Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reminder Advanced Learning Identification Season is Almost Over

This is the last week to apply to be tested and be identified as an advanced learner this school year. (9/22)

Official Link: http://seattleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=14554

In order for your child to be tested and considered for eligibility for Seattle Public School's Advanced Learning Programs and Services you must first submit a referral form.
Referral and Test Scheduling must be completed online via the Source.  

To begin, simply login to your Parent or Guardian account on the Source, and click on the “Advanced Learning” button to start the referral process. If you do not have a Source account, please click here for registration instructions. Please contact sourcesupport@seattleschools.org if you need assistance.
Advanced Learning also has available Translated Referral Forms* in the following languages: AmharicArabicChineseOromoSomaliSpanishTagalogTigrignaVietnamese. If you are in need of one of these translated forms they are available at your child's school site (please ask the office staff) or in the John Stanford Center lobby.

*Please note: Translated forms have been checked for ADA accessibility compliance. If you  need assistance reading these forms contact Stephen Martin at sbmartin@seattleschools.org

There seem to be several improvements in the process including the testing dates are now self scheduled.

Friday, September 8, 2017

High School Pathway Changes

In response to the capacity issues at Garfield  the staff is proposing to eliminate the HCC high school pathway and to meet student needs at their reference High Schools by next year.  This will be discussed at the board retreat tomorrow 9/9.

Recommendations and Next Steps 
• Engage stakeholder groups in exploring HCC services and AP/IB course offerings at the high school level
• Study the AP/IB offerings and participation rates at all comprehensive high schools
• Develop an action plan that would detail the required steps to meeting a shared vision for advanced learning opportunities at all SPS high schools
• Integrate changes into 2018-19 SAP in sync with new high school boundaries

link: Board Agenda

I'm looking for more details but to shift the Ballard and Roosevelt students in 2018-2019 to their reference area schools before Lincoln H.S. opens would be a capacity disaster of its own regardless of any programmatic considerations.

Some more thoughts

Currently 3 high schools Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard are beyond their capacity and straining to handle their student bodies.  [We need this year's data to fully quantify the situation]  By 2019 Lincoln H.S. will come online as well as the 500 student addition at Ingraham which should relieve a lot of this pressure. As currently framed in the slides it sounds like the staff is attempting to make changes a year earlier.  A permanent solution to the 1 year gap would be poor planning since it would shift the capacity problems from Garfield to Ballard/Roosevelt. [We lack this year's data but I assume we're talking 40-60 students ]

Assuming that none of the permanent changes will occur until 2019 when there is more space to make adjustments I still have doubts about this plan. The internal logic of the slides is that advanced learning is in conflict with racial equity. The effect of using reference area schools would only be to further segregation in the districts not improve it. 

At the same time the atmosphere at Garfield has ranged from neglect to active hostility towards HCC. Last year the honors classes were effectively removed in 9th grade English and Social Studies. This year there are accounts of failure to schedule core math classes like AP Calculus. 

There has also been a steady drumbeat of articles like this latest one below:

I also don't believe the current options of AP/IB/Running Start are a great fit for all Advanced Learners and I think there is plenty of space for brainstorming better curriculum.

Ultimately, I think something needs to be done specifically at Garfield to improve the situation. But I'm not sure dissolving the pathway is the best way forward.  Among the issues with this idea are
  • The difficulty of monitoring a program at 10 different sites. Given the realities of site based management a coherent, consistent experience is harder to maintain every time we add schools.
  • The vastly different cohort sizes between schools. The low number sites will have trouble scheduling sufficient classes and they will likely be smaller. i.e. more expensive.  This scenario is very different if you go to Roosevelt versus Nathan Hale for example.
  • The monkey wrench this throws into the capacity decisions in the north end. As I last understood Lincoln actually needs imported HCC students to fill the building. In fact, using the voluntary movement of AL parents out of their reference zones is one of the best tools for relieving pressure and filling under utilized buildings.


The most obvious one is to stay the course. Hold out in all 3 buildings one more year and let the new space come online in 2019. The split of the north end students to Lincoln should relieve Garfield which is the immediate impetus for this change.   If Garfield really can't accommodate students next year, we already have a wait list for Ingraham and some space there for portables. It would make a lot of sense to grow the cohort in advance of its new wing especially if its a one time change. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September '17 Open Thread

Welcome back to a new year.

