Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wild, Irresponsible Speculation about the West Seattle APP Option and More

The District is committed to creating an optional 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle. It is written into the Growth Boundary plan and program placement has been made at Fairmount Park and Madison.

But what will this optional pathway be like? Can it be self-contained? If not, then what? And what does this proposal mean for service delivery for APP elsewhere in the District? What, in fact, is the District's intent around student identification and service delivery for advanced learning after MTSS has been implemented - or, to be more precise, after the District claims that MTSS has been implemented?

This is all pure speculation. There is simply no way to know before the fact, but we can look ahead and we can make some deductions. We do have some facts:

  • The District is committed to an alternative 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle.
  • There are not enough APP-eligible students in West Seattle form a full cohort for the self-contained model.
  • The District is committed to implementing MTSS.
  • The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to student identification process and standards for advanced learning.
  • The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to the service delivery models for advanced learning.
  • MTSS comes with a structure for identifying advanced learners.
  • MTSS comes with a structure for providing service for advanced learners.
Okay. Let the wild and irresponsible speculation begin!
I don't claim to be a journalist. I don't because I have too much respect for the ideals of journalism and I have no intention of meeting those standards. Journalists should never indulge in exactly this sort of speculation, and I revel in it.

Here's what I project:

  1. The District could implement the optional 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle in 2014, but they won't. They will defer it until 2015 to allow for the development of a service delivery model.
  2. The District will, eventually, hire a manager for Advanced Learning. This might not happen until February, but it will happen. The unspent salary dollars in the advanced learning budget will not be retained and carried forward in the budget for next year.
  3. The District will, eventually, convene the long-promised Task Forces for student identification and service delivery models. They won't do it until after they hire the manager, so don't hold your breath.
  4. District-level officials will talk a lot about implementing MTSS. Do not confuse this with working hard to implement MTSS. They will overstate their success.
  5. While MTSS will be presumed to be the law of the land inside the JSCEE, the implementation in the schools will be spotty at best. It will be non-existent in most places. There will be some documentation that will paper over the absence of any real implementation. This will be the way with all District efforts to change what happens in classrooms and schools so long as principals are granted broad authority with little accountability. Think of how well the District became a Standards Based Learning System under Joseph Olchefske in 2001 (when they declared this conversion complete) or how they achieved Curricular Alignment under Maria Goodloe-Johnson in 2009. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson also declared the Southeast Education Initiative a success and claimed to have implemented an Accountability System. There is no delusion that they cannot maintain.
  6. The myth of MTSS will dominate the work of the Task Forces. MTSS doesn't have to exist in reality to guide this work, only in the minds of district level staff who acknowledge it as the current party line. George Orwell would be distraught - vindicated, but distraught.
  7. The student identification task force will deliver a recommendation that works through the MTSS model and ends up identifying students who are high-performing rather than highly capable. Joseph Olchefske, if he knew, would be delighted. It is worth noting that this student identification process will save hundreds of thousands of dollars now spent on testing. That money will become available for spending on service delivery.
  8. The service delivery task force will deliver a recommendation that works through the MTSS model as well. It will require every school to develop a Tier II solution. These solutions will be chosen off a limited menu of district-approved service delivery models and will essentially create an ALO at every school - elementary, middle, and high school - and will essentially eliminate Spectrum. There will be a menu of Tier III service delivery models as well. These models will essentially replace APP. The question remains how many Tier III programs will be created and where they will appear.
  9. It is likely that the Tier III service delivery model will be driven by the operational decisions that the District is making now. If they started with a blank sheet then I suspect that the District would place a Tier III advanced learning program at an elementary school in every middle school service area and at every middle and high school. They are not, however, working with a blank sheet, so they will follow the tracks getting laid down right now with two elementary and two middle school sites in the north-end, one elementary and one middle school site in the south-end and an optional program site in West Seattle.
  10. The service delivery model task force will not only create a menu of models for Tier II, they will identify a menu of service delivery models for Tier III. This menu will include the self-contained structure at the designated 1-8 APP sites, it will allow for a non-self-contained model for 1-8 in West Seattle, and it will allow for a solution for K at every school (as now required by the state law).
  11. I believe that the service delivery model task force will create a menu of models for 9-12 and the District will require every high school to implement one of them. This will mean APP at every high school and the end of APP high school cohorts as we know them. Among the models will be a concentration of AP classes (like Garfield) and IBX (like Ingraham). Look for IBX at Ingraham, Sealth, and Rainier Beach, and a constellation of AP classes everywhere else.
  12. STEM at Cleveland and NOVA will be the first high schools (in addition to Garfield and Ingraham) to be acknowledged as having Tier II and Tier III MTSS programs, both intervention and advanced. Other option schools will be  be initially exempt from all of this. They will be expected to provide advanced learning options as MTSS is rolled out to them.
  13. If five of the twelve predictions listed above prove accurate that would be a .416 batting average. I could be proud of that. I don't expect to bat 1.000 and I don't think I should be held to that standard. 
That's what I foresee. What do you foresee?


