Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Open Thread for Lowell/APP

74 comments:

DKrashin said...

I'm struck by the comment that it's no big deal if highly gifted kids aren't able to get into APP. I don't know the lingo that well, but I thought highly gifted kids were considered a 'special needs' group. Is this no longer policy?

seattlgal said...

I think making a new k-8 Spectrum and APP school in the Jane Adamms building might have worked.

Specifically, in the NE cluster, Wedgewood, View Ridge and Eckstein all have large Spectrum programs. If a spectrum program at Adamms took all of the spectrum students in all three of these schools it would relieve pressure on elementary and middle school in the NE cluster.

Once Spectrum students were assigned to Adams, View Ridge and Wedgewood would have open seats. The district could redraw the boundaries and accomodate the over crowding in the south part of the NE cluster. Once middle school Spectrum was moved out of Eckstein and into Jane Adamms, there would be much more space to accomodate the neighborhood students at Eckstein.

There is currently a wait list for spectrum seats at all three of the NE cluster spectrum schools. Some kids remain on the the Eckstein WL for three years, and never get in.

This would alleviate that problem.

The Spectrum program could co-house with a north end k-8 APP program (that took all students who lived north of the ship canal). This would alleviate north end APP students riding a bus to Lowell (or now Thurgood Marshall) everyday. I personally know two families that are APP qualified but didn't want to send their kids to a far away school, even for a great program like APP. They would be thrilled to know they could be served in a nearby school. The APP program would certainly grow.

If between a NE cluster Spectrum program draw and a north of the ship canal APP draw the Adamms building still had space to fill the spectrum program could be expanded to take kids from the north and NW clusters, or be a north of the ship canal spectrum school.

hschinske said...

I *think* Bob Vaughan's point was that you can't look at the current enrollment in APP and assume that's the population of highly gifted kids you're dealing with in Seattle, full stop. There are more out there, identified and not identified, and there needs to be a range of ways to accommodate them.

That said, there is clearly a large, predictable demand for self-contained classes for the highly gifted, which ought to be given room to grow.

It's been a long time since anyone came up with a new alternative program: I wonder (this is just a goofy idea, I'm not very serious) what would happen if parents tried to organize an alternative gifted ed program, centrally or in the north end? 'Course, where would you put it -- can't afford to rent the John Marshall building, and my basement isn't big enough ...

Helen Schinske

Roy Smith said...

From the district website, APP is for students in the top 2% in cognitive ability AND top 5% in both reading and math. That means that a maximum of 2% of students should be eligible for APP.

SPS has 45,800 students. 1/13 of those (approx) are kindergarteners who are not eligible for APP. 2% of the remaining 12/13 is 846 students, which yields roughly 71 students per grade. This means that elementary APP should have about 355 students in it, at most.

Lowell has about 400 APP students now, and people are saying that not all APP eligible students are at Lowell. This would imply that APP needs to be expanded, but that doesn't make sense if APP is only for the top 2% of students. Do we live in Lake Wobegone, where all the children are above average?

TechyMom said...

I'm guessing, but I think that enrollment in all programs is larger in elementary grades than in higher grades. So the APP students aren't split evenly in twelfths between the grades. There's also a baby boom that hit K this year, when 2% of those kids will are ready for APP, it will be a larger number than 2% of the smaller class that proceded them.

Jeremy said...

The 2% cognitive ability and the 5% academic ability are not meant to reflect the percentage of students in the district.

Imagine it this way- if a test were given to 100 students, it is possible, and likely, that more than 1 of those kids would score in the 99th percentile, because it is a standardized system of assessment.

On the other hand, I'm not sure what the point of the comment is. Are you wanting there to be fewer kids in a highly capable program?

hschinske said...

"Do we live in Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average?"

No, but we live in a major metropolitan area, with high concentrations of education, science, and high-tech. It's not at all surprising if we have more than the average number of gifted students. (Incidentally, the ability cutoff is at two standard deviations from the mean, which is just under 2.5% nationally. I can't remember the exact figure at the moment, possibly 2.3%.)

The other thing is that various tests are used for identification -- if you allow 98th percentile results on the CogAT *or* the WISC-IV *or* the Stanford-Binet
V, you will get a bigger pool due to there not being complete overlap in the populations who get the highest scores. Same is true for students who take the CogAT more than once (the test is different for different grades, the administration of the test varies according to which year you're taking it, and so forth -- e.g., the questions are read out loud to the youngest students, while later grades take it as a purely written test).

Helen Schinske

Shannon said...

I'm new to this blog and new to SPS. We live in the NE Cluster and I am applying for my son to enter 3rd Grade 2009/10. I expect him to test into APP (as he has done last year and in private tests) and after this news I am at a total loss about what to do.

I have heard from neighbors that we are unlikely to get into Bryant (our reference school). I would be happy with Thornton Creek but that is likely to be full with kids from Summit (who on earth would go to RBHS from here - none of my friends at Summit) so I do not know what we will do.

I am really reluctant to have my son bus down to Thurgood Marshall. Not only is it a long way but the success of the program in that facility is unproved and I just do not like the location.

Versus local cluster schools - would you still send your kid to APP in this context?

My son is very articulate, opinionated and has his own projects going all the time. This has been fine in his current co-op alternative school but I do not know what would work in the mainstream SPS options.

Regards,
Worried.

Jeremy said...

Shannon,

I don't know what the success rate will be like with two separate locations that are co-housed.

I tend to think that it will cause many of the parents who can already afford it to move into private schools.

My greatest concern is that the program will experience bad vibes and hear accusations of elitism in the proposed schools.

That said, I suggest waiting to see what the outcome of the negotiations turns out to be. I doubt they made proposals without also having an understanding of the things they would be willing to give.

I would be more supportive of moving the program as a whole into one of the two buildings mentioned.

Central Mom said...

In those stats, don't forget about those families who have their kids privately tested in order to access Lowell. I know a number of them. They do this to find a program that they perceive as "better" than their neighborhood school placement.

In passing conversation, it appears to be an open secret that private testing gets you into Lowell even if the route public testing hasn't.

