Friday, March 27, 2009

Assignment Plan Boundaries

THIS IS ALL CONJECTURE SO FAR

But if you take a moment to think about it, which elementary schools do you suppose would be in the assignment area for Eckstein? Since there is no middle school further north or east of Eckstein, then any elementary school attendance area north and east of Eckstein will likely be in the Eckstein area. In fact, when planning this, you might start in the northeast corner of the district and work out from there in an expanding radius until... until Eckstein is full.

That would make the Eckstein feeder schools to be John Rogers, Olympic Hills, Sacajawea, and Wedgwood with high confidence. Then I reckon would come View Ridge, Northgate and Olympic View. After those six, would there be room for any more?

By this reasoning, Whitman's feeder schools would be Greenwood, North Beach, Loyal Heights, Whittier, Adams, and maybe Bagley. That's six. It doesn't seem that Whitman would have room for Northgate and Olympic View.

That would mean that the feeder schools for Hamilton would be West Woodland, Greenlake, B F Day, JSIS, Bryant and Laurelhurst. That is also six.

If Laurelhurst and/or Bryant were added to the Eckstein region, then Northgate and Olympic View would have to rotate out to Whitman which would bump Bagley at least to Hamilton, but what other school? I'm not seeing it. Also, those Northeast schools are big. There are only so many that Eckstein can take. I'd be interested in hearing other projections.

The feeder schools for McClure would, rather obviously, be Lawton, Coe and Hay, plus Old Hay when it comes back online. Queen Anne/Magnolia students at B F Day would have a cohort tie-breaker to go to Hamilton.

The Washington feeder schools would be Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, Lowell, Gatzert, Leschi, and T. Marshall - seven.

Mercer's feeders would be Beacon Hill (which is why Mercer would have to become an international middle school), Muir, Kimball, Hawthorne, Maple, and maybe Dearborn Park. That would be six.

Aki Kurose's feeders would be Graham Hill, Brighton, Wing Luke, Van Asselt, Dunlap, and Emerson - six.

Madison's feeder elementaries would be Alki, Lafayette, and Schmitz Park for sure, plus some share of Gatewood, West Seattle, and Sanislo.

Denny's feeder elementaries would be Arbor Heights, Concord, Highland Park, and Roxhill for sure, plus some share of Gatewood, West Seattle, and Sanislo.

The biggest question in my mind is the division of the West Seattle middle school reference areas. The rest is pretty clear to me.

Doesn't that make sense?

75 comments:

Stu said...

It does make sense . . . that's why I'm sure the district will do something entirely different.

One thought, though. Don't you think, with the North/Northeast capacity issues, the district will consider Jane Addams a "middle school," for assignment purposes, and steer kids there to relieve pressure on Eckstein?

stu

lak said...

Jane Addams better take some of the pressure off Eckstein! I live about 2 blocks south and west of Eckstein in the Bryant reference area. If I have to bus my daughter to Hamilton when we can literally walk 2 blocks to Eckstein, I'll be irritated, to say the least.

I understand that everyone probably prefers to go to the school closest to home, but to send children within walking distance of a school somewhere else makes no sense, environmentally, financially, health-wise, time-wise, and so on.

Common sense would suggest starting with a circular radius around the school to capture walkers (thus saving transportation costs) then spreading outward in whatever shape is necessary.

jamie said...

Also to keep in mind, the Bryant reference area will need to shrink considerably, no? I'm sure others will change too.

seattle citizen said...

lak,
There are only so many seats at Eckstein, so Addams almost certainly MUST become a reference school at some point.

That said, the way these reference areas are put together, each middle school can only hold so many students. There might be other geographic areas where a family lives close to a school, but on the other side of the school there are too many students; the school fills with those students.

All middle schools can't be in the middle of their reference area; some will be on the edge, and families past that edge will be going to the school in their reference area - further away, but a part of their reference area.

I wouldn't imagine any way around this.

seattle citizen said...

...tho' they ARE "middle" schools. They SHOULD be in the middle of their reference areas!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Charlie, you're funny. Trying to be all logical and stuff.

First, given that they have already said that some K-8s will be reference schools and the new Jane Addams is not alternative, it'll be a reference school. So you'll have to redo your thinking there. They absolutely need a north-end middle school and that'll be it.

(Of course, the question becomes whether the district will honor any requests for a stand-alone middle school. Some people, for various reasons, might say they absolutely don't want their kid to go to a K-8 if their child didn't attend there from the beginning. Which begs the question; is the district getting themselves in a battle by saying this? I can see many parents arguing against it, as K-8 middle school is probably quite different on many levels from a 6-8.)

Two, you don't live in this area but to my great amazement many here believe their kids should go to school with every kid they started kindergarten with. I have never seen such a glued-together group of kids. (And I could tell you some real downsides when they all - and most do - get to Roosevelt.) This also includes the "tradition" that they all go from whatever elementary they came from to Eckstein and then Roosevelt. I'm not saying the district couldn't do it but the fight would be on.

Lak, funny you should mention a circular pattern because that's what we are allegedly changing from - they were using concentric circles that radiate out from a school. I doubt they will keep that.

One thing to keep in mind is that while it is true that transportation has to be considered in terms of cost, you also have to consider length of ride. It's not fair to give one set of kids an extra-long ride. To me, if you have this problem of location, then the district should be aiming for the same length of ride for all kids.

Butter Goats said...

If only these were the boundaries this year! I have a 5th grader attending Green Lake, but since we moved our elementary would be Olympic Hills, which most likely puts us out of Eckstein and into Hamilton. In that case, once the new boundaries are in place, I wonder if we can move her to Eckstein for 7th grade.

zb said...

"...tho' they ARE "middle" schools. They SHOULD be in the middle of their reference areas!"

Seems like they should, no? But they're just not. I've never been able to figure out if that's 'cause of shifting demographics, or purposely misplaced schools.

We are also in the transition zone Charlie defines for Eckstein, and would have to go much further away for Hamilton. But, I'm willing to pay that price, in return for stable assignments.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the assignment boundaries.

zb said...

"First, given that they have already said that some K-8s will be reference schools and the new Jane Addams is not alternative"

I interpreted the statement to mean that K-8's could be reference schools for elementary school, not for middle. I think I would be disturbed if there were automatic assignments to 6-8, that offered substantially different courses/opportunities than a bigger 6-8.

Mind you, I understand that doesn't mean that they wouldn't do it, but I do think that one of the side effects of guaranteed/automatic assignment is that offerings at schools that you are guaranteed or automatically assigned to should be broadly agreed on.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, you may be right. I might have jumped the gun but I thought the point of ending Summit was to create more capacity both at elementary and middle school level in the North. I'll check in with Tracy on this one.

seattle citizen said...

I frankly don't understand how a circular reference area, radiating from a MS, could work. Whitman's further ring would be in Puget Sound. Hamilton's would be in Lake Union. Mercer's would be in the middle of Boeing Field...

I'd imagine, from my rather limited perspective on this, that reference areas would HAVE to amorphous blobs, fluctuating over time with changing demographics. They have to accomodate varying populations of students in different areas.

While it WOULD be nice to put middle schools in the "middle," the middle changes over time; whaddya gonna do, build portable schools?

WenG said...

@Melissa: Thank you for checking with Tracy Libros. I'll look forward to what she has to say.

What I remember from past discussions about repurposing JA was the need to provide an option for those who can't get into Eckstein. If having two JA principals is designed to handle this assumption, then good. This is why I want to hear more about what they're planning for middle schoolers who desire what Eckstein offers, beyond chaperones in the halls. (Sorry, still shaking my head over that one.)

adhoc said...

ZB is right, per Tracy Libros traditional K-8's can be reference schools for elementary, but not for middle school. And I agree with this. Though K-8's are appealing to many families for the small school environment, continuity, etc, they are not comprehensive, and don't come close to offering what a comprehensive school offers. Families should be able to choose whether they want K-8 or comprehensive. It would be unfair to force a family into either one.

And yes, Iak, it does make sense to have kids that can walk to school walk to school. However about 85% of kids currently enrolled at Eckstein live within it's 2 mile walk radius. If the district were to continue with this then, again, kids in the north part of the cluster will not get in. The problem with that is that there is no other MS for the kids in the north part of the cluster to go to. They are much further away from Hamilton. So where do these kids go?

