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
http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=2336052

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  http://discussapp.blogspot.com/p/middle-school-curriculum-project.html 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?

68 comments :

Anonymous said...

I think I posted this elsewhere, but never saw any response: Is anyone familiar with what the Spectrum program is like at Lowell? Did they ever get a new principal? It'll be our neighborhood school and I've been trying to keep an eye on the goings-on but the website hasn't been updated since June and any online searches mostly pull up stuff from when APP was at Lowell.

-Newish Mom

Benjamin Leis said...

And we hit the 1 million mark.

Lynn said...

Newish Mom,

I don't know anything about Lowell - but here's what I was able to find online:

Lowell has an interim principal: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Friday%20Memos/2015-16/September%2018/20150918_FridayMemo_New2015Principals.pdf

Last year there were 49 Spectrum-enrolled K-5 students in the Washington attendance area. (This is the combined total for Lowell and John Muir.) http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/Section%2010.pdf

Here is a part of the former principal's description of the school's method of assigning students to classes:

When classes are structured, we follow a clear set of guidelines. Classes are formed into intentional heterogeneous groups with the following considerations:

· School-wide teaching and learning goals
· A full range of aptitudes within each class
· An even proportion of abilities and learning styles across the classes at each grade level
· An equal number of pupils in each class on a grade level; an even boy/girl balance
· Resources needed to maximize our efforts to ensure student growth and achievement

Source: http://lowelles.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=1247&pageId=528453

Anonymous said...





The APP/HCC Superintendent's Advisory Committee meeting is next Tuesday, October 6, 2015 at 6;30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the school library of Washington Middle School



Stephen Martin, head of Advanced Learning Programs, will be giving an update

Meetings are always open

Join the email list serve (and to see previous posted emails) by going to https://groups.google.com/d/forum/sps-hcs-ac and click the Join Group button (use link for removals too). Or, email add2hcsemails@gmail.com to join or be removed

Lynn said...

Does anyone know why the group's meeting minutes are not posted anywhere?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the plan is for this year's 5th graders at Lincoln who are not in the JAMS assignment area? I assume they'll go to Hamilton for 6th grade - but then will some or all of them go to Eaglestaff middle school for 7th grade? Will the non-JAMS APP kids be split between Hamilton and Eaglestaff? Or will they all go to Eaglestaff?

And will the district hire the Eaglestaff principal early the way they did with the JAMS principal? Does anyone remember how early the JAMS principal started? Was it 1 year before JAMS opened?

*Eaglestaff is the new middle school that is being built on the Wilson Pacific site (along with the new elementary school).

5th grade parent

Benjamin Leis said...

@Lynn: They are fairly hidden but the minutes can be found here:

http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=14563 in the middle of the page.

Anonymous said...

Re: Missing Minutes

Benjamin, following that link I could only find Minutes from 2014 and earlier. Where are the ones from 2015?

Thanks.

- Wondering

Anonymous said...

Yes, the JAMS principal started a full year before the school opened.

Unfortunately, no one can answer your questions about what will happen to kids a year or two from now. It's possible all of HIMS APP will move to Eagle Staff and it's possible that just some will, depending on capacity and future Board votes.

Keep in mind that the district/Board did not decide who would attend JAMS until the November before it opened, and for the months prior to that vote, NE APP went from being a 6th grade roll up at Marshall to being put at Eckstein to finally being put at JAMS, along with the decision to do a geo-split rather than a roll-up. It was stressful to say the least to not know for several months where things would land!

The community will need to start paying very close attention beginning next fall at the latest, assuming that the Eagle Staff planning principal is hired then. You certainly want time to start the new PTA too. Having to start SNAPP in just two months was harder than starting the JAMS PTA with a year's notice.

signed, split-twice family

Anonymous said...

Start paying attention way before next fall. At this rate I'm not sure there will be room for everyone st Hamilton as soon as next year. It's already packed to the max, and I think the outgoing 8th grade cohort is much smaller than the incoming 5th graders...

Lynn said...

