Friday, November 15, 2019

Watch Out for Talking with the Times on HCC

HCC or probably any other topic.

The last several years have seen the Times skew their writing on public education.  Whether it's because part of their writing is funded by the Gates Foundation (and the Times clutches its pearls if you even suggest that the Foundation gives them guidance on what to write and how to write) and/or input from the Editorial Board, I don't know.

What I do see is a steady decline of balanced reporting and it's troubling.
Now I see there is a call out from the Times asking parents with HCC experience to contact a reporter.  But let's see how it's phrased:
As we continue to explore this topic, we want to hear from you and we want your perspective and questions to improve our coverage: What are the hoops students must jump through to be admitted to gifted programs in your school district? What does gifted learning look like in your school’s classrooms? What stories do you have of racial segregation in these programs?
Hoops and segregation? Where is the "what do you like and what don't you like" in seeking out parents and their experience?

I find the survey kind of odd.

What options does your district offer for advanced learning? How are they delivered, and how do they differ from what you think is normally offered?  

I'm not sure I understand what this means? Are asking about "normally offered" for an advanced program or Gen Ed?

If your school provides separate spaces for advanced learners, what are the differences between those classrooms and regular classrooms?
Is the curriculum the same? What about the physical space? Be as detailed as you can, please.
Why is the physical space important? Probably to keep driving a wedge by implying that HCC students get better rooms.  

And how would a parent know for certain exactly what curriculum is in the Gen Ed and what is in HCC (the answer is supposed to be exactly the same curriculum).

I would tell parents to be very careful what you say to the Times because 9 times out of 10, they take comments out of context or twist the meaning.

The Times allowed the Superintendent to have an op-ed that was factually inaccurate in several ways right before Election day.

Enough said.


Anonymous said...

Flashpoint topics like this sell.
Juneau’s next campaign Ad: the angel who ended the slave ship.
Keeps people divided, distracted and fighting each other
Easier to stick with polarizing topics than doing the actual messy grunt work in dealing with SPS bureaucracy and inertia.
Covers up a lot of bad executives’ decision making.
CYA after making a mess
Advance personal ambition

There’s a lot of reasons to adopt Trump’s modus operandi. They work.


Unimpressed said...

Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau's Op-Ed to the Seattle Times was absolutely inaccurate (or intentionally deceptive?).

"Highly Capable that serves 4,896 of our students, 9% of our student body, while the national average is 2%?"

Correction: 9% of Seattle's population perform in the top 2 %.

"Did you know this advanced learning service is highly segregated? Of all participating students, 67% are white, 1.6% are African American, and less than 1% are Native American."

Correction: Juneau needs to start claiming Asian and multiracial students HCC students.

Most egregious: " So, we are trying a new approach. For 17 months, an Advanced Learning Taskforce has been meeting to explore possible solutions to increase diverse representation. Three weeks ago, initial policy recommendations were presented to the School Board. Since then, there’s been confusion about the implications and misinformation about the recommended changes."

Correction: Te ALTF has NOT recommendation.

"The requested policy changes won’t decrease academic rigor or eliminate advanced learning or Highly Capable services."

Correction: We haven't even begun to evaluate cost structure and we are running out of funding.

Seattle's superintendent is distributing factually incorrect information to the public. The Seattle School Board must hold their one employee responsible for not distributing misinformation.


Juneau is awful.

More Distractions said...

Keep people distracted while trying dismantle HCC through the Student Assignment Plan. Don't worry about vetting the district's proposals in any type of Operation or Audit and Finance Committee.

Sailor Sinking said...

Huh. When's she going to tackle racism in ALL the programs, in ALL the schools, in ALL the neighborhoods. Sure, Juneau, you're running this SH!PSHOW. TWhy don't you tell us about the racism effecting the other 46,000 students...

D7 parent said...

100% this!!

Anonymous said...

Odd that the ALTF actually authorized staff to bring forth preliminary recommendations and then they acted surprised. Don't believe me? Ask.
Maybe they think they have more power than they actually do.
If you have been in a taskforce, you know your work can either be considered or filed away. Not happy about this.

