Monday, February 8, 2016

Making a decision about HCC Elementary School (Cascadia, Thurgood Marshall, Fairmount Park)

Now that tours are starting up, its time for many new families to make decisions about whether to choose their HCC pathway school. To start things off  I have a request from a parent for opinions about the program at Cascadia.

"Specifically, I want to learn more about experiences with the project-based learning model and environmental stewardship (at Cascadia)."

Tours

Cascadia


2016 Cascadia Information Evenings will be on Wednesday, February 24 and Thursday, April 7 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in Cascadia's Auditorium.

Advance reservations for the Information Evenings are required and are for adults only. Please sign up for an evening if you have kindergarten through 4th grade students who you think will qualify for HCC.Tours are extremely large, so we ask that you not attend tours if your students are younger than kindergarten age. This program will only be in the Lincoln building until June 2017. The District Open Enrollment is Wednesday, February 17 - Tuesday, March 1, 2016.

Thurgood Marshall

Principal Katie May and the Thurgood Marshall PTA will be hosting school information sessions and tours on five days this winter and spring, including one session specially focused on the HCC program. No RSVP is needed, but you must check in at the Main Office upon arrival. Please email pta@tmlink.org if a family member needs a tour in a language other than English, such as Spanish or Vietnamese. We will do our best to accommodate you.See tour dates in the Calendar section.

Fairmount Park


February 11th :
9:00am-11:00am – kindergarten tour.


February 17th :
9:00am-11:00am – kindergarten tour.


February 24th :
9:00am-11:00am - school tour for all grades


February 25th :
9:00am-11:00am - HCC tour

General school orientation for families unable to attend during regular school hours:

February 25th:
5:30-6:30pm meeting in the library


Please call the office at 252-9300 to reserve your place on a tour.

Keep the questions comings and hopefully the rest of us can offer some useful advice.

111 comments :

Anonymous said...

Our child is in his first year at Cascadia, in the second grade. So far, we're not thrilled, but assume this is because of the teacher and mix of kids in his cohort.

Environmental Stewardship: I have not seen anything come home related to environmental stewardship. We attended a campus clean up over one holiday break, and there were a few families there and zero sense of community created through our service project.

Project-based Learning: There are more field trips and a nifty iLab, but otherwise I can't say what they claim to be a project-based learning model appears to be significantly different or better than what we experienced in our neighborhood school.

Things to consider:

There is no music until 4th grade.

Math is 2 grades ahead, but a grueling hour and fifteen minutes per day. He has learned a LOT in math, but complains often about the delivery of the material. He consistently scores very high on all of his tests and assignments, so I believe he understands the information and is smart enough to also understand his teacher could be more engaging, inspiring and interesting. It doesn't help that math is right after lunch and the teacher does not use inquiry-based teaching, but rather presents a lecture-style program. On a regular basis, they watch a few math videos followed by the teacher lecturing while they are all in their seats for an hour or so, then they have "skill and drill" where they write answers on their individual white boards and hold them up. Math games and team work happen rarely.

Another example: they just finished book reports and twenty five students presented in one day. Clearly this is not a child-centered learning environment. I'm not sure if this is limited to his classroom, or if these examples are standard. I haven't met any other parents, so I haven't had a chance to compare notes.

My child is totally uninspired, which is disheartening because he LOVED learning and loved school and his classmates at his neighborhood school. We may return to our neighborhood school for grades 3-5 and simply supplement math at home...at least then I know I can keep him inspired and interested in learning.

-Active learners beware

Lincoln 5th grade mom said...

I've got a kid in 5th grade at Cascadia and we've been attending since first grade.

Cascadia has a very active Green Team which is a large group of students who work hard to reduce waste at the school. They help direct lunch waste to compost and recycling and generally have reduced the amount of waste the school generates in dramatic ways. This project has been spearheaded by a parent, whose dedication is genuinely admirable. My daughter has participated for 3 years (I believe you have to be in third grade to take a rotation for the lunch shift jobs) and it has definitely made her much more aware of ways to be environmentally friendly and have a light impact on our natural and social environments. There is also a nice garden program, led by parents and someone from Seattle Tilth, that gets integrated with certain sections of science over the years. We've helped water the garden over the summers. One fall, all the kids in her grade were served potato soup from the potatoes the kids had planted in spring the year before. We still make that soup recipe.

Project-based learning has varied year to year in her case, and math differentiation has as well. Some years there has been lots of different activities and other years it has been more traditional worksheet-based learning. Overall it has been pretty good, given the size of the classes, but not quite challenging enough for her, given that math is really her strength.

There has been quite a bit of turnover in the arts and PE teachers. The school lost one great music teacher, and two really good PE teachers. Art was hit or miss the first couple years but now there are two solid teachers. the size of the school creates challenges that make turnover in the PCP teachers more common, I think, and lunch is a squeeze for everyone in ways that really are not healthy (very short amount of time to eat).

But the cohort has been terrific for my kid and the teachers very supportive.

Benjamin Leis said...

I'm going to shamelessly abuse my position now and recommend signing up for Math Club if your daughter wants more challenges.

seattlemama said...

I have three kids, two started at Cascadia in 4th, one in 1st. There are pros and cons about this school, just like every school. No school is perfect, no school meets every student's needs. There are amazing teachers and good teachers. We have yet to have a less than good teacher. What you are guaranteed to get is a two years ahead curriculum. You are not guaranteed to get a teacher who teaches the way you think a teacher should teach. Most of the teachers do not have a gifted education endorsement of even experience teaching gifted kids other than those they have taught at Cascadia. The teaching staff is on the young side. That means there are first year teachers who have no teaching experience. This is the case at every school. Most schools have a minimum of an hour set aside for math instruction. Teachers are not really allowed to do their own thing for math. There is a curriculum and they must follow it or they are at risk of losing their jobs. Moving my kids was good for all of my kids, although for one of them his time at Cascadia was tough as socially he fit in much better with the kids at his neighborhood school. Academically, it has been great for all of them. They were not challenged at their neighborhood school. At Cascadia you get classes full of kids who learn at a fast pace. That said, none of my 3 kids loved school at their neighborhood school, and none of them love school at Cascadia. But, all of them were/ are academically challenged at Cascadia. I think the principal is great and hope she sticks around.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I was there for my second grader's book report presentations, and every single one of the kids in her class was excited and engaged the whole time. They wanted more at the end. There were video games, kids in costumes, puppet shows- it was great. The kids were so happy.

On environmental stewardship- there is also a 4th grade unit on conservation, with an earth corps field trip to plant trees.

We have been quite happy at Cascadia, but I don't think there are any big surprises. It is like a neighborhood school, only 2 years ahead. The rapidly shifting enrollment means pcp changes basically every year. Some of that is fantastic- the new PE teacher is great, and the art team has a kid of mine who has always hated art loving it. But no music until 4th grade is a huge problem. And next year it will probably be different. The administration has to spend months figuring this out every year; months that could be spent elsewhere to great effect.

Active learner, I hesitate to suggest a child go to a third school in as many years, but based on your description, I really wonder if your child (and you) would be much happier at Salmon Bay or Thornton Creek. It might at least be worth a tour- TC at least sounds like it would be an excellent fit. You may have to supplement math (though it is inquiry based, which he may love), but all the rest- tighter community, environmental stewardship, project based learning, better fit for active learners (child centered I think you called it)- it's like you were describing those schools. TC is about to move into a big new building and may have room in the upper grades. Not sure about salmon bay. Or maybe back to your neighborhood school. It's not worth it to have a second grader unhappy.

Lincoln2/4

Anonymous said...

Fairmount Park is an arts themed school. They teach cursive in 3rd and are not using the newly adopted district math text but expecting PTA to fund some alternate text. They use writers workshop which allows kids to write at multiple levels, but they do not have a formalized grammar or spelling program so growth is spotty and haphazard in this regard. Reading is a priority. It will be full next year with YMCA thrown out of the last available classrooms. There is no property for portables and borrows land from the parks for recess. Lunch is served in 3 military short shifts and kids often don't bother to eat. PE hour requirements aren't met and kids get injured on overcrowded blacktop at recess. Children arrive to school on a very busy street. It is a good school. The principal has a strong personality and extensive knowledge of school and district workings. She keeps a bunch of strong-self confidant staff more or less on the same page. We don't know when she will retire or move on to her next project. It's a good school.
West

Anonymous said...

hello! since my kindergarten age son didn't get the "call back" for the full test, i know he wasn't accepted into HCC/APP. we want to have him private tested (he complains of boredom at his current school and we are actually surprised he didn't test in. but... i might be wearing mommy goggles ;-) )

anyway, i was wondering if you could recommend a psychologist you've liked? this list on the SPS website is very long and it would be great to have a personal recommendation.

thank you!

mag mom

Anonymous said...

Will they allow appeals if a kid hasn't been called back for the full test?
Whittier Parent.

Anonymous said...

Yes. You can appeal - and should. The advanced learning office is planning to end all meaningful access to appeals after this year.

Anonymous said...

@3:12- what makes you so certain the change to appeals will actually happen next year?

SE mama

Anonymous said...

How can you appeal when you have no results?
Not sure why they delay sending out test results from screener, or if they will at all.

-Waiting

Anonymous said...

I had our child privately tested even though we didn't know whether he'd get called back after the screener. We were concerned that a change in appeals will go into effect, so we took a gamble. He didn't get called back, so we are glad we went the route we did. Now we are ready to submit the appeal as soon as we get official notice from AL.

Anonymous said...

SE mama,

I think it will happen next year because that's what staff want to do and they generally make the decisions. I don't support it - it's being suggested for the wrong reasons and will not help children. I hope the board pushes back but am assuming they will not.

Anonymous said...

