Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July '17 Open Thread

Summer time and the living is easy ...

SENG webinar

"Social and Emotional Development of Twice-Exceptional Students: What does the Research Say?"

July 6th, 2017 4:30pm - 6:00pm (PDT)Cost: $40.00

Presenter: Megan Foley-Nicpon

High ability students with disabilities may have unique social and emotional profiles in comparison to their peers. In this webinar, Foley-Nicpon will review the research regarding common social and emotional difficulties twice-exceptional students may face. She will also discuss the psychosocial components of talent development and how these domains may manifest differently among high ability students with disabilities. Research-based strategies and interventions also will be discussed.

Foley-Nicpon is the highly respected Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center.

Suggestion Box

I'll generally post for-profit events like above  if they seem topical.  There are limits to how much I can vet however. What do folks think?   On broader lines, is there anything else you'd like to see in the upcoming year? 

What's on your minds?


Danielle Mercer Clark said...

It looks like the Board is forcing staff to move waitlists and I wonder what that means for families in the far NNE who were waitlisted and are hoping their kids can join their pathway students/friends at Decatur.

Anonymous said...

Which waitlists? Wonder what this means for the kids on Ingraham waitlist. Are they just moving elementary schools and Whitman?

Danielle Mercer Clark said...

More dialogue now on the Soup for Teachers FB site that indicates the Board supports "some" movement of waitlists. Budget constraints are making things especially difficult this year, on top of staff not being completely clear about how they interpret and plan to "use" SAP policy.


Here is the latest from Director Harris:

Option 3, siblings only, plus Whitman, (specific promises made to the Board and Community 01-11-17 mtg, fulfilled) plus 1:1 swaps for High Schools (Director Burke Amendment to move waitlists - net $ neutral) . Option 2 following policy had a $4.2M price tag attributed to it. We don't have $4.2M. This is the best we could do with the info. provided to us. The Student Assignment Transition Plan (SATP) must be rewritten so it is clear and fair. Pls. know these are horrific choices in light of capacity and budget crunches. Also Ethic Studies and Assessment Resolutions/Policies passed tonight - result of months of collaborative work.

Thank you, Leslie

Benjamin Leis said...

I added a blurb for a SENG webinar to the topline. Also this seems as good a time as any to ask for suggestions.

Anonymous said...

As to vetting of posted events, I personally don't expect that from you. It's the responsibility of the reader. You can add a disclaimer to each event posting if you're concerned.


Pm said...

The one issue that I have with advertising the SENG events is that they are usually expensive. I hated seeing them listed in the Cascadia newsletter because they are out of the budget for many families. This event seems more reasonably priced than most other from SENG.

Ghost Mom said...

FYI, there's a conversation about HCC going on at Melissa Westbrook's blog.

Also, in terms of suggestions for topics that would be of interest here:
At this time of year as we move out of one school and into the next, aging up and moving ahead, one thing that would be helpful to my family and probably others would be some advice-in-hindsight to parents of HC kids younger than your own.

AL Report said...

There is a report on advanced learning on pages 41 to 59 of the June 30, 2017 Friday memo.

It's an interesting read. There's some interesting info tracking student growth. And the factoid that only 49% of non-"spectrum" elementary schools permit walk-to math.

30% of all the district's AL/HC students live in the Northwest region and 20% in the Northeast region.

There's also some alarming opinions from principals ("I would love to see that no students are tested until 3rd grade, which would level the playing field.")

When asked if they thought the district should continue to designate certain schools as "Spectrum schools," more than 2/3 of principals asked said NO. 68% said no (46 principals), 4% said yes and 28% were unsure. The NO responses were most concentrated in the central region (85%) and the least concentrated in the SE region (41%).

Principals also said:
“Spectrum serves no purpose. Its function segregates our students in the service of what? Our goal is to provide outstanding instruction to all students.”
“Our advanced learning system is already so inequitable. Spectrum is not required by state law and we should not continue to be a system that allows white people to access more privilege.”

The district is going to do a literature review (partnering with Dr. Nancy Hertzog and Dr. Sakhavat Mammadov at UW to conduct a literature review of research-based best practices for students who are above or well above standard. They will also do a "design study" of seven schools to look at students who are "above or well above standard, but who are not in a self-contained HCC program" to see what learning environments, instructional and curricular practices and settings allow advanced learners to:
• Thriving socially and emotionally;
• Growing academically, and;
• Experiencing an engaging, positive and challenging learning experience within the general education setting.
The lit. review and design study reports will be delivered to the school board in fall 2017.

Equitable Identification Improvements! said...

On page 21 of the June 30, 2017 Friday Memo there was an update on district efforts to enhance equitable access to advanced learning for underrepresented populations, most especially low income, ELL and students of color. Great news in that 2 of the more than a dozen strategies they have tried are working!!!

1. 2nd grade “universal testing” using CogAT Screening Form at 32 Title I elementary schools
• The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) identified 63 students as newly AL
Of these, 39 were students of color (including 14 who were African American or Hispanic)
• The MSC identified 44 students as newly Highly Capable (HC)
Of these, 31 were students of color (including 16 who were African American or Hispanic)

2. Collaboration between the Advanced Learning Office and the Rainier Scholars (RS) Program
• The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) identified 56 students as newly AL
All 56 were students of color (including 21 who were African American or Hispanic)
• The MSC identified 44 students as newly HC
Of these, 27 were students of color (including 6 who were African American or Hispanic)

Overall, these alternative methods resulted in the identification of 190 students who had the following new eligibilities:
• 119 became AL (95 are students of color)
• 71 became HC (58 are students of color)

Lynn said...

The universal screening is still identifying disproportionate numbers of white and Asian students.

Over 1,700 second grade students at 32 Title 1 schools were given the CogAT screening test. 244 scored at or above the 94th percentile, high enough to be administered the full CogAT. About 45 students were identified as AL (Spectrum) eligible and about 40 were identified as HCC eligible. Here are the demographics of these 85 students:

18 Asian
16 African American
14 Hispanic
7 Multiracial
30 White

I looked at the number of second graders at each Title 1 school in April 2017 and used the December 2016 demographics data for each school to estimate the number of students in three groups. I came up with the following:

364 Asian students (5% identified as AL or HCC)
528 African American students (3% identified as AL or HCC)
368 White students (8% identified as AL or HCC)

New demographic data is now available on the district Data Profile page.

Here's the district's 2016 enrollment data:

African American 8,240 (down 5.6% from 2013) FRL 84% SpEd 17% AL/HCC 3%
Asian 7,818 (down 8.4% from 2013) FRL 52% SpEd 9% AL/HCC 14%
Hispanic 6,530 (up just 39 from 2013) FRL 64% SpEd 19% AL/HCC 6%
Multiracial 5,388 (up 40% from 2013) FRL 28% SpEd 12% AL/HCC 17%
Native American 342 (down 77 from 2013) FRL 69% SpEd 32% AL/HCC 5%
Pacific Islanders 209 (down 58 from 2013) FRL 75% SpEd 11% AL/HCC 2%
White 25,012 (up 10% from 2013) FRL 10% SpEd 13% AL/HCC 24%

There are lots of ways to look at this information. You might believe that poverty is likely to affect a child's intellectual development. If so, you could look at the percentage of non-FRL students in each category who are AL or HCC eligible. Here's that data:

African American 19%
Asian 29%
Hispanic 17%
Multiracial 24%
Native American 16%
Pacific Islanders 8%
White 28%

We can more accurately measure the equity of the programs with better information.

Hawkeye said...

I notice that the district says, "The focus of these efforts was to enhance equitable access to underrepresented populations, most especially low income, English Language Learners (ELL), and students of color." Why are they not including 2E students in these efforts? Under IDEA the district is federally required to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with specific disabilities. And yet by requiring the students to fall significantly behind average benchmarks before the district is even willing to consider the possibility of a disability, they are excluding gifted students with disabilities from receiving the federally mandated services. A similar case in Iowa just found the schools liable to pay for a family's private tutoring (and legal!) expenses. Surely we can get someone in Washington state to sue over this?

Anonymous said...

What use is it to improve identification of underrepresented students if the principals don't support the program anyway? Everyone on this blog has come up against Spectrum and HCC pathway principals who obstruct the program. We certainly have. I think in 5 more years advanced learning will no longer be present/effective in the SPS district. Then, I think, we will see a vast widening of inequities in educational opportunities in Seattle.


Anonymous said...

Maybe principals don't support the program BECAUSE it isn't equitable.

Who Knows?

Anonymous said...

Lynn --

Fascinating numbers and thank you for crunching them. I suspect for the 30+ URM that were identified, it is a big deal, even though it disproportionately identified more White and Asian students.

I think that Seattle needs to offer HCC testing to everyone and create an easy opt-out process. Now, I think that they have made the process quite onerous. Just in the past two years, it became much more difficult to have my 2nd child tested than my first (weekend appointments, online registration that required numbers I had to get from the school office, etc.)


Anonymous said...


My HCC child had such a bad year in the regular cohort we are pulling her out of the system entirely. I don't have faith that the HCC program could fix the problems the teacher caused last year and can't risk her having another terrible year. So, good-bye SPS and thanks for all the fish.

To your point - the HCC program seems under resourced and unstable and is driving us out of the district (we will homeschool this year, who knows what comes next).


Anonymous said...