Think about this. If the district assigned the North cluster kids (John R, Sacajewea, Olympic Hills, Jane Addams,) to Eckstein they would have a half hour or so bus commute. If the district sent the south cluster kids (WW, Bryant, VR, Laurelhurst) to Hamilton they would also have about a half hour bus commute. It would be fairly equitable.

If they continue to allow the kids in the 2 mile walk radius to go to Eckstein, then these kids will walk and not need a bus. The district will save money. And these kids will be very comfortable, and have a school in their neighborhood. But....kids in the north part of the cluster would have an hour long bus ride to a school far away from their homes and out of their neighborhood. It just doesn't equitable when you look at it that way.

Personally, I would have liked to see Addams become a traditional 6-8 middle school, and have Sandpoint opened as a new k-5. Then Addams could serve the kids in the north part of the cluster and Eckstein could serve the kids in the south part of the cluster. If that had happened Eckstein might even have been able to reduce the number of kids they enroll and finally get rid of those horrid portables. Maybe they would become an average size middle school instead of the largest middle school in the state of Washington.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

WenG
Try having entire schools full of kids who desire more than Aki Kurose has to offer!

Since it does not seem that the District is eliminating choice in any meaningful way, all of this restructuring means little to me. There will still be hundreds of families who will not accept their "assignment" and will put another "choice" on their list.

Charlie Mas said...

I didn't include any of the so-called traditional K-8s (Jane Addams, Madrona, Broadview-Thomson) in the list of elementary feeder schools because I reckoned that rising 5th graders from these schools would stay at these schools for 6-8.

Here's the tough question:

Will these middle school attendance areas also be the high school attendance areas?

I don't think so. There are some that would work...

Eckstein -> Nathan Hale
Hamilton -> Roosevelt
Washington -> Garfield
Mercer -> Cleveland
Madison -> West Seattle
Denny - > Chief Sealth

They might not be popular, but they would work.

And there are some that wouldn't work.

Whitman -> Ingraham
McClure -> Ballard

That can't be right.

First, the Queen Anne and Magnolia students at McClure could not begin to fill Ballard.
Second, how can students who live in Ballard not be assigned to Ballard High School?

I would, however, expect the Ballard reference area to be determined by starting the south end of it at downtown and adding territory to the north until the school is full. The north end may be the attendance area for Adams and West Woodland. These areas would, of course, all be redrawn.

Finally, there's this one:

Aki Kurose -> Rainier Beach or Franklin

There's a mismatch because there are nine middle schools and ten high schools. I know that the District wants to close a high school to reduce excess capacity in grades 9-12. This makes it look like either Beach or Franklin are on the bubble.

Another solution would be to put the students rising from Mercer at Franklin and make Cleveland an alternative high school devoted to the whole academy thing. Without a reference area, the gang issues at Cleveland wouldn't be the same.

old salt said...

I think the goal should be to transport as few kids as is possible.

Considering the pain that cost cutting is causing in the schools currently, I can not see how increasing the number of kids we bus can be justified.

seattle citizen said...

With choice still in play, all transportation savings are questionable (unless we're speaking of cutting ALL transpo, for instance using Metro for all high schools).

While I appreciate some of the aspects of choice, it plays heck with transpo costs. While I appreciate Alt schools having all-city draws, this results in hugely inefficient transportation.

In an ideal world, transportation-wise, no child would bus across town, or even out of their reference area. But there are other factors (choice, progams, alt, etc) that might be worth paying for with increased transpo costs.

Maybe some sort of transpo system where those who choose to go further away pay for it, along with a small stipend to assist those who can't afford it but want the choice...This system would operate separately from the "normal" transportation within reference areas (but perhaps dovetailing when possible)

But that's counter to what I've argued elsewhere in here: we should all pay, centrally through taxes and levies, for the school system our children need....I'm such a hypocrite!

Maureen said...

Charlie Michael DeBell said pretty clearly at last night's attendance meeting that MS attendance areas will NOT be the HS attendance areas--it's just not possible given their locations (except, he said, possibly in West Seattle). He also said that QA/Mag kids will all have their own assigned HS depending on their address, but there might be three different HSs for the region.

(He said this when he sat in on our small group--but I got the impression that it had come up at the Work Session on Wed.)

Bruce Taylor said...

Adhoc said: "If they continue to allow the kids in the 2 mile walk radius to go to Eckstein, then these kids will walk and not need a bus. The district will save money. And these kids will be very comfortable, and have a school in their neighborhood. But....kids in the north part of the cluster would have an hour long bus ride to a school far away from their homes and out of their neighborhood. It just doesn't equitable when you look at it that way."

Is the bus ride really one hour? (I am not being a smart-aleck. I genuinely don't know.)

I thought the point of redrawing boundaries was to reduce transportation costs. Putting two groups of kids onto buses is a lot more expensive than putting one group onto buses.

A friend of mine -- a Ballard lifer -- bought a home a few blocks north of Ballard High School. It's an easy walk for his elementary-aged daughters. But they may be bused to Ingraham instead, so that kids from Queen Anne and Magnolia can be bused into Ballard. The lack of a high school is built into the pricing of homes in those neighborhoods. Worse, the District will be paying double to bus his kids far from home.

Adhoc said: "Personally, I would have liked to see Addams become a traditional 6-8 middle school, and have Sandpoint opened as a new k-5. Then Addams could serve the kids in the north part of the cluster and Eckstein could serve the kids in the south part of the cluster."

That was the obvious solution to the capacity shortage in the Northeast cluster, but it couldn't be done due to lack of funds and lack of time to bring Sandpoint up to code (although it seems to me the district had no will whatsoever to make it happen).

It really begs the question: If Sandpoint wasn't opened under these circumstances, why own it?

adhoc said...

Yes, Bruce the bus really does take about an hour to go from the far north (145th) to Hamilton. It snakes through Cedar Park, Olympic Hills, Lake City, and Maple Leaf before getting on the freeway and heading to Hamilton (43st?) in Wallingford.

I really do see both sides, and I totally understand how ridiculous it is to have kids that can walk to one school be bused out of their neighborhood to another school. I live 1.5 miles (walking distance) to Eckstein and want my son to be able to go there too. But I also see the flip side. It's not fair that one group of kids gets to walk to their comfy cozy neighborhood school....at another group of kids expense.

We should have made Addams a 6-8, (or at the VERY LEAST a mushroom model middle school with more comprehensive offerings like Salmon Bay). I still can't believe that didn't happen.

Josh Hayes said...

Bruce Taylor writes:

"It really begs the question: If Sandpoint wasn't opened under these circumstances, why own it?"

ARGGH! No it doesn't! It raises the question, maybe, but it doesn't beg it.

Sorry, that's a pet peeve. I'm afraid a really useful phrase ("begs the question") is shot to hell because nobody uses it correctly any more. (FWIW, it means "to assume the consequent".)

But as to your point: you're right. I know the district has to hang on to a lot of properties, and if they're sold that money has to go to capital projects, but at some point, don't they have to admit that there is no chance at all that a building will ever be re-opened, and cut it from their inventory? How certain do they have to be? Or conversely, how stubborn are they to refuse to admit it?

AutismMom said...

First, the Queen Anne and Magnolia students at McClure could not begin to fill Ballard.

But you're missing a bunch of middle schools. What about Blaine? Presumably they would go to Ballard too. What about the feeder patterns of the alternatives? These add all up. And the Ballard High draw issue is very similar to the Eckstein draw issue. There are large areas of land.... which are far from any "reference" middle or high school. NE Seattle has no reference middle school.... and QA/MAG has no reference high school. It does seem clear that they will use the new Addams to solve the NE middle school draw (however unpalatable).. but it isn't clear about the QA/Mag High school.

Charlie Mas said...

Count the number of high school students in the north (including QA/M) and count the number of high school seats in north. Then subtract some seats for open choice. There will be more students than seats available for assignment.

That data argues for the re-opening of Lincoln as a high school as part of the Phase II 9-12 Capacity Management project.

This would be in conjunction with closing a high school in the South (and possibly the relocation of high school APP to Lincoln). That would be logical, but politically unsavory. I don't think that logic will outweigh politics - it never has before.