I know people post negative stuff about coming to Cascadia every year, and it's sore because it feels unwelcoming.

However. Cascadia (WHY did they insist on changing the name??) will only be in the Lincoln building one more year. It is likely but not certain to be split. If history is a guide, this will be very tumultuous either way, and the kids will hear negative things about "those awful app parents" and probably how "those app kids are so spoiled/little racists/aren't so smart" as the district zeroes in on a place to put the split off portion of cascadia, or gets rebuffed angrily and has to stuff in with a reluctant remaining cohort. If your kid is having an awful time where you are and needs to go, I'm sure it will be worth it. But I am really not looking forward to it, for my family. If you have a situation that you can make work for one more year (especially if you are in the NE, where the likely split off portion is), I would consider delaying just one year. Once you get HC status, it stays with you, so you don't have to test again. 3 schools in 3 years is a lot, especially if the third is starting from scratch, which tends to be pretty bare bones in sps, and especially if 2/3rds of your friends get to stay with their school. Who knows which, if any, teachers will come along, and whatever programs you start to look forward to will have to be reworked or completely disappear.

I don't want to be unwelcoming, and if you come, the community will fold you in, and your kid will get what they need. It's not like it will be a war zone, just pretty uncomfortable out in the community and potentially a bit heartbreaking once decisions are made. If we need to start a new school, it will probably be awesome after a year or so. But next year is going to be an unusually rough year.

Sleeper

Anonymous said...

Do the vast majority of kids who privately test meet the cut-off for HCC? Seems like it from comments here.

Anonymous said...

No, but the vast majority of parents who come back to post have kids who did. :) In my inner circle, people who would actually tell me, greater than half but not a vast majority. Not everybody is 100% clear with acquaintances- a lot of "we decided not to go," eliding the question of whether it was an option.

Anonymous said...

Sleeper, I've come to the same conclusion about staying put for another year to see how things settle out with HCC before moving my kid. Too much turmoil right now. Overall, things are ok at his home school, though I definitely thinks he could use more meaningful differentiation. At least his school has walk-to-math. He's still young, so there's time.

NB Parent

Anonymous said...

Do the vast majority of kids who privately test meet the cut-off for HCC? Seems like it from comments here.

I have no idea, but it would make sense if that were the case. Private testing can be expensive, so you're more likely to do it if you feel pretty certain your child needs the program and would qualify. When a child is highly gifted, it's often pretty apparent to those close to him/her. Lower scores on a school-district administered group test with poor quality control aren't likely to be particularly convincing when you've had years of observing just how different your kid is from his/her age peers.

Anonymous said...

I know a number of people whose child did not qualify via private testing. But, I think 9:07 is right, most people pursue private testing if either the child is close to the cutoff on school testing, or observation warrants it.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have opinions on the HCC program at Thurgood Marshall?

Anonymous said...

My son didn't get in on a private test in 3rd grade, but did get in with the cogat that year, we learned from the private test things that were very very helpful though, glad we did it. He hasn't had any difficulty with HCC work.

opposite results

Anonymous said...

My kid's CogAT scores were higher than private IQ scores. (Both qualifying, though.) i think we rarely hear from parents whose kids get high CogAT scores but don't do as well in private testing.

Like opposite results, we learned a lot from private IQ testing.

Anonymous said...

We moved our son from Stevens to TM last year. this is his second year at TM and it is hands down the best decision we made for him regarding school. He tested in, no private testing or appeals for us.

His class has 30 kids, so we got him a writing tutor to give him specialized attention, he's a math wiz so no problems there.

TM has been an overwhelming success for us. We love the school, the teachers, the principal, the parents, the programs. Compared to Stevens, I have nothing negative to say. TM works very hard to integrate all the programs where it makes sense (band, after school). His Ultimate team is a good mix of all the programs, HCC and Gen Ed.

Anonymous said...

Private IQ tests do not load as much with verbal reasoning (which is most predictive of general intelligence as well as traditional academic success) as the Cogat does. Especially the WPPSI, which is more heavily loaded with nonverbal measures (using manipulatives and such), but this is also true of the WISC. The Cogat has a significant verbal reasoning load, even the analogies in the nonverbal section require that the child create rules for themselves on how to solve each section. In that way, despite the difficulties with administration to the youngest students, the Cogat is an excellent predictive measure for academic gifted programs.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:14, where did you learn this?

Anonymous said...

@ 2:14pm

Is it the Cogat that is the predictive measure or is it what comes afterwards with access to improved programs and opportunities?

I have noticed that "gifted curriculum" tends to be more engaging and interesting than "regular curriculum." (Perhaps, not necessarily true in SPS, although perhaps better teachers gravitate toward AL?) How is success in a gifted program not a function of the curriculum, or better teachers, or a more studious peer group, or a committed family situation?

I don't deny there are student differences in cognitive ability, I'm curious if that is the ONLY trait that predicts success in gifted programs?

South Dad

Anonymous said...

