Wednesday, July 29, 2009

APP Thread

Update
There is some discussion on this thread about multi-aged classrooms and kids working at their own pace. Here is an article that appeared in the NY Times about in interesting foray into those ideas. Called "School of One", kids use laptops (individually or in groups) and work on a "playlist" of work. They take a quiz at the end of each day to see if they understood the lesson and if they can move onto a new topic the next day.)


Okay, discuss away but if you have a suggestion/question for a different thread, can you ask for it and not take over a different thread? The Muni reqs on School Board candidates got taken over by this discussion and then it makes it hard to stay on topic (not to mention those who might be searching for old posts). Feel free to ask for a topic to start in any thread just please do not start a completely different discussion.

51 comments:

Sahila said...

APP... am going to respond to a comment on the Muncipal League thread that seemed to morph into APP-related posts for a while...

I spoke/against the idea that kids coming into the APP program ought to be drilled over summer to bring them up to speed....

Someone pointed out that kids in Asia (who on paper perform better academically than most US kids) are subjected to much more 'drilling' and pressure...

To which I would reply - go check out the suicide rates amongst school children in most Asian countries - Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore... most of it attributed to the pressure to perform because of the academic, professional social and financial doorways that open only to 'high achievers'.

My personal opinion is that we should have an education system where highly capable kids can be provided with the resources they need within the 'usual' framework; they ought not to be peeled away and educated in isolation from the mainstream - which is why I advocate for mixed age classes (completely mixed age) and vertical curriculums...

I believe the isolating and 'hot housing' of capable children (and I have had one of my own children classified as highly capable, teaching herself to read at 3 years old, skipping two grades in one year in elementary school) has more disadvantages than advantages, and if we are moving towards more inclusion and mainstreaming for other children with 'special needs', we ought to be doing the same for highly capable (gifted) children...

We all benefit from each others' experiences and wisdom... and we dont get that if we label ourselves and others and put ourselves into little boxes with impermeable membranes....

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wow, there's a lot to say here.

Impermeable membranes? Hot-housed? Educated in isolation? What district are you talking about? Do you even know how Spectrum works? ALOs?

Fine, if that's your opinion Sahila. The research shows that in a classroom with all levels of ability, bright kids come out with the least. All the other kids benefit from their ability to start class discussions and enthusiasm for learning. (Not saying that doesn't exist in all children but teachers have told me, repeatedly, that they do NOT like having bright kids taken out because it lowers the level of discussion and interaction.) So the bright kids are there to help the teachers ( some teachers like to ask bright kids to help "teach" other kids which is not their job and doesn't meet their needs) and spark the classroom?

You may believe that they will be provided with whqt they need in a regular classroom but mostly isn't the case. Teachers teach to the middle, need to concentrate on those struggling and many times believe "oh those bright kids will be alright". (The teen suicide rate is highest among bright kids.)

Only at Lowell are kids are "isolated" but they even have a Special Ed population that they apparently interact with a lot. Spectrum varies from school to school with some schools having an all-Spectrum kid class and some with tested and non-tested kids to those who only have it for part of the day. I have never seen a school where Spectrum kids are totally isolated from other kids.

Of course, all kids have gifts to share - as I have said many times, being bright doesn't mean you have either all the answers, are good in all areas or don't have issues (some people seem to think that bright kids are more well-behaved - that's not my experience).

But please don't ask my child or anyone else's to wait patiently for someone to meet their needs. Charlie has said it and I have - every single child deserves to have their educational needs met and if it can't happen in one classroom then so be it.

Carolyn said...

Since there are so few comments - maybe someone out there could bring me up to speed regarding the APP split. Have teachers been (re)assigned to Lowell and the new south-end APP elementary program and new north-end APP middle school program? And is it true that APP teachers require no special training? Is spec ed staying at Lowell, or being replace by neighborhood walk-zone kids, and how will these kids fit into the school (a parallel series of K-5 classes?) And is there any sense that there will eventually be a north APP HS? So many questions about APP....

And then there is Spectrum and ALO. I don't know about spectrum standards/consistency, and will be curious to see how assignments go once boundaries are drawn.

Finally, ALO. Is ALO at all levels or just elementary? At the elementary level I understand that there is wide variability in programs across schools. For example, at some schools kids are pulled out into special reading and math groups while at others ALO simply amounts to more homework.

So many questions.

For APP-level kids I agree that they get more out of school if they have a curriculum suited to their needs.

Shannon said...

I am sorry if I caused a renegade thread in the muni comments. I had a simple question and wasn't sure how to post that. It did not seem to warrant a separate thread. This is where a listserv or discussion board type format could be a useful adjunct to the blog.

Regarding APP. My son did well for his first three years of school in multi-age and flexible classes. However, there were obvious limitations to this model and I am excited to offer him the sense of normalcy that comes from a class in which many more kids will be thinking up projects, reading the series he enjoys and able to understand and work with some more advanced concepts.

For me, APP is not as much about the ability to stretch a child into a more challenging curriculum (as could be achieved with differentiated work) but in offering my son a peer group in which he is not always a leader or outsider. I want him to experience being 'clever' as normal rather than being either teased or rewarded for being 'the best' at something.

Sahila said...

If we had mixed age classes with vertical curricula and everyone - every single child - was on their own track, we wouldnt have the need to take kids out so that they would feel 'normal'... and besides, how can they feel 'normal' if they are taken out, segregated, isolated...

What's worse - to be classed as the nerd in a classroom, or to be told you are so special, 'elite' even that you need to be only with others of your own kind because no-one else understands you, because else you wont get a fair deal...?

How does segregation help anyone? We've done away with racial segregation in our schools but now we insist on intellectual segregation?

There are better ways to give ALL kids what they need...

zb said...

"For me, APP is not as much about the ability to stretch a child into a more challenging curriculum (as could be achieved with differentiated work) but in offering my son a peer group in which he is not always a leader or outsider."

Being in an APP-type situation doesn't guarantee that. As my child grows older, I'm noting a tendency for her to play this "leadership" role even in her "selective" peer group. It's proving to me that avoiding being the one who comes up with all the ideas, for example, is a learned skill, both for the "leader" and the "assistants." A good leader figures out how to get others to contribute what they have of value to the project at hand.

