It appears that we just need to repeat this exercise periodically as new people come to the blog, as people forget, and as the situation develops.
There is certainly a lot of room for legitimate disagreement among well-informed and well-intentioned people about how to address the needs of highly capable and high performing students, particularly within a Standards-based learning system.
In addition, there are a lot of folks who are simply unaware or misinformed about the various advanced learning programs at Seattle Public Schools. So I would recommend that everyone take the time - before entering the conversation - to educate themselves a bit with a visit to the Advanced Learning web site.
While the Advanced Learning Office has a role in AP testing, IB, and Early Entrance Kindergarten, the three primary advanced learning programs in Seattle are Accelerated Progress Program (APP), Spectrum, and Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALOs).
I know that there are a lot of people who are adamantly opposed to self-contained programs like APP and Spectrum, so here is a thread where they can present the research that exposes the weaknesses of that model and propose alternatives. Likewise, proponents of that model are free to present the research in support of it and tell their stories of how poorly their child was served prior to entry into one of these programs.
I would like to remind everyone that the ALOs are supposed to provide the rigorous and accelerated curriculum in an inclusive model to any student who chooses to accept the challenge. I think that these schools provide programs that many people crave. Please feel free to comment on which of the ALO models work well and which are not providing the desired effect.
Finally, I recognize that this is an area of discussion which quickly brings people to their emotional frontier. Let's try to be particularly respectful of everyone's views and stories. At the same time, let us remember, as Senator Moynihan is credited for saying: "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts."
First, I want to say that I am a HUGE fan of ALOs and that I think they are great. I only wish that the District would watch them more closely and provide a meaningful certification of their quality and effectiveness.
My position, which represent no one's views but my own, is that Seattle Public Schools, like any Standards-based learning system, is focused primarily on bringing every student up to Standards, and therefore does not put adequate focus on supporting students working beyond Standards. As a consequence, the Standards, intended in theory as a floor function in practice as a ceiling.
The District's obsession with universally horizontally and vertically articulated curricula discourages (if it doesn't absolutely preclude) support for students working beyond Standards. Consequently, those students who are ready and able to work beyond Standards need a systematically different learning environment in order to be adequately served. I think Spectrum could be that program. My view is that any student working beyond Standards - regardless of their scores on some assessment of cognitive ability - has this need. Therefore I support self-selection for Spectrum. And if that means that 30%, 40% or even 70% of Seattle Public School students are in Spectrum, well that would be simply WONDERFUL. The problem with most Spectrum programs is that they are too small to be effective. Of course, coupled with self-selected entry into the program there would have to be some clear, well-defined academic expectations. Students not meeting those academic expectations would have to be returned to the general education classroom. As with ALOs, the District needs to closely monitor the quality and effectiveness of these programs and it cannot hesitate to de-certify them when it is appropriate to do so.
In addition to the Spectrum program I think the District still needs APP, but I think the eligibility criteria needs to be tightened up.
As for program placement, I think I've put forward enough ideas along those lines.
Now let's read what other people have to say.