Update on the Future of HCC
On September 25, the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors met to review a recommendation by the Office of Student Support Services (Concie Pedroza, Wyeth Jesse, and Kari Hanson) to phase out stand-alone Advanced Learning and Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) schools and move students to their neighborhood schools. For Washington Middle School, the HCC pathway middle school serving SE Seattle, the program would be eliminated this coming Fall. For Cascadia and Decatur, the change would take place over a number of years. If this recommendation were followed, SPS would gradually stop referring qualified students to the stand-alone HC schools. This would eventually result in space being available at these sites to be used for a general student population.
Instead of the HC cohort model, the Office of Student Support Services wants teachers to differentiate within the classroom and to rely on MTSS (multi-tiered systems of support) to meet the needs of all students in Seattle. Not only does this recommendation run counter to recognized best practices for children determined to be highly capable, but SPS has repeatedly shown that neighborhood schools will not dedicate their limited resources to meet the educational needs of Advanced Learning and Highly Capable students. The district currently mandates Advanced Learning support at every school. Despite this mandate, support is very inconsistent, with some schools offering no programming. The reality is that SPS does not have the budget to support Advanced Learning at each school, reduce class size so that teachers can individualize curricula in class, offer sufficient professional development in differentiation, or to hire additional staff to implement adequate MTSS pull-out instruction.
The Office of Student Support Services is suggesting this dramatic change as a response to the real and troubling lack of diversity at HCC program sites. Counter to the Office of Student Support Services’ proposal, the Cascadia community is advocating for SPS to maintain dedicated HCC sites while adopting current best practices of identification and referral and creating dedicated HCC elementary schools in every region of the city to make this programming accessible to all students who benefit by it.
If your family benefits from HCC and/or you believe these programs are an essential offering in Seattle, you need to vote for school board positions in the November 5th elections. Several candidates have stated their opposition to Advanced Learning in personal conversations. Further information about candidate positions will be forthcoming. Everyone is eligible to vote for every candidate, regardless of district.
Parents should fill out this volunteer form, and reach out directly to their School Board Director, especially:
If you live in the Jane Addams, Whitman Middle School geozones (see list of elementary schools below), please contact Scott Pinkham: email@example.com.
If you live in the Hamilton Middle School area, please reach out to the incoming Director, Lisa Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wherever you live, please email the head of the school board, Leslie Harris: email@example.com. She’ll be on the ballot and there is an alternative candidate.
Please also start talking to your neighbors about the upcoming election and what HCC offers.
Here is the final agenda prepared by the Office of Student Support Services for the Directors: