Seattle Schools Advanced Learning Updates

I would advise parents interested in this topic to read this post all the way to the end. 

From the January 18, 2022 Student Services, Curriculum and Instruction committee agenda:

The Advanced Learning Department, in alignment with the Advanced Learning Task Force recommendations, and the department’s antiracist work, has made changes to the process for the 2021-22 school year. A multiple criteria of evidence is central to the process.

  • All K-8 students are automatically considered for Highly Capable or Advanced Learning eligibility this year.
  • The Family/Guardian Survey was co-created with a diverse group of staff and families. This Survey will launch on January 19th. Plans are in place to engage with our multi-lingual families and families furthest from educational justice by utilizing the strength of our partnerships within the district and in the community.
  • The Demonstrated Performance of students in each classroom (the same information that is shared at conferences and report cards) is collected throughout the month of January.
  • Even though anyone may appeal the eligibility decision their child receives, the appeals process will no longer be able to include private, outside testing.
  • Advanced Learning will notify families about eligibility in winter/spring of 2022.

We believe these decisions will remove barriers for families furthest from education justice, increase racial equity, and lead to more students of color being accurately identified for Advanced Learning or Highly Capable services.

Advanced Learning Communications Plan
• The internal and external communications plan is close to completion and families, staff, and community members will notice more consistent and regular messaging of the process and the timelines for 

Editor's note:

There is a K-8 survey coming to parents on Wednesday, Jan. 19th; look for that in your inbox.

end of update 

Info on the "Demonstrated Performance of students" that I received.

The teachers were given PowerPoint directions on how to use a spreadsheet for this word. Here's a comment I received:

What's missing from this is that we were told we also have to provide data/evidence to support our ratings but have not been given guidelines about what this data or evidence should be.

The spreadsheet is manageable, but providing classroom-based evidence is much more time-consuming.

Well that's not good. There should be very clear instruction on what teachers should be using to make these determinations. 

I cannot include the PP but here is what is stated (bold theirs):

How the advanced learning model is changing

We’ve created a new service delivery framework designed to provide equitable access to advanced learning services across district,  delivered in local schools.

This framework will be phased in over the next six years and involves a schoolwide enrichment model, provides tiered services for high-performing students and a process for serving all students educational needs. The intent is to support those students who need to reach grade-level standards and those needing support to work above grade level standards.

This year, we will be using demonstrated performance data from teachers and staff as one measure of criteria to identify students who qualify for advanced learning services.

All students will be considered for advanced learning services using multiple, strength-based criteria.

Why This Matters

All SPS students deserve access to services that meet their needs, including advanced learning services.

Students furthest from educational justice have not been supported through our advanced learning programs, which have traditionally favored white and privileged families. 
We need to change the system in order to honor, support, and advance the brilliance of Black, Brown, and Indigenous students, who have too often been ignored.

Editor's note
I am please to see the acknowledgement that the district has missed - through its own fault - many POC students who could be advanced learners. 

About the demonstrated performance data collection 

Principals have received Sharepoint spreadsheets for your school, with your students pre-populated, and will be distributing them.

Teacher feedback is requested on each of your students and their performance in your classroom. Reflections related to characteristics that indicate a need for advanced learning or highly capable services are essential to this new identification process.

For each student, please rate their performance in math and reading, and indicate whether or not there is a need for highly capable or advanced learning services.

Please complete these evaluations by January

A small group of teachers piloted the form and here's what they said...

- Average time spent 20-40 minutes for my entire class. 
- “This was relatively simple to complete since I have recently analyzed my data for conferences and report cards." 
- “It was interesting to think about the types of services my students might need since I already differentiate for all levels in my classroom. I wonder if teachers who don’t differentiate for above level students would see it differently?” 
- “Awesome- I filled it out. It was easy and clear to fill out and I appreciated the space for comments. I timed myself and it took me about 30 minutes to review data that I presented to families at conferences and fill out the form. I hope that this information is helpful! 😊”

Editor's Note: No comments about how to make the process better, no issues at all? Interesting. Also fascinating was the comment about "teachers who don't differentiate." 

Sample Evaluation Spreadsheet

You will be receiving this from your principal.

Editor notes:

1) There is a notation that didn't show up for the third column from the left - "Middle School teachers do not fill out this column."

2) So one teacher was able to do all this for one class in 20 minutes? Including comments? Good for that teacher but I wonder if maybe this could be a teacher who doesn't believe in gifted students. If you didn't, then it would be a lot faster to fill out.

Identification and Eligibility Criteria Visual

Editor's notes:

I could not get the notations for each circle to appear properly so here they are clockwise from top:

- K-3 Map, Dibels and F&P screening scores

- 4-8 SBA Fall screening scores

- Demonstrated Performance in Classroom input from K-8 teachers

- Families/Guardians input and advocacy for their children

- Teachers learning opportunity about their student

- Focus on Sped, FRL, 504, ELL

Thank you for helping advance racial equity in our schools.

Your responses on this demonstrated performance tool are one part of the multiple criteria of evidence that the multidisciplinary selections teams will use this year to identify students who are in need of highly capable and advanced learning services.

If you have any questions, please contact your principal.

The Advanced Learning team is also here to support you as you fill out the tool.

Editor's note

It will be interesting to see what the ENTIRE process of applying and then seeing how those applications are processed. Because now you have hundreds of teachers who are going through every single student who applies, not the Advanced Learning office. 

Also to note, see that term "multidisciplinary selections teams?" Those are teams made up of school staff who will determine who gets the services. Not Advanced Learning. I have no idea how appeals will be handled but if I were a parent, I would want my appeal handled at the district level. 


Outsider said…
I no longer have any view into the elementary school world, but would suspect this all gaslighting. Based on the experience of my students (currently in middle school), there are no advanced learning services in general ed settings at all. Not even a hint or pretense. Teachers never speak the words, and would be annoyed if any parent did.

SPS will achieve racial equity in the application of advanced learning labels, but it will mean nothing in practice.
Outside, I would agree. And, given that each school will have its own "team" that makes decisions on what gets delivered, well, you can see how that might have zero continuity from school to school, principal to principal.
Guineas said…
What is the future of Cascadia Elem?
Guineas, good question.

When the revamp was first being discussed, my impression is that AL would quietly keep a couple of today's HCC programs going, including Cascadia. Now I'm not so sure that will happen.

I assume Cascadia would become a neighborhood school and its current students scattered back to their neighborhood schools.
muh said…
There is an awful lot of talk of high performing students in all that, and no acknowledgement of cognitively atypical students who need services because they are not high performing in their neighborhood classrooms.

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