Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Middle School Math Curriculum Adoption Committee

Dear Families,
Seattle Public Schools is beginning the process for evaluating instructional materials for grades 6 - 8 mathematics. An adoption committee will be formed, and its work will begin in March 2017 with the goal of having new instructional materials in use during the 2018-19 school year.
Apply to Join the Grades 6 - 8 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption Committee
The committee will carry out the board-approved adoption process and come to a consensus in order to make a recommendation for instructional materials based upon objective evidence gathered during the process in accordance with Seattle Public Schools Board Policy. The goal is to select an adoption committee that represents the diverse perspectives and experiences of Seattle Public schools, students and families. The committee will be comprised of teachers and principals representing a range of buildings and programs, parents/guardians, community members, and the Seattle Public Schools Adoption Committee coordinators.
Responsibilities of Family/Community Representative(s)
• Attend ALL scheduled meetings
• Assist in reviewing prospective materials
• Communicate to school community
• Serve as a representative of your school community
Tentative Committee Meeting Dates
  • Round 1: March 21April 18May 2May 16May 30 (8:30-3:30 p.m.),June 13 (8:30 a.m. to noon)
  • Round 2: November-December meeting dates (TBD) ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
For more information
To learn more about the Grade 6 – 8 Mathematics Instructional Materials Adoption Committee or apply for adoption committee membership, please visit the adoption web page at:
All applications must be received by 9:00 a.m. on March 14, 2017.
To submit your application:
Applications may be:
  • Saved and emailed to
  • Mailed to: Seattle Public Schools Attn: Anna Box MS-32-156 PO Box 34156 Seattle, WA 98124-1165
  • Or faxed to: 206-252-0179 Attn: Anna Box
Thank you for your interest!
Anna Box
Mathematics Program Manager
Seattle Public Schools

[One Caveat: the committee is going forward but at this time there is no budget for purchasing the recommendation. The hope is that the financial situation will improve.]

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mid Winter Break

Next week school is off for all of SPS and its the last week of the open enrollment process. For those who are still considering their options here's a quick summary of what's new this year.

  • Robert Eagle Staff  Middle School is opening. If you're in the Whitman or  Eaglestaff M.S. reference zones, this will be your assigned middle school. This is being done as a geosplit so even current 6th and 7th graders at HIMS will move. 
  • Cascadia Elementary is opening. If you're in the North end except for the North East quadrant this will be your new site.
  • Decatur Elementary is opening. If you're in the Eckstein reference zone this will be your new site next year. 
  • Ingraham H.S. is still an option site and this year enrollment caps will likely kick in.
  • Madison Middle School is the pathway for West Seattle. Grandfathering exists for those already at WMS.

In all cases you can check your current assigned school here:

Note: you can always request admissions to a non pathway school during this process. Your chances are dependent on open space at that site. So for instance, if you're assigned to Madison MS but really want to go to Washington MS you would fill out the open enrollment form and request it.

Also as usual, you can still transfer in up until May 31st. Pathway schools are required to still accept any students that do so, all others are on a space available basis. However, if you've made your mind up, do not delay. Budgets and planning occur based on the initial numbers.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How does HCC Program Evaluation Work

A reader submitted this information on the Program Evaluation Process:

"Every year, we submit a report to the state re compliance with the WAC (state laws).  We were found to be in 100% compliance (zero findings) in our State review (CPR) and were given a commendation as well.  If you are interested, here is the language that was submitted. 
11.5.A.2 Evaluation of Ability to Meet Academic Needs
Data is available from climate surveys compiled at each school site.  We believe that this data helps to inform our office of how well we are meeting the academic needs of these HCP students. The data included is from Cascadia Elementary, which currently has an enrollment of over 750 students, the largest Elementary-level HC Cohort in the District.  This data will be analyzed to determine to what extent the students at Cascadia feel that they are content with the decision that they made to join the HCC.
Several questions (on the survey) in particular point to information pertinent to the question of meeting students’ academic needs; first from the students’ then parents’ perspectives:
I am comfortable asking my teacher(s) for help” =7% negative (responses of disagree or strongly disagree) ; 
Students in my classes help each other learn” =11% negative;
“Students in my classes are focused on learning”=18% negative;
“ I can learn the things taught in school”=8% negative;
“I work hard at school “=1% negative;
“ I complete my schoolwork regularly”= 4% negative.
I am good staying focused on my goals” = 9% negative;
“It is important to me that I improve my skills this year” =3% negative.
“Adults at school care about me” =4% negative.
“My child is treated with as much respect as other students” =1% negative.
“There is at least one adult in this school I can talk to if I have a concern” =2% negative
“Adults at school care a lot about my child's academic success and personal well being” =4% negative.
“I feel my child is safe at school”=2% negative.
“Teachers at my school know how to meet the specific learning needs of my child” =8% negative.
“My school partners with families to improve the learning environment at school”= 8% negative.
“The school is responsive to the input and concerns of families”= 9% negative.
Other evidence that the HCP is meeting the academic needs of the HCC students also includes:
A)      The retention rate of  HCC students at Cascadia Elementary School continues to be well over 99%.  It is very very rare to have students, parents or teachers initiate the exit procedure at Cascadia.
B)      Our office has several instructional specialists who have worked closely with staff from several schools that house HCC students.  We have facilitated vertical and horizontal planning and professional development opportunities, especially concerning differentiation of instruction.  Due to this close relationship with the teachers, we have first-hand knowledge of the kinds and extent of acceleration that is occurring in HCC classrooms.  Generally, ELA teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards one to two years ahead of their grade, and math teachers are accelerating (thus evaluating students) at standards up to two years ahead of their grade.
The following comes from the CPR (Consolidated Program Review) report that was submitted earlier this year.
C)      HC students, like all students in the District, are expected to make one year’s growth in each academic year.  The difference is, that they are making this growth based on an acceleration of between one and two years above their grade level.  The evidence of this is submitted to OSPI each year using individual students’ redacted progress reports. The progress report for  3rd grade students at Cascadia  show that they are being evaluated at 4thgrade standards in ELA, and at 5th grade standards in math.  As 4thgraders, they will be evaluated at 5th grade standards in ELA, and at 6th grade standards in math.  Throughout this school year, the AL team has discussed the appropriateness of this as an academic goal.  Based on the fact that our District has little to no consistency in the use of achievement tools, the progress report has become the most useful tool in the short term.  
D)      In December, in advance of the CPR submission, we revisited that topic, and came to consensus on how to set and evaluate academic goals.  We were in complete agreement that the progress report was the only tool readily available for this purpose. 
E)       At that time, we also discussed the use of SBAC data as a measure of academic growth.  The CPR submission did contain data from the Cascadia Elementary School Report:
F)       99% of their 3rd, 4th and 5th graders were proficient on the state reading and math tests; 93% of 4th graders were proficient on the state writing test;
G)     100% of 5th graders were proficient on the state science test. 
H)      All of these are much higher than the District averages.
I)        Students at Cascadia ES, (the only magnet school in the District that is comprised solely of HC students), achieved extremely high percentages of proficiency on the ELA and math SBAC. 
J)        About 90% of the students received scores of 4, and of the tested students, the other 10% received scores of 3. 
K)      That far exceeds District averages on SBAC that were generally in the range of about 60% of students that achieved proficiency, meaning that they may have only received a score of 3. 
L)       100% of students at Cascadia met that standard. 
Due to the fact that similar climate data exists at every other SPS site, the HCP has not created a separate survey (especially due to the fact that it would have to be completed by some students but not all students at any given school site). "

In following up I also received this update:

"OSPI changed the guidance on what used to be called the Annual Plan last spring. The plan on file becomes a Comprehensive Plan and is not required to be resubmitted unless substantive changes have been made. So there is no new version of that document. The Consolidated Program Review for 2015-16 is cited. This year OSPI is performing reviews only on departments which had findings last year. Since Advanced Learning was fully compliant, we will not undergo the process this year."

March 1st School Board meeting reapproving the 2015-16 plan.

"This Board Action approves the District’s Highly Capable Students Program Comprehensive Plan, which has not changed from the 2015-16 plan but must be approved every year per WAC 392-170-25. Plan approval is necessary for accessing funds allocated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) for highly capable services."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Garfield may be capping the number of AP Classes one can take.

Details are fairly sketchy at the moment so I'll update as this becomes more clear. I'm assuming this is 3 classes per year.

