Friday, December 18, 2015

Ingraham IBX Program News

IBX update from Ingraham High School

The Ingraham community has been discussing program changes centered on what we can do to meet a wider range of HCC students. We are happy to report that beginning with the next incoming 9th grade class Ingraham is expanding the program to include the following: 
- The IBX program will still be at Ingraham in its current form as an opt-in program.
- We are adding a 4 year option for those that would be better served by a 4 year option.
- Students will be able to decide in their 9th grade year the option that is best for them.
This is a continuation of Ingraham’s mission to provide flexible options for students. If you have any questions, please email me at

Martin Floe
Ingraham High School

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Official 6th Grade Math Placement Policy

Here is the text I finally received. This is not up on the web site yet but will be there soon. 

  • This is generally an improvement for HCC students going to Algebra over being required to take a test at the district headquarters or using 4th grade data,
  • I'm not sure if this is a change for kids coming from an ALO school and if they used to be able to opt up 2 years for instance and go straight to Math 8.
  • The language on scheduling discretion may be a codification of what has been happening (see McClure Middle School) but it would be nice to see a stronger guarantee of a pathway.
  • I'd prefer more outreach to families and an official policy rather than text on the website and an informal situation.

"Due to some changes in testing, the current middle school math placement plan has been reconsidered. All SPS students will be recommended to take the next math course in sequence in grade 6. That is, if a student was taught grade 6 standards in grade 5, the student will be recommended for grade 7 as a sixth-grader. The math program manager will work with the elementary schools to identify the current standards being taught to grade 5 students so the middle schools know what math course is next for students. In an effort to reduce barriers to advanced courses, the option for students to “opt up” of one course beyond the next in sequence will remain. Families will be guided to make this decision based on:
·         Standards mastered
·         The student’s willingness to be challenged and perhaps even frustrated in a course that is well beyond the next in sequence
Ultimate placement decisions remain the right and responsibility of the middle school and may be made based on a variety of factors at that school"

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tour Information + a Testing Update

Testing Update

This is from the AL Office:

Two testing dates have been added. Two additional Saturdays have been added to the Advanced Learning Eligibility Testing schedule: Jan. 9 and 16. Both of these will take place at Thurgood Marshall ES. Our original testing make-up date, Jan. 23 at Cascadia@Lincoln, will still occur for families who were unable to attend earlier testing dates. 

If you have not heard from Advanced Learning regarding a testing date by Wednesday, Jan. 6, please contact us at

No changes are planned for the Appeals Process during the current testing cycle. We have heard that some families are confused because updates have been proposed to the Superintendent Procedures 2190, Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs. If finalized, these changes were intended to take effect during next year's testing cycle - not this one. Regardless, for now the action has been postponed to allow new board members time to transition. The updates had been scheduled for presentation at the Dec. 14 Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee meeting, but we now anticipate reintroducing the updates in February.

School Tours

I also received this update from the HCS Advisory group:

Below is a list of information about Highly Capable Cohort sites/pathway schools for 2016. This list includes the information we have so far. Please consult the individual schools or websites for additional information. (Sorry some dates have already passed by)
Thurgood Marshall Elementary 
Principal Katie May and the Thurgood Marshall PTA will be hosting school information sessions and tours on the following days.  Except where noted below, they will begin with an information session with Principal May, followed by tours guided by PTA volunteers.  Tours will conclude at 10 am with a brief group Q&A session.
Please check in at the Main Office when you arrive and proceed to the Library on the second floor.  No RSVP is necessary. 
Tuesday, January 13, 9:15 am - Tour Only
Thursday, February 12, 8:45 am
Monday, February 23, 5:30 pm HCC Information Session, 6:30 School Tour (classroom observation not available), 7-7:30 General Information Session
Thursday, March 5, 8:45 am
Wednesday, May 20, 8:45 am

Washington Middle School

Evening Information Sessions:
Thursday, December 3, 6:30-8:00 pm OR
Thursday, February 116:30-8:00 pm

Location:  Washington Middle School's Cafeteria

School Day Tours:
Friday, December 117:45-9:15 am OR

Friday, February 197:45-9:15 am

Location:  Meet in Washington Middle School's Cafeteria

Tours and Info Sessions are open to all 4th and 5th grade parents and students. 
Please contact Bridget Backschies ( or Tasha Irvine ( with any questions.
Jane Addams Middle School

Tour for prospective parents and student
February 11, 6:30 pm

Garfield High School

Tuesday, January 26 and Thursday, January 28, 20169:00-9:45 meet in the QJA (preferably) or the Gym (if necessary); 
9:45-10:30 – building tours
Thursday, February 11, 20166:00-8:00 – presentation in the Commons followed by self-guided tours with ASB/Link Leader support (department heads and program staff)
Ingraham High School
Shadow Visits will begin on Dec 1st - until February 25th, we will shadow on Tuesday, Weds and Thursdays from 7:50 AM - 11:55 AM. Parents can call to register their student for a shadow visit beginning on Nov 23rd - 206-252-3889 - Maria Medina
Ingraham Open House 2016 for incoming students 
February 3rd – 7:00 PM – Ingraham Auditorium
This is a general information night open to everyone - Mr. Floe/Principal and the Ingraham Staff will answer any questions about academics, sports, clubs and student life at Ingraham. 

