News and Events
Dear Bryant families,
At Bryant, we are preparing for the upcoming state-mandated spring assessments for students in grades 3-5. As you may know, this year the state has moved to a different set of assessments, called Smarter Balanced. These essentially replace the Measurements of Student Progress (MSPs) and High School Proficiency Exams (HSPEs). The Smarter Balanced assessments cover the same overall subject areas – English language arts and math – and require about the same amount of time, roughly four hours per subject area. The Smarter Balanced assessments, however, are different in two primary ways:
1. They are taken online. Students answer more interactively, the platform offers more supports, and the assessments are adaptive – or customized to each student’s ability.
2. They cover new academic standards. Our College and Career Readiness Standards, based on Common Core, set a higher bar for students than the state’s previous set of standards. Smarter Balanced assesses those standards, requiring more complex thinking and writing at all grade levels.
You can read more about Smarter Balanced in Seattle Public Schools by clicking Testing under Additional Links on our main homepage, www.SeattleSchools.org.
Smarter Balanced is different enough that scores cannot be accurately compared to those of previous years, but all districts in the state expect fewer students to meet standard. For example, a student who may have performed at the top level on the MSP may achieve a Level 3 (out of four levels) on Smarter Balanced initially. This is a normal scoring shift whenever more rigorous academic goals and their assessments are introduced; adjustment takes time for teachers and students at every academic level. Please know that this year’s scores will be viewed as a new baseline that will help our teachers measure future growth. Most important, we are proud of the countless ways our teachers are preparing our students for college, career and life, including teaching the more rigorous standards.
At Bryant, we have the required technology in place and are ready to accommodate students with special needs. Our testing schedule is provided below. On these assessment days please do your best to avoid scheduling vacations on these days. You don’t need to prepare in any other way at home, but you and your child are welcome to walk through the practice tests at SmarterBalanced.org.
Smarter Balanced assessments begin in third grade, and we are keeping an especially close eye on our third-graders’ literacy development. For this reason, most third-graders with a Level 1 score (out of four levels) on the English language arts assessment will be have a scheduled time for families to meet with the teacher before the end of the year. Because we need those scores early in order to make time for the conferences, third-graders will be the first to take the English language arts assessment. The conferences are required by the state, and we see this as another opportunity to partner with you to create a plan to build those crucial early literacy skills.
Thank you for all you do at home to prepare your child for learning and life. At Bryant, we are proud of our strong families and outstanding students!
Families will no longer be mailed a next-year assignment letter for each student in mid-February. In the past, we took this extra step to help families transition to our New Student Assignment Plan as enrollment growth boundaries changed and while we established attendance area schools and choice assignments. HERE is the letter that will be sent to families informing them of this change.
Those wishing to change their current or assigned school can do so during Open Enrollment, Feb. 23 – March 6. Full instructions on how to participate in Open Enrollment and choose a different school can be found on the Admissions website at http://bit.ly/Apply-OpenEnrollment or by contacting the Admissions office at (206) 252-0760.
Frequently Asked Questions about Advanced Learning
Opportunities (ALO) at Bryant Elementary (2014-2015)
1. Does the new report card give teachers less incentive to challenge ALO kids?
No, it does not. The report card is a communication tool between teachers and parents, and does not affect whether a student is challenged in class. Differentiated instruction is generated by student performance.
2. Do all students at Bryant benefit from the ALO model?
The criteria for moving a student to above grade level work is based on frequent formative and summative classroom assessments. Our teachers look for students who demonstrate depth of knowledge and advanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which indicates that they are ready for extensions.
3. How do you make sure that ALO students are challenged and that there are high expectations?
As test scores demonstrate for Bryant, our students are capable of high levels of learning. Our teachers find that they are often accelerating instruction given the capabilities of their students. Students are provided opportunities to extend their learning and demonstrate understanding of the content at grade level and beyond. For example, when students have demonstrated grade level mastery of a skill, they may work in a small group to extend their thinking led by a tutor or volunteer. They may be given new activities, projects or other forms of extension and enrichment.
All of our teachers have high expectations for their students. They work hard to differentiate instruction to meet specific student needs.