Benjamin,

Those are minutes from the task force meetings - not the HCC Advisory Committee. The HCC-AC used to send their meeting minutes out via the Google group but stopped at least a year ago. I wish they'd post them using Google Docs.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the HCC Advisory Committee, I've been only able to attend a few. It would definitely be nice to have minutes. I did think there was some valuable information shared that is only available if you attend in person.

Does anyone know if we can make a sound recording (or video recording) and post it? A sound recording is pretty easy to make with a smart phone. Generally, it would seem that according to state "open public meetings act" it should be allowed, but I'm not sure if this type of meeting qualifies.

Would that be useful?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how the SBA results are coming home from Lincoln? In the USPS mail, or in backpacks? Should it be this week? They said September, and today is the last day.

LP

Lynn said...

I can't make it to next week's meeting, but I hope someone will ask about the change in testing for kids in grades K-2 this year. They'll be given the CogAT screener first, and if they score in the highly capable range on that, they'll be given the remaining subtests that make up the full CogAT. According to the author of the test, If the same cut score is used on both tests, then many students who would have been admitted had they been allowed to take the complete CogAT, will be excluded. The cut scores for the screener should be much lower.

See the final note on the last page of this document.

Using the screener inappropriately isn't great, but at least a parent can (through the district if qualifying for free or reduced price meals or private test administrators) appeal based on individual IQ testing. Except the appeal process is also being changed this year. You'll see on the advanced learning website that specifics on the appeal process are no longer available. The AL office told me that "The appeal process is being reviewed to align more closely with practices in districts across the state. OSPI has been asked to provide guidance."

Anonymous said...

@Lynn, thank you. This is a huge change and I think many don't realize it is coming. I've had two kids go through the appeal process for APP (HCC) after doing fairly poorly on the Cogat, and I'm concerned about what this would mean for kids like mine, but more pressingly, FRL kids who rely on district-granted access to appeals.

Anonymous said...

On the AL application form, the parent must check a box stating: "I have been provided access to the procedures for identification, program options, and the appeal process (WAC 392-170-047)"

In fact the procedures for the appeal process are not accessible. Saying that there will be a form involved in the appeal process does not, in fact, constitute providing access to the appeal process.

Kindermom

Lynn said...

Kindermom,

I agree. I'm hoping that someone other than me will email advanced learning and ask for access to the procedures for the appeal process. I was not successful but maybe if more people ask they will have to acknowledge that this isn't acceptable.

Here's the thing that really annoys me. Here's a link to the procedure for identifying Advanced Learners and Highly Capable Students. It was reviewed by the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, signed by the superintendent and posted on the district website. The advanced learning staff are not following it. They've made it more difficult for students in K-2 to qualify for either Spectrum or HCC and added a single-subject qualification for grades 3-5 Spectrum students.

Shouldn't they be required to follow the procedure approved by the Superintendent? I suspect that there will be large changes to the appeals process and that they'll make those changes without any public engagement.

Anonymous said...

We have a child that will be tested, but if appeals aren't due until 2016, why is it so important to have the updated appeals procedure now? What am I missing?

Lynn said...

The law requires that the district have a clearly defined and written procedure for appeals. The district does not have one. The district is asking parents to acknowledge they've received information that is not available.

What do you think the appeals process will look like? Do you trust the staff to design a process that is reasonable? Do you think there will be an opportunity for public input if a new policy is announced in January as letters begin to come out? I think this is important because they've just made it much more difficult to qualify through district testing.

Anonymous said...

Does SPS use grade level CogAT or above grade level for testing?

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

The district had a clearly defined procedure for appeals last year. If they are updating it, it seems likely they will have the update ready before the appeals season starts. If your point is that there should be community input into an updated process, and that this requires time, then I agree. But if your point is that parents need to know the appeals process before deciding whether to test, or that the district is currently breaking the law, I'm less certain.

Under the current system, parents can pay an un-certified provider of their choice, to provide individual testing, and they can continue to pay to re-test until they are satisfied with results, and are then allowed to self-submit only the final unverified scores.

