Monday, February 9, 2015

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.

42 comments :

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the math behind the previous comment that disbanding APP at Lincoln would send 10 kids back to each elementary school. By my count there are 26 elementary schools above the shipping canal, and approximately 700 kids currently at Lincoln. Assuming the kids at Lincoln are pulled evenly from the elementary schools, which I don't think is true, that would be 27 kids going back to each school. If APP pulls disproportionately, disbanding APP would play havoc with enrollment numbers at the elementary schools.

Is there any public information about the "home" schools of the current Lincoln kids?

Lynn said...

There's data on last year's students. Page 9 of this document lists the attendance area schools of students at Lincoln. You are correct to suspect that assumption - Bryant sent 74 students to Lincoln last year. I doubt Bryant has three empty classrooms waiting for these kids to return.

More data on APP enrollment is available here.

Megan Hazen said...

Maybe there is the assumption that there would be private school flight.

Anonymous said...

What private school has room? From our experience, and from people we have talked to, there seems to be a belief that private schools are full, too.

SPS seems to be doing such a good job at chasing people out that the private schools are now full, too.

-potential leaver

Anonymous said...

Private middle schools at least appear to be going through a phase of strategic plan thinking re: do they grow. However, like SPS, most of the city private schools are space challenged. Where would U Prep grow? Where would Northwest grow?

The issues are undoubtedly the same for private elem. A lot of the small Montessori schools are integrated right into neighborhoods, without extra space for another building or wing. Where would Pacific Crest (Montessori elem grow?) These schools have full lots already, and they don't want to make their class sizes noticeably larger - so the whole "the APP kids would go to private school" - not going to happen.

The makeup of kids in private schools might change as schools can become increasingly choosy about their admissions, but they aren't really in a position to admit noticeably more students.

Signed Math Counts

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anon at 8:46. The idea that elementary schools could take these APP kids back is bogus, as the data Lynn linked to (thanks!) support.

But why are we talking about this again??? Is there some indication that SPS is planning to send most APP kids back to their neighborhood schools? I haven't seen anything to that effect--but if it's out there, please post a link!

Is this based on the ideas of a few posters that the district is planning to shrink eligibility criteria, making it harder to qualify for HCC? Again, I'd love to see where you have evidence of that. I doubt it's true, but if it were, SPS would also then need to develop an actual HCC curriculum, since the kids in the more selective program would, as a whole, need a more rigorous curriculum than what's currently offered.

And what's up with this discussion of using 3 SDs from norm as the cut-off? If we have 50,000 kids, a program that serves 0.1% of them would mean only about 50 kids--total, spread over 13 grades! How on earth is that supposed to work??? I'd be much more in favor of a cut-off that pulled out the top 1% or so, or even 2%. You need numbers high enough to make it feasible from both academically and socially.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

We couldn't get our kid into private elem school -- there just aren't many spots after K. The schools are full. I agree that private school flight is not a realistic possibility (unless parents are willing to drive to the Eastside, where there are spots).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Lynn. Very interesting data. Fascinating to see which schools people pick, and not just APP.

Anonymous said...

The number "we have 50,000 kids" is a misleading starting point.

There are over 70,000 kids in Seattle. Only about 70% (and these are rough numbers from memory) attend SPS. About 30% of the kids in Seattle attend private school or homeschool.

BUT ALL THOSE KIDS ARE ELIGIBLE TO TEST IN TO APP.

Every year kids who were not being served well in private school move into APP - many private schools are very similar to old-fashioned Spectrum in the level of work and achievement of students, but there are always kids who are outliers and need more.

So the proper number to predict yield from is NOT 50K, but 70K.

Lynn said...

I find the information on schools that retain their APP students (in Spectrum and ALO programs) interesting too. (This was compiled for the highly capable task forces.)

Lynn said...

Yes - I think we've allowed ourselves to be dragged into a meaningless discussion of disbanding or shrinking the cohort. Contrary to the wishes of some people, there's no evidence any changes are in the works.

I think the relevant issues are capacity at Wilson Pacific for all of north end elementary APP and high school capacity in general (everywhere except the south east region.)

Lynn said...

Sorry - me again. Only the K-8 students in that 70,000 number are eligible to test for and join APP.

