Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advanced Learning

This thread is for any and all thoughts, concerns, gripes about Advanced Learning. 

I'm doing this in hopes that people at both ends of the "spectrum" will QUIT highjacking other threads with their opinions/gripes about Advanced Learning. 

And FYI, Advanced Learning is NOT the major issue in our capacity management problems.  You are welcome to ask anyone at district headquarters working on capacity management that question. 

(I will also ask that unless you have definite proof - an e-mail from Bob Vaughan or  other district official saying that most of the kids in APP got there through private testing, then ONLY state that as your opinion.  That claim is often made here and yet, where's the proof?  If you don't have it, then don't say it. )

I am not personally interested in the discussion over whether some people don't like that some kids are in separate classrooms/schools.  

It's not that I don't believe you are entitled to your opinion/beliefs.  You are.

What I don't like is the attitude that everyone should be in one classroom....because everyone should be in one classroom.  Life is full of sorting and we all know that.  

I always find it interesting that we celebrate achievements in sports and arts and accept that some children - either with abilities they were born with and/or trained for - really do well.  But the minute you say a child has academic abilities beyond the average, well, you are elitist and treating your kid like a hothouse flower. 

Of course, all children have something to learn from other children.   But that's not really the point of school.  The point is to help every child learn to the best of his or her abilities.   

What it comes down to is what we all want - our child's academic needs met.  Not anyone getting "more" than anyone else but also not the attitude that because a child can do well easily with academics that  "they'll be okay" so why should we worry about them?  Everyone wants their child to get the most push and rigor and enrichment to excel.  And everyone has the right to want and expect it. 

Note I haven't said "treat" anyone differently.  Teachers shouldn't.  They should teach differently depending on the student.  They should be given training and resources and support to differentiate their teaching and curriculum.

However, until that day comes where our district has a coherent Advanced Learning program that has rigor/enrichment that is accessible to EVERY child who wants it and teachers have that training/support to give that rigor/enrichment in EVERY classroom, then we need a separate program.  

Swing away. 

169 comments:

Anonymous said...

Exceptional children should be in the least restrictive environment.
Only in rare cases should any exceptional child need to be removed from general education peers in a self-contained program for the entire school day in a separate location.

Truly exceptional children of all levels need an IEP and a range of services to meet their individual needs. Truly gifted children are exceptional and should be given services that follow a special education model.

This program has become a Frankenstein of its original intent. As Dorothy Neville and others have presented with evidence (and I have witnessed first hand), there are students in this program who are not gifted. Plenty of ways exist for entrance into APP for the savvy parents who have found the loopholes. Parents who have truly gifted children and are unaware of the loopholes should not be offended by this fact, which does not apply to you. These smart but not gifted students are, however, lowering the academic program your child needs and deserves because they are watering down the rigor.

The demographics of APP demonstrate that there is a serious problem with identifying giftedness in this district, unless you adhere to a eugenics model.

That Mr. Banda is restoring an equity component to SSD is very encouraging. An overhaul of this program is way overdue. Retesting students every two or three years for continued eligibility, in a fair and unbiased manner, would be an excellent way to begin. Truly gifted children and their parents would have nothing to fear.

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough already, I would agree with some of what you say (but I don't like the eugenics comment).

Again, whether you call it "loopholes" or not, you are claiming that there is a way into APP to beat the testing. Prove it.

I do believe that APP should be the top 1% and that yes, there are exceptional gifted students and no, Spectrum is not that and APP isn't always either.

But I note that NO APP students are in a "separate location". They are in different classrooms but in the same building with other pupils who, yes, they interact with. (Lincoln students were forced to be separate, not their choice so I don't count them.)

I wouldn't have a problem with testing in at elementary and then middle and then high school. It is too expensive to do it every two years.

Charlie Mas said...

Seattle Public Schools has no Vision for Advanced Learning. They cannot say why we have it or what it is supposed to achieve.

Getting that stuff clear really should be the first step.

We cannot begin to discuss HOW to serve these students until we first decide that we actually want to serve these students.

Charlie Mas said...

Why do we see a disproportionate representation of groups in APP?

There has been no real analysis done, so there's a lot of conjecture. I do recall, however, a previous program manager telling the Board that even if every Black student who scored a 4 on the WASL were admitted, Black students would still be under-represented. If that were true, then it would be a pretty grim statistic.

There have been a series of efforts to tweak the eligibility criteria. There was the addition of the introduction to the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test. There was a change in Spectrum eligibility so it was cognitive ability only (without an academic achievement requirement) in the primary grades. There was the decision one year to test every first grade student. There was the decision to locate part of the elementary program at Thurgood Marshall. All of these were intended as efforts to boost minority enrollment. None of them have worked.

The District has a long-standing practice of specifically inviting students high strong test scores to apply.

What other ideas do people have?

Charlie Mas said...

enough already writes that "Truly gifted children and their parents would have nothing to fear" from a plan to re-test students.

Of course not, because those tests are never wrong and never show false negatives.

CT said...

Truly gifted students don't always test well. High achieving students - who are not necessarily gifted students - will frequently test better than gifted students. The testing itself is often biased towards kids who are more verbally apt, and the choice of tests usually excludes many minority groups from success.

http://westdalemiddle.ebrschools.org/eduWEB1/1000047/laylamilton/docs/minority_students_in_gt.pdf

Anonymous said...

I do recall, however, a previous program manager telling the Board that even if every Black student who scored a 4 on the WASL were admitted, Black students would still be under-represented. If that were true, then it would be a pretty grim statistic.


That is absurd. And, it's easy enough to figure out. Let's just take any grade level. 7, for example. Looking at SPS report cards, we see 124 black students got 4's on the 7th grade reading MSP. If ALL of them were in APP, that would certainly be MORE than proportionate. That is, a minimum of 20% of black students in 7th grade scored at least a 4 on something and that would represent more than proportionate participation of black students in APP, where the district average is something like 5% overall.

Sounds like the previous program manager needed a little math assistance, or perhaps wasn't interested in the topic.

-reader

Jan said...

Besides the issues with tests that Charlie notes (and they are real -- I had a child who tested at the 97th percentile of the COGAT one year -- and the 28th percentile two years later (during which time the kids' achievement test results rose and were consistently above the 99th percentile.) The educational testing professionals told me that could not have been a valid test score (short of something like his falling on his head -- but then the achievement tests would have made no sense). Anyway, apart from my anecdotal experience, which validates Charlie's point -- I have yet to understand what testing would add. Kids who are gifted may not test as highly as they should for various reasons (vision problems, learning disabilities, ADD, undiagnosed chronic pain conditions that distract them, etc.). But I am not aware of any research suggesting that kids who test extremely highly are somehow "false positives," that they are not actually gifted, or that high intelligence "goes away" over time. What CAN, of course, "go away" (or more accurately, fail to keep pace with the rest of a cohort) is academic achievement. To me, though, this presents a dilemma and a number of interesting questions.

First -- to the extent that giftedness means that kids learn "differently," not just "faster," placing an underperforming "gifted" child in a regular classroom may be no more successful (and maybe more harmful) than leaving them in APP. APP is not a "reward;" it is (or should be) an educational placement based on a match between educational need and teaching method/content/pedagogy/etc. If my child is in a regular class, and for whatever reason (disconnect with teacher or curriculum, depression, migraines, undiagnosed ADD, etc.) fails to keep up, he is not automatically "demoted" to a self contained SPED class -- because in 99 of 100 cases, that would not be an appropriate shift. Why, then, do we suggest this for struggling but gifted kids -- again assuming APP placement is not a "reward" for good grades that should be removed (like extra recess, or a class party) if you no longer earn them?

Second -- where do you now send them, if they have been working 2 years ahead. What educational wisdom is there in sending an APP 5th grader (who presumably covered 5th grade back when he was in 3rd grade) back to a regular 5th grade class?

Finally, I haven't read as much in this field lately as I did a decade or so ago, when I had an APP kid, but I don't know of any experts in the field who recommend periodic testing to see if gifted kids are still gifted. On the other hand, I DO know of a small handful of cases where teachers (usually after a year or two, or more, of working with kids) have suggested different placements to parents. Generally, these have involved "borderline" kids -- on the lower end of the APP scale -- who are also battling other issues (anxiety, perfectionism, social issues, etc.) and it was genuinely believed that a different pedagogy, or a less challenging pace, might alleviate concerns.

Anonymous said...

Of course this is anecdotal, based on conversations with families at my child's prior school, but there were kindergarten families who prepped their kids for the tests into APP. Many parents feel the pressure to get their child into the program for first grade, since at that point the tests are easier and space is still available. There are businesses that prep kids for IQ and achievement tests and advertise their success rate for getting kids into gifted programs. There are also books and practice tests online. Obviously a K who has been prepped for ways to solve problems they see on a test removes the novelty factor, but IQ tests are constructed in a way to test how a child solves novel problems (situations they supposedly have never seen before).

I can't fault the parents for pushing there kids into these programs, for tbe ultimate goal is to compete with other kids for choice college seats. Most well educated parents fear the general education classes in Seattle because they contain disruptive kids with lower academic
ambition. Choosing Spectrum or APP also guarantees that your child will be surrounded with high achieving kids who have motivated parents. This is not just a Seattle thing, where we have a statistically improbable number of gifted kids. It is happening in NYC and many other urban areas filled with highly educated parents.

sps parent

Jan said...

Cont'd
It seems to me that kids fall into these general tiers:
1. Gifted kids who clearly and obviously are properly placed. Why are we wasting time (theirs) and money (ours) periodically retesting these kids? (Also, when one of them ends up with a fluky bad test result, everyone -- everyone -- will still have no doubt whatsoever that they are gifted and properly placed -- so what then? Doing well on the test doesn't make you gifted. It is evidence of giftedness used in placement. When kids are obviously well placed and doing well, what is the point of a retest?

2. Gifted kids who, for whatever reason, are struggling with grades/turning in homework/etc. But -- they are still gifted. I contend that just as "regular" classes have kids who get discouraged or depressed, have family issues that distract them, need to learn organizational skills, struggle with perfectionism, etc. -- that is no reason to deny these kids access to the educational opportunity that best matches their brains (and that doesn't have them "redoing" work they did two years ago). I do agree that they need to have their issues addressed -- but teachers have these issues in regular classrooms all the time. Why are APP classes exempt?

3. Kids who are just struggling and may not be well placed. How many of these are there, really -- and why isn't teacher identification and teacher/parent discussion the appropriate way to deal with these circumstances? Or if, for these kids, there is some reasonable basis in the research on intelligence to think they have lost IQ, why don't you just retest THEM?

It seems to me that mass retesting is useless, expensive, a waste of time, and potentially harmful, unless (and I have never heard this) the entire APP testing/identification model has been tinkered with to the point where it is now so broken that the unqualified comprise a majority of the kids in the program. If that is the case, then I think we need to redo the entrance criteria and get it right -- and then re-screen everybody ONCE under the "fixed" system.

Jan said...

sps parent: Very interesting. Do you have any sense of the magnitude of the problem? (1 or 2 out of 100, versus 15 or 20 or 25 out of a hundred?) Also -- if this is happening on a significant scale, and kids wind up in the program who shouldn't be there -- what is your solution? If retesting is done, wouldn't these parent just "prep" their kids for each test? Would you go to more in the way of teacher recommendations (either to qualify or to stay in?)

Public Education said...

The opposition to advanced learning just seems bizarre to me. As far as I can tell, it is raging against the wrong problem, people confused and lashing out at others who happen to be nearby.

Killing alternative schools and programs won't do anything to improve funding or test scores in Seattle Public Schools. Much more likely is that it would make funding and test scores much worse.

It's not a fixed pot of money. If you kick people out of public schools, the money shrinks and support drops. If you attract people to public schools, the money grows and we all benefit.

Rather than fighting with others who are in our public schools, we should be fighting together to get public schools more funding and get more families engaged in public education. This crazy fighting over scraps has to end.

Anonymous said...

APP is no golden ticket. Kids are counseled out every year. Why is this never acknowledged? Because it destroys the "working the system" and "golden ticket" myths?