I think parents should have the right to appeal. But perhaps the current process might be improved.


Mark

New to SPS said...

As a new parent to SPS, how has the qualification into HCC become more difficult this year? Did they increase the threshold cutoff for Spectrum/HCC? I couldn't find last year's requirements to compare.

Anonymous said...

Mark, the nomination form requires the parent to check a box confirming that they received access to the appeal procedure. You can't submit the form unless you check the box. I haven't gotten access to the appeal procedure -- have you?

Your characterization of the appeal process is biased if not just wrong. Uncertified provider? No. Continue to pay for retests and submission of unverified scores? I've never met a parent who would do something like that to their kid. I'm surprised that you think you have.

Kindermom

Anonymous said...

If you don't want to check the box, then don't. Note on the form that you did not receive access to the appeal procedure, initial your note, and submit the form. You want to ensure your child gets tested, which means submitting the form on time.

DJ said...

Kindermom,

I have a kid at Lincoln. Mark's comments are absolutely correct. There may be some splitting of hairs over Mark's use of the word "uncertified" provider, but after 5 years in APP and more combined years in SPS, I know MANY parents who have gotten their kid into Lincoln after many private tests. In some cases, I guess the 6th or 8th test was the charm. A kid in my child's class was privately tested 6 times between Kindergarten and 1st grade - entered Lincoln in 2nd grade. Why the parent would tell us this, I don't know! The child is now in 5th and still holds the class up. There are many stories like this. There are also many stories where a child should definitely be in APP, but the school administered test didn't qualify them. Maybe they missed it by one point, maybe the test-giver's instructions were bad. Whatever the case, I assume those kids only test once privately not 6 or 7 or however many required to get the "score". This happens quite a bit with younger siblings since parents want them at the same school understandably.

Personally, I don't see that much challenge at Lincoln. This is our 5th year. I think people should be able to self-select into APP and then there needs to be an exit plan or some sort of annual review. The teachers need to be able to exit some children out if they hold up the class. There should be an exit plan regardless of admission criteria. This once you're in, you're in forever thing is crazy. Admissions should also be 100% age-normed not a blend of age and grade normed. There are kids at Lincoln 14 months older than my summer birthday child who started on time (meaning kids born in April were held back). If your kid enters K at 6-1/4 years old and is bored in Kindergarten class, that doesn't necessarily make them "gifted". This red-shirting causes huge issues. Of course, there are cases that make sense.

Lynn said...

If SPS is trying to bring our appeal process into line with other districts, what are other districts doing?

In Bellevue, appeals are allowed based on either specific criteria related to the testing conditions or misapplication or miscalculation of the scores. Illness is not a valid reason for an appeal. Appeals are not allowed for students in grades K-1.

Would this produce better results than the procedure used in Seattle in the past? It depends on whether you consider smaller numbers of students qualifying a better result. Would the children qualifying this way be the most highly capable? Is the ability to perform well in a group oral testing environment a crucial element of giftedness in young children? Are children with anxiety disorders or attention deficits by definition not gifted? Is the CogAT a better indicator of a child's intellectual abilities than an individually administered IQ test? Do children whose IQ scores are higher than their CogAT scores not need highly capable services?

Lynn said...

DJ,

Age-normed achievement tests only make sense if children are grouped in math and reading classes by age. They are not. The cognitive component is age-based and should provide data on whether or not a bored red-shirted kindergartener is gifted.

There is apparantly an exit process - it is mentioned in the procedures and the website. I don't think it includes input from the parents of other students in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

You may not like my description of the appeals process, but its 100% accurate. You can pick any provider you want to test your child. Advanced Learning did have a list of providers on their website, but that was meant as a starting point, and was in no way limiting. Advanced Learning doesn't verify their credentials. Advanced Learning doesn't verify the reported scores haven't been changed. Advanced Learning doesn't verify what norms were used for the scoring. Advanced Learning doesn't ask how many times your child has been tested.

