Saturday, September 30, 2017

HCS Advisory Committee is looking for volunteers

Welcome to the 2017/18 school year!

The Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee is gearing up for the year and we have a number of open positions to be filled. The committee includes parent representatives from each school that houses the Highly Capable Cohort. Reps attend monthly meetings during the course of the school year and meeting this are held the first Tuesday of the month, beginning in November.

Nominations are now being accepted for the following parent representative positions:

Cascadia Elementary
Decatur Elementary
Fairmount Park Elementary
Eagle Staff Middle School
Hamilton International Middle School
Madison Middle School
Garfield High School
Ingraham High School

Please use the attached Nomination Form Form Link to apply and send to the HCS AC Chair, Jeanne Thompson at Priority will be given to applications received by Friday, October 20.

The first Advisory Committee meeting will be Tuesday, November 7. Additional details about the meeting times and places with be coming soon.

Also, please note that High School Boundaries are a priority in the District this fall.
If you received an email from the District regarding the High School Boundaries, please register with Thought Exchange and provide your feedback concerning Advanced Learning opportunities. The deadline is next week.
We will share dates and times for upcoming boundary meetings as they become available.

Lincoln High School will open in 2019 and the first community meeting will take place in October:

Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 6:30-8:00 pm, Hamilton International Middle School, 1610 N. 41st Street

In addition, the HCC Race and Equity Advocacy Group will have its first meeting next week:

Thurs Oct 5th, 6:00-8:00 pm, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School Library (2nd floor), 2401 S Irving St, Seattle, WA 98144

Please stay tuned for additional meeting information.

Jeanne Thompson
HCS AC Chair

Friday, September 29, 2017

Report from the Boundary Task Force

[This writeup was submitted by a parent who was at the task force meeting yesterday.]

I went to the task force meeting yesterday. We are fortunate to have very engaged and knowledgeable parent representation on the task force. Most north end principals and about half the south end principals were there. First they discussed the new maps, G, H, and I. G and I are identical in the northend. There was discussion about transportation in H in the Ballard area, and some questions about whether these maps were representative of growth happening now at different rates in different places since they used numbers of current 9th-12th grade residents. The principals talked a lot at this stage about a magic number of 1200 students to have a full comprehensive school. These maps and the direction of the board and staff appeared to be to align middle and high school boundaries to have more continuity in the k-12 pathway. This obviously creates some boundaries very close to high schools, but just one got moved, the change area in the north of Wedgwood. Parents and principals asked about doing this in two stages- one to fill Lincoln, one to right size other boundaries, or grandfathering where possible to allow kids to finish programs. Or just only geosplitting where necessary. Principals in particular advocated that it is very difficult for kids to move midstream when they have begun programs which have very concrete sequences, that there are real consequences to moving them. Staff said they prefer to treat all families across the district the same, so that one group doesn't complain that another is treated differently, and perhaps it is better if pain is just all around the district, so the ones who "have to" get moved(to fill Lincoln) don't feel alone. In the vote, H was the clear favorite, with the addendum of north Wedgwood moving back to Hale, for walkability and to keep it at 1200.

Some task force members brought up the possibility of school choice, that with breathing room in schools people should be able to make choices again, such as students who live 3 blocks from a school but are in a different boundary. This is in tension, to me, with the idea that schools should not go below 1200, and so I am not sure how much choice there will end up being. Staff didn't really engage in that question.

Then the conversation moved to the south end, specifically around Cleveland. I want to mention that everyone in the meeting was very concerned about appearing on the blogs, and so there was some pressure in the room, but I was very impressed with everyone's dedication, and I hope they see themselves as portrayed positively. But most especially the Cleveland representatives, who seemed to have built such a thoughtful school and community. Their school is 868 students with a capped waitlist, and it is hard for them to provide services with a small school. The district would like to consider making it an attendance area school for stability for Cleveland as well as surrounding area schools. Someone asked if they'd be able to provide a robust experience if it was attendance vs option, given that in that facility the very largest it could get was 930 students(well shy of the 1200 number discussed in the first hour). The admin seemed not to consider that a huge stumbling point. They were concerned that codifying lines around Cleveland, since it is already a desirable school, would accelerate the gentrification already happening in that neighborhood compared to some parts of RBHS.