Fed Up

Melissa Westbrook said...

ALTF "authorized"? Not sure they had the power to decide when anything got released. POC members could even get permission to present to the Board.

Anonymous said...

Odd that the ALTF actually authorized staff to bring forth preliminary recommendations and then they acted surprised.

Does the ALTF have the power to "authorize staff" to do anything? That doesn't make sense to me.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Huh, well, it seems odd that the focus is on one program and not the entire district. HCC is the straw man.

Anonymous said...

"Easier to stick with polarizing topics than doing..."

This makes no sense. Tackling a polarizing issue is harder because you must be willing to deal with the unhappiness of a large group of people.

It's even harder when it's the privileged and powerful that you are confronting.

Juneau is clearly genuinely appalled by the demographics of SPS HC. According to the school board results, the majority of the public has had enough, too.


Yawn said...

Hampson did not broadcast her support for charter schools. Rankin called herself a champion of HCC. Jargon did not inform voters that championing HCC....meant dismantling advanced learning opportunities. Campaign results are meaningless.

The superintendent is tone deaf.

Anonymous said...

Bazzaz knows that other news outlets are taking an interest and changing the narrative. If you work for the Times, the number one rule is thou shalt not spurn governmental communications staff or strategy firms. She has proven herself willing to ignore data and facts, and she will cherry pick from the responses to continue her hatchet job on children. Juneau may be pleased enough to hire her as communications staff for SPS. That transition is where journalism goes to die, but Bazzaz already has a head start. No one should talk to her from this point on.

More Noise Please

Anonymous said...

Also, when AL is destroyed, and there is still racism, who is next? Special education? Publicly run schools? Maybe SPS can just privatize and subsidize the entire curriculum. Why stop at one grade at one school?

More Noise Please

Anonymous said...

So, the voters didn't know who the were voting for is what you're saying and that's how you make it more palatable to be on the losing side...right...

Sour grapes

Melissa Westbrook said...

Is 5,000 huge compared to the overall size of the district? And how are they powerful? The program has slowly been whittled down, moved around, not resourced - oh yeah, that's power.

Voters don't know jack about HCC; they voted for many reasons.

Biased Reporter said...

One doesn't need to look beyond Bazzaz's twitter feed to see a biased reporter.

Bazzaz's twitter feed does not include a single quote from those that support HCC- even those from educational justice.

Biased Reporter said...

You are correct More Noise Please. Check out Bazzaz's twitter feed!

Anonymous said...

@Biased Reporter, she certainly doth protest too much

More Noise Please

Anonymous said...

Huh "It's a program that excludes eligible underserved students and is bloated by a huge number of appeals by skewed demographics."

Yes I agree that demographics are skewed, as they are in many of these type programs. But I also have not seen a proposal to fix it. Did you know Juneau is also proposing keeping a cohort of the top 1%? That demographic will likely be even less representative of our district demographics. People need to pay closer attention to details.


Anonymous said...


"That demographic will likely be even less representative …"

Right. But hopefully it will be a much smaller, and it's negative impact will be negligible rather than damaging as it is now. Truthfully, I have seen very little coverage of HCC, and it has been pretty evenhanded. One opinion by a self serving parent supporter and ST regular, Danny Westneat. And Juneau's missive. Doesn't seem like much, and only interesting to the self interested.


Anonymous said...

What exactly are the negative impacts of having more kids in HCC (top 1% vs top 2%)? Seriously, @reader what are the negative impacts, what damage it is currently doing? Other than hurt feelings? Objectively. The coverage about HCC is about as evenhanded as Fox news LOL.

fair and balanced

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

The Emijah Smith "story" broke at the Times and on KUOW. Not here.

Anonymous said...