Math Video

Watch AoPS founder, Richard Rusczyk, deliver an engaging talk about the importance of problem solving at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology!
Posted by Art of Problem Solving on Friday, September 8, 2017

This looks like it would be of interest to many here. 

National Merit Semi-Finalists Announced

"For the third year in a row, Bellevue’s Interlake High School had the most National Merit Scholarship program semifinalists of any school in the state, with 27 students who will compete for academic scholarships next spring.

Skyline High School in Sammamish was second, with 18 semifinalists, followed by Seattle’s Lakeside School, with 16.

The state’s semifinalists had the highest scores on the 2016 PSAT, which 1.6 million juniors took this past year. Each state’s number of semifinalists is proportional to the state’s percentage of the graduating seniors from across the nation."

Congratulations to all the SPS recipients:

Ingraham H.S.: 4
Garfield H.S: 4
Center School: 1

High School Research Opportunity

Are you a US high school student interested in doing research in math or computer science/computational biology before you get to college? Check out MIT PRIMES (Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science), and put in an application today. Both in-person (http://math.mit.edu/research/highschool/primes/program/), and remote programs (http://math.mit.edu/research/highschool/primes/usa) are available

Monday, August 7, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July '17 Open Thread

Summer time and the living is easy ...

SENG webinar

"Social and Emotional Development of Twice-Exceptional Students: What does the Research Say?"

July 6th, 2017 4:30pm - 6:00pm (PDT)Cost: $40.00

Presenter: Megan Foley-Nicpon

High ability students with disabilities may have unique social and emotional profiles in comparison to their peers. In this webinar, Foley-Nicpon will review the research regarding common social and emotional difficulties twice-exceptional students may face. She will also discuss the psychosocial components of talent development and how these domains may manifest differently among high ability students with disabilities. Research-based strategies and interventions also will be discussed.

Foley-Nicpon is the highly respected Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center.


Suggestion Box

I'll generally post for-profit events like above  if they seem topical.  There are limits to how much I can vet however. What do folks think?   On broader lines, is there anything else you'd like to see in the upcoming year? 

What's on your minds?

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Its the end of the year and I thought would open a  space to reflect on personal accomplishments for the year. This could be a formal award or as personal breakthrough. What interesting things have happened in your building?

Monday, June 5, 2017

June '17 Open Thread

Its finally the last month of the school year.

There's a thread on the Honors For All presentation over @
http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2017/06/garfield-honors-for-all-update.html   Once again this highlights the difficult in objectively evaluating a program or curriculum.

Personally, after three years this will be the last two weeks I run the 4th/5th grade math club. Although I look forward to volunteering at the Middle School level (Talk to me if you want to join a Math club at JAMS)  I'm finding the end to be bittersweet.

Invent Washington Contest and Teacher Training

"Prodigy Northwest launched “Invent Washington” in 2013 with its first state competition held in Spokane, Washington at St George’s School on June 2nd, its second state competition held at Gonzaga University on May 17, 2014, its third competition on May 30, 2015, its fourth state competition on May 14, 2016 and it fifth competition on May 13, 2017. A total of over 240 dynamic inventions created by students in grades one through eight were on display for each of those competitions. The 2018 Paul G. Allen Invention Convention state competition has been scheduled for Saturday, March 24th, 2018."


School budgets are being set right now and it really helps to have accurate enrollment counts. If you know you're not going to attend next year please contact the office/registrar and let them know.

Article: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-america-turned-against-smart-kids/  This comes from a fairly conservation political viewpoint and I don't agree with everything here but this quote at the end stuck out at me:

"The accelerated-math community is abandoning public schools and turning to private enrichment camps, creating, as a recent report in The Atlantic described it, “a new pedagogical ecosystem—almost entirely extracurricular—that has developed online and in the country’s rich coastal cities and tech meccas.”"

