Thursday, January 28, 2016

Choosing between Garfield, Roosevelt and Ingraham for High School

This thread comes from a parent request

Middle school has been an extraordinary experience for my kid (she’s at JAMS) largely because of the extraordinarily mature, talented, and learning-focused cohort of APP kids who surround her.
In choosing a high school, one of our chief aims is to try to continue to live among this very strong and mature cohort of kids. In decades past, this APP cohort, I believe, tended largely to go to Garfield rather than Roosevelt or Ingraham. Is that still true?  Does anyone know where we can find numbers?

For the numbers part of the question, I happen to have data on hand for Roosevelt HC enrollment. It ranges from 25-12 kids per year which is similar to what is occurring at Ballard HS as well. All other non-HCS high schools are generally much lower.  Currently most of the cohort is continuing onto the pathway schools.  *Caveat: this data was not even collected until the last year or so the accuracy is a little bit questionable esp. the 11th and 12th grade numbers.

However, I thought I'd broaden the topic a little and let folks discuss how they are making their high school choices.

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Middle School Spin-up Process (Meany and Eagle Staff)

I received the following email this morning:

Mr. Leis,
Good morning. You emailed Michael Tolley last week regarding Robert Eagle Staff Middle School. He asked that I respond to your questions, which I am happy to do. We agree that the planning process for Jane Adams Middle School was greatly enhanced by giving the planning principal a full year to meet with community, hire key staff, and work on the logistical issues, etc. associated with opening a new middle school. As such, we will be looking to hire for this position during our opening round of hiring this spring. While I can’t guarantee a hiring date, I would anticipate by April 1 that we have planning principals in both of the middle schools (Meany Middle School is also coming on line at the same time). Thank you for your question and the embedded feedback regarding what worked in opening Jane Adams.


Jon Halfaker
Executive Director of Northwest Region Schools
Seattle Public Schools

This essentially matches the timeline for JAMS. I remember a parallel parent effort to help out and establish a PTSA. So I've set this thread up for folks to talk about what worked well last time and what they'd recommend other parents do during this process.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

1/5 HCS Advisory Committee meeting

There are a few things the advisory committee meetings accomplish. The most important of those is the exchange of information especially the direct report from Stephen Martin about what the AL office has been up to for the preceding month, The committee can then provide direct feedback from the parent perspective to the staff (which is totally nonbinding) and ask further questions.

So it was disappointing tonight that Stephen Martin had to cancel at the last minute due to some unfortunate circumstances. I had planned to ask some clarifying questions about the test process which I couldn't do. As a result,  I'll be waiting to hear from everyone if the K-2 followup appointments to finish the CogAt testing happen tomorrow.  My read of the recent status mail and the office's pattern of mass emailing on Wed. nights is that it's reasonably likely.

However, on the flip side Paula Montgomery, the principal of JAMS attended the meeting and gave a long and interesting talk on the current state of the middle school.  Some of the points she mentioned:

  • Enrollment is rising rapidly. It will go from 850 to 930 students next year and all the grades will most likely be over 300 students. This will require the final mass hiring of new teachers over the summer.  Interestingly. Spectrum enrollment continues to be very small 20-30 students per grade.  While they are still evaluating the model, the blended classes provide the best option for scheduling these students.
  • She was very proud of the quality of last year's new hires. They averaged 10+ years of experience.
  • Math is a special focus at the school.
  • Scheduling at JAMS revolves around Math classes.
  • Math Classes are grouped by grade and subject. There are no mixed grade classes.
  • For those coming in from neighborhood elementary schools but HCC qualified, the preferred pathway is to do Math 7 and then skip Math 8 and go directly to Algebra. 
  • This is also the main use of Professional development in the building. A consultant from the UW comes 2 days a month and conducts studio model classes and coaches individual teachers.
  • Beyond HCC/Spectrum, they try to identify via Amplify tests students who are above level and place them in the most challenging classes.
  • Potentially (this is not firm yet) there will be screening tests for incoming sixth graders this spring to further aid in Math placement. The focus here is on the gen-ed population.
  • So far they find the unblocked LA/SS are working well. When asked for details, Paula mentioned it made hitting the writing standards more precise.
  • JAMS has been piloting the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. 