If APP standards are tightened up, and more importantly, if the District gets serious about offering strong programs equitably throughout the city, perhaps the APP cohort can be reasonably accomodated in 2 locations smaller than Lowell.

I agree with the Lowell closure, by the way. Few neighborhood folks wanted to see that become a neighborhood school. The medically fragile special needs kids really do need accomodation throughout the District...not just in one location. And the facility itself would cost a ton to rennovate. Better to close Lowell than to impact a neighborhood school. I'd rather see those capital monies bring some of the facilities up to date in the neighborhoods which have long suffered less-than-adequate facilities for their kids.

hschinske said...

How close are you to Decatur? (Bryant and Decatur are about a mile and a half apart, if I Mapquested it right.) I'm wondering if the first generation of families in that building may not have a unique chance to set the tone for what kind of school it's going to be. Maybe you could get a grassroots group together of folks who want to see particular things happen in their neighborhood school, and agree to do a mass enrollment. Given that we could easily fill two Bryants if we had them, there seems no reason that Decatur should not be another school just as good as Bryant, or perhaps better in its own line.

Helen Schinske

seattlgal said...

Shannon, do not be shy to apply for Bryant, or any other school in the NE cluster. My friends child got into Bryant in 2nd grade and they live far away from the school. Also our neighbor who just entered the district in 5th grade got into Bryant this year, and we live far away from the school.

Our best friends transferred their daughter into View Ridge last year for 2nd grade though they are not close to the school, and another friend transferred into Laurelhurst in 3rd grade.

I think it's much easier to get in at the upper grades than Kindergarten. Kids test into Spectrum or APP and move to schools that can accomodate them, others just change schools, or move out of district. Space opens up.

concerned said...

I am so tired of people like "central mom" insinuating that kids who are privately tested aren't really gifted. I assume they think the psychologists who do the testing are lying about the kids having tested gifted. I am sure that there is a rare psychologist who might lie, but they put their license at risk to do so, not to mention the disservice to the child who may not be able to keep up in APP. To test for giftedness, the Seattle Schools currently use a group test called the Cogat which was not designed to be used as an IQ test.

This doesn't even get to the point of whether it really makes sense to put two all city draw schools in the south end two miles apart How does this make the program more "accessible." As someone who does not live in the south end, I am not happy. I have also heard horror stories from former students and teachers about when the APP program was co-housed at Madrona. It reminds me of the old cliche "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

hschinske said...

"In passing conversation, it appears to be an open secret that private testing gets you into Lowell even if the route public testing hasn't."

Sorry, not so. I know plenty of kids who haven't made it in on private testing. Some didn't even qualify for Spectrum. In some cases, the achievement tests were way high but the overall IQ was too low (usually because of a whole lot of subtest scatter, mixed very high and rather low scores). Some kids had the opposite problem: very high IQ and achievement scores much lower, possibly from learning disabilities. Some have incredibly high scores in one area (often math-related) in both ability and achievement, but not so much on the other measures). Some plain didn't make the cut either way.

Helen Schinske

Shannon said...

Hi Helen
Yes, we are close to Decatur (in fact, it was a toss-up for me whether Decatur or Lowell would be a better fit and was going to visit both this season). I do know others who are entering 3rd grade this year and will be sharing ideas but being new to SPS its hard to start thinking about being a big influence. Also, I don't want my child to be a guinea pig in SPS's educational reshuffle. He is a whole person not a factor in a capacity computation or a Demographic Trend.

I remain hopeful of figuring this out [we are not the type who can flee to private school btw] but it makes it very hard when the program/school combinations we are considering do not exist right now. Its not like going to a school fair or ticking off schools on a tour is going to help.

Shannon

Charlie Mas said...

I can see closing Lowell instead of spending the money necessary to fix it up. Of course, if the District had done the maintenance that they should have been doing all along, the school would not be in the current condition.

I can believe that the two programs of 250 will be big enough and strong enough to be viable.

There are only two elements of this decision that I question:

1) Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall are not appropriate choices for co-housing with elementary APP. The APP review was very clear that any move to co-house with general education HAS to be with a population of similar socio-economic status and academic achievement. We are setting ourselves up to repeat the disaster at Madrona. A better choice in the South would have been Muir or Kimball instead of Hawthorne. They chose Hawthorne because it has 250 empty seats. This decision was made based entirely on operational expediency, and nothing else.

2) The elementary APP site for the north-end should be in the north-end. If their talk about equity and access are to mean anything, they need to find a north-end location for half the program. How about Decatur? Every seat at Decatur is available right now, they should put it there.

Roy Smith said...

Charlie Mas wrote: The elementary APP site for the north-end should be in the north-end. If their talk about equity and access are to mean anything, they need to find a north-end location for half the program.

How about Pinehurst? I shouldn't be surprised if Decatur opens completely full due to neighborhood demand, and Pinehurst is just the right size to house a little over half of the current elementary APP (it can hold 280-300 students). I don't think a fight between APP families and Wedgewood/View Ridge neighborhood families on who gets to be at Decatur will be useful to anybody.

Keepin'On said...

I find it interesting that people seem to make the assumption that parents who will not be happy if Lowell closes will change to private school. There is simply no room at the private schools in the north end, so I am not sure where these parents are supposed to be transferring to.

Just wondering?

Central Mom said...

I agree w/ Charlie that North End APP should be in the North End. Seems pretty basic, esp. for the health of the program.

And my point about the private testing isn't about whether or not the kids are worthy. It's a comment on the District's offering of programs. Parents are willing to go to great lengths to get their kids into good programs. I'd do the same. The thing the district should do is offer great programs to the parents across the district in an equitable manner. Again, basic. If there's a demand for more APP and Spectrum seats, then for gosh sakes, work toward offering them. North and South. And West. Same with bilingual programs.

jd said...

