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    Posted on 12/18/2019

    Partnership with TAF and Seattle Public Schools

    Seattle Public School has the exciting, opportunity to partner with Technology Access Foundation (TAF) to implement the STEMbyTAF educational model to contribute to our strategic plan priority to “support students of color who are furthest from educational justice.” In their 20+ year history, TAF has impacted over 19,000 students resulting in a 95% on-time high school graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate.

    In May 2019, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Technology Access Foundation (TAF) entered into an agreement to explore the possibility of having TAF at Washington Middle School. No decisions have been made, except to be in discussion with each other.

    Community Engagement Timeline

    In keeping with the district's strategic plan, Seattle Excellence, we centered our engagement efforts on families furthest from educational justice.

    Seattle Public Schools and TAF held the following community meetings:

    • Community meetings for families of color and ELL families at John Muir, Thurgood Marshall and Bailey Gatzert
      • June 12, 2019 held at 2100 Building
      • August 3, 2019, held at Bailey Gatzert Elementary
    • All elementary families at John Muir, Thurgood Marshall, Bailey Gatzert and other interested elementary families
      • June 25, 2019, held at Washington Middle School
      • October 19, 2019, held at Washington Middle School
    • John Muir and Leschi families help on December 5, 2019
    • Bailey Gatzert and Madrona families held on December 17, 2019
    • Executive Committee of the Whole (COW) on December 18, 2019 (School Board)
    • Thurgood Marshall families held on December 19, 6 - 7 p.m., at Thurgood Marshall Elementary 

    More information related to the organization's mission and vision can be found on the TAF website.

    Read the presentation given at Washington Middle School on October 19, 2019 to learn more.

    Read the presentation given to the Executive Committee of the Whole (COW) on Dec. 18, 2019pdf icon (the presentation is included in the final pages of the meeting agenda).

    Have questions? Please contact us STEMbyTAF@seattleschools.org.

    Enrollment FAQ

    What if Washington Middle School (WMS) is/isn’t my neighborhood school?

    WMS is a neighborhood school; it is not an option school.

    Seattle Public Schools students are initially assigned to a designated attendance area elementary, middle, or high school based on each student's home address. Elementary schools that are part of the WMS attendance area are Bailey Gatzert, John Muir and Thurgood Marshall. To view the attendance area schools for your address, use the address lookup tool.

    Students may apply for assignment to a different school (or program) through the School Choice process. It is not guaranteed that students will be assigned to the school (or program) of their choice; students are only guaranteed assignment to their attendance area school. Additional information about option schools, including individual GeoZone maps, is available on the option schools directory webpage.

    To learn more about the School Choice process or apply to a different school, more information is available on the School Choice and Open Enrollment webpage.

    When would this program start?

    The changes will begin in school year 2020-21 for the incoming 6th graders.

    Will STEMbyTAF be an option middle school or feeder middle school?

    Washington Middle School is currently a pathway feeder school for the following elementary schools: John Muir, Bailey Gatzert, and Thurgood Marshall. The intent is to keep it as an attendance area/neighborhood school.

    If I am an HC eligible 5th grader and not currently enrolled in HC, can I still attend WMS for 6th grade?

    Washington Middle School is still an HC pathway school for Dunlap, Emerson, Graham Hill, Martin Luther King Jr., Rainier View, Wing Luke, Leschi, Lowell, Madrona, McGilvra, Montlake, Stevens, Beacon Hill, Dearborn Park, Hawthorne, Kimball, Maple, Rising Star. Students at any of these attendance area schools who are HC eligible but not enrolled can opt into Washington by completing a school choice form by May 31.

    If I am an HC eligible 5th grader and not currently assigned to my HC pathway school, will I receive bus service to Washington?

    Bus service for eligible students is only guaranteed for students who live in the Washington Service Area or are assigned to their HC pathway school. Otherwise, they can qualify for an Orca card if they live beyond two (2) miles from Washington.

    Programmatic and Curricular (during the school day) FAQ

    If we look at a similar cross section of students at other middle schools in the district, how do they compare with students at WMS?

    Here is demographic data for middle school students across the district in comparison to Washington Middle School.

