Advanced Learning Opportunities
Whittier is transitioning from a Spectrum model into an ALO model.
More information about Spectrum, ALO, and testing for advanced learners can be found on the Seattle Public School's Advanced Learning Page.
Spectrum Q & A
We know it's hard to imagine what our new blended model will be like and hope this Q & A will give families a better idea of what Spectrum will look like at Whittier next year
- Is it true we won't have Spectrum next year at Whittier?
No. Spectrum is a program designation assigned to Whittier by the school board years ago.How the program is structured is a school decision and we are only changing the service delivery mode. The Spectrum designation still exists at Whittier.
- What will happen if my child is currently in a Spectrum class?
All classes will be configured as best we can, taking into consideration a multitude of factors including: teacher recommendations, learning styles, learning partners, gender, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Every spring (May) we send out a form asking what your plans are for next year. On that form is a place to share feedback on your child's educational experiences thus far and what you would like us to consider when generating class placements. We do not take specific teacher requests, however, anything you would like us to know is appreciated. Although we cannot make any guarantees, we use the information to meet student needs as much as possible. For current Spectrum students, this is an opportunity to let us know which classmates from the self-contained class remain good learner partners for your child, and which ones they might benefit from a separation.
- If my child is currently in a self-contained Spectrum class, how will his/her needs be met in the general education setting?
Every class will be practicing methods of differentiation for all types of learners. Differentiation can come in the form of content, process, or product. Meaning: based on learning needs, students may be given slightly different material, or asked to engage with the content in different ways, or have different expectations for demonstrating their understanding. We are currently and will continue to engage in professional development that increases our collective skill set in this area. We have guests coming from the advanced learning department as well as district special education staff to assist us. We will also be rearranging some teaching assignments to balance experiences amongst staff and increase collaborative opportunities.
In addition, Walk to Math still remains. We will continue to place students in math classes based on the data we collect. Students assigned to Spectrum at Whittier will automatically be placed one grade level ahead in math. Students qualifying for HCC have the option to be placed two grade levels ahead. Our math committee will determine whether we can accommodate movement of more students whether they have the Spectrum designation or not using the data we've collected. Currently students are only placed on a continuum within a grade level. Our goal for the future is to be able to move more students across grade levels when deemed appropriate. Being able to do so often becomes a staffing issue so we will look at the numbers and make the best decision possible with the resources we have available to us.
- What happens if my child is Spectrum qualified, but is not in a Spectrum class (e.g. on the wait list or in Kindergarten)?
This situation already exists and is one of the reasons why we are moving to a new service delivery model. Students in this situation will now have more like-learners in their class and can move at the pace they need to through small group work. Teachers can differentiate and group students with the best learning partners for the tasks at hand.
A student who becomes eligible as AL (Advanced Learner/Spectrum) or HC (Highly Capable) through the Seattle Schools eligibility process retains their eligibility throughout their continuous SPS K-12 career. However, a student who is not enrolled in either a Spectrum or HCC program and wishes to be must apply during the Open Enrollment period. HC students are guaranteed an HCC spot. Spectrum seats are limited.
Even though our service model has changed to actually have the Spectrum designation, you need to request 'Whittier, Spectrum' on the enrollment form and receive confirmation that it was granted. Enrollment Services determines how many students will receive the designation. This hasn't changed and while it's less of an issue given our new service model, you might want that designation for middle school.
- Is there another school I could consider for a Spectrum class in the way we have had it at Whittier?
No. Next year there will not be any elementary schools with self-contained programs. Whittier and Lafayette Elementary (West Seattle) were the only schools still providing a self-contained experience. Both schools are moving to a blended model next year. If your child qualifies for HCC, there is the option of requesting Cascadia, which is a school entirely for students who qualify for HCC. Please be aware of school choice form deadlines.
- Why are we changing the service model for Spectrum at Whittier?
We want to be able to provide more opportunities for all kids at Whittier. Students need to work with a range of peers while still being offered the proper challenge for any given lesson. The self-contained model is antiquated and only provides services to a small group of students, whereas, a blended model increases opportunities and benefits all students. We have experienced a number of challenges around equity using the self-contained model. It limits students' ability to interact on a daily basis both socially and academically. It also restricts opportunities for teacher collaboration and the ability to create a well-balanced master schedule.
In addition, every school is now required to address how they will serve advanced learners in their school improvement plan (C-SIP). Changing our service model puts us more aligned with all the other schools in the district. Spectrum and ALO have become synonymous and by changing our model, we can provide advanced learning opportunities for all kids, whether they have the designation or not.
- Who should I contact to get my questions answered about Spectrum at Whittier?
The best contact is Principal Schweitzer who can be reached at email@example.com