I think the success of the split and co-location will depend almost entirely on the principal. At Thurgood they have a dedicated principal who has been working hard to improve the prospects of her kids. I can completely understand resenting having to now focus equally on a bunch of kids that are (rightly or wrongly) assumed to always turn out OK, no matter what their educational environment. I'd imagine that an APP-only principal would be equally disconcerted by suddenly having to figure out how to simultaneously serve a more obviously at-risk population. It's going to take some work to identify someone who can do such completely different tasks simultaneously, while gracefully bringing the two parent populations in line with their common goals. Merging the teaching staffs will be equally problematic. If co-locating is forced down the throats of unwilling principals, it's going to be a disaster. And frankly, given the difficulties, I can't imagine that there are that many candidate principals who would see this as an "opportunity" rather than a colossal pain the butt.

Roy Smith said...

Locating APP north at Pinehurst also has the nice benefit of avoiding any colocation concerns, thus no worry about whether a principal will consider it to be "a collosal pain in the butt", and thus be uncooperative.

Also, I don't see why the two elementary APP programs couldn't continue to have one administration (or at the very least, only one principal), which serves both schools. This could help keep costs down.

nacmom said...

Let's not forget that NE is 758 kids over enrollment for GENERAL ED. Growing an alterntive and relocating APP to the two 'available' schools does nothing to address this. Opening jane addams as a Gen ed school will. Some colocating/flexibility sure, but we can't forget the kids already crammed into their schools are being negatively impacted DAILY. obviously their teachers as well.

seattlegal - I think it's a goood idea to consider an app/spectrum site somewhere, but not to kill the exising programs at wedgwood and VR. Not all sibs test at same levels and many, many parents - myself included chose to stay at at neighhorhood school(w/spectrum) vs. pursuing APP.

the overall population in NE is growing, so too will the spectrum/app eligible - at higher than nantional levels as explained by hschinske. we need room for all of them - gen ed, spectrum, app, spec ed, alt. and yes, in 4 years - middle school Gen ed adn spectrum especially.

yes, duh - Lowell North should be in the north. more people will choose it too, vs. spectrum due to geographic proximity. where to put it that doesn't displace the NE kids?

Beth Bakeman said...

Roy, aren't you an AS#1 parent? If so, why would you recommend moving APP North to the Pinehurst building instead of arguing to keep AS#1 open? Just curious.

seattle citizen said...

Just an observation:
On opening this blog, I noted that there are about seven new threads, one for each school/program closure/movement. I then noted that a couple schools has one or two comments, a couple had three or four, one had seven...and APP had 23.
a) dividing these threads up is, well, divisive. Can't we all comment generally? Is this "divide and conquer"?
b) I hope that the APP stakeholders can continue to contribute to the other threads;
c) I hope that stakeholders in the other schools can step up their commentary
d) I hope that everyone is advocating for everyone (a repeat of "a", but necessary!)
Carry on.

Roy Smith said...

Nacmom: Opening Decatur as a traditional K-5 neatly and effectively solves the K-5 overcrowding problem in the south part of the NE cluster, and it addresses about 2/3 of the over-enrollment problem. A new and unproven traditional K-8 would not have attracted very many families from Eckstein or any of the elementaries at the south end of the NE cluster.

Putting APP North in the north will probably draw some NE cluster students in who aren't currently in APP. If APP North is in Pinehurst, this would relieve a little bit of the pressure on NE cluster schools.

Giving Thornton Creek room to grow provides an obvious place for many of the AS#1 students to go, so it makes the decision to close AS#1 much more palatable, and reduces the possibility of some of those students ending up in their reference area schools, compounding the overcrowding problems.

Overall, I like the parts of the plan that have to do with AS#1 and Thornton Creek. I don't like the fact that Summit is being thrown to the wolves, but remember the board already made the decision that they would not be in Jane Addams, so my suspicion is that their fate was already sealed. In fact, I actually was surprised that they weren't recommended for outright closure. Maybe the staff figures that if the Summit community rejects what has been offered to them, when it is already clear that they won't keep the Jane Addams building, then they will have a stronger argument for eliminating Summit entirely. But that just might be my cynicism talking.

Beth, to answer your question, I'm not nearly as alternative as some of the AS#1 parents. Thornton Creek may actually be a better fit for my family, anyway. On a practical policy level, AS#1's enrollment has declined every year for the past 3-4 years. I have made the argument in the past (on this blog, in fact) that the only valid criteria of an alternative school's effectiveness should be "are families continuing to choose it?" Well, in the case of AS#1, they aren't, so according to my own argument, SPS should be looking critically at it.

Also, looking at the distribution of where children who attend AS#1 (or AAA, or Summit at the elementary level) live, it is really hard for me to justify the existence of all-city draws at the elementary school level.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I put separate threads for each school so that people don't have to wade through a lot of reading if they don't want to. It was suggested and I thought it a good suggestion.

cas said...

To Shannon who has a APP child:

As a parent with two APP eligible children, I have no doubt that doing the neighborhood Spectrum was the best choice for my childen.

Although the choice to keep them in the neighborhood was difficult, looking back at the free time they gained has well been worth it.

Every teacher at Whittier knows my children are APP eligible and gives them, and the other APP kids, the same work they would be getting at Lowell.

(I know because the Lowell principal was our principal and she told us.)

Yes, we did have to demand it, and the District backed us. I think this is what the District wants-kids to get what they need in the neighborhood.

They don't have to sit on a bus for an hour so they can do chess club, a online (real) math course (hard to do on a bus), practice piano, cello, and play sports all year.

That 1.5 hours commute per day multiplied over those four years is time they could never get back.

Think of the gifted adults that you know? How many had a special pull out program an hour a way from their house when they were young? Probably none. Are they any less gifted???

Is it really fair to make them go somewhere way out of the way to get what they need?

Kids need time to daydream and be thinkers. Could my child do this on a bus? Yes, he could, but why should he have to?

Have your child tested and demand that they and the other APP children in your school get the work that they need.

Sean98125 said...

What would it take to re-open Viewlands as an APP/General Ed school? It's in an ideal location from a socioeconomic perspective and the building has enough capacity to hold APP and general ed.

If the school district reopens Viewlands and shifts the NE cluster boundary to include Olympic Hills they'll solve a lot of their north end problems.

Roy Smith said...

If the school district reopens Viewlands and shifts the NE cluster boundary to include Olympic Hills they'll solve a lot of their north end problems.

NE Cluster families are unenthusiastic about sending their kids to John Rogers because it is too far away and not as good as their neighborhood school (in the south end of the NE cluster). I can't imagine that including Olympic Hills in the NE cluster will make one iota of difference to the families most affected by overcrowding.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa,
I appreciate your huge effort on behalf of keeping the citizenry informed! It probably WAS a good idea to have these separate threads, but it might make the community (such as it is) lose its cohesiveness.
Too bad that ALL the parents and guardians can't get together as a group (not just in this blog, but district-wide, to have a stronger voice. It seems that some are successful in catching the district's ear occasionaly (including some in this blog: thank you!) but it also appears that there is frustration by htose who gain "access" when they've had their input and it all comes to naught.
There's power in numbers: how to organize ALL parent/guardian/students/stakeholders?

Keep up the good work, Melissa!

hschinske said...

"Every teacher at Whittier knows my children are APP eligible and gives them, and the other APP kids, the same work they would be getting at Lowell."

Wow. All I can say is that things must have changed a LOT at Whittier since my kids were there. For years they didn't even give their own Spectrum kids math at a year ahead (that started to change the last year we were there), much less accommodate anyone at two years ahead or more. When one of my daughters was in a 4/5 split and qualified for Spectrum, she couldn't even use the 5th grade math textbook that was SITTING RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME CLASSROOM, despite having scored higher on the ITBS math than her sister in APP (both had 99th percentile, one had a higher raw score than the other).

She did occasionally get a 5th-grade math homework sheet, but typically it was stuff like review of times tables (including zeros and ones). Once the fourth-grade math homework was three-digit subtraction and the fifth-grade homework was four-digit subtraction. Uh, big difference.

Helen Schinske

Mimi56 said...

I hate to be the ultimate pessimist here, but....

The district has long sought to split or dismantle APP(and Spectrum for that matter.) Over the course of the past 20+ years various proposals have surfaced to split or reconfigure that program. Those proposals coincide with facilities master plans, new student assignment plans, program growth, and now to save money.

The fast track of this proposal boggles the mind. It will be finalized at the end of January, when parents are choosing schools and programs for their children. How disruptive is that? Printing of the school choice booklets occurs in December and this decision is due out in late January? Good luck folks. I believe that all changes proposed last night are a done deal. Forget about trying to slow down or alter anything. Parents and other interest groups are not going to be involved in the final decision. The timeline guarantees it. All closures, changes, reconfigurations,are done.

But I do have a question,is there any real savings from splitting and moving APP or relocating Summit? Transportation costs will surely eat up any savings.

I know that the budget is the given reason, but why has this emerged as critical to implement by September 2009? It smells very fishy.

jd said...

Unless the district can come up with an actual north end site for the north end APP, I'm anticipating that the move will backfire. I could easily imagine that of the 250 north end APP kids, parents will choose not to put 20% of them onto buses for more than 2 hours a day. If these kids wind up back in their local schools, the overcrowding on the north end only gets worse.

And despite people's claims that the north end APP kids will all flee to the private schools, I doubt it would happen. Most kids are in APP because the parents value public school, and will not necessarily flee the bus ride for the privates. They'll flee for their local overcrowded-but-decent schools instead.

Charlie Mas said...

I've done some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations and it seems to me that after the APP students and their siblings move into Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall, there will be very little room for neighborhood general education students at either of these schools.

APP siblings cannot enroll at Lowell, so we haven't encountered this situation before. In fact, I'll bet that the ability to send all of your kids to a single school will increase participation in APP.

So let's do some math...

At Hawthorne, 238 APP students. Add one sibling for every four students and you get another 60. That's about 300 students right there. Add the 17 students in self-contained special education classes and we have 315 students who are enrolled at Hawthorne before the first neighborhood student can enroll. The school has a planning capacity of 428, so there is space for no more than 113 neighborhood kids. The APP students and siblings will outnumber the neighborhood students by 3:1. The general education classes will be two-thirds neighborhood students and one-third APP siblings.

Look at Thurgood Marshall. 265 APP students, maybe 65 siblings, 23 self-contained special education students, planning capacity of 422 leaves space for no more than 69 neighborhood students. The APP students and siblings will outnumber the neighborhood students by a ratio of 4.75:1. The general education classes will be half neighborhood students and half APP siblings.

I wonder if the District staff considered the impact of the sibling enrollment tiebreaker.

jd said...

Charlie -- They could always just cancel the tiebreaker for APP kids, since it would cut across program boundaries. Any idea how this was handled when APP was at Madrona?

I'm also wondering if there is a timescale over which a north-end school could be made ready to house a north end APP. If one could be made available in 2010 rather than 2009, then perhaps APP could stay in Lowell for 1 more year, then split. I can't imagine that "north" APP remaining in the south is going to be viable long term, and if it's going to have to move again, it would be better to wait one year, and then move once.

jd said...

If you look on pages 132-133 of the document Charlie linked to, you can see options that were on the table and then revised. They were originally planning to open a new elementary in Pinehurst. I'm assuming it was taken out of consideration because of the building condition (55.32; page 24)

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think the District would cancel the sibling preference just for APP students. All of the reasons for the sibling preference would still be there. The benefits are no different for APP families than any other families. They have the sibling preference for Washington and Garfield, don't they?

terrysim said...

Just to insert some info from the last school closure, 21% of the students attending closed schools did NOT enroll in SPS the following year and only 51% of all students attended school where the staff expected them to go (the "receiving school"). Detail here (from the Nov 2007 Finance report http://www.seattleschools.org/area/capacity/schoolboardfinancecommreport120407.pdf):
=============
"Enrollment Conclusion:
Overall there were 743 students in the closed buildings who were eligible to move into their
receiving school. Our enrollment projections anticipated that approximately 80% of the students
in the closed building would enroll in their expected receiving school. This number was based in
part on the average annual retention in these schools and on telephone calls that were made to
each family in the closed buildings during the open enrollment process. The purpose of the
telephone calls was to alert families to the fact that, should they wish to attend their expected
receiving school they did not have to act and to inquire whether families were planning on
attending their expected receiving school.