Ingraham High School IB Information Night 
February 10th – 7:00 PM – Ingraham Library
This is an information night for parents and students going into the IB Program. 

Ingraham High School Day Time Tours 
February 3rd – 8:00 AM – 9:30AM
Tour begins in the school Auditorium - parents must accompany students on the tour

Ingraham High School Day Time Tours 
February 10th 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Tour begins in the school Auditorium - parents must accompany students on the tour

Questions? Call the Main Office #206-252-3889All tours are for parents and students. No need to RSVP for tours or the night open houses. 

KUOW in the process of writing a piece on minorities and AL programs

I'm looking for families of color who have considered - or enrolled in - gifted/highly capable programs in Seattle Public Schools. I'm working on a story for KUOW Public Radio about the reasons behind the lack of diversity in the district's gifted classes, and I'd like to hear your experiences. Email - and feel free to share this request with anyone you know! Thanks so much

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Open Thread

I'm home from the latest HCS  Advisory Committee meeting and have more notes than I expected to transcribe for a later entry. In the meanwhile its time for a new monthly open thread.

  • It sounds like the math placement policy is out. I have not seen all the details yet but talking with  one of the teacher's tonight it sounds like there is an automatic placement to 8th grade math and with a parents opt-in and teacher approval you can access sixth grade algebra. I'm still waiting to find out how skips would work for advanced learners in non-HCC schools. I'll update once I find out clarifications.
  • I will mention 2 highlights from tonight. The appeals process changes are postponed for this year.  Also for those awaiting the final step of the testing process, the K-2 second part will occur in January.
What's on your minds?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Social Emotional Curricula

In my 5 years experience within SPS I think we've seen five different social emotional curriculum, from Kelso to Roots of Empathy to RULER etc.  Some are more narrow and focused purely on reducing bullying. Others aim more broadly and attempt to increase executive functioning and help kids process the various emotional stresses of school.

So how are the programs working for your kids?

  • Is bullying an issue and has your  curriculum helped?
  • Have you seen personal benefits to your kids?
  • Are there different strategies you'd like to see the schools follow?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Planning for moving up to Middle School and High School

By request of a parent, this thread is for discussing deciding on a middle school for upcoming fifth graders and for high school for eighth graders.

Here are the original questions:

  1. Specifically now that students have been at JAMS for over a year, how is it going for kids? What are strengths and challenges? Is there a good advisory program? Is there fun and social time? 
  2. In the past, has Garfield done an open house or tour for incoming 9th grade students and their parents? We're trying to make an informed decision & have found tours/info nights on other HS calendars, but nothing on Garfield's.
Along these lines I just found this upcoming event:

Seattle Middle School Parent Panel
December 3
6:30pm - 8:30pm
$25/single, $35/couple
The Meridian School, Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford
If you're preparing for the move to middle school, come and hear parents talk about their child/family's experiences. Schools represented: Hamilton International MS, Lakeside, Seattle Academy, Billings, Bush, Northwest, Evergreen, Seattle Girls' School, Eastside Prep, Holy Names and Roosevelt HS. Hosted by The Meridian School, The Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford.  Reserve your seat and more info:

I'm sure there are questions out there about the other programs as well.

Admin Note: please sign with a pseudonym if you post anonymously. Also I highly recommend creating an open-id identity instead in that case. Its still offers privacy but with the new comment view on the main page allows your name to be seen.

Friday, November 13, 2015

UW Robinson Center Programs

Due to the interest I thought I'd start a separate thread for the UW early entrance programs. 

In addition, a current parent in the programs has emailed me and is willing to talk further. Email me with contact info if you'd like to be put in touch.

UW Academy For Young Scholars

The University of Washington’s Academy for Young Scholars is a competitive early entrance program for highly capable and motivated high school students. A select cohort of approximately 35 students is admitted to the Academy each year, becoming a part of the Robinson Center’s vibrant early entrance community. Students apply to the Academy during the 10th grade, and if accepted, withdraw from high school at the end of the school year and enroll as full time UW freshmen in Fall.

Eager to learn all about the UW Academy? Check out the UW Academy page under the Programs tab of our website. Additionally, come to one of our Information Sessions, to be held Nov 17 and Dec 15 in Foege Auditorium 060 on the UW Seattle campus. (We are also holding an Off-Campus Info Session on  Dec 5 at Franklin High School in South Seattle.

Questions? Email us at or call 206-543-4160.

Important Dates:
November 17th: UW Academy Info Session
December 5th: UW Academy Info Session
December 28th: The deadline to register for the January 23rd SAT test date, The latest date to take the SAT to be considered for 2016 Admission to the Academy
January 8th: The deadline to register for the February 6th ACT test date, The latest date to take the ACT to be considered for 2016 Admission to the Academy
January 14th: UW Academy Info Session
March 10th: Complete Applications due to the Robinson Center by 4:30pm
April 22nd: Decision letters mailed to all applicants

UW Transition School

The Transition School/ Early Entrance Program is once again considering applicants from the Seattle area and far afield to join the long legacy of the program, which has been providing young students with University-level learning opportunities since 1977.
How it works, in a nutshell:
Students in 7th or 8th grade (or between 12 and 14 years old) submit an online application, which lets the Robinson Center know you’re collecting the required materials to be considered for a TS interview. Once your ACT scores, transcripts, and teacher recommendations are submitted, the review committee will let you know if you qualify for an interview. Around 16 of the interviewed candidates will be welcomed to the Transition School, where they will hone their skills for one year before joining the University of Washington’s freshman class.