The negative impacts have been widely discussed. First of all, if it was really only 2% it might be ok. But it's more like 10% and growing endlessly. The district absolutely does have to put a cap on the Have-HaveNot divide somewhere and the number should be in actual percentages, and obtained without do-overs or doctor's note exceptions. 10% and growing is really significant in redistributing, and negatively impacting other kids who have many more challenges around the district. The negative impact is on those students who are then unable to attend their local school, and who actually have NO OTHER assignment school. Take special education. If half of the building is HCC, then Distinct(SM4) (which has 7 students), SEL(SM3) and Focus(SM2) and Access (which have something like 8 - 10 students, depending on contract) now only have half as many and the district will not be able to place students there. With so few students, they would not fill up those programs. The students will be ripped from their school. Without filling up those programs, they will ship them elsewhere. We've seen this happen at Garfield, Washington, Robert Eaglestaff, and Lincoln. Same with ELL. Various special ed programs - simply unavailable and students shipped to Ingraham, Ballard etc. Disproportionate sped dumping does not benefit the receiving schools, and it does not benefit the sped students. It only benefits HCC. Similarly, ELL will be reduced by half, all those challenging students will wind up in other schools. If you've ever visited a school with high ELL, you would know what I'm talking about. And finally, if teachers truly do teach to the "average" ability present, then scraping off 10% or more of high achievers leaves the bottom much lower. And those furthest from social justice are the target students and are negatively impacted the most by an achievement brain-drain. If you believe in a "one lesson undifferentiated instruction" approach - then retaining HCC students in local schools is critical to keeping the instruction level higher at high poverty schools. In that case, placement in HCC should be via local percentages not national. If you believe in differentiated instruction, then it doesn't matter if HCC is retained in local schools or not. Which is to say, it isn't necessary. A 1% cap seems reasonable. I hope that reason prevails but I have no indication that it will.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, you are confusing two things.

2% is the testing level to achieve to be in the program. 9% is the number of students in the program. They are not the same thing.

Anonymous said...

1% < 2% - both as a testing level and as resulting cohort, and hopefully a 1% cutoff would vastly reduce the size and the negative impacts. I'd also favor a 1% locally norming system. No, I'm not confused. Additionally, the district could offer something much better to the 1% if they were actually actual outliers - instead of well-heeled private testers. Win-win.


Sigh said...

Hampson supports charter schools. She certainly didn't boast her support of charter schools. Both she and Rankin did not tell voters that they want to destroy Highly Capable Cohorts. Dumbing down education is not progressive.

Anonymous said...

You still haven't answered my question @ reader. The argument that HCC is pushing other populations out makes no sense " the negative impact is on those students who are then unable to attend their local school, and who actually have NO OTHER assignment school". Take special education .... ELL.... etc" The district males the decisions about where to place programs according to the space available and presumably an attempt to balance demographics. Those kids in an HCC cohort have also been moved around from location to location at the whim of the district. Even if the cohort did not exist, the kids still exist and need to go to school somewhere. Many schools have limited capacity so if hundreds of HCC kids go to their neighborhood assignment schools rather than a different cohort site, some kids will be forced out of those neighborhood schools to accomodate them. They have to go somewhere. It may not be much of a problem in some parts of town but in others, where a high proportion are HCC-eligible, it will be. Admitting fewer kids to the cohorted program simply opens up some spaces for nonHCC kids at the co-located site while taking away space in the neighborhood schools to which they return. Your so called negative impacts are not the result of having an HCC cohort, they are the result of there being a greater numbers of kids in gen ed and the various programs, needing to be served in reasonably proximity to where they live than the school buildings in those areas can reasonably accomodate.
Try again

Fair and balanced

Dumbing Down said...

Dismantling HCC is about optics.

A large portion of Seattle students are performing at very high levels. Only Seattle Public Schools would consider high achieving students to be shameful.

Anonymous said...

Fed Up,

The only reason I know about Emijah Smith is because of Sebrina Burr's testimony at the board meeting. I am new to all of this. I had no idea what she was talking about. So I looked it up.

Thank you for your blog.

Thank you for the reminder about the Times reporter. I started filling out the survey then thought 'what's the point?'. She's just going to write some anti-HCC drivel. The more meetings I attend, the more I get involved, the more I understand that there is a core bunch of social justice people (on the board, in SPS, in the community and in SEA) who are hell bent on burning down the house. The reporter is also part of this bunch.