One way to make it more politically acceptable would be to re-define Cleveland as a "choice" school consisting entirely of Academies. That would remove those seats from the inventory of "seats to assign" and, with the re-introduction of 400 seats at Garfield when APP moves out (or 200 seats if only half of APP moves out), would create a good balance between butts and seats.

Thoughts?

Charlie Mas said...

AutismMom raises a good point. The middle school to high school feeder pattern would really look more like this:

Eckstein, Jane Addams, AS#1 -> Nathan Hale

Hamilton -> Roosevelt

Washington, TOPS, Madrona -> Garfield

Mercer -> Cleveland (or Franklin)

Madison, Pathfinder -> West Seattle

Denny - > Chief Sealth

Whitman, Broadview-Thomson -> Ingraham

McClure, Blaine, Salmon Bay -> Ballard

ORCA -> Franklin

South Shore -> Rainier Beach

Aki Kurose -> Rainier Beach or Franklin

NOVA and The Center School would be "choice" high schools. There would also continue to be a number of re-entry high schools.

JMT said...

Charlie,

Why do you think that reopening Lincoln as a high school be a non-starter politically?

I know that the District was adamant during this last round of closures that Lincoln be left as a staging area, but if there is a simple shortage of seats in the north, how can they ignore Lincoln as a viable option? Or are you referring to moving APP from Garfield as politically untenable?

adhoc said...

Charlie, I'm not really a numbers person, but it appears that these numbers may not always add up. Middle schools serve kids for 3 years and high schools serve kids for 4 years, so for that reason I looked at total number of kids per grade, not per school.

Once in it's new building Hamilton will serve 300 kids per grade. If Roosevelt takes all 300 kids per grade X the 4 grades they serve, that's 1200 kids. Roosevelt's capacity is close to 1700. They would have 500 open seats.

Eckstein serves 400 kids per grade. AS1 and Jane Addams will graduate about 100 kids combined each year. If Hale took 400 Ecstein kids per grade from X 4 grades that is 1600 kids, plus the extra 100 from TOPS and Jane Addams for a total of 1700 kids. Hale's capacity after remodel will be a little over 1100 students. They are not all going to fit.

I live in the north and this is the area I'm most familiar with. What do the numbers look like in other parts of the district? How will the district make the puzzle fit?

adhoc said...

Oops, I only accounted for 100 TOPS/AS1 students, but it's actually 100 per grade. So that would be 100 X 4 for a total of 400 kids


Add 400 kids to the 1600 kids that Eckstein will feed into Hale and you get 2000 kids. Hale's capacity will only be 1100 students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ad Hoc, where are you getting your numbers? Roosevelt is built for 1600 and is slowly rolling back to that (we're at about 1650 now). I think the most they eventually want to be is 1630. Hale IS about 1100 students but their building is being built for about 1400 (I'm getting this number form the BEX website).

We are not building them a new building so they can stay at 1100. That is totally unfair to both the taxpayers and to other schools who do run larger.

adhoc said...

Melissa, I think you missed my point. I was not advocating for Hale to stay a small school. I was pointing out that all of the kids from Eckstein, Addams and AS1 are not going to be able to fit into Hale. And Roosevelt will have excess capacity after they accomodate all of the Hamilton kids.

Just FYI, I got the Hale Capacity number of 1200-1250 directly from Marni Campbell, Hale's principal. At the Hale tour she made it clear that the school does not plan to grow to more than 1200-1250 students after the remodel (they currently have 1050 students). Now, before you go and jump on me, let me be clear, I'm not advocating for Hale to stay small. I agree with you, Hale should grow. I'm just repeating what Marni Campbell said.

So let's get back to my point, and let's use your numbers, Melissa.

At a capacity of 1400, Hale will still not come close to being able to accomodate all 2000 kids coming from Eckstein, AS1 and Jane addams.

And at a capacity of 1600, Roosevelt will still have 400 excess seats, after they accomodate all of Hamiltons's 1200 kids.

Maureen said...

From what I understand, there is no plan to feed middle schools and K-8s to particular High Schools. I think kids will revert to their home addresses for guaranteed seats at their attendance area High Schools and have the choice of applying for open seats at any High School in the city or for seats at choice High Schools or programs (including APP).

Re APP, it seems to me that since even APP kids at Hamilton and Washington will first receive an assignment at their attendance HS and then ask to be assigned to APP at Garfield (Tracy said that on Thursday) it should now be possible for APP eligible kids who are not enrolled at WMS and HIMS to also apply for seats at Garfield.

APP eligiblility will have be determined for those kids -- maybe they could take the 7th grade test (like the kids who only move to WMS/HIMS for 8th grade) and have their eligibilty extended for that one year, or ALL of the interested 8th graders could take the PSAT (cheap and easy) and those who do well enough can apply to Garfield.

Dorothy said...

"APP eligibility will have be determined for those kids -- maybe they could take the 7th grade test (like the kids who only move to WMS/HIMS for 8th grade) and have their eligibility extended for that one year, or ALL of the interested 8th graders could take the PSAT (cheap and easy) and those who do well enough can apply to Garfield."

Maureen, that's a great idea. Falls into the same thing as placement for other programs at high school level. Certainly admission auditions for Music or Drama (assuming they get CTE status) will be done with rising 9th graders. And kids can decide to apply for the lottery to Biotech or IB as 8th graders, they don't have to commit earlier. It makes total sense that APP eligible students shouldn't have to commit years before they want to attend.

Would be a great time to fix this long standing issue with the APP program, where the program is considered as grades 1-12 but admission stops at grade 7. No reason why this would only be for rising 9th graders either. That would be especially helpful for students who move to the district during high school years.

In fact, why not make such high school APP admission testing universal? No reason why *anyone* who wants to attend APP in high school shouldn't have to take a placement test, regardless of if the student is in the middle school program or not. An out of level test such as the PSAT/ACT/SAT may be a good choice, or maybe that with some sort of portfolio option.

However, Charlie was saying that if a student gets accepted to a *program* in a school, but does not remain in the program, that student is not guaranteed a seat at the school and must go back to open enrollment. That seems completely reasonable to me. So to be fair, there should be some criteria for remaining in APP program in high school as well, yes?

none1111 said...

Dorothy said: "So to be fair, there should be some criteria for remaining in APP program in high school as well, yes?"

What kind of criteria would that be? Take N AP classes per year? With a minimum GPA? I'm not trying to kill the notion entirely, but I'm drawing blanks as to how it could be done that wouldn't have detrimental consequences of one kind or another.

The problem is that being "in the program" in HS just means you get a seat at Garfield if you want it. No special program from a classes-offered standpoint. Lots of AP classes available, but they're available at other schools as well. Really, the big thing about HS APP is that the kids get to continue going to school with their cohort of classmates they've been together with for many years. Oops, not anymore with the MS split. Doesn't it seem like HS will be next?

Back to your point, it seems like re-qualifying for HS is only worth pursuing if there's a significant problem with kids in the program that don't belong there. Unless you feel it's just not fair that they are "grandfathered" into getting to stay with their classmates.

But allowing others to "test" into the program after 8th grade, perhaps with some combination of grades/PSAT/ACT/SAT/portfolio seems reasonable.

Dorothy said...

"What kind of criteria would that be? Take N AP classes per year? With a minimum GPA? I'm not trying to kill the notion entirely, but I'm drawing blanks as to how it could be done that wouldn't have detrimental consequences of one kind or another."

Detrimental consequences? Harsh. But sometimes consequences are detrimental, eh? But whether a consequence is detrimental or not is debatable.

I really don't have anything in mind. What I am mostly trying to do is muse on what it means for all high school "programs" to have some sense of equity. If we start talking about lottery seats to biotech or music or whatever, and they have repercussions (ie, leave the program and have to reapply to school) then what about APP kids?

See, it's just like the K8 quandary. They are considered elementary when that's convenient for the district and middle school when that is. APP in high school is a program when it is convenient for the district (claiming it on the grant) but just a cohort when that is convenient (denying anyone access after 7th grade testing cycle).