Teachers aren't sadists. They don't want to permanently damage kids by force-feeding them work they can't handle. And no good parent wants their child to suffer in a class they can't handle. There are exceptions, I'm sure, but this reality should be self-evident. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Jan, try this: http://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/dlohman/pdf/Practical%20Advice.pdf

What I found interesting is the author said this about cognitive abilities:

"The Cognitive Abilities Test measures developed abilities, not innate abilities. The
development of these abilities begins at birth and continues through early adulthood.
It is influenced by both in-school and out-of-school experiences."

He also discusses importance of not using the test result alone as the predictor of success, but combination of cognitive and CURRENT academic achievement (so maybe that's the 1st step to see if a re-evaluation is needed if a teacher, parent, or the student his/herself identify academic problems).

The other thing about brain research is new finding about developing teenage brain and how it affects their perfomance (and not just the academic, but social and emotional). You probably know all of this already.

The only thing I will add that by middle school, open up advanced coursework to those who can by ability do the work and keep up. Don't keep kids out because they don't have AL designation.

another reader

Anonymous said...

@SPS parent said: "Most well educated parents fear the general education classes in Seattle because they contain disruptive kids with lower academic ambition."

As an APP parent, if I ever made a statement like that, I'd be crucified in a New York minute.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"The Cognitive Abilities Test measures developed abilities, not innate abilities."

@another parent: Now there's a statement I totally agree with, and why I dislike the "gifted" or "highly capable" labels. We should add "now" or "at this time" to each, to be fair and accurate. WSDWG

ArchStanton said...

Oh how I hate these threads and how glad I am not to be playing "Who Can We Throw Under the Bus?" or "Dude, Where's My School this Year?"

@ sps parent:
Of course this is anecdotal - It's always anecdotal. I've never heard anyone tell me or post here that they paid a business to test prep their kindergartener for entrance to APP. Clearly there is an underground business opportunity that I am missing out on.

pressure to get their child into the program for first grade, since [...] and space is still available. - space is always available for eligible students in the APP program (though there may not be space to put the program itself)

I can't fault the parents for pushing there kids into these programs, for tbe ultimate goal is to compete with other kids for choice college seats. - BS; the ultimate goal for most of these parents is to find an appropriate education that doesn't bore their kids to tears with repetitive busy work beneath their ability before they give up on school altogether.

Choosing APP doesn't guarantee anything, but most parents hope that their kids will find like-minded peers and not always be the odd bird, that maybe the curriculum will be a little more engaging even if it's only two years ahead, and that maybe the teachers and staff will have some small amount of interest and experience with gifted learners. No guarantees, though.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from Wedgewood and Lawton parents how the clustered Spectrum programs are going. I know some left for APP, and there's lots of heated rhetoric about which model is best, but are there any facts or evidence, either way? WSDWG

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The testing period for private school admission.

-more said

hschinske said...

My kids were ALREADY IN a white-bread neighborhood school with few discipline problems and high test scores. If that's what I'd wanted APP for, there'd have been no need to go to any trouble at all. (Lowell was in fact way more diverse than Whittier, though admittedly that wasn't hard.)

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Archstanton, I agree with your comments.

There are online test prep materials. Check out testingmom.com and criticalthinking.com. An example of a cogat prep company is brightkidsnyc.com, and there are countless businesses serving the NYC area. In Seattle, we have Brainchild. I know there are others when I considered this for my K a few years ago (I ultimately did not take this route, but felt a lot of pressure from other K parents and felt like choosing to not prep would put my kid behind).

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Enough said -

Are you offering the fact that a parent shared the name of an educational psychologist as proof that people are buying their way in? The district offers group testing. Plenty of little kids clam up in a group of strangers and benefit from a one-on-one test. When my kid was tested she reported that there was a boy there who was completely disruptive and loud, blurting answers and that the AL tester refused to repeat the questions. My kid was completely demoralized. So how is that a valid test situation?

not enough

TraceyS said...

I can speak a little to the third grade Spectrum program at Wedgwood, since my daughter is in the class. After the cluster mess last year, one quarter of her class left the program and/or the school, with most going to APP (and contributing to the overcrowding there). We chose to stay at Wedgwood because she had just transferred in that year. We did not want our daughter going to a third school in four years, and into one that had no permanent home at the time to boot.

Right now the third grade class remains together - no "clustering", and several new students were added to the class this year. It is going well for my daughter, she is being challenged academically, and most importantly for us, she does not feel ostracized because of her interests. I am less connected this year to the other families, due to a new job that I started in August.

We have absolutely no idea how next year will look, nor do we have much of an idea as to where she should go as she gets older. There still seems to be some division and a whole lot of reluctance to talk openly about the Spectrum program at the school. We live silently and day-to-day within the program, and no one engages parents, no one sends notices or handouts about future directions, no one talks between grades or even between classrooms. It remains the giant elephant in the room.

Though I think my daughter would be better served in APP if we had started her there, she also needs stability, as do most elementary-aged children. At this point, we value that more than optimizing her learning environment. We did briefly consider a move to Jane Addams for her and her entering-middle-school sister, on the theory that she could be there through 8th grade, but ruled it out for both due to instabilities at that school.

I do not have any confidence that a district-wide, comprehensive, advanced learning program will ever be developed in Seattle during her academic lifetime. The Advanced Learning Taskforce that was put together last year was highly constrained in its duties, then its limited results were completely ignored by administration, which telegraphed very clearly what they think of AL. The only group that seems to be (barely) holding the line to obtain the bare minimum needed for this population of students are the APP families.

We have strongly considered moving out of the district, so our children can have a sense of stability and at least a reasonable academic fit. Family and job constraints make it impossible for me to advocate heavily for a stable program, though I keep up on the news. Right now we are a "mixed" family - both public and private - and we would vastly, vastly prefer to be a Seattle public-school-only one. Who knows what we'll end up doing. I have all my fingers and toes and arms and legs and everything else crossed that some semblance of stability will emerge soon (I know, I know..), and that a clear-cut and strong AL program will rise from the ashes. No breath is being held on my part.

In the meantime, we just evaluate the situation, and our kids' needs, pretty much on a quarterly basis, and take it day by day. And supplement like crazy.

Anonymous said...

You can also repeat tests if you private test. The IQ tests aren't valid if not separated by 6 monhths. But if you go private, nobody will know that your kid has taken it a few times. People definitely do this. If the district simply disallowed these private tests, the whole question would be moot. There's no reason to believe the private testing would be more accurate than the district's.

-More Said

Anonymous said...

Shoreline banned private test appeals due to the belief it was unfair.
http://www.seattleschild.com/article/the-testing-advantage
how many get in APP with private appeals testing? im looking

cc

hschinske said...

*sigh* Yeah, you're right, no reason a multiple-choice fill-in-the-bubble test, given in a group environment, with the questions read out loud, shouldn't be just as good a way to test a kindergartner as an actual IQ test given one-on-one by someone with a minimum of a PhD in the field. No reason at all.

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

Helen Schinske

Free the Zoo elephants said...

1. SPS wants more underrepresented groups in APP

2. to do this they have made it easier to get in and they offer free appeals testing to FRL kids

3. people pay for appeals because rightly or not APP is thought to be better.

4. Regular northend schools are starting to offer APP level work or even higher level in the case of 6th grade Algebra 1 for qualified kids

5 Parents of kids who dont need a special environment are getting a worse education at APP now than some neighborhood schools

6 parents should just relax and put their kids back in local schools and let their kids enjoy life,if that school offers advanced classes, unless they really are special needs gifted.

7 want to know about Lawton, Wedgwood, Viewridge, etc.? read their sites and BLT minutes. Changes are happening, good changes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I can't fault the parents for pushing there kids into these programs, for tbe ultimate goal is to compete with other kids for choice college seats."

I'm with whoever else said BS.

First, you have no way of knowing why parents have their kids in this program.

Second, being in APP is no guarantee anyone will get into any college. Again, where's your proof?

TraceyS said...

Free the Zoo Elephants,

As far as I can tell, there are no BLT meeting notes posted anywhere for Wedgwood, no references or documents to the Spectrum program on the new website, and no all-school public meetings at all since June of 2011 (though there were a few offsite coffee meetings last winter/early spring). Spectrum is not publicly spoken about or discussed at all there.

As far as "relaxing" and letting kids "enjoy life", you have no idea what you are talking about. We moved our child into the program because she was not relaxed around her peers, and it caused her a great deal of stress. As problematic as we have found the Spectrum program to be at times, it has accomplished the primary goal for our family of giving her a small community of kids where she feels she fits in.

Meg said...

- to paraphrase Jan, there are kids who aren't succeeding academically in APP who belong in APP. Being highly capable is different than being highly motivated. Academic failure is not a sign that a student is "smart but not gifted" and watering down the program. Is APP for gifted students or motivated students? It's not necessarily an either/or proposition, but I admit to being a little weary at hearing the canard that a kid "doesn't belong" because he/she is failing.

- I'll second what Helen said. My kids were already at a very white school with high test scores and few behavioral problems. I moved them to APP not to be challenged, but so that they would actually learn at school. Choice college seats? [snort] Whatever, dude. Again: learning AT school.

- Prepping to enter a public first grade? Hee. Really? I knew someone who called preschools to ask them which high schools and colleges their "graduates" attended. Which was INSANE. Rather than assume that ALL parents who worried about preschool selection were that nuts, I assumed that this particular parent was rather high strung. So while it's kind of hilarious and sad to hear about fretting over prepping a 5-year-old for an exam of any variety, in practice: nonsense. I feel like I can say without any research that this is not a widespread practice in Seattle. Nor are appeals a huge contributor to the overall APP population (that bit came from a chat with one of the AL administrators).

- WSDWG is right; APP is not a golden ticket. APP doesn't work for all qualified kids - like every other public school program, it has flaws and is not a happy fit for every eligible student.

Anonymous said...

Our college student went to Lowell for APP. It was a GREAT environment and from day one our child 'fit in with peers'. We left a much-loved elementary school because even the Principal suggested it, as they were doing all that they could to serve our child....one who could barely read at the end of K, who within 6 months was reading chapter books, writing better than the 3rd graders that she worked with, and reading to the Special Education students. She would come home crying because she wanted to be "with her friends" and not miss Art. When she found Lowell, she found her peer group and settled in. We will forever be grateful for Hal Kimball and all of the teachers at Lowell. They worked with the kids to teach them how to work in teams, how to slow down, how to plan their time/homework better, how to stop and play and have fun, AND the kids had special friends in the Special Education classrooms.

Some of the kids by Middle School, probably were no longer 'way ahead'. Perhaps they had leveled out in Math and or Reading skills. I also would not like to see cohorts of friends disrupted by kids being tested out. It seems to me this should be between the parent/teacher/principal and what is best for the Students health and well-being.

Our second child scored 99% one year with the APP testing and 45% the next. So much for testing though the District!
Just as capable/creative, but more outside the box thinking that doesn't get measured appropriately.

The struggle to keep APP classes for those for who they are needed boggles my mind. This is not a matter of taking anything away from anyone else. I remember that year that all the K's were tested; more white boys qualified as a result! Surprise, surprise. These kids working way ahead have a chance amongst their peers to feel as if they 'fit' in finally. That in and of itself is priceless. I will be forever grateful.

Year and a half to go.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I wasn't referring to all parents who place their kids in advanced learning classrooms. I was specifically discussing those parents who prep their kids for the IQ and standardized tests. What do you mean by proof? I knew of several families who did this at our school via direct conversation. Test prep is a booming business in NYC, as has been reported in the mainstream media. There are numerous businesses that offer test prep there, just do a quick Internet search. I cited a few online links that people in Seattle can use to order prep materials (and the families I knew ordered through the Internet and started using Singapore math books prior to K). I also cited a local business, Brainchild, that helps
early learners prepare for testing. These resources are available to families, and many are using them.

Obviously there are truly gifted kids, but many families in Seattle seem to think they all live here. The truly gifted kids stand out regardless of all the testing nonsense, but it is possible to prepare a K aged kid to get into Spectrum or APP.

SPS parent

monkeypuzzled said...

>>There's no reason to believe the private testing would be more accurate than the district's.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that private testing is more accurate than the district's. The COGAT is notoriously unreliable for 2E kids. We were alerted to my kid's disability precisely because of the huge disparity between her (99th%ile) MAP scores and her low-average COGAT. Subsequent private testing revealed a 40 point differential between her verbal and perceptual IQ. She is gifted--anyone who engages her knows it instantly--but the COGAT is not set up for a kid with slow processing speed . Still not sure whether we'll go with APP or not but let's not tar "private testing" with such a broad brush.
--monkeypuzzled

Public Education said...

I still think this argument is less about APP and more about whether the middle class and wealthy should be in public schools.

If you read the arguments the haters are offering, it has nothing to do with APP. They just assume APP is wealthy (it isn't) and that it gets more funding (it doesn't) and that it isn't diverse (diversity is the same as the City of Seattle).

The rage is not about APP. It is about money, class, and race, and APP is a scapegoat.

You aren't going to convince these people. They are angry at the wrong thing and their solutions are terrible. They aren't looking to improve Seattle's public schools. They're looking to kick people out of them.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, Public Education. Debate is about APP. But there are definitely people with strong opinions who like to use sweeping hyperbole in this debate on both sides to get the blood boiling.

I will say northend APP is a very vocal bunch in this blog. So this topic does tend to dominate and may annoy others who find issues that affect larger number of kids rarely get the same passion. But blogs are driven by participants and those who participate drive the topics. So if ELL students and their struggles (whose population more than double APP) don't get much blog time, it may appear to some there's a certain lack of awareness/ concern beyond APP--as can be seen by the thread on short term capacity.

-just saying



Anonymous said...

Public Education, your statement is as judgmental as I've seen from any "APP hater." There are practical reasons why parents want their kids in, that have nothing to do with giftedness or appropriate placement. APP kids get guaranteed transportation, smaller class sizes, incredible enrichment, excellent music programs, access to Washington MS then Garfield. Compare that to the default assignment for most kids in the south end! It's not "rage" these parents are rational and simply trying to improve their children's education same as you are.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Here's my "issue" with APP (and it doesn't have much to do with money, class or race).

I know quite a few children who attend Lowell. They are unquestionably bright children. They play chess, play piano, ask a lot of interesting questions, and so forth. But "gifted"? Hmmm.

When I think of gifted, I think of the child reading at age 3. I think of kids graduating HS at age 15, getting a perfect SAT score and going to MIT (etc. etc.).

I am sure these kids exist in Seattle, and APP. However, the kids I know who go to APP are simply bright kids, who yes (I admit) could use some extra rigor in their school work. However, I expect them to graduate on time, attend a decent college, get a decent white collar job and so forth. Many parents want this for their children.

But when little Johnny takes a test in kindergarten which allows him to attend schools (through high school) with other bright kids and escape the local school, it simply feels unfair to some of the kids left behind at the neighborhood school, who may also be quite bright themselves. Perhaps the ones left behind read two years ahead, but are at grade level with math. Or they are non-native speakers and excel at math, but can't quite figure out the reading yet. And there are some who are doing grade-level work, but are bored and unmotivated with school. Don't all of these kids also deserve an extra nudge to do the best they can do?

Let me put this another way: little Johnny and family now have a choice of what school is best for him. Maybe they'll choose the local school after all, if it's a good one, and appreciate getting to go to school in the neighborhood (but with a way out in their back pocket, should things change). And maybe they'll choose APP. Why not?! It may not be a "golden ticket" but it's a chance to go to a school with other bright kids and specially trained teachers (not available at the neighborhood school).

I feel that SPS deals with the pressure from parents of bright kids not by improving all schools overall, but by skimming the top off of all schools, and then putting those bright kids in their own schools and giving them specialized attention. Some kids (the “true geniuses”) might really need it, but many others would probably have done just fine at a suitable neighborhood school.

Now the school district is like rats overcrowded in a cage, though, with parents biting and clawing each other so that their kid has a chance to succeed. It's sad. I don't begrudge people of merely bright kids from sending them to APP, or retesting their kids for that opportunity. People will do nearly anything to help their child do well in life. If your neighborhood school is not suitable for your child you have the choice to move, put your kid in a private school, or hope your kid tests into APP. If none of these three choices are available to you, you can understand why some parents are disgruntled at the perceived opportunity at APP.

Having spent quite a bit of time with APP kids, I am unable to be convinced that these are little geniuses who are simply light years beyond their peers in terms of intelligence. Most APP kids could be served in neighborhood schools if the district planned well for it and provided the extra rigor. What's the expression: “a rising tide lifts all ships”? I think the district felt it would be easier to keep the kids together and serve them (perhaps inadequately) than provide good opportunities for kids of all abilities everywhere in the city.

-Just Skeptical

TraceyS said...

" Most APP kids could be served in neighborhood schools if the district planned well for it and provided the extra rigor. "

Well there's the rub, isn't it? In the absence of a well-planned or stable program, what should current families do? What do you do *today* with a child who is not thriving in the local school, when there is no clear nor stable program available for him/her? Right now each individual family is making its individual choices, with very little support from our district, and absolutely no confidence that a given program will be intact even through the end of the year.

BTW, the above statement could be written about ANY program in this district - ELL, SPED, creative approach, or any other non-cookie-cutter approach to learning.

What we need is far more than just the reworking of a single program like AL (though it needs it badly). We need strong leadership that will bring stability and predictability to its programs across the board.

(oh, and a gentle note - referring to children in a program as "little geniuses" reveals a great deal about your personal biases. First and foremost, they are children, many with very specific needs. One hopes you would not use such phrases with other populations needing specific programs.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS, I know there is testing prep (I, too, read the NY Times) but I think there are no real stats on it and so to presume it is widespread is just conjecture. So what if some overanxious parents do it? It happens for private school as well.

Just Sayin, I find that APP parents on the blog are generally NOT the ones to talk about APP (unless it's the topic). It's other people who seem to bring it up constantly.

"When I think of gifted, I think of the child reading at age 3. I think of kids graduating HS at age 15, getting a perfect SAT score and going to MIT (etc. etc.)."

Well, and that's your definition. That's not necessarily what the district's view is.

No one is "escaping" their neighborhood school. Many of us (and you see it here in some comments) tried to work with our neighborhood school. My kid DID read at 3 and the kindergarten teacher said he needed more so we asked the principal "What can be done to support him AT school while we support him at home?" Not a thing was the reply. What is a parent to do then? Leave their child where they are?

Don't all of these kids also deserve an extra nudge to do the best they can do?

I have said this, Charlie has said this - no one is disputing that ALL kids need the rigor/differentiation?

Also, those "specially trained teachers"? What? Most Spectrum teachers are not specially trained and not all APP ones are either. The district has been very spotty on this and from the teachers my children had in Spectrum, THEY had to go out and get the credits. So no, they are not getting specially trained teachers.

I'm with you - the district has to do better but it doesn't. They have a program - accessible to all - and people access it.

Skeptical you did use the right word - perceived. There's a lot of wrong perceptions out there.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments, but noted that Lohman, the developer of the CogAT has written extensively on the use of the test.

http://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/dlohman/

Lohman is clear that the CogAT only measures aptitude in the context of the opportunity to learn. A consequence of that factor is that the CogAT under-predicts populations that have had less opportunity to learn and could, over-predict aptitude for children who have had lots of opportunity to learn (which does not have to mean that they've been prepped in the forms that people might consider "cheating."

"Lohman, D. F. (2008). Searching more successfully for academic talent: Finding the right measures and using the right norm groups. Invited presentation at the Ninth Biennial National Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development, Iowa City, IA."

http://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/dlohman/pdf/Lohman_Wallace_2008_Presentation_reduced.pdf

This data has to inform decision making at the policy level, when we see such under-representation in the program.

zb

Anonymous said...

I understand why some parents are suspicious of group testing at SPS. How well can a tester of unknown qualifications accurately assess each child in a group of 6 year olds that she's never seen before. One group of kids after another is brought in for testing, all day long... I once saw a tester eating her lunch while she administered the test! Could she really have been paying attention? What if yours is the only Black child in the group? Perhaps testing was not offered at his school so he's in an unfamiliar environment, how would he feel, how fairly would he be treated? Since parents are not allowed to observe, not even for kindergarteners, who knows what happens behind those closed doors. I was in the classroom, knew the kids pretty well, and still could never predict which would be identified as "gifted" by the test.

There is also mistrust of Private Testing because of a built-in conflict of interest. Parents ask each other who to take their child after someone is successful, so a psychologist who tends to "recognize giftedness" in more kids will get more business. Yes I know about codes of ethics, blah blah how psychologists could presumably lose their license if they fudge test results, but that would be almost impossible to prove so it never happens! They must recognize at least some of the kids brought to them as Gifted, or else nobody will hire them! I usually trust the results of private testing because it's arduous and screens out all but the most determined parents who appeal the district results usually out of genuine recognition of their child's abilities. Some parents go back again and again to retest, which can be very expensive (but less expensive than private school). They know the tester will approve at least some of the kids who show up, and that once their child gets into APP they will be guaranteed an excellent public education all the way through high school.

-reader

Anonymous said...

I have felt for a very long time that testing should be required for continued participation in APP at the MS & HS level (and, yes, I'm seeing guaranteed access to the program at Garfield as being participation in APP). This would cost something, but should also allow new entries (at the HS level), and should be open to students who are not currently in SPS.

zb

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you assert that "no one is "escaping" their neighborhood school" ?? How do you know this, have you asked them all? Because earlier today you also wrote "you have no way of knowing why parents have their kids in this program." Is your statement anecdotal, or do you have proof? Because it contradicts what I have seen in many friends and neighbors who test their kids because the APP schools are much better than their neighborhood assignment.

-reader

word said...

APP kids are by no means guaranteed "an excellent public education". How did you dream that up -reader? The APP schools suffer the same shortcomings that are common to the district. Abysmal math curriculum, crowding, a smattering of poor teachers.

-APP parent

Anonymous said...

My point wasn't in support of private testing -- all tests misidentify children. The issues that Lohman identifies with the CogAT are issues with using any test for identification of talent for future development.

zb

Anonymous said...

APP Parent are you in denial? Have you not compared the small class sizes in primary grades at Lowell to any other public elementary in this city, sometimes 12 or 13 kids per classroom? Fewer free lunch kids means more parents volunteering? Grass on the playfield? Chess team? Have you not seen the guaranteed transportation offered to every APP student through high school, to any daycare location the parent chooses? Does not the music program at Washington and Garfield outshine anything at Franklin or Rainier Beach? Japanese and high school biology in 8th grade? AP classes galore? Even Tony Wroten wanted in to Garfield, and most kids don't have his athletic abilities or a relative with a qualifying address to cheat their way in!

-reader

word said...

A large percentage (the district has the numbers because you have to file with them to do this) of the HIMS APP 6th graders are homeschooling math because the 6th grade math instruction in the APP program is so poor. It is partly a personnel problem but if the math curriculum were improved instructional shortcomings would not be nearly so deleterious. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some of the anti-APP energy here could be channeled toward improvements of district curriculum?

NESeattleMom said...

I know people who have repeated private testing for their second child to try to get them into APP like their older sibling but for one reason or another that younger sibling did not pass. So even spending money doesn't buy entry.

Smaller classes do not come with APP. It is the same as any school where they take the number of students in each grade and try to divvy them up within the ranges allowed for that grade level. It is partly determined by the central office and sometimes makes it necessary to have split grade classrooms. Sometimes a year has a bubble and there are a lot of classes. Other grades are smaller. It is random if there are bigger or smaller class sizes.

TraceyS said...

Which classrooms at Lincoln have 12-13 students, reader?

word said...

I don't know anything about Lowell because we did not attend there specifically because they use EDM. Our non-APP elementary school had a much better math program and we benefitted accordingly. Getting into APP is not the answer to excellent public school instruction.

Anonymous said...

Reader,

You appear to have much wrong information. There are no classes with 12 or 13 kids in them at LINCOLN. The classes are the same, crowded size as the rest of the city. We have no grass or playfield. Perhaps you are thinking of Lowell, the building APP was kicked out of.The music program at Garfield is indeed great, though no better than Roosevelt. And FAR greater than the program at Ingraham, where most north APP kids are now going to. Ballard and Roosevelt are far superior to Ingraham and are certainly on par for most things at Garfield. Why are they not targeted for your wrath? No doubt, there are problems at Franklin and RB - but the blame for this lies with the district, not APP. I will not ever understand the vitriol about this. Why does no one complain about Laurelhurst, Bryant, View Ridge, Eckstein, Roosevelt, Ballard when making south end comparisons? And can anyone imagine the district telling all the Bryant/View Ridge/West Woodlawn/Bagley/pick any elementary and say hey, your 5th graders have to stay in elementary another year because of our poor planning? If those parents complained, would they be accused of being elitist or wanting special treatment for their kids? I'm pretty sure ALL of those schools have crazy frills like a volunteer running a chess club or parents who volunteer in the classroom. Why don't we villify them?

-stop the hate

Anonymous said...

Reader-

We were at Lowell for four years - until we got kicked out when my kid was about to start 5th grade. My child was NEVER in a class of 14.

This "class of 14" is based on a single incident of a small class. This class was placed in a room that was not a classroom. It couldn't hold more than 14 student desks and one teacher's desk. No one was happy about this situation, but it was required as a way to somehow fit all the kids into the crowded building.

Classes are the same large size in APP as they are all over the district. As a parent who has been in the program for six years, I am still waiting to see this golden palace that APP is housed in.

Yes, APP is better than the worst schools in the district (as are most schools), but it has the same issues as any of the other large schools in the district. There are big classes, some poor teachers, the terrible math and science that is district-wide, and just generally not enough space.

And reader about all that grass on the play field. I know the Lincoln parents would love for you to go there and show them where the grass is. They can't find it.

-get the facts straight

Meg said...

On perceived benefits:

APP is funded on the same Weighted Staffing Standards as general education classrooms. The district does not provide additional classroom funding for APP students, nor should they. There seems to be an incorrect perception that APP gets more money from the district.

APP students receive transportation because Washington state districts with gifted programs receive money from the state for the transportation of gifted students. The rest of the district benefits slightly from this money, as SPS usually has non-APP kids on the bus, or has it stop at another school (that's not a complaint, it is simply information).

reader: there may be small class sizes at Lowell, but APP isn't in that building any longer.

On bright vs. "true" giftedness? I don't know. I think that's a fair question to raise. I would say that my own kids (who have both been in APP) are bright rather than exceptional/gifted, but they tested in. But if bright kids - or some other group of kids - aren't being served at their neighborhood schools, what would you suggest? And by "served," I don't mean getting all sorts of enrichment, or small class sizes or other benefits it's unreasonable to expect a cash-strapped public district to provide. I don't even mean challenged. I mean learning at school. I think it's unreasonable to say "just go back to your neighborhood school" to parents who already gave that a shot and found it didn't work.

Anonymous said...

The first grade classes at Lincoln are 27 and 26 kids, with, IMO, a higher number of kids with Issues than I have seen in classes at our neighborhood schools, and no aides. It's kind of chaos, and I have some regrets. But the program is just as necessary as ESL- sure, some of the kids don't technically need it(some kids getting every service might not technically need it), but it's the only way a lot of them are going to learn how to learn. This backlash reminds me of welfare reform in the 90's- "I heard about this welfare queen; she doesn't seem that bad off; let's abolish welfare for everybody!" A specious argument.

I'm also impressed with the ability of people on this blog to magically detect giftedness in 5 year olds where experts apparently cannot. How? What is it exactly you think you are finding? And do you know that if the district sees a higher than expected number of successful appeals too many years in a row, they take the practitioner off the list of accepted appeals sources? Cheating, even fudging, would squash their business. And that the enrollment/qualification is hovers around 3% of the district, which is exactly what you would expect in a highly educated urban area on a test that is supposed to find the top 2%?

Are you sure it is not just a stereotype that you think you could identify?

Because when just teacher recommendations are used, the proportion of white boys with glasses goes up exponentially. At least the tests can identify some girls. It's not perfect (I'm not even sure it's good), but it's a heck of a lot better than you or I are going to do.

I am undecided about whether APP should be for students whose brains work differently/faster(some proportion of whom will not be motivated to work ahead in a traditional way) or for kids who work hard and get ahead(some proportion of whom will not meet cognitive standards). I do think as they get older achievement should matter more than ability in deciding who has access to higher level classes, but I don't know when that is.

-yet another APP parent

Anonymous said...

OOOOOPS sorry I forgot you're not at Lowell anymore, that was a stupid mistake (but the rest of what I said is all true...)

-reader

Anonymous said...

I had the eldest tested for spectrum since the school offered this as a program, and instead got the APP letter. At the time, I had no idea what APP was since I was new to the school system. On the Lowell school tour, there was a parental discussion that APP program offers value and just as good of an education as many private schools and it does offer guaranteed seats once you're in it through HS. Yes parents do talk about private testing and exchange names of testers. Yes parents do pay for test prep stuff like HS kids do for SAT/ACT and AP tests. Definitely some of the 2E kids needed one on one private testing and rightly so. None of this is against district's policies. Does it muddle the conversation and perceptions? Yes.

Why? My biggest concern is something that ZB outlined about cognitive testing and IMO, why we don't see some of the populations AL is trying so hard to recruit from. If a child's environment affects so much of what CogAT is testing for (developed abilities), then kids who are stuck in poor quality, crowded daycare, who don't get read to at early age, who has 2 parents working FT and little time to spare or just one parent or a grandparent caretaker and does not have the same level of academic/social nurturing and exposure will not test as well by these measures. The innate ability and potential for it is there, but it doesn't get developed. If academic achievement relies in part on cognitive development, then these kids are already running behind. So there are societal advantage/disadvantage being played out.

I keep this in the back of my mind when I discussed APP because for me it keeps things in perspective and humbled.

just saying

Anonymous said...

As far as psychologists getting crossed off SPS list if they recommend too many kids? Seems farfetched to me! Can you name one? Do you have any proof?

-reader

Anonymous said...

dear Yet Another, I strongly disagree with your claim that "APP is as necessary as ESL."

-reader

TraceyS said...

reader, do you have children in the Seattle public schools?

Anonymous said...

TraceyS, why is your question relevant to the topic?

-reader

ArchStanton said...

reader said: Have you not compared the small class sizes in primary grades at Lowell to any other public elementary in this city, sometimes 12 or 13 kids per classroom?

This just makes it obvious that you are making stuff up - or vastly misrepresenting a single anomaly at the very least. You mean to tell me that I'm wasting good tuition money on an overcrowded 16 kids per class private school when I could be getting even smaller class sizes for free? (tax dollars notwithstanding) Kids! pack your bags! I'm buying a new car; it's back to public school for you!

/go on, pull the other one

Anonymous said...

Hey Reader-

I strongly disagree with you. So what?

Again, these APP kids need a seat somewhere, and I think many people would be very unhappy to see these kids come back to neighborhood schools. Not only would neighborhood schools be even more crowded, a not small proportion of these kids were tested because they were acting out and disruptive in class because they were BORED. Do you want these kids in class with your kids? For many of these kids, the behavioral issues go away once they enter an APP classroom.

APP families cannot win with people like our friend, Reader. They certainly would not want these kids back in the neighborhood school increasing crowding, but they don't want them to be in another school either.

-get the facts straight

Anonymous said...

Tracey said: Well there's the rub, isn't it? In the absence of a well-planned or stable program, what should current families do? What do you do *today* with a child who is not thriving in the local school, when there is no clear nor stable program available for him/her? Right now each individual family is making its individual choices, with very little support from our district, and absolutely no confidence that a given program will be intact even through the end of the year.

Strongly agree! We've had continual problems getting our child challenged, after being in a school that talks a LOT about differentiation. The simple answer: they don't.

I'm not trying to get my kid into Yale. I think much more important that intelligence are persistence, and self confidence. If a kid learns how to come up against a difficult problem and not panic, but to slowly deconstruct the problem, figure out what she does know, apply that, then continue to tease apart the problem, enduring frustration, she will have a skill that is far more important than the ability to do differential calculus.

But to teach a bright kid that skill, you must give them practice at it. And my kid has yet to get that consistently or even much more than occasionally in SPS.

So if we can get her into APP and get her challenged at the appropriate level, she'll get that life skill. And on top of that, she craves the challenge and is bored too often at school. Plus, she'll be around kids that get her, for the first time.

If some cranky person on the internet thinks we should just let her languish when there is an option for her, because she is not truly a genius, they are nuts. And her admission into APP won't prevent anyone else from being there; and she won't slow the class down in the least.

She was in Spectrum but even that wasn't rigorous enough. Then, they dismantled it. Yes, I am negotiating the system for the best of my kid. I wish all parents did, but I'm not going to stop and wait for them or SPS to figure out a better approach. She's growing up too quickly.

SPS mom

TraceyS said...

I am just curious as to whether you have a dog in this hunt, reader.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't mean to be rude but I'm always perplexed at how many APP parents instantly see "hate" when anyone disagrees with them in the slightest way. There's a persecution complex among some APP parents that I don't see anywhere else. I know your community has been treated unfairly but so have other groups! We are all in this sinking boat together.

Where's the hate? I have not written that APP should be restricted, banned, abolished. I have not written that kids were getting into APP that don't belong there, or that they should all go back to their neighborhood schools. Nowhere did I say that APP shouldn't get transportation, shouldn't be kept together as a cohort, shouldn't get into Garfield.

What I have said as this: I know many people whose motivation to have their kids tested was to get them into APP schools because Lowell was (back when I knew people with kids that young), and Washington and Garfield still are, much better than the neighborhood schools that their kids would be assigned to. I explained why many people don't trust the testing procedures for identifying kids into APP. There is no way in hell that APP is as necessary as ESL (likely you have never seen how hard it is for recent immigrant kids to struggle learning English). And whether I have kids in APP or not has nothing to do with this topic.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Well maybe it's the way you deliver your thoughts "reader" that makes it hard to take. I don't actually disagree with some of your points and there are APP parents who have kids in gen ed classrooms who do see and live both worlds. That's why I like SPS mom's comments because they're so refreshingly honest.

just saying

Anonymous said...

I teach in an interesting situation, where "honors" and "core" kids take the same classes in the humanities in high school and teachers are expected to differentiate. Honors students also self-select. No testing, and these students who self select as honors will be filtered into AP classes in later years. I like it for a lot of reasons, and I don't like it for a lot of reasons. I like it because it increases the rigor for the WHOLE class to have honors kids there. At the same time, I do not think classes are as rigorous as they could be for honors students, and it is impossible for me as a teacher to differentiate every aspect of what I teach as I would like to. This is an interesting model that I am not sure exists in many schools, and I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion! It is pretty interesting to see kids self select for honors, and it is interesting to see kids who have been in "special" honors classes their whole lives work in a different environment.

south side teacher

ArchStanton said...

@ reader: What just saying said.

You raise some valid concerns, but they are lost in the hyperbole of the rest of your rants. APP parents tire of being painted with the same old, tired, broad brush and are just not going to let repeated, gross generalizations go unchallenged.

If you want people to take your posts seriously and not react with venom, stop with the: 14 kids in every class, green grass on every field, volunteers in every classroom, everybody buys their way in to get away from the unwashed masses generalizations.

Either you really don't see that your exaggerations draw attention away from your reasonable questions or you are a clever troll.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I have been in Spectrum and have talked to a lot of APP parents. I have also known several heads of Advanced Learning. I have never heard the reasoning "people are in Spectrum or APP" to get away from their school. They leave to get services.

I didn't hate the school I left and wanted to stay.

So sure, it's stories but my extensive experience is probably longer and more broad-based than most on this subject.

Reader, you also make some pretty broad statements about what APP kids get and I don't think all that is true (or could be).

South Side Teacher, thanks for weighing in. I think you hit the nail on the head of the problem. More rigor for all but are you able to give enough differentiated teaching to serve all?

What has been your experience with students in "honors" classes when they come into a self-selected honors class?

word said...

SST,

Do they self-select by choosing their workload?

This seems like an awesome model for high school age students. However, when my daughter was in elementary school she was ACUTELY aware if she had to do more work than other students and felt very martyred. It was easier to put her in a Spectrum or APP class where the expectations are the same for all in the class.

We did prefer an inclusive Spectrum class where any student who could do the work was welcome regardless of whether they were tested.

SST - do you think self selection would work for younger kids?

Anonymous said...

