Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plan for Hamilton?

An e-mail to Hamilton students from the Hamilton PTSA said:
Last night Seattle Public Schools introduced its short-term capacity management ... The specifics of the plan can be found in the District's presentation.

All incoming sixth graders and new students from the Laurelhurst Attendance Area would be shifted to Eckstein Middle School ... Current fifth grade APP students at Lincoln would continue on to Hamilton.
Please discuss.


Anonymous said...

A little unclear...ALL incoming 6th graders (other than Lincoln APP) to Eckstein (would seem to include new APP 6th graders coming from other than Lincoln)?
Did you (they) mean ALL incoming APP 6th graders (including newly eligible from surrounding elementary schools) would go to Hamilton?


Anonymous said...

And this was sent by Seattle North APP. I'm confused.

SPECIAL ALERT: 6th Grade Academy Proposal 2013-2014

During the SPS School Board meeting yesterday, the concept of a 6th grade academy at John Marshall starting next school year received some traction. The school district will be exploring costs and educational practicalities surrounding a 6th grade academy to vote on as part of the New Student Transition Plan on January 23rd.

All incoming 6th graders from Eckstein and Hamilton would attend the academy for one year before transitioning to their assigned middle school for 7th and 8th grade. As John Marshall is not large enough to house the enrollment bubble over the next 3-4 years, the proposed site would also include up to 6 portables.

Legally, the school board can only vote on a one year solution as part of the annual transition plan, however aligning short-term solutions with long term plans helps create stability for children. Many north end children will face capacities decisions and uncertainties annually until additional buildings come on line.

As this option does not align with the long term capacity plans of the district, SNAPP PTA Board strongly opposes a 6th grade academy. We need any and all parents impacted by this proposal to attend upcoming school board coffee chats AND to write to the school board immediately (

Confused Lincoln 5th grade parent

Anonymous said...

Good to know that SNAPP is just as short sighted as the rest of the district. So SNAPP completely opposes this idea without any discussion from the membership.

They completely and totally oppose the only idea that allows APP to remain in Hamilton until Wilson Pacific comes on line without being split again.

Now I am not a fan of this last minute change but I am also not a fan of opposing a solution to Hamilton's over-crowding that does NOT mean splitting or relocating APP.

Honestly, somebody is going into John Marshall. If it is not everyone sharing the pain and going for one year, then it will inevitably be APP going for all three years.

I may be dating myself but just last month, Sherry Carr said that Wilson Pacific was going to roll up in John Marshall with at least half of APP, Greenlake and Olympic View. Compared to that plan or the plan convert APP to a K8 in Lincoln, the academy sounds ... like a nice one year break.

Anonymous said...

The point is that despite the message sent to Lincoln or Hamilton parents from the PTAs, it's all up in the air. From the meeting tonight, "there is research to support the 6th grade academy model." HMM seems to support the academy concept.

Lori said...

I was at the meeting too, and I really want to see this "research." I'm skeptical.

If there are compelling data to support 6th grade academies, either for academic reasons or social/emotional reasons, then why should only north-end families have access to them? Isn't the district trying to improve equity and access to special programs? Creating a single 6th grade academy that only 800 kids per year can access (ie, Eckstein plus HIMS kids) doesn't seem equitable if indeed they are somehow superior to the traditional 6-8 middle school.

So let's see the data. Where was this research done and why? These questions are critical so that we know whether the results are applicable to our situation and our populations.

From the little bit of searching I've done, I see that some districts have created 6th grade academies to deal with under-performing middle schools. They give the 6th graders smaller class sizes and more individual attention than they would get in the traditional middle school environment. Some are charter schools with a STEM focus designed to attract families. Some state that their goal is to build relationships and camaraderie among the children before moving on to 7th grade, but in these cases, the kids all go on to 7th grade together. They don't mix 2 different populations for a single year then send them off to 2 different middle schools for 7th grade.

Then there's the research that says that every year of transition sets a kid back academically. This is explains why in some studies, K-8s do better than the K-5/6-8 model; fewer transitions, better outcomes. A 6th grade academy that combines 2 populations creates 2 successive transition years. That can't be best practice.

So please, show us the data. Tell us exactly how creating a temporary, 6th grade academy for only one geographic region of the district is good for our kids, academically and socially. Because at the end of the day, our district is supposed to do what's best for kids, not what's best to simply put bodies into seats wherever they can scrounge them up.

They can call it an academy, but it sure sounds more like a holding cell.

Anonymous said...

Lori, I don't think anybody believes this last minute thrown together academy is a best practice implementation. However, both Bainbridge and Issaquah have created single grade schools as a way to deal with capacity issues and they seem to be working well.

I have done some digging into the history of Seattle Schools and it is really curious. It seems that the last few years have been the largest block of time that Seattle has had stable grade bands. Not that long ago, every middle school service area had a different grade band. Some were 4-4-4. Some were K-6, 7-9, 10-12. John Marshall was originally the 9th grade annex for Roosevelt.