What's on your minds?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Northwest Gifted Child Associate Legislative Alert

I apologize in advance for the length of this message but the issue calls for a deep explanation. It is imperative that the community of people supporting highly capable education Insist that legislators include appropriate funding for highly capable programs in the current budget being negotiated. While we do not want to be alarmist, it is possible that any funding done this year will serve as the floor for funding for the next several decades. This deserves your immediate attention and action. What follows is support information you will need to make an effective appeal to your legislator, and other key legislators if you are willing to take the extra effort.
A child's educational program must be appropriately ambitious and every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. That is one of the main purposes of the Highly Capable Program.
The Legislature has not yet begun serious negotiations on the next budget. However, the McCleary Work Group is supposed to be meeting at least weekly to prepare the education portion of the budget. They have before them all the research conducted when they were the Education Funding Task Force plus the 3 budget proposals this year, and they are reportedly at a stalemate. There are persistent rumors that the budget will not be ready until late June!
The proposed 2017-2018 funding levels for highly capable programs in all three budgets won't even allow districts to continue the services they offer today. 
Neither the Governor's, the House, nor Senate budget proposals address the persistent and pervasive underfunding of gifted education, and all will do harm to our state's gifted learners. 
Both House and Senate proposals continue to limit services to 2.314% of our state's enrollment, or about 25,530 students. The Governor's proposal raises the percentage slightly but not significantly. 
But - in 2015-2016, districts identified and served 63,551 gifted students. All of these students deserve their appropriate, fully funded basic education. They have been waiting since 2009.
The cost for educating most of the 38,000 students above the state limit is paid for from local levy funds. Local levy funds are not to be used for basic education, and HCP IS BASIC EDUCATION.
At a minimum, the state needs to allocate an amount that covers the actual costs of providing services to our 63,500 plus identified gifted learners. To provide for improvements in the program that are essential to address issues of equity will require more. Providing the professional development necessary to build teacher capacity in the identification and service of gifted students costs money. Making changes to our referral and identification processes also has a cost.
What you need to do today!!
Please contact your Legislators today and ask them to contact the members of 1) the McCleary group and 2) the budget negotiators (listed below). Tell them that the Legislature needs to fund the recommendations of the 2010 Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group. The recommendations immediately below include all the issues outlined in the above paragraph.
*Fund 5% of enrollment
*Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
*Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12
If you have contacted your Legislators before on this topic, please do so again. If you have not yet done so, please do so now while your input can still have an effect.
Unsure of your message? May we suggest:
Districts serve 63,551 highly capable students. The state funds only ~25,530. It is the state's responsibility to fully fund gifted education as part of basic education. Adopt and fund the Recommendations of the Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group of 2010. The current funding allocation of 2.314% of a school district's population is a FATAL FLAW that assures a lack of equity in highly capable education for the unforeseen future. Do not embed this FATAL FLAW into current budget language, thus dooming under-represented populations who desperately need to be identified and served. Districts serve 63,551 highly capable students. The state funds only ~25,530. It is the state's responsibility to fully fund gifted education as part of basic education. Adopt and fund the Recommendations of the Highly Capable Program Technical Work Group of 2010. The current funding allocation of 2.314% of a school district's population is a FATAL FLAW that assures a lack of equity in highly capable education for the unforeseen future. Do not embed this FATAL FLAW into current budget language, thus dooming under-represented populations to a lack of services. These are students who desperately need to be identified and served.
* Fund 5% of enrollment
* Fund 6.5 hours per week in grades K-6
* Fund 3.1 hours per week in grades 7-12"
Please contact the members of the McCleary Work Group and the budget negotiators and urge them to implement these recommendations.
You can find and email your Legislator using the District finder at http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder, or you can use the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. Hot Line operators will write down your message and transmit it to your Legislator(s) so plan out in advance what you want to say, write it down, and then read it to the operator to be sure it says exactly what you want it to say.
Most Legislators are currently at home in their districts. Some have district offices. If they do, for House members, they will be listed at  http://leg.wa.gov/House/Pages/DistrictOffices.aspx and for Senators  http://leg.wa.gov/Senate/Senators/Pages/default.aspx. Both sites are in (mostly) alphabetical order; scroll down to yours to see if there is a district office. Try to make an appointment to meet with your legislator(s) as soon as possible.
Thank you for taking action to gain full, ample, and equitable funding for highly capable services. 63,551+ gifted students in Washington are counting on you!
        🗣                🗣                🗣                🗣       
Key Legislators your Legislators need to contact are listed below. If you are feeling especially energetic and motivated, after you contact your Legislators, you can contact the key legislators directly yourself. Email addresses are Firstname.Surname@leg.wa.gov.
McCleary Work Group
Rep. Pat Sullivan
Rep. Kristine Lytton
Rep. Paul Harris
Rep. David Taylor
Sen. Ann Rivers
Sen. Christine Rolfes 
Sen. Andy Billig
Sen. John Braun
Budget Negotiators
Rep. Timm Ormsby, Chair, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. June Robinson, Vice Chair, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Bruce Chandler, Ranking, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House 
Rep. Pat Sullivan, Majority Leader
Rep. Dan Kristianson, House Republican Caucus leader
Sen. John Braun, Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen. Dino Rossi,  Vice Chair Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen. Kevin Ranker, Ranking, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen. Christine Rolfes, Assistant Ranking, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen.  Mark Schoesler, Senate Republican Caucus leader
Sen. Sharon Nelson, Senate Democratic Caucus leader