ArchStanton, are you finished with your personal attacks on me? Are you ready now to offer any facts to counter anything I've said (besides the mistake about Lowell which I've already admitted to)? If not, then I'll take your post as more proof of the kid-glove expectations and oversensitivity that some APP parents show on this board.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Melissa, your experience is different than mine. I have been in Spectrum too. I have talked to a lot of APP parents too. I have also known several heads of Advanced Learning too. That's all still anecdotal, not factual. I have personally known many people who have tested their kids to get them out of an under-performing neighborhood school. It's possible that's because we live in different neighborhoods, with a larger gap in quality between what's available locally and what APP offers.

-reader

NESeattleMom said...

Hi Reader,
The obvious error in your posting is the class size at Lincoln. There are no class sizes as small as you said. They are typical class sizes for elementary school classes in SPS. None are "small" like you said.
That is a complete error.

ArchStanton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

dear Stop the Hate (sic)... there is no hatred, no vilification in anything I wrote. Simply an observation that many people I know test their kids for APP because Washington and Garfield are better than what they'd get back home. I never blamed APP for the problems at Franklin or Rainier Beach, I just explained there are many people who test their kids for APP because they know it will get their kids into Washington and Garfield instead. Why the paranoia, when someone says the APP schools are better? I'm glad I know so many nice APP parents in real life, because some on this blog are really over the top defensive! I know your elementary school got "stolen" and I'm sorry for that, but so did all the kids in the many closed buildings, some with unique programs that met their special needs such as Summit. I'm not arguing we shut down APP, okay? I never have. Get a grip, all this change and chaos is hard for everyone, not just for APP.

-reader

emeraldkity said...

My kids are " twice" gifted.
My observation coupled with reports from nationally noted educational psychologists at Uw.
My concern is we havent increased seats in schools with alternative approaches to education, which can be the best chance to giving these kids a " good enough" education.
Private schools can fill this need, but the need is greater than the slots available.

Anonymous said...

Oh poor, poor Reader -

Why oh why would anyone think little ole you meant any ill will by anything you said. You were just saying neutral statements after all.

Maybe it's because you say loaded things like this:

"APP kids get guaranteed transportation, smaller class sizes, incredible enrichment, excellent music programs"

Don't all kids outside of walking distance get guaranteed transportation to their assigned schools? Small class sizes? Which APP school is this in? I want to move my kids to that school. What is this incredible enrichment? Is it the free ponies and polo classes all the APP kids get? Or maybe you're thinking about the dressage lessons. Excellent music? Yes, many APP kids play instruments, but all the kids in the school can take the classes. I will point out that a non-APP school, Roosevelt, has an amazing program, too. Where's the outrage?

Then you said this nugget:

"They (psychologists) must recognize at least some of the kids brought to them as Gifted, or else nobody will hire them!" You keep asking people to prove their statements. Love to see you prove this gem.

Then there's this crazy statement:

"Have you not seen the guaranteed transportation offered to every APP student through high school, to any daycare location the parent chooses?"

I think there are a lot of Garfield and Ingraham parents would love to know how to get some of this free bussing. Metro can be a giant pain. From what I understand, there are a couple of busses run for neighborhoods with poor Metro service, but guaranteed transportion is not offered through HS.

-get the facts straight

Anonymous said...

Side issue from the other thread:

Reader pointed out that there are in fact very small classes at Lowell CapHill. Which begs the question: why do people think we need a downtown school when Lowell (a block off Broadway) sits there mostly empty? They'd have to cross I-5? So? Not ideal, but there are kids who have to cross MLK, Rainier, Aurora and Lake City Way.

open ears

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Why the paranoia, when someone says the APP schools are better?"

Ah, there it is.

You believe the APP schools are better.

Is that because APP gets more for their schools?

Is that because APP has a lot of (for better or worse) involved parents?

Why do people perceive schools that have APP are better? And if that is true and we have no one APP school (except Lincoln but that was by edict, not choice), don't the other kids benefit?

Anonymous said...

Southside teacher

It sounds like you have a pretty typical situation actually. We all have a broad range of students. If the top 2-3% tested in the district attend APP as their appropriate placement, it should still leave you with plenty of strong Honors students. Serving APP kids doesn't harm gen ed kids.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Like charters, APP and other exclusive AL programs, leave the remaining students proportionately more disabled and more segregated by minority and FRL status than would otherwise be the case. A walk through Washington MS reveals that in about 2 seconds. The funding burden necessary to educate students with challenges also disproportionately falls on them. In essence, it's like taking out all 20 year olds from the insurance pool. The rest of the pool becomes more expensive. So in that respect, APP schools are "better". Better because they have fewer challenges yet receive equal funding for their fewer challenges. Diversity is a good thing - but it does come with expense. When your group is less diverse, it actually costs less. A fairer funding scheme could account for that differential.

Yet another Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yet, AL programs are not exclusive (or else you don't know what the word means). Anyone can apply and test. It's all free. If a F/RL student wants to appeal and be privately tested, also free. Transportation is provided. Not so exclusive (except for Spectrum which doesn't provide spaces to all who qualify and ALOs which are not available at all schools).

When APP was at Lowell, they shared the building with a fragile group of Special Ed kids...for years. It worked out well. So much for that theory.

"The funding burden necessary to educate students with challenges also disproportionately falls on them."
Who is "them" - the school or the parents?

Special Ed kids should pay more because they were born with challenges? No wonder you won't sign your name - I wouldn't either if I made such an unfair statement. I see such comments at the Seattle Times and I shake my head but here? I'm surprised.



Anonymous said...

Melissa, this is how the APP schools are BETTER. Washington offers math through Geometry, two years of either French Spanish or Japanese, high school Biology (for APP only). Hamilton has a new building, offers the same options for math and biology, plus world language in both introductory level or immersion programs. Both schools have several levels of orchestra and band. No other middle school south of the ship canal has all of this!

Garfield graduates more National Merit Scholars than any other public high school in the district and offers a wealth of AP classes that aren't available anywhere else. The music and fine arts programs at Garfield are superior to any public high school south of the ship canal. It's very popular and the only way to guarantee your child entry is to live nearby or get your kid into APP. Also APP kids are able to choose Ingraham and graduate early.

Transportation from outside the neighborhood to these schools is offered to APP students only.

(I am not blaming APP for this, it's only natural that parents notice the better school and try whatever they can to get their kids in.)

-reader

TraceyS said...

" Better because they [AL programs] have fewer challenges yet receive equal funding for their fewer challenges."

Why do you think AL programs have fewer challenges?

Anonymous said...

Whenever I read such biased, contemptuous, persistent rants, a couple quotes come to mind:

"There are none so deaf as those who will not hear. None so blind as those who will not see." - Mathew Henry

"Any jackass can kick down a barn but it takes a good carpenter to build one." - LBJ


WSDWG

Anonymous said...

It is a specious argument that somehow AL programs concentrate troubles elsewhere. NOTHING concentrates education challenges more than poverty and nothing makes that more concentrated that middle class families leaving a district to collapse under the weight of poverty.

An interesting but never discussed aspect of AL and other special programming is that these types of programs tend to balance a district. The NSAP has made SPS look more like Seattle. Historically SPS had more FRL than Seattle as a whole. Additionally, SPS was more diverse than Seattle as a whole. The growth under the NSAP has been disproportionate to the middle class, the north end and largely white.

I think SPS should look like Seattle. Seattle is a very educated city and it should not be surprising that there would be a large AL community.

While, I would like to give reader the benefit of the doubt, it sure seems like sour grapes.

- don't get why this is a problem.

Anonymous said...

Get the Facts, as usual you have no facts and must resort to personal attacks. You took my statement out of context. It is clear from your example that giftedness is not hereditary! Go and read it again, slowly... I was explaining the point of view that many parents have who don't trust the testing process. I never said I distrust all private testing, in fact I said I personally believe that most are valid, because it's an arduous and expensive process. So quit whining ok? It's people like you give all APP parents a bad name.

-reader

Anonymous said...

Reader-

Not to sound too much like Ronald Reagen, but there you go again.

You are conflating things to make them sound like APP gets huge benefits. You talk about Hamilton having a new building? Was this building re-built in order to house APP? No. APP was not there at the time and there were no plans to put it there. Do you say HIMS was built for APP? No, but you imply it.

Yes, HIMS has an immersion language program. Is that for APP? No. Do you say it isn't for APP? No. APP kids aren't in immersion classes because APP LA/SS or science are not taught in languages other than English.

As for regular languages at HIMS. Ask how many APP 6th graders didn't get Spanish this year because there wasn't room. AL just changed the rules for math placement over the entire district. Any child who gets 150+ on the Winter MAP test in 5th grade is supposed to get Algebra 1 in 6th grade.

You are still wrong on transportation. Unless APP kids get some extra fancy Orca pass you are just wrong.

This is getting really old. Reader needs to do more reading.

-get the facts

Anonymous said...

Reader-

Not to sound too much like Ronald Reagen, but there you go again.

You are conflating things to make them sound like APP gets huge benefits. You talk about Hamilton having a new building? Was this building re-built in order to house APP? No. APP was not there at the time and there were no plans to put it there. Do you say HIMS was built for APP? No, but you imply it.

Yes, HIMS has an immersion language program. Is that for APP? No. Do you say it isn't for APP? No. APP kids aren't in immersion classes because APP LA/SS or science are not taught in languages other than English.

As for regular languages at HIMS. Ask how many APP 6th graders didn't get Spanish this year because there wasn't room. AL just changed the rules for math placement over the entire district. Any child who gets 150+ on the Winter MAP test in 5th grade is supposed to get Algebra 1 in 6th grade.

You are still wrong on transportation. Unless APP kids get some extra fancy Orca pass you are just wrong.

This is getting really old. Reader needs to do more reading.

-get the facts

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Transportation from outside the neighborhood to these schools is offered to APP students only."

Not true. Any student who enrolls at any high school is eligible for a Metro pass.

As I said previously, most of those offerings are for ALL the students at the schools. It is not possible, just as it isn't at K-8s, to offer everything to everyone. (Cleveland has its own set of offerings and a new building, for example.)

But Reader you do make it sound like these schools have more because of APP. Is that true? Why would that be if so?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Reader-

Maybe "Facts" got one thing incorrect, but you ignored the rest of the post.

I see you are showing us an example of how to behave when someone disagrees with you. And you say others are sensitive.

-seattle parent

Anonymous said...

reader said (after complaining about personal attacks):

"It is clear from your example that giftedness is not hereditary!"

"Go and read it again, slowly..."

"So quit whining ok?"

"It's people like you give all APP parents a bad name."


Wow, reader. Just wow.

-Gobsmacked

Anonymous said...

"AL just changed the rules for math placement over the entire district. Any child who gets 150+ on the Winter MAP test in 5th grade is supposed to get Algebra 1 in 6th grade."

Correctly:: Any child who gets 250+ on the Winter MAP test in 5th grade (or before) is supposed to get Algebra 1 in 6th grade.
- LL

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you are WAY off base. Amen to reader.

First, sit my kids schools NO, you can't be in AL unless you are App or Spectrum eligible. They have lots of other caveats as well... works independently etc . It's a far cry from " inclusive".

Second, I'm really talking about Spectrum and APp. They absolutely do know they concentrate minorities and disabled kids. And, that concentration burdens them cost wise because doing that adequately is expensive, moree expensive than a less diverse group. I also have a severely disabled student. So yes, I understand that. Visit from well meaning APp students as some sort of charity effort is a bunch of bs, and pathetic as an excuse for failure to include others.

Yet another parent


rs.

Anonymous said...

You made some good points Reader. I know what you meant. Your postings were a waste of time. You must be new around here. Don't you know questioning APP is taboo on this blog. Nobody wants your opinion unless you are in APP. If you don't agree with them the regulars will bombard you with insults. Here you were getting accused of having implied or seeming to say something that you never did say. They will always think everyone hates APP and are jealous of their smart kids. Don't try to answer an insulting comment with an angry one or you will get more insults and they say you are very rude or mean. Try not to take it personal. They do this to everyone. Its a strange community.

Disgusted

Anonymous said...

Melissa never, NEVER tired of whining and complaining about how charters clustered students who are hard to educate (as in, more expensive). And, in that case, that it impoverished the rest of public ed as a result. Post after post. But APP and Spectrum - well, that's their god given right. Never mind that those do the same thing.

-reader also

suep. said...

Actually, Disgusted, what's strange are anonymous people like reader and yourself who make sweeping, unfounded accusatory statements about other people's children, families and school programs, and with no actual firsthand knowledge of what they speak -- or facts, in the case of reader. These are not "opinions," as you say -- these are lies.

