Monday, April 3, 2017

April '17 Open Thread

Since last month, the levy cliff has been rolled back and we're on the cusp on having a two tier busing/school start. So overall this has been a great period for the district.

  • SBAC testing is coming up. Are you planning to opt out or not?  Feel free to share your reasons.
  • The April meeting HCSAC meeting will take place tomorrow evening 5/4 in the Garfield Library at 6:30 pm. Kari Hansen, Director of Student Support Services, will be at our meeting. She was unable to attend last month, so she will be there to discuss advisory and advocacy opportunities.
Future meetings to be held include:

May 2, Hamilton International Middle School Library
June 6, Madison Middle School Library
  • There was another poorly written article about advanced learning in the Seattle Times which they keep tweeting about every few hours: There are real issues here with equity but this was not fairly or intelligently argued. I've talked about the imperfect system we have here in Seattle before but I also don't believe any district has really found the right answer to this problem.  Several of the logical fallacies were troubling enough that at the risk of being overly defensive I'll enumerate them below:

Quick Stream of Issues with the Seattle Times

  1.   Are Asians a minority or not? The first  sentence includes them so it can say minorities are almost half of the student population in the state. By the third sentence they're gone and the ratio of minorities that are underrepresented in the state is 1/3 of the population.  
  2. The piece then continues to blue the line between AP class participation and HCC programs paragraph by paragraph despite them not being the same.  So its hard to say what's being referred to in quotes like this "Whites occupy 66 percent of the seats in Washington’s accelerated classrooms, and Asians much of the remainder."  In our district for certain but I believe this is generally the case AP classes are open to everyone and don't require being in a gifted program.
  3.  The focus on Federal Way AP, IB participation is interesting but as the article admits "And even now, after years of funneling more kids into Advanced Placement courses, only to watch two-thirds fail their end-of-year A.P. exams, the district’s new superintendent Tammy Campbell is doubling down on basics like third-grade reading"    The followup quote: "Campbell still believes that participating in demanding classes benefits students in the long-run, and over 90 percent of those in Federal Way’s accelerated high-school courses pass their classes — if not the final test."  begs the question how rigorous are the classes now?   Unfortunately, the article didn't dig into what's going on any further in its model district.
  4.  Then there are several quotes from Nancy Herzog at the UW Robinson Center and Pedro Noguera an academic at NYU. The one from Dr. Herzog claims high IQ doesn't necessarily mean giftedness. First of all we don't have a gifted program in the state, we have a highly capable program. Secondly, under what conditions does a high IQ not indicate a need for advanced material?  The one from Dr. Noguera casts doubts that testing results indicate anything other than economic advantage.  The inconvenient fact here is that IQ type testing is fairly stable over time per individual and has a long  documented correlation with achievement.  Worse, there is no good replacement beyond the various national tests the various districts use that doesn't come with its own series of trade offs.There are real issues here with equity but this was not fairly or intelligently argued
  5. There's a quick hit piece on private testing that follows. Its a privilege of wealth despite the district offering it for free to anyone qualifying for FRL.   Note: test prepping exists for group tests like the cogat also. There are several test centers in Bellevue that offer sessions for this.
  6.  There's a criticism of the fact the district identifies in Kindergarten without realizing that its a state requirement that every district must follow.
  7.  The section on Rainier scholars talks about how they only select students outside the HCC program which is patently false.
  8. The section on TAF again is interesting but there is no data to back up its approach vs what occurs in an entire school district.  I really like what TAF is doing and an article on it going into depth would actually be interesting. I assume they are a lot more promising than Federal Way but again in a selective much smaller pool.


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Two Tiers

"It looks like the city is giving the $2.3 mil needed for SPS to move to the 2 Tier bell schedule. They are also giving $300,000 or so to fund crossing guards at 100+ locations around the city! It still needs to be officially adopted by the Levy Oversight Committee and council, but that's a formality"


Anonymous said...

I've read recently that there may be a change to the SBAC graduation requirements. I would love for this to happen (as in drop the SBAC requirements), but I can't find much current information about details.

If you know the latest status on this, could you please comment? I'd like to know which high school kids/grades should feel confident about opting out, and which ones will be forced to take math and/or language arts for graduation requirements.


-SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your analysis. The article was frustrating, especially when it emphasized only certain data and hid other data - like the fact that 2/3 of Federal Way AP and IB students fail their AP or IB tests.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if Federal Way students are asked to draw pictures in their AP/IB/honors LA classes like in my child's pre-IB "honors" class (instead of gosh, I don't know...practicing written analysis?!)?

Demographic Overages said...

I've just been reading Miraca Gross's "Exceptionally Gifted Children." She did a very thoughtful study of Australian children with IQs between 160 and 179. Her study relied on children who were referred to her (much as our HCC program relies on children being referred). She points out that students who more closely fit people's expectations of what a gifted child is are more likely to be referred.

But what was of particular interest to me is that in reading her summary of extant studies, she found that Asians are over-represented compared to the proportion of the population they make up in quite a number of gifted studies from multiple countries: "an over-representation of Asian-Australians among the moderately gifted [IQ 130-144] by a factor of at least five, and among the exceptionally gifted [IQ 160-179] by a factor of at least three times greater than this!"

With all the debate about why Seattle's advanced learning programs aren't more diverse, this led to my having the following thought:
What if we're UNDERIDENTIFYING gifted Asian-American children?

There are a lot of vocal voices in Seattle talking about underrepresented races and overrepresented races in the HCC program (no one seems to say much about the racial makeup of Spectrum or walk-to-math district-wide). But even though white and Asian-American children are overrepresented in HCC compared to the public school demographics, I worry that gifted children are going underidentified because there is a belief that there are too many children like them.

