Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March '17 Open Thread

Some darker thoughts:

At the local level, I've been thinking about the district budget situation now that the levy cliff is happening and nationally what if the Dept. of Education was basically eliminated.

So let's try a hopefully cheerier experiment: What things are going on in your building that are interesting and folks not at your site wouldn't have heard about?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Middle School Math Curriculum Adoption Committee

Dear Families,
Seattle Public Schools is beginning the process for evaluating instructional materials for grades 6 - 8 mathematics. An adoption committee will be formed, and its work will begin in March 2017 with the goal of having new instructional materials in use during the 2018-19 school year.
Apply to Join the Grades 6 - 8 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption Committee
The committee will carry out the board-approved adoption process and come to a consensus in order to make a recommendation for instructional materials based upon objective evidence gathered during the process in accordance with Seattle Public Schools Board Policy. The goal is to select an adoption committee that represents the diverse perspectives and experiences of Seattle Public schools, students and families. The committee will be comprised of teachers and principals representing a range of buildings and programs, parents/guardians, community members, and the Seattle Public Schools Adoption Committee coordinators.
Responsibilities of Family/Community Representative(s)
• Attend ALL scheduled meetings
• Assist in reviewing prospective materials
• Communicate to school community
• Serve as a representative of your school community
Tentative Committee Meeting Dates
  • Round 1: March 21April 18May 2May 16May 30 (8:30-3:30 p.m.),June 13 (8:30 a.m. to noon)
  • Round 2: November-December meeting dates (TBD) ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
For more information
To learn more about the Grade 6 – 8 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption Committee or apply for adoption committee membership, please visit the adoption web page at:
All applications must be received by 9:00 a.m. on March 14, 2017.
To submit your application:
Applications may be:
  • Saved and emailed to
  • Mailed to: Seattle Public Schools Attn: Anna Box MS-32-156 PO Box 34156 Seattle, WA 98124-1165
  • Or faxed to: 206-252-0179 Attn: Anna Box
Thank you for your interest!
Anna Box
Mathematics Program Manager
Seattle Public Schools

[One Caveat: the committee is going forward but at this time there is no budget for purchasing the recommendation. The hope is that the financial situation will improve.]

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mid Winter Break

Next week school is off for all of SPS and its the last week of the open enrollment process. For those who are still considering their options here's a quick summary of what's new this year.

  • Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School is opening. If you're in the Whitman or  Eaglestaff M.S. reference zones, this will be your assigned middle school. This is being done as a geosplit so even current 6th and 7th graders at HIMS will move. 
  • Cascadia Elementary is opening. If you're in the North end except for the North East quadrant this will be your new site.
  • Decatur Elementary is opening. If you're in the Eckstein reference zone this will be your new site next year. 
  • Ingraham H.S. is still an option site and this year enrollment caps will likely kick in.
  • Madison Middle School is the pathway for West Seattle. Grandfathering exists for those already at WMS.

In all cases you can check your current assigned school here:

Note: you can always request admissions to a non pathway school during this process. Your chances are dependent on open space at that site. So for instance, if you're assigned to Madison MS but really want to go to Washington MS you would fill out the open enrollment form and request it.

Also as usual, you can still transfer in up until May 31st. Pathway schools are required to still accept any students that do so, all others are on a space available basis. However, if you've made your mind up, do not delay. Budgets and planning occur based on the initial numbers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How does HCC Program Evaluation Work

A reader submitted this information on the Program Evaluation Process:

"Every year, we submit a report to the state re compliance with the WAC (state laws).  We were found to be in 100% compliance (zero findings) in our State review (CPR) and were given a commendation as well.  If you are interested, here is the language that was submitted. 
11.5.A.2 Evaluation of Ability to Meet Academic Needs
Data is available from climate surveys compiled at each school site.  We believe that this data helps to inform our office of how well we are meeting the academic needs of these HCP students. The data included is from Cascadia Elementary, which currently has an enrollment of over 750 students, the largest Elementary-level HC Cohort in the District.  This data will be analyzed to determine to what extent the students at Cascadia feel that they are content with the decision that they made to join the HCC.
Several questions (on the survey) in particular point to information pertinent to the question of meeting students’ academic needs; first from the students’ then parents’ perspectives:
I am comfortable asking my teacher(s) for help” =7% negative (responses of disagree or strongly disagree) ; 
Students in my classes help each other learn” =11% negative;
“Students in my classes are focused on learning”=18% negative;
“ I can learn the things taught in school”=8% negative;
“I work hard at school “=1% negative;
“ I complete my schoolwork regularly”= 4% negative.
I am good staying focused on my goals” = 9% negative;
“It is important to me that I improve my skills this year” =3% negative.
“Adults at school care about me” =4% negative.
“My child is treated with as much respect as other students” =1% negative.
“There is at least one adult in this school I can talk to if I have a concern” =2% negative
“Adults at school care a lot about my child's academic success and personal well being” =4% negative.
“I feel my child is safe at school”=2% negative.
“Teachers at my school know how to meet the specific learning needs of my child” =8% negative.
“My school partners with families to improve the learning environment at school”= 8% negative.
“The school is responsive to the input and concerns of families”= 9% negative.
Other evidence that the HCP is meeting the academic needs of the HCC students also includes:
A)      The retention rate of  HCC students at Cascadia Elementary School continues to be well over 99%.  It is very very rare to have students, parents or teachers initiate the exit procedure at Cascadia.
B)      Our office has several instructional specialists who have worked closely with staff from several schools that house HCC students.  We have facilitated vertical and horizontal planning and professional development opportunities, especially concerning differentiation of instruction.  Due to this close relationship with the teachers, we have first-hand knowledge of the kinds and extent of acceleration that is occurring in HCC classrooms.  Generally, ELA teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards one to two years ahead of their grade, and math teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards up to two years ahead of their grade.
The following comes from the CPR (Consolidated Program Review) report that was submitted earlier this year.
C)      HC students, like all students in the District, are expected to make one year’s growth in each academic year.  The difference is, that they are making this growth based on an acceleration of between one and two years above their grade level.  The evidence of this is submitted to OSPI each year using individual students’ redacted progress reports. The progress report for  3rd grade students at Cascadia  show that they are being evaluated at 4thgrade standards in ELA, and at 5th grade standards in math.  As 4thgraders, they will be evaluated at 5th grade standards in ELA, and at 6th grade standards in math.  Throughout this school year, the AL team has discussed the appropriateness of this as an academic goal.  Based on the fact that our District has little to no consistency in the use of achievement tools, the progress report has become the most useful tool in the short term.  
D)      In December, in advance of the CPR submission, we revisited that topic, and came to consensus on how to set and evaluate academic goals.  We were in complete agreement that the progress report was the only tool readily available for this purpose. 
E)       At that time, we also discussed the use of SBAC data as a measure of academic growth.  The CPR submission did contain data from the Cascadia Elementary School Report:
F)       99% of their 3rd, 4th and 5th graders were proficient on the state reading and math tests; 93% of 4th graders were proficient on the state writing test;
G)     100% of 5th graders were proficient on the state science test. 
H)      All of these are much higher than the District averages.
I)        Students at Cascadia ES, (the only magnet school in the District that is comprised solely of HC students), achieved extremely high percentages of proficiency on the ELA and math SBAC. 
J)        About 90% of the students received scores of 4, and of the tested students, the other 10% received scores of 3. 
K)      That far exceeds District averages on SBAC that were generally in the range of about 60% of students that achieved proficiency, meaning that they may have only received a score of 3. 
L)       100% of students at Cascadia met that standard. 
Due to the fact that similar climate data exists at every other SPS site, the HCP has not created a separate survey (especially due to the fact that it would have to be completed by some students but not all students at any given school site). "

In following up I also received this update:

"OSPI changed the guidance on what used to be called the Annual Plan last spring. The plan on file becomes a Comprehensive Plan and is not required to be resubmitted unless substantive changes have been made. So there is no new version of that document. The Consolidated Program Review for 2015-16 is cited. This year OSPI is performing reviews only on departments which had findings last year. Since Advanced Learning was fully compliant, we will not undergo the process this year."