4. How does Bryant’s Science program compare to Spectrum or APP Science programs?
The Spectrum program is only for ELA and Math, so a science program at a school that offers Spectrum classes for qualified students should look the same for both the Spectrum and non-Spectrum students. At APP schools, the science curriculum scope and sequence is actually different from that of non-APP schools. Some of the units are accelerated versions of the regular grade-level unit, some units are completely unique to the APP Science program and are not taught at non-APP schools, and some units (at grades 4 and 5) are actually middle school science units.
5. Is there a “gap” in knowledge that Bryant ALO students experience when they enter and move through middle school compared with students from Spectrum or Highly Capable programs?
Students in the APP cohort are working 2 years above their grade level in Math and Reading within the APP Program at Lincoln. Spectrum Math is accelerated by 1 year. Naturally there will be some catching up to do at any entry point if students transfer out of Bryant to APP or Spectrum programs.
However, anecdotal evidence from parents and reports from teachers and administrators at both Eckstein and Jane Addams indicates that Bryant students are very well prepared when they reach middle school regardless of their Advanced Learning or general education designation. In mathematics specifically, every year approximately 50% of our students qualify for 7th grade math or higher as incoming 6th graders. In short, Bryant students are prepared for whatever middle school placement their parents arrange.
6. What are the criteria for moving a student to above grade level work?
Students must demonstrate grade level mastery of the content they are studying by independently completing the assigned tasks. They are then given an opportunity to move to above grade level work that is aligned with the current content. This rarely means whole subject grade level acceleration, and it does it not only apply to ALO designated students. Many of our parents choose not to test their children for advanced learning standing even though they clearly qualify, and many others choose to stay at Bryant even after their child has qualified for Spectrum or APP. Plus, students usually have strengths and challenge areas.
7. What happens to Highly Capable designated students in high school?
APP students matriculate to either Ingraham or Garfield. All others attend neighborhood schools and are served to their capabilities. There are many opportunities at all high schools to pursue a wide range of challenging academics.
8. How often are ALO students assessed?
Once a student receives an Advanced Learning designation from the Department of Advanced Learning at Seattle Public Schools, they will retain that designation through 5th grade if they stay at an ALO designated school such as Bryant or transfer to a Spectrum or APP school. This designation follows them to middle school. Students may not test into the Highly Capable Cohort (formerly APP) after the 8th grade. Parents may request that their child receive an assessment through Seattle Public Schools that occurs during the fall of each year. More information can be found here: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=b9b7d4c6c7eecec7bd609344d1661718&pageid=214087&sessionid=b9b7d4c6c7eecec7bd609344d1661718
9. How many students have an ALO designation at Bryant?
As of January 2015, there are 24 students who are eligible for the Highly Capable Cohort (formerly APP) at Bryant. There are 97 students who are eligible for Spectrum services. These families have chosen to stay at Bryant even though we do not offer either of those programs here. There is a total of just under 600 students enrolled at Bryant.
10. If a student tests into Spectrum or APP ranges, should they leave Bryant to attend a different elementary school or will their educational needs be met here?
We believe that we offer a strong educational program that meets the needs of Advanced Learners; however, we recognize that this is ultimately a family decision. We hope that the above answers will help inform your thinking, and we encourage you to visit other schools and ask questions about their particular programs. We trust that each family will consider what is best for their own child.
11.Are there any materials to help parents learn how to augment extensions and acceleration activities happening at Bryant?
The newly adopted Math in Focus program has many extension activities that can be accessed from home, and our teachers offer each student a log-in code that allows them to access this information. Additionally, every student has access to Raz-Kids, a leveled reading program that allows them to read and interact with books at home and it informs their teachers of their progress. There are many other on-line resources for challenging students, and our teachers can recommend additional resources on a case-by-case basis.
12.Where do ALO 5th graders go after Bryant?
The Highly Capable Cohort (formerly known as APP) was recently divided, and students in the NE cluster of Seattle now attend Jane Addams Middle School while those in the NW cluster of Seattle attend Hamilton Middle School. Students who are eligible for Spectrum services attend Eckstein. Hazel Wolf K-8 is another option for families who prefer to have their children attend a smaller, alternative middle school
13. Why should my Advanced Learning designated student stay at Bryant instead of attending Lincoln or a Spectrum program in another elementary school?