I'd like to see this district identify ALL children who need it, not view advanced learning services as something with a quota.

What if there is a crazy high number of extremely or profoundly gifted Asian kids? I think we should maybe be looking for them. We should also be looking for gifted hispanic, black, native american, etc. kids. We should be looking for all the gifted kids we can find. We should look hard. Counting on referrals reinforces the stereotypes we have as a society. But if the kids need the services, I don't believe we should have a quota system.

Anonymous said...

Yes to the above, I also worry that kids who are white or asian but FRL or from neglectful or abusive homes, or with learning differences, are also underrepresented but with no outreach effort for them. I think there should be universal screening in 4th grade or so, with kids allowed and encouraged to accelerate at general ed schools before that.

Anonymous said...

There are some interesting factors going on. I'm always curious how a school like Franklin (majority Asian) or Cleveland (plurality) compares to say Garfield or to pick an Eastside counterpart Newport in Bellevue. There are probably other things to consider:

1. Wealthier Asian families are concentrated on the Eastside and significantly draw from the H1-B visa pool of engineers. Seattle's Asisan community is much older, more diverse and contains much higher pockets of poverty. Wealthy families as usual are more savvy about opt-in systems. (Universal testing is goodness)

2. This is changing over time as tech workers are employed DT. We're becoming more like the Eastside.

3. All background do not perform the same way on aggregate. Talking about achievement broadly simplifies and hides issues.

Anonymous said...

Re: Demographic Overages

You have a good point. The case for underrepresented and overrepresented assumes that the assigned to a city within the country. Seattle is a booming city attracting a lot of highly paid, highly intelligent workers.

In the case of Asian kids identified as gifted, many of them are the progeny of immigrants who are highly educated which is correlated to higher than average IQ. Asians with lower IQ and/or qualifications will find it difficult to immigrate legally and will still be in their home country. (This brain drain is a big concern in some Asian countries.) Since IQ is heritable, the IQ of the kids of the Asian population is likely to be high as well. So the % of Asian kids identified as gifted is reflective of that skew in the population in that community.

As an analogy, imagine a packet of M&Ms has 18 M&Ms: 3 each of red, yellow, blue, green, brown, orange.

In the 2nd packet, you decided to take out red, yellow and green because you don't like them. So only 9 left: 3 each of blue, brown and orange.

Now we sample both packets and ask how many orange M&Ms are there?
In the original packet, we find 3. That's 3 of 18 = 17%
In the 2nd packet, it is 3 out of 9 = 33%

Essentially, the Asian population is like that second packet of M&Ms, the proportion only looks high because a big chunk of the population has already been filtered out by immigration laws etc.


Anonymous said...

Another cause of Asian over-achievement is that many Asian parents value and push education much more than other groups do. This would be especially prominent among successful Asians who immigrate here for high-paying jobs.
To see a non-academic example, look at the top orchestras in schools with a significant number of Asians (Eckstein, JAMS, Roosevelt, Garfield, etc.) Asians are significantly over-represented as the top musicians because their parents get them good music teachers and push them to practice for hours every day.
At JAMS a couple years ago, with about 20% Asians, I think 5 out of 7 of the Chamber Orchestra were Asian and one was half Asian. Other schools have similar results.


Anonymous said...

"Another cause of Asian over-achievement is that many Asian parents value and push education much more than other groups do." Momof2-- I would also argue that cultural factors might also be the case for the high numbers of Jewish kids as well in HCC.

There are also socio-economic factors that influence as well. Parents who are college educated professionals "push" their kids academically (as well as with extra-curriculars) to be over achievers much more than kids from lower socio backgrounds.


Anonymous said...

Momof2 makes a valid point, which is less racially insensitive than some of the previous posters.

Asian culture (of the select high-achieving population that tend to have the high-paying jobs here) tends to embrace hard work and academic achievement (Tiger mom mentality).

Typical non-Asian American parents tend to stress more play, sports, and emotional/social development over academics. As a non-Asian parent with two small children who play string instruments, I feel a lot of pressure from other white parents to "let my kids be kids" and not have them be so scheduled with academic/music pursuits. Whereas if the culture were more aligned with my views, my children would also be surrounded by other children whose parents had similar views and encouraged them to excel.

Parental upbringing and exposure has a huge impact on IQ. Part of IQ tests are "native" intelligence, but many parts of an IQ test are heavily coachable, like the vocabulary and knowledge sections. I think if SPS were to look at "gifted" more accurately, they would put higher emphasis on native intelligence and less on achievement metrics that are heavily correlated with parental involvement, socioeconomic factors, and enrichment.


Benjamin Leis said...

I've occasionally looked into this before. What I've tended to find is that coaching can improve performance but only to a limited extent. For example

"Current literature in psychometrics points to the fact that effective preparation improves test results in tests such as IQ, innovation and psychometric tests. However, these findings have been known for quite a while. A study from the 60s that investigated the impact of intensive training (six hours of training) revealed that such training can improve people’ s IQ (intelligence) by nine points on average. While this is not a huge improvement, it can be all that you need to get in front of other applicants for the same job."

I assume more realistic prep i.e. much less than 6 hours a day would have even less than the 9 point difference.

Anonymous said...

I really dislike this "Asian culture" argument. Are you really so sure that Asians value education more, or is that another damaging stereotype, one that arose due to the impact of earlier immigration policy that brought--and has continued to bring--highly skilled Asians into this country? Those positive stereotypes might help Asian students, giving them an additional leg up, while negative stereotyping of other minority groups has the opposite effect. Here's an interesting read:

Anonymous said...

