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   http://garfieldptsa.org/psat-for-11th-graders-only-at-garfield-on-wednesday-oct-11  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 (http://math.mit.edu/research/highschool/primes/program/), and remote programs (http://math.mit.edu/research/highschool/primes/usa) 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


kimberly said...

Our rising 8th grader has one of the broken schedules - she has no 3rd period listed, and French 2 isn't on the list. I suspect WMS is having issues due to the French teacher retiring. For some reason they didn't hire a new French teacher, but instead the Japanese teacher is taking on French as well. Sounds like a recipe for not enough sections for all the students.
This isn't the only WMS scheduling issue I've heard of. Some students are double booked in a period and missing others. Will be interesting to see if this is somehow resolved before schedules are handed out Thursday afternoon. I don't think they should have been posted to the Source in the state they are in. My student has a lot of anxiety about it at the moment (and I have a bit myself).

not mc troll said...

Schedules at WMS. I have talked to parents there (not in french sorry) and loved teachers are gone including the spanish teacher.

hcc students also lost this year at wms: blocked la/ss and teachers who have experience with hcc kids.

no caps

Benjamin Leis said...

@no-caps: I'm not going to insist but I would really like it if you chose another handle. We don't really have a trolling problem here.

Anonymous said...

Every year the schedules are such a mess. I don't understand how it can be that, in this computerized age, there is not a technological solution to the endless scheduling problems in SPS. GHS is especially problematic (and has been for years). I saw the post on the August thread about the GHS senior who got only their LA and SS classes (because those are required for graduation), but no science or math class on their schedule. And I know there are other seniors at GHS who did not get a math class (including one student who would like to become a doctor; it would be hard to explain to a college why you didn't take math your senior year if you are serious about a math or science degree). And, from the posts above, it appears that other schools also have issues. Why is this still happening? How can the computer not catch that a kid does not have a math class? Or that a kid has two classes scheduled for the same period? Or no class at all for one of the periods?

I worry that GHS is only prioritizing the classes needed for graduation, which most HCC kids have satisfied by the end of junior year. As a result, are those kids just getting the dregs when they are seniors? If so, how is it fair that they are not able to continue their studies in these core subjects? It seems inconsistent with the state's obligation to educate these kids and with the district's obligation to provide appropriate education for the HCC population.

The foreign language classes also continue to be a problem. I know of several students who did not get into AP Spanish. I even heard one kid got AP French instead of AP Spanish (despite the fact that they had never taken any French).

There are many positive things about GHS, but every year dozens, if not hundreds, of families are stressed out by the mess as they spend the first two weeks dealing with schedule corrections (and some are never fixed to what the student actually wanted, or even within the top 10 choices of what that kid wanted to study). Why is this problem never fixed?

- Bulldog Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Bulldog Parent, I don't know that it's so much a "computer problem" as a capacity issue. I think Kelli (Kelly?) has written a lot about it in the past, specifically re: the problem with the high school master schedule and the the lack of wiggle room in our overcrowded schools, which need to be operating at a little below capacity in order to make it work. There are also issues with the way the student counts are used in funding, with funding based on counts that happen later in the year and thus presume dropouts--in other words, we don't have enough money to provide classes for everyone at the beginning of the year.

I should also mention that this isn't only an HCC issue--there are plenty of non-HCC students who also want solid senior year schedules. I doubt it's also just a senior year issue, either. Oh, and it's only going to get worse, since this year's crop of freshman will be subject to the new graduation requirements, too--meaning not only will they need more credits, but there's also less wiggle room as to what they can be.

not pretty

Anonymous said...

Are there a lot of non HCC students not getting full senior schedules? Of course they all want one. My HCC student has about a 50/50 group of friends, and most of her HCC friends did not get a full schedule, while all of her gen ed friends got a full schedule. She thinks advanced classes were nearly impossible to come by this year, but if you were on a regular track, no problem.

- Beleaguered Bulldog

Anonymous said...

Agreed--my GHS senior got no math, and said that none of his HCC friends had been given math either. What gives? My cynical self begins to think that it may be deliberate--an effort to make GHS increasingly inhospitable for this population... But maybe that's because I've been here

-too long

Anonymous said...

That sounds like something Ted Howard would do. You know, to help reduce the opportunity gap. Stop educating one group until the others catch up.

Not OK

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted the AL office about this? Not that they can/would do anything, but if the district's plan for serving high school HC students is to send them to Garfield and Garfield isn't providing the classes they need, the district needs to fix that.

Additionally, not that it will do any good either, but it seems like families should complain to OSPI, too. Lots of families. After all, "for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education."

