Saturday, January 27, 2018

Notes from the Ballard Meeting on new Science Standards

I received some updates from the folks (mostly at Ballard) organizing around the proposed High School Science realignment,


District Page:

"The current and new course sequence are: 
Current Requirements
  • 9th Grade: Physical Science
  • 10th Grade: Biology and Biology B
  • 11th Grade: none
New Science Requirements for Class of 2021 and Beyond
  • 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A
  • 10th Grade: Biology A and Biology B
  • 11th Grade: Physics B, Chemistry B
  • 11th Grade: Advanced Path: HC, AP or IB science
  • 11th Grade: Alternative Path: Science Elective or Career and Technical Education
Because high school students will now have to take three years of science instead of two, the High School Alignment Team has already begun re-arranging standards taught in 9th and 10th grade to help prepare students to successfully take the third year of science and pass the state science exam.

The Alignment Team bundled the standards into six one-semester courses. Each course includes content in either biology, chemistry or physics (Biology A, Biology B, Chemistry A, Chemistry B, Physics A and Physics B). Embedded in each course are the new earth and space science standards as well as engineering, technology and application skills that are a part of the new state standards.

Physics A and Chemistry A are conceptual in content, and the math covered in each would be what students had taken to that point in ninth grade. According to school board policy 2026 and superintendent procedure 2026SP, the A and B courses are not new, but rather a re-alignment of current chemistry, physics and biology course content to align to the new standards, and therefore do not go through a review process."

Link to notes from the recent meeting at Ballard:

Facebook group organizing around the issue

Google drive with info:

Currently contains:
  • Letter from a Ballard Science Teacher
  • Response from the district Alignment team.

Here is a signup form (mainly to get emails to add to the Google Group):

2018 Open Enrollment Questions (Which school should I choose?)

Open enrollment starts on February 5th.   There's obviously a great deal of uncertainty about the high school pathways.  I feel really bad for all the families stuck in the middle of this process and I promise I'll have a post 1/31 thread to discuss issues related to those changes once we have some clarity.

[Update: see for the final h.s. boundaries decisions]

In the meantime, what questions do you have for other parents at any of the various schools (elementary, middle or high school)?

2 new Amendments

There are two new amendment/resolutions for the upcoming Board Meeting related to pathways:

Amendment 4:  (West Seattle Area)

Allow current 7th grade highly capable students from West Seattle attending Washington Middle School to enroll in Garfield as rising 9th graders in 2019-20. Approval of this item would allow current 7th grade highly capable students from West Seattle attending Washington Middle School to enroll in Garfield as rising 9th graders in 2019-20.

Substitute Resolution for 18-10

Substitute Resolution No. 2017/18-10 to affirm the vision for equitable access to advanced coursework in all high schools and develop the detailed plan for implementation by 2021-22. 

Approval of this item would replace Resolution No. 2017/18-10 as introduced on January 17 with a substitute version that affirms the vision for equitable access to advanced coursework, calls for more equitable identification practices for advanced learning and highly capable services, and requests a report that will detail the comprehensive plan for increasing advanced learning in all high schools following a collaborative planning process.

18-10 was the horribly flawed resolution that would just dissolve the pathways. The replacement one here offered by Mack, Patu and Pinkham is vastly superior.

Some quick predictions: given 3 board members have sponsored this one and you only need 4 to pass this version will likely pass as will the general interim plan to have the Pathways be Lincoln/Garfield/W. Seattle for the next few years.

Scenario F4.3: The official boundaries going forward. With the ammendments

  • The Language Immersion Pathway will also be at Lincoln.
  • You will be able to attend your area pathway high school if you are qualified regardless of what middle school you attended.
  • Grandfathering was given to the W. Seattle students at Washington Middle School to attend Garfield.
  • Language seems to be intact that if you're in a HC pathway High School in 2018-19 you will also be grandfathered.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

SB 6508 Proposed changes to the identification requirements in the State HiCap program

We need your help to pass this bill.
A landmark bill, SB 6508, was introduced in the WA State Senate yesterday, mandating equitable HiCap identification practices in all school districts.  This is big, big, BIG news! 