@ Who Kmows, so it is more equitable to only teach new material to some students, while others are made to sit there "learning" material they already know, over and over?

Lettem Learn

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your troubles - I cannot begin to describe the issues we had dealing with HCC (changing schools, classroom monitoring, back-up tutoring, kids standing in to teach classes when the teacher was inadequate). The IBX program at Ingraham finally provided us with some great curriculum and rigor. I would love to see HCC testing for everyone. However, I know from talking to Bob Vaughan years ago that the testing is insanely expensive. It would be a good use for McCleary funds nevertheless. But there is little to offer these students once they qualify. Teachers who were skilled in handling advanced learners are retiring and the district appears to actively discourage new faculty from getting professionally interested. I am sorry to say this in front of hard working moderators like Ben Leis but advanced learning in SPS is at a crisis point as I see it.


Lynn said...


I too am sorry to hear your child has struggled. I hope that homeschooling provides an opportunity for your family to recover from a traumatic year.

Universal screening should not be unaffordable - several other districts in the area provide it.

Anonymous said...

Universal screening will not solve the demographic gap, as the limited attempts at Title One school-wide testing has demonstrated.

The district needs change the entrance requirements. Test scores should not be the driving force. And, until the scores are normed correctly, they shouldn't even be used.

The demand for Universal Screening is simply a smokescreen that continues HCC as-is.

Not Acceptable

Anonymous said...

Lynn has posted stats on this blog on demographics of surrounding district AL programs. In Bellevue and surrounding districts Asian kids are over represented in advanced learning programs, while whites and other racial/ethnic groups are underrepresented. I understand the admission criteria is also different than SPS. Are there any similar movements in surrounding districts pushing for "equity" for underrepresented groups? Or is there no discourse going on in these districts about Asians being over-represented & others underrep?

H. Lee said...

I think we're probably significantly underidentifying gifted Asian American students in Seattle...

Lynn said...

The district identifies and serves academically highly capable students. I'm all for changing the process so that we are looking for evidence of giftedness rather than requiring the child to jump over multiple barriers in order to be identified. In the end though, if a student doesn't have qualifying test scores in math or reading or cognitive ability, they are not academically highly capable.

The point is to identify children whose instructional needs cannot be met in the general education classroom. Identifying children who do not require services makes no more sense than providing special education services to children who do not require them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lynn.

It kind of sounds like you're saying two different things, however. Many gifted students need special services because of their unique needs but they may actually be underperforming in the classroom or be average. In that case, they would SEEM to be okay in the gen ed classroom, even though they aren't.

"Instructional needs" is what you say the point is, even after saying that giftedness should be looked for. Additionally, you have given evidence on occasions that the Title One scan did not produce more underrepresented students but, in fact, made the disproportionality worse. I'm wondering why you continue to advocate for universal screenings since you are aware that doing the same thing magnified will increase the demographic disparities in HCC.


Lynn said...

I advocate for universal screening not because I think it'll decrease the demographic disparities in HCC but because I think it'll identify more of the students who need the services. Changing the demographic disparities in HCC will require changing the demographic disparity of poverty in this country.

The program meets the system's needs by pulling students who are already two grade levels ahead out of the classroom. I don't think that's ideal. I think qualifying cognitive scores (on either the CogAT or an individual IQ test) should be the only requirement to access a self-contained program. This would require more flexibility in the program because students would come in with a wider range of skills.

Kids working above grade level in math and/or reading should have their needs met too - but this should be available in every school. Some are working above grade level through hard work. That doesn't mean they need a different kind of instruction. They just need more advanced work.

Anonymous said...

"Changing the demographic disparities in HCC will require changing the demographic disparity of poverty in this country."

Your statement is not supported by research. The lack of identifying underrepresented gifted students is much more nuanced than blaming it on poverty alone. See Augusta De Bonte, linked by Benjamin:


Anonymous said...


Lynn's views are supported by research.

I suggest you take a macro view of this situation, as achievement disparities are neither unique to nor only explained by the local situations and resources you reference.

If you review PISA's explanations for disparities by country, the primary reasons for lower scores are socioeconomic disadvantage and immigrant status.

However, students in Macao and VietNam, who faced the greatest socioeconomic disadvantage on an international level in the 2015 PISA test results, outperformed many more advantaged countries DESPITE their challenges.

One way to productively move forward toward solutions is to research what makes some students more resilient than others and determine if any of those findings can be applied in our schools.

Lynn is also correct in that the current testing criteria and program are structured toward high academically achieving students. I strongly believe any changes in testing criteria must be married to changes in program offerings and support services. One without the other is unfair to students.


Anonymous said...

Maybe why the disparity exists in the US is on display today on CNN.

Lynn's views are not supported by most noted gifted researchers:


Not Acceptable

Anonymous said...