My child scored extremely highly in the nonverbal/spatial aspects of the WISC. He also scored highly in the verbal part, but only in the borderline gifted range. His overall IQ is sufficient for HCC qualification. Will a child like this be successful in HCC? What is a child with high PRI good at? He is very bright according to his IQ, but I don't know if teachers would pick up on it necessarily since verbally he is not as advanced.

-Curious

Lynn said...

He will be fine in HCC. The students have a wide range of skill levels. He will likely be interested in and successful with math.

Benjamin Leis said...

@curious FWIW: I don't find the IQ test subscores particularly mappable in the way you're trying to do. Instead the framework that made more sense for us was to start with evaluating how well the existing school was meeting our child's needs and whether we thought they would be better met at Cascadia.

These are the some of the questions we considered.

What are your child's strengths in school?
How is their existing peer set working?
Is he/she bored in particular subjects?
How will they deal with a rapid compaction of the math sequence?
Do you want an environment with a lot of emphasis on writing earlier on?
Would switching schools in the earlier grades vs later be easier to handle?
Are their opportunities we would take advantage of at Cascadia that would not be available at our home school?

I hope this helps







Anonymous said...

Are we sure private test scores will result in a successful appeal this year? Thinking about the "no specific cutoff" comment, plus AL's desire to retool the appeals process next year, and perhaps worrying too much.

Anonymous said...

South dad, my comments sought to explain why one can observe differences between Cogat and private IQ tests like the WPPSI and WISC. I've no doubt the things you mentioned have a complex effect on success in school.

The Cogat has a higher verbal reasoning load than the WPPSI or WISC, which is present even in nonverbal sections. The Cogat is intended to evaluate cognitive ability as related to academic potential. The WISC and WPPSI IQ tests have a higher spatial load that is not confounded by verbal demands.

Anonymous said...

In our specific case the private test was tanked by his non acceptable responses to questions like "is it better to get news from a tv or a newspapaper" and "why is it important to say you are sorry when you hurt someone." The tester said he kind of went round in circles and came up with "no difference" and "actually, I guess it's not important." Seemed very socioeconomically biased. He scored off the charts in pattern prediction and very low for verbal reasoning. He qualified for Evergreen but not SPS, not even Spectrum. The schools use different parts of the test.

opposite results

Anonymous said...

It makes sense to me that the tests (private and CogAT) are measuring different things. I don't think they should eliminate appeals, but it also seems like they should look for things in the private test that indicate similar strengths to what is in the CogAT. The examples above are fairly strange. I've wondered for years how well the private IQ tests correlate to what the school district is intending to test for.

Anonymous said...

Opposite Results: I'm astounded that TV vs. newspaper is even a question on the WISC. Is this an objective truth that can be scored...or...are they grading quality of reasoning and any answer is correct if logically defended? I wonder how many young children even know what a newspaper is...

Worry Too Much: I was thinking the same thing. I'm very curious about the appeal letter, since they're setting expectations that no single number is the final determinant.

- KMOM

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen Cogat and IQ tests are fairly correlated, so I don't think it is fair to say they are measuring different things. I can dig up the source, but I have seen correlations around .77.

Anonymous said...

I was particularly amused by the tv vs. newspaper question being posed to an 8 year old who had grown up without either in the house, and yes, I think just about any response would have been acceptable if logically presented/defended. I think she was just telling me the questions so I wouldn't think it was an accurate measure of his ability, especially given his scores on other parts of the test. He is asynchronous in some ways though, which was the helpful part of the process, understanding that his working memory was on the low side of average for his age and many other things far above average made some parenting frustrations a bit easier to work with.

opposite results

Anonymous said...

Common Misconceptions (from CogAT Score Interpretation Guide)

General cognitive ability is the only factor that is important in school
achievement.

General cognitive ability affects how rapidly students learn, the conditions under which they learn most effectively, and how much they learn. Differences in levels of cognitive abilities do explain a significant amount of the variation in achievement among students. However, many other factors matter as well: support at home, quality of instruction, motivation, out-of-school activities, and so on.

CogAT standard age scores (SAS) are IQ scores.
CogAT is not an IQ test. Intelligence tests differ from CogAT in two critical ways: 1) intelligence tests sample a broad range of abilities in addition to the reasoning abilities that CogAT measures, and 2) intelligence tests are normed on the entire population whereas CogAT is normed on that subset of students who attend school and can take a group-administered test. Because of the potential confusion with IQ tests, score reports shared with parents should give national (and perhaps local) percentile ranks—not standard age scores.

Anonymous said...

Our son also lost points on that same question about "why do you say you're sorry". Our tester said she couldn't give him full credit becuase he said "to make someone feel better" but the answer had to include the fact that you did something wrong. Which is not true at all.

Anonymous said...

I know the questions aren't supposed to be released for fear of prep, but wow, it really seems like they could use some public scrutiny. When were these tests created and are they ever updated?

Opposite Results

Anonymous said...

What test was this? I asked my son if he had received any questions about tv, or saying sorry, and he said he hadn't.

