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.