Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bye, Bye Spectrum?

There is a Yahoo group for Spectrum/APP which is largely inactive but I do, from time to time, get an e-mail from it. Here's what I received today:

"Did you know that the Seattle School District says that "We anticipate that we will phase out the Spectrum program over time so that its closure will not affect current students."<> (last question-and-answer)

(The writer also said she had e-mailed the AL office but no answer. I'll try on Monday.)

Okay, so here's the original Q&A:

If a school loses its Spectrum program under this plan, what will happen to the students currently enrolled at that school and in that program?

This situation will be addressed in the transition plan. We anticipate that we will phase out the Spectrum program over time so that its closure will not affect current students.

It's a little unclear because the question is about School X and the answer seems to cover all schools but maybe just School X.

What do you think?


Robert said...

I think if they can differentiate learning to students with 25+ kids in a class then it might fly... otherwise a valuable program in some schools will be gone. However, I think this has the feel of a rumor that should be verified before parents start sharpening their pitchforks.

SPS mom said...
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SPS mom said...
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Lisa said...

This sounds to me like they plan to phase out Spectrum programs in the schools where they are deemed unnecessary because Spectrum-id'ed kids are served at another nearby school. It doesn't sound like they mean to discontinue all Spectrum programs.

But rather than immediately shutting down a Spectrum program and forcing kids to abandon either their school or the program, they plan to phase it out. So, no new Spectrum 1st-graders at the school that will eventually lose the program.

That's how I read it. And I hope it means better differentiation, but I doubt it. They are just moving the programs around and trying to do it in a less-disruptive fashion.

Charlie Mas said...

I think history has shown that it is a good idea to keep your pitchforks sharp, but I think this doesn't mean what some people fear it means.

There are two schools which are now designated Spectrum sites but will not be designated Spectrum sites next year: Leschi and West Seattle Elementary. I think question and answer was specifically about those two schools and no others.

That said, I believe it is the District's intent to phase out Spectrum over time. This is a long-standing ambition of the District. They have wanted to get rid of Spectrum for at least the past ten years. And they have done a pretty good job of it. Spectrum now exists only in a few parts of the District, it is indistinguishable from an ALO in most of the District, and it Spectrum in name only in much of the District.

Spectrum families didn't work hard enough to protect the program, they went along to get along, they accepted false promises, they demurred from making a fuss or holding people accountable, and now their program is a shell of what it used to be or should be.

adhoc said...

How utterly depressing.

StepJ said...

Dr. Libros gave clarity to both this question and the answer.

A friend of mine also wondered what was intended by this FAQ so asked.

Per Dr. Libros Spectrum is not ending. This particular question being asking is if a Spectrum program moved out of a current school what would happen. As for for Capacity Managment, programs may be moved to new locations.

The answer is that those already enrolled in Spectrum at a specific school would be able to stay at the school they are attending. The Spectrum program at that specific school would be phased out by the graduation of those currently attending, and not adding any new participants at that certain school.

Anyone new to Spectrum could enroll in the program at the relocation school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would echo what Charlie said. The SAP might not be ushering Spectrum out but the district will. Not this year or next but within 5 years. And, he's also right about not fighting back. APP and Spectrum parents tend to keep their heads down because of fears of backlash (as we have seen here many times) and hoping that they can just keep their program if they don't made a fuss.

I think APP will always exist but Spectrum will not.

lak367 said...

My take is that this is part of standardization across schools. One day, there won't be something called Spectrum that children change schools for. All children will just be taught at their neighborhood school and the learning will supposedly be differentiated appropriately.

We're already seeing a move away from program-based special education so that those students don't go to a certain school with trained staff and a special program but rather to their local school with a resource room and maybe one special ed teacher on staff.

And now elementary schools that have not had formal ALO or Spectrum in the past have been told to have a formal plan for advanced learners in place by fall of 2010. In NE cluster, Bryant has never had, nor wanted, Spectrum or ALO, but now we have a team putting together a formal program for next year at the district's request. Once in place, there won't be a reason for an advanced learner to request to go to another school for Spectrum because they will be told that Bryant will meet their needs.

You can't guarantee a space to every child in a geographic boundary if you offer "special" programs and have to hold spaces for an unknown number of special ed or advanced learner children each year from outside that boundary.

Curriculum alignment. Special ed at each school. Advanced learners at each school. No more choice, but no more need for choice because everything is the same.

SPSMom said...

I am not sure how Spectrum could continue under the new SAP. Take Wedgewood for example, it is a Spectrum school. Does it have enough room for all the attendance area students AND all Spectrum students? If not, then who gets waitlisted? Nothing in the SAP accounts for this as far as I can tell.

Charlie Mas said...

You better hope the District does a good job of picking the Spectrum schools (B.F. Day, Hawthorne) because the right-sizing of the attendance areas will make it impossible to move the programs.

wseadawg said...

I agree with Charlie, they do want to end Spectrum. All this talk about "differentiated teaching" is just another fad that will wind up in the wastebasket too. Sure, teachers can differentiate, like they do already, but can they differentiate for students 3 grade levels apart in the same classroom, with say 30 or more kids (because, as we all know, "effective teachers" trump class-size, according to MGJ & the McKinsey Group)? No, they won't be able to do it, and won't want to, so bye, bye experienced old teacher, and welcome to Seattle TFA!

Notice the district's talk, ad nauseam, about "quality offerings" in every school, for every kid, and how they talk of "opportunities" for each child to get a quality education? As opposed to an actual commitment worth striving for like, "we will commit to do our level best to ensure that every kid GETS a quality education?" Nope. No chance of that. Why? Because the former sets up the excuse to blame the non-performing students (the victims), instead of the district. Then they can blame those darn low performing kids who wouldn't avail themselves of what was offered, and conclude that what those kids really need is the boot in their butts that only charters can do. See KIPP, Green Dot, and other "no excuses/military style" charter operators as an example of what they want.

First, they'll make their last college try of putting all kids of all types and backgrounds under the same roof, and say that everything is in place for any kid to succeed. But conspicuously absent will be the actual support, actual resources, actual commitment, and anything more than basic politics and lip service. More broken promises, more hypocrisy, more inconsistency, more fat contracts for private companies, more dilution of advanced programs instead of raising kids up from below, because the easiest way to close the achievement gap is not to raise up under-performers and struggling kids. It's much easier to dilute the concentrations of high performers at the top, lose some to attrition, sprinkle the rest around where neither they, nor their teachers have adequate collaboration and resources, and in the end, they get what they want, on paper, a narrower achievement gap. Then they can all claim success, put it on their resume, and move on to higher office, touting how they "closed the achievement gap in Seattle."

I truly believe that's what all this cock and bull of reform is about.

Dorothy said...

I am reminded of a story (that could well be an urban legend). Many years ago, some famous computer scientist was asked to predict what programming language would be popular in the distant future. He replied that he didn't know, probably radically different, but that it would be called FORTRAN. Well, that prediction was a bust, but still.

Seems to me they aren't getting rid of Spectrum. No, actually over the years APP has become what Spectrum was supposed to be. Spectrum is alive (if not well) it's just called APP. Once APP grows a bit bigger, they can justify splitting it into each reference area and voila! Finally the goals of Spectrum will have been reached.

ArchStanton said...

I truly believe that's what all this cock and bull of reform is about.

Amen. Couldn't have said it better, myself.

dan dempsey said...

"the learning will supposedly be differentiated appropriately."

Any evidence this "differentiation" is actually working?

Any evidence greater centralization improves a district's academic performance?

Any evidence that a massive expensive coaching model improves academic performance?

Wsaedog's prediction of wastebasket fodder seems right on. BUT only if there is some rational decision-making eventually.

Remember meaningless and harmful fads often continue for decades in education. This district likes to believe in fairy-tales and hides data to continue damaging plans based on erroneous beliefs.

{See social promotion, lack of interventions, & Discovery Math etc.}

dan dempsey said...

Yes the goal of Reform appears to be equal outcomes NOT equal opportunity for each child to maximize their potential.

Patrick said...

Dorothy, that quote is not a legend. It's: "I don't know what the language of the year 2000 will look like, but I know it will be called Fortran", C.A.R. Hoare, in 1982. And he was right, Fortran is still widely used in the science and engineering communities, with significant revisions in 1977, 1990, and 2003.

Maureen said...

This is somewhat OT, but it is related to Advanced Learning.

I went in for my 6th grader's conference and was told that they weren't sharing the MAP scores with parents because they don't mean anything at all. They didn't even have the numbers written down anywhere. Ok, I love the teachers and trust them, but, it is my understanding that MAP scores (fall or spring?) will be used to determine academic level for the Advanced Learning process. Is that true? If so, I may have to make some noise and get the scores. (Of course, if I had confidence that SPS wasn't in the process of standardizing alt schools (and Spectrum) out of existence this wouldn't be an issue for us.)