Another Name said...

I have experience with both a highly capable and disabled student. I support HCC cohort.
I don't need anyone to lecture me, Salut.

Another Name said...

My comment was aimed at reader. The needs of both students are very different.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Readers, you'll see that I deleted a number of comments yesterday before I shut off commenting for the night (per my new policy). That's because I do not like the unpleasant tone from some. There is no reason to do that and if you do, your comment will be struck.

We want to have discussions, not fights. If you have nothing valid to contribute to the fight, say nothing.

Anonymous said...

@ Reader who said "1% < 2% - both as a testing level and as resulting cohort, and hopefully a 1% cutoff would vastly reduce the size and the negative impacts. I'd also favor a 1% locally norming system. No, I'm not confused. Additionally, the district could offer something much better to the 1% if they were actually actual outliers - instead of well-heeled private testers."

1. Have you consulted with or actually read what experts have to say in gifted Ed? Or are you an expert? Suddenly in the age of Trump and social media lay people think they know it all. They think their opinion makes them an expert.

Here is some information a gifted ed researcher recently shared, as well as information about state law:

1. The program with a 99% threshold is that cognitive tests have a +/-2 percentage point range of error when you get into the higher ranges. Some kids could test at 97% on once grade, then at 99%.

Note: That actually happened with my own kid when we tested them through school testing at teacher recommendation in 1st grade, then again in 5th grade. They more than qualified in 5th grade, scoring 99% in 4 categories.

2. Also, changing the cut-off to 1% also does not result in more diversity, period. It does nothing but serve less students.

3. The WA state law does not allow local norms to be more strict than national norms.


Anonymous said...

Should read " The problem with a 99% threshold....


Anonymous said...

They can do 1% local norms.

Deleted comments already addressed your other concerns but Melissa didn't like the responses.

Problem Solved

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa who said "2% is the testing level to achieve to be in the program. 9% is the number of students in the program. They are not the same thing."

I heard 7% were testing in the top 2% (not 9%) recently in the media as the HCC cohort percentage in Seattle.

The most recent WA state average testing into highly capable programs, posted in 2014-2015 is 5.17% according to OSPI & gifted researcher Austina DeBonte.

It is also 6% nationwide.

It makes sense that the Seattle metro area has more educated people with kids who test high on cognitive and achievement tests. We are a highly educated city as compared to other places.

Here is older information from 2006-2013, but people can compare how identification percentages vary from state to state and also amongst ethnicities. I wish there was also information about income because that relates to parental education level which usually translate into kids with higher achievement scores.



Anonymous said...

@Problem solved, Did you read my post? 1% threshold is flawed and too restrictive because of tests range of error according to gifted researchers. They also cannot do local norms if they are more restrictive than national norms according to state law.

1% local norms might also mean less than top 1/2 percent (99.6%) nationwide is in a program. That does nothing for equity and nothing for so many students.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I delete comments that are only there to be inflammatory and/or needling. Talk, discuss, put forth ideas - that's all fine.

Anonymous said...

But in the top 2%, are the 75% who go to Lakeside, Evergreen, SCDS... so really, the top 2% nationally, should result in way fewer than the 2% few remaining in local schools. If you look at NMSF numbers you indeed see that lower than expected rates for “such a super educated population”, well, because it isn’t actually lower than expected. Meanwhile we see the private schools, where the top 2% actually go (or 75% of them) totally acing those exams. Data interested folks would totally expect that result. Tah-dah! Introducing, the private testing industry... now available to half the kids who can’t otherwise pass entrance exams. And so we get the “bigger than expected” local numbers, especially for white people.


Anonymous said...

Data2- You are making stuff up. Let it go. The kids who go to Lakeside are definitely not all gifted kids. Lots come from the Eastside. Shoreline, Mercer Island, Bainbridge and many areas outside of Seattle.

One who knows

Anonymous said...