    Middle School Demographics of Race/Ethnicity as of October 7, 2019

    School Asian Black Hispanic Multi-Race Native
    American
    Pacific
    Islander
    White Total
    Students
    Jane Addams 125
    (13%)
    80
    (8%)
    144
    (14%)
    146
    (15%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    497
    (50%)
    998
    Denny
    International
    125
    (15%)
    165
    (20%)
    257
    (31%)
    84
    (10%)
    11
    (1%)
    13
    (2%)
    185
    (22%)
    840
    Eagle Staff 67
    (8%)
    68
    (8%)
    123
    (15%)
    84
    (10%)
    *
    (1%)
    *
    (0%)
    462
    (57%)
    811
    Eckstein 88
    (8%)
    62
    (6%)
    79
    (7%)
    147
    (14%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    706
    (65%)
    1,088
    Hamilton
    International
    73
    (7%)
    27
    (3%)
    91
    (9%)
    171
    (16%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    681
    (65%)
    1,049
    Aki Kurose 214
    (33%)
    200
    (30%)
    119
    (18%)
    63
    (10%)
    *
    (0%)
    15
    (2%)
    43
    (7%)
    657
    Madison 49
    (5%)
    49
    (5%)
    92
    (9%)
    134
    (14%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    659
    (67%)
    988
    McClure 36
    (7%)
    31
    (6%)
    62
    (12%)
    78
    (15%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    326
    (61%)
    535
    Meany 45
    (9%)
    157
    (30%)
    55
    (11%)
    78
    (15%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    178
    (34%)
    517
    Mercer
    International
    450
    (40%)
    232
    (21%)
    170
    (15%)
    105
    (9%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (0%)
    159
    (14%)
    1,119
    Washington 101
    (17%)
    136
    (22%)
    61
    (10%)
    85
    (14%)
    *
    (0%)
    *
    (1%)
    219
    (36%)
    607
    Whitman 21
    (3%)
    23
    (4%)
    71
    (11%)
    79
    (12%)
    *
    (1%)
    *
    (0%)
    435
    (68%)
    636
    Total 1,394
    (14%)
    1,230
    (12%)
    1,324
    (13%)
    1,254
    (13%)
    44
    (0%)
    49
    (0%)
    4,550
    (46%)
    9,845

    What is the project-based learning approach/model? How does this work with the STEMbyTAF model?

    TAF uses the Buck Institute model for the project-based learning (PBL). For more information on the TAF-PBL model please visit the Buck Institute for Education PBL Works. TAF uses PBL as the core and have enhanced the approach to be interdisciplinary. The PBL model contains elements of educational technology, college and career readiness, and includes external community involvement in the design and implementation. All the projects are designed for, with or by students based on their interests and the learning standards required by the state and district.

    Students collaborate across disciplines to create projects. During implementation they use their common planning time to make adjustments based on student outcomes.

    How are Cleveland High Students doing with the PBL model?

    Cleveland STEM High School is one of the highest improving schools in the state for increased ELA/math achievement and Graduation Rate. They were recognized as a Washington State 2018 School of Distinction and have received that recognition six (6) times since 2013. Additionally, their graduation rate has grown from 65% to 96% from 2012 to 2018. They have leveraged their PBL model and a focus on equitable outcomes for all students to establish a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement for students and staff.

    Will TAF at WMS offer Geometry and Algebra 2, so that interested kids can meet Garfield High School's prerequisites for taking Calculus BC and AP Physics?

    The STEMbyTAF model is committed to high-quality, rigorous, culturally responsive, and relevant academic programming. The STEMbyTAF PBL model is cross-disciplinary and mathematics instruction is no exception. There are multiple options that can be implemented depending upon where on the mathematics pathway each student is excelling. Assuming that not every student is excelling at the same level, the program development team is working on a variety of master schedule variations to accommodate both project-based learning and direct instruction.

    In the STEMbyTAF model the math portion of projects is elevated to meet the course level of the students. Mathematics teachers would be certificated and endorsed to teach advanced high school mathematics and they will strategically utilize TAF’s Student Support Services staff (each math class has one dedicated person) to differentiate instruction. More information will be provided once the school team knows more about the enrolled students and their academic levels at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

    Is the TAF program academically inclusive?

    The STEMbyTAF School Model is academically inclusive.

    Is TAF an after-school program? How is it organized?

    TAF no longer operates after-school programs separately from the schools we partner with. STEMbyTAF is a full school model implemented during the school day.

    How are TAF classes structured?

    Like other school models, students take math, science, humanities (English language arts and social studies), world language and electives. Ideally the classes are four 90-minute periods per day, however depending on the school community, it could expand to five 70-minute periods per day.

    How will the partnership impact the current Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) pathways?

    The impact of the partnership between TAF and SPS on the current HCC pathways has not yet been determined.