Anonymous said...

Every year kids who were not being served well in private school move into APP - many private schools are very similar to old-fashioned Spectrum in the level of work and achievement of students, but there are always kids who are outliers and need more.

So the proper number to predict yield from is NOT 50K, but 70K.


Wait, so you think all the HCC-qualified kids go the SPS route instead of private school? We left HCC for private, and I know a lot of other people who did the same. As HCC gets weaker and weaker, I suspect many families will continue to do the same. I know a lot of HIMS APP families who recently switched to private, and I have not heard that any regret it (lighter pocketbooks and all). The idea that "private schools are more like Spectrum and don't really provide the level of rigor that HCC kids need" is all well and good, but if HCC isn't providing that either--which seems to be the case for many--at least with private schools you have better teacher:student ratios and greater leverage as a "client." In our experience, many private schools are willing to work with you to better meet your kids' needs. In SPS you're pretty much guaranteed that won't be the case.

Anonymous said...

Outliers are NOT well-served in HCC.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

HIMS mom, readers on this blog by now understand that has been your experience.

I feel the need to note that in our ELEMENTARY experience, extreme outliers in APP are better served than even modest outliers in our neighborhood school.

Anonymous said...

"I feel the need to note that in our ELEMENTARY experience, extreme outliers in APP are better served than even modest outliers in our neighborhood school."

That may be true in some cases, but it really isn't the point. My comment was in response to the idea put forth by someone else that HCC will be a better fit for outliers than private schools would be. I don't know that there's any good evidence to support that. Perhaps some extreme outliers find that SPS's HCC really is the best of the best available to them, but that hasn't been what we've seen. I know several families who left HCC middle school for HS at Lakeside, as well as several HCC families who left HCC in HS for early college entry, and all did so because HCC wasn't meeting the needs of their kids--and all are happier now. HCC has been moving away from acceleration, faster pacing and above-grade-level standards, with a new focus on meeting grade-level standards "more deeply," whatever that means in practice. And the HCC curriculum, to the extent it exists, is NOT really designed for extreme outliers, at least for middle school and up. Additionally, there's not a lot of willingness within the AL office or HCC schools to work with families to accommodate any individual needs. But perhaps at the elementary school level HCC is truly the best fit for extreme outliers, better than private? I'd be curious to hear what those who have experience with both APP/HCC and our local gifted private elementary schools think.

To your different but unrelated point, is HCC a better fit for extreme outliers than neighborhood schools are for modest outliers? It probably depends on the the school and the kid, although in general both scenarios would likely have the kid underchallenged.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

HIMS Mom-

Didn't your child enter APP as a MS kid? I only wonder because that might give you a different viewpoint on the program.

In our experience so far, APP elementary was FAR stronger than MS (our child started in 1st at Lowell). We left HIMS because it was so bad.

In elementary, we did get differentiated instruction and my kid got a mostly good education. My kid could have done with more acceleration, but that would likely have been true many places. Overall, we were happy with the teachers (all are gone now except one) and some of the curriculum (didn't like the math, science kits or reading/writing workshop).

We knew families who joined APP elementary from both SCD and Evergreen, and we were told APP was more rigorous. It used to be APP had higher admission requirements, but now that SPS is using the awful MAP, I don't know. I understand that the WJ is supposed to be a more effective achievement indicator than MAP. This information is a little old since our kid is now in MS.

Former HIMS

Anonymous said...

My child is fairly frustrated with the low expectations in the middle school APP LA/SS, and the slow pace of science. I don't consider my child an extreme outlier in APP and think most students could handle higher level work - more advanced literature selections and writing/analysis, and coverage of much, much more history and science content.

I've given up hope of improvement at this point. Do teachers developing the APP curriculum have any gifted training or experience beyond teaching a year or two of APP classes? The unwritten traditional MS sequence has been gutted for project based learning and so called "deeper" learning. Plus, they have no texts. Nothing. The exception is probably WMS that had texts prior to the split.

They used to have World Literature texts for reading period literature - classes might read excerpts of the Aeneid or Dante's Inferno. They read a full Shakespeare play. Way back when, they read the Odyssey in full.

