What Will Happen at Cascadia Elementary?

The Cascadia Elementary School PTA has put together a good primer on the Highly Capable Cohort program in Seattle Schools. 

Notable items:

- Cascadia is planning the 2023-2024 school year with grades 1-5 all HCC. Under this
timeline, after the 2023-2024 school year, Cascadia would be a split school; we would bring in new students in kindergarten and 1st grade from the neighborhood while also accepting HCC students if we still had that grade of HCC students at the school. Once an HCC-designated student was at Cascadia they were supposed to be able to stay through 5th grade.

I would not believe in anything SPS says if I was a current HCC parent. I think 2023-2024 is likely to be the last year for fully HCC enrollment. I believe this because 1) the district wants to get kids back in their neighborhood schools in order to begin their "HCC in every school" model and 2) when they consolidate schools, it will be hard to keep things as they are at every school. 

- The school has not received any updates as to what the 2024-2025 school year will look like.
We do know that all students at Cascadia will be able to stay at Cascadia through 5th grade. We also know that as long as we have an HCC grade, students can transfer into Cascadia for HCC.

This is kinda interesting because if kids can stay in Cascadia till 5th grade AND are HCC eligible, well, that would be quite similar to what it is now. But I think the district will start enrolling non-HCC students in the school AND mixing up all the classes. 

- HCC in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) for elementary includes:
• Math taught 2 years ahead using the same curriculum used by the rest of Seattle
schools students (your 1st grader at Cascadia will have a 3rd grade math book)
• ELA (English language arts) taught one year ahead
• All other subjects taught on grade level

- Kids leaving an HCC elementary (having finished 7th grade math and 6th grade ELA in 5th grade) go into 8th grade math in middle school and 6th grade Ela (that is not a typo - the district has them repeat a year).

- Many students who are found to be HC are being encouraged to stay in their neighborhood
schools. Neighborhood schools vary in the support available for HC students; some parents
report their neighborhood school offering little to no support to these learners. SPS does not
offer any guidance or standards with regards to what supports schools should provide for HC

This above attitude has been and still is appalling.


Anonymous said…
HCC is dead and if I were a parent with a kid that had advanced needs I would hotfoot it out of this district so fast. SPS has had and has an openly hostile attitude towards parents and families that need more and have effectively messaged that HCC was racist, for white kids and these racist white kids were getting something better. And the Board feels the same way. In fact, HCC kids were getting something different and appropriate for them, all while often struggling with twice exceptionality. SPS is focused on the AA male and they do believe that they do not need to serve any other constituency. I have a Jr in college that went through what was already a declining program, and another kiddo that came through 3 years later that got what was really the last of anything that was remotely applicable. What is being peddled in the CSIPs by each school leader and the talking points coming from SPS is appalling, especially in a town like Seattle. So if you have a kid that got a literally meaningless test from the district,use that data to get out and find a school, any school, that wants your kid. SPS sure doesnt.
-Skeptical Parent
Anonymous said…
They are losing students to private schools because of this idiocy. I have so many friends and colleagues who have pulled out their students or are in the process of doing so. This puts the district in a financial crunch.

That our superintendent and school board are too obtuse to realize that they are the cause of the school district's financial and educational woes is baffling.

How can you educate any kid, particularly those furthest away from educational justice, when the money is no longer there because of the double digit (%) exodus from SPS?

Just plain stupidity. SPS leadership leadership is daft to not recognize their self-inflicted wound.

This is nauseating in how much it is hurting ALL students.

Wondering said…
Does anyone have any thoughts/updates on Lincoln? There does seem to be a reasonable cohort. Lincoln also seems to have a lot of students. I remember when they drew the boundaries, they tried to get rid of the HCC high school pathway. I'm suspicious that they still have such plans. I have a student going into ninth.

Cascadia is now one year ahead for ELA but it used to be two. They took all the students and put them back at grade level at our middle school. There also used to be an accelerated pre-algebra algebra option in 6th which was eliminated. For an HCC kid that is good at math, the math sequence seemed very dragged out. Our student literally gets 5 minutes of total homework a week in 8th grade. No outside reading or writing or anything.

Anonymous said…
Interesting that there is even the nod of an effort to maintain HCC anywhere. Accelerated science at middle school is in the last year at various schools - so no more acceleration in high school. It's sad that the vision of equity as become one of same level for everyone no matter what rather than offering supports for students who are struggling and offering greater challenge for students who are ready. That would be revolutionary, but it costs $ and SPS is doing everything it can. Just wait and see how the new special education programming of having only an IA and not a special education co-teacher rolls out next year. SPS is underserving students on all sides.

Anonymous said…
Let's be realistic. The district was always going to do whatever it wanted with HCC at Cascadia and Decatur. The plan of letting the kids enrolled just roll up as they end HCC sounds nice but would be extremely expensive for bussing in a district that already spends far more on bussing that the rest of the state. Now with declining enrollment, they really need to sit down and draw new and practical boundaries. Over in the NE end, SPS clearly no longer needs the capacity in Decatur. They also don't need the planned new capacity at Rogers, along with likely many other schools. OTOH, making all of the new elementary schools larger seems like it would likely add to their bussing woes AND the new capacity doesn't appear to have been specifically planned to drive thoughtful long term planning (why spend so much to renovate Cedar Park only to shortly put it out of need by expanding Rogers?). Are they going to use these unneeded spaces for more preschools? Lease space to charter/private schools?

NE Parent
Anonymous said…
Like the above commenters, I do wonder if the only reason that SPS hasn't dropped even the pretense that it has an HCC program is because of state legal reasons. The district certainly has taken every opportunity to denigrate and degrade the program. Remember Juneau's "slave ship" open letter to Garfield? Then there was Hampson blatantly using the bussing during the pandemic to drive down enrollment to HCC schools as a end-around way to reduce its availability to families. (And there were definitely families that didn't continue on to the HCC middle school because of that threat & uncertainty.) Anyone who has sat in on the HCC parent meetings over the last few years and listened would have known this was coming.