We need a MOUNTAIN of advocates across the state to band together to have any chance of getting this bill passed in this short 60-day legislative session.

Want to learn more about the bill and the process from here? Need sample text to copy/paste? Scroll down to the bottom of this email.

Call to Action!  
We need EVERYONE to do 3 things RIGHT NOW:
1. Submit a "support" comment on the bill via this SUPER EASY link:
2. Send an email to the Senate Education Committee Members asking them to schedule a hearing and pass the bill out of committee. Send an email to the following addresses:
3. Sign up to help with testifying in Olympia, attending Gifted Ed Day on Feb 8, reaching out to legislators, or other ongoing support activities:

I want to know more. What's happening?
 The Coalition for Gifted Education, WAETAG, NWGCA, and NAGC teamed up this fall to write a bill about mandating equitable identification practices. Experts from UW, Whitworth, and others weighed in as well. 

The bill has been introduced in the Senate as SB 5608 by Senator Christine Rolfes (Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee) and Senator Ann Rivers. A companion bill will be introduced shortly in the House, sponsored by Rep. Brandon Vick and others.

Some highlights of the bill:
  • Mandatory universal screening at or before 2nd grade, and again at or before 6th grade
  • All screening and testing happens during the school day (no Saturdays)
  • Use instruments in the native language of the student when possible, or use nonverbal instruments
  • Don't use subjective measures like report card grades and teacher comments to screen kids out from consideration
  • Use local norms, but never allow local norms to be more restrictive than national norms
  • 3 hours of professional development per biennium for administrators, principals, and members of the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (which make HiCap placement decisions)
You can see the full bill text and other info here

We expect the Senate bill hearing to be next week, the week of Jan 29. The first challenge is making sure the Senate Education Committee actually schedules the hearing, and then, that they pass the bill out of committee to get voted on by the whole Senate on the Senate floor.

The House hearing will likely be a bit later, early/mid Feb. Similarly, it will need to be heard by the House Education Committee, then voted on the House floor. We are particularly looking for people in Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos' district (37), as she is the chair of the House Education Committee and in large part decides whether a hearing is even scheduled. If you are in her distrct, PLEASE answer our survey.

Having many people attend the hearings is important. We only need about 15-20 people to speak, but will ask all in the room who are there to support this issue to stand so that the committee members can see the volume of support. Seeing all your faces - and your kids faces - is huge.

Even if you can't attend in person, submitting written testimony on the bill is also extremely valuable.

Once hearing dates are announced, we will let you know. We should know in the next couple days.

If you can help, be sure to answer our survey

I'm happy to write a comment or email, but I don't know what to say...

Here are things you can copy/paste into your message. Mix & match, edit, and add your own story or your own personal touches - or just keep it short and sweet, a sentence is enough:
  • I strongly support this bill.
  • Dear Senate Education Committee Members, Please schedule a hearing and move this important bill out of committee.
  • This is an urgent issue in my community.
  • The gross inequities in our highly capable programs must be fixed ASAP.
  • This is a big issue in my school district, and this bill will make a big improvement.
  • Districts need to up their game and actually screen all students for highly capable needs. It's so easy for these kids to blend in, but ultimately they won't get their needs met and eventually they disengage from school, underachieve, or worse.
  • De facto segregation in our state's highly capable program is unacceptable. This bill will go a long way to answering that need. 
  • Bravo! This bill is exactly what we need.
  • It's about time! Thank you WA Senate for answering the needs of the community.
You do not have to write lengthy comments, though of course those are welcome.  
IF YOU DO WRITE SPECIFIC COMMENTS, PLEASE STAY FOCUSED ON THE NEED FOR BETTER, MORE EQUITABLE IDENTIFICATION PRACTICES (such as universal screening and screening during the school day, not Saturdays), and the need to proactively identify HiCap kids in historially underserved groups such as low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, Homeless students, and students with disabilities (2e).  
Please do not write about HiCap program funding, curriculum, or service models (which are much more controversial topics that distract from this bill.) 
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Monday, January 22, 2018

High School Changes Thread

Per a reader request this thread is for discussion about any of the non-boundary related high school changes for next year.

