Friday, January 30, 2009

This could be a problem

I knew that I had read it somewhere, so I went looking for it and I found it.

From page 107 of the .pdf of the appendices of the preliminary report on capacity management:

APP students living in each specified region would be assured fo a seat in the APP program serving their region, with transportation provided. Students could apply to attend the APP program in the other region; assignment would depend on space available. School bus transportation would not be provided.


This, essentially, grants everything that Director Maier's amendment would have granted and more, since it also applies to future students.

Since this was not altered from the preliminary report and since the preliminary report was included in the final report by reference and since the final report was included in the Board Motion by reference, this is now the assignment plan for APP.

In short, families can choose between Lowell and Thurgood Marshall - or between Hamilton and Washington - and could get an out-of-region assignment on a "space available" basis. The critical question would be the definition of "space available".

No matter how it is defined, there is an excellent chance that there will be 50 seats of "space available" at Lowell for south-end APP students. And if 50 families take that option I'm convinced it will doom any possibility of equitable programs at the two locations.

Since this is an assignment issue, the Board will have to move and approve a fix.

They better get on it before open enrollment.

41 comments:

zb said...

"No matter how it is defined, there is an excellent chance that there will be 50 seats of "space available" at Lowell for south-end APP students."

I'm not sure why you think this is true. I think they can pretty much define "space available" to equalize the programs, or at least only allowed transfer into the program that was less full based on the cluster draw.

Ben said...

I'm sure the design teams will work it all out.

SPS Parent said...

This could definitely be a problem. APP classrooms are self-contained. You can't fill them in with general ed students, and APP students don't come in neat packages of 25-28 from their respective geographic regions for each grade level. For instance, there are five 3rd grade classrooms this year. If all students continue with APP next year, and there are no additions, there will enough for two 4th grade classrooms at T. Marshall of 27-29 kids per room, and three 4th grade classrooms of 22-25 kids per room (I don't have reference data on 10 of the current students.) Those three 4th grades at Lowell next year will be pretty small, but not small enough to combine them into two classrooms, so the district may decide there is "space available" for a few more APP students who applied from "out of region", which, I assume, will mostly be Central cluster students. It's possible that anywhere from 5-10 4th grade seats could be free at Lowell next year.

The situation could be even worse for the 1st and 2nd grades, which have a smaller populations.

Sahila said...

Ben - can I ask... are you being sarcastic? I cant tell from the text...

zb said...

"APP classrooms are self-contained. You can't fill them in with general ed students, and APP students don't come in neat packages of 25-28 from their respective geographic regions for each grade level"

So, what would happened if you let folks from the general ed program self-elect into the APP classrooms in those schools, on a "space available" basis? That would provide a + for families whose kids don't quite make the APP testing cut, but who think their kids could do the work to select those general ed programs.

Here's the more specific plan: make up the APP programs based on test-in kids, based on cluster. If you end up with extra spaces in classrooms as described (they're not in neat packs of 25-28 based on cluster), make up enough classes to meet the cluster need. Then, offer extra spots to children in the general ed program at the school (Lowell or Marshall) and have a lottery to let them in.

I know that people worry about "self selection" 'cause they think that the inevitable result is a decrease in demands in the classroom to meet the average. But, I don't think this is an inevitable result if the self-selected spots are few. The kids would have to keep up with the work, and they would have to already have the relevant background.

(And, although I think cognitive testing as significant value, I do think that it is not the singular means to identify the students who would benefit from advanced learning).

jason said...

There are actually four full 2nd grade APP classrooms this year. Throughout this discussion, people have been talking about how APP is a "mushroom model." I believe that thinking to be out of date. This year, Lowell has 4 full 2nd grade classrooms and three full 1st grades. Things could be very different next year. I would be very concerned about sending my kid to either APP program next year if we weren't already in it. We are already considering homeschooling next year. I just don't believe that this split can be done so quickly when the district has done so much else so poorly.

dan dempsey said...

I find it interesting that this is a report we should take seriously.

Thanks for the alert.
That makes this report unlike
a) The Curriculum Audit
b) school board policy
c) the Strategic Plan
d) posted Math grade level expectations

for the above are not taken seriously by SPS admin. So my guess is we should not take the above seriously either.

adhoc said...

ZB, you are aware that APP students are working 2 grade levels above the grade that they are in, right? I have child that does very well in school, but it would not be appropriate at all to place him in a classroom that was doing work 2 grade levels ahead of him. I don't believe it would be fair for the rest of the kids in the class either, as he would slow them down because the teacher would have to accomodate him as well as the rest of the class. I don't think APP is an appropriate setting to offer the inclusion or "opt in" model. On the other hand I have always felt that Spectrum should be an opt in program, with guidelines for performance In middle school if you fall below a 75 average you can be bumped out, in elementary it could be based on teacher recommendation and classroom assessment??

zb said...

"I have child that does very well in school, but it would not be appropriate at all to place him in a classroom that was doing work 2 grade levels ahead of him."

Well, I guess I'm counting on other parents to be wise enough to realize this as well, and not throw their elementary school kid into a situation they can't handle.

I'm leaving open the possibility that a kid who tests just short of the requirements for the SPS (98% Cogat in 2/3 domains, 95% reading/math achievement) might nevertheless be able to do the work. I also suspect there are some who are coming into the system who haven't been formally tested. That might not be a lot of kids, but it might be enough to fill in the spots to complete classrooms.

And yes, I'm assuming that parents wouldn't want their kids to be in a learning environment that isn't appropriate for them.

Ben said...

Sahila @ 11:53 —

Yes, I'm being even more sarcastic than usual. I don't trust these people to find the dark with their eyes closed.

Ben said...

Hey, I have an idea! If we have to split APP, maybe we should cohouse APP and Spectrum, instead of APP and general ed? You know, like the APP audit suggested? And like many APP parents suggested?

Oh, it's too late now? Never mind.

dj said...

ZB, the thing is, the one "promise" (and I put that in quotes because obviously the district has promised nothing) is that the APP program will continue basically as-is with self-contained classrooms, but at two sites rather than one.

Perhaps a different delivery model is appropriate. I am agnostic on that, although I am not agnostic on the question of whether or not blended classrooms should be the result of thoughtfulness and planning, rather than capacity management. But I will say it would do a great deal to undermine my confidence in the district's word if next fall, the delivery model looks different than we were told it would look.

Sahila said...

thanks for the clarification, Ben...hoped it was sarcasm and not naive idealism/hope!

Just wanted to check cos people misread my sarcasm, sardonicism and attempts at irony no end and then get really mad!

protected static said...

@Ben: actually, isn't the staff at Thurgood Marshall already Spectrum-trained?

SPS Parent said...

@protected static: that's an interesting document about the literacy ALO at T. Marshall, but it doesn't mention Spectrum or anything specific about what kind of professional development and training the staff has been given in regards to the ALO.

Ben said...

Regardless of whether TMarshall's is spectrum-trained (what, the whole staff?), TMarshall does not have a spectrum program.

protected static said...

I can't find my source for that information; that link was the best I could do on short notice. I seem to remember reading that the general ed. staff @ Marshall are all Spectrum-qualified.

Marshall at least has an ALO, Spectrum or not. Marshall also has some measure of staff trained in gifted education. This moves it closer to the merged Spectrum/APP suggestion, that's all.

seattle citizen said...

'nother thread? What IS ALO, how is currently offered, how SHOULD it be offered?

APP, Spectrum, IB, AP, Honors, differentiation...

and don't forget, what IS "remedial", and how is it/should IT be offered?

SpEd, 504, diagnostics, developmental pull-outs, differentiation, "staying back" (my personal bone to pick is that if a student is not "at level" in one class, they might "stay back" a grade...doesn't really make sense, does it? I prefer a grade-level-less system that merely recognizes skill level in various subjects, but try to organize THAT...)

Brian said...