I still like the selective peer group (for one thing, it increases the odds that each child will have significant areas of strength). But, the people management issue of working in groups doesn't go away, especially since a solution isn't to assign leadership roles in subjects -- both the weaker and stronger students really need to learn to share the leadership role, especially in the generation of ideas.

Of course, a child might swap from being a leader to being a follower in changing environments, but I don't think that's what we're looking for -- we're looking for an environment where the roles are shared.

Melissa -- in complaining about Sahilla's comment, you didn't attend to her differentiation plan "mixed age classes (completely mixed age) with vertical curriculum." If such a scheme existed, where children were not segregated on age, the debate about selecting high performers and placing them in a different environment would be very different.

Sahali-- the problem with not having performance-segregated classrooms now, is that it's fairly easy, in a single-age classroom, for one child to be functioning academically at a level that means that they really are isolated.

kanne said...

Sahlia, my son went to our local, award-winning elementary school for three years. He had fabulous teachers and was in at least one multi-age class. Yet, he made few friends, and was beginning to be teased (despite the anti-bullying curriculum) about being different (he's a quirky guy). He was also spending a lot of time in class reading, when he finished his work. His daily mantra was, "school is hateful." When we found out Lowell was an option, we told ourselves that we would do our due diligence and check it out, but we couldn't imagine why it would be better to send our kid across town (and have two kids in two schools) and we worried that there would be type-A parents and weird kids. We talked with the school psychologist, who shared the statistics on the high depression rates among highly gifted kids and who said, "why wouldn't you more him?" Still, we wanted to hate Lowell, so we visited. Okay, the building is pretty horrible, but we found regular kids playing soccer, dealing with ADHD, playing with special-ed kids, low-key parents, and a great community. We made the move and FINALLY, my son has made friends, and is excited to go to school every day.

kanne said...

...and reading his book waiting for kids happened in a 2/3 split when he was a second grader. The teacher tried her best to differentiate learning but she really couldn't meet everyone's needs.

amandapayne said...

The net is a powerful and intoxicating thing. A democracy and an oligarchy and more. It can also waste your time in distracting conversations with those whose opinions really aren't worth trying to change. When person from another culture who repeatedly makes shallow uninformed and prejudiced digs at our culture, who calls herself a journalist but also claims to have studied to become a shaman, a channeler and a medium. Does not claim any professional development in child development or educational theory says something distracting and barely coherent, the best thing to do is ignore, not try to engage in conversation. You won't change her mind. Has she given any indication of an open mind and a change of belief in past discussions?

Robert said...

As one of the previous renegades; Sorry. How do we request a thread? If I could I would continue the dialogue on what is up with the disparity in numbers going to Marshall vs Lowell... And what does it really matter? Someone had mentioned that means the less subscribed program would be perceived diminished. I really don't see it that way. I would think it says nothing more than that families are concerned about splitting significant friendships more than anything else. But then why are there 4 first graders on the Lowell wait list? I do know that there were several folks predicting the skewed numbers going into the split but what accounts for the district getting it so wrong? Couldn't just be the error with the walk zone could it?
It certainly isn't because of the building (mold and all). (Also, does anyone know what happened to the APP centric blog http://discussapp.blogspot.com/ ?)

And to add my two cents worth on some of the comments here. APP success is found in the cohort as well as the teachers who are trained to deal with the distinct issues with highly gifted children. I am hopeful that mixing Elem ALO in as well will not dilute the program with such a broad reach but regardless we all have our work cut out for us...

TechyMom said...

We picked Lowell's ALO program over TM, though both were on our school choice list. I wouldn't be surprised if APP parents in Central (but outside the walk zone) had similar thoughts. These were our reasons:

1) Established after-school program. They have 4 languages!

2) Location. Lowell is a couple blocks from Broadway, near where my bus from work drops me, and in an area I walk to anyway. There are lots of things to do if I pick my daugter up from school. TM is about the same distance, but it's a walk down busy smoggy MLK, with no shops and things like Broadway. There's also an extra transfer if I wanted to pick her up on the bus from work, which would probably mean that I'd drive more often.

3) Special Ed. I think it's valuable for kids to be exposed to lots of different kinds of people. I want my daughter to learn to be sensitive to people with disabilities.

4) Buidling. Yes. Really. Lowell is a cool old building with big windows and good light. It feels homey. I like thinking about generations of little kids walking the same halls. TM's building feels like a low-end nursing home (to me). A lot of people in Central live in old houses and like them. Not everyone likes new buildings.

The one thing TM offered over Lowell was that, should my daughter test into APP, she would not have to change schools. Since we live in Central, she might have to move to TM if she tested in. We decided that was a chance we were willing to take. I also really liked Julie, but after talking with Mr. King, I liked him too, and felt like he'd do a good job of shaping the school.

For a lot of people in Central, I expect that location and the after-school program were big draws.

dj said...

Lowell is viewed as the established program, Thurgood Marshall as an "experiment" that might not work. That has been a consistent theme among parents I've talked to who sent or tried to send their kids to Lowell over Thurgood Marshall. Parents are worried about the new location, the smaller number of kids, the library, the after-school programs, and the possible hostility to APP from existing Thurgood Marshall staff (it is different to be the program moving in than the established program being joined).

The problem in my view with the sort of total multi-age classrooms that Sahila describes is that it is difficult to be the young kid in the older grade. I went to 4th and 5th grade classes for reading when I was in first grade. That was where I spent my morning, and I didn't make any friends, because I was 3-4 years younger than the rest of the kids. Then I came back to my first grade class where I was the weird kid sent out for reading.

My daughter is a mid-August birthday and is therefore always going to be the youngest or one of the youngest kids in her class. There is a huge difference socially between her and the kids born 11 months earlier in September, and her fine motor skills are much worse. I'm sure things will even out eventually (she is only six), but at this point, it's difficult for me to picture her being at ease in a setting where the kids were not just a year older than her, but years older than her.

I do tend to agree that it would be better for kids in the long term if teachers could teach to a classroom that was completely integrated in terms of learning styles, speeds, levels, etc. But it wasn't my personal experience that my own teachers could do that (and in fact until I was moved to a Lowell-type program I was turning into a serious discipline problem from the boredom). Certainly from all I've read, my experience wasn't uncommon.

Sahila said...

Amanda - Why are you so mad at me? What buttons have I pushed?