Not OK

Benjamin Leis said...

For the benefit of those of us not on the ground, what classes specifically were requested and not scheduled. Also what was the official response from the registrar when contacted about it?

Anonymous said...

The classes sought were variously AP Calculus BC and AP Statistics. Apparently there are problems with both. There has been radio silence so far to students and parents trying to inquire.

too long

Anonymous said...

There are 3 periods where AP statistics is being offered, not sure about the number of AP Calculus BC, though.
We found my child's counselor very helpful with helping my student fill an empty period in the schedule.
All classes are filled to the rim, but as long as my child has a desk to work, I'm not complaining. The school is overflowing.

Anonymous said...

bs it isn't survival. there is no doubt about how many seniors needed classes to be college ready. the reality is this isn't sports. sps has limited the kids going to IBX. NO ONE IS IN CHARGE OF HCC. you have fullmer and howard deteriorating the programs. they could have kept blocks and prepared teachers at wms. now no. and they could have had the classes that the seniors needed. they have been the pathway school for nearly two decades. 70 plus seniors without math is not acceptable.

football ready is a go at ghs. college ready is not. nyland, tolley, howard and fullmer all should be replaced. they are only working to water down hcc. this is basic education and if you don't provide it with 6 staff then what the heck is going on with al? there sure is heck is no oversight. and what happened to the committee for HCC?

no caps

SusanH said...

I wonder if a couple of key GHS teachers quit right before the start of school? That's the only explanation I can think of for all the students who don't have their advanced math classes. I mean, all schedule requests were submitted in the Spring, so it couldn't have been a surprise to the school how many students desired these classes. They are apparently scrambling now to fix the problem. My son said his friends had just started their Calculus AB class yesterday when the teacher got an email informing her that she'd now be teaching AP Statistics that period instead... So those Calculus students will now need to be shuffled around.

Anonymous said...

Last year's GHS schedule shows 5 sections of AP Calc AB, 1 section of Calc BC, and 3 sections of AP Stats. How does that compare to this year?

Anonymous said...

Hey parents, be sure to check out the agenda for the next school board retreat. HCC pathways for high school--or more likely, elimination of HCC pathways for high school and the theoretical incorporation of HC services into neighborhood high schools--is one of the big items, and they are planning to engage "stakeholder groups," study AB/IB offerings and participation rates at high schools, and develop and action plan for how to incorporate changes into the 2018-19 Student Assignment Plan. This is all happening FAST--they plan to bring it to the Ops Ctte in early October and introduce it (the proposed action plan???) to the board Nov. 1.

Here's a link:

Benjamin, this could probably use it's own thread...


Anonymous said...

The agenda includes tables of HCC enrollment patterns and projections (based on 2016-17 data). Other numbers are in the proposed boundary redraws.

Anonymous said...

re: no math for advanced seniors at Garfield. In the immortal words of Marie Antoinette, "Let them eat, er, Running Start."

Smacking Head

Anonymous said...

@DisAPPointed- Elimination of HS pathway schools for HCC would not surprise me. Jon Halfaker expressed overcrowding at Garfield (his son attended) was facing at a meeting I had attended. He felt it no longer made sense to have an HCC pathway high school, as all schools are offering AP classes. However, advanced learning rep had told me they would need to have a critical predictable mass of HCC to offer enough sections of all the AP courses to make schedules work. Right now the overwhelming majority goes to Garfield. I have done program planning and it will be tricky to coordinate without planning & predicting HCC headcounts when scattered among high schools.
- H

Anonymous said...

@ H. It will be less hard to offer "all sections" of AP courses at all schools than you think. This is because state law allows wide latitude in what constitutes Highly Capable services. As long as the district defines it, it is likely to work. No where is a certain level of AP courses or variety of courses a mandate. Heck, they don't even have to offer AP courses. They could just be honors courses.

The state has now set a baseline of what is needed to graduate. Everything else is gravy, and as long as something is offered, and offered in a way accessible to kids through all corners of the city, it will get the state sign off. So under this plan look for some small number of standard honors or AP courses at all schools, and a whole lot of running start in HCC kids' futures.

Seen It

Anonymous said...

Already, HC students are being told they have met graduation requirements, so don't need class xyz - even though they are at a school supposedly set up to serve HC students. With the elimination of HC pathways, I'd expect even more gatekeeping in 9th and 10th, as a means of restricting the number of AP/IB courses students can access before 11th/12th (if any).

Anonymous said...