It seems like the non standard options are becoming standard.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstood the district's goal with the almost last minute 6th grade Academy. (We can't call it last minute because that was the Lowell Lincoln move 2 years ago in July...)
They don't do it for "improving equity and access to special programs" or "for academic reasons or social/emotional reasons" for the student population.
Their only goal is to survive the next couple of years, "the enrollment bubble on the North end" and with this, "manage capacity". Plain and simple. So it is better if you don't have any expectations with the "Academy".
HIMS mom

Lori said...

Yes, I'm aware that the academy is purely a capacity-driven decision. I just don't like how they are trying to "sell" it to parents as somehow being research-based or good for our kids.

It also makes no sense to me to put into place short-term solutions that are completely out of line with long-term district goals, like increasing equity and providing predictability.

If the long-term plan is to have a new middle school in the Jane Addams building, then start it now. Co-locate there, roll it up or start it now at Marshall, I don't know, but put the focus on solutions that align with long-term goals.

Honestly, those of us at Lincoln know it's hard to get what we need in our current location because we are only there temporarily. We're still trying to get playground resources 18 months after our move; it took over a year to get various equipment for teachers, and so on. What makes us think it would be any different at an "academy" with a known expiration date? Seriously, we can't afford to waste money creating a program that might last a year or four.

If they're going to spend money, invest it in the new middle school that we have to open anyway. That seems really obvious.

Anonymous said...

I just posted this on the seattle schools blog, but since it's asking for APP opinion, I thought I should post here, too.

What about keeping APP sixth grade at Hamilton, since they need access to the more advanced classes and can attend with the 7th and 8th graders? Would that work for APP students even if the other 6th graders went to an academy? I know there's a lot of opposition to the academy, but I'm trying to tease out the issues - and I do think the academic issues of APP are different than the other 6th graders.

This would also drop the enrollment capacity needs at JM so that APP could be at Hamilton all 3 years (2014-15, 15-16 and 16-17 - until W-P comes on line and a final APP placement decision can be implemented) and the sixth grade academy can be 2014-15, 15-16 until the NNE comp MS is fully ready and the boundaries are implemented (so we know which other schools besides Olyhills, JR and Sac are going to go to JAMS.) This might still require a co-location in the JA building for 2014-15 and 15-16....

~running through alternatives and seriously wanting a discussion outside the box.

Anonymous said...

@running, I'm not sure that makes sense. Courses actually considered part of APP are grade-specific. Access to higher level courses is in the other areas--math, languages, music, etc--and there are non-APP kids who should appropriately have access to those too. I don't think the "APP kids needs greater access than others" argument will fly.


Anonymous said...

I think grades APP 1-8 at Lincoln is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

I concur, a 1-8 APP at Lincoln would be best for the academic needs of APP students. Already HIMS has decided to throw 6th Grade APP students (on the normal, 2 year ahead track) into classes with not just 7th, but 8th graders, which doesn't seem fair on a developmental stand point. Why change something that doesn't need to change even for scheduling reasons? As far as I know, the plan is to move APP @ Lincoln to Wilson Pacific to be a stand-alone elementary and that the middle school there would co-house APP and another option program like Spectrum. You might as well combine campuses a few years earlier to prevent more overcrowding in Hamilton hallway traffic jams. Based on my observations, the music program has a high participation rate by non-APP students that both a HIMS and a new APP@Lincoln program could exist stably. This solution could possibly present alternatives for relieving overcrowding at Eckstein as APP is currently 48% of the HIMS building, and growing every year.

Anonymous said...

While some may like the idea of APP 1-8, I suspect these are primarily families who elected for APP in elementary grades. Please don't forget that there's a significant group of families who chose to delay APP entry until middle school. For many of these families one of the reasons behind this decision is to allow greater integration with non-APP neighborhood kids. How many of the "delayed entry" families--families who can provide sufficient supplementation at younger grades, but need the school system to step in come middle school--would be willing to send their kid to the 1-8 APP school starting in 6th grade? Personally, I prefer that my kids are not in an APP-only school, although I would be willing to consider it for elementary grades. For middle school, however, I think it's very important that these kids are exposed to kids with a wide range of abilities and interests. They can't live in an APP bubble forever.

An APP 1-8 may be appealing for some, but not for those who want a more diverse education for their kids. And in the current anti-APP environment, I suspect a push for this approach would give fuel to those who like to complain of APP elitism, too.


Future(?) HIMS mom said...


Those are very good points. We're a "delay APP" family, hoping for HIMS. One aspect of our situation: Our student has friends who are not APP-eligible from his current class. We'd love for him to be able to maintain this strong social group in middle school, which the current model would allow.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hamilton Families,

The PTA/PTSA leaders of the majority (14) of north and northeast SPS elementary schools met yesterday to collectively address the district’s current Short Term Capacity Management plan (STCM) options. Their consensus was that all three scenarios that comprise the STCM plan are unacceptable, incomplete and do not align with long term planning. A summary of the group’s collective views is reflected in their PTA leadership letter and their notes on all three options.

Whatever your views, your PTSA board strongly encourages you to email the district and the school board members IMMEDIATELY. It’s the most effective way for your opinions to be heard. Emails will be tabulated for the school board. The district operations meeting was TODAY (January 17), final staff recommendation will be made TOMORROW (January 18), and the school board vote is next Wednesday (January 23).

Thank you so much for your time and ACTION!

The Hamilton PTSA Board