And, kids who go to HCC are not all gifted either. Just sayin. There’s not a private appeals industry working to benefit private school applicants as there is in the public HCC with personal judgment of government workers making the admissions call.

Another who knows

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..personal judgment of government workers making the admissions call."

Personal or professional? A bit of a swipe at those who work at JSCEE.

Also to note, the district has rarely ever used the term "gifted" and most of us don't even believe HCC to be a gifted program.

And if you don't think there are a lot of machinations to get into private schools, let me introduce you to Felicity Huffman.

Anonymous said...

Well, maybe you should also meet Sophie Grace Huffman proud graduate of Los Angeles School of the Arts, another public magnet school whose parents all believe their children are exceptional where they do anything to get in. Where honing the back doors to admissions takes on high importance. As Jill Geary discovered, there’s no way around actually scoring well on the ISEE.... unless you have heard of some way to scam the system. Do you?

One who knows

Anonymous said...

I posted the first "One who knows" The last comment was not me. Get a different moniker.

Also @ another who knows, stop accusing licensed psychologists in private practice of bribery and lying about test scores when you really know nothing. How conspiracy minded.

One who knows (#1)

Anonymous said...

@ another who know
Or are you stating that people who work for SPS in advanced learning are loose in allowing kids to access a program to offering more challenging curriculum? First of all challenging curriculum should not be a barrier to any kids who want it. If any family feels their kid needs it, it should be available. A one size fits all education in the largest most diverse district in the state with 53,000 kids is not equitable.

Second of all you are making assumptions about SPS people in a blanket statement you don't know. Neighboring districts and other districts across the country have even more kids than Seattle who qualify for highly capable services. You are in a bubble. Seattle needs to be expanding AL opportunities for all kids by offering all sorts of opt in honors classes, flexible grouping etc. but instead they are eliminating them!

One who knows (#1)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Second One Who Knows, cease and desist using someone else's moniker. Petty and deceptive.

Anonymous said...

Some people still seem confused about this. 1% local norms are likely not legal, depending on how you do them. To do them legally, they would not achieve the desired goal of increased diversity.

For example, if you norm by school, so that you take the top-scoring 1% from each school, it might mean some of those who qualify score at more like the 90th percentile nationally (e.g., at a lower-performing school with few AL- or HCC-qualified students), whereas at high-performing schools (e.g., those with 10% of neighborhood students HC-identified), some of those who score in the 99th percentile based on national norms would be denied HCC access because more than 1% of their school met that threshold. That would be illegal by WA state law, since local norms cannot be more restrictive than national norms. In other words, if you're going to say that scoring in the top 1% of your school on a nationally normed test qualifies you as HC, then scoring in the top 1% nationally (AKA 99th percentile nationally normed test) also qualifies you as HC-- regardless of of how many others at your school also score in the 99th percentile. At some schools, that will mean more than 1% qualify.

Using "Seattle norms" instead of school-specific norms would be another option, but that probably wouldn't change much about the make-up of the program/eligibility.

For those who keep saying how local norms are going to solve everything, can you please--for once--explain how exactly local norms could be used legally to do so? Nobody ever seems willing to address that issue.

asking again

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what you had in that private public school on Queen Ann reader? For the outliers... I mean in honor of full disclosure. H
They talked about it before.

Reading glasses

Anonymous said...

@ One who knows "there’s no way around actually scoring well on the ISEE.... unless you have heard of some way to scam the system.". Have you heard of tutoring. It's not "scamming the system" exactly but ypu should know that many kids have private tutoring for math etc so they will do better in their ISEE and have a better shot at being accepted into a private school. This isn't fraudulent or unethical but it does give an advantage to the kids who's families have the means to pay for tutoring. How do you stop this. How do you stop families getting private music lessons or sports coaching? Even if its not with that specific goal in mind, it means those kids are more likely to get into higher level music ensembles, and sports teams. Ultimately, it doesn't matter how (whether its innate talent, or hardwork and KUMON), if a bunch of kids are performing at a higher level that most of their peers academically why should we not identify and develop that, as we do (without controversy) in music or sport or whatever. I don't hear anyone demanding 'Varsity' sports for all. Why shouldn't my non-atheletic kids get to play alongside the top players in the Varsity team - they feel left out with all the attention and special treatment those players get plus it would look good on their college applications, right. I'm sure the coaches can differentiate their coaching and expectations.