    There are numerous cascading factors that will determine the impact this partnership will have on the current HCC pathway such as: current board policy updates for advanced learning, updates to the SPS Student Assignment Plan, etc.

    How will math and science pathways look (HCC and non-HCC) for students that enroll in the STEMbyTAF program?

    The STEMbyTAF model has been operating for eleven years under the framework that students are not tracked nor segregated. In other words, students of varying abilities and experiences are integrated in the classrooms. TAF will work with the school staff to ensure all students’ academic needs are met.

    How will the STEMbyTAF model ensure that math instruction accommodates and challenges all students in a blended classroom?

    Currently students at WMS are divided into two cohorts—highly capable and general education. Students in the highly capable cohort (HCC) are one to two grade levels ahead in math. Math enrollment is ability based and students who score at a level 4 above 2650 on the math portion of the SBA become eligible to sit for the math enrollment test. The enrollment exam itself has been the end of year test for the level that may be skipped (eg: someone previously enrolled in Math6 with the requisite score would take the Math 7 end of year exam to determine if enrollment in Math 8 is appropriate). Students’ enrollments have been determined by the skills displayed on their enrollment test. If a student is not eligible to sit for the math enrollment test, they are enrolled in the next course in the series.

    The courses currently offered are:

    • Math6 – enVisionmath
    • Math7 – enVisionmath
    • Math8 – enVisionmath
    • Algebra I – Key Press: Discovering Algebra One
    • Geometry – Key Press: Discovering Geometry
    • Algebra II – Key Press: Discovering Advanced Algebra

    This highest level a 6th grade student can enter is Algebra 1. There have been a few exceptions over the last 10 years where students have come in at higher math levels.

    TAF provides a student support specialist for each math teacher. Together they plan, analyze student performance and strategize approaches for each lesson. STEMbyTAF uses the same curriculum as provided by the school district and will often bring in additional curricular content to provide varied learning opportunities. STEMbyTAF trained teachers understand that differentiation in the class is always necessary since there can be a broad span of math skills in one class at a time.

    Accelerated students are taught a year above their level so that they remain engaged. For example, if they are a 6th grader, they’d be taught 7th-grade concepts. Typically, they learn the lesson with their peers so that they maintain the foundational skills and concepts previously mastered. This practice exists because they are so much further ahead and sometimes lose those skills over time if they aren’t practiced. The teacher extends students’ knowledge by adding an extra layer to the content; this could be having them teach the class the whole lesson, answer deeper level questions, or push them further on projects and activities from other students.

    The student support specialist plays a critical role throughout this whole process. Students who are much further ahead, for instance at Algebra 1, will first be assessed for their conceptual knowledge knowing that sometimes, they can be placed in higher math just based on procedural knowledge which doesn’t mean they fully understand math.

    It is TAF’s belief that the district can offer alternate course credit within one classroom based on the level of the student. For example, if a 6th-grade student is eligible for Algebra 1, they will be in the same math class as the students studying Math 6. However, based on access to course content they would get credit for Algebra 1. Adjustments to the curriculum and curricula content will be made accordingly. The teacher would deliver their core lessons and support will be provided by the student support specialist who is trained to help the higher-level students and has the knowledge to answer questions

     

    How will the partnership impact the high school pathways?

    There are no planned changes to the high school pathways at this point.

    Will you be able to support my child who has autism or an IEP or special needs?

    Yes. In our experience, students with special needs do well when we build a strong school community and having consistent communication and collaboration with families.

    What would homework look like for my kids?

    Homework varies. The STEMbyTAF model tries to get the most out of the 6.5-hour school day, which means students work really hard. Teachers may give small assignments to be done at home, but our philosophy is we want kids to enjoy their other activities. If students fall behind in their project work, they may be required to get it done at home.

    Will world languages be included in the model?

    Yes. The STEMbyTAF model has had French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish as world languages. TAF will work with the school staff to determine what will be taught at Washington.

    Will the current WMS music program stay?

    Yes.

    How will WMS’ current Project Based Learning (PBL) integrate with the STEMbyTAF curriculum?

    STEMbyTAF uses its own brand of interdisciplinary PBL. The WMS staff would receive professional development in the STEMbyTAF model where they will have an opportunity to determine where the two PBL models can integrate.

    If this is about inclusive learning for the whole child, how will this program impact English language arts (ELA), social studies, and humanities learning?

    The STEMbyTAF model teaches integrated humanities through an interdisciplinary PBL model.

