titled "Advanced Learning" in my kid's profile on The Source, which was where the results of her screening tests were accessible. It has disappeared. The AL screening test results are not available on the other testing section -- only MAP, SBA, etc.

Maybe this is because my 9th grader turned down the HCC seat she qualified for/was initially assigned to at Ingraham in order to move with her main group of friends to Hale. Still, she should technically be an AL student but that doesn't show up anywhere on her profile anymore.

Anybody of a pre-high school AL qualified student seeing the AL information drop off their profile on The Source?

FWIW the reason I wanted to look at it was that my daughter did not meet the cutoff for HCC when she tested in 6th grade but easily met it when she re-tested in 8th grade. I think the main reason she didn't pass in 6th grade was a combination of a bit of anxiety and unfamiliarity with US standardized testing -- she had been raised in China and the international schools she attended only rarely used scantron type tests.

LakeCityMom

Anonymous said...

@ LakeCityMom, it's probably because once you declined the HCC pathway option for high school, your student no longer had access to the HCC pathway and thus only has access to the same classes that any other student at her high school has? The "HC-eligible" designation is essentially irrelevant for service provision at this point.

However, it certainly does screw up the data if they made a decision to do this on a widespread basis. They would not know how many HC-eligible students opted out of their HCC pathway school, nor would they be able to do further analysis (if they ever cared) re: things like what percentage of HC students vs. non-HC students at a school take honors or AP classes; how HC vs. non-HC students perform on state tests, GPAs, SAT/ACT exams; who uses Running Start; etc.

HF

Anonymous said...

Your assignment pathway school would have been Lincoln not Inghram. Not sure what any of it matters though if you haven't been accelerated in science. There are no functional supports for HC students in HS.

WIFW

Anonymous said...

Agreed HF.

They still should have tha data but garbage in, garbage out.

Spoiled data

Anonymous said...

Theo. You always meet students where they are of course... but not through discrimination and exclusion as you suggest. Hold em back til they’re normal simply will never work. I’m actually saying there’s no such thing as “student isn’t ready for xyz”. There’s only schools that aren’t ready or refuse to teach students with disabilities, favoring warehousing them instead or, more recently, assigning the special educationated regular Ed classes. Because all the non disabled kids have wheedled themselves out into some sort of gifted program.. How absurd to even make a distinction between 7th and 9th grade LA. Did Newton discover calculus because he had all the prerequisites in the right order? It’s telling that current gifted ed is more about excluding other people than actual provision of any content. Sorry, that’s been damaging us for a long long time.

Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

@Lake City Mom,

The Advanced Learning tab has also disappeared from my high schoolers' Source profile even though they are at HCC pathway schools. My middle schooler's profile still has it. Maybe they removed the Advanced Learning tab from all high school students profiles once enrolled in any high school?

Wallingford Mom

Anonymous said...

AL and HCC identifying icons do still show up in Power Teacher on the teachers' attendance rosters. I don't know anything about the tab thing on the Source. The Source was changing this year, though. I can tell you that some of my students names on my rosters have changed back to their birth names rather than their "new" names (for those who might have transitioned to another gender). This all happened on Monday. Did the tab disappear Monday as well?
-
Curious

Anonymous said...

@ Sped Parent, what do you mean "there’s no such thing as ''student isn’t ready for xyz.'" Most third grader's aren't ready for algebra, and most 6th graders aren't ready for AP English Lit. Most students who can't read or write well aren't ready for doing extensive library research and writing papers with citations, etc. If there's now such thing as "students not being ready for xyz, why don't we just put kindergarteners in 9th grade and have them finish high school in 4 years, so they can join the work force by age 10 and start earning their keep?

Like it or not, some skills and content build. I'm not saying SPS has the perfect scope and sequence for classes, but there is some sort of logic to the distinctions. Content between 9th grade and 7th grade LA might not appear all that different to the untrained eye, but text complexity is presumably greater, vocabulary more advanced, subject matter more advanced, etc.). Additionally, writing skills, analytical abilities, length of assignments, etc. also presumably require more of students. By your logic, what's really the difference between 5th grade and 10th grade ELA? or SS? or math or science? Or are all students at all ages equally capable of all the same things?

Warehousing of special ed students is a separate issue, not really relevant to discussions of HCC, and "all the non disabled kids" have not "wheedled themselves out into some sort of gifted program." Most students do NOT qualify for HCC, and even of those who do, not all leave their neighborhood assignment schools anyway. if they think they can get an "opportunity to learn" at their home school--which you earlier pointed out is a key factor for Sped students--they may stay. It's often way more convenient. If what you're actually trying to say is that GE classes are not challenging enough for some special ed students (who may or may not be HC-designated), I believe it. It's similar to how some GE classes are not challenging enough for some GE students, and some HCC classes are not challenging enough for HC students. We need to do better for all students who need more challenging work. Reducing access it not the answer.

all types

Anonymous said...

Source: My HC middle schooler still has an Advanced Learning tab that shows the year of eligibility. My high schooler, who was Spectrum in Advanced Learning, has no such AL tab. Is this new? Or has it been this way always for high school and I just never noticed?

It does seem that for analysis/evaluation purposes, the student's designation history should be kept.

Anyone have an answer for this?

Concerned Parent

Anonymous said...

As far as I remember the AL designation disappears for high school because there is technically no HS HCC program. HCC students have pathways where at least theoretically they will have access to advance classes such as AP courses. But such classes are open to all students who want to take them and fulfill requirements to take them.

-TyRed

Anonymous said...

Last year I asked the district advanced learning office for number of HCC kids in my child's grade at our local non-HCC pathway high school. The principal also knew this information. So they are still tracking the kids in non-pathway high schools, even if parents don't see any designation.

LS