The negativity here is not coming from the APP community (which is not monolithic, despite your attempts at stereotype) but from anonymous commenters like yourselves.

Wouldn't you grow weary of random anonymous people accusing your family and your entire school communities of privilege, favoritism, racism, or have complete strangers deem themselves qualified or welcome to analyze the intelligence or needs of your child?

That's what's truly bizarre -- the obsession with APP by people like reader and I guess you -- not the perfectly natural response of the APP parents who call out such rubbish for what it is.

Melissa Westbrook said...

RS, ALOs are part of AL and yes, any child can be in them (as can those who apply and pass the test for APP/Spectrum - again look up that word "exclusive" for its meaning).

Disgusted, who has insulted anyone? I think that Reader seems quite upset and it does come off as angry. We're discussing a program and I fail to see why the anger.

And clearly, your last comment shows that. "God given?"

I'm done.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me it would be a whole lot more expensive to NOT cluster APP students together. It's an economy of scale issue. If every middle, for example, were to provide Algebra I to those meeting the cutoff, I suspect there would be a lot of empty seats. When providing services to that small percentage of students who need different classes than the other students, it makes a lot more sense to put them in one place.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I wish we could talk about making ALO programs better defined with clear requirements. For example, why is ability grouping taboo in some schools or in some grades? My ALO school refuses to implement a "walk to math" system (the type in which kids across grade-level homerooms break out into ability-based groupings). It makes no sense. Some grades do it for reading, but not for math. A neighboring school does it for math, but never for reading. I don't really know who to talk to about this nonsense.

@The whim of the principal

Anonymous said...

Whim-

You see here on this blog very clearly what happens when people simply want their children to learn at school. There are scores of stories at schools around of parents complaining of different programs as "elitist" and "unfair." Until the district defends the needs of AL students and enforces basic standards, this is going to continue.

Walk to math marks kids as "different." It is just like "tracking."

From my experience around my kid's elementary, it's not the kids who are upset at the difference, it's the parents.

-I just want my kid to learn at school

NESeattleMom said...

I'm not sure why this conversation has devolved to such a low level. It seems like all these negative feelings that are being expressed must make people feel upset while expressing them. I plan to not read this thread any more because of the rants and negativity. I hope everyone can think about something else and channel their energy to something that would be productive in the area that is in their control.

NESeattleMom said...

Thanks Whim and I want my kid to learn, for getting the thread back on track.

Anonymous said...

Lots of smart lawery parents who feel attacked and know how to fight back, so be careful reader and others.
My take is:

APP parents wants what is best, of course, but they do get obsessive and the attacks on the (their) program really hurt after a while. They feel like the second class parents and the distric treats them poorly often as well.
Now the fact is a classroom full of APP 6 th graders that I saw on the tour last year at Hamilton and the 6th and seventh graders there in APP studying Japanese hurts me to know my kid could only get that with a long bus ride and missing his pals from her K -5.
But it's really a wash. Get better classroom dynamics with room full of similar kids in a narrower range of ability or get local friends, less transport, way more intellectual diversity and avoiding the stinging looks and downright embarrassment I see on APParents faces. Oh ya, they pay for the debatable perks of APP, they pay. Ahe their kids pay too.
I want to see SPS do what other districts have done and keep self contained for the kids who are going suffer irreparable harm from attending gened schools,or classrooms. But parents with bright kids are going to have to raise hell at their local for rigor and be a little patient.
This is public school and we can find a way for everybody to share the good as well as the pain.
The vitriol helps to get the ball rolling but is not a solution.

Calming down

Anonymous said...

Walk tos are resisted by staff, some staff. It is contrary to old school ( no pun intended) elementary school teaching methods. Many staff love it. But parents need to push for it. I mean get on it people, don't expect it in one year, but a two phase in reasonable and your kid won't be harmed from one more year of blended classrooms (hopefully) and a lot of kids will benefit,on the ensuing years. As was said, it is public school and it's free! Supplement! Come on, let's work together!

Malo

suep. said...

Okay, this conversation is taking a psychotic turn (12/13/12 9:46 PM)...! I'm out of here too.

Anonymous said...

@Calming Down: I don't know if you're texting from a smart phone or what. But it's painful to read your post with all the strange errors, typos, misspellings, etc. I don't mean to ridicule you, but when a commenter posts something with multiple errors, well, I just can't take it seriously if they don't. Know what I mean? There's a lot of comments to read, and I have to skip one's like yours, because they either trip me up, or I can't make sense of them. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

@HIMSmom: You're right. Before the APP split, Lowell was one of the least-expensive per-pupil schools to operate in the whole district, due to maximizing capacity and having no empty seats, even in that old building. APP costs little more than any other program, and what small differences there are all go toward testing & admissions to the program, not the program itself. Busing gets a little boost from the state from the longer routes, but again, the APP buses are nearly full, while our neighborhood buses aren't even half full. It's a push comparing programs. But any time you get more butts in seats, the economy of scale kicks in to lower operating costs and stretch dollars further. So yes, in actual practice (vs. theory), it's a highly efficient program. Thanks for raising that point, by the way. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I can't even tell if Malo is being sarcastic. Ugh.

Anonomom

Anonymous said...

Reader @ 4:50, I agree for most parents S. of downtown, Garfield is still the preference HS. While Washington is still a MS mecca, many parents hold S. Shore in high favors as well. Some of these schools are turning around and can use more rigor for kids with potential and it certainly would help if they had a larger cohort to work with. I know of one graduate from Franklin who has done well. She is brilliant and amazingly driven who with the help of teachers and advisors crafted a UW research study while in HS and received huge merit based 4 yr university scholarships. Perhaps APP wouldn't be a good fit anyway as kids need to come in already well prepared at high level of achievement, not just with potential. It might be better to leave APP be and focus on what can be done for your local schools, the students, and your community. I would channel my energy and write those grants. This city certainly has enough billionaires for that.

just saying

Public Education said...

I hope you all learned a lesson in feeding trolls.

As I said a long time earlier, if you read the arguments the haters are offering, it has nothing to do with APP. They just assume APP is wealthy (it isn't) and that it gets more funding (it doesn't) and that it isn't diverse (diversity is the same as the City of Seattle).

The rage is not about APP. It is about money, class, and race. It is about who belongs in public schools. APP is only a scapegoat.

You aren't going to convince these people. They are angry at the wrong thing and their solutions are terrible. They aren't looking to improve Seattle's public schools. They're looking to kick people out of them.

Discussion is not going to soothe this crazy misplaced rage. The only way to make sure people like these don't get a chance to destroy our public schools is to outvote them.

Anonymous said...

In the UK they refer to "high ability" students, versus gifted and talented, gifted, or advanced placement. It seemed a better description to me.

Just someone

Anonymous said...

No Public Education. Actually if you read through the discussion and arguments, it isn't about race, money, class. It's far more complicated than that. But it may make things easier for you to think of it that way. Go and talk to Tracey S. and the Lawton parents.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Open Ears,

I am new to Seattle and my child is to go to Lswton. Please let me know what you mean before I sign her up.

New from South Dakota

Anonymous said...

Somebody asked about the challenges (expense) with APP. APP/spectrum definitely sucks money out of the rest of SPS - not because it "takes" more money, but because it "takes on" LESS burden. That seems to be a huge confusion.

Let's spell it out.

Does APP/Spectrum need to do remediation? No, that need is tested for and those students are weeded out. Students who need remediation are expensive because it is something extra that is done and typically needs to be done at a lower ratio's. Schools disproprortionately or fully APP/spectrum have a disproporitionately lower costs in these areas.

Then there's discipline. APP/Spectrum have very few minorities or students with disabilities. These are the students who receive the most discipline. Obviously, the time and expense of discipline (money required) is reduced if these students are NOT in your pool.


When you don't spend time on that expensive stuff - you can spend time and money on lots of other things.

I'm not counting the expensive "special ed" students who used to be at Lowell. Those kids got NO advantages of APP. APP families thought of them as something like zoo animals to be "cherished" and could teach their kids "compassion". They added no cost of "remediation" since they were never rediated. ANd they weren't discpilined either. Those aren't typically issues of med-fragile and severe/profound programs.

=another reader

Anonymous said...

=another reader, I think you actually have it backwards. The state gives X number of dollars per student. If you have more students in the system that don't need extra services, the money can be distributed to those that do need services. If you drive high performing, low-cost-to-teach students away from public education, you have fewer dollars to use for those that need special services, at the same time you are increasing the proportion of students that need special services. Systemwide, you want to maximize the enrollment of high performing, low-cost-to-teach students so there is money to provide services for the low performing students.

Anonymous said...

=another reader says: "APP families thought of them as something like zoo animals to be "cherished" and could teach their kids "compassion"

That is incredibly offensive - intended to be so, I'm sure. It is also wrong. I had two kids in Lowell APP - and our family certainly did not think of SpecEd kids in this way. Why would you say this?

- Sad to read such inflammatory nonsense

Anonymous said...

"As I said a long time earlier, if you read the arguments the haters are offering, it has nothing to do with APP. They just assume APP is wealthy (it isn't) and that it gets more funding (it doesn't) and that it isn't diverse (diversity is the same as the City of Seattle)."

Is the FRL population in APP the same as the district at large? I know the racial diversity is not -- hispanics and african-americans are certainly under-represented compared to the SPS general ed population. And, I find the question of money in school buildings at SPS to incredibly dense and complicated. Ultimately, people are asking whether the per/student cost (including any money that comes from non SPS sources) is higher for one program/building than another (not whether per student funding is the same). We also have the question of how to normalize for needs (including poverty and disabilities). Does the blanket statement also include the cost of testing and transportation?

zb

Anonymous said...

I say it because I am one of those families. No, it isn't intended to offend but to inform. Now you're informed. Save your sadness.

=ap

Anonymous said...

"Melissa never, NEVER tired of whining and complaining about how charters clustered students who are hard to educate (as in, more expensive). And, in that case, that it impoverished the rest of public ed as a result. Post after post. But APP and Spectrum - well, that's their god given right. Never mind that those do the same thing.

-reader also"

This bears repeating because it hits at a main crux of this whole issue. The misinformed posters keep getting a lot of response and rebuttal but this very critical point has been ignored.

Yes, this post is correct. I also believe that if a charter wanted to set up a school like what currently exists for APP students, they would be rightfully condemned.

The parents who are commenting on this thread obviously do not want the self contained model of APP dismantled. It is working well for them. However, except for those rare exceptionally brilliant children for whom inclusion would be detrimental, does that make it ethical or just?

--enough already

Anonymous said...

History and debate over advanced learning:

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-is-spectrum-and-what-is-not.html

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/06/wedgwood-spectrum-moving-away-from-self.html

for more: just typing what you want to search for in the search engine of this blog.

But I say for school choice, if you have it, research what's there and now. History is not always a reliable predictor of a school with all the changes that go on within SPS.

open ears

Anonymous said...

ZB-

I understand what you are saying, but I don't think you are making a fair comparison. Should APP match the racial make-up of the school district, or the CITY as a whole? The APP population mirrors very closely the population make-up of the city.

Remember that Seattle has a HUGE percentage (isn't is 40%) of families who choose private school. The racial make-up of the school district does not mirror that of the city. It isn't realistic to expect APP to match the district.

Another way to look at it is some families are choosing to keep their kids in public school (the APP program) instead of syphoning more kids off to private. That keeps more money in the system and benefits all.

-APP parent

word said...

In districts that do not have a well defined AL program the solution is to bump kids up one or two grades. This can work for kids although often they aren't that happy doing it. However, if your district is large enough it makes sense to group the AL learners into age cohorts. In Seattle the cohort is so large they can fill up an entire school (more than one in fact). In theory, this would allow the teachers to develop a consistent accelerated curriculum (though in practice - chaos often rules).

I would be happy to have AL classes which are coherent and identical and inclusive of students that can do the work at each and every school. However, the SPS has proven SPECTACULARLY inept at maintaining district-wide coherent and rigorous standards at each school. They summarily removed our elementary school's Spectrum program with month's notice. They told us if we didn't like it we could move to a new school (midway through the year). This is why the APP parents oppose breaking up the program. It hampers oversight of the program. It is not about elitism or any of the other extremely cruel and rather sickening statements on this thread.