SPS mom said...

Maureen - the district said it would share fall MAP scores with parents at conferences. If this was not done, request them from your school. If they deny the request, cite FERPA. You have a right to these scores.

My guess is that some teachers haven't been properly trained to interpret or explain scores to parents. If they truly are meaningless, then why are our kids missing class time to take them? If they are meaningless, why is MGJ on the Board of Directors of the NWEA company that makes the MAP test?

hschinske said...

Elementary conferences -- there was no promise about middle school. Not all middle schools even have regular fall conferences. I have a sixth grader as well, and have heard they were waiting until the teachers had training in interpreting the scores (which makes a heck of a lot more sense than saying they're "meaningless" -- maybe s/he just meant "meaningless out of context"?). I have *no* idea why they can't just give the scores along with a caveat that they might be funky because everyone's still getting used to the system.

I'm planning on formally requesting my student's scores at some point, but haven't gotten round to it.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

So we have clear confirmation that the teachers have not yet received training on how to interpret MAP scores.

There are four data coaches who were hired and are getting paid very nicely to train teams of teachers at every school. Those teachers, in turn, are supposed to have trained all of the other teachers at their schools. We (and the Board) were told that this was all done, but now we learn that it wasn't.

These people are dreadful in every way.

What is the Board doing? Why doesn't the Board say something or do something when this sort of news crops up? Why isn't the Board advocating for the communities that elected them and holding the Superintendent and the staff accountable for doing their jobs and reporting the truth?

Maureen said...

Our school is a K-8 and I'm pretty sure all of the teachers were trained to interpret MAP. The 6th grade teacher's position, I would say, was that the MAP scores are useless to her (and us) because they are out of context--she implied that they tell us nothing that she didn't already know after a week in the classroom. She reserved judgement as to whether they might be useful after the 2nd test. I think the teachers are great and didn't want to waste conference time talking about a useless measurement.

What I'm wondering is if Advanced Learning will use MAP scores to determine academic level. If so, I will push to see the scores to see if it makes sense for me to bother to test my kid. (It's not clear to me why I have to do that anyway since APP people seem to think that their CogAp scores are stable over time--are they afraid that my kid has suffered brain damage since she last took the test in 2nd grade?! I could get a note from her doctor...!)

jp70 said...

I was told from a teacher at my child's elementary school that MAP scores will be given out at the conference, but no time will be taken up explaining the results due to how long it would take/wouldn't be enough time to discuss stuff taking place in the classroom/report card. Not sure if this is just with this teacher or all the teachers.

hschinske said...

I don't see why the MAP results would be harder to discuss than the DRA or the Gray Oral Reading Tests were. And I remember getting ITBS score reports back with a pile of information that the teacher never went over with us at all.

Helen Schinske

davyray said...

"Spectrum is a shell of what it used to be or should be"...can someone provide some historical context to explain what Spectrum "used to be", and what is now, and what it "should be".
new Spectrum parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Davyray, that's a hard question to answer given that Spectrum was allowed to develop in different ways in different schools. I have no idea how the district really knows what works but the program goes on because most parents in it, like it.

My kids were in Spectrum from around 1996-2005. They were both at Whittier. Whittier has self-contained classrooms, no pull-outs. I don't know for sure that all the kids were Spectrum-tested but given we always had a waitlist, I think so. I never really asked but I believe the Spectrum teachers asked for the job and had done some professional development for it (likely on their own at that time). I would say I thought acceleration was more the key than enrichment although there was some of that as well. The teachers seemed to "get" these kids and all of them seemed to want to help the kids achieve to their ability. I wouldn't say I saw a lot of innovation in their classes, just good solid teaching. There was a little anomasity between a few regular ed teachers and Spectrum teachers. Also, some tension between a few parents over Spectrum but it was a solid program that was well-attended and liked by parents in it.

I believe there are some elementaries that use some self-contained and some pull-out. It is hard to track if you don't attend the school and the info isn't usually in the Enrollment guides. You have ask on the tours, "How is Spectrum presented at your school?"

They were in middle school at Eckstein. The Spectrum model changes again at middle school and again, it's whatever the school wants to do. When my sons were there, it was only in LA and Social Studies. You tested into the math class (and this was open to all). Somehow science, even though a core subject, stops being part of Spectrum at middle school. Towards then end of my second son's middle school years, I learned that some schools only did LA and not Social Studies and there was no advanced math even if you tested high.