"Emergent Parent and Educator Science Alignment Changes Meeting

Do you want all children to have access to AP science classes at Seattle Public Schools?
Would you like Ballard HS to be able to continue to offer the Biotech Academy, Ingram's IB program, or the diversity of each high school's science offerings?
Please join us during a community action committee meeting to learn more about planned changes to science learning opportunities at all Seattle public high schools. Our timeline is short for influencing this process. These changes will affect all HS kids starting this fall, as it will radically redistribute science resources!

On Thursday, January 25 at 7 PM at Ballard High School Library, parents and educators will be gathering to discuss concerns related to a planned high school science curriculum alignment to be rolled out starting with the '18-19 freshman class.

Contact Tia Keenan with any questions. Hope to see you there!"
  • 24 core related scheduling changes
  • 8 period day
Note: There is a separate open-enrollment thread for general questions deciding about where to go.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018

1/17 Board Meeting

This is a thread to discuss the latest board meeting and high school boundary developments.

Seattle Public Media Stream of the meeting:

I have not had time yet to view this or parse anything but I hope to make some updates to this post once I have.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What's going on with High School Boundaries

After some conversations with neighbors I realized not everyone can keep up with the rapidly changing situation. So for those of you just joining or who have not been  avidly reading all the posts and comments for the last few months here's a quick summary:

Almost all the High Schools are overcrowded and only getting worse as larger classes age up.

SPS HS Projections

We're also currently in the process of bringing Lincoln H.S. online. Both these trends require a redrawing of boundaries. At the same time the size of the HCC cohort at Garfield has also increased just like the general population and no longer fits so it has become a huge part of the conversation.
As of right now the district has gone through several unsuccessful iterations of planning that culminated in the board rejecting the staff's plan last month. They are currently exploring one of 2 long term options:

1. Dissolving the HC pathways in high school and sending the students back to their attendance area high schools by 2021.

2. Setting Lincoln up as the North End pathway and W. Seattle H.S. for West Seattle. You can see some maps of the proposed boundaries here:…/capacity-scenario-visualiz…

Official SPS Link:

This current round of planning should result in a decision at the end of the month 1/31 if a consensus is reached by the school board.

Why is this important to everyone?
If you look at where the HC students are coming from a huge number are from the Roosevelt and Ballard area and returning them to the building is going to have a dramatic effect leading to either:
1. Increased overcrowding. There are around 530ish freshman even today in a building like Roosevelt that has a capacity for about 400 per class. We're talking about at least 100 more kids on top of that per year.
2. A dramatic domino effect movement of students between buildings. One estimate from Kelli LaRue was about 3000 high schoolers will have to switch in attempt to right size the buildings.
For the HC cohort there are additional risks to being dispersed. These will be felt at the periphery sites like Nathan Hale or Franklin where there are very few identified students and there is neither the money nor the will on the part of the principals to serve them.
I have a write up here with more details:…/editorial-importance-of-pa…

[Since this is a summary and the discussion is already occurring in existing posts I've disabled comments. ]
* I corrected a small mistake in the RHS numbers mentioned.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Capacity Scenario Visualizations

Courtsey of Evan Mclain:

Official maps and data can be found

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Editorial: The Importance of a Pathway

Reading some of the comments about various high school pathway options I sometimes feel a disconnect between what commenters are most vocally concerned about and what I see is the critical issue of the moment.  I also think there is a larger conversation to be had about the nature of the high school program but that is not the place we find ourselves today.  In the last board meeting there was a vote where a majority of the board voted to dissolve the high school pathway completely.  Most of the board members are on record and will vote that way again despite the current round of planning. The chance of anything remaining is dependent on convincing four directors that they are still important. Ultimately, its crucial that in analyzing pro/cons of the alternatives we don't lose sight of the larger stakes and that folks are consistent in stressing this part of the message.  This may mean rallying around a plan that is imperfect rather than suffering a much greater loss and I realize that's a hard pill to swallow given various individual circumstances.

To that end I want to make the case that indeed this is true and its crucial to emphasize that  HC students still need a pathway.