A narrow mind is one which cannot accept the existence of paradoxes and the scientific fact that two things can exist in the same place and time -
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051013084257.htm

The world is made up far more of 'and/also' scenarios/circumstances than 'either/or' limitations. I suggest you try thinking from that paradigm... makes life far more interesting, profound and opens a world of creative solutions to some of our problems from which to choose...

If you use the great research tool that the net is, you will find that there is more and more scientific research validating the ideas that shamans have had since humans first experienced their particular form of consciousness...

If you havent journeyed down the shamanic path, dont criticise it...you seriously have no idea what you're talking about...

And as a famous (Scottish) bard once said:
"O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!"...

Americans are famous abroad for their myopia... perhaps when you have lived in several countries and other cultures you will have the experience and be qualified to offer comparisons and comments... and you wont feel so defensive when someone else offers a different perspective to your own...

Sometimes it takes an outsider (or a child) to point out that the Emperor Has No Clothes... which is pretty much the case in SPS and the US education system...

If you want to criticise, criticise the points I raise - prove their invalidity, show me how I am wrong, give examples to bolster your own views...

And, seeing you place such store by educational credentials, why dont you tell me what yours are?

Mine are that I have raised three children to adulthood - two with university degrees, one (the highly capable one) with a post grad diploma and the third an IT geek in the New Zealand military; I'm raising a six year old who happens to be a student within SPS; I've experienced, as a student and a parent, the educational systems (public AND private), of three countries - New Zealand, Australia and the US; I've observed at first hand the educational systems of two more - the Netherlands and Singapore; I'm a journalist - I research what I write about and can, (if asked and often do voluntarily), provide references for my statements; I'm a social activist who advocates/works for a more just, equitable, sustainable society/world; I dont believe in the capitalist economic system - I think its exploitative at its core and its unsustainable; I dont think this country is a democracy - it needs to move to proportional representation for that to happen; I dont like it when countries and bureaucracies dont practise what they preach and are not transparent - eg the US on arms control and SPS on accountability; I believe small is beautiful and dont believe in 'scaleability'; I believe each child is a unique individual with unique qualities, talents, skills and we do have the capacity and resources to give each child exactly what they need to grow into their full potential - we just dont have the political and economic will to make that happen and basically, if I believed in sin, I would call that a sin...

Namaste, Amanda - which means:
the Divine in me recognises and honours the Divine in you...

Sahila ChangeBringer

Deidre F. said...

Just curious as to how the mixed age vertical classrooms would look in reality? What if you have a 14 year old reading at a 2nd grade level? Would the 14 year old be in a classroom made up of mostly 6 and 7 year olds? How about a 5th grader that could do 10th grade math? Would this elementary age child be in a class made up of mainly high school age students? If so is this appropriate from a social/ emotional perspective? How about from a behavioral perspective? Teens are dating, driving, possibly experimenting with drugs/tobacco/alcohol, etc. Is this an appropriate setting for a younger child? Is a bright 10 year old able to interact well with 16 or 17 year olds? And what if a child does not move up with their peers? or with their best friend? How would that feel? Not saying that this can't be done, but I'm sure that there would be many challenges with a vertical systemm too, and I'm not sure many parents would go for it??

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

How does segregation help anyone? We've done away with racial segregation in our schools but now we insist on intellectual segregation?

Even though everyone would agree that elimination of racial segregation is a good thing, I'd bet few parents would relish the chance to have their kid be one of a kind at school. If there is only one of you, I don't think you feel particularly 'integrated'.

I think you're fooling yourself about what a child actually experiences. I doubt it's much like your over-wrought, adult imaginings.

I suspect kids do better where there are at least some kids like them. I bet that's all a lot of families are looking for in APP. Not 'isolating' and not 'hot-housing'.

Why not concede that your experience and imagination may be too limited for you to make definitive statements about 'worse' for someone else's kid?

Sahila said...

dj - I think taking kids out of classes for particular subjects and then returning them is cruel and worse than placing them in a program such as APP...

If each child is on their own track and working at their own place and speed, then you would have a lot more individual work and less of a 'social' aspect to learning, though chances are children would find others of their own age working at the same level with whom they would bond...

For friendships/relationship building, I see (large) schools instituting a house/family system with time each day to meet in community, and in small schools (which I advocate anyway), there could be time each day for all kids to get together (apart from recess and lunch)...

Some of my kids were students in open-plan, multi-age environments and while they were working with kids from all ages during learning time, they navigated back to their friends at break, lunch and community times.... it worked really well.... they didnt seem to feel disconnected or isolated or out of place.... they seemed to make a distinction between learning and socialising and were able to shift gears between the two groups/states easily... and in each of these experiences, there was an authentic air of collegiality operating between the older and younger kids... their ages or maturation states were not the focus... they were each recognised and accepted for who they were and where they were at...

It needs to be set up really well, but it can work....

jason said...

Sahlia - I shouldn't even respond (feeding the troll and all that), but I can't help it. Look at the horrible sentence you just wrote:

"I think taking kids out of classes for particular subjects and then returning them is cruel and worse than placing them in a program such as APP..."

Who are you to judge what's best for other people's children? You don't know anything about me or my children, yet you say this nasty thing about how I choose to educate them?

One of the hardest parts of the whole closure process for me was the nastiness that many adults have about APP. All of the APP kids were in a "mainstream" school before we chose to move our kids (it doesn't start until 1st grade). Mainstream education didn't work for us or 400 or so other families. Thank goodness Seattle Schools didn't kill the APP program outright. I don't know what we'd do without it.

Robert said...

DJ when you say "the possible hostility to APP from existing Thurgood Marshall staff" you are dismissing the real fact that Julie the head of the established program is at Marshall and Gregory is coming from the gen ed program at TTM. Oh and isn't circular to argue that Marshall is less subscribed because it was less subscribed.

Any way, as a Lowell parent I fell both programs are in the experiemnt stage. And everything is in flux... Including after school programs, class size (too large at Lowell with 31 5th graders in a class!) and finally halving the PTSA funds that have allowed for the additional great programs at Lowell. Again, we all have our work cut out for us...

agibean1958 said...

The APP blog is still there:

http://discussapp.blogspot.com/

No comments in months, that I've seen though, since the uniform dust-up.

dj said...