Friday, June 2, 2017

6/3 Board Retreat

I was sent an email from Dir. Peters about tomorrow's Board of Directors Retreat.

Board Special Meeting
School Board Retreat
June 3, 2017 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Auditorium, John Stanford Center
2445 3 rd Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134


  • 10:00 am WELCOME
  • 10:00-10:30 am TEAM BUILDING / ICE BREAKERS
  • 12:00-12:30 pm BREAK & LUNCH
  • 2:00-3:00 pm EQUITY IN HIGHLY CAPABLE PROGRAMS (Austina De Bonte)
  • 3:00 pm ADJOURN

Both of the talks look interesting especially if you're interested in equity.

Copy of Austina De Bonte's previous talk

Thursday, June 1, 2017

6th Grade Math Placement

Yesterday math placement letters went out from JAMS.  All the details are still a bit unclear ut

  • It appears that The 5th grade teachers uniformly declined to recommend anyone for Algebra on philosophical grounds.
  • The letters were sent prior to this year's math SBAC being administered.
  • The placement test will be administered Wednesday, June 14th from 4:00-5:00pm or Tuesday, June 27th from 8:00-9:00am at JAMS.

So I assume those wishing to opt up will have to take the placement test at the school during one of the two exams. There seems to have been a process breakdown here between the schools.  This is one of those situations where communicating more openly would be useful.  In particular, the 5th grade teachers could have handled this much more transparently and either communicated directly to JAMS their discomfort   prior to this point allowing a less reactive solution or to the parents to explain what was going to happen.

8th Grade Math Standards: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/8/introduction/

"In Grade 8, instructional time should focus on three critical areas: (1) formulating and reasoning about expressions and equations, including modeling an association in bivariate data with a linear equation, and solving linear equations and systems of linear equations; (2) grasping the concept of a function and using functions to describe quantitative relationships; (3) analyzing two- and three-dimensional space and figures using distance, angle, similarity, and congruence, and understanding and applying the Pythagorean Theorem."

Home Assessment

The AoPS algebra readiness test is fairly solid and could be used to identify gaps: https://data.artofproblemsolving.com//products/diagnostics/intro-algebra-pretest.pdf  I

Hopefully there will be some more clarifying email from the MS side and this will be done more cleanly next year..

Feel free to add on anything more you learn for JAMS or for the placement process at the other middle school sites.

[Disclaimer: next year I will be on the JAMS BLT]

Monday, May 22, 2017

If you could interview the school board candidates...

What questions would you like answered? I'd like to come up with a set of questions that I could email to the various candidates and see if we can get responses. Anything school board related is fair game but I'd especially like questions relevant to Advanced Learning.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Full Disclosure

I'm trying something new next year and joining the BLT (Building Leadership Team) at Jane Addams Middle School.   This is my first official PTSA position and I'm fairly excited to see what can be done in the role.   On consideration, I do not think this will interfere in anyway with this blog.  I always try my best to maintain an official editorial tone and I will note any specific posts about JAMS with a disclaimer about my involvement there. Likewise, I don't intend to comment on any non-public information that I might happen to hear while involved with the school.

In the meantime, this seems like a good opportunity to ask if anyone is interested in becoming another co-moderator. Its always good to have more people involved.

