Monday, October 30, 2017

HCC Advisory Committee Position on the High School Boundaries

Dear HCC community,

As you are probably aware, the District is considering changes to the high school boundaries as part of the Student Assignment Plan that will go into effect for the 2019/20 school year.

Meetings are happening and feedback is being collected, and the HCS AC has sent the email below to make clear our position and recommendations regarding the highly capable and high school pathways.

Today the HCS AC sent an email to the Superintendent and the Directors expressing our position (see below) in advance of staff preparing their recommendations to the Board in November. Final votes by the Board are slated for January 2018 with implementation in Fall 2019.

We strongly encourage the HC community to participate in the Boundary Meetings and provide immediate feedback to the District regarding any potential changes to the HC pathways. Emails can be sent to - and

The three most recent proposals can be found here:

Remaining meetings include:

Email sent 10/30:

Dear Superintendent Nyland and Directors Blanford, Burke, Geary, Harris, Pinkham, Patu, and Peters,

As you consider changes to the Student Assignment Plan and specifically to the High School Boundaries, the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee would like to make its voice heard on potential pathways for HC students.

Right now, Highly Capable students have a guaranteed pathway to Garfield High School with an option to attend Ingraham IBX. The HCS AC recognizes that Garfield High School is significantly over capacity at nearly 2,000 students this year. With the recent expansion of HC sites to three middle schools in the north end of Seattle (Hamilton, Jane Addams, and Robert Eagle Staff) and one in West Seattle (Madison), we also recognize that an expansion of the HC pathways for high school is a pragmatic option.

HCS AC strongly recommends that the Superintendent and Board consider adding no more than one new pathway for HC high school students in the north. Furthermore, there should not be an expansion of pathways in the south, and Garfield should remain the HC pathway for students in the south end. We strongly support and encourage the expansion of Advanced Placement courses at additional high schools, but that should not mean dispersing HC students into all high schools. We further recommend that all HC identified students be grandfathered in at their current school.

This committee has long held the position that decisions regarding program placement should not be driven by capacity issues. The integrity of the program at all levels is contingent on having a cohort size that can sustain robust and rigorous offerings. This is also the case at the high-school level.

In our District, the highly capable service delivery model is a combination of acceleration together with increased depth. This means that HC students have experienced this style of learning with a group of their peers for years (perhaps even since first grade). For this reason, there should continue to be options for accelerated study at the high-school level. The most common incarnation of this in high school is Advanced Placement classes. Garfield as a pathway school has a robust offering of AP classes in the arts, math, science, literature, social sciences, computer science and foreign languages together with additional offerings in theater, music, visual art, and journalism.

If an additional pathway were to be created in the north for high school, it is critical that a site be selected that can offer a comparable array of classes as those offered at Garfield and that any site allow students to continue on with their learning without needing to repeat any coursework already completed.

As the District opened new HC sites at the elementary and middle school levels, this Committee--along with the Advanced Learning Task Force in 2015--recommended that cohort sizes remain strong in order to maintain the critical mass necessary to provide the academic and social emotional supports to meet the needs of this population of students. A robust cohort size helps enable efficient use of the limited resources available for the social emotional needs of this population.

Over the course of several decades, the parents and teachers of HC students in Seattle have advocated for the same set of principles for the service and program delivery to HC students. Those that specifically relate to program placement include:

  1. Provide consistent and appropriate curriculum across all sites
  2. A critical mass cohort at each site
  3. Principals, teachers and counselors that are truly committed to and experienced in supporting highly capable and 2e students and their education
  4. Sites with welcoming and supportive communities
  5. Providing a continuum of strong and rigorous programs for highly capable students

We strongly urge the Superintendent and Board to take these points into consideration as they consider any changes to the pathways. Rapid proliferation--or even elimination--of pathways through high school would cause too much inconsistency across the District for HC students and it would create a lack of opportunity for many students who have been accelerated in their learning for many years.

Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee

Monday, October 23, 2017

More Assignment Plan / High School Pathways Updates

First this document was put out by the district:

"One area of this work under review is how we serve our high school advanced learners. Given the opening of Lincoln High School in 2019, development of new boundaries, and the upward trend in the number of students who are eligible for Advanced Learning services, we have been seeking input on how to improve access to high school Advanced Learning programs and courses across the district.

Additionally, as part of this review we have been examining the projected Highly Capable (HC) enrollment at Garfield High School. Currently, HC seats at Garfield are reserved for any student who has participated in the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) in eighth grade. Within a few years, the majority of Garfield’s student body will be students who have participated in the HCC program, limiting neighborhood student enrollment and access. Garfield will struggle to meet HC capacity needs while also maintaining strong neighborhood student enrollment."

Current Draft Plan:

The main new piece here is a stronger guarantee of grandfathering for current Garfield students.

Still extremely problematic:

  • There is no plan for how to serve students at their reference schools. There really isn't any budget to compensate for low numbers of kids who need  particular classes. Deferring the planning process such as it is will not lead to good outcomes.  

  • The outreach process is literally occurring after the votes about the decision have happened. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Two Updates from the HC Advisory Committee


The 2017-18 meeting schedule for the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee is listed below. All meetings are on Tuesdays and run from 6:30 until 8 p.m.