Eager for all the details of the Transition School and Early Entrance Program? Visit the Transition School page and come to one of our Winter Information Sessions, to be held  Dec 1 and Jan 7 in Foege Auditorium 060.

Have questions? Email us at or call 206-543-4160.

Important Dates:
December 1: TS/EEP Information Session
January 7: TS/EEP Information Session
February 12: Early Decision Application Materials Due
March 21: ALL Application Materials Due
Early Decision Letter Mailed
June 10: Acceptance Letters Mailed

More info:

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Version of Policy Superintendent Procedure 2190SP Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Program

A new version of the entire Advanced Learning Program Policy is up on the SPS  site prior to the Curriculum and Instruction Board meeting on Monday 11/9:

The advanced learning section starts around page: 113.

I have not had time to parse everything yet and I'll update as I do. But there appears  to be more here than just a new appeals process. On first glance most codifies current changes in the program.

New Appeals Text:

The Advanced Learning office has an appeal process in compliance with the Washington State rules for Highly Capable Programs (WAC 392-170-047). Parents may appeal the Approved: January 2015 Revised: May 2015 Superintendent Procedure 2190SP Cross Reference: Policy No. 2190; RCW 28A.185.030 Programs –- Authority of local school districts – Selection of students; WAC 391-170 Special service program – Highly Capable students Page 5 of 7 decision of the MSC by completing the appeal form included with the eligibility decision letter within ten days of eligibility notification. Appeals may be submitted only if specific circumstances related to the testing conditions may have impacted student performance OR if there is reason to believe there has been a misapplication/miscalculation of scores. Private test scores may be considered by the appeal committee only if relevant to the circumstances above, but are not required and do not replace District testing. Appeals submitted for any other reason will not be considered. The decision of the Appeal Committee is final.

Required Participation in Testing:

District achievement testing in reading and math (i.e. Measurement of Academic Progress or Smarter Balanced Assessment) is required to determine advanced eligibility for current SPS students. Candidates are required to participate in district achievement testing. For referred private school students whose cognitive test scores are at the 87th percentile or higher (98th percentile or higher for eighth graders), Advanced Learning will administer achievement tests as needed.

Higher Bars:

I think these changes plus the switch to the SBAC in 3rd grade and the use of the state norms to determine eligibility will tend to raise the bar on who is admitted into HCC. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

11/3 HCS Advisory Meeeting

Originally I had not been sure if I would attend this meeting but in light of recent events it seemed prudent to go. For those not on their mailing list, the Advisory Committee put out a general message urging parents to contact the board about the assignment plan a day or two ago and have been active already on the issue.  The most substantive section of the meeting concerned these changes. But there were a lot of interesting tidbits mentioned during the whole time.

First as one member noted the assignment plan changes have been delayed two week before being considered by the board. So it appears the pressure from parents is having some effect. Secondly, the representatives from Advanced Learning, Stephen Martin etc. have no voice in this general process and only found out about it on Saturday via parent emails.  His take on the plan was that the only intention was to change the school wait list date to dissolve at the end of May (rather than October) and to remove the distance tie breaker from school choice decisions.  The general opinion in the room was that if that was the case then only those parts of the policy should have been altered.  More interestingly, the committee will be sending a letter with their opinion on the current action to the superintendent in the next few days.  Perhaps by the time the BAR is resubmitted a more limited set of changes will be included.

There followed a discussion on the testing process. The interesting news is that the AL office is moving towards an online registration system that will solve most of the current communication issues. Unfortunately this is at least one year out. At this point, several parents voiced their dissatisfaction with the status quo.  My personal opinion is that if the AL Office forwarded the testing list to the individual school principals, the school secretaries could do a more efficient distributed version of providing information for parents who had questions while respecting privacy laws.  Stephen also mentioned that the long term plan is to do the CogAT testing fully online and in the individual school buildings again.  As well it looks like the state norms are going to be used for determining the percentiles on the SBAC test for older students. This has been recently published on the OSPI website and you can check on them here:(percentile spreadsheet). Also the new appeal process is going to be discussed next week at the Curriculum and Instruction board meeting. The draft should be released this Friday. I will be checking for this and will post when its available.

Next there was an interesting side discussion about the pilot program that screened roughly 800 second graders in the south east quadrant. According to Stephen this identified ~100 advanced learners although he didn't know offhand how many were HCC qualified or how many then applied for services. Hopefully more data on this experiment will be forthcoming. He also indicated that the AL office had requested money in last year's budget for after school enrichment programs for those identified but not yet at the necessary achievement levels. Unfortunately this was not approved. If you're concerned with social justice issue this might be an area to become active in.

The last major area discussed was the  new middle school social studies textbooks. Representatives from JAMS, WMS and Madison but not HIMS are going to be meeting soon to discuss humanities curriculum alignment.  Unfortunately there were no details on what the alignment will mean but its a positive sign that this process is underway. Again if you're at HIMS this might be an opportunity to advocate to participate with the other middle schools. And careful readers will note the presence of Madison Middle school. It was casually mentioned that the intention is to get it up and running next year and to make it the default pathway for West Seattle by the year afterwards.  So these plans seem to be moving forward.

Looking forward the Jeanne Thompson suggested the committee invite Flip Herndon to discuss Middle School pathways in a future meeting.  I hope this comes to pass. Also the yearly report on the HCC program is still in the first draft phase.

Monday, November 2, 2015

November Open Thread

Call To Action

  1. Don't forget to vote on the school board candidates by tomorrow.
  2. Please read the previous post:  about the surprise assignment plan changes that were proposed on Friday. If you agree that this is not good policy, write to the school board as soon as possible before the Wed. board meeting.
  3. The next HCC advisory committee meeting is 6:30 tomorrow Tue. 11/3 at Lincoln .


I've been following this blog for a while. Mike is this amazing father who has been home schooling his sons in math up until this year. Now they are back in school and he is enriching after hours. I can't imagine finding the time to produce so much interesting material.

Summer Math Camp:
Information on the upcoming summer Epsilon camp is now out.   This is for ages 7-12 and will be at Washington University in St. Louis from 7/24-8/7.  I haven't met anyone yet from our area who has gone but  this has a great reputation.

Since its been several months since I took over I thought that I would ask if If there's any direction you'd like to see the blog going.  Otherwise as always feel free to discuss anything that's on your mind.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Student Assignment Plan Proposal Eliminates HCC Pathways

On Friday, 10/29/15, the district published a Board Action Report proposal that would overhaul the Student Assignment Plan, eliminating the existing HCC pathways and allowing staff to make all future HCC assignment and pathway decisions without Board approval. The proposal would also eliminate grandfathering guarantees for all district families, meaning HCC kids (and all other kids) could be kicked out of their schools for the following school year.

As the mom of a Thurgood Marshall HCC student, I am strongly urging all HCC parents to write the School Board and ask them to vote no this coming Wednesday, 11/4/15, on this huge and sudden overhaul. (I also encourage you to let any K8 school families you know that this sudden overhaul would eliminate their access to their attendance area full-service middle schools, which I imagine would have a crushing effect on their enrollment.)

As usual, Melissa Westbrook has provided timely, cogent, and thorough coverage of this issue here ( and here ( Many huge thanks to commenter WSDWG for alerting the district-watching community to this change on Melissa's blog as well as this one.

I know that many in the HCC-following community believe that no one should be surprised by this change, and that the current system is not sustainable. I will not argue those points, but instead make an appeal for transparency, engagement, and accountability. If the district wants to dissolve the cohort, that's a discussion that should happen at the School Board level, not behind the scenes without notice at JSCEE.

Below is the School Board letter that I wrote -- please steal as much of it as you like. Melissa also invited readers to steal liberally from her letter here.

Copy-and-pastable list of email addresses of School Board directors and relevant senior staff:,,,,,,,,,,,

Sample letter to School Board:

Dear Seattle School Board Directors:

I'm the parent of a Highly Capable Cohort student, and I'm writing to urge you to vote no on the 10/28/15 Board Action Report about the Student Assignment Plan ( for 3 main reasons:

1) Less predictability:

The opening sentence of the Student Assignment Plan reads: "The Student Assignment Plan was approved by the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Board of Directors in 2009 to provide greater predictability for families while still offering opportunities for school choice."

However, the proposed changes would result in LESS predictibility for HCC families. While the HCC pathways are clearly documented in the current version of the Student Assignment Plan, the new version would remove that assurance, referring families to "the Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment or other supplemental documents for additional information about program and service offerings and locations." (As a side note, an SPS website search for "Superintendent’s Procedures for Student Assignment" yields 0 results.)

2) Lack of equal opportunity for engagement:

Removing the HCC pathway list in the Student Assignment Plan means that HCC parents would no longer have equal opportunity with other parents have to engage with their elected School Board representatives about school pathway assignment changes before a Board vote, as occurs with general education attendance area changes. The new proposal would eliminate that requirement, allowing such changes to occur without Board review.

3) New confusion over whether HCC is a cohort or a fungible service:

The proposal lists the Highly Capable Cohort with a list of services, cryptically stating that "There will continue to be a limited number of programs or services that are unique enough, and that serve such a limited population, that they cannot be offered in every service area or attendance area." Understandably, this change has introduced confusion among HCC families about whether the district now considers the Highly Capable Cohort a fungible service rather than a cohort program. The extent of the HCC community's belief that the program's strength is dependent on the cohort is evidenced in the name itself, which was recently changed from "Program" to "Cohort."

It doesn't matter whether the intent of these changes was to allow for the dispersion of the Highly Capable Cohort cohort and the dissolution of HCC pathways without Board approval. All that matters is that is the effect. Please vote no on this proposal, and let HCC families continue to have the same transparency, predictability, and engagement opportunity as other parents.

Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Washington Middle School Spectrum Seattle Times Article.

There were two recent articles in the Seattle Times: initial article followup story discussing the phase out of stand alone Spectrum classes at Washington Middle School.

The Spectrum classes were overwhelmingly white and Asian, said Susan Follmer, the Washington principal, and the regular classes were filled with students of color.
“The practice of rigid tracking is very antiquated and not supported by research that tells us how we can have success for all,” Follmer said. “It is a strange practice for district that says its number one goal is equity in education.”

I find the nexus of social justice and tracking a particularly difficult topic and I considered just posting the article as is without much framing. However, I think that I owe everyone a small bit of reflection. To start, the tenets I'm most certain of are that education's primary goal is to meet every child where they are at and that rigorous pathways need to be available.

Questions I have

  1. How has the experience in gen-ed class rooms changed since this shift?
  2. How has the experience for Spectrum students changed?
  3. Meany middle school is about to open in 2 years at which time most of the Spectrum  population will move given the demographics.  What's the principal going to do then?
  4. Does this signal changes are coming for the HCC track?
  5. How committed is Susan Follmer to the other part of the goal having every child "achieve  to their highest level."

More Uncomfortable Thoughts

  1. Does my own reaction to this story differ from how I view a middle school spectrum program which is already blended like that at McClure? 
  2. Does tracking my own child somehow hurt the children left behind in the gen ed classrooms?
  3. How many tracks are needed at the middle school level?
  4. If a school segregates students but does not offer them different curriculum how does this practice not look like a modern form of "separate but equal."?

 As always please be thoughtful in your comments.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Math Thread

I'd been thinking about setting this up and then there was the recent conversation on the last thread about the high school math pathway. I get most of my math obsession out of the system by running the Math Club at Cascadia but I'm always interested how its going for everyone. So how's math this year? Do you have any victories or concerns.  Feel free to keep discussing math pathways or how you're enriching at home.

Things I'm Tracking

  • Sometime in November the new 6th grade placement policy should be shared. I'll open a specific thread when this happens.
  • Middle School math curriculum adoption looks like it may startup again.

Fun Stuff

A few resources I've enjoyed. Feel free to share any of your favorites.


An article by Richard Rusczyk which I think about from time to time  Richard is the head of Art of Problem Solving which has played a significant role in the improvement of elite mathematical training recently (I think most if not all of the recent IMO winning team.used AoPS)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

IB vs IBx

Per a parent's request:
"There was an interesting meeting last night at Ingraham for new IBX ninth grade parents. IB Administration is asking parents/students in IBX to seriously consider delaying start in IB until 11th grade rather than starting in 10th grade. My takeaway was that they believe many (if not most?) IBX students would be better served by not accelerating (although acceleration will continue to be available for this year's cohort).
This actually makes a lot of sense to me but, of course, for the students it will come down to what they already have in mind about the program (are they being slackers if they delay, etc) and what their friends are planning.
Can we have a new thread on this subject?
I would be curious what other 9th grade IBX families are thinking and what wisdom IBX families already in the program can offer.
For context I most recently posted on the same topic as part of the summary of the HCC Advisory Committee. Changes are probably underfoot in the program. This seems to be coming from feedback of current cohort parents as well as the staff.

So what advice do you have for the ninth grade cohort?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Next Generation Science Accelerated Pathways

NGSS just released its recommendations for an accelerated science pathway in high school. I haven't read through it much yet but I think it should be of interest to everyone.

The Accelerated Pathways developers use some of the best practices in gifted education - differentiation, mentoring, curriculum compacting, pacing, and telescoping - to explain and illustrate ways to organize an accelerated program of study. The Accelerated Pathways document also suggests ways to remediate knowledge gaps for students from the regular instructional program who enter the accelerated pathway later than their accelerated peers.
Other strengths include identification of the math skills needed in the accelerated pathway as well as a comparison chart of the shared concepts between the NGSS and AP Science courses, often the only courses available to advanced students. It is not common for educators to recommend acceleration as an appropriate choice for advanced learners. However, the developers embrace acceleration for our most highly able science students and provide specific direction to schools and districts on how to develop and deliver course content that is appropriate for those students who are ready and eager for curriculum that far exceeds the traditional course offerings.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

2015 Advanced Learning Testing

Today is the deadline for nominating a child for an advanced learner designation.  By coincidence I received a mail from Stephen Martin indicating the new FAQ about the testing process for this year is up  at:  He also said to tell him if any important questions are still unanswered.  So I'll collect anything posted in this thread that requires factual clarification and forward them on.

Appeals Process Info:

Superintendent Procedure 2190SP Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Programs is in the process of being re-examined, revised and updated through the equity lens. OSPI has been asked to provide guidance. The draft will be presented to the Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Committee in November, and will be made available for community comment thereafter for a period of two weeks.

CoGat7 Info:

In the meantime, I know this is alway a source of discussion for incoming parents.  Feel free to discuss anything about the process this year.