@ Demographic Overages, your argument is based on IQ testing. Those who disagree with you will argue that IQ testing is racially biased, so you likely won't get far pushing your argument.

Demographic Overages said...

I'm not pushing the argument anywhere. I'm not in charge of SPS. Trust me, they don't listen to what I think.

I'm just reading a book about highly gifted children in Australia written by a knowledgable author and found that passage interesting. The author was surprised by the finding. And I was, too. 20% over-representation compared to the population is striking. It made me stop and say hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Saying cultural attitude toward education doesn't affect outcome sounds a little like parenting doesn't matter, only access to privilege. That's certainly demotivational for people who spend most of their energy on parenting. It also just doesn't pass the common sense test. I do think though that negative educational stereotypes are a massive barrier that we need to demolish.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 2:10p:

"your argument is based on IQ testing. Those who disagree with you will argue that IQ testing is racially biased, so you likely won't get far pushing your argument"

Your argument is faulty, since racial bias in IQ testing also applies to Asians as well - especially Asians who did not grow up with American cultural references or literature and had to learn English as a second language.


Parent of 2 said...

Personally, I find the whole idea of “highly gifted” irrelevant. The question is whether or not students can score high enough on standardized tests to gain admission to selective programs.

Top private schools like Lakeside require students to take the SSAT or equivalent for both middle school and high school. The SSAT tests vocabulary, math, and reading. SSAT website offers an extensive set of prep materials including videos and online tutorials and quizzes.

Seattle and many other public schools use the CogAT plus achievement tests such as the MAP or SBAC. So of course some people study for the CogAT just like some people study for the SSAT and SAT. That’s why you can buy CogAT test preparation materials on Amazon or take CogAT test prep classes in Bellevue.

There is no rule against studying for the CogAT. A child can tell a CogAT test administrator that they have taken a hundred sample tests, and the administrator will do nothing. SPS will do nothing. Because it’s not against the rules and it’s not cheating.

My kids both took CogAT practice tests. And one day they will study for the SSAT and later the SAT. I have no idea if they are “highly gifted” and don’t really care. But I do know that they are both very good at math, very good at reading, have excellent vocabularies, and can write well. And they have done just fine in HCC and are liked by their teachers and their classmates.

I do wish that more minority and low income students would qualify. But there is no way the district can change the eligibility requirements based on race because it’s illegal. Instead I believe SPS should do what the SSAT has done: the district should provide online practice tests and links to relevant study materials and should educate minority and other parents that if they want their kids to pass the tests, they need to study for them.

Anonymous said...

The drumbeat continues. Now Jerry Large on the front page of the Seattle Times has an opinion column that boils down to: HCC perpetuates racism. What does it matter what we parents think when politicians and activists and news types and district educators want to tear down the program?

Demographic Overages said...

Being "moderately gifted" or "highly gifted" or "exceptionally gifted" or "profoundly gifted" aren't relevant to most things in life like grocery shopping or showering or running or whatever. But you know what they are relevant to? Education.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, anon at 8:42 on April 5: how often has that happened this year? My kid has had to draw once at IHS, which is about a 90% reduction over 8th grade at JAMS. I don't think there's an unreasonable amount of drawing going on.

Anonymous said...

Parent of 2,

Test prep is inappropriate for young children, and I don't buy that everyone's-doing-it attitude so let's advocate for minorities to prep as the means to gain entry into the program.

Said by the parent of a minority who didn't need to prep.

- n

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you need to distinguish intense test prep from simply familiarizing students with the test format. When the CogAT is administered, the test proctor is supposed to go over a sample problem for each section so students understand what is being asked of them. Assuming the proctor does their job, is should be enough for most students. Our child said the proctor did not explain it well, which made for a frustrating testing experience. The district later had some sample problems on the AL website, which would have been helpful for us. Unfortunately, the info seems to have disappeared with website updates.

Benjamin Leis said...

The info is still there on the official page:

'While there is nothing your student needs to do to study for the Advanced Learning testing process, there are a number of things you can do to prepare your child for the day of testing. Those include a good night’s sleep, relaxed attitude, and good nutrition/hydration on testing day. Food and drinks are not allowed in testing rooms, but a short break is scheduled for water and bathroom.

We do not recommend that families purchase test preparation materials. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offers brief descriptions of the Verbal, Quantitative and Nonverbal Batteries of CogAT Form 7 and free sample questions for each subtest at:

There are also a wide variety of free practice questions available online by searching "CogAT Practice Questions"'

Anonymous said...

Familiarizing yourself with the district's posted sample questions (available to all) is a far cry from Parent of 2's use of practice tests (not recommended or ethical).

- n

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if there was a program to tutor up the missing demographic of students. Test taking is a skill that can be learned to a considerable extent.


Anonymous said...

@Conrad, there is such a program: Rainier Scholars. It's an intensive program for highly committed promising minority students, and after a lot of hard work to "tutor them up"-- as in, over 700 hours of extra instructional time and over 300 hours of extra homework--most qualify for "advanced learning programs." What exactly is meant by "advanced learning programs" is unclear though, since they are referring to private, parochial and public programs--and there aren't a lot of AL programs in private and parochial schools--and they also seem to lump honors and AP classes into that (and taking honors classes doesn't mean you would qualify for public school highly capable programs. So they are more likely finding/developing a mix that includes some gifted students who were previously overlooked/underdeveloped, as well as group that might not be "gifted" but can perform at very high levels after getting the necessary support.