March 1st School Board meeting reapproving the 2015-16 plan.

"This Board Action approves the District’s Highly Capable Students Program Comprehensive Plan, which has not changed from the 2015-16 plan but must be approved every year per WAC 392-170-25. Plan approval is necessary for accessing funds allocated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for highly capable services."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Garfield may be capping the number of AP Classes one can take.

Details are fairly sketchy at the moment so I'll update as this becomes more clear. I'm assuming this is 3 classes per year.

"My child reported that three AP classes would be the limit, and students would need to request a waiver if they wanted to take more than 3. No details about if waivers would be granted, what are the reasons that would be accepted, etc. The teacher stated that other schools, like Lakeside, limit the amount of AP's a student can take. That said, my child has been planning on taking 4 AP classes next year and didn't seem concerned about this being a problem from what was said by the teacher. Not sure if that's going to be the reality or if space in AP classes will be limited. I find it a curious and worrisome development, especially when other SPS high school aren't doing this. It's really a shame that yet again Garfield can't just come out with a proper announcement to families about this change. We're left going off of what our kids say and what we read on blogs"
From today's Garfield weekly newsletter:
"10th Grade AP Info. Night — Wednesday, Feb. 15 Attention 10th graders who are interested in taking multiple AP classes next year! Garfield is hosting a 10th Grade AP Info. Night on Wednesday, Feb. 15 @ 6 PM in the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center. Parents, families and students are invited to learn about the stress and workload of junior year from AP teachers, counselors, and other students." 

From the Garfield PTA meeting notes:

AP Classes: There has been a big increase in anxiety and stress in students taking multiple AP classes. A student intervention team meeting discussed adding to course descriptions and request sheets the number of hours of homework required for each AP course so students can balance that with their other activities. An AP Advising Night will be held 6 - 7:30 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for students, parents/guardians (especially of 10th graders), teachers, and counselors. A too-competitive environment "can be toxic;" often HCC students feel peer pressure from cohort to take AP classes.

If you're considering Garfield there's a lot more detail on course offerings embedded in the note. I'd recommend reading through them.

NOTE: As I recently was reminded, our kids especially the older one sometimes read this blog as well, comment appropriately.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lincoln High School Planning Meeting this Friday

Fri Feb 17th, Hamilton Commons 6:30-8:30 PM

From email from SPS Board Member, Rick Burke:
"I’m contacting you because you have attended meetings about, or expressed interest in Lincoln High School, which is planned to reopen in Fall of 2019. I’m pleased to be hosting another community engagement meeting to talk in greater depth about our timelines and the work currently underway to make Lincoln an amazing destination for Seattle students.
My last meeting, held on October 27th at the Lincoln library was quite well-attended. With the large number of people and range of questions, we didn’t have the opportunity to have in-depth conversations about the school. This meeting will be held in the Commons at Hamilton International Middle School, which has the potential for more seating and better participation.
The agenda will include general information updates about the current and near-term work on assignment boundaries and principal selection, 24 credit graduation requirement, and some Q&A to get started, and then folks will have a chance to circulate through multiple stations and share concerns, ideas, questions that can help us move the school planning process forward.
Get your ideas brewing about the following topics:
- Enrollment & Boundaries
- Academic Programming
- Music and Fine Arts
- Athletics
- Building/Facilities
- Community-Building and Family Engagement
- Community and Higher-Ed Partnerships
- Anything that doesn’t fit in the above…
Please feel free to share this information with other interested families, and I hope to see you at Hamilton, Friday Feb 17th 6:30-8:30 PM"

Note: if you can't attend this one, Dir. Burke is also having a community open house on Sat. Feb 18th 3:30-5:30 at the Fremont Public Library. I'm sure there were be an opportunity to bring issues related to Lincoln up there as well.