Scheduling Update

From the SPS website:

Advanced Learning testing appointments that were sent out late on Wednesday were in some cases not delivered due to a service outage. We received the following message this morning:

Seattle School Email being blocked

Outage Date & Time: Thursday,October 15

Total Duration: ongoing

Return to Service: Thursday,October 15 – Estimated time to be cleared: 1:00 pm

Services Affected:

SeattleSchool District emails are currently being blocked or delayed by mostoutside email companies (,,

Many appointment letters were undeliverable. We will resend the appointments later this afternoon. If your child was scheduled for testing on Saturday October 17 and you do not receive an appointment, we will reschedule for another date as soon as systems return to normal.
Please be patient while we address these technical issues. Rest assured that all on-time referrals will be honored.
See Testing Schedule Here

Specific testing times are assigned by the Wednesday prior to the testing date. Email notifications are sent to the address on file. NOTE: Students requiring IEP or 504 accommodations will be contacted individually. They will not be tested on the Saturday schedule.
For students in grades 9-12, applications for The Fall/Winter Testing Session 2015-16 to determine eligibility for school year 2016-17 will be available in January.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

10/6 HCS Advisory Meeting

I attended the advisory committee meeting tonight so I could publish some notes for the wider community. There were maybe 20 odd folks in attendance in the library at WMS.


1. A talk from Stephen Martin head of Advanced Learning which touched on enrollment, the new testing procedure for screening this year and the West Seattle Pathway focus group.

2. The beginning of the planning process for the report to the superintendent for this year.

3. A call for unfilled positions on the committee.


Note from Advanced Learning on the Saturday Testing (look on the  middle of the page)

Key Takeaways

1. Garfield may max out of capacity next year and there are some early meetings going on at JSIS about this.  Note: none of the decision making on pathways etc. is controlled by advanced learning.

2.  Spectrum is going to be renamed to the more straight forward Advanced Learning over time. This is solely a nomenclature issue. Note single domain Advanced Learner qualification is starting this year.

3. Prior to the WAC requirements the district didn't even track how many HCC students there were past Middle School. They are now doing so.

4. Screening for qualification is being moved to Thurgood Marshall and Cascadia because of difficulties booking the space in JSIS. They expect to screen 650 kids a day over a series of Saturdays. It is possible to arrange special arrangements if that schedule is not possible. For the younger children the screen process will be used to keep the testing time around hour and there will be  a callback for the rest of the test if  the screen is passed. Interestingly AL is directly consulting with the CogAt test author (David Bowman?) on the proper use of the instrument.  The result percentiles will probably be normed to either regional or national standards and not local ones which are considered too high.

5. Advanced Learning is moving forward on setting up West Seattle High School pathway. "Eventually this will not be a choice." There is no timeline associated with this effort yet.  Its possible an equivalent to Ingraham's program will be established at Sealth as well. This as I mentioned before sounds like its still in the early discussion phase.

6. Staff at Ingraham are contemplating changes in the 2020 class timeframe or later to the IBx program. Essentially based on the current cohorts feedback they want to delay entry into IB until junior and senior year and have the cohort do a tracked set of classes in ninth together and then in tenth take pre-IB and honors classes  This was motivated by the feeling that an extra year of maturity leads to better outcomes and among other things this would solve the difficulties in creating a workable senior year. There was talk at the meeting about letting students accelerate on an individual basis. This is also still in the discussion phase.

7. If you're interested in volunteering on the committee there are open positions for Secretary, Washington MS rep and Diversity rep. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

October Open Thread

One full week down, and the rest of the year to go.

News: Tentative School Makeup Dates for the strike

2e Support Group Meeting: The first 2015/16 meeting is this coming Monday 10/12 in the Lincoln High School library in Wallingford from 7-9PM.

"This first meeting will be wide open for your beginning-of-the-year questions and concerns. Whether you are new to the group or an old timer, come and share your experiences with other parents going through the same things. We are one another’s experts! Share your frustrations, learn new things, and bring a sense of humor—it always helps. :-) If we have a large number of attendees we can break out into groups (by age or by area of difficulty, such as ADHD, learning disabilities, autism spectrum, etc) to compare notes."

The first HCC Advisory Committee is scheduled for 6:30-8PM Tue. 10/6 at Washington Middle School.  I'm looking for anyone who is willing to go in the future and write up a post on what occurs.

Math: I sent a mail to Anna Box the head of the Math dept. inquiring about 6th grade placement. The new policy is currently being drafted and sent around to the principals with the expectation it will be announced in a month or two. I'll try to stay on top of this and open a thread when real details come out.

Reminder: The deadline for Advanced Learning Evaluation is coming up in only a few weeks (10/8)  SPS Advanced Learning.  I'll also open a thread discussing evaluation etc. some time soon.

Middle School Curriculum Project.  I have the following page permanently on the top of the blog. Now that middle school is starting, if you're interesting in documenting and improving the curriculum please log what your students are doing there.

What's on your minds?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Day of School (At Last)

We're finally starting the year tomorrow 9/17!  I'm excited enough to put this post out one day early.


1. Many activity signups have not changed despite the delay in the starting date. Most important for our purposes: the deadline for Advanced Learning Evaluation is coming up in only a few weeks (10/8)   SPS Advanced Learning.

2. Middle School Curriculum Project.  I have the following page permanently on the top of the blog. Now that middle school is starting, if you're interesting in documenting and improving the curriculum please log what your students are doing there.