So, if the Ballard reference area has to shrink to accommodate out of area students who want Biotech, then it makes total sense that if the student who gets in under that plan flunks out of the program or changes their mind, that they have to find another school to attend. Seems totally fair to put some teeth into the lottery seats, especially to the kids who can see Ballard from their porch but can't get in. So why not some teeth to the Garfield APP program?

If there is to be a CTE Garfield Orchestra, with available seats by testing/auditions, why not for Garfield APP? If that music seat has strings attached (ouch) why not the APP seat? Other gifted/magnet high school programs have minimum GPA requirements -- with probationary periods, of course. Since Garfield has something other schools don't have or have but don't value, since there are kids who would thrive at Garfield and truly desire that education and be an asset to the cohort but cannot get in, then why not treat it like other programs in an equitable way?

See, yes other schools have AP classes, but what Garfield has is not only more AP classes, but Bob Vaughan constantly poring over data, lobbying for more, paying attention. He and his department ought to be paying that much attention to Spectrum (and if they had been, a lot of things would be different and better now) but they don't. And there isn't even any sort of Spectrum designation and consideration in high school. So while Bob is busy collating and dissecting the GHS PSAT data and lobbying for yet another AP Science class there, Roosevelt does their bait and switch with AP Euro -> HG and he shrugs his shoulders and looks the other way.

I've heard through the grapevine that Bob really values having the APP cohort at Garfield. Again, a politically expedient thing to do in that case would not be to concentrate on making that the best program possible, but look around at all the other schools, all of which have ex-Spectrum kids and most likely all have APP eligible kids, and make sure their needs are met at home --- to reduce pressure on his baby. The high school assignment boundary plan is going to get really ugly. And he could be doing his part to reduce some of that ugliness by putting pressure on all high schools to do a better job serving their highly capable students. Isn't that his job?

So if it is a cohort, then sorry guys, other middle school cohorts are getting broken up for high school assignment. And there are lots of people who would welcome those kids back into the neighborhood. For the cohort (yes, there are equally capable, motivated students at their home schools, so they could still have a cohort, just mixed up a bit) and maybe with the hope that Bob will spend a little time helping to reform every high school to serve those kids' needs better.

If it's a program, then why not treat it like any other desirable program? With some stipulations attached.

Charlie Mas said...

Perhaps it is time for the District to just acknowledge the truth: that APP is a 1-8 program.

Following that admission, they can either create some program elements in high school or stop the access to Garfield.

The preferred access to Garfield not only allows the cohort to stay together for social reasons, it assures the APP students of a peer group for academics. It also assures the critical mass necessary to support a wider and deeper selection of AP classes. In addition, there is the training and experience that Garfield teachers have with academically gifted students - for whatever that's worth.

What would real high school APP be like? What classes would it offer that APP students cannot now access? I'm not sure.

If the District mandated a set of AP classes for every high school, would that allow the dispersal of high school APP? What will happen when north-end APP high school students are added to the demand for seats in north-end high schools? That's another 150 neighborhood kids who can't get into Ballard or Roosevelt.

Maureen said...

It seems to me that it is time for the District to decide what HS APP is. If it is the cohort (and all that implies for concentrating appropriate coursework and expertise at Garfield) then they need to allow other APP eligible students access to Garfield. If it is simply access to a basic number of APP classes, then Bob Vaughn needs to make sure that those courses are available at all Seattle HSs and the 8th grade APP students should be dispersed to their neighborhood schools.

In other words, if the cohort is valuable to the WMS and HIMS APP students it is also valuable for the other APP eligible kids who have not attended those two schools. If it is not valuable then there is no reason to retain it for HS.

(If APP parents claim that it only valuable for those students who happened to enroll by 8th grade, then I would expect them to support keeping all of the other cohorts together as well--especially the K-8s where the kids have generally been together years longer than the APP kids.)

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Right now any HS student can take AP classes at Garfield. That's beneficial for the kid who might be a wiz at math but lousy at language arts. I realize they can't always get into the classes they want, but the at least have the opportunity in theory.
How would a more formal AP Program at Garfield affect access to AP classes for those who did not test into the program?

Maureen said...

SolvayGirl1972 So what I hear you saying is that it is valuable for non APP kids to have access to AP classes (at Garfield) because Garfield neighborhood kids can enroll in AP classes even if they don't qualify for APP.

(I really wish they had chosen different acronyms for the Accelerated Progress Program-- maybe TAG? (talented and gifted)).

So if it is valuable for non-APP/TAG Garfield area kids. I'm assuming that you agree that the same access would be valuable for RBHS kids? Is there anything gained (in your eyes) by limiting the APP kids to Garfield?

I don't see why a 'formal' APP program at Garfield would limit access to AP classes at Garfield any further (now they are limited to kids who can enroll at GHS). In fact, it would increase access to some kids (APP eligible kids who don't enroll at WMS or HIMS). I don't see why that reduces access at all. The non-APP kids could still enroll in AP classes as they chose.

adhoc said...

I noticed that next year (with the addition of the north end APP students) Hamilton will offer several levels of bands and orchestra, as well as INT I II and III math (or the equivalent new math materials). These classes are available to ALL students, and have never been offered before at Hamilton.

All of this enhancement makes the school much more appealing to my non APP student.

Dorothy said...

AdHoc on Hamilton getting APP program: "All of this enhancement makes the school much more appealing to my non APP student."

Yes. Unlike the elementary split, this is a good thing. Creating two sites of middle school APP has positive consequences. Because there are kids not in APP who are similar in ability and needs, especially when it comes to appropriate mathematics placement. (As for music, I am not sure it is correct to say that Hamilton has never had music. See this article that implies that Hamilton had to give up its music and arts classes in order to become the International School.)

SolvayGirl: "How would a more formal AP Program at Garfield affect access to AP classes for those who did not test into the program?"

Well, if you are attending Ballard because it's your guaranteed assignment, you can take Biotech. And if you flunk out or change your mind, you are still at Ballard. It's only the lottery seats with the consequences, because it's not a lottery for Ballard, it's a lottery for the Biotech Program. So why shouldn't it be the same for kids in the Garfield reference area? Take advantage of the classes without worrying.

Charlie: "The preferred access to Garfield not only allows the cohort to stay together for social reasons, it assures the APP students of a peer group for academics."

Again, at that age, other social groups are being broken up and kids that age are mobile, connected and can make new friends and maintain old friendships. They don't have to be together all day.

Peer group for academics. Now that's the crux, and that's a fundamental philosophical difference at different High Schools. Hale seems the most obviously diametrically opposed to this. They do not offer much mechanism for highly capable kids to find and maintain a peer group for academics --- that's why more kids want to attend Roosevelt. Parents and students value access to such a peer group. However, Roosevelt is becoming more like Hale, instead of vice versa. When Roosevelt switched from the student selected AP Euro option to the mandated everyone take AP HG (which is objectively less rigorous) the Social Studies department stated in their literature that the self-selection of AP Euro was akin to Tracking which is evil (OK, they didn't use the word "evil" they more closely implied racist). (Note the logical fallacy there. Tracking is when the school *tells* students what classes to take. AP HG for all is closer to tracking than the former system. So much for rigorous critical thinking.)

And the Roosevelt Language Arts department is the group serving the kool-aid. Their literature states: "In addition, perhaps one of Roosevelt's most unique characteristics, RHS Language Arts classes ask students to bring "honor" to the class rather than be a passive recipient of tracked classes." (No, I am not making that up, and yes, the LA department really does put the quotes around the word honor. What does that say about them?)

(Ironically, in 1.75 years at RHS, in my son's LA classes, not once has there been any deep discussion, any place where a student can bring "Honor" to the class and help the entire class think more deeply about literature. LA classes have silent reading, writing in journals, answering questions on worksheets (small group and individually), watching videos and listening to lectures. They use the "honor" students only as role models for paying attention and turning in homework. AND they've been using I728 money to reduce 9th/10th grade LA/SS class size. With the above activities, why oh why does class size matter? If I were teaching an LA class, I'd use my critical thinkers in a different way, I'd get thought-provoking discussions going as often as possible. That's the way the kids who think they are non-honors can see what critical thinking is all about and realize that they can do it to, form opinions and argue their points by referencing the text. *That's* how you'd get kids to increase their personal expectations and goals.)

Charlie, that peer group does exist elsewhere, there are peers at other schools. It's just not recognized and valued at some of them.