Overall, I was impressed with the presentation. I'd love to hear from other parent's particularly on the subject of Science and how its playing out from your perspective. Also I'll put another plug in here for the  If you're interested, please add objective details on the Winter curriculum.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

January Open Thread

Happy New Year, I hope everyone had a good break.

CSIP (Continuous School Improvement Plans)

Supposedly all schools are required to have a section on Advanced Learners although a casual glance at a few shows this to not be the case yet. I view this as an opportunity, however. If there is something concrete you'd really like changed at your site this might be the time to band together and lobby to have it included in the plan for the next year.


This update was just sent out to hopefully to everyone involved in testing:

"Thank you for referring your child for Advanced Learning testing. The Advanced Learning office will notify you via email about your child’s eligibility as scores are received and processed (late January through February). Because the notifications will be emailed on a rolling basis, we cannot give you a precise date. If you haven’t received an eligibility email by Feb. 29, please contact us at with the subject line “Eligibility Letter.”


If you would like your child to participate in Advanced Learning programs or services in a school other than your attendance-area school, you should enroll the child during Open Enrollment, Feb. 17 to March 1. Even if you have NOT received eligibility results by this time, or if you are appealing, please submit a School Choice Form during this window, anyway. Find guidance on our Advanced Learning Enrollment page.

Ineligible Students and Appeals

If you receive an email stating your student is NOT eligible this year, you may appeal within a limited time. Important: All appeals documents must be received by the Advanced Learning office no later than THREE WEEKS from the date of the email. (We have tightened the appeals window in order to accommodate budget and staffing timelines.) Find guidance on our Advanced Learning Appeals page.

· Families who are eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch may request free appeals testing.

· Please submit a School Choice form during the Open Enrollment window, even if your appeal is in process.

Eligible Students and Enrollment

Highly Capable-eligible students: HC services are guaranteed, either at your attendance-area school or through self-contained classes in your pathway Highly Capable Cohort school. For your child to join the cohort, you should submit a School Choice form during Open Enrollment.

Advanced Learning-eligible students: Your student may receive advanced work at your attendance-area school or through self-contained or cluster-grouped Spectrum classes, available at designated sites on a space-available basis. You may submit a School Choice form during Open Enrollment, but a seat is not guaranteed.

Find guidance on our Advanced Learning Enrollment page.

Note that testing for grades K-8 continues at least through January for students referred by the Oct. 8 deadline. If you have not received a testing appointment by Jan. 6, please email with the subject line “Winter Testing.”

To learn more and to find answers to specific questions about Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools, please see our Advanced Learning pages:

Thank you!

Stephen Martin, Advanced Learning Supervisor"


  • The next HCS Advisory Meeting is this Tuesday 1/5  at JAMS at 6:30 in the library.
  • Gifted Ed Day is Jan 29, 2016
    Starts in the Columbia Room
    Legislative Building (Lower Level)
    Olympia, WA
    9 am to 2 pm

    The Coalition is getting ready for Gifted Education Day on January 29, 2016.

    The Governor's proposed supplemental budget released on Dec. 17th actually slightly decreases HCP funding even though OSPI recommended an increase of nearly $2.5 million.

    We need to increase our support in the Legislature for full funding of HCP.  Please plan to join other advocates in Olympia on January 29th. In view of the "no change" budget proposed by the Governor, our hopes lie with Legislators and the Court.

    Here is our Handbook for the Day, containing background information on why the Highly Capable Program is entitled to full funding from the state as well as practical information for coming to Olympia.

    The basic idea of Gifted Ed Day is to meet in the Columbia Room at 9am for a presentation, get a green scarf to identify you with our group, then split up to visit your district legislators individually or in groups. Be ready to tell your representatives why Gifted Ed is important to your family, and ask them to support HCP budget increases in this legislative session. Bringing kids is great, and well received, as is groups of people advocating together. Legislators respond when they hear from voters in their district.

    If you plan to go to Olympia for Gifted Ed Day, NOW is the time to make appointments that day with your legislators.  Find your legislators here:

    If you have a question that isn't covered in the Handbook, please contact The Coalition for Gifted Education


Some recent articles I've read on the subject of gifted education.