Anonymous said...

It's not Cogat test taking that's the obstacle. Developing the missing skills - academic, social/emotional and executive function - is what allows students to succeed.

Rainer Scholars provides 14 whole months of an intensive academic program before students apply to advanced learning or prep schools and continues to provide tutoring and counseling once the students are admitted. AVID is another program that devotes time to developing all the skills and beliefs that are part of the success model.

Anonymous said...

All HCC offers in Seattle is two years' acceleration in language arts and math. That's it. There are some incidental changes to the depth teachers choose to go into, and HCC program staff and counselors are more aware of the quirks that HC students have, and they know how to address those things in ways regular geozone schools demonstrably cannot and do not. For instance, HC kids usually are very advanced in one or more areas but also very behind in others. So you have kids who can handle advanced math but can't hold a pencil well, or who can read college textbooks but have no motor skills etc.

If someone wants to go to the trouble of coaching an IQ test, which is difficult and time-consuming to do, just to get in with a bunch of quirky kids and two years' acceleration in only two subjects, have at it.

Unlike an IQ test (which is considered more accurate than the CogAT, not the other way around), the CogAT's publisher actually does recommend that students prep for it, and since it is not an IQ test, it actually can be effectively prepped for without too much effort. But people act like the CogAT is fairer or more accurate: it's not. It's just cheaper to do en masse, that is all.

In the end, why does the district act as a gatekeeper to ration this simple acceleration in the first place? If 20% or 30% of parents and students need/want and could handle an accelerated curriculum, why not let them in, regardless of scores? AP classes are open to all (not just to HC kids). Why can't HCC be a track for anyone who wants to try? What is the downside? Why isn't IB the default high school curriculum instead of an optional one? So long as by opening it up you don't de-accelerate or dilute it into nothing different than regular track (that is the real danger, I guess), why not?


Anonymous said...

@ Richard, that's a great idea in theory, but if teachers aren't using a consistent and appropriately challenging HCC curriculum to start with--which they aren't--then opening it to anyone interested in trying does tend to water things down and de-accelerate it. That's why efforts such as the push to have all 8th graders take algebra end us teaching algebra "lite." And that's why Federal Way's effort to push more underserved students into AP classes hasn't been the success they like to think--if students can pass the local high school classes at high rates but are failing the externally administered AP exams at high rates, the classes aren't rigorous enough.

If Only said...

The principal at our geozone elementary school badmouthed the HCC program, describing the kids as abnormal and saying people forced them to read during recess. Teachers dissuaded parents from testing for it. The school only sends a small handful of kids to HCC even though there are several we left behind there who would have really benefited from the program. Some elementary schools do not send any children to HCC. That is a huge part of the diversity question with HCC. Schools that are more racially and socioeconomically diverse tend to send students to HCC who are reflective of that diversity.

If principals could be encouraged to identify and send their qualifying students to HCC, it seems like the demographics would probably balance out. Why can't the district let the students "home" geozone schools count their test scores? The district knows the kids' addresses and thus what their assigned school would be if they hadn't joined HCC. And the geozone school is meeting the students' academic needs by sending them to HCC.

Similarly the district should penalize neighborhood schools that are unwilling to identify and send a single qualifying child to HCC. If you have a school population of 200-600 kids, you're pretty much statistically guaranteed to have one or more kids who would qualify (and benefit!) if anyone bothered to notice. That failure to identify students for a program that would benefit them should be an embarrassment to those principals.

The principal at my child's geozone school should be embarrassed at badmouthing the HCC students and the program they attend. It was not the principal's place to do that. That badmouthing and the culture of dissuasion is inappropriate. If only someone had the power to make school principals behave ethically and in their own students' best interests...

Anonymous said...

@If Only, we had a very similar experience with our neighborhood school, and that was some 10 years ago. The principal (and some teachers) made disparaging comments about both students and parents. Not much has changed. If anything, it's gotten worse. The difference then is that my kids were oblivious to it. Now they're old enough to experience it themselves.

Anonymous said...

@Richard, what do you mean that the IQ test is "more accurate" than the Cogat? My understanding is that they are not assessing the same thing. Is it a group test that you object to or do you think the Cogat is an inaccurate measure of academic ability?


A. Jones said...

The CogAT is a group intelligence test and whereas IQ tests like the Wechsler, Stanford Binet, etc. are individual intelligence tests. Like an examination by a medical doctor, the results are more reliable when the patient meets one-on-one with the doctor. But you can have a doctor screen a whole room of students all together and flag specific ones for follow up testing.

Mirnada said...

Still familiarizing myself with the HCC program. Son is 4.5, but with a late fall birthday, so we have another year. Noticed this comment above: "HC kids usually are very advanced in one or more areas but also very behind in others. So you have kids who can handle advanced math but can't hold a pencil well, or who can read college textbooks but have no motor skills etc."

Is this the case? I'm particularly interested because this sounds like my son. He is very interested and self-driven when it comes to math and science, but has NO interest in writing letters or reading. I can tell he's starting to sight read some words only because he can read element names on his periodic table (which he's obsessed with). He's very independent-minded, so I'm concerned that he's going to get in trouble if he's in a classroom where he might be bored, but clearly he's not advanced evenly across all subjects.

I definitely don't want to push him and make reading a chore, but I DO want him to have an educational environment that's a good fit and where he can continue to be stimulated. Was wondering if other parents on here have similar kids and can share their experiences.