"My child reported that three AP classes would be the limit, and students would need to request a waiver if they wanted to take more than 3. No details about if waivers would be granted, what are the reasons that would be accepted, etc. The teacher stated that other schools, like Lakeside, limit the amount of AP's a student can take. That said, my child has been planning on taking 4 AP classes next year and didn't seem concerned about this being a problem from what was said by the teacher. Not sure if that's going to be the reality or if space in AP classes will be limited. I find it a curious and worrisome development, especially when other SPS high school aren't doing this. It's really a shame that yet again Garfield can't just come out with a proper announcement to families about this change. We're left going off of what our kids say and what we read on blogs"
From today's Garfield weekly newsletter:
"10th Grade AP Info. Night — Wednesday, Feb. 15 Attention 10th graders who are interested in taking multiple AP classes next year! Garfield is hosting a 10th Grade AP Info. Night on Wednesday, Feb. 15 @ 6 PM in the Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center. Parents, families and students are invited to learn about the stress and workload of junior year from AP teachers, counselors, and other students." 

From the Garfield PTA meeting notes:

AP Classes: There has been a big increase in anxiety and stress in students taking multiple AP classes. A student intervention team meeting discussed adding to course descriptions and request sheets the number of hours of homework required for each AP course so students can balance that with their other activities. An AP Advising Night will be held 6 - 7:30 PM on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for students, parents/guardians (especially of 10th graders), teachers, and counselors. A too-competitive environment "can be toxic;" often HCC students feel peer pressure from cohort to take AP classes.

If you're considering Garfield there's a lot more detail on course offerings embedded in the note. I'd recommend reading through them.

NOTE: As I recently was reminded, our kids especially the older one sometimes read this blog as well, comment appropriately.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lincoln High School Planning Meeting this Friday

Fri Feb 17th, Hamilton Commons 6:30-8:30 PM

From email from SPS Board Member, Rick Burke:
"I’m contacting you because you have attended meetings about, or expressed interest in Lincoln High School, which is planned to reopen in Fall of 2019. I’m pleased to be hosting another community engagement meeting to talk in greater depth about our timelines and the work currently underway to make Lincoln an amazing destination for Seattle students.
My last meeting, held on October 27th at the Lincoln library was quite well-attended. With the large number of people and range of questions, we didn’t have the opportunity to have in-depth conversations about the school. This meeting will be held in the Commons at Hamilton International Middle School, which has the potential for more seating and better participation.
The agenda will include general information updates about the current and near-term work on assignment boundaries and principal selection, 24 credit graduation requirement, and some Q&A to get started, and then folks will have a chance to circulate through multiple stations and share concerns, ideas, questions that can help us move the school planning process forward.
Get your ideas brewing about the following topics:
- Enrollment & Boundaries
- Academic Programming
- Music and Fine Arts
- Athletics
- Building/Facilities
- Community-Building and Family Engagement
- Community and Higher-Ed Partnerships
- Anything that doesn’t fit in the above…
Please feel free to share this information with other interested families, and I hope to see you at Hamilton, Friday Feb 17th 6:30-8:30 PM"

Note: if you can't attend this one, Dir. Burke is also having a community open house on Sat. Feb 18th 3:30-5:30 at the Fremont Public Library. I'm sure there were be an opportunity to bring issues related to Lincoln up there as well.

Official Renovation Plans:

Current design plans:
(includes blueprints and visualizations)

Note: there have been updated plans and info in the last week including proposed building layouts.

Advocacy Request

This information comes from Northwest Accelerated Learners group. I haven't personally had time to think through the consequences of these requests yet:

February 15 is the last day to submit public comments on the Washington State Plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I urge you to submit comments on the failure of the plan to include using Title I and Title II funds to serve the highly capable population. Below I’ve provided information you can use in your comments. Feel free to reply if you have questions.

Here is the link to the ESSA comment form -
Help shape Washington's education policy by providing public comment on the ESSA Consolidated Plan draft.

Add to the plan allowing use of Title I to fund universal identification

ESSA permits states to use Title I funding to identify highly capable students. The Washington State ESSA plan needs to allow schools to use Title I funds to implement measures such as universal screening to identify students in need of highly capable services.

Universal screening, such as giving a whole grade level a 30-40 minutes screening test, has been shown to improve access for disadvantaged groups. In the absence of universal screening, selection processes miss highly capable students who are low income, disabled, ESL, or who come from certain ethnic groups. According nationally recognized experts, up to 35% of the highly capable population has a learning disability or other disability in addition to being highly capable. Early universal identification, such as in 1st grade, engages highly capable students in critical early grades. Late elementary universal identification, around 5th grade, provides access for students who did not test well at a young age, for reasons that can range from language acquisition to unaddressed disabilities.