Music NorthWest Youth Camp 8/15-19

This was a late notice from a reader

18th Annual Youth Chamber Music Camp Five days of inspired chamber music rehearsals and classes for music students—with outstanding Northwest coaches August 15-19, 2017

Although it says "auditions "are over, it's absolutely possible for a child to sign up, simply a matter of sending along a quickie tape or video clip to ask the student to comparable players.

This is an outstanding Summer Camp for instrumental orchestra, the really neat thing is that it's chamber, so individual efforts really shine brightly.

Plus, the legendary Marcus Tsutakawa  is faculty, he of Garfield fame! "

Friday, May 5, 2017

Middle School Math Adoption Materials

Seattle Public Schools invites all families, staff, and community members to review the instructional materials under consideration for use in grades 6-8. This will be the first of two rounds of public review. The input you provide will help the middle school math textbook adoption committee narrow the choice of materials for the second round of review and a classroom pilot.
Give Us Your Feedback Between May 3 and May 23
Materials are available for review in two ways:
  1. To view the materials in person, visit the professional library of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence at 2445 3rd Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98134 and fill out the feedback form.
  2. To view and evaluate the materials online, visit this page for instructions. After you review the materials, use this feedback form to provide your review. The feedback form is also available in SpanishSomaliVietnameseChinese and Amharic.
What Kind of Feedback Can I Give?
Even if math was not your strongest subject in school, you can still provide valuable feedback. The feedback form will ask six general questions like “will the resources provided help me support my student” or “does this book contain racist or sexist content?” It’s not necessary to be an expert in math to help review the materials. There is also an open comment section where you can provide additional thoughts for the adoption committee to consider.
Materials Review Open House with Translators
On Thursday, May 11, Seattle Public Schools will hold an open house from 5-7 p.m. at the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence for families, staff, and community members to learn more about the instructional materials that are being considered for adoption.
The open house will display materials that have been submitted as potential middle school math curriculum. Families, staff, and the community will have the opportunity to examine the teacher and student materials and provide feedback. This feedback is essential to the process of selecting the best materials to recommend for the second round of the review and field test process.
By policy, publishers will not be in attendance; however, there will be SPS staff along with translators available to support participants in the process.
For more information about the middle school math adoption, please visit the adoption webpage.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New Initiatives out of the AL Office

There was some interesting news out of the HCS AC meeting tonight.

  • The referral window for the program will open on May 15th this year. Current teachers will be invited to submit students.
  • The teacher rating scale has been simplified.
  • Parents can schedule their own date, time and location for testing in the fall. Sites will include Thurgood Marshall, Whitman, Decatur, Pathfind and Muir.

  • Universal Testing of 2nd grader students in Title 1 schools (29% or higher) is going on this week.
  • No summer testing will be needed and the students will be tested on site in their schools

  • Data (presumably SBAC or MAP) will be analyzed and letters sent out to families in under represented groups inviting them to test to enter the program.

[Update: I now have copies of the handouts]

Monday, May 1, 2017

May '17 Open Thread


https://eduissues.com/2017/04/29/its-ap-exscam-time-again/    What is the underlying value of AP tests?
"If we look at the 2008 scores for Calculus AB and BC, we see that the minimum passing score for AB is 39/108 or 36%. 48% correct awarded students a 4, and 63% was the minimum for the top grade of 5! In most normal classes, 63% would be considered a D!"

Two Tier Scheduling

Although its hard to find an official link yet on the SPS web site, the city of Seattle has come up with the missing funds to move to a two tier bus system.

"Pending the review board’s approval, the start times for the 2017-18 school year will instead be 9 a.m. for all middle and high schools. Most K-8 schools would join that later schedule, with the exception of Broadview-Thomson, Madrona and South Shore PK-8 starting at 8 a.m. All but four elementary schools would start at 8 a.m. Concord International, Decatur, Lowell and Loyal Heights would start at 9 a.m."

Parent Question about Ballard H.S.

"Can you please start a thread to learn how HCC kids have found Ballard high school? My child is interested in robotics and they have a pre-engineering pathway. However, have no clue how well these courses align coming from HCC. I am aware the Biotech program does not align as they would have completed Bio already in 8th."

I hope another reader has some feedback to share.


