In part 2 of looking at teacher reviews, today we focus on middle and high school. The net for high school is cast wide, since APP students from Hamilton go to Garfield or Ingraham. Here are the teacher survey results for middle and high schools your student may attend (for K-8 schools, see yesterday’s post):
|Teacher Survey 2014||Teacher Survey 2015|
Having had our kids go through both Hamilton and Garfield, we can attest to both of those schools being challenging environments to teach in. Part of the problem is that each school has a very wide range of learners. Hamilton has the added stress of undergoing a lot of changes, with the student body transitioning from largely free and reduced lunch to one that is now largely APP and language immersion, all with the same teaching staff.
The result is some striking systemic flaws that haven’t been addressed. For instance, as of today if you have 3 years of language education at Hamilton (as recommended), that will only count towards a single year of language education at Garfield. That means that students going to Garfield will learn absolutely no new material in their first year and half at the school. We’re working with the district to get new policies put in place, but it’s indicative of the sort of breaks in the system that happen when there’s weak leadership.
The problem also relates to troubled teachers staying on past when they should. The irony of school reform is that it was supposed to remove bad teachers from troubled schools, but it has the opposite effect. So much effort is put into metrics and standardized curriculum that teachers with choices leave stressed schools, meanwhile teachers without choices muddle along.
Schools with a more traditional neighborhood-based student body, like Roosevelt and Ingraham, seem to be doing just fine. They’ve benefited from less administrative and student body churn. It’s particularly interesting that Ingraham is so successful under Martin Floe. The district under Susan Enfield wanted to remove him, rumored to be because he resisted top-down school reform efforts.
The good news is that the numbers for our area and the district overall show that this is a school district that’s improving. The current district leadership has hired qualified staff to run departments, really for the first time in decades. No Child Left Behind has been blessedly scrapped, relieving the pressure to focus all resources on drilling and testing students that are not quite at standard. We look forward to seeing what this district will become over the next few years.
Ingraham isn’t solely a neighborhood fed school any longer. It has an APP feed due to the IB/IBX program. I don’t know the numbers off hand with regards to how many APP kids go to Garfield, Ingraham, their neighborhood reference school or something else entirely (like Center School) but it is an increasing number each year that go to Ingraham.
3 years of language in middle school does not equal 3 years of language learning in high school. Just like kids that had 6 years of language in elementary can’t be easily translated into middle school equivalents.
Also different kids have different learning speed. For many, 3 years in middle school indeed can only get them into language 2 in high school, just like how all those elementary immersion kids got sorted into different level in middle school.
The point is that 3 years of middle school language is much more than 1 year of high school languages. Based on my son’s experience, 3 years of middle school language should equal between 2 and 2 1/2 years of high school language experience, at least to avoid completely repeating material.
Also- nobody from Garfield or Hamilton is defending the current policy, they say it dates back to the days when nobody took 3 years of language in middle school. Worse still, there’s no way to get around the current policy without going through special, private testing and avoiding languages for the first year in High School, a workaround that parents aren’t even told about. Teachers are not empowered to set placements in high school.
The entire first year of languages at Garfield was a complete and total waste of time for my son and his friends, and that was according not just to my son but also to the teacher herself, who was great but kept apologizing for having a class with such a range of abilities that there was no way to teach to them all. I believe some schools have set up a work around to the current policy, but not Garfield and Hamilton. That’s the issue I see with schools with lower ratings- there may be a good teachers, but the systems to support them are broken.
Student not being educated to their level is a very common situation. College freshman courses are repeats of high schools for many, but they are required any way since high school education is so uneven. Public school is not supposed to be a system that can cater to the needs of every individuals due to resource limitations. When there are limitations, I think not leaving people behind isn’t bad as a priority. Garfield takes both north and south Seattle kids, and there is already a huge gulf between the north and south, I wouldn’t mind it to be catering more to norm of the south.
I have some questions about Ingraham – if anyone has any recent experience. How is their IEP program? How receptive to parent input is the principal? Would love to hear fro people
Hey Meg- I’d recommend you attend a tour there:
I’m not sure what you mean by “IEP program”- that’s just a special ed plan for a student. Do you mean IBX? APP? If you want to get familiar with all things SPS, read here:
Eric — How schools administer their IEP and 504 students varies tremendously across schools. When we looked at Roosevelt & Garfield for instance, we were told (pointblank by one, implied by the other) that our son basically wouldn’t get any services since we were coming from APP at Hamilton.
Meg — It probably depends largely upon the IEP and the counselor. At least as of last year, Ingraham still hadn’t entirely figured out how to smoothly enroll kids who are both in APP and on an IEP, for instance, and the orientation for IEP families didn’t factor in APP kids at all. Maybe that’s gotten better; I really can’t say. Still, unlike Roosevelt & Garfield, they do have resources for kids in both buckets.
Our son transitioned from an IEP freshman year to a 504 for his current (sophomore) year. The counselor that he’s had managing his 504 this year has been excellent. IIRC, last year’s counselor was pretty good as well.
Thank you for your insight into the Middle and High Schools in our neighborhood. It would be great if Hamilton and Ingraham offered content-based language immersion classes for the students coming from Stanford, McDonald and Native/Heritage speakers coming from other schools. Learning social studies, for example, in Spanish would be so much more effective than studying a list of verb conjugations in a traditional “Spanish Class” and would cater more easily to students who are at different language levels.
Many parents would love to see this happen, and while meetings have been held about it, and letters written, there seems to be little movement in the district. Since you have been through Hamilton and Ingraham, do you have any ideas?