Also, an unrelated question - kind of around the diversity/accessibility issue: Is information about the HCC program made easily available and CLEAR to parents of young public school students? Is a well-laid out pamphlet with all relevant information given out or do parents learn about it either through teachers or word of mouth? I find it hard to gather all the information myself, so I can't imagine how households with two busy working parents could possibly do it.

Thanks in advance, Mirnada

Momma V said...


There are many things SPS fails to sufficiently explain to families and how advanced learning works is certainly one of them. Here's their informational page about advanced learning. (It obviously hasn't been updated yet for next year).

At least in terms of gifted kids, being advanced in some areas and behind in others is "asynchronous development". It can be particularly jarring because of how uneven the skills are—e.g. four years ahead of age peers in math and two years behind in handwriting, or three years ahead of age peers in reading and years behind in time management or emotional self-regulation. Other parents at the playground and many teachers don't know what to make of it. They size the kid up one way based on a skill that is "ahead" and then size the kid up differently based on the skill that is "behind" and can't figure out what to do with the discrepancy. Anyway, you can read up on asynchronous development if you're interested. A 4.5 year old who's not interested in reading or writing isn't behind, though :-)

SPS doesn't have single-subject acceleration for elementary students. Some schools/teachers will allow kids to walk to a math class that is a year ahead. Some won't. Some will give kids access to reading material from the next grade up. Some won't. There used to be a SPECTRUM program that children could test into. Then during open enrollment you could opt them into a school that offered it (and opt them into the program itself). That used to be one year accelerated. Sounds like that program is gone. I guess the district has decided to study what happened to it (?). There is no acceleration for science or social studies in elementary school for anyone.

Children who test into HCC can opt into an HCC program. I think it will be available at 4 elementary schools next fall. This program is exactly the same as all the other neighborhood elementary schools, just two years accelerated (so first graders do third grade work, second graders do fourth grade work, etc.) To test in you need to refer your child for advanced learning testing.

It's almost impossible to gather the information and understand how the system works. It takes many households with two busy working parents a couple of tries before they manage to get all the paperwork and testing and opting in and school open house visits and everything all squared away. The program really grows in 2nd grade, which shows that it takes families 2 years to figure out the system and get their qualifying kids in.

Best of luck to your family on finding a school that's a good fit! Tour as many as you can!

Anonymous said...

"...I don't think there's an unreasonable amount of drawing going on."

Anon @11:13, I can't speak to LA at JAMS, but I'm not assured by the reasoning that Class A at School X is okay because it is not as bad as Class B at School Y. The IHS course catalog states:

Students "will learn specific writing skills and demonstrate their academic writing competence both in course assessments and preparation for College level English courses...Students will engage in the writing process to produce increasingly sophisticated essays."

That is what I'd expect of a course preparing students for AP/IB level courses. Is this what's happening in this year's class? It's supposed to be preparing them for the high expectations of AP/IB level writing and analysis. What's not happening in class - because they are being asked to draw or whatnot - should be a concern.

The discussion was about the failure of many Federal Way students to pass their AP exams even though they received A's in their courses. The suggestion is that if they spend their time drawing or whatnot, instead of advancing their academic reading and writing skills, it is little surprise that the performance on AP exams is poor.

Mirnada said...

Momma V -

Thank you so much for the above. I will definitely look into asynchronous development. What I'm wondering is if the APP Cascadia school is taking asynchronous development into consideration, or if students who are able to test in are advanced in both areas. My son is extremely verbal, but not driven to read - so not "advanced" in that regard.

I've toured my neighborhood schools and am concerned that the teachers will have no way of meeting the needs of all the kids with such large class sizes. There is no walk to math offered at our neighborhood schools.

Thanks again,


Momma V said...


In the eligibility testing, a child currently needs to receive a score of 95th percentile or more in both reading and math achievement tests to qualify for HCC in elementary school as well as 98th-99th percentile on 2 of 7 CogAT scores. It's worth checking out nearby K-8 and option schools. Some of them have more of a STEM focus and are sometimes slightly more math friendly than most of the elementary schools. But in reality, you may end up having to provide math enrichment at home outside of school if you have a mathy kid and the school isn't interested in fostering that.

Mirnada said...

Momma V - Thanks so much. Unfortunately, neither of our neighborhood schools seem very math friendly. My understanding is that Hazel-Wolf is the STEM focused option school. We're not in the geozone, and I don't know the odds of getting in when we're not (or the logistics of drop-off/pick-up). Is there another option school that has a math focus? We're zoned for Greenlake and McDonald. Neither seem to have any offerings for any gifted/ALO students from what I gleaned from the tours.

Luckily, he has another year, so who knows what'll happen...

Anonymous said...

Mirnada, if your son is sight-reading any words a year before kindergarten, he is well on his way to qualifying for HCC in reading. Don't worry about his interest in it, because he obviously will learn to read early when given material he's interested in.

My son loved the DK visual encyclopedias and other science-oriented fact-filled books and those might be good for your son as well.


Momma V said...


Sounds like you're right on the edge of the busing zone for Hazel Wolf (at least for next year--the year after that, who knows!). But it would be a long bus ride from where you are (possibly 45 minutes or more each way). It's worth touring all the option schools and geozone schools that you might conceivably be able to get into. There is quite a bit of variation from school to school.

Anonymous said...

The bus zone for Hazel Wolf for 2018-19 and beyond will revert to the areas zoned for JAMS that are outside the walk zone (which more or less corresponds with the Geozone). The larger bus zone that included the Eckstein cachement zone was an artifact of the early years of the school, when it moved from JAMS to the interim site over near Greenlake, and they grandfathered in busing for kids who were admitted from both zones.