The College Board doesn't allow a process like that with the SAT. The Department of Licensing doesn't allow a process like that with driver's testing. These organizations do allow a paid re-test under the original testing conditions.

As an HCC parent, I support a process that is that is inclusive, that is equitable, and which also defensible. Based on first hand experience, I could never defend the current process.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Mark, I don't really think your anecdotes are the problems AL is trying to solve. You are describing a fringe concern, which you're saying is based on your first-hand experience (YOU did these things that you are describing?) You're accusing parents of cheating to get in to this program. If you believe that is happening, you may want to direct your energies toward the exit criteria or a procedure for formal investigations.

The issues that Lynn is valiantly trying to bring up are much more likely to impact the youngest kids who really, really need this program. If they eliminate private testing, as Lynn asks:

Would this produce better results than the procedure used in Seattle in the past? It depends on whether you consider smaller numbers of students qualifying a better result. Would the children qualifying this way be the most highly capable? Is the ability to perform well in a group oral testing environment a crucial element of giftedness in young children? Are children with anxiety disorders or attention deficits by definition not gifted? Is the CogAT a better indicator of a child's intellectual abilities than an individually administered IQ test? Do children whose IQ scores are higher than their CogAT scores not need highly capable services?

Anonymous said...

Mark, do you think parents should be allowed to nominate their children to take the Cogat more than once?
Also, what solution do you propose to these problems you've encountered?

Anonymous said...

I actually think only allowing parents to nominate their child one time is a good idea. Teachers can after that. Now that kids retain their designation from year to year there is less justification for retesting, I think.

And I actually do think doing away with private appeals would produce a better result overall, in terms of equity and population. Enough better that I think it is ok that we will miss a few kids doing it this way. I do want to make sure that kids with IEP's have highly capable testing accommodations made, for things like attention issues. But we should have been doing that all along instead of just having them seek out private testing, which means just wealthier families would.

Sleeper

Anonymous said...

Well the good news is, those things are actually already against the rules in the CURRENT policy. The provider needs to have a valid license. The tests cannot be retaken within a year and considered valid and the providers know this. If the policy AS WRITTEN is serving the kids it's intended to serve when used ethically and appropriately, the policy is good.

If parents and providers are colluding to subvert the intention of the policy, that's a separate issue from the intention of the policy, and requires a different solution that re-writing the policy.

A bulletproof appeal process is not very realistic given the available resources, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater could do much more harm to potential HCC kids than whomever is sending their kids to take 7 private tests (Good Luck to THEM!)

Anonymous said...

Sleeper, really? You think a kid should get ONE shot at taking ONE high-stakes test, unless nominated by a teacher? Have you seen some of the testing environments and testers for the Cogat as administered by SPS? Have you been to a school with over 50% of teachers hostile to advanced learning? I usually agree with almost everything you write!

Anonymous said...

I know; sometimes I surprise myself. I am not very firm in this opinion, if that helps the feeling of betrayal. But I do think there is both a problem with equity in the current system and that the problem of excessive retakes has started to impact the program too much. I have often thought it is a bit grey area that the kids the the CogAT and then the WISC so close together in the case of appeals, when they are quite similar, and we forbid retakes that close because it artificially inflates the second result.

So I think no appeals might help with those. It is not my first choice, because the cost of overlooking students who clearly need the service is very high. I would prefer smaller class sizes and accountability at neighborhood schools for advanced learners, and believe strongly that would shrink the program, and we could allow appeals all the live long day, and it would rarely be abused (all systems will be abused sometimes), because there would be something besides IN or OUT for advanced learning access. But I don't think that is on the table for next year. I'm actually not that sure getting rid of appeals is on the table. I don't think we really know what they are thinking.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

You can have a great policy and a problematic process. I don’t have a problem with the policy, but I do think the process should be tightened to protect the program integrity.