But what I find most disappointing - almost saddening, really - is what these moves signal. Which is to say that SPS has absolutely zero interest in promoting and celebrating excellence - none whatsoever. Even for parents who deep down know their kid isn't going to be in the HCC cohort can see SPS won't make an effort to push their child to their maximum potential. It's sad and pathetic.

@NE Parent - I was looking over your spreadsheet and had started digging into some census info that might supplement it. I can be emailed at omep 16 at hotmail. (No spaces).

- One More Eckstein Parent
One More Eckstein Parent, you left out one important word.

"ACADEMIC excellence"

The district has NO problem celebrating sports.
NE Parent said…
- One More Eckstein Parent

This is the parent who worked on the projections earlier. Sorry, I've been focused on another project but will look at it again in the next few days. Thanks for your help.
Anonymous said…
Just one clarification that providing buses for highly capable and general education students brings in money from the state. Most of the bus money we spend too much on is special education and McKinney Vento program busing. So, cutting busing for Cascadia actually cut the transportation money coming in from the state. At least that was my understanding.

Bus Bulletin
Continued Decline said…
The district's plan is to return students to their neighborhood schools. Killing HC programs is a way to move forward with their plan to get students into their neighborhood schools.

The board will move towards full inclusion.

Teachers will not have the ability to effectively differentiate. The district's downward spiral will continue.

Jones plans on having a plan to get students back into the district. I suspect the campaign will revolve around some "fully resourced schools" while ignoring the $131m budget deficit.

I think it is safe to say that this board and Jones are responsible for the district falling over a cliff.
Don't Give Up said…
A front-office staff member at Cascadia once told me when I was feeling particularly frustrated, “never stop advocating for your kids.”

If you have an HCC student and are considering Seattle Public Schools, I strongly recommend against it. But if you are like us, and you have decided not to move, don’t give up.

One option to consider is part-time homeschooling. This could mean in elementary, in middle school, and perhaps even in ninth and tenth grade. Part-time homeschooling means you as the parent are responsible for ensuring your student meets the state’s compulsory education laws. You as a parent can then decide what classes to ask the District to provide, and what classes you select from other providers, including yourself, online, etc. State law says the District is supposed to provide those classes (and after-school activities etc.) that you ask for. All that is required is a simple declaration form.

In middle school, this should mean the school arranging classes so that your student has one or more free periods at the beginning or end of the day. The same for high school. Will the District “create” scheduling problems? That’s hard to say, but since it's probably up to the school registrar and not a school board member or another senior staffer, it may be ok and they will probably try to help.

A different issue is high school graduation as Seattle Public Schools may very well not graduate your student out of spite if some of the classes were not taken from SPS. For HCC students, the reality is that this probably doesn’t matter. College admissions decisions are made long before graduation, and if your student has taken a few classes from another provider that provides an official transcript, it's very unlikely the college will care. Worse case and you really want a high school diploma and your student has taken all the requirements, under state law you can issue your own official diploma.

Another issue could be sequencing if the District won't enroll your student in the next sequenced class. In such a case, you might write to your principal, and if necessary escalate to OSPI and CC the superintendent and your school board member; push back hard. If you declare your student part-time homeschooled and ask for the next sequenced class, and the district won't provide it, they better have very good justification or they will likely be breaking state law.

It shouldn’t be this hard, but the District has made a conscious decision to hold kids back because of “equity” while 30% of the city heads off to private schools.
Anonymous said…
So what happens in the 7th grade for math?

Are all middle schools making 9th grade and 10th grade math available for 7th grade and 8th graders?

When I have asked about some of this, so far all I have heard about is "self paced online instruction".

Anonymous said…
Don’t Give Up : Great comments and I came to the same ideas this week as I contemplated move to another city or school district. I like Seattle, and we can’t afford to live on Mercer Island (Nor particularly want to move at all)
The hybrid home and regular school is what we are already doing with our kids. Novels, CLEP classes, home study foreign language. Nothing formal yet around homeschooling, but seems like it could be coming…

It would be a great service if someone compiled tips, strategies, experiences of finding outside supplements to SPS’ deficits.

I thought about posting the idea on some HCC Facebook groups, but I think many non-HCC students are looking for more as well.

Reluctant DIY BF day, Hamilton, Lincoln Parent
Frustrated Mom said…
We can and probably will do a hybrid of on-campus and homeschool for high school. We have the time and resources to do a great job. It just kills me that this is the only way to get an adequate education for my HCC kid. How in the heck is this equitable? If the school offered appropriate course work on-campus, other kids, who might not have the same resources at home, could also be in those classes. The needs of HCC kids don’t go away just because they dismantle the program. Leaving it to parents to solve the problem at home isn’t an equitable solution. But acknowledging that would requiring acknowledging that HCC kids actually have needs, and that won’t happen.

Frustrated Mom
Anonymous said…
I have a new incoming SPS student who would probably test well as highly capable. I'm looking into getting out of the district and moving isn't a current option. Any suggestions on how to get another district to take my child? Do I reach out to each potential school or just fill out the transfer form and hope the other district takes us in?
I still want to advocate for SPS students but I'm extremely deflated and know that if my child leaves SPS it adds to taking funding away. I'm not getting a sense that SPS cares why families leave.
John said…
SPS confused "Harrison Bergeron" as a brilliant guide to equity rather than a Swiftian Sci-Fi Dystopian short story from Kurt Vonnegut.
Unknown said…
I too promote school choice.


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