Robert, it's not circular, because when parents were in that interim phase of trying to figure out whether or not to apply to stay at Lowell if they would otherwise be assigned to Thurgood Marshall, a lot of parents I talked to were choosing Lowell because the other parents they talked to were choosing Lowell, so they worried (correctly, as it turned out) that the populations would be uneven.

And Agibean, the APP blog is no longer being run. It is possible the person who set it up will restart it at some point, but they are not running it at present.

Sahila said...

Bird - I come from a different space altogether...

This will land me (and my overwrought imagination - actually its my shamanic empathic/shapeshifting abilities!)
in trouble...

I prefer to live in a world where every individual is recognised and valued as a master in one or more aspects of their being....

In some areas I am a master, in some I am still an apprentice, in others I am a total neophyte...in others I wont even begin down that path in this lifetime...

We are all like that... some kids are well on their way to intellectual mastery, others to musical mastery, others to artistic mastery, others to mechanical mastery, others to emotional mastery, others to mastery of their physical bodies etc, etc...

Some - very few (I've known one or two people in my 51 years) - exhibit mastery across all areas of their being.

In my world, all children are valued for who they are - not for their mastery or lack of - and they are given the time, space and resources to move towards whatever aspect of their being needs to move towards mastery at any one time...

and they do that in the company of all other children without value distinctions being made between one child and another, between one field of mastery and another...

its a very 'matter-of'fact' way of living.... we each have our gifts and we each are helped to express them... true diversity....

and we have older children helping younger ones, just as we grownups have mentors and elders in our lives... in my world, education would actually happen within the community itself, amongst our peers and juniors and seniors/elders, not in separate 'school' buildings/institutions... its how knowledge and experience is passed down - sometimes its not necessary for each person to experience exactly the same thing to take in that knowledge (see 'presence', morphogenic resonance, collective unconscious and the purpose of myth and storytelling - Peter Senge, Rupert Sheldrake, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell)...

and all of that happens not in segregated (highly capable/'normal'/special needs)enclaves, but in community - a DIVERSE community - where everyone's DIFFERENT capacities are valued equally and supported as needed...

What's that saying: from each as they can, to each as they need?, which comes first from the New Testament (Apostles), moved through 18th Century socialism, up through communism and is also the basis of Catholic social teaching, which holds that everyone has the right to a basic standard of living. Thus, for example, the able-bodied are bound to help the less fortunate. The idea of the welfare state is based on a similar idea, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts a similar "right to social security".

What does that have to do with education? Well, its a basic human right and it should be given to each child as they need to reach their full mastery (which is determined by themselves, not by some external standard), as I see it, within the framework of community....

Sahila said...

dj - I dont think I made clear that I think kids will go to subjects, not classes throughout the day... if you see the distinction?

I see an educational experience spanning around 12 years (though it might be longer for some kids and shorter than others), where kids study subject or topics and where the academic cores are covered in those subjects... math in art and music, music in math and art, art in music and math and history and language and history and architecture and chemistry and, and, and...

Can you can see that the cores that form the building blocks of our multiverses are contained in each of those inter-related areas - we are living in a holographic universe - "the sum of the whole is contained in each of the parts" and its that way in knowledge/wisdom acquisition/education... Reading/writing/'rithmetic will happen along the way.... if you must have required cores, a student could fulfill those requirements at any point in the 12-year process...

I know this is really, really radical, but what else is there if you want people to really grow into their full potential, not just become cogs in the machine as per the education system we have that was set up to meet the needs/demands of the industrial revolution?

And I dont see a problem with moving/not moving up with your friends/age-group... if each child is on his/her own track and there's a common understanding that there's a seamless, non time-defined process taking him/her to mastery in each study area, then 'moving up' doesnt exist any more...

Sahila said...

Jason - I dont think 'mainstream' education works for any child....

IMO, we are working with an old paradigm that cripples all our kids and limits them needlessly ....

If you have been tracking what I have been writing over the past 8 months or so, you would know that I have been advocating for change for the entire system.

My son goes to AS#1... which has its own set of issues and which SPS is trying to mainstream (or close) as fast as it possibly can...

jason said...

I also believe that the two APP elementary schools could be quite different. Thurgood Marshall with be a mostly ALO school and Lowell will be a mostly APP school as the populations stand now.

It's too early to say if one model will work better than the other, but it will create two different environments.

Sahila said...

See SPS Board Policy C54.00 for a glimpse of what I think ALL schools should offer children, add in the idea of multi-age communities, open plan buildings (or no buildings at all!) and vertical, elective curricula with lots of experiential learning opportunities and that's what I see as being true education...

rugles said...

Can anyone advise as to what things a parent should be working on with their child so that they can qualify for APP?

jason said...

Rugles -

The general rule is that APP kids are two years ahead in both math and reading.

I don't know that you can "work on things" so that a child can make it into APP. The second part of qualifying for APP (after your child does well enough on the group Cogat) is an achievement test given by a school district tester. This isn't something you can cram for since you don't specifically know what's going to be on the test.

rugles said...

"The general rule is that APP kids are two years ahead in both math and reading."

Do they get to graduate at 16?

Also, I thought with everday math they skipped around alot, did group investigations etc. How could you tell if a first grader was at a third grade level in everday math. Wouldn't, for example, you have to watch him solve a problem with a bunch of other kids two years older than him?

For that matter, do APP kids get taught everyday math? The prerequirement mentioned earlier sounded suspiciously old school, like memorizing multiplication tables.

"I don't know that you can "work on things" so that a child can make it into APP. The second part of qualifying for APP (after your child does well enough on the group Cogat) is an achievement test given by a school district tester. This isn't something you can cram for since you don't specifically know what's going to be on the test."

Are you saying the test changes year to year, and even student to student? Hard to believe. Can you give me some example questions?

Michael Rice said...

Hello

As you many of you know, I have no horse in the APP discussion. Given where I teach, it is very unlikely I will ever see one of these students, but I have enjoyed reading this thread.

I do have a few questions for Shaila.

Your plan for what is basically all individual instruction and learning, all the time sounds wonderful. Please explain to me what this costs, how it will be paid for, how many more teachers this will take (because when I have 120 differnt math students, with 120 different learning styles and are at 120 different places in ther math education, I will not be able to teach them all), and how you envision bring this to the SPS to start changing the way children are taught in Seattle?

jason said...

