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.


HCC parent said...

Thank you for attending and reporting!

Jujubee said...

Yes, thanks so much for this great recap! How disappointing that HIMS is not planning to be involved in the humanities curriculum alignment.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to know if being part of the curriculum alignment is a good thing - what is the curriculum, exactly?

Anonymous said...

Ben, you got the wrong name for the group, it's Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee. Parents of HC students not in the HCC might think they have no voice and are not welcome, when that is not the case.

As the pathway to Garfield is looking tenuous, perhaps you should correct yourself and encourage participation from parents of HC students who choose to not enter the cohort.


Benjamin Leis said...

Fixed in the title.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for attending and summarizing the meeting for us.

kimberly said...

Thanks so much for the summary. I find the information about the results of the SE testing and subsequent denial for funds to provide academic enrichment VERY troubling. AL has been criticized as being regionally and racially skewed for a while. This pilot test was a way to see if we weren't properly identifying AL students in the SE, because they either weren't being brought forward by parents/teachers for testing, or they didn't qualify based upon achievement scores. That they found a healthy percentage of those second graders qualify for AL based on CogAT screening (~13%) seems to indicate that the CogAT is not eliminating the population but perhaps the lack of early learning, or combination of lower early learning and the current SPS curriculum is not providing academic opportunities for all of these students. It seems to me that this points out there are several problems to address in the future:

- Better identification of students to test in the SE – do we need to pursue grants that could provide funds for the testing? (Of course this isn’t worth anything if we don’t do the next)
- Better AL opportunities for SE students – if they are testing well on the CogAT but not on MAP/SBAC, are they just not being exposed to academic opportunities?
- For SE students that do pass the CogAT but not the achievement hurdles, can we create a program to target these students to allow them to catch up on achievement?

It seems to me we are wasting a lot of potential here. Very frustrating to hear SPS did yet another pilot program that validated a hypothesis and then did nothing to follow up on to creating improvements. Instead we just seem to keep moving in the direction of providing less opportunity not more. ALOs that provide nothing but a name, Spectrum being dismantled everywhere. I don’t get it.

Maureen said...

Anonymous above said: Parents of HC students not in the HCC might think they have no voice and are not welcome, when that is not the case

This is interesting to me. When did the policy change? I was explicitly told by the chair in about 2007 or 8 that the Advisory Committee did NOT represent families whose qualified students were not enrolled in APP.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Maureen above...when did this change? It was always a sore point, but the APP/AC committee did not represent or advocate for Spectrum - it was only about APP issues. (I was on the committee back then). When did this change? I also see their are reps from the HCC schools, but not HC (like Eckstein and any other Spectrum locations). So has the mission changed or is Anonymous at 10:56am correct?

Old Timer

Anonymous said...

It changed with the States change to mandate services every where and the ALTFs recommendations to serve those kids too. No big deal. Nothing has been decided about pathways but HCS AC is correct. Kids in pathway programs are HC Cohort students.

-oldest timer?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the district would fund after school enrichment programs for kids with high CogAT scores in the SE region. Where's the outrage over spending more money on some students just because they're smarter than their classmates?

On the other hand, I think kids should be identified for HCC based on cognitive scores alone. There'd be a wider range of ability in classrooms, but if kids were placed in schools with a large enough cohort, they could walk to math and reading within the cohort. Bright kids with learning disabilities or who are just learning English should not be excluded from the program.

Anonymous said...

I think oldest timer is correct.

Previously if students chose not to enter the cohort, service was not available. The change in state law requires service for all identified HC students at whatever school they choose to attend.

Maybe there should be a rep on the AC for families not in the cohort at each of the three levels, elementary, middle and high school. Those families need a voice at least as much as those in the cohort. Who knows what's happening to those kids at the various locations. Are they getting service and how are the kids doing?

Anonymous said...

The change in state law requires service for all identified HC students at whatever school they choose to attend.

Is that actually true? I remember the genesis of this law being that many districts in the state offered no gifted programs at all, so the idea was to make sure that every eligible student state wide had access to an appropriate education.

The law itself states that *access* to gifted ed is *access* to basic ed in WA. It doesn't say that a family must avail itself of the option (eg, HCC student remaining at neighborhood school).

Having followed this since the law was just a bill, I have been surprised at how SPS is putting into practice. I expected to see districts developing new programs, not diluting the programs they already have. But maybe somewhere in the rule-making process, this idea that kids must be served at whichever school they want to attend was codified?

-Not a lawyer

Anonymous said...

It's not a state mandate to serve HC kids at every school, it's a mandate to serve them.

The requirement to serve HC qualified kids at any school in which they enroll is in Seattle Public School's Superintendent Procedure 2190SP, listed on the AL page. It was enacted in June. Sorry I can't copy and paste the relevant portion.

Anonymous said...

Mentioned at the AC meeting is the % rankings of SBAC scores on the OSPI website:


neither of my kids would qualify for HC services and they have been in it for years... I really don't know what to think of that?!?!?


Anonymous said...

no anon, it is a state mandate to serve HC kids at EVERY school and it is for K-12. Not only 1-8 with the added HS pathways. It was a huge change brought about by a law passed a few years back.

Anonymous said...

You'll notice the OSPI results report a 100%, but SM mentioned they'd shift it one when setting the cutoffs because it should only go to 99%ile (really not clear what he meant, as we didn't have the data in front of us).

Lynn said...

Those are state norms for the SBAC. Students who opted out will have the opportunity to take the ITBS and can qualify with (generally lower) national norms.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Lynn, that makes sense. It is also true that they were being tested on 6th grade math even if they were truly placed in 8th/9th so that is a true compound in our case too. Prior to MGJ's MAP experiment were kids admitted to APP on state test or was it the other nationaly normed test. I recall my K kids taking at their school the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) but I've been wrong before on these weed-details.

Oh well guess these numbers will never be crunched to review the efficacy of the program so no big...


Anonymous said...

Benjamin, just wondering where parents can find the draft appeal policy today. Here?


Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't this increase the number of parents who opt out of the SBAC? I sure would, if it meant my kid could get the ITBS instead for AL eligibility.