3. Million Hits! This one is just for fun. But I've put the counter on the top for the next week or so because we're about to pass the 1 million mark.

So how is the first day going?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Teacher Strike

As of this morning there is still no agreed upon contract and one day left until school starts.

News Stories:

Just in: which contains the following info:

"The district hopes to decide by the end of the day Tuesday whether to cancel school on Wednesday, said district spokeswoman Stacy Howard."

Several news outlets are now reporting that there will be a strike tomorrow via twitter. Also there are several threads on

Since the teachers have announced a strike schedule through Friday it doesn't look like
any settlement is possible until at least next week.

Please share your thoughts and what backup activities you're setting up for you kids.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Garfield and Ingraham Course Scheduling

Per a parent's request this thread is for discussing the difficulties in scheduling the desired classes at the high schools. 9th grade languages seem to be particularly affected. Although this issue is not HCC specific it certainly affects the cohorts.

I have 2 general  requests:

1. Please remember to be to kind to your fellow parents.  We're all in this together.
2. If someone would  be willing to email Ted Howard and find out an official position on language classes and repost it  that would be helpful.

Monday, August 17, 2015

2014-2015 Standardized testing results released

The statue superintendent just released the SBAC scores this morning.  You can follow the link  OSPI Report for Seattle Public and drill down by school.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August Open Thread

The new school is starting to get closer.  I'm sure there are some questions bubbling out there. Also if anyone has any resources they'd like posted I'll add them here. What's on your minds?

Info for the new year

Bios for the new staff hires at JAMS: newstaff
Lincoln School Supply List: supplies

Reminder: please use an alias if you post anonymously.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lincoln Seismic Upgrades

As I mentioned I've dug up some of the data on seismic mitigation in the Lincoln building for those who are curious/worried.

  1. Again to establish the context BEX IV has seismic work scheduled for 37 building in the district. So your neighborhood reference school may also be slated for improvements.
  2. Back in 1997 the central and north wing were upgraded already this includes bracing, anchors, reinforced sheer walls etc. Note: the South wing which currently contains Licton Springs is unmodified. 
  3.  As part of the renovation of Lincoln back into a high school there are 3.7 million dollars worth of updates expected. This is spread out among all 4 buildings on the property. 
  4. Among the further improvements in the central and north section are more post and beam ties, additional load bearing columns to provide redundant support, masonry wall reinforcements, investigation of the veneer ties to see if they are adequate and other masonry repairs.
PCS 2009 Study Link coming soon when I hear back that its ok to repost - Note: the dollar amounts are not accurate.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Open Thread

We're now in the midst of the Summer break. I hope everyone's having a great time. 

I've been thinking a lot about the new state budget:   This will bring some real changes to the education landscape.  Among them are money for class size changes, a special grant to help rehabilitate some school building in our district, and tuition decreases at the college level that have a significant effect on the GET program.

Update: the class size issue is still very much in the air:

What's on your mind?

Please remember to use a pseudonym when posting anonymously. I don't want to start moderating comments to enforce this rule.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Capacity Planning (peering into the tea leaves)

Since its come up again let's talk about capacity in its own thread.


There has not been much official change in the plans for HCC on the north side. Construction has started on the Wilson Pacific site and the school board recently chose names for the buildings

Here's the project status page with the latest excerpt:

May 2015

The City issued the Master Use Permit, the demolition permit and the grading permit. The notice to proceed was issued to Lydig, the contractor, regarding the early work bids for abatement, demolition, earthwork and murals relocation. The site has been completely fenced and abatement has begun in the gym and cafeteria buildings. Work continued on other construction documents and the easement application for 92nd Street on the west side of the site. Advertisements were made for the structural bid package. Lydig is prepping for the bidding process for mechanical, electrical and plumbing work.

And for completeness here's the Lincoln Building  schedule:
Note: construction is still slated for June 2018

As you can see the current Cascadia building has less total capacity (660) already than next year's estimated student body size per Rina (800)

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Open Thread

There are only 2+ weeks of school left and probably only half of those will be instructional in nature given all the end of the year events. How did this year go? What were the highlights and are there any things that you wish to improve next year.

Admin Note: I'll try to spawn a new open thread when the number of comments crosses a threshold where its hard to view on a phone. Also I've put up a tracking page for the middle school curriculum at This is mostly for next year but if you're interested in starting now feel free to add some data points.

Also please either use an authenticated identity or at least a consistent pseudonym when posting.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

IBx at Ingraham High School end of the year wrap up

A reader asked "The first IBx cohort is graduating from Ingraham on June 8. I would like to hear from the parents about how they feel about their and their child's experience. This cohort took a chance and I want to say that I appreciate the students and the amount of support I have received from the parents."

Let's expand that a little bit. For anyone in any of the cohorts not just the seniors feel free to add how the year went. I remember there was a bit of  angst over the English pathway at the beginning of the year. Did that end satisfactorily?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Moderator Introduction

I've agreed to take over moderating this blog along with Julie as a backup. So I thought a quick introduction would be in order. First, I'd like to thank Greg for all the work he's done maintaining the site. I've found it invaluable over the last few years and I volunteered in order to maintain it as a resource for the community.  I think its extremely important at times to have a censorship free forum to discuss news and make connections.