Our testing provider gave us age-normed instead of grade normed achievement scores. Our K student got a 9% boost simply by switching norms, as she was born in the spring. Our provider said that's what he'd been submitting for 10+ years to the district and never been questioned, that he didn't know he was supposed to submit grade-normed scores and didn't think they made sense. He said I was the first person that ever raised the issue. He was on the Advanced Learning list.

If I were the district, I would at a minimum require testing providers to submit a no-brainer form directly to the district for the appeal. And I would require them to submit all scores intended for appeal, so low scoring results would also be part of the profile. I would also accept age-normed achievement scores for students in k to eliminate the advantage of red-shirting. And I would make the current policy of allowing students to study for the CogAT clear so its fair to everyone.

Perhaps there should be changes in policy as well, but the above changes are simply procedural (with the exception of the age-normed achievement scores) and it seems they could be made very quickly.

Mark

Anonymous said...

This thread has taken a pleasant turn towards sanity :)

H.

Anonymous said...

This washington post article was linked to in the Save... blog:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/22/these-kids-were-geniuses-they-were-just-too-poor-for-anyone-to-discover-them/

Anonymous said...

How can the SBAC be billed as truly adaptive when there is such an obvious ceiling?
I just don't see how this is useful at all for HCC kids.

@Lincoln

Lynn said...

The Smarter Balanced adaptive software is configured to select only from grade-level questions for approximately the first two-thirds of the test. At that point, if the estimate of the student’s achievement level is clearly at the lowest (or highest) level, the question pool is expanded to include (as needed) questions either from below (or above) the student’s grade level. Before being used, out-of-grade questions are screened to make sure they are instructionally and developmentally appropriate. Questions will not exceed or be below two grade-levels from the designated testing grade.


Source: http://vt.portal.airast.org/faqs/

This doesn't seem very useful to me either.

Anonymous said...

We got scores back for the child I allowed to take it, and they were exceedingly dumb. Just some different colored bars with pretty random numbers for the levels and no sense of the meaning, where the kid was or is supposed to be compared to peers. That child talked to some friends, and many of the kids maxed out one or both both sections. It seems like an incredibly low bar.

What a waste. I very much regret putting a kid through taking this last year and am not making that mistake again.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...



Agreed with the posters above. SBAC was a complete waste of time and I also regret putting my child through it. Hopefully It won't be used for middle school alegbra placement. My child also said that the ELA portion of the test was not very well written.

My guess is opt out rates will increase.

If an entire class decides to opt out of ELA portion then does that mean the teacher can teach or will everyone just have silent reading time?

-nh

Anonymous said...

Same here, although sleeper, it does show your child's score as it relates to students at your school. But I agree about the seemingly random numbers, printed in GIANT type, reminding me a bit of a license plate tab renewal. We got the results yesterday and my kid maxed out both sections. It's sad when rather than feeling like that means something positive, I just feel like it was all a massive waste of time and considerable energy.

H.

Anonymous said...

I know, but since as far as I can tell most kids maxed out one or both(at least the ones who were talking about it, who seemed like a pretty random cross section), I don't feel like that gives me any sense of anything. Being at 2493(fictional number) compared to a school average of 2293 means...what, really? Did those kids miss 2 questions or 20 questions? Percentiles would be helpful, or standard deviation(am I supposed to figure that out looking at their error bar?). I wonder if there was a lot of user or interface error in the non-max scores. My kid did not seem to think it ever got any harder, back when they took it.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Look at the scaled scores. Most kids did NOT max out either section.

http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/WASLScaleScore.aspx?domain=SBAC&schoolId=7778&reportLevel=School&year=2014-15&gradeLevelId=3&groupLevel=District&waslCategory=1&chartType=2&yrs=2014-15&subjectType=200

Anonymous said...

Huh. Thank you! I had not seen that. Looks like there was some tall tale telling on the bus. I appreciate seeing the distribution at least.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Our family is moving (back) to Seattle for the 2016-17 school year. I am not entirely clear on the process of applying to HCC for my current 6th and 2nd graders. They both have had recent private testing with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale - both are in the HCC range and there are no deficits (99%ile).
Do they need more tests? How do we proceed with the application process, as a family moving to Seattle from elsewhere in the state.