     

    Programmatic and Extra-Curricular (before and after the school day) FAQ

    Will the music program remain a strong pathway feeder to Garfield High School?

    The STEMbyTAF model does not plan to remove the WMS music program or any other electives and extracurricular activities.

    Is TAF an after-school program? How is it organized?

    TAF no longer operates after school programs separately from the schools we partner with. The STEMbyTAF is a full school model that is implemented during the school day. Washington Middle School offers a robust after school program operated in partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

    Will WMS sports stay, and will you be able to help get/pay for coaches?

    Yes, the sports programs will stay. TAF has not had the opportunity to discuss the coaching situation with the staff, so it would be hard to determine what support we can lend until we do.

     

    Staffing FAQ

    Did Principal Katrina Hunt bring TAF to WMS?

    No. Principal Hunt is a former assistant principal from Garfield High School. She was chosen as principal of WMS for her instructional leadership skill, strong commitment to racial equity and strong community ties.

    Does the TAF program require new teachers? What will happen to the current staff?

    Recognizing that teachers do best when their teaching style and experience fits the school academic pedagogy and culture; TAF has created a profile of the STEMbyTAF teacher. We will work with the school to fill open positions with teachers who as closely as possible meet that profile. The principal is responsible for evaluating the current staff and ensuring they are in the best position to do their best work. Staff will not be asked to reapply for their positions and may choose to leave WMS to teach in another school in SPS.

    Will STEMbyTAF be hiring new teachers and will there be support for the teachers to prepare them for the new model?

    Recognizing that teachers do best when their teaching style and experience fits the school academic pedagogy and culture; TAF has created a profile of the STEMbyTAF teacher. We will work with the school to fill open positions with teachers who as closely as possible meet that profile. As with all the STEMbyTAF schools, TAF offers extensive professional development.

    Here is what we proposed to the WMS staff:

    What: Mandatory 4-day STEMbyTAF Teacher Institute to prepare for the upcoming school year.
    Who: WMS staff and administration
    When: Annually in August

    What: Negotiated cofacilitation of PLCs
    Who: WMS staff
    When: During school year

    What: Negotiated grade-level PD
    Who: WMS staff
    When: Periodic during school year

    What: Optional PD
    Who: WMS staff
    When: Monthly

    What: Mandatory equity training
    Who: WMS staff and administration
    When: Annually

    Will you provide equity training?

    Yes. Racial equity training will be a core part of the ongoing professional development and aligned with the SPS Racial Equity professional development framework.

    Will SPS or TAF require tacit and/or explicit approval from the Seattle Education Association (SEA) in order to hire new represented staff?

    We will be in communication with SEA throughout this process and will comply with the collective bargaining agreement.

     

    Other Questions

    Could you explain how and why WMS was chosen as the site for the STEMbyTAF concept?

    There are a number of factors that made Washington Middle School a great choice for the STEMbyTAF model. Every student deserves access to a high-quality public education, regardless of race, neighborhood or income. That’s why TAF (Technology Access Foundation) has worked to improve access to STEM and technology fields for students of color and underrepresented communities for the past 20 years.

    The STEMbyTAF model at WMS is an opportunity to provide a high-quality, rigorous, academic program for students in the Central District. It is our hope that this new program will encourage families who choose other educational options to return to their neighborhood school and SPS.

    Please read the presentation from the COW for more information on why WMS was selected. pdf icon (the presentation is included in the final pages of the meeting agenda).

    What is TAF’s role in choosing a principal for WMS?

    TAF will work in collaboration with SPS district leadership to select a principal for WMS. If the current principal leaves, TAF will work with the District to select the principal who is best suited to champion the STEMbyTAF Model and support the staff in implementation. What is the timeline for final decision making about the STEMbyTAF model at WMS? The timeline and final decision about the STEMbyTAF model at WMS have not been made at this time; however, this information will be made available prior to open enrollment.

    What if I don’t have internet access at home? Will my kid be able to catch on to this model?

    We very rarely send students with home assignments that require use of technology.

    Read more about the City of Seattle’s low cost internet access for Seattle residents.

    More about the district’s philosophy related to technology can be found on the digital learning webpage.

    Does a WMS and TAF model signal the beginning of a new magnet school direction that was prevalent in the District decades ago?

    TAF was founded on ensuring traditionally underserved students received the best education and resources possible for success. When entering into this discussion, we all agreed that WMS is a neighborhood school and will continue to be a neighborhood school. All students in the reference area are welcome with no barriers to entry.