Anonymous said...

The WISC.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any experience with going from a private gifted school to the public HCC program or vice versa? Just trying to decide if the hefty tuition is worth it for early elementary. The 30 kid class size mentioned above makes me worried...

CascadiaMom said...

I'd like to describe my recent experience with SPS testing and private testing.

My 5 year old son was led away in a group of 6 kids and came back 40 minutes later. That was the extent of school based testing. This was at 8 am in a strange school on a Saturday morning. One of the kids was crying. Compare that to 3.5 hours that my son spent with a private tester, who wrote us a 7 page letter detailing his skills, strengths, weaknesses, as well as summarizing his WISC, Cogat and IQ results. The tester is clearly a pro and he observed and commented on parts of my son's learning style and personality that showed he was really paying attention.

While I know people get frustrated that it seems private testing == access to HCC, the truth is that the district's testing is very inadequate. It might identify a HCC child, but it also might miss them. The results from private testing are very comprehensive and much more trustworthy.

I agree with the poster that people who get better results with private testing tend to talk about it, and people who do not get better results don't mention it. Since there is a small pool of private testing professionals in Seattle, their reputations are on the line. If they up-rate students, who then can't manage at Evergreen, SCDS, or in HCC public schools, it won't take long for their reputations to suffer. But this couldn't really happen, since the private testing results detail in-depth the scores on different objective tests, as well as their observations about the child.

We learned so much about each of our kids during private testing, especially about their learning style. Our daughter missed the cutoff for HCC with school testing and tested in with private testing. She has done terrifically in HCC and has had no issues, which also makes me feel like her private assessment was the correct one.

Thanks Parents. this forum is really helpful.

Anonymous said...

Cascadia mom, thanks for sharing this. Our first child also didn't qualify through the CoGaT, but did via private testing. Now in the 3rd year in HCC, and also in middle school, our child is thriving. The write-up was quite specific about her relative strengths and weaknesses. Based on our experience with our first child, we decided to privately test for our second child, who again didn't qualify via school testing, but did via private testing. I am not interested in pushing my kids to be in a program that doesn't make sense for them, so if the private testing came back that he wasn't qualified for advanced learning, we would have kept him where he was.

Anonymous said...

It's best, though, to remember that private IQ tests and the Cogat are not equivalent tests. No one would argue that there are problems with Cogat administration by SPS to 5 and 6 year olds. Some of this is inherent in the length of the test and SPS attempted to remedy that with the screener this year. And no one would argue that some kids who wouldn't pass the Cogat WOULD score highly on private IQ tests which measure a broader spectrum of abilities including spatial. There are kids who are highly gifted in verbal reasoning but not in block design and might do better with the Cogat. Infinite types of children would do fine in the current HCC. Lots of kids, Spectrum and others, would do fine in the current iteration of HCC.

Given a "clean" Cogat administration, it's a very appropriate test for a traditional accelerated academic program.

Anonymous said...

@11:47: All good, but HCC isn't accelerated anymore beyond the early years math. So what's the point of all this testing again?

Done with HCC

BGs Mum said...

TM feedback and Private vs. SPS

I agree with the parent who left the comment about Thurgood Marshall, we think our son's teacher is excellent and the school work is interesting to our son. His teacher is amazing, patient, thoughtful, communicative and strong. The principal is a very welcoming and non-judgmental person who is working hard on equity and generating a lot of grants and special programs for every student at the school, not just the HCC. They host lots of events--so far a welcome potluck, dance, pancake breakfast and upcoming Pi day math night which mixes everyone up in a friendly way.

As for the difference between private school and SPS, we are happy we made the change from private pre-k and kindergarten to the HCC. Of course when you pay thousands of dollars for your child's education they get to go on more field trips, have nicer decor in the classrooms, smaller class size and more teachers, but it all seemed like theater to us when our kid was spending 7 hours a day "learning" things he had mastered before he even started school. It was crazy-making. Since switching him, our son does complain a lot about the kids being "chaotic" and says they constantly interrupt the teacher and class with talking or noises. The kids at his private school were hand-picked for their enthusiasm for learning and the student to teacher ratio made it so thing were much calmer and more organized. To me, the priority is accelerated learning for him, so no regrets on MY behalf. :)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else using Chrome or Firefox been able to get the district Choice Form to work correctly? Why can't I just type in the schools.

Frustrated

Anonymous said...

Frustrated: Same thing happened to me. It's a glitch in the system. You have to print it out, write in your school choice, scan into pdf and then e-mail.

I wish SPS would post that alert online to save themselves numerous phone calls over the same issue and frustration for all the parents.

KMOM

Anonymous said...

Saw the note about decisions being sent by US Mail and was hoping to get our screener results. Anybody get one today?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if you can choose to do partial home-school for your elementary-aged child for math only?

-FractalMom

Anonymous said...