Wow, NA. That CNN comment was pretty outrageous. I also don't see how that article you cited disputes what Lynn said. In fact, it supports a lot of it. For example, that many underrepresented gifted students have not been identified for advanced learner services supports universal screening; and that low-income students are often not identified supports the role of poverty.

I don't think Lynn was saying that elimination of poverty is the ONLY thing we can do to help minimize the eligibility disparities, because there are probably a few small things we could do that would still be consistent with our current achievement-based program. I'm thinking of things like working really hard to convince parents of high achieving but underrepresent groups to (a) test, and (b) enroll if eligible. Success in those could perhaps help a little, although it's not likely to change the overall percentages much at all.

The reason it sounds like Lynn's "saying two different things" is because our program--and the state legislation--are also unclear and somewhat contradictory themselves, FWIW. The law refers to highly capable students as those who ARE performing at significantly advanced levels, as well as those who have the potential to do so. Those two groups of students, however, need different things. Those who are intellectually gifted and already performing significantly beyond grade level need something different than those you are intellectually gifted but who face additional challenges that have thus far prevented them from performing at significantly advanced levels. We really SHOULD have programs for both--or ideally, intensive services designed to help the latter group catch up so they can join the former. But we don't. We have an achievement-based program, where you just do work about 1-2 years ahead. The curriculum isn't tailored to the unique needs of HC students, it's just delivered a little earlier. Do I wish we had a true "gifted" program instead of this achievement based program? Yes. But we have what we have, and our identification process is fairly consistent with our instructional program. Changing the eligibility criteria would, as N rightly noted, would also mean we'd need to change to program. (Lohman agrees.)


Anonymous said...

Did you read the De Bonte information?

It gives detailed information on how to increase identification...and they aren't a "few small things". Universal screening leads to more numbers in a very impoverished district like Highline. It has already been proven to not increase diversity in SPS. Keep doing it, spending the money, and pretending it's the Magic Bullet. The Title One school attempts have already proven that that it exacerbates disproportionality.

As for the "HCC program"? It is outdated since its mandate hasn't changed
since the state HC law was enacted. The law is relatively new but best practices and latest research are showing clearly what needs to be done at this point. SPS is still operating under the APP model, not the HC state law model.

Students should be compared to others with similar experiences and background--comes straight from OPSI and state law. It ain't happening in SPS, whether it's a gifted program, highly advanced program or something in between. That is really the bottom line to increasing diversity...and it is also stated by De Bonte as state law and is a best practice by NAGC.

BTW, if you think historical/current white supremacy doesn't have a role to play in the low numbers of Black and Hispanic children in HCC, think again. "Outrageous" doesn't mean it isn't true.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I read the De Bonte information. There's not a lot in the recommendations, however, that is currently feasible ($) and isn't already being done here. Many of the recommendations are related, such as universal screening and daytime testing. Our universal screening WAS done during the school day and that didn't help a lot (in terms of increasing diversity, at least), so there go two of the recommendations. We also do start the ID process in K, and we don't use a single cut-off score, so there's another couple checked off.

One-on-one testing for those who might need it is likely cost-prohibitive, but we do kind of do that already (i.e., private testing for those who can afford it, SPS-paid for those who can't). Providing screening tests in ELL students' native languages sounds like a great idea (but probably also costly), although such students would probably need additional support beyond the ELL support to do well in the program, since the recommendations seem to assume that a HiCap program is tailored to the needs of HiCap students rather than simply working ahead on the standard curriculum. (A student who has a hard time demonstrating their advanced abilities on the English version of a screener is likely not working a couple years ahead in that subject, so would need intensive support to get there.)

I do like the one about the fast rate of English acquisition being a good marker for possible identification. SPS should have ELL data, so could use quick progress in that as another reason to outreach to a family (similar to how high MAP or SBAC scores generate a letter about applying for HCC). Maybe they could consider that as an alternate measure for the academic achievement portion, since learning English is one of the key academic goals of these students. Again, however, we'd need the extra support to help get these students past the content gap.

I like the idea of rolling admissions but don't think our district could handle that (the AL Dept already struggles so much...), and I'm also not convinced that would have a big impact on diversity. Maybe coupled with a lot of outreach and lot of teacher recruitment of minority families.

Oh, and I do like the idea of practice tests for all. Every teacher could do them with their class, and it might help the teachers get a better sense of where their students stand, too. That should be cheap and easy, although in older grades teachers might need some training to be sure they have all the answers. I wouldn't assume that 100% of SPS teachers would qualify for HCC if tested.

So there are a few things, but I don't see a ton that would transform our diversity stats in the way you hope. To do that, we need to eliminate poverty and undo the historic effects of racism (which is tied to poverty, too), and/or we need to lower the cut-off scores for certain groups.