At the middle school level, I found teachers I thought were fantastic and some that were very difficult to communicate and work with. It was disappointing. I was not really aware if any of the middle school teachers had any professional training for teaching higher level students. Eckstein is a Coalition of Essential Schools subscriber (although much less so than Hale). Under this model, they technically don't believe in separating kids. I have no idea if this is an issue for teachers at Eckstein. I never heard a principal say they wanted to get rid of Spectrum at Eckstein because of their affiliation with CES.

I think the issue (and sorry, I've said this before) is that Spectrum has never had a real upper-level champion on the Board or in upper leadership. It really gets very little attention at all but now with Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson seemingly intent on changing every program, well, I think change might come.

But Spectrum, when it was in a strong school, has always been a popular program with parents. I don't think any ALO model could take its place but I think that may happen. Spectrum parents, as a large group, should start working now to protect their program.

Charlie Mas said...

Spectrum is supposed to be a self-contained program. That is what distinguishes Spectrum from any other effort to address the educational needs of academically gifted students.

This means that Spectrum classes are supposed to have only Spectrum-eligible students in them.

In a lot of cases that simply isn't practical. Most Spectrum schools don't have enough Spectrum-eligible students to fill the classes in the primary grades. In those cases, to keep the cost of the classroom reasonable, the school completes the class with high performing students from the general education population that the school staff believes are ready and able to succeed with the Spectrum curriculum.

The whole class is then taught the Spectrum curriculum.

That's how it is supposed to work, whether at elementary or middle school. The self-contained delivery model is what distinguishes Spectrum from an ALO. If it isn't built on the self-contained model, it isn't Spectrum.

The District, however, does not enforce the definition of Spectrum. In the absence of enforcement, schools have taken the liberty to offer whatever model pleases them and to call it Spectrum. There are a lot of inclusive models out there that are claiming to be Spectrum.

I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with the inclusive models. I'm not saying that the inclusive models don't work. I'm just saying that they are not Spectrum.

hschinske said...

"Whittier has self-contained classrooms, no pull-outs. I don't know for sure that all the kids were Spectrum-tested but given we always had a waitlist, I think so."

The kids at Whittier when we were there were definitely not all tested. The program had a waitlist because it was the only self-contained Spectrum program in the cluster (North Beach had a pull-out program). Whittier was popular anyway, and often had waitlists in kindergarten.

Helen Schinske

Moose said...

We had my kids' elementary conferences this past weekend. Instead of MAP results, we were given a handout defining what the test was about. No results are being given out at our school; I was told that the testing bureau gave results in median scores, but those scores were not correlated to WA state EALRs. So, according to the person with whom I was speaking, the results really don't mean anything unless they are correlated to state standards.

I cry bs on this for many reasons already listed -- SPS institutes a test and doesn't bother to understand if/how it will report out?! How is it that some schools (as reported on this blog) are giving out scores at conferences where others are not? Our school is acting as if they "own" these scores, which they do not. It just makes me cranky and adversarial when it does not need to be. I asked when I could expect to see some scores, and was not given any clear answer -- maybe when the second round of MAP is over and there is something to compare? Perhaps.

When I cited FERPA to the teacher, there was evident surprise that I would make a request in that way.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There is over $4M in the BTA III levy for "additional computer labs and test licenses to facilitate MAP assessment". Okay, the levy money is voted in by taxpayers (that would be all of us). Yes, we do have some ownership of MAP.

If not, don't let them test your kid. (There's yet another tool in our very small kit of things to get their attention but someday a mass refusal of MAP might be something to consider especially if you aren't going to get the score anyway.)

hschinske said...

Can't remember if I posted this before, but it seems relevant here:

The business about not being correlated with state standards is bogus. I can't think of a single non-WASL test that's been used district wide that *is* correlated with state standards. Me, I've occasionally gone outside the system on PURPOSE to have my kids take nationally-normed tests (such as the SAT in seventh grade). I'm supposed to care that the MAP doesn't match up to some GLEs or EALRs that I never could make head or tail of anyway?

Helen Schinske

Bird said...

If not, don't let them test your kid. (There's yet another tool in our very small kit of things to get their attention but someday a mass refusal of MAP might be something to consider especially if you aren't going to get the score anyway.)

I would think this might be a little tricky to accomplish.

The MAP is different from the WASL. It's not like you can just keep the kid home on the day the test is administered. They can administer the test anytime they like. I suppose you could ask that they not give your kid the test, but can you expect them to listen to you on that point, if they won't listen to you about giving out the scores?