Why does Bob V work so hard to do great things for the peer group at Garfield and ignore the academic needs of the highly capable elsewhere? Why not challenge this notion of Honors classes=Tracking=Evil? Why not increase professional development so that teachers across the district are educated on teaching gifted kids? Perhaps he feels powerless to do so? Is that why he hunkers down and concentrates on Garfield? Shortsighted.

Charlie says that dispersing the APP kids would add 150 kids to the North End and put too much pressure on schools. Well, it seems to me, especially with the burgeoning elementary school cohort in the north east, that 150 will be a drop in the bucket. As you say elsewhere, the district has to open new seats in the North End regardless.

I claim an alternate scenario is this: There are currently a lot of APP eligible kids in high schools in the north end. For a variety of reasons they didn't go to Washington for 8th grade and can't get into Garfield or didn't want to. However, with the economy making it harder to pay for private school, with the Hamilton APP program much closer to home and appealing, with Roosevelt losing its appeal (Brian mentioned recently that limited funding means they are cutting an advanced Science elective.) more students will take advantage of their APP eligibility and attend Hamilton, expecting to go to Garfield. Can Garfield handle an additional 100+ APP kids?

adhoc said...

"LA classes have silent reading, writing in journals, answering questions on worksheets (small group and individually), watching videos and listening to lectures. They use the "honor" students only as role models for paying attention and turning in homework."

This is precisely why we chose Hale for our oldest son. Though Hale doesn't do much in the way of forming a "peer group for academics" as they use a more inclusive model, they offer AP level LA to ALL students in all grades, and we found their classes and teachers to be much more engaging. Students were encouraged to use more critical and analytical thinking, ask thought provoking questions, and do a lot of research. All things that we really value.

Hale is part of The Coalition of Essential Schools which uses the 5 habits of mind..........

Students are expected to critically view material retrieved from various sources. They are taught to question:

•Viewpoint -From whose viewpoint are we seeing, reading or hearing? From what angle or perspective?

•Evidence -How do we know what we know? What's the evidence and how reliable is it?

•Relevance-What does it matter?
What does it all mean?
So what?

•Connection- How are things, events or people connected to each other?
What is the cause and what is the effect?
How do they "fit" together?

•Supposition - What if...?
Could things be otherwise?
What are or were the alternatives?

Couple this with the 10 common principals of the Coalition of Essential Schools, and I feel that Hale has a clear vision of including and engaging kids as active learners.

One personal example:
I toured a health class at both Hale and Roosevelt this year. In the Roosevelt classroom the teacher had the lights dimmed and was reading from an overhead projector teaching about contraception....kids were taking notes, probably for a test. Students were not participating, they looked glassy eyed and appeared bored to tears. Meanwhile, in the Hale classroom the kids were putting on a skit in which a girl was pregnant and talking to her best friends and boyfriend about her feelings, her options, how she could have prevented the pregnancy, etc. The class was engaged, they were participating and they were entertained. At the end of the skit the class asked questions of their actor/classmates, and the teacher added clarification where needed. It seemed so much more meaningful and relevant than the overhead projector........

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Maureen
Yes, I believe all students should have access to QUALITY AP classes.

Do I think there's a benefit to keeping APP at Garfield? For the official APP students and the school it certainly is. For all the other high schools and students, I don't think so.

We read on these blogs that the quality and level of rigor of AP classes vary from school to school. Some are accused of being AP in name only. That does not serve the majority of SPS high school students well at all.

Charlie implies that Vaughn puts all of his effort and eggs into the APP basket, again leaving those students who do not or cannot participate in that elite program out in the cold.

The disparity of quality at Seattle's public high schools is one of the main reasons we are opting for a private education for our child. (The lack of direction and trustworthiness in the District is the other main reason.) Spreading the APP students around could go a long way in fixing that—look what it is already doing for Hamilton.

I am sure the students who are in the APP are getting an exceptional education. But is it fair that others are not?

TechyMom said...

Wacky idea...
What if the APP kids from Hamilton went to Ingraham's IB program instead of Garfield? It seems like the combination of APP rigor and the international focus of Hamilton would be a really good match for IB. The APP kids from Washington would continue to go to Garfield. Would that still be enough of a cohort to keep the number of AP classes at Garfield where it needs to be for these kids?

dj said...

I suppose I'm lucky in that my daughter's reference high school would be Garfield, so her participation in the APP program or not wouldn't affect where she goes to high school no matter what monkeying with the APP progam might happen.

But frankly I'm not sure why the APP program has to be the centerpiece of these sorts of discussions. Aren't there kids who haven't been tested as having any particular academic aptitude who have more access to AP classes than others simply by virtue of where they live?

Dorothy said...

"Charlie implies that Vaughn puts all of his effort and eggs into the APP basket, again leaving those students who do not or cannot participate in that elite program out in the cold"

Not really, that's me, not Charlie. However, Charlie and others (including me) have long argued that not enough of the district's focus and push has gone into quality Spectrum programming throughout 1-8. And there is no Spectrum in high school. And I do not imply that Vaughan is concentrating his influence at GHS to the detriment of quality highly capable programming for all qualified students, I argued this conclusion with specific examples.
(and it Vaughan, not Vaughn) It's open to debate; I'd be open to counter examples to show I am wrong.

This thread is about assignment plan boundaries and given that high school seems to be happening first, the discussion is on high school programming that would be exceptions to following assignment plan boundaries. So this is not just dumping on APP, as it seems DJ might think, but fits with the discussion of what constitutes acceptable and agreeable exceptions to the assignment-by-address to high school. Charlie, Mel and others have been strongly advocating for some choice spots, some sort of lottery for access to specialty programs. Both Charlie and Mel have advocated in the past that music --- something that would require auditions and demonstrating of talent and desire -- should be considered in that pool of specialty programs. So it seems reasonable to consider high school APP and access to appropriate classes for all highly capable students in the same way.

DJ, how old is your child? Because high schools can change pretty rapidly. If APP kids are dispersed back to their assigned by address high school, Garfield may well change.

TechyMom, that idea (some APP kids designated to IB for high school) has been discussed before and there are reasons why it's not necessarily something all would embrace. IB program and AP classes have some differences. A child that might thrive in one will not necessarily thrive in another. That's not to say the idea can't be floated around some more. Would be interesting to know how many kids APP eligible are in IB. I don't know.

I don't even know how many APP eligible kids are at Roosevelt. I asked Brian Vance and he doesn't know either, said he would find out. He originally thought it would be easy to find out, but it seems not to be. For instance, he first answered with "Well there are two 9th graders." But that turned out to be 2 that he happened to be aware of. I gave him the names of three more 9th graders he didn't know about and I am sure there are more.

dj said...

I didn't say it was "dumping on" APP. What I am getting rather tired of however is the idea that breaking up a well-run successful program, rather than replicating well-run successful programs, is a useful idea. I have yet to see people suggesting, for example, dividing Stevens up since the school is well-liked and in demand.

Access to APP is the same for everyone. If a family wants an APP-eligible child to go to Garfield, they can use the same process as any other family with an APP-eligible child. It was a major plus for me in enrolling my child in APP that she would be with a cohort of peers through school. To the extent that the APP program gets progressively splintered, my guess is that it will become less attractive to parents who have halfway decent neighborhood school options.

As an aside, I don't consider IB and AP programs sufficiently similar to think them fungible.

dj said...

Oh, and Dorothy, all I meant by point out that my reference school is Garfield is that if there were some sort of you-can-fail-out thing going on in the Garfield APP funnel, what I would do most likely would be to enroll my daughter there as a reference area student, rather than as an APP student, so she could take the exact same classes without a guillotine blade.

Maureen said...

dj said: Access to APP is the same for everyone. If a family wants an APP-eligible child to go to Garfield, they can use the same process as any other family with an APP-eligible child.

Sort of, but why is it ok that kids who tested in when they were five (and then moved to Lowell/WMS) get a guaranteed spot at Garfield, when kids who test as eligible when they are twelve (but don't leave their current school for 8th grade) do not? Eligibility is forever for the first kid. It expires in less than a year for the second. If the cohort is valuable for the first kid, surely it is for the second? There is no academic reason to exclude the second kid. (I understand that we aren't talking about very many kids here--all the more reason to include them.)