And please give our local pyschologists some credit for having some professional standards and ethics.

varsity for all

D7 parent said...

They would have to use both national and local norms to be legal. This would improve the demographics. Maybe not to absolute equality, but much closer. I can see no reason not to do this, along with universal testing (which they will have to do anyway in order to establish local norms).

Anonymous said...

@Data2, you really have no idea what you’re talking about.

“But in the top 2%, are the 75% who go to Lakeside, Evergreen, SCDS... so really, the top 2% nationally, should result in way fewer than the 2% few remaining in local schools”

The 75% who go to Lakeside, etc.??? Most can’t afford those private schools, and most of the private schools are not gifted programs anyway. The idea that 75% of Seattle’s HC population is in elite private schools is absurd.

Given Seattle’s, and even WA’s, demographics, we would expect MORE than 2% of our students to test in the 98th-99th percentile. Which is what we see.

“If you look at NMSF numbers you indeed see that lower than expected rates for “such a super educated population”, well, because it isn’t actually lower than expected.”

Wrong. You can’t predict NMSF rates based on eligibility, since (a) NMSF eligibility is more restrictive than HCC eligibility, and (b) it is presumably somewhat dependent upon the quality of HC services. If our HC services are even a little inferior to those in other districts—and most evidence suggests they are— SPS HC students are at a disadvantage when it comes to measures such as NMSFs.

“Meanwhile we see the private schools, where the top 2% actually go (or 75% of them) totally acing those exams.”

Private schools tend to support students in taking those exams (e.g., via test prep), and they have an interest in high scores (e.g., school marketing and prestige). “Acong” those exams is more a function of test prep—which also includes strong academics overall. But again, 75% of the top 2% don’t go private anyway—that’s just a made up number to support you argument.

“Introducing, the private testing industry... now available to half the kids who can’t otherwise pass entrance exams. And so we get the “bigger than expected” local numbers, especially for white people.”

More nonsense. You don’t “pass” entrance exams. Assuming you mean a kid scores, say, 97th percentile (not HC eligible) instead of 98th percentile (eligible), how accurate do you think that test resiult is? There is error associated with those results. A 97th may actually be 97th +/- 1 percentile so 96-98. A 98th percentile score also has error—the kid could “really” be 97th. Statistically there may be NO significant difference between the two scores. Academically, and cognitively, there may also be no meaningfully difference between them when it comes to their educational needs. Privately administered testing of the 97th percentile kid may show them to be at the 98th or 99 th percentile, and THAT testing should be considered more accurate—and that kid is more likely gifted than the kid who scored 98th percentile on the district’s tests.

With our testing methodology (test error rate, annual retesting, etc.), our uneven school quality, and our local demographics, our numbers aren’t higher than should be expected if you understand how national norms work.

Our program may be larger than some want, but your case for why doesn’t hold water. If you want to argue for a size reduction on other grounds, maybe try making that case instead.

Uncle Norm

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Uncle Norm, because I just could not understand this "HCC shouldn't be more then 2% of students."

Anonymous said...

Something interesting to point out is that Washington's cutoff PSAT score for the NMSF is 221 (218 average, highest 223, lowest 212) and it represents the top 1% not top 2% of the state, not the nation.
It would be interesting to know what the percentage of commended scholars are HCC qualified. But remember, this data point would not be a mirror of giftedness, at its best, it is a measure of academic knowledge. Lakeside is well known for being a school that supports its students and fosters a strong academic environment. While there are amazing teachers in SPS the overall climate (particularly now) is definitely NOT of encouraging strong academic achievement (I still can't believe the "lab" for HS freshman: students rubbing balloons to learn about static... yep, wasn't this an experiment in elementary school? But now I'm digressing.)