“Putting Together the Puzzle of the Gifted Family: 
Assessing Gifted Intensities,
Addressing Ongoing Conflicts, Applying Creative Strategies”

Come join us for an interactive and inspiring workshop where you will learn key tools to help your gifted family thrive. This one-day workshop will apply SENG concepts at a deeper level focusing on the whole family. Specific tools include: 1) measuring certain gifted traits in family members, 2) examining how different patterns can cause ongoing conflicts and misunderstandings and 3) identifying some strategies to help address those challenges. Participants will leave with uniquely crafted strategies to help their family live together in a more cohesive and harmonious manner.

Date: Saturday, October 8, 2016
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: The Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Avenue North, Room 202, Seattle, WA 98103
Cost: $175 for 1 parent, $245 for both parents
Presenters: Anne van Roden and Gloria Sandford – both experienced parents of gifted children and licensed mental health professionals who specialize in  working with gifted families in the Seattle area.

Space is Limited to 40 Adults!

How are things going at your school?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Honors For All at Garfield

There was a request from a reader for information on how Honors for all is going at Garfield H.S. I don't have any updates myself to report. I'm hoping someone else with boots on ground has something to share with the community.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

School Assignments for 2017-2018

The acceptance letters have now been sent out for next year. If you haven't heard the online assignment tool  http://www.seattleschools.org/admissions/registration/assignment_lookup_tool/ has been updated with the open enrollment data as well.

Waitlist: http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Admissions/School%20Choice/2017-18%20Waitlist%20Report/201718WaitlistSummary_0417.pdf

This year the standout numbers are large wait lists at
  • Ingraham (41)
  • HIMS (42 across grades)
No optional placements appear to have been processed yet at Decatur/Cascadia. When done there should geenrally be a wait-list at most at only one school for the same grade.  I'm waiting for confirmation but it appears this won't occur until 5/31.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Anna Birinyi will head Cascadia

Dear Cascadia community,
I am pleased to announce that Anna Birinyi has been selected as the new principal of Cascadia Elementary School. 

Anna Birinyi was one of multiple candidates interviewed by a hiring team that included Cascadia staff, parents and community members, school leaders, and central office staff, before being recommended for the consideration of the Superintendent and Chief of Schools. During her interview, the hiring committee recognized Ms. Birinyi for her extensive experience with the school, staff, and students; her critical understanding of students who are identified as “twice exceptional”; her student-centered voice; and her collaborative leadership.

Ms. Birinyi has most recently served as the Assistant Principal at Gatewood and Lafayette Elementary schools, where she engaged with teaching staff as a member of the Equity team working to eliminate opportunity gaps for students; worked closely with the school communities to address truancy; and participated in data-driven learning decisions to inform instructional plans.  Her prior experience also includes time as the House Administrator at Cascadia and as a first and fifth grade teacher at the APP (now HCC) at Lincoln program.  Throughout her teaching and administrator career, Ms. Birinyi has had a passion for teaching writing and science and incorporating the arts into the classroom, while striving to create an inclusive environment where all students feel welcomed.
Ms. Birinyi holds her Principal Certification from Seattle Pacific University, her Master of Arts in Teaching from the Teachers College, Columbia University, and her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University. She is also a Seattle Public Schools alum, having attended Coe and John Muir Elementary schools, Washington Middle School, and graduated as a proud Bulldog from Garfield High School.

Ms. Birinyi’s position will become effective on July 1, 2017; however, she will begin working with interim Cascadia principal Kathy Jolly and Decatur principal Rina Geoghagan this spring to ensure a smooth transition to the new school building. She is excited to work together with the community to build an emotionally supportive environment where each Cascadia student continues to grow and become independent thinkers.

Thank you to Kathy Jolly for her leadership as interim principal. Please join me in welcoming Principal Anna Birinyi to Cascadia Elementary.

Dr. Larry Nyland, Principal

Monday, April 3, 2017

April '17 Open Thread

Since last month, the levy cliff has been rolled back and we're on the cusp on having a two tier busing/school start. So overall this has been a great period for the district.