(And we aren't even addressing kids who move to Seattle after 7th grade.)

dj said...

Maureen, I would completely see the sensibility of letting kids who move to Seattle test in late.

I don't have a strong opinion about letting kids who already are here test in later than 7th grade. The only point I am making there is that the rules are known and applied equally. You test in, you enroll at (now one of the) APP middle school(s), and you can go to Garfield. Since the rules are the same for everyone, I am not all that persuaded that kids who don't do that are being treated unfairly. Certainly I'm open to persuasion that there is a good reason to let APP-eligible kids who aren't currently in the program enroll later.

What I am unpersuaded by is the suggestion that the way to improve other schools is to slice and dice the existing cohort at Garfield. I think the better approach is to replicate what makes Garfield desirable elsewhere. And, frankly, given the amount of work and effort that is being expected of the APP program to ensure that simultaneously effected elementary and middle school splits worked, it would be nice to think that perhaps the APP program wouldn't be tasked with also changing what it does for high school at present.

Charlie Mas said...

This may seem strange, but I would resolutely oppose the dispersal of the high school APP cohort if it were done with the goal of improving other schools. On the other hand, I might not oppose it if the were done because the District were acknowledging the absence of a true 9-12 part of the program.

Either way, or even if the District leaves high school APP intact, the District should mandate a defined set of advanced classes to be taught at every comprehensive high school and mandate access to those classes at every high school.

amsiegel said...

I'm genuinely confused by the APP discussion on this thread. Two points.

(1) If the problem is that the district doesn't have enough schools with a full set of APP classes, shouldn't our strategy be to collect data to determine how many students need access to these seats and then to advocate for the creation of such seats rather than assuming that a set number of seats exist and kneecapping the students who currently have access to the seats.

(2) If the district is not going to create enough seats at sufficiently rigorous high schools and we are going to have to ration the seats, what is wrong with rationing the seats according to the results of a transparent testing process that is open to all students on relatively equal terms? (Particularly since the alternative in this district always seems to be rationing based on geography, which means rationing based on the neighborhood your parents happen to be able to afford to buy in.)

Syd said...

I don't agree that it was a god idea to split up WMS.

This purely based on my child's experience, so maybe it doesn't count; one child having a good experience perhaps dos not weigh significantly in an argument about good schools for all.

However, my child is one of the Int III kids this year. There are 10. Mr. Pounder is their teacher, and their math team coach. Having Mr. Pounder and that group of peers has made all the difference to my child's experience. Without that math peer group, I doubt seriously my child would be at all motivated to attend school. Keeping gifted children engaged enough to finish school is a challenge. Luckily, my child is going to HS next year, but what about other children with math skills beyond their grade level?

So here is the deal, Mr. Pounder is moving to Hamilton, as well as another APP math teacher. Does that mean WMS needs to hire an APP qualified math teacher? It is not that easy. All the other children in my son's class live in the North End. I believe the class for next year is equally lopsided. So, maybe by the numbers moving two math teachers makes sense. The principal at WMS believes he may have found a way to offer Int III to the one or two children who qualify next year. We don't know if there will be a math team, since Mr. Pounder is the math team. Where is the peer group and the motivating mentor?

I remember the joy of talking about math with my peer group in school (which was large enough so that there were even two other girls in the class!). It made a difference to me 25 years ago, and it makes a difference for my child now. Hopefully we can dig out of this hole before my two younger children are ready for middle school, because it appears there is no other game in town for South End children once the assignment plan goes through.

another mom said...

"Why not challenge this notion of Honors classes=Tracking=Evil? Why not increase professional development so that teachers across the district are educated on teaching gifted kids? "

This is an enormous issue and much easier said than done. Ask a few parents of GHS alums. This would be a major reform effort at the high school level, which I believe to be worth the time.However, it is much larger than Vaughan and the very small office of Advanced Learning. How about enlisting the High School Director Michael Tolley with the Superintendent and CAO leading the charge? I agree that non APP students deserve rigor and challege at all levels. But to expect one low level administrator,(Vaughan)to take on changing the entire district with long held mindsets regarding tracking, honors, etc.is totally unreasonable. OH, and he must also make sure that two elementary and middle school APP are consistent, spread ALO's to every elementary and middle school,and fix Spectrum. Yea sure add deconstructing the tracking myth to his long list. Please.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Charlie has it just right for APP in high school. Either make it a real program or admit that it's not and offer and good selection of QUALITY AP classes at every high school. The way it stands now, it creates an elite school that everyone south of the ship canal tries to get into leaving the majority of the other high schools grasping for students.

In either case, they need to offer QUALITY AP at all schools. There are plenty of students who can work at the AP level in one or more subjects in high school. Those who did not track into APP deserve a quality education too.

But, that brings me back to my earlier question...IF they make AP a REAL program at Garfield, would non-APP students have equal access to the AP classes? Just how would that work? That could change the make-up of Garfield quite drastically.

Dorothy said...

I agree with Charlie, that it doesn't make sense to disperse APP high school for the sake of improving other high schools. That may seem my argument, but it's not. I agree with Charlie though that APP in high school really isn't a program. Now that we are looking at completely new thinking of assignment to high school, it's the right time to examine access to high school programs, how to maintain at least some access to high school programs in the new system, what should they look like?

As for the "guillotine" why don't we talk about that. If there is a lottery for some Biotech seats or anywhere else, there ought to be clearly defined policy for staying in the program because the school is full with a waiting list. If high school APP is a program then there ought to be policy as well. It doesn't have to be a guillotine. It could be something like three semesters in a row with less than 2.5 GPA. Does that seem like a guillotine? that's similar to other such magnet programs I have seen. I bet we could find a whole variety of thresholds around the country if we looked. (And sure, if your assignment school is Ballard, then no reason at all you should apply for lottery to Biotech. If your assignment school is Garfield, then even if there's a requirement to maintain a GPA to stay at Garfield as an out-of-area program student, if you don't maintain that GPA, you go back to your assigned school, which is Garfield.)

There are lots of legitimate reasons why APP qualified students would not attend WMS for 8th grade. Just because such a student finds that Garfield is the best fit for them in 9th grade, does not mean that WMS in 8th grade might be a good fit. Why should APP eligible kids be denied seats to the high school program depending on their middle school needs? Some kids go to private middle school because they need a smaller, more nurturing environment for those difficult adolescent years. Some kids attend different programs because they live so far north and their sleep needs or development or their family situation makes getting to the bus at 6:30AM problematic. Some kids are in a K8 meeting their current needs. So why should the high school program be denied them? Shouldn't access to any high school program be determined at the entry point to high school?

But here's the thing. Hamilton may look much more attractive to all of the above families. Closer to home and a later start time mean fewer sleep issues. A slightly smaller school, perhaps more nurturing, and with the financial crisis, private middle school might not be an option. Shorter commute also allows better after school programming choices as well. So what if all the kids who currently could be in APP in 8th grade but aren't start showing up? How many of them are there? Will that be enough students to tip the balance and have the district decide to break up the high school program? I suspect it will.

Parallels with elementary and middle school. See, Charlie has been the most active, the most vocal, the most well-informed and dogged watchdog of the district on Spectrum issues for at least 9 years, and ALOs as well once those were established. Yet the district thwarts real reform and progress over and over. But you got to give Charlie enormous credit for trying, for doing what he can, for staying involved. But what happened? Spectrum continued to disappoint, APP attendance increased and now the district is splitting up the APP 1-8 program in a completely misguided attempt to increase access. Whereas, it ought to be clear to everyone that if the district had been following policy, paying attention and reforming Spectrum, making ALOs meaningful everywhere, in effect, doing exactly what Charlie said ought to be done, then there would be no threat to APP 1-8 now.

See the parallel with high school? Given the new limitations, the new demographic changes, unless someone looks seriously at the needs of highly capable students in all high schools, then Garfield APP "program" will suffer the same fate, for the same reasons, that APP 1-8 is suffering now.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I think the big confusion here is comparing SPS's AP Program at the high school level to high school AP classes.

AP classes are offered in high schools all over the country. Look at the quantity Bellevue offers. Students do not have to test in to take these classes, but must be able to perform at that level. I am sure different school districts have different criteria. Students can then take the national AP exam for that particular class or not.

