Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee Position on 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 [10/30/17] 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 email@example.com – superintendent@seattleschools.
The three most recent proposals can be found here:
Remaining meetings include:
Monday, October 30, 6:30 to 8 pm, McClure Middle School, gym, 1915 1st Ave W. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Wednesday, November 8, 6:30 to 8 pm, Cleveland High School, lunchroom, 5511 15th Ave S. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Thursday, Nov. 9, 6:30 to 8 pm, West Seattle High School, lunchroom, 3000 California Ave. SW. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali, Chinese and Vietnamese.
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:
Provide consistent and appropriate curriculum across all sites
A critical mass cohort at each site
Principals, teachers and counselors that are truly committed to and experienced in supporting highly capable and 2e students and their education
Sites with welcoming and supportive communities
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