At this point the discussion moved to HCC, and Ted Howard talked about his experience having HCC in the building and how the neighborhood has changed, that he's tried lots of things but it's just hard to serve kids coming in at a 4th grade through college level. I know he catches a lot of flak on here, but yesterday, at least, he seemed like he was just struggling with serving all the kids in his school, and that it was really crowded right now. Most of the principals at this point talked about the difficulty of serving kids at lots of different levels, especially if there are just a few of them in a school. The Franklin principal's executive director brought up that she thought having just a few HCC kids might mess up the tone of the 9th grade academies, since everybody usually takes the same thing, but these kids come in needing different classes. The Hale principal disagreed that kids need different classes, said that she serves HCC kids having them be in her academies(and retake classes), "maybe not their rigor, but other things." The group asked for data from Advanced Learning in order to make a recommendation around south end boundaries, because Garfield's boundaries change based on what happens to HCC.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Survey on High School Pathways

[The survey appears to be live and running until 10/4. email if you have any issues or think you should be invited.]

We are in the process of reviewing the Student Assignment Plan (SAP) and developing related future high school boundaries. In early November we will bring the recommended changes to the SAP to the School Board for approval and implementation in the 2018-19 school year.

The Student Assignment Plan guides student enrollment and ensures students have access to the services they need close to home. One area of the Student Assignment Plan that is under review is how we serve our high school advanced learners. Given the increase in enrollment across our district, the opening of Lincoln High School in 2019, and the upward trend in the number of students who are eligible for Advanced Learning services, we will be seeking your input on how to improve access to High School Advanced Learning opportunities. Any High School Advanced Learning changes made would not go into effect until the 2019-20 school year.

Background: Currently, eighth grade students designated as Highly Capable and who are enrolled in the middle school Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) program are automatically assigned to Garfield High School.  Given the projected enrollment, Garfield High School’s capacity challenges will continue to grow. In addition, a task force is underway, preparing a set of recommendations for new high school boundary scenarios to accommodate the opening of Lincoln High School in northwest Seattle. High school HCC pathway(s) will influence the final high school boundaries.

As we make changes to the 2018-19 Student Assignment Plan and high school boundaries, we are exploring opportunities to address both the capacity issues at Garfield and increase advanced learning opportunities at high schools across the district.

Opportunity to Share Your Views: Related to these decisions, we are seeking to better understand the values and thoughts of our families, students, and staff about high school advanced learning options and related supports. As part of this comprehensive review, we have partnered with ThoughtExchange, an online tool, to facilitate a three step process to gather feedback. The process can be completed on any computer or mobile device, however, you will be required to create an account.

Early next week, you will be receiving an invitation to participate from ThoughtExchange. We will also post a schedule of additional community meetings that will include translation and ADA supports as well as a process timeline.

Please visit the Advanced Learning page for more information about the Advanced Learning Programming or you may direct questions to
If you have questions about this engagement, you may direct them to

Wyeth Jessee
Chief of Student Supports

Demographics and Boundary Zones

Here's some more data and scenarios for folks to consider.  Some of the potential impacts outside of the North are a bit unexpected and if you're near Lincoln there are some wildly different possibilities. I'll add on other sources as I find them and time allows.

Demographic Projections

High School Task Force Scenarios

Inside the notes for the meetings are a large variety of maps.  Here are the latest ones. As you can see there are large differences in what might happen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lincoln H.S. Planning Meeting now on Oct 3rd and Oct 12th

Dear Eckstein, JAMS, and McDonald Families:

I apologize that the October 3rd Lincoln High School meeting conflicts with your schools' open house.   I appreciate your interest and enthusiasm.  

I have added a second “first meeting” to be held on October 12, 2017 at 6:30-8:00 at Hamilton
I will also hold the October 3rd meeting. 

Lincoln High School will be (re)opening in the fall of 2019 to address growing enrollment in our city.  Boundaries for 
Lincoln have not yet been finalized, but work is starting to “build an innovation high school.”

We need YOU to help shape the Lincoln experience.
Families, students, and community are invited to help design an amazing experience for ALL students.  A school that cultivates a community of learners who are curious, connected, confident who are empowered to make measurable positive impacts in their lives, their community, the nation and the world. 
Planning is just beginning.  Please join us on October 3 at 6:30 -8:00 or October 12 at 6:30-8:00

Both meetings will be held at Hamilton International Middle School, 1610 N 41st St.
Please refer to Lincoln High School website for information about Lincoln.