Official Renovation Plans:

Current design plans:
(includes blueprints and visualizations)

Note: there have been updated plans and info in the last week including proposed building layouts.

Advocacy Request

This information comes from Northwest Accelerated Learners group. I haven't personally had time to think through the consequences of these requests yet:

February 15 is the last day to submit public comments on the Washington State Plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I urge you to submit comments on the failure of the plan to include using Title I and Title II funds to serve the highly capable population. Below I’ve provided information you can use in your comments. Feel free to reply if you have questions.

Here is the link to the ESSA comment form -
Help shape Washington's education policy by providing public comment on the ESSA Consolidated Plan draft.

Add to the plan allowing use of Title I to fund universal identification

ESSA permits states to use Title I funding to identify highly capable students. The Washington State ESSA plan needs to allow schools to use Title I funds to implement measures such as universal screening to identify students in need of highly capable services.

Universal screening, such as giving a whole grade level a 30-40 minutes screening test, has been shown to improve access for disadvantaged groups. In the absence of universal screening, selection processes miss highly capable students who are low income, disabled, ESL, or who come from certain ethnic groups. According nationally recognized experts, up to 35% of the highly capable population has a learning disability or other disability in addition to being highly capable. Early universal identification, such as in 1st grade, engages highly capable students in critical early grades. Late elementary universal identification, around 5th grade, provides access for students who did not test well at a young age, for reasons that can range from language acquisition to unaddressed disabilities.

Add to the plan use of Title II to fund teacher professional development to keep kids in school and out of prison
ESSA requires states to use Title II funding to provide professional development to teachers to identify and understand the unique educational needs and challenges of the highly capable population.

Most teacher education programs do not educate teachers in how to identify or serve highly capable students. Educators, like the general population, tend to expect highly capable students to “look like” the inaccurate and exaggerated stereotypes portrayed in movies and on TV. Providing teachers with research-based information on needs and characteristics of highly capable students helps them identify and serve them.

The Washington State ESSA plan needs to be amended to include a plan for providing this required professional development. Doing so is an essential step in stopping the school to prison pipeline and redirecting up to 20% of our prison population to productive workforce (and ultimately reducing our prison population by 20%).

Background on Highly Capable Funding
In our state, highly capable program funding pays for (1) the costs of identifying students who are in need of highly capable services and (2) professional development to aid teachers in serving this challenging population. Currently the state provides only 15% of the funds necessary.

Highly capable programming was added to basic education because two things are known about this population: (1) low income, minority, and disabled highly capable students are underidentified and (2) unidentified highly capable students typically perform poorly in school and "check out" unless and until they are adequately challenged. The conundrum of this population is that it shines when the work is hard, and falters when the work is easy.

How poorly does this population fare when underserved? Underchallenged highly capable students underachieve, and even drop out of high school or college. The presence of highly capable individuals in the prison population is 4x that of highly capable individuals in the general population. The highly capable face unique social and emotional challenges during the school years because their interests are out of sync with those of age mates. In the worst cases, they can become antisocial. Estimates are that 4 out of 5 school shooters were unidentified or unserved highly capable.

Additional Resources if you want to know more
Here are a couple of good resources on Highly Capable and ESSA:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the name of the 2015 legislation that revised and reauthorized the federal K-12 education law known as the Elementary and ...