Rugles -

I am not sure if your questions were sincere, but this is how I would answer you.

No, I can't give example questions. My kid started in APP in 1st grade, and my kindergartner was not good about telling me about what questions they were asked. I would imagine the test changes from year to year. I am not a psychologist, so I don't really know. The test is the Woodcock-Johnson, so you could do a google search on it.

No, the kids don't graduate at 16. The APP program ends at 8th grade. Many people think it extends to high school, but it doesn't. Garfield only provides more AP classes than kids might get at another high school - there is no APP program for high school.

While the APP program is not perfect, it took my kid from a "school-hater" to a "school-liker."

ed. practioner said...

Although being with heterogeneous or mixed ability classrooms is a wide-spread egalitarian practice for gifted education, highly gifted students, such as those seen in APP, actually benefit socially, emotionally and academically when put together in their own classroom. The research and field experts bear this out.

Highly gifted or APP students are not better learners, just very different learners, making quick academic connections without much of exposure or repetition of curriculum. Not all highly gifted are pushed, do drill and practice exercises, flash cards or are gifted across the board.... They are the way they are naturally....They burn through curriculum at a high rate of speed and many pre-test 3+ grade levels beyond the curriculum that the teacher will be instructing.

In a classroom with students who do not learn in the same way or at the same rate, proves to be frustrating to both the highly gifted and the other students and an impossible feat for a teacher to meet the needs of all. (Gifted always get the short-end of the stick... research bears this out too!)

When highly gifted are mixed with grade level learners, others never get a chance to answer the teacher's questions, cooperative learning groups are taken over and there are shared negative student attitudes. The highly gifted are viewed as know-it-alls, made fun of and socially isolated. The highly gifted can't slow down, perceive others as slow and unmotivated and feel different from their classmates.

Over time, this perception of self difference ends up in depression and other emotional issues. Between 18-24% of gifted students drop out of schools.

However, ALO and Spectrum students may provide more success in a mixed classroom settings. For APP students, its like asking a race horse to sit down in the middle of the race, take a long nap and wait for the rest of the field to catch-up.

No one wins when APP students are required to slow-down and wait. I've seen some great educators get burned out when trying to satisfy the appetite of just one highly gifted student in a mixed ability classroom... now add 3 or 4 APP and it doesn't work!

Before you make up your minds on what its like to be highly or profoundly gifted, please check out some websites like: Hoagies, Council for Exceptional Children, Davidson Institute and NAGC.

Maybe this can give you a better understanding, from the child's point of view, on what it's really like to be different, alone and in an education system that doesn't celebrate their giftedness but places more value on being the same.

ed. practioner said...

From another post on highly capable:

Saw a report for Seattle Schools Highly Capable... During 2008-09 school year, in grades K-12, there were 382 students in ALO programs.

For two years, on the district's Advanced Learning home page, ALO has been listed as "an available K-8 offering", NOT a PILOT. There are listed eligibility criteria for determining ALO participation.

ALO uses "differentiated" instruction in a general education setting. The proposed ALO instructional strategies of "differentiation" requires extensive teacher training, separate teacher planning time, special instruction materials, smaller classrooms and measures of student progress in order to work. Otherwise, its just daydreaming about another education theory that can't be practiced in a real classroom. A nice thought though!

A seeming contradiction, the teacher's union has issued a 2005 position against teaching highly capable which includes the ALO students. This is understandable given the requirements for "effective" differentiation for highly capable.

Now how WILL ALO work?

none1111 said...

I was going to ignore the comments here and the ensuing pig-pile, but I just have to respond to a couple things.

First, Sahila said: "If we had mixed age classes with vertical curricula and everyone - every single child - was on their own track, we wouldnt have the need to take kids out so that they would feel 'normal'... and besides, how can they feel 'normal' if they are taken out, segregated, isolated... "

The (APP) child feels more 'normal' because they are finally among peers where they are no longer taken out, segregated, isolated. How can you not understand this?!

And you are confusing what the child experiences from their point of view, i.e. when they change schools, they are not being "taken out" of their old school, they are being "welcomed into" their new school. At least most kids feel that way. Friendships form MUCH more readily, and that, above all else, makes Lowell the amazing place it is. Or was, we'll see.

Do you honestly think that hundreds of the most deeply involved parents in the city would choose to send their young children halfway across town if they could get an even semi-reasonable educational experience (including social and emotional needs as well as academic) at their local school?? Think about it - being the outcast in a classroom is damaging to children, and shuts them down both intellectually and emotionally. The reason so many of us understand and appreciate this is because we lived through the same thing in our own childhoods, with a wide range of experiences, most of them not very good.

Sahila also said: "What's worse - to be classed as the nerd in a classroom, or to be told you are so special, 'elite' even that you need to be only with others of your own kind because no-one else understands you, because else you wont get a fair deal...?"

This is one of the most antagonistic (and ignorant) things I've seen written on the blogs about APP. Do you honestly think that by dragging out that vicious word "elite" you are helping your cause? Do you honestly think that APP parents tell their kids such crap?! Very few younger kids at Lowell even have a deep understanding of why they are there, let alone been fed some sort of "superiority complex" that could only be imagined by a hateful adult mind. That is a figment of all the destructive (and mostly jealous) "haters" in the city. What these kids get is an environment where they can finally relax and be themselves, and a peer group where they are not isolated and teased (or worse). It's far from the "hot house" you seem to imagine it is.

And ffs no one has to tell a kid that "no one else understands you", they internalize it themselves. Kids are not stupid! It's obvious to them when the teachers don't (usually) understand them and the other kids in the class don't understand them, even if they are too young to articulate it. It certainly was to me as a kid. Often the only ones who understand and can relate are the siblings and one or both parents. Thankfully, there is a growing understanding that this is a special needs group, not unlike SpEd.