Ruth Medkser, Principal

Parent Proposal

[I received this write up in the mail from a parent. I thought it would be a good conversation starter.  Full confession, I have not made up my own mind completely yet and I definitely welcome other submissions with different ideas if you email them to me.]

Problem: Garfield is over capacity and cannot continue to serve all HCC students in the long term.

Neighborhood schools option
: The district, as a way to reduce overcrowding has suggested sending all HCC students back to their neighborhood schools. In my opinion this option presents great challenges in serving students at all high schools. Some high schools are bound to have low enrollment in AP courses and thus those courses will be very expensive to run. In addition, it will be very difficult for students at schools with limited HCC students and limited AP courses to make their schedules. Also, what would happen to HCC taking IB/IBX at Ingraham in this scenario? Will they also have to return to neighborhood schools?

: Some members of the district/board have mentioned placing a north end HCC pathway at Lincoln. However, some HCC parents have expressed that it will be hard to build a school that offers analogous AP classes and sections as Garfield in such a short time frame. In addition, the district is moving forward with a plan to offer the dual language immersion program at Lincoln and for it to be a neighborhood “innovation” high school. Some have suggested this means more of a “project based learning focus” and not an AP focus. This means the focus of Lincoln may not be congruent with a focus on advanced learning. In addition, as Garfield would continue to serve south end and W Seattle HCC pathway students, they will be offering a different (AP courses) advanced learning pathway program.

Roosevelt or Ballard option
: It might make much more sense for parents to advocate a "north end" HCC pathway that expands AP sections at either Roosevelt or Ballard. Both schools already are established and have an array of AP courses. They would need to add more sections (like Garfield offers) to allow full access and accommodate scheduling. Under this plan, Garfield would continue to serve the South side of the district.Given the number of students, it probably makes sense to pick one of the two schools rather than both so there will still be a viable cohort and critical mass. Boundaries will also need to be drawn big enough for Lincoln to pull in enough neighborhood students to fill Lincoln.

Numbers and projections and boundary scenario’s will also have to be developed by the district to see if this option is viable and doesn't force too many neighborhood students out from Ballard & Roosevelt to Lincoln to make room for an HCC cohort at either school.

Ingraham option
: Another idea is to simply send all north end HCC students to Ingraham to take IB as Ingraham will be adding additional 500 seat capacity in 2019. This could also be an attractive alternative option.

However, IB is different than AP and one or the other are often mentioned as a better fit for students. Also, would it also be inequitable for students to have different HCC pathway programs serving north versus south end, as south end would still have access to multiple AP sections at Garfield. In addition, Ingraham seems to be moving away from serving HCC pathway students with the discussed potential elimination of IBX. In addition, Ingraham has capped the number of HCC students and 40 HCC students were turned away this year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reminder Advanced Learning Identification Season is Almost Over

This is the last week to apply to be tested and be identified as an advanced learner this school year. (9/22)

Official Link:

In order for your child to be tested and considered for eligibility for Seattle Public School's Advanced Learning Programs and Services you must first submit a referral form.
Referral and Test Scheduling must be completed online via the Source.  

To begin, simply login to your Parent or Guardian account on the Source, and click on the “Advanced Learning” button to start the referral process. If you do not have a Source account, please click here for registration instructions. Please contact if you need assistance.
Advanced Learning also has available Translated Referral Forms* in the following languages: AmharicArabicChineseOromoSomaliSpanishTagalogTigrignaVietnamese. If you are in need of one of these translated forms they are available at your child's school site (please ask the office staff) or in the John Stanford Center lobby.

*Please note: Translated forms have been checked for ADA accessibility compliance. If you  need assistance reading these forms contact Stephen Martin at

There seem to be several improvements in the process including the testing dates are now self scheduled.

Friday, September 8, 2017

High School Pathway Changes

In response to the capacity issues at Garfield  the staff is proposing to eliminate the HCC high school pathway and to meet student needs at their reference High Schools by next year.  This will be discussed at the board retreat tomorrow 9/9.

Recommendations and Next Steps 
• Engage stakeholder groups in exploring HCC services and AP/IB course offerings at the high school level
• Study the AP/IB offerings and participation rates at all comprehensive high schools
• Develop an action plan that would detail the required steps to meeting a shared vision for advanced learning opportunities at all SPS high schools
• Integrate changes into 2018-19 SAP in sync with new high school boundaries

link: Board Agenda

I'm looking for more details but to shift the Ballard and Roosevelt students in 2018-2019 to their reference area schools before Lincoln H.S. opens would be a capacity disaster of its own regardless of any programmatic considerations.

Some more thoughts

Currently 3 high schools Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard are beyond their capacity and straining to handle their student bodies.  [We need this year's data to fully quantify the situation]  By 2019 Lincoln H.S. will come online as well as the 500 student addition at Ingraham which should relieve a lot of this pressure. As currently framed in the slides it sounds like the staff is attempting to make changes a year earlier.  A permanent solution to the 1 year gap would be poor planning since it would shift the capacity problems from Garfield to Ballard/Roosevelt. [We lack this year's data but I assume we're talking 40-60 students ]

Assuming that none of the permanent changes will occur until 2019 when there is more space to make adjustments I still have doubts about this plan. The internal logic of the slides is that advanced learning is in conflict with racial equity. The effect of using reference area schools would only be to further segregation in the districts not improve it. 

At the same time the atmosphere at Garfield has ranged from neglect to active hostility towards HCC. Last year the honors classes were effectively removed in 9th grade English and Social Studies. This year there are accounts of failure to schedule core math classes like AP Calculus. 

There has also been a steady drumbeat of articles like this latest one below:

I also don't believe the current options of AP/IB/Running Start are a great fit for all Advanced Learners and I think there is plenty of space for brainstorming better curriculum.

Ultimately, I think something needs to be done specifically at Garfield to improve the situation. But I'm not sure dissolving the pathway is the best way forward.  Among the issues with this idea are
  • The difficulty of monitoring a program at 10 different sites. Given the realities of site based management a coherent, consistent experience is harder to maintain every time we add schools.
  • The vastly different cohort sizes between schools. The low number sites will have trouble scheduling sufficient classes and they will likely be smaller. i.e. more expensive.  This scenario is very different if you go to Roosevelt versus Nathan Hale for example.
  • The monkey wrench this throws into the capacity decisions in the north end. As I last understood Lincoln actually needs imported HCC students to fill the building. In fact, using the voluntary movement of AL parents out of their reference zones is one of the best tools for relieving pressure and filling under utilized buildings.


The most obvious one is to stay the course. Hold out in all 3 buildings one more year and let the new space come online in 2019. The split of the north end students to Lincoln should relieve Garfield which is the immediate impetus for this change.   If Garfield really can't accommodate students next year, we already have a wait list for Ingraham and some space there for portables. It would make a lot of sense to grow the cohort in advance of its new wing especially if its a one time change. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

September '17 Open Thread

Welcome back to a new year.

Math Video

Watch AoPS founder, Richard Rusczyk, deliver an engaging talk about the importance of problem solving at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology!
Posted by Art of Problem Solving on Friday, September 8, 2017

This looks like it would be of interest to many here. 

National Merit Semi-Finalists Announced

"For the third year in a row, Bellevue’s Interlake High School had the most National Merit Scholarship program semifinalists of any school in the state, with 27 students who will compete for academic scholarships next spring.

Skyline High School in Sammamish was second, with 18 semifinalists, followed by Seattle’s Lakeside School, with 16.

The state’s semifinalists had the highest scores on the 2016 PSAT, which 1.6 million juniors took this past year. Each state’s number of semifinalists is proportional to the state’s percentage of the graduating seniors from across the nation."

Congratulations to all the SPS recipients:

Ingraham H.S.: 4
Garfield H.S: 4
Center School: 1

Garfield restricts PSAT to juniors.
Its being reported  by the PTSA that Garfield is only allowing Juniors to take the PSAT this year.

High School Research Opportunity

Are you a US high school student interested in doing research in math or computer science/computational biology before you get to college? Check out MIT PRIMES (Program for Research in Mathematics, Engineering, and Science), and put in an application today. Both in-person (, and remote programs ( are available

Director Meetings 9/30

Dir. Geary   1:00 - 2:30
Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney Place, 6951 62nd Avenue NE  

Dir. Patu  9:00 - 11:00
Raconteur, 5041 Wilson Ave S.

Dir Burke 1:30-3:00
Greenwood Branch Library, 8016 Greenwood Ave. N