Friday, May 27, 2016

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Please feel free to skip this rant about advanced learning

Seattle Schools Community Forum: Please feel free to skip this rant about advanced learning:

Please feel free to skip this rant about advanced learning


It's been a while, but I've been feeling an Advanced Learning rant building in me. It got pushed over the edge today when I got thinking about the District's inability to implement MTSS.

For those who prefer to skip rants - and especially rants on this topic - please do skip it.



Seattle Public Schools does a fair job of delivering highly capable services in grades 1-8. The Highly Capable Cohort is a system that should allow students who need to be taught in a different way to get that different kind of instruction. It isn’t working because the District has failed to try. Rather than teaching differently, the District has chosen to grade-skip HC students but to do it with a cohort to avoid the negative social consequences of grade-skipping. The students don’t get lessons designed for them but for general education students two grades ahead of them. When the “two grades ahead” language was first coined, the District staff protested that it was an over-simplification. A couple years later the District staff were saying that’s all there was to the program.

It would be better to teach the students in a way tailored to their needs and abilities rather than simply providing the standard instruction delivered two years early. So far, no one in Seattle Public Schools has shown any interest in even having this discussion, let alone developing a curriculum (as promised) for HC students. The saving grace is that should any such curriculum ever be developed, a delivery model is in place to implement it, the Highly Capable Cohort.

Instruction for HC students must be designed (I would say “re-designed” but it has yet to be designed a first time) from the ground up, with the needs and abilities of the students in mind. Until that is done – or at least until the District decides to do it – there is no point in debating program sites, professional development, eligibility criteria, or anything else. It doesn’t matter who sits in the car, who drives it, or where we want to go when the car has no engine.

After underserving HC students in grades 1-8, Seattle Public Schools abandons them completely at grade 9 and offers them nothing at all in high school. The opportunity to see former classmates in classes and hallways is hardly a cohort. There is no high school instruction made for them. Access to AP classes is neither HC service nor a substitute for HC service. It is, again, at best, grade-skipping with a cohort of grade-skippers. The cohort Seattle Schools Community Forum: Please feel free to skip this rant about advanced learning:

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