Fractal Mom- Yes. You can homeschool any subject you want. The school will likely require you to remove you child from school grounds during math time and you will need to fill out a form that you are homeschooling that subject. If you are at Cascadia, they know how this works because many families have homeschooled various subjects there.

We homeschooled math for middle school. CMP and Discovery books are CRAP!!!

-done it

Anonymous said...

@ Fractal Mom,

We homeschooled in math for 5th grade (ALO school), but had an alternate approach. Picking him up for math period (which wasn't consistent anyway) was not going to be convenient, so the teacher let my son remain in class during math and work independently on his homeschool assignments. He didn't need her help, so it worked fine. She did make him take the pre-assessment for each new math unit so that she could grade him on the math standards, but they were all quick and easy. Essentially she let him "test out" of each unit and do his own math, knowing that he was getting instruction at home, and we provided the materials for differentiation ourselves. I'm not sure many teachers would go for that, but with more emphasis on standards-based grading these days it seems like testing out is a reasonable option if you've already mastered the material before the class covers it.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Off topic - but I wondering about PE waivers, particularly middle school for a kid who wants to do music and world languages. How hard is it to get a PE waiver at JAMS? Does anyone have suggestions for activities for a not particularly sporty kid, preferably not team sports. What activities have kids done that have been accepted for waivers in the past?
If you have to select electives in May but the waiver is for outside sport done btwn Sept- June - how do you get the waiver in time to submit with the electives request? Or do you sign up for the desired electives and submit waiver once the kids activity actually starts? I'm new to all this. Also any feedback about electives at JAMS in general would be great.

Waivering

Anonymous said...

Waivering - I assume this works the same way at JAMS and at HIMS. HIMS has information posted on the school's website explaining how it works. At HIMS, you can choose yoga (offered in the after-school programs) or dance classes if either of those work for your kid. Rowing club, tennis club, or swim clubs also work. They have to have 60 hours total for the waiver (roughly 60 minutes per week). You don't get the waiver in advance; just sign up for the world language and music now. You will be provided instructions in the fall as to what forms you need to fill out. You might want to reach out to the registrar at JAMS to confirm the process there.

- Music/Language Parent

Anonymous said...

PE waiver policies vary from school to school and are decided by the principal. You will have to call JAMS to find out what they require.

Anonymous said...

State code requires 60 hours total - which works out to an average of 100 min per school week, given a 36 week school year. The principal does not decide that basic requirement, and should not require more than 60 documented hours. It's more like 2 hours per week, as opposed to "roughly 60 minutes per week."

Anonymous said...

RCW 28A.230.040 allows students (in grades 1-8) to be excused on account of physical disability, religious belief, or participation in directed athletics.

If you encounter a principal who won't allow a waiver, there is always the option of declaring the intent to homeschool PE.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I misspoke when I said roughly 60 minutes/week; that's the amount of minimum time if the kid takes PE at school. At least at HIMS, 60 hours per school year for the waiver is correct. You can get there doing one after-school yoga class per week, but you have to make sure you pick one that has enough total hours to get you over 60. We found some didn't have enough hours due to early release days (when they cancel after school programming).

- Music/Language Parent

Anonymous said...

On Save Seattle School blog Tues thread a poster says Stephen Martin is no longer heading Advanced Learning. Anyone heard anything?

Curious

Anonymous said...

Curious, a more recent post says SPS indicates he is still in charge.

Mom in Limbo said...

With open enrollment starting, I'm getting really concerned. We didn't get a call back from the initial screening test so I assume he didn't make the scores. However we did a private testing last year (which got him into Spectrum) and his WPPSI-IV test showed 99% in two areas. His Winter MAP Math qualifies him and the only thing that doesn't qualify him for HC is his reading. We think we will private test him in reading since he tests better in a quiet and focused setting. Also we know that this may be the last year we can use private test results so we're hoping to give it one last shot to get him in HC since he tends to be bored and unchallenged.

I am debating whether to take the gamble at this point to do his private reading test ahead of time before we receive any screening results or appeal info. Our private tester is very busy so we want to get this done soon so there's no scramble. I did email Advanced Learning but they haven't responded.

Any thoughts from anyone?

Anonymous said...

Make that appointment now. What is the gamble you refer to? If he was not called back he will not be identified as highly capable and (as you point out) this is likely the last year you'll be able to appeal.

Anonymous said...

Limbo, not sure what the dilemma is? If you know the MAP scores are too low, you don't have a choice on the private reading test...
Sorry if I'm missing something.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Please share your opinions/experiences at Thugwood Marshall. Maybe this is a wrong question- would you recommend it over Cascadia for a 1st grader entering HCC?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

You won't have a choice between the two schools as neither has empty seats.

Anonymous said...

Looking to find housing based on school zone, will be moving in the next month -- TM or Cascadia- which is a better choice?

Mom in Limbo said...