I don't know what this year's enrollment is like, but last year HW had huge waitlists (over 100 waitlisted for K, over 60 waitlisted for G6). It is a high demand school, and will probably be hard for those outside the geozone to get into in future years.


Anonymous said...

One thing to keep in mind with HW is that in years past they have had a separate waitlist for Spectrum, so if your kid has that designation it seems slightly easier to get in as that list is shorter. It seems they have an allotted number of Spectrum seats, and fill those in from the waitlist. So it is a little more nuanced.

That said, the Spectrum program at the school is lacking. Spectrum designation does not automatically mean your child will get to work on advanced material, and it is only offered for math.

Anonymous said...

As I understand, there is no reading on the Cogat. Is that correct? I also understand that the MAP "reading" test actually has no reading on it. The average first grade HCC kid, though, reads (on average) at a level K or L.

Anonymous said...

My K student is currently reading at a D level (translates to the harder BOB books), which puts her right on track for finishing the year at E (which SPS says in the goal). She scored high enough on the CoGAT to qualify for HCC, so I assume no reading was required. However, she scored 80th percentile on the MAP in reading, so no Spectrum or HCC for her.

My 2nd grade student was actually reading less well but also tested into HCC based on CoGAT. If I recall correctly, they did not use MAP testing for K students 2 years ago, so my "average" reader was designated eligible for HCC.

Anonymous said...

JAMS electives: I noticed that computer science is no longer listed as a possible elective for sixth-graders. It was listed on the handouts at the new student night and on the JAMS website.

Does anyone know why it's not on the forms that are arriving via mail this week?

JAMS newbie

Anonymous said...

I have a question about high school choices. My oldest child will be a freshman next year coming out of Hamilton's HCC program. We selected Ingraham IBX but live in a neighborhood designated for Ballard High School. If she gets in to IBX, can she withdraw that application to go to Ballard? Or does she automatically get placed in Garfield as a second option? Either way, by what date must she decide? We put Ingraham as her top choice with an understanding that she could finalize this choice IF her name was drawn in the lottery, but we've since heard some conflicting information about this...

First time HS Family

Anonymous said...

The Superintendent Procedure has some wording about moves and opting out of HCC:

If an HCC student wants to get reassigned to their designated school [neighborhood school?] for next year, they are subject to standard rules for changing to a designated school (see Changing School Assignments, page 22).

May 31 is the deadline for additional changes, though it looks like they'd be put on a waitlist according to space availability and according to date the application is received.

Lynn said...

Ballard is her designated school. She's guaranteed a seat there if she turns in a choice form by May 31st. See the bottom of page 23 in the Student Assignment Procedure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for directing me to that document, Lynn and Anonymous. The bottom of page 23 does seem to indicated that she can switch her choice to Ballard. But the section about school designations for students opting out of HCC also jumped out at me:

"If an HCC student with a Designated assignment opts out, and as a result their designated school is not the current assignment, their assignment type is changed to "Choice." ... A student with a Choice assignment type who does not live in the school’s service area or linked service area (i.e. they are not eligible for transportation) may get a new assignment to the General Education program at their designated school at any time, for this year or next year, even if they have not moved."

Was our initial selection of Ingraham a "Choice assignment type" so that she can move at any time? We will make this decision sooner than May 31, but I'm just trying to understand the process.

Thank you again for helping us navigate this. I wish the school district had a blog page devoted to enrollment so we could hold them responsible for their responses to our questions rather than crossing our fingers that we've correctly understood (and located) their policies.

-First time HS family

Anonymous said...

If I understand the rules correctly, an HCC student opting out of the default Garfield placement has a guaranteed place in their neighborhood high school if they submit a choice form either during Open Enrollment or before May 31. If they choose IHS/IBX during Open Enrollment (and it's not their neighborhood school), but get waitlisted, and do not select Garfield HCC as a second choice, they would be placed in their neighborhood school. If they later decided they wanted Garfield HCC, they would need to submit a choice form before the final deadline of May 31, but would be subject to space available spots and could be waitlisted, as the spot would no longer be guaranteed. And the rules are subject to change each year. This is the first year incoming HCC 9th graders have no guarantee of IBX (okay, they had a weak guarantee in the past, but enrollment typically worked with the school to admit those who applied).

I'm curious what you've been told by enrollment staff. Does it agree with the Superintendent Procedure?

Anonymous said...

@ first time, Yes, I believe the Ingraham placement, if she gets that, will be considered a "choice" assignment. Garfield was her default, but she "chose" Ingraham as a priority instead.

As to whether or not they'd place her in Garfield or not if she gets waitlisted at Ingraham, I'm not sure. Assuming you want Ballard instead of Garfield, you should be able to get that regardless.

You should also note that Lincoln HS will be opening in a few years, and all/most high school boundaries are likely to change. Depending on where you live, that may be another factor to consider (although nobody has many details about what will happen!).

gone baby gone

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for your feedback about HS placement. She received an assignment to Ingraham IB and now will decide between that and Ballard. We previously decided against Garfield for a variety of reasons.

Anonymous at 10:21-- The opening of Lincoln is one of the reasons we're leaning toward Ingraham. We'd like her to spend four years at the same HS. But it sounds like you're suggesting she could be transferred to Lincoln from Ingraham as well, even though it would be a choice school? Is that true?

-First time HS family

Anonymous said...

@ First time HS family, I think current policy is that if you get in on a "choice" assignment, you get to stay put. Presumably that policy (via the assignment plan) is to avoid situations in which someone opts for a special program type--like IB--that wouldn't be possible to continue elsewhere. That said, I suppose all assignment policies are potentially open to modification, and if most of next year's freshman opt for the traditional IB timeline rather than IBX, they won't have officially started IB classes yet come fall 2019. Still, I'd think such a reassignment would be unlikely.

ten 21

Anonymous said...

Thanks ten21!

-First time HS family

Anonymous said...

Have any other HCC families NOT received Ingram as a choice school? We received a "Welcome to Garfield" letter. My daughter is very upset. Is she automatically put on the waitlist or do we have to do something on Monday?

Wanting IB

Anonymous said...

@ Wanting IB, I think I saw something (maybe on the Hamilton facebook group?) that suggested everyone in HCC was getting these Garfield welcome letters, since it's the default placement. I don't know whose idea it was to send these out a week before the official placements were determined, but it sure seems like a silly idea to me. Not only is it a waste of materials and postage, but it causes a lot of additional distress and worry for some kids and families, as well as additional work for the district because people have been calling and calling to try to figure out what this means. Sheesh, can Garfield roll anything out smoothly?

Anonymous said...

We opted in to Roosevelt instead of Garfield and received the correct letter (Roosevelt) so they aren't just automatic.

Anonymous said...

It looks like starting Monday, April 17, you can use the assignment lookup tool to confirm placement.

thepickle said...

I just looked up my daughter's assignment and she is still assigned to our neighborhood school. We are (well thought we were) moving her to Decatur for 2nd after spending her first two years in private school and she tested HCC eligible last year. Anyone know what is up? Hopefully she is not the only one who hasn't been assigned yet? The source still says "awaiting assignment" but I can't find any evidence of her being HCC eligible in the source even though I am sure it used to be there.

Anonymous said...

1) Do you have a copy of the physical letter sent by AL, confirming your child's eligibility for HCC?
2) Did you submit a choice form for HCC/Decatur?

You will learn to keep copies of everything...we had a similar enrollment issue years ago and had to prove we submitted the enrollment form on time (we kept a date stamped copy). If I were you, I'd submit an inquiry with enrollment ASAP:

"If you believe an error or omission occurred in processing your student’s choice application during Open Enrollment, please submit an assignment inquiry form to Admissions. Inquiries have priority consideration over newly submitted choice applications, transfer appeals, and waitlist moves."

See "What is my student's assignment," under the Admissions >Registration links.

thepickle said...

Yes, we absolutely have that letter. I will have to dig it up, though. I don't think that they gave me a time stamped copy of the open enrollment form. I guess that they should have. I had to register her for SPS at the same time I submitted the form so maybe it got lost in the shuffle. Would it say awaiting assignment in the source if I hadn't submitted the form, though?

Thanks for the suggestion to contact admissions. I emailed advanced learning, but no response yet.

Also, can others see the HCC designation in the source? Am I the only one who lost it?

Northend Mom said...

I can't see the HCC designation in the source. In fact, his advanced learning results etc seems to have disappeared and we didn't receive a physical letter informing us that he is eligible for HCC.

My son's school assignment for next year is correctly reflected as being changed to Cascadia though.

thepickle said...

I just re-sent the school choice form over emial, so hopefully it's just that the form didn't get processed even though I submitted in person to a human being the first time. The response to my inquiry from admissions is that they are not able to respond to me at this time. It wasn't clear that they would respond ever. (Ugh!)

She was assigned to Cascadia last year but we didn't send her. Hopefully that will help.

Anonymous said...


My understanding (and I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) is that HCC assignment functions more like an entitlement than an option. At the elementary level you can request to be placed at the assigned HCC school anytime before the school year begins. So, even if you don't have a time stamped school choice form, you should be okay.

Did you retest this year for eligibility (2016-7)? I may be wrong, but if she is in the private system and she qualified in 2015-6, she may not eligible without retesting.

Anonymous said...

I'd assume HCC school assignment needs to be made before May 31. Summer testing and assignment is for those moving to Seattle after the deadlines. From Superintendent Procedure for Student Assignment:

Students entering HC in grades 1-8 who apply during the period from Open Enrollment through May 31 will be guaranteed assignment to their HCC pathway school for next year, based on where they live...

See pg 4 of SP3130 for rules concerning continuing HC eligibility:

"...they have one year to enroll to begin services in Seattle Public Schools without the need for retesting."

Benjamin Leis said...

@BV - Sure I've been meaning to do that at some point. As always there's no guarantee of first hand accounts.

Generally also, for thread requests I do prefer email to reduce clutter in the comments.

I'll probably delete the request at some point after I set things up.

thepickle said...

See pg 4 of SP3130 for rules concerning continuing HC eligibility:

"...they have one year to enroll to begin services in Seattle Public Schools without the need for retesting."

Whoa, really? I don't remember that being the rule last year. Regardless, it's only been one year and in February, the source still said she was HCC.

I really wish I could get someone in advanced learning to answer my questions.

Anonymous said...

Pickle, my read is that you've met the rules. Eligibility was determined one year ago, yes? And you submitted your choice form on time during Open Enrollment, one year after eligibility was determined. If you waited another year, then you'd need to have your child retested. Assuming you selected HCC/Decatur on the choice form, it seems SPS somehow didn't process the form correctly. You still have until May 31 to get it worked out. Have you tried calling enrollment (be prepared to be on hold for a long time...)?

The rules are different for those already enrolled in SPS. Their eligibility continues as long as they are enrolled in SPS, even if they don't opt into the pathway school/program. They can take up to a year leave (parent sabbatical, travel abroad, etc.) and still retain HCC eligibility.

