Come to the Chief Sealth IHS PTSA Meeting on Tuesday, January 13 at 7PM in the Confucius Center to learn the recent history of the “blended” honors program. We’ve also asked the administration to let us know whether we are retaining students in honors, increasing academic performance for students and preparing them for the rigors of their Junior and Senior years and college. We also intend to find out what academic support is in place for honors students in or out of the classroom. Some demographics should be available as well.
You’ll also want to attend if your student is in (or plans to participate in) the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program. Many recent changes in the operation of the program are giving us this opportunity to ask questions about the direction of IB at Sealth. IB carries with it, increased costs for certification, use of IB Texts (expensive) and additional staff and scheduling requirements. In the past, many of these costs have been funded by grants – grants which have expired. We are looking for answers regarding the district’s commitment to the program, through funding and program support. We have also requested information on ethnic and economic diversity within the program. Finally, we are asking if any strategies are in place to increase program participation.
Parents at Chief Sealth International High School have been concerned for some time about the declining participation in Honors and Advanced Learning programs, including the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Program at school.
Students participating in Honors have reported that while there is extra honors-level work assigned, it is a challenge to differentiate instruction in the classroom to support that additional work. This leaves students to find resources outside the classroom to get support.
The concern regarding IB is that while it is advertised as an option in Advanced Learning, it is underfunded at the district level and hugely reliant on grants and unsustainable funding sources. Efforts have been made to have the increased costs of the IB program taken into account in the Weighted Staffing Standard (WSS) formula currently being investigated by the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Leadership and which will lead to budget priorities for next year and beyond.
The District and our Director McLaren face huge choices in economics and funding and your attention and assistance are much appreciated to make sure that programs at CSIHS offered are transparent, with parental and community input, of quality, and funded sustainably.
District Board Representative Marty McLaren sent us this 01-07-15:
The challenges faced by IB staff and students have been on my radar for at least a couple of years, and I’m very invested in supporting IB more fully. On the other hand, realistically speaking, SPS is overextended in the sense that we can’t support all of our programs well, and we may need to make hard choices. Given that McCleary funding by the Legislature is a mystery at the moment, I suspect our strategy will be to delay cuts, as much as possible, in the hope that funding will be more adequate going forward. We’re pledged to use the Equity Lens in evaluating possible changes of any kind, district-wide.