@Seen it- So your prediction is offering less AP, not more. I suspect that there will need to be some standard between schools (equity) amount of honors or AP offerings amongst high schools. This could mean Roosevelt & Ballard offering less AP. Or all the other schools offering more. Let's hope it is the latter and raising the bar & access for all kids sounds better in theory. However, in practice if more general ed kids are pushed to enroll in AP courses not prepared for and fail not good either.

However, I cannot envision a school offering a full array of AP classes, yet enrolling small numbers of students.

Anonymous said...

Posted on sss blog but thought to ask here as well:

We are looking at online English/LA course options for our high school senior. I have seen Red Comet mentioned a few times in posts recently. Does anyone have any experience with Red Comet? How about BYU teacher-led online courses? Any feedback is appreciated.

Senior Mom

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have statistics on how many students take running start classes? I'd especially love if the numbers were broken down between HCC & GE students. As my kid nears HS, I'm actually appalled at how many students, at least anecdotally, aren't able to stay in high school for all of their requirements but have to go outside of the system to get the necessary classes.


Anonymous said...

National Merit Semifinalists should be announced soon. Based on parent reports, the index score needed for NMSF in WA is now 222 (up 2 points from last year?). Only NJ, at 223, has a higher anticipated cutoff.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Times usually publishes a school by school list for NMSF. Today was the official day for public release, but I have yet to see any announcements.

Anonymous said...

Yes they have been named. https://patch.com/washington/seattle/seattle-national-merit-scholarship-semifinalists-announced

I was surprised actually at how few from Ingraham & Garfield. Sad considering how not long ago those schools had a longer list. I think the issues at SPS overcrowded high schools are taking its toll on the kids, along with other issues. As the 'attack" continues on HCC as "wealthy" privileged etc. Infighting continues between "social justice warriors" who want to eliminate a program that actually serves mostly middle class, not wealthy. Maybe they should try working moving the district to identify more low income & kids of color instead. Maybe they will want to eliminate Roosevelt, Ballard, Ingraham and actually any north end school next as those schools have the same "demographic" they cannot stand. In reality we all know the actual "wealthy" in Seattle are mostly at private schools.

In contrast to Garfield & Ingraham, long lists from Lakeside, and Eastside schools Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newport etc.
-sad parent

Anonymous said...

@sad parent--your suggestion that they might want to eliminate north seattle schools is not far fetched. These are bussing advocates who are mad about things out of SPS control, unless they go back to bussing all kids for hours to create the equity approach they want. Hard to do that, even with bussing, with renegade principals.

Race 2theMiddle

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link. I am not surprised by the numbers as the bar was significantly higher this year. Center School, Garfield, and Ingraham were the -only- SPS schools represented. Congratulations to those nominated.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lakeside and Eastside schools way down, too, almost 50%, from last year. The bar clearly moved.



Anonymous said...


Wow! Look at the numbers. For all the talk about their "gifted genes" by the resident bourgeoisie in-crowd of this blog...

Interesting that with all of the informed parents who post here, no one bothered to mention these dismal SPS results. They are practically reaching for the Kubler-Ross books on another local blog that has many of these same readers.

It must be because of Honors for All. Yeah, that's it.

Looks like most of good-gene mixing folk bought homes on...

the Eastside

Anonymous said...


Our paths just crossed. The Kubler-Ross books are available on Amazon for those of you who are dealing the with sticker shock of low number at Ingraham and Garfield.

Many of us are not surprised a bit.

The numbers may be down because of the high cut-off score in WA state, but the proportion of SPS students to other Puget Sound students of similar demographics keeps getting more dismal.

That bar has been on a downward trajectory, despite ever higher numbers of students in SPS who are "identified".

The proof is in the pudding.

the Eastside

Anonymous said...

And, yes, they ARE blaming it on Honors for All, et al.

@sad parent: "social justice warriors" who want to eliminate a program that actually serves mostly middle class, not wealthy.

Predictable as night follows day.

the Eastside

Anonymous said...

I'll save you the time of rehashing the same discussion. See the comments starting Sept 8, 2015:


Anonymous said...

East side,

Incessant trolling is an indicator of social isolation and mental health issues.

Do Better

Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm getting a cut from Vlad.

Try rebutting the numbers...Oh, that's right,
they are too dismal.

Ad hominem

Anonymous said...

@the Eastside-- I also said "Maybe they should try working moving the district to identify more low income & kids of color instead. Maybe they will want to eliminate Roosevelt, Ballard, Ingraham and actually any north end school next as those schools have the same "demographic" they cannot stand. In reality we all know the actual "wealthy" in Seattle are mostly at private schools."