It's clear that you truly have no understanding of the typical highly gifted child. Perhaps your own child is really, really different, or perhaps you choose not to see the obvious needs because of your idyllic visions. Either way, you are not going to fool the hundreds of families in APP, who are among the brightest, most thoughtful, and most in-tune-with-their-children parents in the city, nay, anywhere. Certainly not with poorly thought through grandiose dreams that use big words and ignore all the basic problems. What you need to do before you comment here on anything else APP-related is take Ed. Practitioner's advice and read through the *real* literature at sites like Hoagies, Council for Exceptional Children, Davidson Institute and NAGC. Read with an open mind, and don't cherry pick the data to suit your own needs! Or listen with an open mind to the many, many parents in the program who have *firsthand* experience from their own childhoods in many types of settings.

none1111 said...

rugles said: "Can anyone advise as to what things a parent should be working on with their child so that they can qualify for APP?"

Jason covered most of your questions pretty well already, but...

It sounds like you're asking how to cheat the system. And even if that's not the intent, as was mentioned earlier, you can't cram your kid for the cognitive tests. At least not in any reasonable way. Yes, it's designed so it's much more likely to get a false negative than a false positive, but that is the nature of the test. Private testing is accepted by the Advanced Learning office. Typically, private psychologists administer the WISC, and the results are generally more reliable than the CogAT.

As for working with your child to "pass" a cognitive test, I believe you can do that. But not by cramming at this point. You train your kid starting at birth. Talking, interacting, asking questions and making them think. Long before others believe their children are ready for such interactions. Kids are much, much more capable than most people give them credit for!

You can probably cram for the achievement tests, but if you have to do that your kid probably doesn't belong in APP anyway.

"Are you saying the [cognitive] test changes year to year, and even student to student? Hard to believe. Can you give me some example questions?"

The tests don't change from year to year, but they do change once every few years to kind of reset the levels and help keep things secret. It's exactly because they don't change year to year and student to student that they need to be kept very, very secret. The psychologists who pay (a lot) to get the tests to administer have to sign their lives away in order to get them. So of course you cannot have example questions!

SPSMom said...

Sahila, The thing is, this is what we have today, for Sept 09. Paradigm shifts in education are years away, if ever. Read "Im Down" and you will see that nothing has changed in SPS in almost 30 years. So for many parents, there is no time to wait for program changes in their schools. We ALL must make the best decision for our children based on what is available now.

Also, note about ALOs...I had experience with an "ALO program" It was a joke. So any parent thinking they are signing for an ALO this fall and will have an amazing experience awaiting them will be very dissappointed. (unless of course there has been a huge district-wide change in ALOs since the close of the school year.)


Finally one question: With the new standardization of APP curriculum is the rigor still intact or has it been watered down, or do we just not know yet?

Sahila said...

none111:
I totally get the APP stuff - had an incredibly gifted child myself - taught herself to read at around 3.5, skipped two classes in one year in elementary... am kinda on the 'bright' side myself and underachieved in school on purpose... my kids were members of a gifted child group, I helped at a Tournament of Minds event in Brisbane(either started by or associated with gifted groups in Australia)...

I know the gifted child literature, I know the philosophy. And the solutions out there (including APP) are still based in the old paradigm - they still 'educate' children in a way that is not child centred... children are required to fit into a system instead of the other way around... APP children also... sure, they're catered for by presenting higher-level academics than their chronological peer groups, but its still the same system.... standardised testing, narrow curricula, non-experiential learning, isolation from the community, having to meet externally imposed standards and if the child doesnt or cant (on time or ever) being labelled as a reject, failure, flawed rather than it being accepted that's there's something wrong with the system...

Kids who have aptitude in learning other languages (actually all babies are born with the ability to learn all the languages on the planet - this ability is pruned away over time because specialisation takes place)... anyway - you have a kid who has this skill to a marked degree... where in Seattle do you send him/her? One of the international schools? Too few places for too many kids and they only offer one or two language choices...

A child has a pronounced aptitude for music... where do you send him/her to grow that to its fullest potential - nowhere in the elementary school system because music doesnt have the same 'value' as other subjects, never mind that music is also math and physics and biology...

A child has a pronounced aptitude for art - again, where does he/she get the nurturing for that in elementary school? Nowhere, because art isnt considered as valuable as other subjects...

A child shows a proficiency in all things mechancial - where does that get fostered in the school environment? Nowhere...

I'm not advocating for early specialisation... I'm advocating for vertical, elective, experiential curricula where the common cores are contained within the electives... can you imagine what EVERY child's educational experience might be like, with 12 years of such learning?

This country has a broken economy, broken health system, broken education system ... insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results... imagine what you could do if you spent some of those trillions of dollars spent on military activities on providing each child with an individualised education, tailored to his/her needs, skills, talents and interests... can you imagine a world filled with mature adults who have had this experience.... where do you think our species will go if more of us have been allowed to reach our fullest potential?

Albert Einstein said:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

and for those who think I'm cracked because I live in a spiritual world and a physical/scientific world at the same time, Einstein also said:
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

and he said:
“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

and he said:
“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

and he said:
“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

and he said:
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Not enough questioning, imagining going on here, and we're shortchanging our kids...

Sahila said...

Michael - more money, more (smaller) schools (not necessarily having learning taking part in a building/institution), more teachers, smaller classes - 15 children per teacher max, open plan/multi-age with multiple teachers in the room (teaching teams)...

there are lots of creative ways to make this happen.... and the money is there.... its just that this society chooses to make things other than educating our children a higher priority.... like military spending, like corporate bailouts...

love that slogan which goes something like:

"we'll know we live in a civilised society when the military has to hold a bake sale to buy more planes..."

I've never said the kind of change I'm talking about is easy.... it may never happen... but I do know it needs to happen... and its got to start somewhere.... imagining it and talking about it is the first step....

Gandhi said:
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

and he also said:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

What we have now, is just a system, which is only a set of beliefs supported by a critical mass of people... it can change... now we either let the Broads and the Gates and the other (political or profit-motivated)organisations that have a vested interest in how our kids turn out pull the strings and shape the system, or we get in there and influence it in the direction we think it should go for our kids' benefit...

Robert said...

Jason APP does extend into High School however other than all APP students going to Garfield (currently)and the higher amount of AP course work... I am not sure the difference between gen ed students and APP. (It's still a bit before my kids embark on HS)

And Rugles they don't really graduate but many complete a lot of college course work (AP) in HS.

Mellisa any chance to start a thread for _supporters_ of APP to discuss relevant issue concerning their children's education... folks then could continue to debate the merits of the program here if they wish.

Michael Rice said...