3 Q: Now that the new law has been passed, what should advocates be doing? There is much education and advocacy to be done to ensure that state and local education

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rina Geoghagan goes to Decatur

Dear Cascadia and Decatur community:
I am writing to let you know that Principal Rina Geoghagan has been selected to become the principal of Decatur Elementary School. Due to capacity concerns at Cascadia Elementary School, the district recommended and the school board approved the decision to open Decatur for our Highly Capable Cohort (HCC). 
Ms. Geoghagan brings experience and extensive knowledge of the HCC program and the Cascadia community. She was instrumental in the original move of the APP/HCC program from Lowell Elementary to Lincoln High School, has served as the design principal for the new Cascadia site, and has demonstrated strong leadership during the conversations and decisions regarding Cascadia and Decatur.  We are excited that she will be able to bring this expertise and passion to serving the Decatur community.
Ms. Geoghagan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies and Master of Teaching degrees at the Evergreen State College. Ms. Geoghagan taught for eight years in the Shoreline School District. Her teaching experience includes teaching the Highly Capable Cohort and serving as an instructional coach in Shoreline. She also taught middle school in Seattle schools before becoming a principal.
The process for finding a permanent replacement for Ms. Geoghagan will begin shortly, and will follow a similar process as used for Decatur.  We are looking at finding an interim principal to support Cascadia during the final months of the current school year.  Executive Director of Schools, Jon Halfaker will be meeting with the Cascadia Building Leadership Team prior to Mid-Winter Break to share updates and next steps.
We look forward to coordinating opportunities for the Decatur community, staff, and students to welcome Ms. Geoghagan in her new role before the school year ends.

Please join me in welcoming Principal Geoghagan to the Decatur community.
Larry Nyland, Superintendent

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ingraham Open House Documents

For those still researching high school options I have some of the documents from the Ingraham H.S. presentation.

The two general pathways for HCC students next year (IBX vs IB):  Ingraham Pathways

More detailed prospective course of study:  4 year plan

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Two Upcoming Events this week

  • The February HCS Advisory Committee meeting will be this Tuesday 2/7 at 6:30 @ Washington Middle School in the library.

Full Agenda: PDF Link. Please send any feedback prior to Wed. either as a comment here or directly to Dir. Sue Peters

Monday, January 30, 2017

February '17 Open Thread

It's open enrollment and school tour season. See: . The key dates are:  Open Enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is Monday, Feb. 13 - Friday, Feb. 24. I'll try to update with tour information as I find it.

  • 2017 School Information Evenings will be on Thursday, February 2 and Monday, February 6 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in Cascadia's Lunchroom.
  • For those with students going to Jane Addams Middle School next year, this from the JAMS Newsletter:
    February 7 – JAMS Daytime Prospective Parents/GuardiansTour- 9:00 AM – call the school to be added to the guest list – (206) 252-4500
    February 7 – Evening Prospective Parents/Guardians AND Student Tours – 6:30 PM - all welcome! Reservations not needed!
  • Attention any possible future Ingraham families: Please come to the Ingraham RamFans Parent Social next Wednesday, February 8, 6:30-8 PM at the Blue Ridge Community Center (upstairs), 10040 15th Ave NW. The RamFans Social is an opportunity to meet other Ingraham
    parents who support Ingraham athletics and are interested in
    making your student’s high school experience the best it can be.
    The Blue Ridge Community Club is the same place as the pool, just north of Swanson’s Nursery on 15 th Ave NW
    (Parking in the lot is limited. Street parking is fine. Please don’t block driveways.)
    If you've been looking for a low-key way to meet some parents, this is one. We've got kids in sports, but other things too. (i.e. we have some perspective, hopefully)
  • Ingraham High School: February 2nd open House for all incoming students
    February 8th. International Baccalaureate open house -7:00 p.m.
    Roosevelt High School Open House: February 2nd. – 7:00 pm.
  • Hamilton Middle School Open House:  January 31 2017 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

    Feb. HCS Advisory Meeting

    February 7,  6:30 PM Washington Middle School Library


    Since  the interminable discussion about HCC and equity continues elsewhere online I'm reposting a link to my editorial from earlier this year:  None of the facts have changed since then,

    What's on your minds?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cascadia/Decatur Split FAQ