This is all about about a lack of trust in the district administration. I would think we could all get behind that. Please do write in if you trust the district policies implicitly and feel that I have overstated this issue.

-APP parent

Anonymous said...

Enough Already-

You ignored a major difference between charter schools and public schools. Charter schools are PRIVATE and public schools are not.

Melissa points out, correctly, that charters can go on and on talking about how they serve low income kids and miraculously end the "achievement gap," but they can still control who goes to them. That is a private school. Huge difference.

As the poster above mentioned, Seattle has a large percentage of people who go private. Where is your anger at them? It's the private school families that exacerbate this "clustering" of which you are complaining.

-still in public

Anonymous said...

<25% in private schools. Look at SPS website, there's a 2011 enrollment trends and demographic report done by Les Kendrick.

open ears

Melissa Westbrook said...

"In districts that do not have a well defined AL program the solution is to bump kids up one or two grades."

Really? I haven't done this research but I thought that grade-skipping was pretty passe.

word said...

You might be right (you are the expert) but I know kids in the san juan island school district who did it just 4-5 years ago. I did look and they have set up a more coherent AL program in their district now.

It probably just occurs in small districts now.

word said...

You bring up a valid point though - if grade skipping is unacceptable........what are you going to do with these kids!

Anonymous said...

For ALO, why is ability-grouping verboten and akin to "tracking" if the groups can be fluid and created through well-reasoned, well-defined and well-communicated standards/rubrics? It doesn't have to be a single MAP score. It could be MAP score + teacher observations + unit test, etc. Reassessment could be ongoing. That's what they do with reading in certain grades, and with math at other schools. Sure, parents wonder whether their kid is in the "lowest" group, or want them higher, but can't teachers just point to their records with honest intentions and do the best for these kids?
@whim

Anonymous said...

Ironically our SPS advanced learning program also have admission criteria on who gets in. Many pubic G & T, STEM, and magnet schools all over this county do the same. I'm not trying to make anybody mad, honest. But things aren't always so clearcut. I think in some ways, we do practice some form of gatekeeping sometime within a school, sometime with a separate school. Even in an inclusive classroom of 32 with one teacher, you have to triage which means for reading group, you group kids by needs. What do you think of opening up some of the MS and HS academic classes to grade mixing? We do that with languages, music, and other electives? Obviously kids have to meet the standards and prerequisites to be in more advanced or upper level class.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I meant "PUBLIC" not the other er....

Red faced. Open ears.

Anonymous said...

New “Open Ears” @ 7:17 & 9:30 & 10:17 –

Choose your own moniker. I’ve used this one for years. Think up your own.
For those of us who need to remain anonymous because of our positions in the district, the only credibility comes in the consistency of one clear
voice.

open ears 1.0

Anonymous said...

I don't believe ability grouping is akin to tracking. I am saying what I heard at our former elementary school - "tracking is bad." I think providing something like walk to math is free to the schools, and good for the kids.

I am also fully opposed to MAP scores being used as proof for virtually anything except maybe that the kid is able to use a mouse.

Schools seem like they pull back from marking any differences between kids because of other parent's perceptions of "elitism."

Again, why much of AL, especially Spectrum and ALO, limited due to parents (what is it anger? jealousy? I really have no idea)? It is unbelievable to me. Again, the kids I have been around don't care about tracking, it's all the parents.

whim

word said...

I'm only a lowly parent, but what I have seen in the last years is a more of a "ham fisted" attempt by the district to impose consistency and squelch the programs that principals come up with that works for their kids.

For across the board AL to work at each school there would have to be consistency in standards (and when I say standards I mean material covered) coupled with flexibility in implementation. To make the coverage consistent the curriculum has to be rigorous and excellent (and preferably simple and straightforward - no fancy bells and whistles - no kooky "themes"). Simple curricula are easier to adapt to different students' learning styles. Right now that is not the case with math in the district so there are pockets of high or improved performance where schools have applied for waivers to use good curriculum. Thus there is work to do from the ground up before you could even begin to impose rigor on each school.

Finally, I think it is important for principals to serve as advocates for their schools rather than tools to impose district sanctions. This could be helped by not moving the principals around the district so much.

Ah well - one can dream.

Anonymous said...

OK original Open Ears. Good to have an insider's insider. Sorry about that. I'll be-

new ears

Anonymous said...

Another way to look at it is some families are choosing to keep their kids in public school (the APP program) instead of syphoning more kids off to private. That keeps more money in the system and benefits all.

Data doesn't support that conclusion APP parent. Garfield is getting less and less national merit scholarships awards - while Lakeside gets nearly triple their numbers. Most other SPS schools get single disits, including Ingraham. It used to be a lot more even.Some years Lakeside had more, some years Garfield, but always close. It's no longer even close, and hasn't been for a while.

Lots of private schools siphon off the gifted students. Certainly, privates siphon off a lot more gifted students than disabled ones or minorities. So. APP SHOULD reprensent minorities in a much higher degree than SPS as a whole if equity or proportionality was any concern at all. Instead you find exactly the opposite. The fact that SPS gifted programs are HIGHLY white and non-FRL, EVEN after the private schools have dwindled their numbers - is evidence of an EVEN GREATER disproportionality than it appears at a glance. (That is, using SPS percentages)

-equity rules

ArchStanton said...

The concept of private schools (especially gifted private schools) siphoning off SPS' gifted students is amusing to me.

I could make a comment about the epistemology of it, but it would probably come off clunky.

At any rate, there are no recruiters lurking outside of our public schools trying to woo APP and Spectrum students. There are only a handful of gifted private schools and there are a limited number of spaces available. They have waiting lists. They turn qualified applicants away. There is no "siphoning" - It's more like "leaking" or "losing". SPS drives gifted kids to go private and holds on to as many gifted kids as it does because private schools can't handle the number of families that would bail if there were more options available - even at the high tuition rates, not to mention if there were alternative, cheaper, private gifted schools.

Anonymous said...

Equity-

Your argument doesn't make any sense. I don't know (and neither do you) what percentage of kids who leave the district for private schools are gifted. For your argument to be true, it would have to be a very high percentage.

-whim

Anonymous said...

Whim & Equity:
To help your guesstimates: There are two schools truly geared for gifted students that I know of, only one of which (a private K-8) is in Seattle, and of the 328 students there, 10-15% are from out of town. Likewise the eastside counterpart has no more than 35% from outside it's eastside/issaquah/bellevue area. Other schools can 'handle' gifted kids to various degrees of success, such as UCDS, but aren't specifically serving them. Homeschooling must catch some of these gifted formerSPS kids too, but the majority I've known as both a former gifted student and PG parent and gifted educator MOVE from Seattle to find a better situation altogether.
It'd be journalistically worthwhile to ask the PRISM programs how many 'gifted immigrants' they get over on the eastside.

-N.SeattleParent

Anonymous said...

Arch, there sure are recruiters from private schools. Where've you been? The fact is, to get into a rigorous private secondary school, the little geniuses will need to take the ISEE, and a private doctor will not be available to bail them out when their scores don't show the genius mom and dad know they possess.

Amused as well.

hschinske said...

When my kids were in APP at Lowell, the office used to post the Seattle Times or P-I article about National Merit finalists each year, with highlights through the names of those who had been Lowell students. While many had of course gone on to Garfield, lots of the merit finalists at other schools were also old APP students. Dollars to doughnuts about half of them had qualified for elementary APP on private testing.

Helen Schinske

Just one datapoint, but said...

Gen Ed middle school at Washington is not interesting to our family. Spectrum, which kid currently qualifies for, might be OK. APP is much more likely to be ok. We are also looking at private schools.

The private school classes I've observed, and the ones I took as a kid, seem very similar to Spectrum classes. Both are comprised of a motivated, above average kids.

Having spectrum and ALO available make the parents of motivated, above-average kids who can afford private school more comfortable with public school. They also provide a similar experience for motivated above-average kids who can't afford private school. Why is this bad, again?

Jan said...

One problem with gifted kids and private schools is that many good private schools also are not equipped to handle kids working way beyond grade level. I found that lots of private schools were a great match for my spectrum (but NOT APP qualified kid), but had much more difficulty finding a good match (at any school that had space) for my APP kid.

Going back to at least one of readers point -- if the quibble is in how we identify kids, what tests we use, how accurate they may (or may not) be for some economically disadvantaged kids, etc. -- I agree that this is an issue. I don't have the expertise to suggest an answer, but would love to see someone intelligent in the District (who cares about HAVING an APP program, and finding the right size, and the right entrance protocol for it) take this question on.

I still don't think answers like "retest them every year or two
have any validity (except to those who dislike the program and want it to shrink or disappear, suspecting that large numbers of kids in it have cheated their way in and need to be removed as soon as possible).

Nor do I think the "count only the tests taken in big gyms full of kids) argument has merit. From talking to a number of professionals in the field, that form of testing (at least for the COGAT portion) diminishes the validity of the test. We do it that way because it is cheap, not because it is the right way to assess kids (and the latter is acknowledged by permitting the huge number of "false negatives" to at least try to true things up with a second test done in an environment likely to lead to a more valid result.) Is it fair (to those who cannot afford the appeal test?) No -- but that is no reason to unfairly exclude other kids who qualify that way -- it is a reason to fix the overall evaluation system. The goal should be a system that identifies every single child whose education would be enhanced by access to the acceleration and increased rigor of the program. I will say -- the education of my Spectrum-eligible child (who never was in Spectrum, due to space constraints) would NOT have been enhanced had I somehow wangled him in. He was much better off with regular paced classes than he would have been with APP classes, and because they could not fit us in Spectrum -- we just supplemented.

Anonymous said...

Helen and Amused are right.

You better believe that Lakeside and others actively recruit bright kids of color from APP/Spectrum/Rainier Scholars!

I don't fault those families at all for choosing that opportunity, and I know several many APP kids that are very happy there, but APP sure gets whiter after fifth grade.

Someone with access to those numbers could tell us exactly what the attrition is.

open ears

Jan said...

Absolutely right, open ears. I can't speak to recruitment of minorities out of APP, but I watched private high schools "go after" the Rainier Scholars that my kid want to middle school with, and it was impressive. They WERE great, talented kids, who will go far!! I begrudge them nothing, and am more than happy that they ended up at Lakeside and U Prep (can't recall where others went). They were MORE than capable (by the end of 8th grade) of competing with anyone else at those schools, and had worked their tails off to get there. (So this is NOT an affirmative action thing. At least in terms of my child, his impression was these kids were smarter than he was AND they worked harder.) But yes, diversity (or lack of it) is a problem for many private schools, and kids who illustrate that they are ready, willing and able to do the work AND can help solve a school's diversity problems are highly sought after.

Anonymous said...

Dollars to doughnuts about half of them had qualified for elementary APP on private testing.


Hey Melissa!!!! Delete Helen's post! She is rampantly speculating on the evil private testing that does NOT happen. Nobody should get to say ANYTHING about private tests for APP because it is soooo NOT true. They all got in the old-fashioned way, by district test.

You did say speculating about APP private testing was off limits, didn't you?

-Goose

Anonymous said...

One barrier to APP that should be acknowledged in the discussions about diversity is that getting into APP and committing to going to an APP school take an extra effort on the part of parents: they have to sign up for the testing (in September for the next year!), perhaps they need to appeal their testing results in a tight deadline, the kids often have to be bused and go to school farther from home, they might be in separate schools from their siblings, etc. Each of these creates barriers for over-stressed parents or those who aren't "in the loop", whether they are single parents, working two jobs, recent immigrants or...

For that reason, a number of years ago I helped fight to keep the Spectrum program at our neighborhood school Broadview Thomson, close to many immigrant communities and far away from Lowell. But the principal and some teachers saw it as "elitist" and have basically killed it.

Mom of 2

Anonymous said...

I wasn't going to jump into this fray but I had a very powerful conversation with a mom today about advanced learning. She was beyond distraught because she "didn't know what she would do" if her kid didn't get into APP. They are a "good" school with lots of differentiation. But her son is in a constant struggle with the teachers because he "won't do the stupid worksheets."

The kid is bright, incredibly so. He is in first grade and can only have a conversation with the fifth graders. The mom was distraught because she once again got a note from the teacher about how her son is not learning anything in class. Shocking! The kid is not challenged or even minimally engaged.