We have a kid who may be APP-eligible for 1st grade in 09-10 (haven't gotten the results back) and we are in the Leschi area. If he is eligible, the split is giving us serious pause about having him go to APP at TM. Should we leave him at Stevens for a year or two until the dust settles at TM?

I guarantee there are lots of other parents who are thinking similar thoughts.

The district could easily find themselves with a very small 1st grade APP class next year. It is hard to have any faith in the district's ability to manage this transition well, and the desire to stay in a school that we are comfortable with will be extremely powerful.

What happens if this continues for another 2, 3, or 4 years? Poof-- south end APP is gone.

The only hope is for the new TM APP community to reach out to new potential parents. You know that the district will do nothing, and let the chips fall where they may.

seattle citizen said...

Sooo....who's the mouthpiece for the outside stakeholders? Who will volunteer to be the representative of parents/guardians and other concerned and interested citizens in discussion with the district?

And:

Will the above stakeholders rally around a central group, and hence gain the traction necessary to have a powerful voice?

Let's see, so far we have:
This wonderful blog
ESP (is that the new acronym?
CPPS
CEASE
NAACP
AACAT
BCDI
nascent Alt blog
SpEd
APP....

Who will rally the troops, and will the troops rally?

protected static said...

@seattle citizen: Since I can't tell if that was a real question, I'll risk being pedantic. ALO is 'Advanced Learning Opportunity' and is a catch-all phrase covering non-APP/non-Spectrum gifted programs for grades 1-8.

seattle citizen said...

gotcha, Protected Static. I mis-spoke.

I guess I'd rephrase it to "what IS advanced learning opportunity, how is it offered, how SHOULD it be?"

seattle citizen said...

ack, I mean....not advanced learning opps, but "what are the general opportunities for advanced learning.....

eep

Laura said...

Brian,
I know for new APP families, it will be difficult to "take the plunge." But I do encourage you to investigate your options. The APP program has been a great experience for my second grader, and I'm not considering anything else for him next year. Keep in mind also, that the promise is for self-contained APP classrooms (no program blending). While that doesn't guarantee no APP grade blending, I feel that the most important thing at the elementary level is what happens in the classroom, not the school overall. There will be lots of APP parents at both schools who will be working hard to make this work -- they have no choice and some are even glad it's happening. And if APP is under-enrolled, maybe your kid gets lucky and gets a small class. Last year a 1/2 split had only 18 kids, and this year, there's a fourth grade class with under 20 (why, I do not know). My kid's class has 26, so a smaller 3rd grade room would be just fine with me.

ArchStanton said...

Brian: Not to worry, the design teams will take care of it. Just ask Ben.

But seriously, this is the moment of truth. The district has pretty much punted the hard work to the affected communities. So, which communities will come together and make lemonade? I don't know.

It's left to the design teams to to begin creating and selling their new programs. You get to decide if you believe a particular program will come together in in a short-time, a long-time, or at all - and whether it's worth investing your children and yourself in.

I think you need to talk to some of the folks here and plug in to what's happening with the design teams. Once they start rolling, people will communicate whether things are proceeding smoothly or if there's a hard road ahead.

See, nice and easy.

(yes there was sarcasm in this post)

dj said...

Brian, while I did not support splitting up APP at this point and am not thrilled at doing the work to make sure the split succeeds (and think that -- not that I am the only person even in this thread to make this observation -- the district is relying on parental time and money to make this work), I can tell you that almost all of the APP parents I've talked to do plan to move to TM, and they are involved parents who are going to do what it takes to make the site succeed.

Seattlehorn said...

I just spoke with an elementary APP teacher who said there is the possibility of what she called "walk overs," with general ed students who are accelerated in one area able to attend the APP class in that subject.

I have a child who would benefit from this, but what a mess to design.

Currently 4th graders at Lowell "walk over" to another classroom for math or science (meaning some of us parents struggle to communicate with TWO teachers who won't publish newsletters or homework lists).

hschinske said...

I hadn't heard about those "walk overs" -- is it for accelerated instruction, or is it just a co-teaching thing?