New Cascadia
(at Wilson Pacific site)
Enrollment Capacity
Assigned Elementaries
All elementaries in the Hamilton, Jane Addams, McClure, Robert Eagle Staff, and Whitman attendance areas. Greenlake will be assigned to Cascadia.
These schools from the Eckstein attendance area: Bryant, Laurelhurst, Sand Point, View Ridge, and Wedgwood
27 total classrooms – once enrollment numbers and homeroom needs are known, decisions will need to be made about how any additional spaces are utilized
15 total classrooms – once enrollment numbers and homeroom needs are known, decisions will need to be made about how any additional spaces are utilized
Administration and Office Staff Allocation
Each school will be allocated only a Principal and Admin. Secretary
Teacher Placement
Executive Director for the NW Region Jon Halfaker and Principal Rina Geoghagan will meet with staff to ask for volunteers who are interested in moving to Decatur. If there are not enough people interested, sonority will also be part of the decision. The goal will be to create balanced teaching staff between both schools including teacher leaders and experience.
PCP – PE, Art, and/or General Music
PCP hours/FTE allocations are based on the number of classroom teachers and enrollment at a school. With the district’s budget crisis, it is likely PCP allocations will be reduced. PE is a requirement; other offerings (e.g. art and music) and how they’re scheduled, are site-based decisions.
Specialists – Math and Writing
Positions were based on WSS and the number of students enrolled at Cascadia– including for interventions – will be unlikely with the current budget crisis.
Resource Rooms and Staffing
Each school will need to allocate a space for a Resource room. The staffing is dependent on the number and needs of students at each school on Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
Library and staffing
Cascadia’s library books will be transferred to the new school. Due to budget constraints, Librarian FTE will be based on WSS
Decatur will receive a new library collection. Librarian FTE will be based on WSS
Other staff – Nurse, Counselor, Psychologist, etc.
Due to the budget crisis, nursing hours will be significantly reduced across the District. Psychologists and Therapists will still support students when required by IEPs.
Schedule/Bell Times
At the 1/18 School Board meeting, Bell Schedules were tentatively approved based on a 3-tier bussing system and including the extension of the school day by 20 minutes for all –10 minutes were added to the end and beginning of each schedule. However, District Staff are still working to try and get funding for a two-tier bus system for next year and so proposed a bell schedule reflecting only two tiers as well. If funding has not been acquired by May 1st, then the 3-tier system will be implemented. Current proposed Bell Times:
Under 3 tier: Cascadia = 9:25-3:55, and Decatur = 9:25-3:55
Under 2 tier: both Cascadia and Decatur = 8:00-2:30
A new play structure is included in the construction of the new school.
District Staff are working very hard at plans to remove the “Annex” structure and install a playground there by fall. In the event this is not possible, Decatur would need to share play space with Thornton Creek (brand new, large playground) until other arrangements could be made.

There is a space planned for childcare however, if enrollment numbers are too big, that space will likely need to be used as a classroom.
Decision to offer childcare is at the discretion of the new administration and is dependent on space available.
Instrumental Music
There is no dedicated space for instrumental music at Cascadia. It is possible the program will need to change to accommodate scheduling of space. Some ideas include offering it only to 5th graders, offering it only by lottery, and/or reducing choice of instruments.
These decisions will need to be made by Cascadia’s administration, in coordination with the BLT and PTA.
Decisions about instrumental music will need to be made by the new school’s administration in coordination with their BLT and PTA.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Winter Math Thread

Those readers who know me personally will attest I'm fairly math obsessed.   Last year I opened a math thread in the fall:  This year I've been busy but my focus has turned back again this month.  To start off, here's a grab bag of topics:

  • Proof School:  This is the holy grail for me. I really we wish we had something like this in Seattle (preferably public of course.) In general, I think we underachieve for our given talent pool vs. other local public school systems.
  • As far as I can tell the math pathways remain unchanged this year (in particular for rising sixth graders.)