Advanced Learning serves a real need. Maybe a handful of kids get access that don't have a real need. I hear the same gripes about resource room support from the families that pay for tutoring because they don't qualify for the resource room.

Oh well, no program or service is perfect. But there is a real need for Advanced Learning. There isn't a real need for advanced learners to be be divided up evenly into classrooms to some how make the class less burdensome.

- north seattle mom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, north seattle mom. Not that those with such negative feelings toward APP will ever change their tune, but it's good to help put a face on the real need that's out there.

A number of individuals who comment on this blog seem to take issue with the active and vocal APP parent presence, seeing is as proof that we think our kids somehow deserve more than others. In reality, however, I think it's because our kids need something else--and we've realized over the years that the only way to get it is to push, push and push for it. If your kid is an outlier, the regular classrooms just won't cut it.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

APP is an important program that serves bout 2100 kids in this district.

APP parent

Anonymous said...

I have to believe that if neighborhood schools offered a stronger curriculum for the general education of all students and more parents felt their neighborhood school was strong, there wouldn't be such animosity for APP. Part of the problem is the perception that someone is getting something better.

My plea to Banda: Improve the academics for every school.

n asked said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
n asked said...

How do you want academics improved? We have more curricula on our plates than ever before. Some schools have more kids in classrooms than ever before. We have greater challenges in terms of poverty and special needs than ever before.

I'm looking for specifics. What improvements exactly are called for? I'm curious to see if there is agreement on what "better" means.

Than, where will the funding be found if additional funding is needed to make it happen?

Anonymous said...

But that's the rub. Students in APP are NOT getting something better, just something different. It's the same crappy curriculum, just accellerated. Same teacher qualifications, despite the fact the district likes to suggest all APP teachers have experience/training working with gifted kids. Same crowded schools, but with APP kids much more likely to get screwed over when things reach the breaking point. The perception that APP kids get something special is inconsistent with reality. Sure, the music programs may be better in MS and HS compared to some--but not all--of the other schools, but I suspect it's because APP kids bring something extra, not that they get something extra. And please note that I'm not saying these kids are inherently more talented in music or anything else--it may just be, for many of them, that they've had more parent-provided training along the way. Since the APP pathway schools meet the kids where they are (a couple years ahead), this often results in higher level course availability--for non-APP kids in the school, too.

The only thing I can see that APP kids "get" is a guaranteed pathway...and we can see how well that works out--a split several years ago, a last-minute move last year, potential denial of 6th grade middle school, potential eviction from Hamilto soon, etc. Do you really think any APP parents are banking on the pathway at this point? My only message to my elementary student is that we don't have any clue what his middle school options will be in a year and a half, so not to get his mind set on anything.

HIMSmom

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

With our growing APP population, hopefully SPS number of National Merit scholars will go up again. The odds are in our favor for this. Bellevue's public gifted Interlake HS takes second after Lakeside for number of scholars. And the small (550 students) International School (6-12), another Bellevue school puts out impressive number of merit scholars and SAT/AP scores. Numbers don't tell everything, but trends do.

watchful





Anonymous said...

"And please note that I'm not saying these kids are inherently more talented in music or anything else--it may just be, for many of them, that they've had more parent-provided training along the way."

Interesting. Or, as Ross Perot would say, inersting.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Are MAP scores inflated, especially in the early grades? As in scores at APP level for first graders who cannot read? Every other kid scoring 98 in math? It seems to be misleading parents into considering APP at least at my NW school.
NW kids

Anonymous said...

But that's the rub. Students in APP are NOT getting something better, just something different.

Ahhhh. The old "separate, but equal" claim. That's what they said in my Georgia school too, back in the 60's. Black students weren't getting something worse, just separate. Notably, the "need" for "separate gifted" programs came just when segregation was outlawed for black students. People still feel the need for it. And it's still the same group.

trembs 384

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

Actually, trembs 384, the shameful history you recount is how the idea of charter schools and school vouchers originated (and the main proponents of charters today still push for racial segregation in the form of schools like KIPP which target, segregate and regiment poor kids of color). APP, in contrast, as part of our public school system, is open to all students who need significantly advanced learning, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background or race. Does the district succeed in identifying all the kids who need to be in it? No. Rather than launching anonymous accusations at parents you’ve never met, how about coming up with a constructive suggestion for how our district can identify more kids of color who should be in advanced learning programs and encourage them to join? There's an important and constructive conversation that should be had about this. Unfortunately this thread hasn’t been the place for it. Some of the black families I know with gifted kids have been hesitant to send their kids to APP because they understandably don’t want them to be a minority in their school. So they often choose another option (usually parochial or private school) and the cycle continues. But no one I know, in APP or not, wants to return to the hateful era of the ‘50s and ‘60s of “separate but (un)equal.”

Anonymous said...

Such statements are designed to be inflammatory. However, there are times when APP parents say things in blanketed fashion too. In the APP blog, when there was a real genuine ongoing discussion about problems with APP testing, the thread had to be shut down due to name calling. There are some people not happy with math placement per ability (and that will mean allowing non APP students in the classes). Others could care less or are for it. We are a mixed bag of diverse opinions. A call to examine APP shouldn't end up with circling of the wagons. Some of the things about APP and how kids test in are true. Same goes for parent's motivation to get kids into APP. None of the things parents do are against district's policies. They are doing things teachers, policy makers, education experts tell parents to do. Take interest and participate in your children's education. Be their advocate.

But what I find fascinating and disturbing is when people like ZB look at APP with research re: testing, it's often met with silence to address the issue. Kids who do well in CogAT do well in part because their abilities have been allowed to be developed. These kids have parents to advocate for them, who love them enough to spend the money, effort, and time since they were born to get them to where they are today. It takes work to navigate SPS' byzantine system. These kids are fortunate.

Perhaps we just need to acknowledge what people are saying. Sometimes I find people get so defensive that ears are closed and what you get is endless back and forth vitriol.

thankful parent

Anonymous said...

And if we are at all serious at getting the targeted groups whose numbers AL dept would like to see increase, it will mean not just better ID, but it needs to go all the way back to early childhood education to make sure that opportunity exists for them. Opportunity that continues on with formal schooling. At this point, I'm open to all comers who can make that happen.

thankful parent

Public Education said...

As I said before, I hope you all are learning a lesson in feeding trolls. You have had a long discussion and not resolved anything.

If you read the comments against APP spewed by a few over and over again here, they have nothing to do with APP. They just assume APP is wealthy (it isn't), that it gets more funding (it doesn't), that it isn't diverse (diversity is the same as the City of Seattle).

Their anger is not about APP. APP is a scapegoat. Their anger is about money, class, and race.

They are angry, but their rage is misdirected. They lash out not at the real problems (taxpayers who vote against education funding and families that don't support public education), but at what is nearby (families in our public schools).

You aren't going to convince these people. They are angry at the wrong thing and their solutions are terrible. Discussion will not soothe them. The only way to make sure people like these don't get a chance to do more damage to our public schools than they already do is to outvote them.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Public Education, it's clear for you it comes down to money, class, and race. (Though I am not sure what that really means. Is this supposed to reflect your values, your politics, your religion, etc. or is this a form of quickie ID that lines your assessment of people based on those 3 factors?) Anything else and it becomes "feeding the trolls" which really limits any kind of dicussion which would allow differences of opinions. Some of us don't see things so simply and find the discussion far more complicated, especially if we want to find solutions.

thankful parent

Anonymous said...

I would like to bring some historical perspective to this discussion. My big sister was in IPP (the predecessor to APP) beginning from its inception year in the late 70's, and I was also in the program, beginning in the early 80's. Both of us read at age 3, and when my big sister went to first grade at her neighborhood school in our middle class north Seattle neighborhood school, she came home crying because the teacher had told her to stop reading because the other kids needed to catch up. The teacher told my parents that she couldn't possibly differentiate curriculum for the advanced kids, it was too hard, so she was focusing on the kids who needed the most help. As you can imagine, my parents found a different school for her for second grade--she went to Leschi, where there was a gifted program. She was there for one year, then in third grade, IPP was born at Madrona and she entered the program.

IPP was different from APP in that the point of IPP was to teach kids at whatever level they were at. So, if you read at the 4th grade level in 1st grade, they gave you a 4th grade reading book. Same for spelling or math. And they would give you the assignments at your own pace too. So if you finished all of your math problems in one day instead of one week, no worries, they'd just give you the next assignment then. If a certain concept took you longer, no worries, you just finished it at your own pace. If you were 3 grades ahead in math and 2 in reading, no problem, you could be at all different levels in all different subjects. The whole thing, top to bottom, was differentiated instruction, at least at the elementary school level. I don't remember so much differentiation in middle school, but we definitely got projects that were challenging and complex, and were reading texts like Beowulf in 6th grade.

My sister describes the kids from her years in IPP as weirdos and misfits, the kinds of kids who just could NOT do well in a regular classroom for lots of reasons. Lots of them had behavior disorders, it appeared to her. She did not keep in touch with any of them after leaving the program after 8th grade to attend her neighborhood high school because she just didn't make friends with a lot of them, they were so odd. Fast forward 6 years to when I entered the program, and it looked very different. Now it was an elite thing to be in IPP and I don't recall any kids with behavior issues. I do remember a few rich kids who we thought were dumb. In hindsight, maybe they were the ones who paid for private testing and weren't really qualified? But most of the kids I went to school with were CRAZY smart. Like, I read at age 3 and I was not the smartest kid in class, nowhere near it.

When I was in the program, there was roughly one classroom per grade level, maybe 1 1/2. We did have several split classrooms (I was in a 4/5 split class when I was in 5th grade). So, the program was significantly smaller than it is now. I believe the cutoff was top 1% rather then top 2% like it is now, but I could be wrong. In any case, we were not large enough to fill our own building, so cohousing was necessary. But I don't feel like the kids in the program got much out of being a building with a neighborhood program, since we rarely interacted with them.

When I look at APP now, I don't see anything like the program I was in. Instead, it seems like what Spectrum was back then...I am blanking on what that program's name was, but it was self-contained and gave advanced work, but nothing like the differentiation that IPP offered. To me, that was the beauty of IPP, the differentiation. That disappeared when the program made the switch to APP when I was in 8th grade.

What is the best way forward? I don't know, really. But I thought some historical perspective might help people think about ways that gifted ed might be run differently, given that it HAS been run differently in the past. Whether that other way is better or not is certainly up for debate.

-IPP Alum

Anonymous said...

I look at APP in some way as the canary of SPS coal mine. Here's a group of kids who rightly should do well. Better than well. If our number of National Merit scholars is declining despite the increasing number of APP students, then I have to stop and ask what is going on? Is it because we've made getting in easier or is it because the district's attention to teaching/curricula is going downhill? Or is it both?

How APP does matters not only because it provides kids the challenge and learning opportunity they need, but it's the canary. If our brightest kids are not doing well with the same course materials (delivered in an accelerated and compact fashion), then what does that say about our gen ed students. Some of you have been in SPS longer than my decade, so you can speak more. But I've never had a strong sense the district paid much attention to its teaching, what it's teaching, and how it's teaching. Except for the math text adoption, the district seems to get caught up in program definitions and task force, and day to day operation issues. Of course BEX, transportation, programs, teacher evals, standardized testings, capacity, school closures/openings are all important, but the actual pedagogy, how kids learn and acquire knowledge has become a subject rather than the practice.

Another thing, many kids of every abilities enjoy in depth and robust classroom discussions. Kids just like adults enjoy being listened to, to express and have their ideas/opinions acknowledge, and to learn from one another through these engagements. We are losing more and more of the quality that makes learning a worthwhile endeavor.

thankful parent

Anonymous said...

Reader -- you spoke of APP elementary, assuming it was still at lowell unti you were corrected. But in your subsequent postings you continue to assume that APP elementary is all in one school (Lincoln) without any other programs and without low income kids in the school.. You and many others on this blog seem oblivious to the fact that Thurgood Marshall has an APP program too. The school is very diverse, has a high FRL population , has a large number of ELL students, and has a strong program for children on the autism spectrum. When you talk about APP schools not having to deal with the issues and challenges confronted by many Seattle schools, I am struck by the thought that you know nothing about Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall is certainly more diverse and more representative of the city than the neighborhood school my child left.
-- at that other APP school
--