Add to the plan use of Title II to fund teacher professional development to keep kids in school and out of prison
ESSA requires states to use Title II funding to provide professional development to teachers to identify and understand the unique educational needs and challenges of the highly capable population.

Most teacher education programs do not educate teachers in how to identify or serve highly capable students. Educators, like the general population, tend to expect highly capable students to “look like” the inaccurate and exaggerated stereotypes portrayed in movies and on TV. Providing teachers with research-based information on needs and characteristics of highly capable students helps them identify and serve them.

The Washington State ESSA plan needs to be amended to include a plan for providing this required professional development. Doing so is an essential step in stopping the school to prison pipeline and redirecting up to 20% of our prison population to productive workforce (and ultimately reducing our prison population by 20%).

Background on Highly Capable Funding
In our state, highly capable program funding pays for (1) the costs of identifying students who are in need of highly capable services and (2) professional development to aid teachers in serving this challenging population. Currently the state provides only 15% of the funds necessary.

Highly capable programming was added to basic education because two things are known about this population: (1) low income, minority, and disabled highly capable students are underidentified and (2) unidentified highly capable students typically perform poorly in school and "check out" unless and until they are adequately challenged. The conundrum of this population is that it shines when the work is hard, and falters when the work is easy.

How poorly does this population fare when underserved? Underchallenged highly capable students underachieve, and even drop out of high school or college. The presence of highly capable individuals in the prison population is 4x that of highly capable individuals in the general population. The highly capable face unique social and emotional challenges during the school years because their interests are out of sync with those of age mates. In the worst cases, they can become antisocial. Estimates are that 4 out of 5 school shooters were unidentified or unserved highly capable.

Additional Resources if you want to know more
Here are a couple of good resources on Highly Capable and ESSA:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the name of the 2015 legislation that revised and reauthorized the federal K-12 education law known as the Elementary and ...

3 Q: Now that the new law has been passed, what should advocates be doing? There is much education and advocacy to be done to ensure that state and local education

Friday, February 10, 2017

Rina Geoghagan goes to Decatur

Dear Cascadia and Decatur community:
I am writing to let you know that Principal Rina Geoghagan has been selected to become the principal of Decatur Elementary School. Due to capacity concerns at Cascadia Elementary School, the district recommended and the school board approved the decision to open Decatur for our Highly Capable Cohort (HCC). 
Ms. Geoghagan brings experience and extensive knowledge of the HCC program and the Cascadia community. She was instrumental in the original move of the APP/HCC program from Lowell Elementary to Lincoln High School, has served as the design principal for the new Cascadia site, and has demonstrated strong leadership during the conversations and decisions regarding Cascadia and Decatur.  We are excited that she will be able to bring this expertise and passion to serving the Decatur community.
Ms. Geoghagan earned her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Latin American Studies and Master of Teaching degrees at the Evergreen State College. Ms. Geoghagan taught for eight years in the Shoreline School District. Her teaching experience includes teaching the Highly Capable Cohort and serving as an instructional coach in Shoreline. She also taught middle school in Seattle schools before becoming a principal.
The process for finding a permanent replacement for Ms. Geoghagan will begin shortly, and will follow a similar process as used for Decatur.  We are looking at finding an interim principal to support Cascadia during the final months of the current school year.  Executive Director of Schools, Jon Halfaker will be meeting with the Cascadia Building Leadership Team prior to Mid-Winter Break to share updates and next steps.
We look forward to coordinating opportunities for the Decatur community, staff, and students to welcome Ms. Geoghagan in her new role before the school year ends.

Please join me in welcoming Principal Geoghagan to the Decatur community.
Larry Nyland, Superintendent

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ingraham Open House Documents

For those still researching high school options I have some of the documents from the Ingraham H.S. presentation.

The two general pathways for HCC students next year (IBX vs IB):  Ingraham Pathways

More detailed prospective course of study:  4 year plan

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Two Upcoming Events this week

  • The February HCS Advisory Committee meeting will be this Tuesday 2/7 at 6:30 @ Washington Middle School in the library.

Full Agenda: PDF Link. Please send any feedback prior to Wed. either as a comment here or directly to Dir. Sue Peters