· Bryant has a strong instructional staff committed to student success.
· Bryant has a strong administrative and professional office staff.
· Bryant has a highly involved and capable PTSA that coordinates a variety of community events and provides stable funding for academic and other programs.
· Bryant is a strong neighborhood school with valued traditions and programs.
· Bryant has an aligned academic program with established continuity.
· Bryant has a tremendously involved, and engaged community that only grows more connected over time with the benefits that brings for children.
· Bryant has a vital and diverse afterschool program that offers many rich opportunities for students to explore a variety of interests.
· Bryant has LASER, providing a high quality, on-site before and after school program.
“Advanced Learning Testing and Open Enrollment (Feb. 23 - March 6)
“This year more than 5,400 students are participating in the testing cycle to determine eligibility for Highly Capable Services or Spectrum/ALO programs. Because of the high volume, the testing cycle will continue through February. That means the majority of families will not know eligibility results in time for the Open Enrollment for School Choice deadline (March 6), but families should still submit a School Choice Form on time, even if they haven’t yet been notified of Highly Capable eligibility.
Eligible students are guaranteed a seat in the Highly Capable Cohort (self-contained classroom) if the School Choice Form is submitted.
“Please follow these instructions:
“Every School Choice Form offers families the ability to choose up to 10 schools/programs, in preference order, to which you would like to send your child. Included on each form is a list of schools and programs offered. Complete the form assuming your child is eligible for the program you desire.
Step 1: If you are expecting your child to be eligible for Highly Capable services, be sure
to enter your first choice school on the form as if he/she IS eligible for HC services. If you are expecting your child to be eligible for Spectrum programs, continue to Step 2.
Step 2: Enter your next choice (or choices) as if your child was NOT found eligible for
HC, but WAS found eligible for Spectrum.
Step 3: Enter any subsequent choices/Option Schools as if your child was NOT found
eligible for HC and was NOT found eligible for Spectrum. If you child currently
attends an Option School, please enter it as a choice.
Stephen Martin, Supervisor of Advanced Learning
“Note: Families who do not intend for their child to change schools normally do not need to complete a School Choice Form UNLESS they are applying for a different program within the same school (e.g., gen ed. moving to Spectrum at the same school). In that case, a choice form must be submitted.”
- Complete WATCH background check and provide valid photo ID annually (currently required for parents/community volunteers)
- Complete a SPS volunteer application annually
- Read and sign SPS Volunteer Handbook annually (sign 2 page volunteer agreement)
- Complete on-line 25-minute video course “ASM” adult sexual misconduct. Once this is done it is not required again. We have found that this video loads most effectively with a direct Internet connection as opposed to Wi-Fi.
- Read Volunteer Policy #5630 annually
September 2, 2014
Dear Bryant Families,
Welcome back! I hope your summer was a great one! For me, I had the realization half way through five weeks in and covering what seemed like most of China, that I am not 24 anymore…imagine my surprise! At this point in my life I prefer a bit slower pace and more comfort when I travel. Great trip but exhausting!
I am so excited about another year at Bryant! Our students made significant progress and we have a lot to be proud of from last year. I want you to know that Bryant teachers and staff will continue to partner with you to develop our amazing school and make sure that all children have the best possible learning experiences! With the help of the PTSA and your new co-presidents, Meghan Delaney and Leeann Huntington, our staff and teachers, and our building leadership team (BLT), we plan to work hard and smart to continue to find ways to improve and maintain meaningful communication with you about your children and their school.
I am certain that your children are also excited about the upcoming year. Our teachers have been preparing for their arrival on Wednesday and planning for the school year beyond.