In the end, only 377 (50.7%) of eligible students" (743) "actually were enrolled in the expected receiving
school on October 1. Of the 366 students who are not attending their expected receiving school,
154 chose to leave Seattle Public Schools" (21% or 154/743).

"While we do not have student-specific information
about why those families chose to leave the district, 41 (26.6%) were not residents of Seattle and
may have taken this opportunity to return to their home districts."
===========

It really seems as if SPS has a goal of shrinking the enrollment (even as numbers of Seattle residents ages 5-19 are going up). Question for anyone: Would it hurt or help the budget of SPS if enrollment were to grow by 5% over the next 2 years? by 10%? In other words, is there a built-in disincentive to "grow the district" created by the funding formula? Anybody know some facts?

Dorothy said...

Why wouldn't they cancel sibling preference for APP middle and high school? In fact, why have it at all? for any school, any situation?

If Ballard Biotech becomes a program with an all-city lottery, would getting in mean your sibling would get to go to Ballard? Ditto with Garfield Orchestra or Roosevelt Drama. When we have assigned guaranteed high schools plus 10% lottery (or whatever) do siblings ride the lottery winners' coattails?

Same with popular alternative schools like TOPS and Salmon Bay. Why should siblings override lottery or other tie breaker?

MomAsks.. said...

What about all the Special Ed kids being uprooted from Lowell? How will their needs get met?

Teachermom said...

I think that if the district is going to do this, they had better open up some more Spectrum classes in neighborhood schools. My son qualifies for APP, but I wouldn't even send him as far as Lowell, let alone even further. So he goes to Spectrum classes closer to home.

I actually was a kid who was bussed far away 2 days a week for a program for highly gifted students, and it was not good for me.

It feels like a dis-incentive to me to house both halves of the APP program where they are choosing to house them, just based on distance from North End neighborhoods.

On the special ed. end, where are they going to put Lowell's special ed programs? I have heard that Greenlake stays off the chopping block due to the building retrofits that make it the perfect location for their Team A classrooms - isn't there a similar location-specific special-ness about Lowell for these low-incidence classrooms?

jd said...

No doubt that the Lowell special ed students have gotten completely shafted. Yet again.

Mimi56 said...

History just repeats itself...

When APP was cohoused at Madrona, very few APP enrolled students lived in the Madrona reference area. APP/IPP was a small program at one time.Madrona had a K and grades 4,5,&6 and many of those were bussed from the northend school paired with Madrona for desegregation. During Wm. Kendrick's tenure as superintendent, Madrona became a traditional neighborhood K-5. At about the same time the APP population had a sudden surge in growth. It was dubbed the bulge. And the classrooms revealed stark racial differences between the programs.

The site council recommended that APP move and Madrona be allowed to grow to serve it's neighborhood
K-5. Kendrick was unable or unwilling to find APP a suitable location. Stanford was hired and within 15-18 mos. APP elementary moved to Lowell. Madrona was unable to draw enough neighborhood students to be viable and is now a K-8.

Madrona and APP did not cohouse well when Madrona was a weak k-5 and APP was the stronger,larger program. It was NOT always the disaster that some describe, but it was tense and not good for anyone. When APP was the smaller of the two schools, there seemed to be less anomosity in the building, but perhaps I just hoped that was the case.

The history of this program and cohousing is an important one to remember. In my mind it only worked when neither programs were very large and had one perceived to be so much "better" than the other. I was there as were my two kids.

The district will have shuttered three elementary schools in the central area and greatly retricted access to Thurgood. Will this come back to haunt them one day?

The proposed co-housing (which I believe to be a done deal),is not good for kids. Again, no matter how wonderful the neighborhood programs are at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne, the perception will be that APP is somehow better. I have been through this and I do not believe the district nor parent attitudes have changed that much over time.How can programs be expected to thrive in a hostile environment. Not just APP but at Thurgood and Hawthorne? History just seems to repeat itself in this district and I find it disheartening and quite sad.

alt dad said...

So will the two APP elementary programs both housed south, cause families in the N and NE cluster to move their children closer to home into a Spectrum program or ALO? And in the future will not as many N and NE cluster families enroll in APP due to the south end location?

If the answer is yes, then how will the NE cluster accomodate those children? Does someone have the numbers? How many families from the NE cluster particularly, send their children to Lowell? And for any of you reading this blog, will you continue to send your child to a split program further south in low performing schools?

dj said...

Given that the two schools are so geographically close, is there a particular reason why the APP students would be split by neighborhood of origin rather than by grade?

concerned said...

The school board video from last night has been posted here:

http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/results.asp?Keyword=School+Board&SearchType=true

The APP stuff starts at about 1:41.

Charlie Mas said...

The District probably chose to split elementary APP by cluster of origin for a number of excellent reasons. First, they don't want people to be able to choose a location. Early enough, one of the locations will get the reputation for being better than the other and choice would unbalance the whole tea cart. Second, it reduces the transportation costs if they can run just one APP bus from each neighborhood instead of two buses, one for each school. Third, students will make friends with other students who at least live in the same half of the city.

Dividing the cohort by grade would mean that the students go to one school for grades 1, 2, and 3 and then have to transition to another school for grades 4 and 5. That's an additional unnecessary transition.

Charlie Mas said...

TOPS DOES have the sibling tie-breaker. Some years, due to siblings, there are very, very few seats available in the lottery. I've heard of years when there have been less than a dozen. You never know if those stories are true, but it's really clear that the District has not reckoned on APP siblings at Thurgood Marshall or Hawthorne. There is nothing in the Board motion or the report about revoking the sibling preference for APP students in these schools. The preference is on.

Consider this for a moment: what if I'm terribly wrong? What if there isn't one sibling for every four APP students? What if there is a sibling for every three APP students? In that case, Thurgood Marshall would have 260 APP students plus 87 siblings leaving room for only 55 neighborhood students in the general education program.

And with the new sibling enrollment rule, the siblings would be admitted in the same year as the APP student.