This year my child's class has read a few short stories (because that's what can be photocopied), a memoir that was maybe a 4th-5th grade reading level, and a self-selected novel (gotten from home). The only challenge was provided by having choice in the novel read (is that how they are differentiating?). Once again, no texts or classroom collections of more complex reading material.

Is it different in non-APP classrooms, or is this just the state of SPS at this point?

Anonymous said...

@12.58 - what school?

The thing I don't understand about LA/SS is why don't they have a defined curriculum - certain texts that they study. That just seems so basic and fundamental that I can't understand why it just seems to be teachers picking there own random things or analyzing TED talks etc as I've been hearing about.
Is this what happens at all MS - (gen ed as well) or is it peculiar to APP? If there are defined texts etc for gen ed to study then why aren't the APP classes using this as a basis (e.g. moving quicker- doing couple of years ahead as for math)?
What do other districts do? What do the private schools study in MS for LA/SS.

Anonymous said...

To get back to CAPACITY, what this thread is about, the answer is that APP/HCC is THE pressure relief valve the District has.

By 'volunteers' choosing to leave their neighborhood, that means it is one less student that neighborhood school has to serve, which in so many cases, means the difference between having space for some outdoor play activities, or, surrendering that ball court for yet another portable.

As was said in the prior open thread, APP/HCC is what is saving dozens of other schools from sinking. Not all schools in the whole system, but, as it happens, the ones that are the worst off in terms of overcrowding. The previous BEX money focused on K5s in the south, they have some great buildings, and, they also have some capacity left over. Not a lot, but some. It is the north and west Seattle that is precarious. It is those regions who are held afloat by the space left by the exiting volunteers.

If elementary HCC students were not volunteering to leave the heavily crowded NW and NE schools, those schools in turn would have massive problems. They all can't just put down more portables, and, even if they could, is that optimal for the student learning experience? Because, the school's CORE (cafeteria, gym, number of bathrooms, space in the library, number of books and computers in the library) doesn't change. Adding more staff or more sq ft via a portable does not mean the school can 'keep up' with the number of bodies to service. It is not an endlessly elastic thing. And, that doesn't even speak to the crowding in the halls or lack of playground space.

All of our neighborhood schools are connected, change one boundary, and, you've changed at least one other school's boundary. But, more likely, you've had to redraw all of them. The boundary system is patchwork quilt, if one patch is broken then all of the other patches are affected too. And, with every single boundary redraw, comes forcibly split families, which is anathema to supporting children and families and schools. Families can choose to send their kids to different schools for lot of great reasons, but, to forcible split apart a family who is seeking a non-option, attendance area 'guaranteed' seat by switching their address seems to be the one thing this District really, really ought to avoid. How can one family support 2 different PTAs and opt-in to participate as much as possible, when 2 kids are pushed into 2 different places?

To focus in on 1 example, about how inflexible and maxed-out our system truly is, and how 'volunteers' who choose to leave help everyone who wants to stay and have a stable experience get that stability, think about the 'south' northwest.

Anonymous said...

For example, Adams is out of space. Cannibalizing their music room? What kind of a solution is that? And yet, that is what has been happening to so many of our K5s. What does that do to student learning? Art on a cart? Why must we think of music and/or art as a 'luxury'? That is how bad things have become in many of our K5s. Adams does not have a classroom to spare to accept 'back' any or even half of their resident APP/HCC students. If some of them did come back, how would it work? No music room, and, another portable. BUT Ballard is GROWING! More housing units in that great neighborhood mean MORE KIDS. Which means more kids are headed to Adams. So, Adams redraws boundaries? How? Whittier is FULL (struggling to retain their preschool). Loyal Heights is FULL. BF Day is full. And, at its back and side, Adams has water. So, you could push Adams' problem of mismatched size-of-school to numbers-of-resident-children northward and eastward to mitigate, only, those neighboring schools themselves have capacity problems. And the neighboring schools of the neighboring schools have capacity problems (JSIS, McDonald, Bagley, North Beach, etc). In theory, you could enlarge Adams. Add another story? Really? with what money, oh, and, it was recently renovated.

