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


Anonymous said...

Thanks! Great to know they are getting involved. Bigly

Anonymous said...

Hi Benjamin-- Would you consider posting this on the Facebook HCC page? I think that is the other place where many parents are going to get this information. This is important and will help parents understand why the reasons behind advocating for a single additional north end pathway. Thanks.

Benjamin Leis said...

@NW - I post on Facebook from time to time but there are a lot of groups and in addition I try to be sensitive about spamming too much.

That said, you can always post a link to here if you think its interesting to any fb groups.

Anonymous said...

What is the fb bcc page

Anonymous said...

@ 2:16PM- HCC Seattle Middle School Facebook Page.

Anonymous said...

Also just announced " Lincoln High School, which is scheduled to open in 2019, will not be designated as an “International School,” and it will not be designated as a Dual Language Immersion Pathway from Hamilton."

Anonymous said...

Is there any chance Lincoln would be the designated HCC high school? Seems like that would make the most sense.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a link to a FB page for SPS HCC the above info returns nothing for me.

I would have thought Lincoln would have been the best bet for a future HCC north pathway. Other options are out there too. Some would remain in their neighborhood school.


Anonymous said...

@TY-- Are you on Facebook? It is a closed group created by and open to HCC middle school parents. It is not on the SPS website.

Anonymous said...

The Save Seattle Schools blogspot also has a post about HC pathways and seems to have alot of activity.

Benjamin Leis said...

Btw: its been discussed elsewhere and its not really an HCC issue but I'm a bit flabbergasted that Lincoln is no longer on track to be the language immersion pathway for high school either.

I can't figure on what grounds that decision was made.

NESeattleMom said...

Benjamin, I have heard the principal wants Lincoln to be a comprehensive high school rather than a school with various programs...

Anonymous said...

NE Mom, so crazy that she is able to decide what she wants vs the community....
-Lincoln zone

Anonymous said...

Crazy that this "plan" is coming out -after- the community meetings. Students will be split from Roosevelt and Ballard, both of which currently have some AP course offerings, to a school that claims it wants to be a comprehensive high school without any mention of -gasp- AP courses? Then they suggest families want advanced learning opportunities closer to home, but that applies to everyone -but- Lincoln families? Perhaps we have different ideas of what a comprehensive high school offers. Hint: it brings to mind core high school classes with a selection of AP offerings. You know, what many surrounding area high schools provide.

Anonymous said...

I think its misrepresenting Medsker's views to say there will be no AP classes at Lincoln. She has expressed concerns about taking too many of them (however you define that) and it doesn't sound like adding a comparable selection to say Garfield is an aspiration of hers.

Anonymous said...

A principal's personal beliefs about what's best for serving AL students should not be driving program placement or limiting course options for students. It would not be unfair to characterize the video at the Lincoln planning meeting as anti-AP.

Anonymous said...

We should all question the timing of this show. I don't believe the linked schools proposal is in response to feedback from community meetings, which makes me distrust the timing on this communication even more. Why now? And who decided which board members are on the operations committee? Good grief? Does anyone think something good will come out of today's meeting with that slate of officers making the calls?

Best Inshow

Anonymous said...

The Operations Committee doesn’t make this decision they send the plan to the full board with a recommendation to approve or consider it.

Anonymous said...

Can someone else clarify...Nov 15th vote on new plan for 5 HC regional pathways effective 2019, Jan is vote on new SAP boundary. In some cases people will not know their HC pathway until Jan HC pathway will be determined by reference school boundary decided in Jan.

Anonymous said...

Nevermind I see introduction NOV 15th and Vote on HC pathways Dec 6th.