Jeremy said...

I haven't seen anyone mention the fact that Lowell just spent 1 million dollars on facilities renovation over the Summer.

How does that fit into the discussion of the budget?

agibean1958 said...

I've seen posts here and on other blogs about the long distances so many Lowell kids will now need to travel if APP is moved to two south end schools. It's being presented as a deal-breaker for some families.

But consider this-Thurgood Marshall is only blocks away from Washington Middle School and Garfield High School, where the APP middle and high school students go. And, Hawthorne isn't much farther away.

Is the objection here because we're talking about elementary students-thus that it's ok for older kids to travel on long bus rides, but not the younger ones?
Or are the objections just due to the fact you don't know how close the two proposed elementaries are to the already-APP chosen schools for the upper grades?

I'd also like to point out that those of us in South and West Seattle are ALREADY sending our kids on long bus rides to Lowell, which is a far from us as TM or Hawthorne might be from some of you. Is the problem then, that we're willing to travel to where the program is, wherever it may be, but north end parents aren't?

If the school must be split, I don't see a problem with northend parents wanting a north end APP site, if you can find one. But to say that anything more distant than Lowell is "too far" ignores those of us already sending our kids "far". Somehow I don't think that we'd be calling for heads on platters if APP was being moved even farther north.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good catch, Jeremy. As the lone voice about Facilities, I can say that several buildings that have been closed and/or are on this list have had recent major repairs. That means that a building is either going to stand empty with repairs that are now going unused (fiber optics, etc.) or are now going to be torn out (Denny/Sealth). For example, I questioned why the Colombia building (which housed Orca) was slated for a new roof under BTA II and didn't get it. I was told by Facilities that yes, the company hired to look over the buildings said "the roof was at the end of its functional life" but Maintenance people looked at it and said a patch was good enough for a couple of years. And they claim they are holding on to the allotted money for the new roof until the roof is bad.

concerned said...

Please AGIBEAN 1958, we need to work for the same goals. We can't afford to create divisions.

We all made decisions about whether to send our kids to Lowell based on its current location. The district suggests that the bus time won't be much longer. How can this possibly be? There are people north of the school and it takes them 30-40 minutes to get to Lowell when driving their own car (bus would take longer). How can driving seven miles more south, through the city, not take more time?

This proposed new school location, Marshall for those of us North, requires the 52% on the northend to be bussed for much longer than they are now. Hawthorne appears to be a better location for some of the 48% south, but I am not sure about West Seattle. That looks like it might be a difficult drive.

We need to work on a solution that can make as many of us as possible happy in a difficult situation. We cannot afford to pit ourselves against each other.

I really appreciate this great blog and the conversations that it inspires.

hschinske said...

"But consider this-Thurgood Marshall is only blocks away from Washington Middle School and Garfield High School, where the APP middle and high school students go."

It's not just the difference in putting a younger child on the bus versus an older one. The buses to Washington have been far more reliable and timely than the buses to Lowell. In fact, the Washington bus my kids have taken has been about the same amount of time door to door as the Lowell bus, despite going almost one and a half times as far from my house. If there were any prospect of achieving the same degree of efficiency for the route to Thurgood Marshall, I wouldn't complain too much, I don't think (though my youngest is in 5th this year, so it really doesn't apply to us personally).

It's true that in my experience almost any bus ride may turn into forty-five minutes or an hour for some of the kids on the route. When I had one child taking the bus from Whittier and one from Lowell, the one from Whittier got home later, because she was so near the end of the route, despite Whittier being about a quarter the distance from us.

Helen Schinske

agibean1958 said...

So, "concerned", what would you have me say? Our daughter and her friends from this area who go to Lowell ALREADY take bus rides that last as long as an hour to school and longer coming home. When I drive her it takes 30-40 minutes.

Yet not only did we choose Lowell, we did it knowing that instead of being able to drop her off 10 minutes from home we were consigning her to long bus rides. It seesm that when many north end parents are faced with the same, it's a deal-breaker.

You seem to be saying two things-one, that you don't think parents who disagree with the majority should speak up and two, that the 52% up north should trump the 48% in the south.

I can't agree with either position. No school facing changes is going to have 100% parent agreement, but that doesn't mean the minority opinions need to be silenced. The district isn't going to expect complete agreement. I don't believe the powers that be are going to base decisions on whether all parents want exactly the same thing.

The new locations suggested for APP will benefit us based on distance, all other variables removed. That doesn't mean I don't think your concerns are valid. But I don't think it's fair to essentially tell me to shut up because you're one of the 52% who may not feel as I do.

concerned said...

I think all concerns are valid. What I meant by my other post is I don't think that we should pit ourselves against each other. The thing that opponents of APP would most want to see is an internal conflict develop within the APP community like North vs South, East vs West, etc.

That doesn't mean we can't disagree, but we should focus on the larger picture.

Jeanne said...

In reading through the comments, and in continuing to think this over, I am really struck by the sense that this proposal was based on expediency rather than best practices.

Personally, I am not opposed to a split for APP--having two programs could be beneficial if they are in the right place. The north-end families deserve a north-end (or minimally one that is not further south) location. As a south-end parent, I'm happy to have a location closer to home, but it needs to be in the right environment.

I continue to struggle with the question of how placing APP programs at Marshall and Hawthorne is going to be mutually beneficial. I've seen some suggestions for an APP/Spectrum site in the north. In the south, why not have the general ed Hawthorne kids and the Muir Spectrum kids swap places (they are very close to each other) and then have the South/West Seattle APP kids together with the Muir Spectrum kids at Hawthorne? Is it to cynical to theorize that the district would never go for this because then we would be combining two schools (Muir & Hawthorne) where neither is making adequate yearly progress.

Given how this proposal has caused so many additional questions that remain unanswered, couldn't we please have one more year to evaluate this and find the best possible solution. Contrary to the way the building score was addressed at the meeting, our wonderful school is not falling down around our ears. One more year at Lowell can't possible save enough money for the district to risk making and hasty and potentially wrong decision for the APP program.