Karrie said...

We had our P/T conference today for my 2nd grade daughter. Same story - we were handed the "MAP Seattle Public Schools Family Guide" pamphlet and told we would learn more about it after the January testing. I was taken aback that we didn't see scores so will follow-up with the teacher later as to why not.

The pamphlet does say that "MAP is aligned to WA state standards and is used in 131 districts across the state"

The pamphlet also gives details on how to interpret the results (RIT and Percentiles). At the bottom of the page, it says "continued on back" but the next page is empty....hmmm....

Since we only have on P/T conference a year, when the scores are released in Jan, I wonder how they will be shared? And if they aren't going to discuss them with us, why did they need coaches/training for all the teachers?

wv made me LOL - forkiers!!

Melissa Westbrook said...

You send in a note saying your child won't be taking the MAP well beforehand. They are likely to contact you and ask why. You tell them it says, on the district website, that the scores will be given at P/T conferences and that you don't understand how you can help your child if you don't know the score.

I'm sure they won't like it but do you like being misled about MAP? No.

They might try, "well, we don't have anything else for your child to do." Ask them to send your child to the library (which is what I did when my son wasn't taking the WASL).

If we don't hold them to their words, what will?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Or rather, who will?

Moose said...

Thank you for the link, Helen.

I am starting by crafting a letter to the school principal asking why the MAP scores are not being released. Does anyone know where on the SPS website it says that he information will be released at the P/T conferences? I've tried searching the website, to no avail. (I would like to include this information in my letter to the principal.)

If I don't get the information by asking nicely, then I am going to make a demand using the link that Helen posted. I also found a link online to a sample FERPA request:

WV: comedi

Melissa Westbrook said...

Moose, I am no good at links but the information about the MAP results being given to parents is in Dr. Enfield's report to the Board at the last board meeting.

Go to this address:

Click the link "November 18th Regular Board Meeting" at the top.

Under III. B. - CAO report is a link and that PowerPoint has a page which states that :

"100% of elementary & K-8 schools will share results with
families during parent-teacher conferences"

Moose said...

Thank you!!

adhoc said...

My oldest son said that when he took the MAP test (at the beginning of the year) when he was finished it gave him his score. He told me that the teacher told them to write down their scores and take them home to their parents. Of course my son forgot to write his down (argh teenage boys!!!), but at least there was (an unofficial) attempt to get the info/score home.

Fremont Mama said...

I had my daughter's kindergarten conference today and was given no MAP information. When I asked about it, her teacher told me that the results were meaningless because it didn't give accurate scores. The example she used was the ELL kids in the class. They scored higher on some vocab stuff when they don't even speak english. I didn't push it, but was pretty disappointed that I didn't get any information.

G said...

And how much is this MAP testing costing the district, between the test itself, coaching and computers? And MGJ sits on the board of this "useless" test? It's a big mess.

TechyMom said...

We were given the scores, but there was a lot of "this is the first year, these don't matter, we're trying out this new system," etc. along with some concern that the K kids weren't given enough direction on how to take the test, how to use the headphones, and that prior computer experience might be an unfair advantage. The teacher also said that the scores really didn't map to what she was seeing in class, and that she didn't trust them.

My guess is that results were similar in other schools, and some just didn't feel comfotable sharing results that seemed all over the place, and might upset parents.

Did anyone else get scores? What was the messaging that went with them? Did they seem valid? Did they match what your kid's teacher thought of his or her work?

Jeanne said...

At our conference yesterday for both our 1st and 3rd graders, we received their MAP scores. There was a little bit of discussion about the scores and the accompanying pamphlet (which gives you raw data and percentiles for national averages).

We were fine with the conversation and what we were told. Personally, I'm interested to see how/if my children improve over the course of the year. I didn't really ask the question, but I am interested to know whether teachers feel that they can use this as a tool in the classroom for differentiation

Mum o 2 said...

We had our conference yesterday. My son's Kindergarten teacher did not know what I was talking about when I asked for MAP scores or information on how the test was administered. She had her own evaluations done at the beginning of Sept and then this month.

ds said...

With regard to discontinuation of Spectrum, Eckstein is seriously considering eliminating self-contained Spectrum language arts and social studies beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. The following is from the PTA website (

Purpose: The purpose of the Full Inclusion Committee is to review research and data regarding full inclusion and to make a recommendation to Eckstein staff and families for the ‘10’11 school year. This movement would only affect Language Arts and Social Studies; Math would continue to offer Honors classes.