Meeting Schedule
November 7, JSCEE, Auditorium
December 5, JSCEE, Room TBD
January 9, Garfield High School Library 
February 6, JSCEE, Room TBD
March 6, Robert Eagle Staff Middle School, Library
April 3, JSCEERoom TBD
May 1, JSCEE, Room TBD
June 5, Madison Middle School, Library
Also, they are posted on the District site here:  

Nominations for Positions Still being Accepted

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 year 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 Link to the Form 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 at JSCEE Auditorium. Additional details about the meeting times and places will be coming soon.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Student Assignment Plan Open Houses

Dear Families,
You are invited to a Student Assignment Plan (SAP) Open House where district staff will be available to answer questions about updates to the 2018-2019 SAP including Special Education, school choice and Advanced Learning opportunities in high schools.

Also at the meetings, families can review the recommended high school boundary maps and provide feedback. New high school boundaries will be implemented in 2019-2020 to accommodate the opening of Lincoln High School in Northwest Seattle and an addition at Ingraham High School. The top three boundary scenarios are posted to the High School Boundary Task Force Recommendations page for community review.
During the week of Oct. 30, all families will be invited to participate in a survey and provide formal feedback on the three recommended boundaryscenarios.


Eckstein Middle School Lunchroom, 3003 NE 75th St.
Oct. 23, 2017, 6:30-8 p.m.

Ballard High School Commons, 1418 NW 65th St.
Oct. 26, 2017, 6:30-8 p.m.

McClure Middle School Gym, 1915 1st Ave. West
Oct. 30, 2017, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Cleveland High School Lunchroom, 5511 15th Ave. South
Nov. 8, 2017, 6:30-8 p.m.

West Seattle High School Lunchroom, 3000 California Ave. SW
Nov. 9, 2017, 6:30-8 p.m.

These informal meetings will follow an open house style, so families may arrive as their schedule allows. Translation services will be available at each meeting.
For additional background information and a decision timeline, please see the High School Boundaries page. Please note that the boundaryscenarios presented are not finalized and some details are subject to change as we integrate feedback from families, students and staff. Staff will present a final recommended High School Boundary map to the Operations Committee on Dec. 7. We anticipate the School Board will take action on new High School Boundaries at the Jan. 17, 2018, Board Meeting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Spectrum Updates

The year long review process initiated by the Advanced Learning department is moving along. Spectrum is a bit out out of this forum's focus but since I expect the review to turn to HCC this is worth examining.

Review Phase 1
Program Review
Literature Review

On the positive side, the parent response sections reflect real frustrations with the program and the authors were up front about the issues.

On the less positive side, there's a lot of distrust of  any sort of grouping on the principals side and general belief that a single classroom meets everyone's needs. This includes dislike of practices like walk-to math.


There's obviously a huge gap between these two positions.

The conclusions are disappointing in the sense that they are mostly stay the course:

I'd argue that this is what both the central staff and most principals claim is already happening on the ground especially with programs like ALO.  There is no  analysis on what changes would need to be taken to make a difference for students.  Realistically, the way the AL department is setup it doesn't even have a mechanism for implementing any of these. Site based management means any such change is up to the 90+ principals in each building.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Editorial: We need both Maps with and without HCC Pathway(s)

The current High School Boundary Advisory committee has been working with a set of scenarios and maps that don't clearly indicate whether they assume an HCC pathway in the numbers. This has made evaluating them and the effect of the pathway on capacity harder to determine.

If you believe that minimum cohort sizes are need, or preservation of peer groups is important, or capacity requires the cohort to move in order to balance numbers in various buildings these need to be discussed and generated right now while the decision making process has not gone down one path blindly.

From a pure process standpoint, until the pathway choice is made, its broken to not chart out all the possibilities. Further, its not that much work to generate such maps.

I'd urge readers to contact board members and staff asking them to do the right thing here.

Flip Herndon, Associate Superintendent, Facilities &
School Board+senior staff -

Monday, October 2, 2017

October '17 Open Thread

Well its a month into the new year and we're definitely in the thick of things already.

Testing and Identification

The testing season has started and we've often had questions about the process in the past.

Here's old link I had for info on the Cogat Test: CoGat7 Info:

Also the general cutoffs used by the district are found here:

For parent's involved this year, how is it going?

West Seattle

I'm not sure how many readers we have  in W. Seattle, but this is the 1st year of W. Seattle being the pathway, given the overall situation I'd love to hear any status updates.

Math Contest

"The USA Mathematical Talent Search (USAMTS) is a free mathematics competition open to all United States middle and high school students.

As opposed to most mathematics competitions, the USAMTS allows students a full month, or more, to work out their solutions. Carefully written justifications are required for each problem. The problems range in difficulty from being within the reach of most high school students to challenging the best students in the nation. Students may use any materials - books, calculators, computers - but all the work must be their own. The USAMTS is run on the honor system - it is an individual competition, whose competitive role is very secondary. (Although we do give prizes.)

Student solutions to the USAMTS problems are graded by mathematicians and comments are returned to the students. Our goal is to help all students develop their problem solving skills, improve their technical writing abilities, and mature mathematically while having fun. We wish to foster not only insight, ingenuity and creativity, but also the virtue of perseverance, which is equally essential in scientific endeavors."

There are sure to be other H.S. threads so what other topics are on your minds.