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.