- Moving Mom

Anonymous said...

Moving mom: they need to participate in district testing. See http://seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=1548870.

Anonymous said...

So I was pleasantly surprised when I got the SBAC scores. I'm not a big proponent of testing by any means and debated opting out, but I was somewhat impressed by the SBAC report - at least it gave me more useful information than the MSP for instance.
I disagree with the posters who said it didn't give them a sense of how their child did. On the contrary, I found it very informative to see how my kid scored compared to the average score of kids in that grade at that school. (this is more relevant than district and state comparisons, which it also contained). And I found the charts, bars, colored graphics quite appealing and straightforward. Sure it was 'pretty' but that doesn't negate the data it contained.
Also, obviously MOST kids were not reaching the ceiling or max score given the average scores for the grade. Can't speak to the quality of the questions and whether they represent a valid measure of skills but if they are, then I find it useful to know where my kid exceeds grade level averages at his school and where kid is weaker/below.
Would have been good to get them sooner.

happy with results

Anonymous said...

I just posted this on the saveseattleschools blog but it should go here as well.

Just received the following email from the JAMS principal (in part):

"Here at Jane Addams Middle School we have experienced lower 8th grade enrollment than projected, which has lead the district to reduce our budget by 2.0 certificated staff with an additional .4 reduction in certificated Special Education staff.

We have an immediate plan to reduce sections of Social Studies, Special Education and Science as well as to shift funding from a variety of areas. We may have the opportunity to delay these changes until the semester. However, if Jane Addams is required to reduce the entire 2.0 FTE, at the semester we will need to make reductions in the above areas as well as in music, world language, and in math. Many student schedule changes will need to occur."

Unbelievable. JAMS opened last year - this is the second year of operations. Virtually all of the 8th graders were relocated from Eckstein or Hamilton and have already experienced enough disruption of their middle school years. You would think that the district would cut some slack in this situation.

How can the district be off by so much?!

Jaded Jaguar

Anonymous said...

The way the district budgets staff has been an issue for years, and I'm not sure you can argue JAMS deserves any special treatment. It's a problem for all schools. It puts principals in the position of gambling with their hiring - should you be conservative in hiring to avoid losing staff, yet take the chance of having less choice in the applicant pool should you need teachers in the fall?...not to mention the disruption to student schedules, etc. JAMS benefitted last year and gained staff based on higher enrollment.

Laurie said...

I wanted to let the community know, in case some of you don't, that a local support group for parents and caregivers of twice exceptional children exists and that the first 2015/16 meeting is this coming Monday, October 12th. We meet in the Lincoln High School library in Wallingford from 7-9PM or so.

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.

Please let me know if you have questions, and please feel free to pass this information along to other interested parents and caregivers!

Laurie Clark Klavins
2e Parent Support Group Leader

Anonymous said...

JAMS did not benefit last year; it pulled in pieces of programs that were paced and pitched at different levels. Promises were made to the geosplit families that their kids could continue in Japanese 3 or continue to progress to Chamber Orchestra or French 2, and that the needs of the ELL, SpEd, Spectrum, General Ed, and HCC students would continue to be met. That meant a lot of bits and pieces that made for a complicated master schedule to provide continuity and also parity of what these kids would have learned if they had not be yanked or diverted away from established communities. It speaks to this District's ability to open complex new secondary schools, and, they had better get it right, because there are 3 additional secondary schools this District is about to open. Failure is not an option. Leaving students in the lurch, failing to provide equitable educational adequacy is not an option. Voiding commitments made to ensure educational adequacy is not acceptable for any child in any building. It is not a benefit to be pushed into starting a new start-up. Making that building functional with appropriate staffing is not an 'extra' or a 'benefit' as you put it; it is a floor, it is a minimum. And, if you do not advocate for this district to keep its commitments and to maintain rational planning, the next building they mess with just might be the one your son or daughter is pushed into.