Here was where last year's APP/HCC students left from (north + Queen Anne/Magnolia). Look at this list. These schools are full. Any school with a portable is a school that has no more space in the building. JSCEE facility people don't land expensive portables just for fun. They do so because it is necessary. Sacagawea got 5 portables. 5. Some schools can't accept portables. In a way, they are lucky, because they won't end up like Schmitz Park.

Adams 29
B.F. Day 28
Daniel Bagley 26
West Woodland 24
Catharine Blaine22
Laurelhurst 22
McDonald 21
North Beach 21
Sand Point 21
Whittier 21
Lawton 20
John Rogers 19
Loyal Heights 18
Green Lake 15
Olympic View 15
Frantz Coe 14
Broadview-Thomson13
Greenwood 10
John Stanford Int'l 10


(posting numbers because SSD links are known to disappear)

While the point of all of this should be education, for ALL children, the data shows that redistributing the bodies out of the most crowded areas has prevented a domino collapse, which would affect ALL families. Because, we are all interconnected, which happens to be one of the best things about public education in the first place.

WP

Anonymous said...

Thanks, wp! It's a little tiresome reading about LA/SS in middle school on every thread!

Anonymous said...

wp, did you intentionally leave the NE elementaries off the list? (Bryant, VR, WW)?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:11pm, we get it. APP/HCC is the relief valve. Is your point that APP won't be shrinking anytime soon because of this? I think most on this thread agree with you on that. Those who think we're moving toward much more restrictive eligibility criteria seem to be in the minority, and have yet to provide anything to back that up.

Or are you trying to make some other point?

Anonymous said...

The top part of the list (accidently cut off):

Bryant 74
View Ridge 54
Wedgwood 36
John Hay 32

All of those schools are completely full.

Think about the region of QA/Mag. Hay and Coe and QAE are FULL. CBk8 is FULL. Over in Magnolia, Lawton is FULL. They are surrounded by water. Just 32 students is what it takes to break not just a school, but, a whole region. It is that fragile now. Thanks, Banda. Thanks, MGJ. Thanks, Board, for letting it get this bad with zero accountability. Way to go, Mr. DeBell! The staff made you, the Board, look at trees, so, you never thought to ask about the whole forest. And, the staff are still doing that to you.


The point is to highlight that APP/HCC exiting students who go to a cohorted program elsewhere are vital to maintaining the brittle facilities issues from breaking. Agree or disagree, that is the point. Something to consider.

It is not how many APP/HCC students existing, the program itself is valid and mandated in state code, but the little secret that staff don't talk about is how its mere existence saves other schools from sinking. That is the point. That is the intersection between capacity/facilities/APP-HCC.

So yes, from a purely capacity standpoint, APP/HCC is THE vital tool to redistribute bodies to maintain equilibrium. But hey, people will still hate the program regardless, that much is obvious.

And yes, private schools are full too. They accept something like 1 in every 8 or 10 applications. Even the Catholic school down the street, who surly wants to take ALL Catholic children, had to turn away many kids because they don't have any more room and simply cannot expand.

When you say 'we get it', actually, you might, a few readers on this blog might, but it seems very clear that the School Board President does not get it at all (nore do many of her colleagues). And, she is the one with the power and control who can throw the system into chaos. Not good for student learning.

wp

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that there are more kids in Seattle and the numbers are expected to increase. Good news - Seattle is a vibrant and desirable place to live and people are moving here (or staying here with kids) with some faith in the schools rather than moving to the suburbs. The APP population has doubled in the last 5 years, whether by design, changing (reduced) entrance requirements or just more smart kids. The 700 plus kids at Lincoln is a capacity relief valve right now because they are housed in an enormous building and the ever larger cohort has also been allowed room to expand with JAMS coming online. The real barrier is coming with very large cohort currently in middle school, starting next fall. Will the district be able to find enough room in high schools by peeling off the running start students from the head count? Look at these numbers for Garfield - Seattle is growing everywhere - good news!

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2015/02/with-more-kids-on-the-way-in-central-seattle-schools-readying-tt-minor-meany-construction-projects/

Anonymous said...

@ wp, is there a proposal out there to send HCC kids back to their neighborhood schools? Yes, that would definitely create chaos, but I haven't heard about anything in the works... There are those who dislike the HCC, sure, but I can't imagine they would get very far in trying to disband it at this point. Such efforts would likely fail the feasibility test right off the bat!