Sahila wrote:

Michael - more money, more (smaller) schools (not necessarily having learning taking part in a building/institution), more teachers, smaller classes - 15 children per teacher max, open plan/multi-age with multiple teachers in the room (teaching teams)...

there are lots of creative ways to make this happen.... and the money is there.... its just that this society chooses to make things other than educating our children a higher priority.... like military spending, like corporate bailouts...


Yes, the federal government chooses to fund wars and corporate bailouts. However, the great majority of funding for education in Seattle comes from local and state sources, so I go back to my question, where does the money come from to fund this utopian vision of education you have for the children of Seattle?

Sahila said...

Michael - first you lobby for income tax in this state - lots of very good reasons why that's a necessity and not all of them are about education funding...

Then I think you start a massive national campaign to get more federal funds into education...

Its very easy to argue the need for that too, on multiple grounds, not the least being the country's economic future and international competitiveness - at the rate China is moving into the global economy, the US will be a 3rd world nation soon! All the low-paying jobs will be outsourced to the US, and this will be an economy of service workers and call centre operators - tongue in cheek, but not so far from reality... some economists already say the US economy operates in the same way and on the same level as 3rd world countries such as Mexico and Brazil...

ArchStanton said...

rugles said: "Can anyone advise as to what things a parent should be working on with their child so that they can qualify for APP?"

jason and none111 covered it pretty well. I'll just add that what you can do is build what what might be called your child's "cultural competency". Along with the interactions that none111 describes, you can introduce worksheets/workbooks that get them familiar with pencil and paper test taking.

Gifted or not, IMO, many students come to school unfamiliar with the quizzes and tests that are standard in many of our institutions and get hung up on or intimidated by the mechanics of the thing and are distracted from answering questions and demonstrating what they know.

Don't pressure your child, but find a way to introduce the materials in a way that gradually builds their confidence and competence. At least then you can have some reassurance that the results of an assessment are not skewed because the child didn't test well.

Andrew said...

Jason said: The APP program ends at 8th grade. Many people think it extends to high school, but it doesn't. Garfield only provides more AP classes than kids might get at another high school - there is no APP program for high school.

This is sort of misleading, Jason. The Seattle Schools Advanced Learning site says that APP is a 1-12 program and describes it as delivered "through a self-contained program during grades 1-8. A cohort-based model is available at the high school level during which students enroll in honors courses, grades 9-12, and Advanced Placement courses in grades 10, 11 and 12.

While the Garfield program might not be self-contained, having half the cohort -- well, I guess that's not exactly the proper word for a split program -- guaranteed a spot in a High School with a complete AP program is important. Without that, APP students could be assigned to other high schools that don't offer the advanced learning opportunities of AP classes, which sort of defeats the whole advanced learning concept.

This is one of the problems with such disparity in programs, from school to school and neighborhood to neighborhood. The fact that a style of education -- JSIS is a great non-APP example -- that you think would be great for your child is completely unavailable to you is frustrating at best. The fact that we live between Roosevelt and Nathan Hale, have no control over our assignment, and see that one offers lots of AP classes and one doesn't . . . well, unfair would be a polite word.

If your child can get into the APP program, even with the splits, at least he/she will be offered a consistent educational model and, after all, isn't predictability the most valuable commodity in this particular school district?

continued in next post

Andrew said...

continued from previous post

On a personal note:

Our daughter attended our local elementary school, 2 blocks away, for Kindergarten and First Grades. We loved the school, the kids, the community, and continue to donate goods and services, thought it's been three years since she was a student there. Our daughter was never "the outsider" or teased; perfectly normal girl with great friends, many of whom continue to play on sports teams together. However, by first grade she was being pulled out for math, pulled out for writing, and I was doing the spelling list for a small group of kids who were learning at a faster pace. There was simply no way the teacher could give her the educational attention she needed while also working with students who couldn't yet read or write; it's not practical in a class of 28 kids. The APP program at Lowell offered her an opportunity to learn at her speed, with other students with similar needs, and was a wonderful, supportive, environment.

With all of the changes in the district, and the APP program in particular, we found ourselves in an uncomfortable situation; we are public-school parents who've lost faith in the district. We watched with amazement as illogical decision after illogical decision was made, many counter-intuitive and for politically motivated reasons, and found ourselves increasingly uncomfortable trusting this administration and board. We believed that our daughter's education was going to be increasingly dependent on the quality of individual teachers and not with a program we'd grown to appreciate. We believed that the increasing demands of the higher grade levels was at odds with hour-long bus rides and an educational model that is supplying less and less. We believe that foreign languages, music, art, physical education, math and science, need to be taught every day, not "investigated" every few weeks. We believe that it is the district's responsibility to offer consistent educational opportunities to every student in every neighborhood and that offering specialized programs, like languages or AP classes, to families on one side of a street, while denying them to the families on the other side of the street, is immoral and irresponsible. We believe that the school board and superintendent need to make educationally sound decisions, based on research, evidence, and facts, and we believe that very few decisions made this past year could be categorized as in the best interest of the children. We believe in the public school system, but have found that we no longer believe in this public school system.

Every child has different needs and every family must make a very personal choice. We will continue to work for the best public school system possible; we will continue to express our concerns to the board and superintendent, and we will do whatever we can to support our neighborhood elementary. However, our daughter will no longer be attending the Seattle Public Schools.

ArchStanton said...

Sahila said: I know this is really, really radical, but what else is there if you want people to really grow into their full potential, not just become cogs in the machine as per the education system we have that was set up to meet the needs/demands of the industrial revolution?

This country has a broken economy, broken health system, broken education system...imagine what you could do if you spent some of those trillions of dollars spent on military activities on providing each child with an individualised education, tailored to his/her needs, skills, talents and interests... can you imagine...?


I don't mean to pile on here, but: while I'll agree that our educational system is stuck in the paradigm of the industrial revolution and that we spend too much money feeding the military-industrial complex, I don't like feeling berated for trying to make lemons out of lemonade like so many other APP parents.

Yes, I can imagine all of the things you describe, but nobody is handing me those trillions of dollars to make it happen. In the absence of a real revolution (that I don't foresee happening anytime soon) I have to deal with the reality of the system that I find myself entrenched in and I have to work to influence the kind of change that occurs at a glacial pace.