JAMS is a unique case; the first secondary school opened by this District in 50 years. It is not like the other buildings, it is the litmus test for how this District does in terms of these complex operations. If the District abandons them after the first year, when they are still carrying the load of mix matched students and programs, then they are proving they are not serious, and, new buildings may be avoided at all costs by future families.


Systems thinking

Anonymous said...

HCC L/As: did anyone on curriculum night get a positive impression?

Seems like it was aimed at remedial level, not at an HCC level.


The Giver as a novel to read? Our kids did that in 3rd grade already. It is a great book, but, not challenging or complex enough. Watership Down was 4th grade. These kids are ready for more. Teacher went on about how focused he was to simply get these kids to read. Told us to not give up! All we have to do is find the right book and then our kid will be convinced to read. Seriously. Has he met kids from Lincoln?

In Language Arts, kids need to be taught how to write. They need direct instruction and practice, practice, practice! The info shared seems like there will be barely any writing at all. Do they think kids will become polished writers simply through osmosis?

It is the major weak spot in the program, clearly.


Write On

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard if Garfield is getting teachers cut this year because of inaccurate enrollment projections from the district?

They sure made a mess in their enrollment projections this year for elementary and middle schools. I haven't seen anything for high schools and was not sure if they didn't have any cuts or if they are just waiting to spring it on us later.
-Worried

Lynn said...

Write On - Are you kidding? That statement by an HCC teacher is ridiculous. What is the Advanced Learning office doing to support HCC LA teachers?

2boysclub said...

Huh, that was not my experience at all at Lincoln curriculum night. We were told about the various forms of writing they will do and become proficient at. Reading was discussed as themes like animal fiction. I thought it was well planned out and definitely recognized that the hard part is guiding the kids to appropriate books as they go through so many so quickly. Was your teacher new? FWIW - I do not think The Giver is a suitable choice for third grade - the language sure, but not the topic matter. Was this assigned in third grade? Or was it just something your kid read on her own time?
2boysclub

Anonymous said...

There was an issue with last years notes not getting posted in a timely fashion and then some were lost or too much for one person to put together. I believe we will post what we have on the AL site shortly and have a more collaborative means to put those together this year, utilizing gdocs. The hope is to send to the HCC AC list serve before the next meeting.

Also, there is an opening for AC Secretary as well a WMS parent rep if interested email Chair, Jeanne Thompson jeanne_thompson@hotmail.com and she will email you the form (also sent to the AC list serve as well).

Thanks! Robert

Write On said...

@2boysclub

That was the L/A teacher from middle school 6th grade giving us the overview of his focus to get kids reading.

The Giver was fine as a 3rd grade choice for a literary essay. It was not above student's head. In fact, the complexity of the themes of morality, consent, civil society were ideal for his keen mind to wrestle with. He is in APP, he thinks about these things almost daily. He is in APP, he reads a 500 page book every 2 or 3 days, depending on how busy his other activities keep him.

Middle L/A in 'HCC -- any family in any of the 3 schools have a positive impression? As in, drafting, editing, and grammar will be vigorously pursued so that HCC students' writing skilled will be honed?

Write On

Benjamin Leis said...

@Write On - If you're up for it can you add an entry on http://discussapp.blogspot.com/p/middle-school-curriculum-project.html. Any specific details on the rest of the curriculum and the MS school would be useful.

Anonymous said...

Middle L/A in 'HCC -- any family in any of the 3 schools have a positive impression? As in, drafting, editing, and grammar will be vigorously pursued so that HCC students' writing skilled will be honed?

This has been an issue for years (page through to older posts) and seems to be getting worse, not better. We had few positive things to say about HIMS LA/SS and our experience at JAMS (going into second year) has been no better. The materials being used seem selected for the Gen Ed classroom in terms of reading level, and the YA book our child used as part of SS this year I would not even consider appropriate for middle school Gen Ed. It was so dumbed down and repetitive that my kid just hated it, as did many classmates (it also contained some not so subtle one-sided messaging). We had a similar experience with another JAMS class last year in terms of the reading material and level of work and just being way off. There seems to be no effort (or budget?) to purchase appropriate level texts specifically for HCC classes and there are many new teachers with little experience in APP/HCC classrooms. They are also teaching the grade level LA and SS standards (started last year).