Our grade configurations, teaching assignments and specialists for the 2014-2015 school year are as follows:
Kindergarten: Kevin G. Gallagher, Alex Jones, Carleen Confer, Kathy Kereluck, and our new K teacher, Chara Johnson
1st Grade: Michaela Koerner -Storkman, Lynn Masunaga-Fahselt, Sheila Davis and Ann-Marie Spata
2nd Grade: Brian Matthias, John Arrowsmith, Nicole Richard, Amy Alphin (1-2) and our new 2nd grade teacher (last year at Bryant as a reading specialist) Kristine Duncan
3rd Grade: Susan Finnegan, Huong Nguyen, Connie Bernard (3-4) and Clare Johnston
4th Grade: AJ Benaltabe, Katie Salisbury and Susan Kearney
5th Grade: Craig Arango, Steven Garlid and Elizabeth Day
Library: Anne Aliverti
Reading/Math .5: Teresa Elhardt
Special Education: Jennifer Ward and Judy Miller
PE: Tate Loftin and Kathy Weinman
Music: AJ Newland, and our new instrumental music teacher, Peter Fleming and choir teacher, Debi Johanson
We also welcome our new assistant principal, Julie Pearson!
Looking at the grade level configurations you may have noticed that we have 5 Kindergarten classrooms. In the spring, we had been staffed in our district budget projections for 4 Kindergarten rooms. But now our enrollment numbers have risen to 603 total students and our 4 K classes had grown to the 30-31 student range late in August. This could not stand. I was able to mitigate for and obtain an additional .5 teacher allocation to address this problem. Creating a new K class will allow us to establish manageable class size in the low to mid 20’s at all grade levels but 5th. 5th grade will come in at 27-28 students per class and is within the contract limits for class size at this grade level in Seattle Public Schools.
As many of you know, the school district does not provide baseline funding allocation dollars for counselors in elementary schools. In simple terms, it is up to elementary schools to arrange their own funding for counselors. To set up the 5th Kindergarten class required that we redirect additional building based funding that in the spring our staff had voted to use for our counselor. We had expected in the spring, based on projections, that our enrollment would not climb so high by the end of summer.
These two .5 allocations together gave us 1. 0 to establish the new position.
Losing our .5 counselor to help create a classroom is deeply unsettling but it is what we prioritized back in the early spring as a staff and BLT if we were to find ourselves with such a large enrollment. Again, we had hoped our numbers would not go up as they have done to necessitate this. It was a difficult decision but in the end it could not be avoided.
We are very sorry to lose Christina Soong at Bryant and value her amazing contributions beyond words. Fortunately, Ms. Soong has been hired by another district as an assistant principal and I wish her all the best. She will be missed tremendously. But in the meantime, work has been underway to identify and plan for the tasks, responsibilities and supports to students and their families that Christina had been so skilled at delivering at Bryant.
In other news, many of you may know that our wonderful friend, mentor, colleague and super Kindergarten teacher, Diane Paulson has retired. Ms. Paulson’s contributions to Bryant are legendary and immeasurable and she will continue to have a positive and lasting impact on our Bryant community! We have set up a box in the office for letters and cards from those of you that would like to reach out to thank her for her many gifts to children and congratulate her on this exciting new stage in her life.
I am confident this instructional year will be a great one! Bryant teachers and staff are incredible! This year we will work intentionally to achieve the goal that every one of our students will be challenged and grow. We will be implementing the new math curriculum, “Math in Focus” and informing reading and writing instruction with the benefit of the school district’s new literacy scope and sequence. Of course, more big news is that we are staffing our computer lab (Patricia Parker –super volunteer and tech guru) to increase computer literacy for our students. This increased access to and focus on technology will also help prepare students for the new Smarter Balanced State Assessment (3rd-5th grade at elementary level) that will be given in place of the MSP in the spring. Last year, our teachers began to implement the new Common Core State Standards in their instruction as we prepared for the challenges that this new direction in standards is bringing to education in Washington State. This important work will continue during the 2014-2015 school year. Much more about all of this to follow!
We will also be implementing school wide, a highly respected social skills curriculum, Super Flex. Aligning our work in this area will support students with clear expectations, skills and understanding for maintaining a healthy learning and social environment in every classroom at Bryant, on the playground and beyond.
To top things off, there is a fabulous line up of after school enrichment classes scheduled for the fall. Many thanks to our ASE coordinator, Christine Haas!
Welcome to a brand new school year! There is no place I would rather be than at Bryant.