@ Former HIMS, yes, my child joined the cohort in middle school. I suspect HCC is stronger in elementary school--and it may even be the best bet for extreme outliers in those early grades. It will be interesting, however, to see what happens when the middle school scope and sequence realignment eventually percolates down to elementary school --since you can't really have HCC 6th graders working on 6th grade standards, but HCC 5th graders working on 7th grade standards! If they proceed with weakening the elementary level program as well, demand for HCC may in fact start to shrink, putting more pressure on neighborhood schools.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I've always wondered how it would affect capacity if assignment to Garfield was taken out of the equation for MS choices. Would students be more likely to stay in their neighborhood MS if they felt it was adequate (and advanced math options were still available)? The advantages of APP MS have a lot to do with access to accelerated math and science classes, the cohort, and increased HS options.

Anonymous said...

Does SPS want more kids in their neighborhood MS? They must be thrilled some otherwise Eckstein kids are going to JAMS.

Anonymous said...

There are just more kids than seats, APP or not. They've been able to manage the capacity through this year with the ever growing APP cohort at Lincoln and JAMS, but I don't see any obvious increase in seats at high school, except Rainier Beach? It will be interesting to see what happens, and there does seem to be some credibility to the idea that Garfield numbers were manipulated this year to create room by taking out Running Start students who had not been taken out before. Does Garfield have more Running Start students than Roosevelt? A few years ago when Garfield was way oversubscribed I knew several kids that had to take Running Start classes because Garfield had run out of room in their schedule. Perhaps that will be another relief they'll use at the high school level.

Lynn said...

If they want to use running start to relieve pressure on the high schools, they should consider providing yellow bus transportation between the high schools and the community colleges and paying for the necessary textbooks.

Anonymous said...

For all the talk of HCC being a safety valve and a capacity tool, it's never been presented as such anymore than have plans to shrink the cohort. No one seems to know how the folks downtown feel or what they are considering. It isn't even apparent that there is any limit to the size of HCC. Applications are so high this year that letters are delayed. Requirements to qualify are at an all-time low. Private testing must be doing a land-rush business with parents not knowing district test results. CogAt test-prep is no doubt happening to some extent no matter how dangerous, supposedly a test administrator can spot it and will disqualify the student, never heard of a case, but it's possible.
Also as noted, what happens if Garfield can't take everyone in HCC who wants to go? Haven't heard a peep on that scenario either from the honchos.
Finally, what about the single-subject kids and lack of FRL students? Best practice regarding those groups is seemingly impossible for SPS to implement.
Has the superintendent made any comments on AL yet?

Anonymous said...

Re Garfield capacity:

Maybe I'm a snob, but I suspect a lot of the HCC kids at Garfield don't take that much running start, if they can manage their schedules. First, I doubt the community college courses are particularly harder than the AP courses and other advanced work at Garfield. Second, most of the extremely competitive schools such as Ivy Leagues, Caltech, U Chicago, etc wouldn't give credit for community college classes. Third, most of those kids are super-involved in school leadership activities, music, etc for the "well rounded student" part of their applications - and running start takes you away from school for a significant chunk of time.

Just anecdotal, but I suspect it's not that popular with the HCC/Garfield cohort.

I'd be curious to know - b/c it's a huge high school capacity management tool - and happy to proved wrong. But I took 2 years of foreign language at a major Midwestern university when I was in high school and the Ivy League gave me zippo ...

Anonymous said...

So then there is something attractive about Garfield beyond the advanced math and science? The cohort, the natural advancement to leadership positions, the advanced music, genteel sports domination (thinking tennis, soccer, cross country, swimming and diving), the path well traveled by those who have gone before them, and known to the elite college admissions folks. That is Garfield. It will remain a choice high school destination for HCC/APP.

Anonymous said...

"Garfield...will remain a choice high school destination for HCC/APP."