The gamble I'm referring to is making sure there's no specific process with the appeals as they seem very particular about the steps you need to take. I think I'm overthinking it because there was one year I had to wait until the eligibility letter came before scheduling the private testing (but back then there wasn't the pre-screen process). Didn't want to spend the money to do the reading test just for them to tell me I should have waited for eligibility notice and further instructions on the appeal process.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm new to HCC and I'm not sure how enrollment works. We live in the far south of the school zone boundaries and our children are zoned to go to Rainier View Elementary. Is there a way of knowing which school (TM, Cascadia, or Fairmount) he would automatically be enrolled in if he's not within either geographic zone?

Lynn said...

Here's a map that will answer your question: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/datamaps/pdfs/SD_HCC_ES.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the map Lynn - very helpful!

Anonymous said...

You should be aware some elementary boundaries will change for next school year, plus the Cascadia attendance area may be split when moving to the new building at Wilson Pacific. Lynn linked to a map from 2015. You can compare with the 2016-2017 maps:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/boundarymaps/middle_elementary_servicearea_map.pdf

Anonymous said...

My daughter attends Thurgood Marshall, and we love it. The principal does a good job of overseeing 3 separate programs (Gen Ed, Peace Academy for kids with autism, and HCC). She is highly responsive to parents' concerns. The two years of teachers we've had so far have also been good.

The building is relatively new, and there's a big play field. I've heard they can't put a bunch of portables on top of it because it's over the I-90 lid, but I've never been able to confirm that.

The PTA does not hold fundraising thons or auctions. They do maintain a pantry for the lower-income families at the school.

There's currently a YMCA with before and after care in its own building on campus. It will survive at least into next year.

We have been really happy with TM.

--JvA

Anonymous said...

Do the parents have to send the scores of the MAP tests to AL office?

Anonymous said...

@anon 1:31 - no, they have access to the MAP scores.

Anonymous said...

Correlation of MAP scores with other achievement tests--

My first-grader has qualifying Cogat scores for HCC but misses the mark on his Winter MAP scores (the only achievement data points we have).
I'm trying to decide whether it makes sense to pay for the private achievement tests. Do MAP scores tend to correlate pretty well with achievement tests like the Woodcock-Johnson? Or is there a good chance there could be a different score with a different test? I'm thinking a traditional pen/paper/oral type test would be a better indicator than a computer-adaptive test for my kid.

-FrugalMom

Anonymous said...

Hi FrugalMom,

I would do it if you want to get into HCC. My child was close on MAP, but below 95th%. We privately tested and he 99th for reading and 96th for Math, in line with what we thought he would. He rushes through the computer tests because he wants to be done with it and play. He is in 2nd grade, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody gotten a screening result in a letter yet?

Anonymous said...

All qualifying COGAT screening scorers were supposed to be notified by today. I haven't gotten a letter yet. I feel that my son should have qualified. He scored on the 99th percentile for a similar test in a different state last year. His MAP scores qualify. Any parents in a similar situation? Could it be that the test results are delayed? My son took his COGAT screening on the last available date- Jan 23rd.

Anonymous said...

I was told AL put a rush order on the Cogat scoring from those students that were called to take the full test on 1/30. So Id be surprised if screeners from 1/23 were still not scored.

Anonymous said...

Per the question about Cogat screens from 1/23 test date - I was told that they had not received scores yet. Not sure when they will schedule the full Cogat for those who qualify once screen scores are received.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:05, when were you told they hadn't received the 1/23 screening results?

NP

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:40am - I was told that Thursday 2/18 with regard to the 1/23 screens not being scored yet.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, my son tested on that day too, not heard anything yet. Maybe the address mix ups will affect the screening result reporting as well? sp

Anonymous said...

Will someone- may one of the moderators?- be able to confirm on the status of the COGAT screening results- whether all of them have been received and the qualifying kids notified? I did not receive an answer from AL though I mailed them.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the plan is for the kids in HCC Cascadia at Lincoln when the move happens to the new site in fall of 2017? I've heard the new site will only accommodate 2/3 of the current students at Lincoln. What will happen to the excess?

Anonymous said...

If I lived in Burien, which would be my HCC elementary school?

ignorant

Anonymous said...

If you lived in Burien, wouldn't you be in the Highline School District?

Anonymous said...

RIght, but is there a possibility of school district transfer and admission to HCC if the kid qualifies using MAP scores and COGAT?
ignorant

Anonymous said...

No. According to the advanced learning website, they won't consider your child's scores unless you're a Seattle resident.

Anonymous said...

Parents whose kids attend Thurgood marshall and who work downtown or lake union- can you comment on safe, good residential areas with not too much commute- is there a more appropriate thread for such questions elsewhere?

Thanks!
-newbie

Northender said...

I'd say Magnolia or Queen Anne

Anonymous said...

@newbie - Mt Baker or Columbia City? Light rail to downtown is great

SE Mama

Anonymous said...

Columbia City as safe? We must have different measures of safety...

Anonymous said...

You would be comfortable in Madison Park, I'm sure. Madrona a little close to the CD for your measures of safety. There's always Broadmoor.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all..
Newbie

Anonymous said...