Maybe you should change your focus as well. Stop bullying families & kids. Our family is one generation away from poverty and I am a single mom. I am far from wealthy. I have been on food stamps in the past, but am now doing o.k. I also have a college degree, finally finished it in my late thirties, first in my family. Anything else? You resent kids like my son? In-fighting gets all of us nowhere. See the forest through the trees. Focus on the district and the real issue. Not the kids or families. How about advocating to the district to make the nomination process better for all including low income (including white) AND kids of color.
- sad parent

Benjamin Leis said...

[Moderator Note] This is probably a good time to remind folks to stay on topic and avoid personal attacks.

I do monitor all the comments and will step in based on my judgement. If you have a problem that you think needs attention please use the contact us link on the main page.

Benjamin Leis said...

Also for context I added this year's data and a link to last year's data into the post.

Anonymous said...

@ Eastside, did it ever occur to you that maybe the responses are predictable because they are true?

Anonymous said...

Wow, even if they bar was increased, very poor showing from SPS. The other schools seemed to keep up or drop slightly. Only 4 each from Garfield and IHS? In 2007, there were 22 from Garfield. In 2008, there were 20. Note that the program and number of APP (the old HCC) kids at Garfield was MUCH smaller than today. I know it's not a perfect benchmark of program quality, but it IS a data point that shouldn't be ignored. That test is not an IQ test about native intelligence - it's about fundamental skills (reading, critical thinking, math basics). Those things can be learned - Lakeside (and now Interlake since they started their program) get their kids those skills. They are not any smarter than SPS kids - just better educated on the whole.

-Old Timer

Anonymous said...

Could it be that there are fewer SPS students taking the PSAT/NMSQT?
I mean, $2.5K is nice but it's pennies in the bucket when it comes to paying tuition.


Anonymous said...

SPS administers the PSAT to all sophomores and juniors. If anything, more students took the PSAT. Since the cut scores increased pretty much across the US, one has to wonder if the test was too easy and did not have enough spread at the higher end.

Pennies in the bucket? $2.5K isn't exactly pocket change. Plus, it's the doors that open and scholarships that become available once named NMSF that make it a big deal. Some universities will offer full ride scholarships for NMSF status.

Anonymous said...

While $2.5K isn't pennies, it's the scholarships that are the real issue with PSAT. There's a whole list of schools that will give full scholarships or half scholarships if you're a finalist. For example, WSU will give a full tuition scholarship for 4 years. (You have to name WSU as your first choice with the National Merit org - fairly typical).

Here's a list: http://thecollegematchmaker.com/52-colleges-offering-full-tuition-scholarships-national-merit-finalists/

A slew of the colleges we looked at for my son offered 1/2 tuition scholarships (for 4 year) for finalists: Boston University, USC, etc. Bottom line, colleges like to have these finalists in their stats, so they can say "The class of 2020 had X National Merit Finalists." It is big money. And yes, SPS actually pays for this one so ALL the sophomores and juniors take it. There is no reason for such a poor showing - seems to me to the level of education has changed over the years.

Another list for scholarship hunters:


-Old Timer

Anonymous said...

"There is no reason for such a poor showing - seems to me to the level of education has changed over the years."

Given the rise in child poverty, broken homes, and lack of preparedness, this is not surprising at all.


Anonymous said...

@ Saddened, do you mean a rise in child poverty, broken homes, and lack of preparedness in Seattle specifically, relative to elsewhere in the state? Is that really the case? And if by lack of preparedness you mean academic preparedness, isn't that the point?

Or if you're suggesting these things are larger problems everywhere, there's no excuse for SPS students to be faring worse. The top 1% of students in each state qualify as NMSFs. I don't know how many SPS juniors took the PSAT last year, but it would appear that fewer than 1% of SPS students met that bar.

not impressed

Benjamin Leis said...

After attending Dir. Harris's community meeting I've been thinking about the West Seattle Pathway. Is that interesting to others as a topic?

Benjamin Leis said...

I just added a note about the fact that Garfield is restricting the PSAT to Juniors only this year.

JLardizabal said...

Garfield is restricting the PSAT to Juniors only "due to space constraints," yet Ballarad, Ingraham, Roosevelt, etc. have all figured out how to administer the test to their sophomores, as well. This is a blow to Garfield sophomores, who will be at a disadvantage compared to their peers when competing for National Merit Scholarships next year (except, perhaps, those students who can afford to take a private course with simulated testing conditions). Most egregiously, Garfield announced this decision only two weeks before the testing date, giving 10th grade students no option to sit for the test elsewhere.

Benjamin Leis said...

There are 3 different school board directors holding community meetings this Sat. I posted the specifics at the top. It would be useful for those concerned with the pathway decision to go out and offer feedback at all of them.