"Choice" as in "high quality," yes. But how long it will remain an actual choice (option) is yet to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Adding to Anon@8:59pm comments re the appeal of GHS: my kid loves the diversity of the school, loves having the opportunity to meet kids outside of her north-end "bubble". Having travelled from Lowell-HIMS with the same pack of classmates, she was looking forward to expanding her world and has found that big-time at Garfield. It has done wonders for her self-confidence, political awareness, and maturity. There seems to be a strong political element at GHS: my kid joined the ACLU club (meets at lunch); and seems the BSU (Black Student Union), GLBTQ and various feminist issues all have a voice at the school. This past semester several marches and protests were organized in response to current political events. Personal responsibility is highly stressed. This may be the case at most HS - and maybe a function of where GF is located and that its a larger school, I dont know but we (whole family) happy she chose there. Take a look online at the list of GF clubs - there are hundreds and they often meet at lunch, which is convenient. Seems like there's a place for everyone in this school. I agree heartily with the previous posters who noted that HS is about so much more than academics, but FWIW the science, Latin, and SS have been fantastic.
-happy GHS mom
- happy GF mom

Anonymous said...

I have a 5th grader who was tested for HCC and we are expecting him to be eligible. We will need to apply during open enrollment as if he is eligible, although we will not know results from the district testing. I was under the impression if we choose Hamilton (we live in NW) he would be able to enroll. I just read something about tiebreakers on their website, so seems like there is no guarantee for HCC or or nearest HCC site? Should I list other HCC program such as Jane Adams? Also, we know nothing about HCC & Jane Adams. Are people generally happy with Jane Adams HCC teachers etc?
-LC

Star Girl said...

@Anon 8:07
Can you explain how the "requirements to qualify are at an all-time low." I know others have referred to past lowering of thresholds as well.

Can someone link to info or explain in what way the threshold has changed over time? It's my impression that the CogAT 98%+ is the same as ever for HCC but that it's something to do with the MAP score inclusion that's the issue. I'd love to understand more.

I posted this same question in the thread for parents considering APP, in case that's a more appropriate place to discuss it.

Anonymous said...

LC,

Your child will be guaranteed a seat at their assigned HCC site once you receive notice that he has qualified. Tiebreakers for HCC only apply if you request a different site.

Star Girl said...

Are there numbers on kids coming to HCC from Option Schools like Jane Addams K8, Salmon Bay K8, and Thornton Creek?

Anonymous said...

Hi LC at 4:15 pm, re: 6th grade at Jane Addams (JAMS), My 6th grader is satisfied and enjoys his teachers. My feel from talking with other APP/HCC parents is that they are also satisfied at the school. The principal and the PTA are rising to the task of trying to make things work well for all groups that are part of JAMS. I can't speak to various parents' specific feelings about academics, but so far, it seems fine to me. There is a full 6th grade algebra class. LA/SS are blocked so my kid has the same teacher for the two classes which are really one class covering both subjects. The weekly schedule has changed a bit recently but they have 6 classes MTF and 3 classes WTh, like they do at Garfield. So Science plans their labs for block day when they have more time. And I think teachers can plan tests for those days too. There is also advisory period--that is where the schedule change recently happened. It is now 30 minutes per day. Advisory is at the same time for every student, all the various groups are assigned mixed to advisory classes, and they stay with the same advisory teacher for three years. In advisory they can teach skills that the principal wants taught--"ruler" to understand one's emotions. I assume they could teach anti-bullying or whatever else is needed. There is also a 20 minute quiet reading time--part of the new change. Not sure where they do that, in advisory or when. My kid got "stuck" in PE because he is not doing language yet. He really enjoyed PE and made several friends who are now in Art with him. I was glad that PE was focused on the kid trying his/her best not on achieving a standard that may or may not be easy for all. So PE was well-blended. As is music. All in all, we are enjoying JAMS.
JAMSmom

apparent said...

Star Girl,

you are quite right that the qualification requirements for HCC (formerly APP) have not changed within the entire educational span of any student currently enrolled in the program from grades 1 through 12.

The statement by the anonymous poster you query is indeed often repeated, but really it amounts to nothing more than the claim that accepting MAP achievement scores as alternatives to the various other listed standardized tests (e.g. Woodcock-Johnson) is actually equivalent to "lowering the bar." You can take that for what it's worth, but it is a moot point anyway now that MAP is being abandoned. Of course, the same may be said in the future of its SPS replacement.

If you find this information helpful, please feel free to cut and post it into the other thread for parents considering HCC.