Benjamin Leis said...

I added some info on an upcoming advocacy workshop.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone looked into grade skipping for their child vs entering HCC? Curious whether this is a possibility and how to go about it.


thepickle said...

Thanks for letting me process here, everyone! I just received an email that it was an oversight due to a technical glitch and that they will re-assign her. So, tentative yay.

Skipper, do schools skip kids anymore? I skipped a couple of grades in the 80s/90s. I had a pretty hard time in high school. It seems like pursuing HCC now and maybe graduating early from high school if necessary might be a better path (but just my two cents).

Mirnada said...

Someone above mentioned that Hazel Wolf has a certain amount of slots for Spectrum they fill from the waitlist. Can someone explain to me - if we wanted to start there for Kindergarten (and we're out of the geozone) - would that mean that we'd need to test for Spectrum placement in preschool? Is that even a thing?

Mirnada said...

RE: above - might this mean that we could have a chance (albeit tiny) of getting in at 1st grade after testing, if he qualifies for Spectrum (although I know that there is a large population of kids who test as Spectrum)? Just grasping at straws, since our neighborhood schools seem like a bad fit for my kiddo.

Anonymous said...

@Mirnada, you might have a chance for 1st grade, not kindergarten. I don't think they start out the year with Spectrum seats in K.

My son qualified for Spectrum and got into HW in the first grade, even though we aren't in the geozone. That was a couple years ago so your mileage may vary. but he was 2nd on the Spectrum wait list and we were notified that he had a spot in June.

That said, we were disappointed with our his experience at HW and ultimately left.


Anonymous said...

@Mirnada - Your son is still really young. I would leave yourself open to the possibility that you'll have a good Kindergarten year at either Green Lake or MacDonald. They're both fine schools and for instance maybe your son will decide he really likes language immersion after he tries it out. Its fine to plan and remember to sign up for testing in the fall, but I wouldn't stress about it until you've seen what actually happens that year. That should give a much better sense of what's working or not.

Anonymous said...

@ Mirnada, my math- and science-loving son was like yours in that he had little interest in reading. At some point I realized that it was actually that he had little interest in reading FICTION. Science books were the spark--not wordy, science-related stories, but shirt snippets of science facts. Some kids don't want--or need--all the narrative. They just want the facts so they make their own connections. Maybe your kid is similar?

And for what it's worth, my kid is grown now...and he still never chooses fiction. Just not interested! :)

Mirnada said...

Anonymous - Yes, my son is more interested in non-fiction. He'll sit for a long period of time while I read a chapter about really dense subjects like neutrinos, black holes, and quarks, for instance I have no idea what he can actually comprehend at his age, but he's thirsty for it and retains a lot of it. He'll sit and listen to long chapter books, too (The BFG and Despereaux, for instance), but he doesn't show much interest in LEARNING to read yet. Which is fine. I know things happen at different times for different kiddos, and I've got no interest in pushing him. He's got perfectionist tendencies, too, so I'm afraid that's why he doesn't want to try to write letters. He's very aware that they don't look the way they should.

I wouldn't be angsting about any of this if I weren't flummoxed by the fact that our neighborhood schools - including our option school - seem to have a complete lack of differentiation of any kind. I'm trying to get a sense of where he'd need to be to test in to Cascadia. If it looks like it's a likely option, I'd keep him in his current Montessori preschool for kindergarten and transition after he can go to Cascadia. If his not being noticeably "advanced" at reading and writing at 4.5 seems to indicate Cascadia might not work out, I need to investigate other options...which is why I was also trying to see if we could go to Hazel Wolf.

I just don't understand why it's so hard for more elementary schools to implement Walk to Math and Walk to Reading. Is it really that cumbersome or expensive?

Maybe we need to sell our house and move to Maple Leaf :(

- Well aware that these are privileged problems to have.

Anonymous said...

@Mirnada- Many teachers don't like it because they were taught in school that labelling students is bad, and that all students have gifts. Delineating one student as further ahead in math than another and therefore requiring different work is to deny the gifts of the student who has not yet mastered the same concepts. The further ahead student should use the time to learn patience and help his or her peers.

We also did not have a good experience at Hazel Wolf with an advanced student. I would give McDonald a try if you can get in. Learning another language can be an excellent challenge. Learning math in Japanese might be just the thing.

-Runner Mama

Mirnada said...

Runner Mama,

Thanks so much for the input. I agree that labeling students is bad - both for those more advanced and those not as advanced. It's too bad students can't be taught to their ability without the labels.

You're right that learning another language might make everything more challenging/interesting/stimulating.

Anonymous said...


A good fictional bridge for your son might be "The Magic School Bus Series" or the non-fiction series "Let's Read and Find Out Science".

Provide him with plenty of fun arts and play-oriented phonemic awareness activities so he can find pleasure in building pre-reading and writing skills.

Based on his current interest in the periodic table of elements, you could buy a large paper roll and let him finger paint his own elements trading cards. Plenty of letters and numbers there!


Benjamin Leis said...

This is not strictly an HCC topic but I added a blurb on the top about 2 Tier busing. This city appears to be kicking in the needed funding to make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Benjamin - Thanks for posting about the busing. What is 2 Tier busing?

Anonymous said...

In the not too distant past, SPS transportation operated on a 2 Tier bus schedule, with middle and high schools starting around 8AM and elementary schools starting around 9AM. To save money, they switched to 3 Tiers.

Anonymous said...

How does math placement in SPS for 6th grade work if your child is coming from a private school and does not have standardized test scores?