It is my understanding that colleges want students to take AP classes and the test results can have an impact on both admissions and required classes.

Consequently, SPS needs to offer these classes in all the high schools—especially if they want people to start choosing their neighborhood school. BUT, the level of rigor, quantity and quality of offering has to be somewhat equitable. Right now it's not.

And "Another Mom" I'm glad your child has had a great experience, but can you for a moment consider the very bright child who is languishing in a classroom because many of their classmates are working below grade level? APP is for the top 2%...what about the remaining top 10, 15 or 20% at the high school level? These kids deserve quality, rigor and challenge too.

Do we just let the District off the hook because the top 2% are being served well? Or, do we try to find a way to give every child the education they need?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Solvay, keep in mind AP is not the APP program. You keep referring to them that way and they are two different things (although the APP program in high school is, basically, more AP classes).

I only bring this up because I know what you are referring to but others constantly mix them up. I told Bob Vaughan, years ago, to change the name of APP (they changed the name of Spectrum from Horizon to Spectrum) but no go. So people constantly mix up AP versus APP.

SE Mom said...

I am curious as to why the IB programs at Ingraham and Sealth are underenrolled, especially when there seems to be demand for more AP classes for high schools.

AP classes and an IB program are not the same thing but they both
provide academic rigor.

Is it that the schools that house the IB programs have not been popular and it's going to take awhile for families to change their minds about the schools?
I think Sealth has some history with being rough to overcome.

Are the IB programs under marketed by the district?

What is the district's committment to the IB programs if they continue to be underenrolled? There is a connection I would guess between AP classes and the IB programs and what becomes available at all high schools.

adhoc said...

"In either case, they need to offer QUALITY AP at all schools. There are plenty of students who can work at the AP level in one or more subjects in high school. Those who did not track into APP deserve a quality education too."

I'm certainly not disputing the need for high quality AP classes at all high schools, but why is it that so many parents think the only way to get a "quality education" is via AP classes? I thought AP classes were college level classes, reserved for the highly motivated, advanced student. I didn't realize they have become the norm, the expectation for all students. I didn't realize that kids that don't take AP classes are not getting a quality education? Are regular classes no good anymore? Are regular classes now considered remedial and sub par? Are kids that perform at grade level not considered to be performing well any longer? Are average, middle of the road, at grade level kids no longer considered to be doing well? Do all students have to be super students taking honors, IB, running start, or AP? That's a lot of pressure.

So, sure, all high schools should offer a range of AP classes, but I think we need to stop setting the bar at AP and consider all that a school has to offer.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Melissa

Right..I guess I did not explain it well. That's why I agree with Charlie and Dorothy. The District either needs to create a true high school AP PROGRAM for that top 2%, or eliminate the auto-advance to Garfield and strive to create quality AP CLASSES available to all takers at ALL the high schools.*

*Ideally, the District needs quality AP CLASSES at all high schools since AP and/or IB have become more of a factor in college admissions.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Melissa

Right..I guess I did not explain it well. That's why I agree with Charlie and Dorothy. The District either needs to create a true high school AP PROGRAM for that top 2%, or eliminate the auto-advance to Garfield and strive to create quality AP CLASSES available to all takers at ALL the high schools.*

*Ideally, the District needs quality AP CLASSES at all high schools since AP and/or IB have become more of a factor in college admissions.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

AdHoc
The reality is that AP classes are becoming the norm—especially in public schools. Why do you think Roosevelt and Garfield are so popular?

AP and/or honors classes are the way for students who excel at a particular subject(s)—and NOT part of the official AP Program—to be in a classroom where rigor and an engaged cohort are more likely.

That might not be as much of an issue at some schools, but at others it can make a huge difference. And I'm not saying ALL students MUST take ALL AP classes...but I'd like ALL students to have the opportunity if they so desire.

Right now, only those students lucky enough to be at Garfield/Ballard/Roosevelt get a full choice of AP classes. IB is somewhat different (college level classes that can substitute for required classes at the college level if the tests are passed, etc.). I'm not sure how AP works in that regard. Can someone enlighten?

WV- nonsful — full of nonsense I suppose.

SE Mom said...

There is alot of good info about IB and AP programs on the Sealth web site. From the IB page there's a link to a College Board document that describes and contrasts AP and IB programs.

adhoc said...

Yes, Solvaygirl, of course Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard are so popular, because as I said the current thought is that if your kid doesn't take AP classes they are not getting a "quality education".

In my opinion this is completely false.

The students at NOVA received the highest SAT scores in the entire district, without one single AP class to choose from. Center school was second, with not one single AP class either. Hale does very well too, with one of the smallest AP offerings of any comprehensive HS in the city.

These students are obviously getting a quality education too, without AP.

Again, I want to be clear that I think all schools should offer higher level classes, just as all schools should offer remedial classes. All kids deserve to have their needs met. I just have an issue with the current train of thought that if you don't take AP you are not doing well, not getting a quality education, not getting into college, etc........

SolvayGirl1972 said...

AdHoc
I agree...why do you think I'm so sad that The Center School was briefly considered for closure? Certainly other models work well. As choice schools, NOVA and TCS already guarantee a certain cohort and level of expectation. Hale has a great program too.

It's the other "comprehensive" high schools that could use the boost—especially if SPS is working its way toward mandatory assignment.

I think we all just want to see the District work to make the schools on the same tier equitable in offerings and quality. Otherwise there will always be crowded schools vs under enrolled schools.

Charlie Mas said...

I, too, am concerned about the apparent equation that "AP = quality" and the corralary presumption that "not AP = not quality".

First, not all AP classes are good.

Second, not all AP classes are good for every student.

Third, we cannot abandon the expectation of quality in any class.

Fourth, when people speak of high quality programs or high quality schools, it isn't just for advanced students.

For all of the talk about making every school a high quality school, where have we seen a definition of a high quality school? Wouldn't that be an essential element of accountability: a set of well-defined and objectively measurable outcomes? Where are the criteria, metrics, assessments, and benchmarks for a high quality school?

When I think of equitable access to high quality programs in high school, I think much more of CTE programs and Academies than AP or IB.

When I think of what it means for a school - any school - to be a high quality school it has more to do with every student having access to an appropriate academic opportunity. Assuring that advanced students having access to an advanced academic opportunity is only part of it. All of the other students in the school need access to the opportunity that is appropriate for them as well.

adhoc said...

Hasn't the SE initiative greatly expanded the AP offerings at Cleveland and RBHS?

I guess I just don't buy that adding AP to a school, in and of itself, makes that school a good school. If it did families would now be flocking to RBHS. And, they'd be running away from Hale. But Hale, with few AP classes is full with a waitlist, and RBHS with expanded AP offerings is severely under enrolled.

My point is that the south end has poor quality schools and I don't think the addition of more AP classes, in and of itself, will change a thing.

another mom said...

Sovaygirl,
I never said either of my kids had a great experience. In fact after 8years in APP, my older child went to a private high school. I wish that there was a place for him in SPS but it was hopeless. My younger child languished for two years in GHS L.A. classes that were pitched at a fourth grade level. Hence my comment about asking parents of GHS alums about tracking and their success at undoing honors for all. It took years and they are not there yet. And yes, it is probably time to rethink the APP autoenroll at GHS.There is no real program there. However,it is a place where kids celebrate their nerdiness. Really smart kids are accepted at GHS. I don't know what happens at other high schools. And why not allow testing of 8th graders for APP at high school, but that means there needs to be a program. I don't know why you think that I am against providing more and better options at all of our high schools? I DO NOT oppose increasing rigor. Adding more Advanced Placement courses at every high school should be a priority. How about more AP Chemistry or Physics or Biology? Those courses are sorely lacking in our high schools. Honors courses are far too subjective. Unless there is a district wide honors curricula, each high school will have its own interpretation of what constitutes honors. It should not be just more work.

My rant was against the notion that Dr. Vaughan is expected to make sweeping changes in our schools. Again, he is a low level administrator. The kinds of philosophical shifts that need to occur in SPS high schools need more than Bob Vaughan.

another mom said...