One last note on the building score rationale: it just defies explanation for me. According to the Appendix 3 of the proposal, 33 schools have a score below the "district standard of 80" as Dr. Goodloe-Johnson repeatedly stated at the School Board meeting. 28 of these are elementary schools (not including the Old Hay, which they suggest could be reopened in 2010). Bottom line, that should not be the deciding factor.

Thanks.

Charlie Mas said...

By all of the stated guidelines, there is no way that Lowell should have been identified for closure. The program is wildly successful, both academically and for enrollment. The school is big, one of the biggest elementary schools in the district. Despite the building's condition, Lowell is strictly average in administrative costs per student. While the building condition is in the 50's, two schools, NOVA and the S.B.O.C. are getting moved into Meany, a building with a condition score in the 40's. Building condition by itself shouldn't be the criteria. The criteria should be expense. And when it comes to expense, Lowell isn't a problem.

So how did Lowell even pop up on their radar?

And why wasn't it viable for the District to move half of the kids out and move in general education program at Lowell? That way they could close either Thurgood Marshall or Leschi.

The District claims that they couldn't find a north-end school with space for the north-end elementary APP cohort. Hmmm. What about McDonald? What about John Marshall as part of a K-8? What about Pinehurst? What about Wilson-Pacific? What about Sand Point? What about Viewlands?

DKrashin said...

After reading most of the big 12MB PDF file on the school website -- the preliminary report -- I am pessimistic about being able to change the course of the oncoming train. The report already addresses many of the concerns expressed here:

--they didn't put "Lowell North" in a north end school because the north end is already crowded.

--they acknowledge that by sticking half of APP into Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall, they'll be overcrowding those schools; they claim that if APP grows further, they'll just open more APP programs in more schools. (This reinforces my suspicion that the district may be watering down the APP concept.)

--they don't want to keep the APP kids together, though they could, because they want to have APP alongside general ed and special ed.

--finally, they seem to be hoping to reinforce Hawthorne and T.M. schools with the APP kids -- and with the APP parents. They say it explicitly on page 35 of the PDF: "the strong interest of APP students and parents in music and fine arts will likely extend those opportunities to everyone in Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall, as will the tradition of an active, resource-enhancing PTA."

In other words, they expect that the influx of APP parents will improve the school for everybody. (The Chalkboard blog suggested that raising the WASL scores at these two schools might also be a consideration, but I don't know about that.)

This is an explicitly political plan, and it's gotten far away from the original idea of objective criteria and judgment. And I think this explains why the idea of a K-5 or K-8 Spectrum/APP school has never gone anywhere with the district.

cas said...

They probably want to sell Lowell. It would bring in a great deal of money-it is not zoned the same as other schools, with worse building ratings, that they have chosen not to sell.

MomAsks.. said...

"So how did Lowell even pop up on their radar?"

Last spring I went to one of Dr. G-J bus tour presentations and a parent asked about capacity at Lowell. She mentioned the APP audit and some of this its findings, specifically she mentioned racism within the program. She said, bluntly, that she would be addressing that issue. So I believe that splitting and moving APP is her way of addressing the issues found in the APP report.

Now, please don't blast me for this comment, I am only repeating what I heard Dr. G-J say last spring about the APP audit and think that this move may be in response to the audit, because closing Lowell does not really make much sense, especially since that have no plan for the special ed students yet.

katie said...

I think MomAsks might be right on this one. I have heard similar comments from the sup many times. Several of the recommendations don't make much sense in terms of capacity but they do make sense in terms of the sup and her agenda.

hschinske said...

I wrote earlier: "The buses to Washington have been far more reliable and timely than the buses to Lowell."

Part of the reason for that is, of course, that the Washington buses are on the road earlier instead of right at rush hour. That makes quite a difference.

There is some work being done on making some of the Lowell bus routes more efficient (having groups of students gather at local schools and what not). In our case, my child would leave the house at the same time anyway, but some of the time would be walking instead of riding.

Helen Schinske

lak367 said...

I am saddened to think that these moves are purely political yet the more I read, the more I agree.

I have a kindergartner at Bryant who is already performing above grade level and being asked to "do more" than her peers (if they write a word, she is asked to write a sentence, etc). I suppose this is "differentiated" learning. But neither she nor I are thrilled with how this makes her "different" than her peers.

I had high hopes of Lowell being a great fit for her. I loved the idea of all of the children being at the same level so no one would stand out as different. I hated being "different" than the rest of the kids when I was in school, so I am sensitive to this issue.

But, now that APP will no longer be self-contained and it will be only available in South Seattle, I no longer see it as a viable or attractive option. Personally, I don't like the idea of young kids spending so much time on a bus. It takes away time from other activities that they should be doing - whether it's sports, dance, or just playing in the backyard. That isn't meant as an insult to parents like agibean who choose to have their kids bussed long distances to Lowell right now. And I'm glad that their commutes may improve with the moves further south. But, for others of us, particularly in North Seattle, the distance to TM is indeed a deal-breaker. In addition, the fact that APP will no longer be self-contained also makes it less attractive. It sets up two cohorts at the school: the "smart" kids and the "regular" kids. What was attractive about APP at Lowell is that the kids weren't labeled; peers are basically all equal, so you can work to your potential without sticking out.

So, now that more and more kids just keep getting crammed into Bryant each year, my concerns about her education grow. Can they seamlessly teach my gifted daughter in a class with 30 other kids? I am becoming more convinced that we'll be exploring private school options in the near future, which wasn't something we wanted to do. We want to support SPS. But we aren't willing to sacrifice our child's education waiting for common-sense solutions from the district.

Charlie Mas said...

Just so things are perfectly clear:

APP will continue to be self-contained at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne.

Yes, the schools will have general education and special education students in them, just as Washington and Garfield do, just as Lowell has special education students, and just as every Spectrum school has general education and special education classes. But the APP classes at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne will consist of only APP students. There is no plan to change the academic model.

Also, it is important to note that these schools will have about 250 APP students and about 140 general education students. There is no telling how many of the general education students will be siblings of APP students, but it could be 60 or more. So you can be pretty confident that the culture of the school will be set by the APP community.