Critical Mass:
In order to create classes that meet advanced learners needs and continue the sequence of study that has already occurred in Middle School there needs to be a sufficient number of advanced learners at any site.   At lower grades two classrooms worth of kids is assumed to be enough. The complexity of High School scheduling makes it critical that they are there in large enough numbers to allow flexibility.  For example, if the single Band  class half of the kids are in is at the only period AP US history  is offered  there is  a problem.  Based on  the number of classes at some but not all of our High Schools even adding in the neighborhood HC students does not reach this minimum bar.  This is most clearly evident in the Math/Science pathways where classes like Calculus BC are not offered at many high schools due to insufficient demand.   Given the tight budget  and classroom space constraints the district operates under its simply not realistic to assume classes of non-viable number of students will be offered.  But in small ways across every class experience with large numbers of outliers can inform better teaching, curriculum, and focuses for a school in a way that doesn't happen when you don't see as many students.

Oversight and Advocacy:
The second advantage of the pathways is they provide leverage for families. Once spread out its not very easy to advocate for student's needs. 60 kids in a sea of 1500 are ignorable.  The cohorts also enable families to reach out to to each other and  advocate en masse for the system to change.  The converse side of this situation, is the more sites that exist, the harder any systematic oversight becomes. Over and over again we see various initiatives in the district fail to be consistently carried out across buildings due to site based management. Advanced Learning is even more subject to this variance in implementation given its political nature.

What about everyone else?
One of the the most common complaints I've read is along the lines "I have a Spectrum student who will have to go X. Its not fair there are limited opportunities at X."  I'm sympathetic to this line of argument. My main educational philosophy is meet kids where they are at and provide the classes they need. I think there are two answers to this issue. First, many of the class/grade combinations that we're talking about  are unique. The HCC students need a 9th grade Chemistry class that doesn't conflict with the rest of their 9th grade schedule for instance.  At most of our high schools a student on a  regular non-accelerated track does have reasonable access to core AP classes and most families are satisfied. Like above, having sufficient numbers of students at the same grade requiring the same general classes make this possible. There are also some schools which where more families end up having to access Running Start by the senior year due to missing classes. In some cases, the demand is already there and the principals need to be pushed to meet  it. In others, we really need to consider letting kids move buildings to access unique needs (I don't think this is an issue for a huge number of students) .

Finally, from a purely pragmatic point of view, HC students play an important part in overall capacity management. This is a body of students who will move voluntarily to a different site if there is compelling programming.  Given the space constraints of Seattle Public we should be taking advantage of this phenomena and not exacerbating the space issue by funneling students towards already overcrowded sites. The neighborhood school plan has the most domino effects and disrupts the most students in general because of the misalignment between buildings and student populations.

January '18 Open Thread

The NGCA sent this in the mail:

Don't miss our headline event for the year!
NWGCA is thrilled to partner with GHF to bring Gifted Research & Outreach (GRO) to Washington state for the premier of their brand new workshop!  
Want a preview? Check out GRO's searchable library of almost 300 articles they have gathered about the physiology and neuroscience of giftedness - including more than 70 peer reviewed papers! The amount of research piling up is astounding, and their eye-opening insights will forever change how you talk about giftedness.  

Workshop: The Gifted Advocacy Toolkit
Leveraging neuroscience, gifted research, and industry techniques to drive the change you want to see. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018 
9:00am - 5:00pm
Woodinville, WA  
Attention educators: 6.5 clock hours are available at no extra cost! 
Effective advocacy for gifted students requires both knowledge and skill. This ground-breaking workshop delivers both in one sitting!

Julia Robinson Math Festival

The mission of the Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival is to inspire students to explore the richness and beauty of mathematics through activities that encourage collaborative, creative problem-solving.
I can’t thank you and your entire team enough. My daughter had never attended one of your events. She absolutely LOVED every math activity that she participated in.PARENT
The festival is a noncompetitive celebration of great ideas and problems in mathematics. We will have several dozen tables of rich math problems and activities led by our volunteers, who are lovers of mathematics from different disciplines, representing mathematicians, teachers, engineers, programmers, graduate students, and more.
To register or find out more go here:

What's on your minds?

Book Review of "Off the Charts: The hidden lives and lessons of American prodigies"