To explain, it was noted by several readers that the testing schedule for Advanced Learning programs is NOT in the school calendar. And, by law, they have to supply public notice (at least for APP).
You'd think the calendar, going to every single family in the district, would be the ideal place.
You'd think the first-day packets, going to every single family in the district, would be the ideal place.
You'd apparently be wrong.
So I wrote to the Board and the Superintendent:
Special Service Program
Highly Capable Students
Annual public notification of parents and students shall be made before any major identification activity. The notice shall be published or announced in multiple ways in appropriate languages to each community in school and district publications or other media, with circulation adequate to notify parents and students throughout the district.
This is a legal obligation (at least for APP).
I respectfully ask that you send home a sheet with the first-day packets with dates and information about this program (unless the district is planning to not have it or test for it this year).
Here's the reply I received from Stephen Martin, Interim Director for AL/Highly Capable:
Your message was forwarded to me for response. You are quite right. This important notification avenue was overlooked in the flux surrounding Dr. Vaughan’s retirement last spring. I have already alerted the Public Affairs Office, and we will make sure that Advanced Learning dates are included in future.
Fortunately, there are multiple other means of notifying families. Our website www.seattleschools.org/advlearning information is frequently updated, and principals will include AL information in their school newsletters and websites. Additionally, we are sending notices to newspapers serving the various communities in the city, and to over fifty private and independent schools.
Perhaps you, too, would be willing to spread the good word!
You can see that Mr. Martin doesn't mention the first-day packets.
Here's my reply:
I appreciate the input and naturally, I'll be happy to send out the info.
I will note, however, that principals have frequently NOT included information on AL programs (for various reasons). How will the district monitor to make sure the information is given out at all schools? As well, it is wrong to believe that all parents have or use a computer. I know this from being a PTA co-president and struggling to make sure ALL families receive notification.
Director Martin-Morris has frequently been unhappy with the distribution of AL students in the district and it points to areas where parents may not have access to websites. I would also note that it far more important to make sure every single SPS school knows than any of the private or independent schools.
Again, I stand by belief that this should be a stand-alone sheet in the first-day packets which I know could be done because I've been in charge of first-day packets at a couple of schools.
I doubt if I will receive any reply.
Here's the link to the Advanced Learning page:
Information and forms regarding eligibility testing for the 2014-15 school year are now available. Click on Application Forms in the menu at right. Applications are due by Thursday October 3, 2013.
Why the Application Forms wording is not a live link and you have to go to yet another page to get to them is a mystery.
We continue on this path of pretending we have Advanced Learning but it is really mostly lip service.
Disgusted (but not surprised)