I toured Thornton Creek and really, really liked this school. What I think would work best for my child is the PBL, expeditionary approach, in-depth learning, social/emotional focus and extra time for play (# of recesses and free choice play-time).

For those of you whose children have attended both Thornton Creek and HCC Cascadia @ Lincoln, can you share the advantages and disadvantages of each school?
How well do you think each school would work for a child who is on the more shy, sensitive side and who is also on the extreme end of the cognitive ability continuum?

Benjamin Leis said...

Note: please at least use aliases when asking questions.

For the above question, I think you should add what grade you're considering and bear in mind that you must win the lottery for a space at Thornton Creek vs a guaranteed space at Cascadia. I'll mostly let those with direct experience answer but I personally know several families who outgrew Thornton Creek and switched eventually.
Ben

Anonymous said...

On similar lines, I would like to get some more input on TM vs Cascadia elementary..for an incoming 1st grader. I did read some responses that few parents posted., but would love to hear more. Attended both school tours,
TM- Experienced teachers is a plus..
Cascadia- young teachers and a likely split..
What are your thoughts parents??

- choice

Anonymous said...

I'm the person who posted the Thornton Creek vs. Cascadia question. My child would enter at 1st grade.

- Considering the Options

Anonymous said...

Considering the Options, Depending on where your child is in K, remember that Cascadia is a large school, in population and in footprint. Who knows how things will look after next year.
TC will also face inevitable change as they add numbers. Are you in the geozone?

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 1:56pm:
Unfortunately, we are not in the geozone nor do we have a sibling attending.
However, the principle said there should be room in 1st grade, since they're adding another 1st grade class. I know it's lotto, so no guarantee.

- Considering the Options

Anonymous said...

Hi Considering-

I have had kids go to both schools. They are really different. TC has almost no advanced work. It does have some HCC kids, and always has. All the kids there love school- the culture is incredible that way. I moved my kids from there to Cascadia, one of whom was definitely overwhelmed by the size of Cascadia, and it is only getting bigger. If I had a kindergartener now, I would not move them to Cascadia next year. It is probably going to split, and certainly going to deal with turmoil. Just not something to uproot your child and walk into, especially not if they are sensitive. It is going to be stressful. I would wait another year, and then see how the program ends up.

TC has plenty of kids at the extreme end of the cognitive spectrum, but that is not the same as academic achievement, and it doesn't offer any advanced work to support acceleration, which is primarily an issue in math. Mostly people supplement.

Both schools

Anonymous said...

Hi Both Schools:

Thank you very much for your feedback!

Which school do you think spends more time on hands-on learning vs. worksheets?

- Considering the Options

Anonymous said...

I think about the same. Maybe more hands-on during math at TC, less written work.

Both schools

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard if Cascadia will be split in the fall of 2017? If so, where will the kids go -- besides the new building at the Wilson Pacific site? At the Cascadia open house last week, the principal said the new building cannot accommodate all the current students.

Anonymous said...

Anon, if we knew the details of the likely split, the principal would have told you at the open house. The Thornton Creek Decatur site and the new Olympic Hills building have been rumored as options. There haven't been any community discussions yet and we don't have any more information than you do.

Anonymous said...

We also don't know what will happen with HC high school, or what the district is planning in order to keep the Eagle Staff HCC population small enough that it's not politically distasteful. I guess there's a certain percentage of the school they'd like to keep it below somehow? There's talk of changing boundaries to make that happen.

But as with all things HCC, no news is no news. They'll keep us in the dark as long as possible.

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

I often hear that the size of Cascadia can be a difficult adjustment for some children. I understand that the total school population is large.

However, lunch and recess for a child entering 1st at Cascadia will contain approximately 250 kids (combined 1st & 2nd grade, est. 10 classes). That's the same as my child's current school, so not a difference for us.

Is the problem really that the physical size of the play area is too small to comfortably fit all those children? The central courtyard play area seems really small.

- Concerned about Recess

Anonymous said...

We have a daughter that has been at Cascadia for 2 years starting in second. When we've asked her, she's indicated they have little time for lunch, but she's never complained about it. And she's never complained about the playground. The playground is augmented by unicycling and other activities.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to a large school student population. Our daughter has made more friends than she did at her neighborhood school and is quite happy socially and academically. But I know that's not true for everyone. Because the there are so many kids, it seems they alternate between the years on participation in the school Christmas concert. And as a parent, there are always many unknown faces at all school programs.

One issue is that between first and second, second and third, etc, there is about one new classroom of kids added. So there are constantly new kids added to the mix. And the fact that the school draws from a wide geographic area has its downside.

But overall we are glad we moved our daughter and if faced with the same choice again today would make the same decision. For us recess and lunch were never part of the decision process.

Anonymous said...

CogAT is not an IQ test, which may explain the difference. It is "an assessment intended to estimate students' learned reasoning and problem solving abilities through a battery of verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal test items."