"For all of the talk about making every school a high quality school, where have we seen a definition of a high quality school? Wouldn't that be an essential element of accountability: a set of well-defined and objectively measurable outcomes? Where are the criteria, metrics, assessments, and benchmarks for a high quality school?"

Well said.Thankyou!

SolvayGirl1972 said...

You know...we're all on the same page essentially. We want the District to come up with some standards for quality and stick to them. We want them to come up with a way to serve the brainiacs and the at-risk kids...and everything in between. We want a lot. Our kids need us to want a lot.

Unfortunately, our wanting doesn't translate into getting—not even close. On Harium's blog, the call was made to take our desires to the next level. Just what can we, as parents and others who care about public education, do to effect change?

Charlie, Melissa, Beth and others have been fighting this fight for a long time. We should all encourage Charlie to run for one of the board seats. That's a start!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just want to point out that Hale is not technically full (the building). They could hold more but don't want to. So certainly they have a waitlist. They seem to think this will also be the case when their new building is finished (apparently the principal has been saying this on tours).

As the district allegedly moves towards consistent start times, right-sizing schools, etc., So programs may have to change and since most high schools are their own little chessboards with everyone having their turf I'll be interested to see how much site-based management continues.

Otherwise, this business of consistency across the high schools is all a lot of talk. But if it works for one school to stay underenrolled, then it will make it easier for other schools to ask for the same.

As for IB, I think it's a great program and undermarketed. People just don't know what it is and I get the feeling the district thinks those who would go for it come from families who know about it. The great thing is that anyone can take an IB class and doesn't have to be in the program (at least at Ingraham). I think Ingraham and Sealth have some safety issues that make some families wary but I know families who are happy at Ingraham and, of course, Steve Sundquist has his children at Sealth.

Ad hoc, you are right that regular ed classes should be "quality" as well. All kids need to be pushed and led to higher level thinking. One thing I have heard from students at different high schools is just that the regular ed classes tend to have more kids who don't stay on task, act out, sleep and it's frustrating for the kids who are trying to learn. For whatever reason, there is less of this in higher level classes (this according to these students).

hschinske said...

"The students at NOVA received the highest SAT scores in the entire district, without one single AP class to choose from."

So? Many students score higher than the Nova average when they take the SAT for talent search in 7th grade. The SAT scores don't prove a thing except that Nova attracts kids who score higher than average on the SAT (which largely means that it attracts few who score really, really low).

I do think Nova is a good school, and I have a daughter there. But it's not the SAT scores that influenced my decision to send her there. She's already *got* good enough scores for most of the colleges she'd be likely to attend. It's the *rest* of her education I'm concerned about.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

"My rant was against the notion that Dr. Vaughan is expected to make sweeping changes in our schools. Again, he is a low level administrator. The kinds of philosophical shifts that need to occur in SPS high schools need more than Bob Vaughan."

I agree with this. But like it or not, it is his job; he's director of advanced learning, not director of APP. It is too big a job for the department. There is not enough staff and not enough political clout.

But the thing is, it was like that before, back when Bob first had the job. And he was ousted in a previous administration. So when he accepted the job again, what kind of negotiations did he do? What goals does he have? How did he see working in this administration would be more fruitful than working with the previous ones?

There's too much going on in APP for him to even deal with, with the splits. But before that, there was the promised 1-8 APP written curriculum. (And Advanced Learning Review.) The curriculum not getting done will reduce the likelihood of successful splits. And Spectrum continues to be unwatched, and the high school aged Spectrum kids have no district level advocate. Where, if not the office of Advanced Learning, ought to those kids look for advocacy?

So with all the issues facing advanced learners, with the splits looming, I question the judgment of spending any time right now analyzing GHS PSAT data and using that to advocate for additional AP class in science there. Right now, is that an appropriate, effective use of his time?

Charlie, the next question is for you? You understand more than anyone exactly how the board and district fit together legally.
What are some things that can be done about this dilemma in the Advanced Learning Department? Clearly Vaughan is understaffed and underfunded. Is this the sort of thing the Board can intervene in? I don't know. Can they ask Vaughan in to testify and ask him what he, in his professional judgment, thinks are the staffing and resources he needs? Can they ask that of the superintendent? Because clearly constituents are strongly in support of quality programs for advanced learners. The board represents constituents. Is there a mechanism for the board to act?

Charlie Mas said...

Dorothy asks: "What are some things that can be done about this dilemma in the Advanced Learning Department? Clearly Vaughan is understaffed and underfunded. Is this the sort of thing the Board can intervene in?"

Short answer, no. Dr. Vaughan's work definitely falls within the day-to-day administration of the District and, therefore, outside the Board's authority.


"Can they ask Vaughan in to testify and ask him what he, in his professional judgment, thinks are the staffing and resources he needs?"

Again, short answer, no. 1) The Board would not breach etiquette by going past the Superintendent to a subordinate (and this would be a reach past the superintendent, the CAO, and an assistant academic officer, to a program manager). 2) Bob would not be so impolitic to tell the Board how much the Superintendent should be funding his department. 3) It is not the Board's job to write the budget, so they have no business asking the question.

"Can they ask that of the superintendent?"

Again, I would say no. It falls under the day-to-day administration of the District and the Board has no business asking about it.

"Is there a mechanism for the board to act?"

Not really. EXCEPT!

The Board, I believe, can dictate that every comprehensive high school offer a course of study including a set of AP classes. That would be something that the Board could do.

There was an element in the New Student Assignment Plan that said something about every elementary school having an ALO. That would be a bad idea, but it would be something that the Board could do.

The Board could apply some accountability to the Strategic Plan and ask about progress on the project to respond to the APP Review.

I don't know how well people understand it, but the Board could really help high performing students all across the district by demanding early and effective interventions for student working below Standards K-10. Students who are working at grade level are more likely to be engaged and less likely to be disruptive. Imagine the progress that a fourth-grade class could make if everyone in it was ready and able to succeed with the fourth grade curriculum. I have often said that Spectrum families are running away from general education classrooms as much as they are running towards Spectrum classrooms. They want to escape the behavior issues, the remedial work, and the peer pressure to under-achieve that they believe haunt general education classrooms.

adhoc said...

"They want to escape the behavior issues, the remedial work, and the peer pressure to under-achieve that they believe haunt general education classrooms."

This is absolutely correct, and in my opinion, avoidable.

If we had remedial classes for kids working far below grade level then they could receive the intervention that they need while kids working at grade level could be in a class that is working at grade level.

As far as behavior issues, I believe that the MS and HS teachers of SPS have just given up. They do not enforce any kind of behavior standards, whatsoever. Kids can be disruptive, they can talk back, yell and scream, throw objects, wear earphones in class, heck they can even sleep in class....with little to no consequences.

Behavior can be managed, but it takes effort. Sadly I feel that most MS and HS teachers just don't make the effort. Maybe the principals don't support them? Maybe parents don't like their kids disciplined? I don't know. But it is too bad.

Dorothy said...

Thanks, Charlie. I always appreciate learning from you more about appropriate governance.

I've been mulling over this boundary issue and the fact that maps will be available after the policies in place. At some level, I can understand the desire to do that. After all, once the policies are in place, it will be easier to right-size assignment boundaries. But that's a waterfall model of decision making that just seems wrong here. Instead of rules then maps, this process cries out for an iterative approach. People will be much more informed on creating and agreeing to rules when they can see iteratively the consequences of those rules on the maps.

Let's say 10% of the HS seats are lottery/choice, and those students can bring siblings, then the right sizing of the assignment boundaries will be vastly different than if 5% are choice and siblings do not get tie breaker status. And this notion of economic tiebreaker status. How big? How much of an impact will that have? One cannot finalize decisions on either rules or maps in isolation, they must be developed in tandem.

In order to make any reasonable discussion, we must have some sort of map to play with, some sort of idea of how the district would decide on boundaries for different scenarios.

The idea of moving boundaries reminds me of my sister, who lived in a suburb of a fast-growing city on the east coast in the mid-90s. She was there 6 years and every single year her assigned elementary school changed. A phenomenon I thought was limited to the burbs, but it does seem like that could happen here, even in a city that I would have guessed was pretty stable. It's not though, and with light rail and growth changes associated with that, it will be even less stable wrt right sizing schools.