  • SBAC testing is coming up. Are you planning to opt out or not?  Feel free to share your reasons.
  • The April meeting HCSAC meeting will take place tomorrow evening 5/4 in the Garfield Library at 6:30 pm. Kari Hansen, Director of Student Support Services, will be at our meeting. She was unable to attend last month, so she will be there to discuss advisory and advocacy opportunities.
Future meetings to be held include:

May 2, Hamilton International Middle School Library
June 6, Madison Middle School Library
  • There was another poorly written article about advanced learning in the Seattle Times which they keep tweeting about every few hours: https://t.co/GRNSWHufei There are real issues here with equity but this was not fairly or intelligently argued. I've talked about the imperfect system we have here in Seattle before but I also don't believe any district has really found the right answer to this problem.  Several of the logical fallacies were troubling enough that at the risk of being overly defensive I'll enumerate them below:

Quick Stream of Issues with the Seattle Times

  1.   Are Asians a minority or not? The first  sentence includes them so it can say minorities are almost half of the student population in the state. By the third sentence they're gone and the ratio of minorities that are underrepresented in the state is 1/3 of the population.  
  2. The piece then continues to blue the line between AP class participation and HCC programs paragraph by paragraph despite them not being the same.  So its hard to say what's being referred to in quotes like this "Whites occupy 66 percent of the seats in Washington’s accelerated classrooms, and Asians much of the remainder."  In our district for certain but I believe this is generally the case AP classes are open to everyone and don't require being in a gifted program.
  3.  The focus on Federal Way AP, IB participation is interesting but as the article admits "And even now, after years of funneling more kids into Advanced Placement courses, only to watch two-thirds fail their end-of-year A.P. exams, the district’s new superintendent Tammy Campbell is doubling down on basics like third-grade reading"    The followup quote: "Campbell still believes that participating in demanding classes benefits students in the long-run, and over 90 percent of those in Federal Way’s accelerated high-school courses pass their classes — if not the final test."  begs the question how rigorous are the classes now?   Unfortunately, the article didn't dig into what's going on any further in its model district.
  4.  Then there are several quotes from Nancy Herzog at the UW Robinson Center and Pedro Noguera an academic at NYU. The one from Dr. Herzog claims high IQ doesn't necessarily mean giftedness. First of all we don't have a gifted program in the state, we have a highly capable program. Secondly, under what conditions does a high IQ not indicate a need for advanced material?  The one from Dr. Noguera casts doubts that testing results indicate anything other than economic advantage.  The inconvenient fact here is that IQ type testing is fairly stable over time per individual and has a long  documented correlation with achievement.  Worse, there is no good replacement beyond the various national tests the various districts use that doesn't come with its own series of trade offs.There are real issues here with equity but this was not fairly or intelligently argued
  5. There's a quick hit piece on private testing that follows. Its a privilege of wealth despite the district offering it for free to anyone qualifying for FRL.   Note: test prepping exists for group tests like the cogat also. There are several test centers in Bellevue that offer sessions for this.
  6.  There's a criticism of the fact the district identifies in Kindergarten without realizing that its a state requirement that every district must follow.
  7.  The section on Rainier scholars talks about how they only select students outside the HCC program which is patently false.
  8. The section on TAF again is interesting but there is no data to back up its approach vs what occurs in an entire school district.  I really like what TAF is doing and an article on it going into depth would actually be interesting. I assume they are a lot more promising than Federal Way but again in a selective much smaller pool.


Be A Change Agent for Your Gifted Child
Using the Latest Neuroscience and Physiological Research
Saturday, May 20, 2017
9:30am - 5:00pm
Effective advocacy for gifted students requires both knowledge and skill. This ground-breaking workshop delivers both in one sitting!
Presented by nationally recognized experts in the field of giftedness, you will start the morning by learning the latest neuroscience and physiological research on giftedness. In the afternoon, you will learn to put that new knowledge to work with proven techniques that will make your advocacy efforts a success.
You'll walk away understanding: 
  • What giftedness is and how it impacts your child's experience in the world
  • The neuroscience behind gifted traits and behaviors
  • How to overcome perceptions of elitism when advocating for gifted students
  • How to drive change using industry-proven project management and change management methodologies
$99 adult registration ($75 for a second family member). 

Lunch and workbook included.

Two Tiers

"It looks like the city is giving the $2.3 mil needed for SPS to move to the 2 Tier bell schedule. They are also giving $300,000 or so to fund crossing guards at 100+ locations around the city! It still needs to be officially adopted by the Levy Oversight Committee and council, but that's a formality"

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: https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=17753733
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 ambox@seattleschools.org
  • 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.]