Big said...

In various blog postings, I've seen people propose a lot of different alternatives for APP placement that would make more sense -- if we are looking at what's reasonable for APP.

However, it appears that the proposed moves were not really motivated by anything having to do with APP. It seems the likelier motivation was the political infeasability of closing any additional under-enrolled, poor performing south end schools. APP just happens to be conveniently "portable" for this purpose.

It seems probable that the move will not have any real benefit to the south end students involved, other than keeping their poor performing schools afloat in the near term.

If people are genuinely interested in preserving APP, instead of discussing this and that about how program could be structured and shuffled around, shouldn't we really be trying to work out a solution to the problem that motivated the Superintendent to propose the move -- i.e. finding an alternative for preserving Hawthorn's and Marshall's viability in a way that is politically feasible and doesn't involve moving APP?

Charlie Mas said...

What if Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne had no reference area at all? What if they were like The New School - a neighborhood school without a reference area? And what if people were told that the classes at these schools were going to all be rigorous and accelerated so that to enroll at the schools would be like to self-select for Spectrum.

I have long been a proponent of self-selected enrollment in Spectrum, and these schools seem to me like a wonderful opportunity for the District to experiment with that. No tests for qualification, no barriers to entry. No cultural bias, no racism or classism. If you think you're up to the challenge, then enroll.

I would really love to see that.

adhoc said...

Oh my gosh Charlie, that's absolutely brilliant! I love that idea. There is certainly no shortage of reference area seats in the central and south Seattle areas, so you're absolutely right, these schools could be self selected Spectrum sights!! I love it.

jd said...

Love it as well! Great for the kids, great alignment between the teaching staff of the APP and gen-ed populations (if you're thinking of this specifically as being post-APP split). Would still be great even if APP doesn't wind up in the buildings.

However, even if it doesn't have a reference area,
it would be good to have a distance tiebreaker, to give priority to south/central kids who want the rigor, and to reduce busing costs.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh yes, just like the New School. No reference area but with all of the other tie-breakers, including distance. And it would be part of the Cluster for transportation policy purposes. It would NOT be an alternative school, just as The New School is not an alternative school.

I'm liking this idea more and more. If it goes over well at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne, it can be duplicated in West Seattle-South where they have some elasticity in the capacity and no designated Spectrum school.

Central Mom said...

Charlie...as I just wrote on Harium's blog, your idea about making Thurgood Marshall into a self-selecting spectrum program while remaining a neighborhood school w/ no reference area is really innovative.

I don't know the Hawthorne area enough to comment, but for the Central cluster, there would suddenly be a way to show how the closures and program movement bettered the offerings of the cluster as a whole.

Thurgood Marshall becomes a significantly more rigorously academic school. Leschi is getting the popular Montessori program. Madrona and Leschi and Bailey Gatzert could boost their enrollment by folks who aren't drawn to the new format of Thurgood Marshall. More kids would mean more funding and more resources at those schools.

Suddenly the north/south program quality split of the central cluster becomes less apparent (and less disturbing).

What do the Lowell parents of students with disabilities think of this idea? How about the families presently at TM? What are the communities who would NOT appreciate this plan? What are the downsides from the district perspective? Additional input would sharpen this proposal.

Lowell bloggin' mom said...

My daughter is a current APP 4th grader at Lowell from the NE cluster and I find the concept of the move to be disturbing. My daughter already spends 2 hours per day on the bus. Is it really fair to ask her to spend more time (3-4 hours per day) on the bus? My fantasy (which is unrealistic) would be that if the Lowell APP program must split and relocate, that the north end APP students would be housed at Decatur/Thornton Creek.

Assuming that doesn't happen, what are we supposed to do? Is it really in my daughter's best interest to have her spend a third of her waking hours on the bus? Is it in her best interest to send her to a neighborhood school when it is unlikely that she would be able to enroll in Spectrum due to over-enrollment by kids already in the cluster? Does it make sense for a 4th grader to do 6th grade math and that same student to do 5th grade math as a 5th grader?

As for the split, I don't think that it is as bad of an idea as some other parents seem to think, especially for the higher grades. If standards can't be maintained with 2-3 classes of 5th graders at each of two locations, then there is something wrong with the program. Co-housing two programs with students from two different socioeconomic/achievement groups may be more of an issue. Although it would be good for the Lowell kids to experience more socioeconomic diversity, it would be much better for them to be exposed to socioeconomic diversity in a setting other than by combining high achieving/generally high socioeconomic status students with generally low achieving/generally low socioeconomic status students. The one good thing about it would be that it might increase awareness of the APP program among parents of high achieving students in these low SES schools.

Regarding the admission standards for APP, I think that they could be raised and it would benefit the program. Right now, there is a huge mix of student abilities because there is a big difference between somebody who scores in the top 2-3% of the population and somebody who scores in the top 0.001% or 0.0001% of the population. From what I have seen at Lowell, there is little differentiation of the curriculum to address these differences.

As for the special ed students, they are really getting the short end of the deal because it seems like the district is not doing much to deal with their needs.

North-end Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
North-end Mom said...

To Lowell bloggin' mom,

Please refer to pages 33-34 of the capacity management preliminary proposal document. The District evaluated both Thornton Creek at Jane Addams as well as the proposed Decatur School as possible sites for APP-north and rejected both sites, for the following reason:

"Adding 250 APP students now being served in the Central cluster into an already overcrowded North cluster is directly contrary to the District's effort to provide relief for immediate, pressing capacity challenges in north Seattle."

The capacity challenges in the NE are very real, as demonstrated by the Superintendent's presentation shown Wednesday evening.

The surrounding schools are severely overcrowded. The Decatur School MUST be used for capacity relief.

Decatur is NOT a suitable site for APP-north.

bell.curve said...

with about 140 general ed students in K-5 at T.M. and about 240 APP students in 1-5--I calculate that the class size will hover around 23.

What will be done for grades which contain a smaller than average number of students?

Also it looks like there will just be one class of general ed at each grade level--so those kids would all be in the same group of peers year after year.