"As sure as one plus one equals two, it happens year after year. Kids who have been bringing home A’s in chemistry and acing AP Calculus arrive at college with visions of STEM careers dancing in their heads. Then they hit an invisible, but very painful, wall."
So how's Math going for your students this year?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Student Assignment Plan is Approved

  1. There was no grandfathering allowed. All the HCC cohorts including next year's 8th graders will go to REMS as originally planned.  Note: its still likely due to available space that many of the gen-ed Whitman eight graders will opt back into it.
  2. The Decatur split for the NE HCC elementary school will occur as planned. 
  3. No changes were made in the middle school reference zone from the draft being voted on.

Update: A day later I wanted to add on a few thoughts:

  • The budget crisis still provides an opportunity to cutback and change plans.  Based on the superintendent's comments under-enrolled schools are particularly vulnerable but we may see other unhappy choices coming down the pipeline.
  • The Licton Springs - Eaglestaff M.S. capacity dilemma will continue to be an issue.  The choices made so far are ultimately not sustainable from the perspective of limited space.  L.S. was also explicitly called out in the Friday memo as the most expensive school in the system so I suspect the central staff will apply more pressure through the budget on this point. Bottom line: we need a consensus on a long term solution. 
  • Cedar Park will most likely not be opened next year for budgetary reasons.  This is probably an opportunity to adequately plan a focus for it and meet with the community to generate buy-in. On the other hand, the talk about option schools being non-viable adds a cloud over if its future which may deter potential families in the same way as has happened with Pinehurst/AE1 or the Center School.   
Going  forward there is a lot of space for parent input at both new HCC sites. What's everyone thinking about working on? 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Choosing a High School for Next Year

I had hoped that the SAP changes would be approved last night so there would be clarity. Sadly, we'll need to wait a week before the MS pathways and Cascadia split decisions are finalized (1/11).

In the meantime, this conversation had already started on the old thread.  What questions do you have about the various choices for High School:

  • Ingraham
  • Garfield
  • Roosevelt
  • Ballard
  • etc.

Friday, December 30, 2016

January '17 Open Thread

Note: I've reverted back to default blogger comments.

Welcome to the new year. I hope everyone had a good break. There are a lot of district wide forces that may affect HCC this year. Chief on my mind is the impending levy cliff. In the meantime here's a few things I've been watching.:

  • The Cascadia split vote is coming up soon.
  • The feeder patterns for REMS are about to be finalized. I haven't written much on this subject. But an unfortunate situation has been setup where its likely the 8th grade cohort will be mostly just HCC students. Given the numbers at Hamilton and its need for relief and the numbers at Whitman where anyone can opt to go back there during open enrollment there's no great solution. There's also likely to be little to any money to mitigate low enrollment classes given the overarching budget situation. This could come to play in extra curricular offerings, language options, advanced math etc.
  • The ongoing honors for all English/History classes at Garfield and the blended Social Studies at Thurgood Marshall.
  • The roll out of HCC at Madison Middle School and coming West Seattle pathway changes.
  • Middle School Math. This year only Hamilton Middle School offered the AMC 8 test and registered for Math Counts. When you look at the overall stats for the area as expected Odle Middle School and Lakeside Middle School stand out. In theory the pool of talent here is much deeper than the results we're getting. Anyone who's interested in the situation at JAMS please email me. This is the one MS I'm probably going to work most directly at affecting.

Quote for thought from  Prof. Wayne Au:
There are at least three things I would like folks to consider here:

1. None of the tests are objective, unbiased measurements. They never have been in the 100 or so years that standardized testing has existed in the U
nited States. On the whole, our standardized tests have always reflected race and class-based inequalities. Even the very concept of IQ was originally constructed around these kind of inequalities and in those same origins was deeply rooted in the burgeoning eugenics movement. Now, of course everyone will argue, "But those are the old tests. It isn't the same now." The answer is yes and no. Different tests, but, again on the whole, the tests we have now actually reproduce the same race and class based inequalities as they did 100 years ago. I would argue that testing everyone will not equalize selection and will ultimately continue to reinforce the existing inequalities.