Attending: Kara Golgert, Liora Minkin, Kathy Sherman, Eric Miller, Ruthann Allan, Josh Hanson, Kim Whitworth, Miriam Hart, Stacey Norman, Jodi Gedansky, Terry Elrand

Summary of Meeting: At this meeting we read an article out of Education Leadership that outlined the rational to replace tracking with heterogeneous grouping in schools. This helped us identify benefits and challenges to this model.

High expectations for all students
Differentiated instruction that meets the needs of all students, including advanced learners
Our science and elective classes are already heterogeneously grouped
Acknowledgement that students come with multiple intelligences that are not identified in our current advanced placement testing
Students who didn’t get into Spectrum but are highly capable would be better served
This addresses working on 21st Century skills
Many of our students are already coming from a full inclusion model
This model moves us closer to fulfilling the Districts philosophy of social justice as well as Eckstein’s philosophy of inclusion for all

There would be more pressure for teachers to articulate how they are meeting the needs of all students
We would need to provide ongoing professional development for teachers in the areas of differentiation and rigor
We would need to ensure that the classes are balanced in terms of the program ratios
Parents will want to have their children in a pull out Spectrum model regardless of our assurances that we will meet the needs of students in a heterogeneous model

Next Steps:
Gather feedback from the full inclusion pilot we’re doing at Eckstein
Look at more research on heterogeneous grouping
Gather input from Language Arts and Social Studies teachers
Get information out to families via, PTSA meetings, website and listserv

November 9 – Share our work with PTSA in an open meeting
November 23 – Full Inclusion Committee meets to share information on benefits and challenges
December 14 – PTSA Parent Forum
Parent and Staff survey during this process

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I said Eckstein was a CES affiliate and it works for Hale so I guess Eckstein is going that way. This might need its own thread as this is rather big news.

Charlie Mas said...

If the District is going to stick to the definition of Spectrum as self-contained, and if they are going to require all middle schools to offer Spectrum, then this plan from the Eckstein Inclusion Committee is a non-starter.

If, however, the District is not going to stick to their definition of Spectrum, then Spectrum is dead.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! And if Spectrum is dead, then it will have died while Bob Vaughan and Susan Enfield were in charge. They both claim to support the program.

ds said...


A separate thread would be great. As far as I know, the only communication the school has sent about this was a brief invitation to "help bring full inclusion to Eckstein classrooms," buried among many other items in the weekly email bulletin. I don't think this innocuous-sounding headline would pop out to parents as much as, "Spectrum at Eckstein may end next year." I don't know if the word has gotten out to NE area elementary schools, but it seems like those families should also know that this discussion is taking place.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DS, I have been doing some research and this is all very interesting. I haven't finished but one piece of info: Bob Vaughn, head of Advanced Learning, does not know anything about it (and Eckstein is piloting an "inclusion" program). How they managed to do this without telling him is a mystery. Unless, of course, he was left out of the loop and Dr. Enfield does know.

More on this on a separate thread.

hschinske said...

Well, there goes Bob Vaughan's Turkey Day. Get the popcorn out -- this is going to be quite a show.

Helen Schinske

dj said...
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dj said...

We received my daughter's MAP scores today at our parent/teacher conference. They did not seem complicated to explain and tracked what the teacher thought she was doing in class and what we would expect her to score on such a test.

Her teacher didn't have any "don't trust these scores" type language and seemed comfortable with the test.

adhoc said...

If Eckstein does away with Spectrum, and Hale continues not to offer any honors classes (and only offers a handful of AP courses), then the North part of the Northeast cluster will have very very little to offer advanced learners.

Rose M said...

I understand that Eckstein is planning to keep offering Algebra 2.

ArchStanton said...
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ArchStanton said...
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ArchStanton said...

I posted these to the APP blog, but thought y'all might be able to use 'em:

Overall NWEA/MAP "reports" link:

2008 Normative data:

Reading material corresponding to Lexile score:

From an Illinois school, examples of material corresponding to MAP scores (links on the right):

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

Rose, I guess Eckstein is cutting back in the math dept too then, because they have always offered math up to INT3 (11th grade math), which is now called Algebra 2.

Eckstein is one of the top performing, highest sought after, middle schools in the entire district. Surely that has something to do with it's strong Spectrum program, higher level math classes, and full array of honors math classes. What will happen to the school if it cuts back its math offerings and does away with Spectrum?

I'm sure this is part of MGJ's big picture of making all schools the same. I think the new jingle should be "Excellence for all average learners"

methyl said...


I heard something disturbing from another parent, and while I haven't verified it yet with my school, from reading the comments to this post, it seems plausible. It went something like this:

'Last year, there weren't enough students who qualified for Spectrum, so there wasn't any Spectrum class.'

My biggest concern is that, if for any given grade level there is no Spectrum class, would there never be Spectrum for that cohort of children for their ENTIRE career at that school? Administrators may argue that new students can test in each year, but my guess is that if a student doesn't meet the criteria in one year, the parent will not encourage the student to try again the next.

If they don't provide Spectrum for my kid at his assigned school, what are my real options? Busing an hour and a half to Lowell? Getting him into another neighborhood school?

My next question is: How does the school system determine how many Spectrum/APP seats to provide? Just the top 5%/2% of the school population?

How does the school system determine how many students are eligible to attend Lowell but do not, possibly because of the lengthy bus system?

I've been trying to calculate the percentage of all elementary school children who attend APP at Lowell to see if 5% of the population attends. By definition, APP is those in the top 95%. (ref1)

However, I can only get K statistics, which might be skewed because APP isn't offered until 1st grade. If we compare the number of actually enrolled APP students at Lowell (62 in 2009) with the total elementary enrollment (3887 in K in 2009) you only get 1.5% (ref2)

Something to think about; I know my statistics aren't complete - didn't include all Spectrum attendance, etc.

(2) ]

Rose M said...

Ad Hoc,

I do not understand how continuing to offer Algebra 2 classes is cutting back on math. Can you explain?

hschinske said...

Rose M, Adhoc meant that they're now NOT offering a third year of high school level math (which used to be Integrated 3 and is now Algebra 2) any longer. It used to be that Washington Middle School and Eckstein were the only two schools where third-year high school math was (most years) available to advanced students. Right now NO middle school in SPS offers math at three years ahead, even though just last spring we were promised that Hamilton and WMS would both have it.

Methyl, the percentile results required for APP and Spectrum are on *nationally*-normed tests, not local norms. (That is, except for the faked-up percentiles on the WASL, which isn't normed at all -- the district being therefore out of compliance with state law.)

Also, APP students must be in the top *two* percent nationally (not five) on the CogAT or individual IQ test.

Helen Schinske

Rose M said...

Yes, there is an algebra 2 class at Eckstein. The principal also said that she is committed to offering math at what ever level kids need it, even calculus.

Why do you say there is not an Alg 2 class?

Charlie Mas said...

The end of the third year high school math in middle school is at Washington and Hamilton. I can't speak for Eckstein. It is a more serious concern because the loss of the opportunity is a direct result of the APP split and because the District specifically promised the community that this would not happen. Yet they reneged on that promise and it is happening. So it is not only a loss for the students, but a particularly galling one because they are blithely violating their promise to do it.

Again and again I tell people not to believe any promises from the District, but again and again people want to believe them.

WASL Boycott is the only reasonable response.

The APP Advisory Committee should re-purpose itself as an advocacy committee because it isn't giving anyone any advice and no one is taking it anyway.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

Rose, the Eckstein principal said that Algebra 2 would not be offered after this year.

She said that as of next year Eckstein will offer 6, 7 and 8th grade math, along with Algebra 1 (9th grade math), and Geometry (10th grade math). But they will no longer offer Algebra 2 (11th grade math). Rose, if you are a parent at Eckstein would you mind checking with the math dept or principal and verifying this? And then post what you find out?

As for Spectrum... Eckstein gets a long Spectrum waitlist for 6th grade every year. Spectrum is so full that some kids never do clear the Spectrum WL all three years they are at the school. Why would Eckstein do away with such a succesful, sought after program?

Shouldn't we be moving forward and adding to, and strengthening, our offerings, instead of cutting back?

You have to ask yourself why? Why are we cutting back? dWhy did Washington and Eckstein, the only two schools that offered ALG2 cut it out next year? Why is Hamilton not offering it as promised? I can't help thinking these are some of the districts first moves toward cookie cutter, standardized schools.

With standardization some schools will increase and strengthen their offerings, and that's a good thing. But other schools like Eckstein and Washington, that were already offering above and beyond the "standard" offerings will have to regress and cut back their offerings in an effort to make all things equal.

Is this excellence for all?

Rose M said...

Eckstein is currently starting a long term planning exercise. They also had a new advanced math teacher start recently. I don't think things are set in stone for next year at this point.