You describe an ideal that may be worth striving for (it seems to me that the educational reform you seek will not happen without a similar reform to the greater society), but in the meantime, I have to secure what I feel to be the best education I can for my child out of a limited number of options. Forgive me if SPS' APP program, flawed though it may be, fills that bill for me.

Sahila also said: It needs to be set up really well, but it can work....

I'm sure that it can, but Andrew @ 10:01 very eloquently describes why I have no faith in SPS' ability to roll out that kind of reform during my child's attendance over the next decade.

Sahila said...

none of it will ever change, if everybody DECIDES its too big, too hard, too idealistic, too naive, too impractical, too expensive, too unrealistic... and wont take even the smallest steps into a different way of doing things...

Einstein said that we cant fix problems by approaching them from the ways of thinking that created them...

it wont happen in my lifetime or my child's lifetime... so I'll just make do with the best of what's on offer and stuff the rest?

Nero fiddling while Rome burned...

Dont hold up the mirror, I dont want to see... I know its happening, but I dont want to see, I dont want to acknowledge because then I would have to DO something...

We're watching and participating in the death of a civilisation - validity of using that noun is debateable - and possibly most of life on this planet... I'm interested in halting this decline and planting seeds for a better future... and education is one of the places where its most impactful and easiest to start - captive audience (children) being given a holistic experience as they grow into maturity... IMAGINE a community of people who were each given the tools and resources to flower into their fullest potential, in a world of collaboration instead of competition...

We do know how to do it better -
some of us cant do it better because we are faced with basic survival issues... those of us who are in a better place just dont want to, dont have the stomache for the work, dont have the backbone to make a stand, are too self-centred to give up or change the (illusory) security we have fought so hard for and are so scared of losing to risk stepping out of the shadows and into the light, pointing the finger at the naked emperor on parade...

I am sorry that this sounds so harsh, but I just dont understand why people arent taking a 'we shall not be moved' stand on this issue of educating all of our children so that they all reach their fullest potential....

its obvious what's going on... there's plenty of verifiable evidence - give me three or four hours and I can give you bucketloads of references - go see http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/ - if you want a place to start, where someone else has done a lot of the work for you...

none of where we are going with education works any better than the old model - you really think that putting kids in schools for more days and more hours per day and sending in underqualified (cheap) 'teachers' to drill, drill, drill to pass those tests, tests and more tests will give us happy, successful human beings????

I dont understand why people are not absolutely outraged and rejecting this (APP or not) path for their kids...

I dont expect an overnight revolution, but if you want something better for human beings and the planet, then change has to come and it has to start with small steps... so many not even wanting to take those small steps...

ArchStanton said...

Sahlia said: it wont happen in my lifetime or my child's lifetime... so I'll just make do with the best of what's on offer and stuff the rest?

No. That is not what I am saying.

More like: "It won't happen in my lifetime or my child's lifetime... so I'll make do with the best of what's on offer while at he same time working towards improving what exists and making an effort to achieve a better society and educational system for all."

Compare the change you desire to changes in racial attitudes in our society. On one hand, it seems so easy to see what the ideal is and say well we should just do it - we should just wake up tomorrow and make it so. On the other hand, it takes a long time to change people's attitudes and address the systemic inequities and bureaucratic inertia. We've been dealing with results of slavery for well over a century and we have seen great changes in our society but, those changes were a long time coming and we still haven't achieved the ideal - and not for a lack of backbone, outrage, or imagination but, simply because it takes time for that kind of change to occur.

It is possible for me to "buy in" to the APP program (or even mainstream schools for that matter) while working at the same time to change the educational system. Sometimes we have to *gasp* work within the system to bring change to the system...

Michael Rice said...

Sahila writes:

Michael - first you lobby for income tax in this state - lots of very good reasons why that's a necessity and not all of them are about education funding...

So will this be in place of the sales tax and B&O tax or in addition to these taxes? If you are thinking, in addition, good luck on that one. I am a Washington native and for as long as I have been aware of state government, which is 40 years, the idea of a state income tax has been discussed. It never gets anywhere, because of the way the state tax structure is.

You then write: Then I think you start a massive national campaign to get more federal funds into education...

Of course with more federal dollars comes more federal control. I really can't see how that could ever be a good thing when it comes to education. Look at the wonderful job NCLB did.

I ask all of these questions and make all of these comments not to say that I think your ideas are bad, I support the idea of small classes, with more teachers and not promoting children until they are ready for the next level, its just that these things cost money, lots of money and I don't see where that money is going to come from.

amandapayne said...

Sahila, You pushed no buttons for me. There will always be folks like you, verbose, clueless and unproductive to the point of being offensive. You mean no harm, you just don't know any better. No, the folks who irk me are those who respond to the likes of you.

This blog was a pretty good place to discuss helpful and useful information. Too bad sometimes things get ugly.

As for my credentials, well, I am just a character in a novel. A very minor character, but one who would be very much in tune with channeling and quantum enigmas. But I play a much more pedestrian role in my novel than Archie plays in his story. Glad to see you back Mr Stanton. You are one of my favorite pseudonyms. But there's no need to get sucked into such pointless arguments.

Maureen said...

Jason said: The APP program ends at 8th grade. Many people think it extends to high school, but it doesn't. Garfield only provides more AP classes than kids might get at another high school - there is no APP program for high school.

And Andrew replied: This is sort of misleading, Jason. The Seattle Schools Advanced Learning site says that APP is a 1-12 program and describes it as delivered "through a self-contained program during grades 1-8. A cohort-based model is available at the high school level during which students enroll in honors courses, grades 9-12, and Advanced Placement courses in grades 10, 11 and 12.

Both true, but guarenteed access to Garfield and the cohort is only available to APP level kids who are identified before they reach 8th grade. Even if your APP level kid is being served appropriately at their local or alternative MS or K-8, you will have to move them to Washington or Hamilton's APP program for 8th grade if you want them to have access to the extensive AP classes and appropriate cohort that is at Garfield. And if you move into town with a gifted 8th grader, then you had best buy a house less than 1.5 miles from Garfield.

ArchStanton said...

amandapayne said: Glad to see you back Mr Stanton. You are one of my favorite pseudonyms.

Thank you. I guess I got a bit burned out by the end of the school year - couldn't stand to think about school issues anymore. With the school board elections coming up, I figured I ought to check out the blog and get back up to speed.