I've been involved with HCC program for the last two years. I have a 3rd grader at Lincoln and my main (elementary school related) passion is mathematics.  As of this year, I started volunteering and running the after school Math Club for fourth and fifth graders. So if you have a rising third or fourth grader feel free to shoot me an email if you're interested. Julie is the mother of a student at Thurgood Marshall. So we'll have a representative of both programs.

Moving forward, I don't really plan to change any of the policies or type of posts that already are occurring. I've always posted under an authenticated identity myself and I would put out one plea that if you feel comfortable to do so as well or at least use a consistent pseudonym.  At the same time, if there is anything you'd like done differently, feel free to comment below. I'm open to suggestions.

Thanks and I hope to make some new contacts in this process.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Looking for a new moderator

When the district first said it wanted to split APP, way back at Lowell Elementary in 2009, Andrew Siegel started this blog. His goal was to provide a open forum for APP parents to discuss APP.

Later that year, Andrew added me as a moderator. I've mostly been running the blog since 2009. Now, we're looking for another moderator to add and mostly take over.

That moderator probably should be someone who does not already run a major forum (including the PTAs and APP AC), would continue to keep comments almost entirely unmoderated (aside from deleting spam), and at their core believes in the idea of making this a place for open discussion among parents to help parents.

The time commitment isn't much more than a couple hours a week, mostly reading all the comments that come in, occasionally deleting spam that gets through the filters and restoring comments that incorrectly get labeled as spam, and doing a posts on topics parents ask for, district policy changes, or open threads.

If you are that person and want to take this on, please comment here or e-mail me at Please also free to discuss this blog, moderation of the blog, and other good forums for discussion here in the comments.

Friday, May 8, 2015

How's the blended model?

By request, a thread to discuss how the new blended model (blending APP with Spectrum or gen ed) at Fairmount Park is going. Parents happy with it?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Open thread

It's May. Summer is coming up fast! What's on your mind?

School board candidates and advanced learning

There are several people running for school board. It's not clear if any will read this thread, but let's start a discussion assuming at least some of them might. What would you like to say to the school board candidates about APP/HCC and, more broadly, advanced learning?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Open thread

Here's a new open thread for talking about anything you like! Please use the two threads below to talk about trying to decide which school to pick and talking about appeals, but, anything else, chat about it here.

Decisions, decisions

Based on interest in the open threads, here's a new thread for talking about what school — public or private, APP or not APP — you are favoring for your children for next year. Please use this as well to ask and talk about the situation at a particular school with other parents.

Discussing appeals

Based on interest in the open threads, here's a new thread to discuss appeals, the appeal process, and receiving the results of appeals when they come in. Please also use this if you want to talk with other parents about not getting accepted but not appealing and maybe trying again next year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Open thread

Other than test scores coming in (please use the thread below for discussing that), what else is on your mind?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Another open thread

Clearly what's on your mind is eligibility test scores coming in!

There's a large number of comments on this thread already from parents receiving test scores and wanting to discuss the scores and next steps with other parents. Let's convert this thread to be about that.

Please join in if you're interested in talking with others about the test scores or can help out some of the new parents who have questions.

It's March! What's on your mind?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Open thread

Early February, but it feels like spring in Seattle! What's on your mind?

Choosing APP/HCC

Some new parents seem to be wondering whether to choose APP/HCC right now, including what other good alternatives are available. Let's open a new thread to talk about that.

New parents, please ask questions. Current APP parents and other new parents grappling with the same questions, please chime in if you can help.

Capacity and facilities

There seems to be a lot of interest in capacity issues in the district, including whether where APP/HCC is placed helps or hurts broader capacity issues and where APP/HCC is likely to end up over the next 2-4 years. Let's open a new thread to discuss that further.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Open thread

How are things going?

More loss of Spectrum for blended classrooms

Looks like McClure Middle School is dropping Spectrum and honors classes. From a letter to parents:
Next year the McClure Language Arts Department will be joining the rest of our departments at McClure and mirroring the advanced learning policies within our feeder schools. We are establishing a "blended" or "clustered" model in which all of our students who have been Spectrum-identified and our General Education students will be blended into the same Language Arts classrooms. There will no longer be separate Spectrum and General Education classes.

There are many reasons behind this modification, not the least of which is our commitment to the concept of growth mindset - the researched-validated principle that we can teach students that their success in school is not stagnantly based on their past but, with grit and perseverance (and a supportive, intentional school environment) all of our students can and will grow. We have looked at testing, classroom performance and discipline data and found that the array of skills, behaviors and challenges in both of these "tracks" are similar. All of our Language Arts teachers are currently teaching (or have taught in the recent past) both sets of students and our curriculum for both Spectrum and General Education courses have already been aligned. Finally, our teachers are spending this school year and this summer to collaboratively develop differentiated lessons, assessments, projects and activities to support and challenge all of our learners.
As the letter says, they are mirroring the broader trend in Seattle Public Schools of eliminating separate classrooms for advanced learning (and especially Spectrum). What do you think?