Writing instruction consists of CCSS "cite your evidence." They get rubrics, but we have seen little in the way of a planned writing curriculum. No vocabulary. No grammar. Editing is largely done by peers, so feedback is limited. I'm not sure this is any different than any other SPS middle school LA classroom.

When district staff presented to the HCC-AC committee on the middle school curriculum framework, it seemed to focus on differentiating the tasks, not the materials. I don't think it's working.

Anonymous said...

On the middle school curriculum thread, a parent mentions her 7th grader is reading "Angela's Ashes." Is there a happy medium somewhere? On one hand they can handle books with more complex vocabulary and language structure, but on the other hand, the maturity levels of students are all over the place. Did students need parental permission to read the book? You don't want to be overprotective, but where do you draw the line? I'd have a difficult time with this as class reading for a 12 year old.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin,

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.

Thanks, Ram-mama

Anonymous said...

This past spring, they also asked this year's 10th grade parents to consider the same thing before choosing IBX. The 10th grade course options were not completely hashed out under this scenario, but some students did choose to delay IB course work until 11th grade. It's good that the school is acknowledging IBX is not a good fit for all incoming APP students (and maybe the undefined senior year is too problematic), but it's not clear what they have planned for the 10th grade year, and what would happen if the IBX, post-IB senior cohort gets too small to offer appropriate senior year classes. Would appropriate honors and AP courses be available in 10th grade? In math and science, we're finding gaps in prior knowledge, meaning the IB course work assumes some base knowledge that was not taught in previous SPS classes. SPS math, as taught in "advanced" middle school classes, that's another subject.

Anonymous said...

The current Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment include this information on assignment options for highly capable students:

For students who are eligible for APP for grades 1-8, their designated school/program is the General Education program at their attendance area school; their alternate designated school/program is the APP program at their APP pathway school. For students eligible for APP in grades 9-12, their designated school/program is the General Education program at their attendance area school; to opt-in to Garfield APP at 9th grade, students must have been enrolled in APP in 8th grade. Newly eligible APP students may enroll in the APP program at Ingraham. There is no alternate designated school for APP-eligible students in high school.

The board will be considering new assignment procedures at their meeting next Wednesday. There's been some attention to the loss of distance as a tiebreaker but I haven't seen any discussion of this change:

Student Assignment Plan document

streamlined

– Specifics around Programs and Services will be maintained by respective offices (Advanced Learning, ELL, Transportation, etc.)


So now Advanced Learning will be responsible for making (and publishing) assignment rules for highly capable students. This leaves open the possibility that when enrollment comes around in the spring, some students may find Garfield is not an option for them. Maybe Cascadia will be too full and they'll decide first and second graders will be served in their attendance area schools. Let's remember that the AL office is currently refusing to disclose the procedures for filing an appeal. (Information OSPI requires them to disseminate to the public.) I do not believe they'll be open and straightforward about changes in assignments.

Anonymous said...

Searching clarification: are the grades in 8th grade for Biology and LASS reported in the high school transcript?

-Clueless

Anonymous said...

What I find odd about the referenced current Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment options for highly capable students (anon @6:14) is the use of APP instead of HCC in reference to this cohort. I believe the name was changed in 2014? Is it possible that this is the old/previous procedure? So Garfield is/was/will be opt-in and not automatic assignment?

weary parent of 2020

Anonymous said...

Middle school grades are not reported on the HS transcript. Credit for high school classes taken in middle school (Biology or math, I'm not sure LA/SS qualifies...) must be requested (and then would be on HS transcript). Most students don't request HS credit, because they plan on attending 4 years of high school full-time, plus the middle school grades are not weighted for GPA. It could lower a student's GPA and class rank, if that's important to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anon @ 11:25

-Clueless