Perhaps the advanced learning office will require eckstein to offer spectrum math, limited to only one year ahead and all spectrum kids are automatically placed in those classes and no one else can qualify. It seems to be what many parents want.

A few years ago the eckstein principal & math chair told parents that kids would not be allowed to join classes more than one year advanced. They were told of this change after open registration. That is the spectrum model & was all that would be offered. Yet some of those kids did end up taking math 3 years ahead in that dept.

I am not sure I would depend on a certain configuration of classes being stable for the next 3 years, no matter what you are told.

Charlie Mas said...

The Spectrum model does not set a ceiling at one grade level advanced. It sets a floor there.

adhoc said...

"A few years ago the eckstein principal & math chair told parents that kids would not be allowed to join classes more than one year advanced."

I remember when the principal announced this and many parents were angry. There was a lot of push back. I don't think it ever happened, but it has become much harder for kids to get into advanced classes. Why any school would want to limit kids rising as high as they can is just beyond me? It's astonishing.

I hear there have also been a lot of problems with the new district wide 5th grade math placement tests. We know many Eckstein families whose kids were placed in much lower level math classes than they should have been, and the school says placements were made based on the results of the 5th grade testing. Last year was the first year of 5th grade math placement testing (boy, last year was the year of firsts wasn't it) and hopefully some of these issues will be ironed out this year.

Rose, as for Spectrum, Eckstein has NEVER offered Spectrum for math or science. They have only offered it for LA and SS. Where did you hear that there may be a Spectrum model used for math at Eckstein? Or was that just conjecture on your part?

Rose M said...

Perhaps spectrum is a model that offers advanced learning at whatever grade level a particular child needs, starting with one year ahead. That has not been my experience. My child has not seen any differentiation in any spectrum classes. I can not say whether that is different in other schools.

I am sorry, Ad Hoc, that I was unclear. I have not seen a 'spectrum model' math or science program at Eckstein. The math dept. chair there a few years ago said that they intended to offer only "spectrum math, one year advanced". He said that kids who needed "APP math, 2 years advanced" should go to Washington. That is the only explanation of 'spectrum math' I have ever heard.

I have been getting emails from other parents talking about demanding a spectrum program that is more like what they had in elementary school. Those classes used math texts one year ahead. Which corresponds with the explanation I have previously heard of spectrum math. So I yes, I am presuming that is what they mean when they say spectrum.

ds said...

I spoke with Eckstein's principal today, and, although she is supportive of implementing a full inclusion model at Eckstein, MGJ has been very clear about Spectrum being offered at all middle schools. So, at least for the near future, self-contained Spectrum will continue at Eckstein. Families with kids in Spectrum may opt in to a full inclusion/blended classroom if they would like.

She apologized for the misleading information on the website.

methyl said...

More math:

Considering the upcoming Spectrum test for my kid, I did some more figuring. If the top 5% of students are assigned to Spectrum and the top 2% are allowed to go to Lowell, then of the 58 kids assigned to Kindergarten at Broadview-Thompson in 2009, only 1.16 of them are eligible for Lowell, and 2.9 of them are eligible for Spectrum.

How does a school determine the makeup of a Spectrum class? If a class is about 25 kids, would they pull the next top 22 kids together to form the class?

Referring to my previous post, I noted that another parent said that they "didn't have enough kids to make up a Spectrum class" last year. There were 80 students assigned to B.T. last year (wow, 22 more students?), from which we can estimate a whopping 4 kids eligible for Spectrum.

What gives?

methyl said...

Ahh, followup information from the APP website [1]:

You have to perform at or above 98th percentile of the Cognitive Assessment and at or above 95th percentile of the Achievement threshold to be eligible for Lowell. For Spectrum, you only have to be in the top 10% of your class.

Still searching for the results of the assessments to determine the actual distribution of students ... but it does appear that only 5.8 kids would be in the 90th percentile of test takers?


Dorothy said...

"You have to perform at or above 98th percentile of the Cognitive Assessment and at or above 95th percentile of the Achievement threshold to be eligible for Lowell. For Spectrum, you only have to be in the top 10% of your class."

Remember these are national norms. Has nothing to do with being in the top x% of your particular class. Has nothing to do with how the other Seattle test takers did.

Out of my son's preschool class of 16, five ended up in APP and I strongly suspect two more would have, but they went private.

methyl said...

Any idea how we find actual enrollment by grade and school, and identify how many are APP or spectrum qualified students?