2. I also think it is important for folks to take the time to understand all of the factors that go into "educational achievement." It may be simply the case that kid A is considered for HCC and does well on a test over kid B simply because kid B might have been exposed to lead, or not had access to good health care, or lacks stable housing and food, etc., etc. Now these problems may feel too big to take up, BUT, if you are going to say, "Well we can't fix that, but we can make sure kid A gets access to a 'high' track, HCC program with special resources to meet their needs," then I think we have a problem of promoting a system of differentiation that ultimately privileges one group of kids over another based on factors that are socially and economically determined. I raise this because, no matter how one feels about tracking/HCC (for or against), empirically speaking it has perpetuated race and class inequalities, hand in hand with the testing. So if you're going to be an advocate for tracking, then you better be a fierce advocate for a whole bunch of other things that other kids need too, because if it all becomes just about your kid and your kid alone, then you buying into a system that is perpetuating inequality writ large.

3. I would also caution folks to assume that teaching, learning, and knowledge do not contribute to the lack of kids of color in HCC. Teaching, learning, and knowledge are strongly connected to culture, race, and/or class (or gender, for that matter). No set of knowledge or curriculum is neutral in terms of ideology or culture. What we choose to teach or not to teach are choices based on constructed norms. The same goes for how we teach. It is all imbued with different norms of communication and presentation of materials, as well as norms for interacting with kids. Since there are so few low income kids and kids of color (particularly Black and Brown kids of color) in HCC, then we cannot empirically say that the curriculum and instruction are not part of the problem. Indeed, folks should talk to the kids of color who've left HCC to see what they say. One issue in the educational literature on tracking is that the few kids of color in "high" track classes feel alienated from their mostly white peers and they have, in some cases, felt alienated from Eurocentric curriculum (mostly in humanities and social sciences, where those things are more easily felt).

I've hesitated to weigh in on the threads here because I feel like a lot of the conversations have been largely off-the-cuff, based a lot on individual experiences and without much attention to the equity issues that are well known in the areas in the research literature. I've posted here because the tone of the OP seemed open, and I thought it was a good space to challenge some of the assumptions that were laid out."

Slide deck for Carol Burris's talk on detracking at Garfield:

Friday, December 16, 2016

Director Burke withdraws his amendment to delay the split of Cascadia

Dear Cascadia Staff and Families,
At the Dec 7h School Board meeting, I introduced a potential amendment to the Student Assignment Plan directing district staff to remove the geo-split to Decatur and maintain the Cascadia cohort intact at the new site, located on the Wilson Pacific Campus.  The core values behind this amendment are steadfast for me – fiscal responsibility, long-term planning for the HCC program, and cohort stability, all within a commitment to student learning.
Since the posting of this potential amendment, I have received a wide range of feedback from families and educators.  Respondents have highlighted academic, scheduling, and safety challenges related to the current over-enrollment, concerns about students in portables, and also worries about starting up the Decatur site quickly with a high level of services, while addressing the looming potential budget deficit.  Ultimately, families and educators both share concerns about the educational experience of their students.  Feedback from stakeholders on the "best" district-wide action regarding Cascadia has been varied with no consensus.
My role as a School Board Director is to listen closely to the community, our staff, and make the best decision possible for our students and district.  At this time based on the data I have received and engagement with the community and staff, I believe the least disruptive path is to proceed with opening an additional HCC site at the Decatur building.  This will relieve pressure at the new Cascadia building and address many of the concerns I have heard from families and educators.  I am requesting that Amendment 3 to the Student Assignment Plan (SAP) be withdrawn.
I want to offer my heartfelt thanks for those who offered their feedback and time, e-mailed, and visited my community meeting.  We have a shared responsibility to nurture strong and positive learning communities and candid, respectful discourse is a critical component of that.  We have a lot more work to do at the district level, and within our buildings to minimize disruption and maximize learning for students.  I look forward to further conversations, even the difficult ones, along that journey.
Wishing you all a relaxing and enjoyable holiday,
Rick Burke