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: artofeducation.net

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 uwacad@uw.edu 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 rcys@uw.edu 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: https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/

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: http://discussapp.blogspot.com/2015/11/student-assignment-plan-proposal.html  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 https://mikesmathpage.wordpress.com/ 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.

http://epsiloncamp.org/   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 (http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2015/11/dear-directors-say-no-to-assignment.html) and here (http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2015/10/mayday-mayday-sos-sos.html). 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:

llnyland@seattleschools.org, mftolley@seattleschools.org, ltherndon@seattleschools.org, spsdirectors@seattleschools.org, schoolboard@seattleschools.org, stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org, sherry.carr@seattleschools.org, harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org, marty.mclaren@seattleschools.org, betty.patu@seattleschools.org, sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org, sue.peters@seattleschools.org

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 (http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/15-16agendas/110415agenda/20151104_Action_Report_Student_Assign_Plan_Packet.pdf) 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.