Helen Schinske

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Walk-overs... Does that mean instead of 26 kids in my daughters 2nd grade class there may be more?

JMT said...

Brian,

I, too, am waiting on my letter from the District for my son who will be in 1st grade next year (according to the website they are mailing today or next week - we'll see). Our older son is in his first year at Lowell (2nd grade) and will be moving to Marshall next year. If our younger son gets in, I will be sending him to Marshall as well. I recognize it's a leap of faith and that I'm a little more comfortable since our older one is already in APP. I know it's hard to look at something that isn't there and imagine your child as part of it. But I would also encourage - and any other parent you know who is in the same boat - to consider APP at Marshall. The best way, at this point, to help the program succeed is to be a part of it making it happen.

I have lots of questions, reservations and concerns, but like many other APP "South" parents, I'm committed to making the program strong. I wish I had a crystal ball to see how this is all going to work out, but I am going to take the leap of faith.

jd said...

I think the gen ed option at TM and Lowell is going to be popular. I have friends with a pretty sharp kid entering kindergarten this fall. It seems likely that he'd test into APP at some point, so their thinking is that they enroll him in TM for K, and then just transfer him over to the APP half at whatever point he needs it. And, if he never qualifies, he might well stay put.

I'm guessing several other families may do the same calculus.

Brian said...

Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. But for those other prospective Lowell parents out there who don't read this blog, we need to figure out how to reassure them as well.

Brian said...

Excuse me, prospective "APP South" parents.

JMT said...

Brian,

The Appinseattle.org website was set up during this process to help get the word out about what APP is and is not. This might be a perfect time to use the site to help spread the word that APP "South" parents are not abandoning the ship. You should send an email to them at appinseattle@yahoo.com
with the suggestion and I'll do the same.

Jeanne

Seattlehorn said...

Helen, the walkover concept as explained to me would create a blended classroom, of APP and nonAPP kids, for at least part of the day.

I don't see how this jibes with "stand alone."

north seattle mom said...

The Spectrum program in the NE are incredibly strong and successful programs. They have used the "walkover" concept for ages and it is very successful. I think APP will survive this same process.

At my child's school, many children go to the math class one and two grades up because they are capable of doing the work. It works just fine.

zb said...

"Helen, the walkover concept as explained to me would create a blended classroom, of APP and nonAPP kids, for at least part of the day."

I don't get this -- to me blended classroom means including kids who cannot do the same level of work as the other kids in the classroom. That's the model used at View Ridge for Spectrum at the lower grades (at least when I heard about it a few years ago) -- kids do different levels of work in the same classroom. If the kids "walking over" are doing the same level of work as the kids in the classroom, what are we complaining about exactly? That they only tested into the 97% percentile on two out of the three modalities on the cogAT?

hschinske said...

I was asking specifically about how the walkover was used this year, with APP students only. Is it just a matter of students working with another class at the same level for some reason, or is it students being sent to a higher grade level because of more advanced skills? Thanks.

Helen Schinske

Seattlehorn said...

Sorry, Helen, I misunderstood your question. At least as we've experienced it at Lowell this year, the walkover is kids working with another class at the same level.

No complaints from me (except as I mentioned, the difficulty in knowing what is expected from two teachers instead of just one). Our Spectrum-qualified child would benefit from such an arrangement, and it would be a major incentive to enroll in the gen ed program at Lowell next year.

Forgive me for my ignorance of process and terminology. This is a steep learning curve for me.

North Seattle Mom, I am eager to learn more about how this works in Spectrum programs in your cluster. What schools specifically, and what subjects?

north seattle mom said...

In the NE, both View Ridge and Wedgwood have Spectrum programs. Often they wind up with a little room here and there in certain grades. When this happens, typically, a gen ed teacher nominates a student to move into the open space. From what I have heard from other parents at those schools, it works just fine. Typically, the nominated kids do the same as the official spectrum kids. Often the nominated kids would have qualified for Spectrum but never took the test or just missed the cut off.

It seems to work just fine since if the kid is not working out they go back to gen ed,