Anonymous said...

I think you're correct all the way down the line. It's infuriating because the changes will be made solely to meet the capacity planning needs of the district. The kids who really need APP will be out of luck in high school.

When do you think they'll end the APP assignment to Garfield? I have my thoughts on that but am curious to hear yours.

Could a really good director of advanced learning turn the tide?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, what a good laugh (I mean your writing, not your thoughts.)

Also, look to get dinged for daring to speculate. Again, not journalist and we get to interject our opinions (which are largely based on our experience and knowledge of this district,meaning, we are not pulling these thoughts out of thin air).

"...will essentially create an ALO at every school - elementary, middle, and high school - and will essentially eliminate Spectrum.

Ha, ha. Very funny. I absolutely agree that they will get rid of Spectrum (as we know it despite their studied words at the growth boundary meetings) but ALO at every school? With what carrot or what stick? Please. If there is no enforcement and principals continue to mostly be the kings and queens of their schools, I don't see this happening.

I also predict you and I will never again get selected for the AL Taskforce. (But we can try.)

Anonymous said...

Charlie, numbers 10 and 11 would probably work for my family, so I actually hope you at least get on base with those. And I'll give you some credit for number 13 because I love a good sports analogy. But even Cabrera is only hitting .345 ;)

-Want It

Eric B said...

I think that one small elephant in the room is that moving an APP program to West Seattle will change enrollment. I doubt it will be many years (if any) before there are plenty of first graders to fill up at least a 1-up self-contained program, and probably 2-up. Same would go for kids entering 6th grade. Within a couple of years, you would have a very healthy self-contained model.

Wouldn't an expansion of AP classes available at high school level be good for everyone?

PS 5/12 = 0.417 with most rounding conventions. Not that it matters.

PPS You can't complain about not being recognized as a journalist if you say you're not a journalist. Just sayin'.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Could a really good director of advanced learning turn the tide?"

Sure, if anyone above him or her believed in the program AND gave him or her leeway to create a better program. That's a big if. I think upper staff already has their own ideas about what to do.

Eric, they have been expanding the AP offerings at all the high schools already. So that's happening but again, AP isn't the be all and end all for rigor. I'd love to see some new ideas.

As for the journalist thing:

1) Charlie never complained, I did.

2) My complaint was NOT that as a blogger, I'm a journalist. I'm not.

My complaint was that it's a new media world, that most media outlets have blogs (and those are not necessarily written by journalists) and that our blog is a long-time outlet for education news. I told the district this at one point. Other real journalists generously chimed in and agreed and the district graciously allowed us to join press conferences.

I note there was no such problem with the Mayor's office or Senator Murray's office.

Anonymous said...

From what I can see, it isn't just capacity mgmt. that is driving this. It's also minimizing bus drives.

Add that to what appears to be a majority belief from senior staff and board that APP should be available in multiple geographic areas for reasons of "equity" and it appears clear that a multi-split APP cohort is here to stay at all grade levels.

I am not defending any of these points. Just outlining what I see. I have serious doubts that current APP parents opposing this trend will make any headway. Senior staff appears more interested in long term planning than short term appeasement.


Anonymous said...

If NSAP is the way to go, then whatever left of choice -alt/option, k-8, LI and AL should be available and accessible locally too. We've long left the 2% station to concentrate it to one pathway. (Middle school APP math and LA classes were eye openers for our family - quite diverse academically.) I rather have more middle schools offering algebra to capable 6th graders along with geometry and biology offerings. Yes to more high schools with rigorous AP/IB classes (running start is a great program, but would like more 4 year university options). If our oldest keeps going at this pace, will have enough credits to graduate early.

Melissa Westbrook said...

EdVoter - good point but it does beg the question? Why Olympic Hills for APP because that will incur a huge transportation cost to the school that is the furthest north in that area.

Sher said...

My guess is its all a smokescreen. There will be very , very small self contained APP programs at several locations in the near future. 90% of kids in APP will be returned to neighborhood schools. The method to do this will a change in testing. It wil be based on student age, eliminating redshirts, and it will be moved to six months or more later than a students chronological age. So a nine year and two month old student would have to score in the top 2% of a test normed for a nine year and eight month old student.

Po3 said...

I think all APP cohorts should be dissolved at the high school level and all high schools should ensure any APP student can continue their pathway at their HS.

IB programs should be expanded and if the demand is greater than seats available (like at IHS this year) then a lottery would need to be considered, or students are given the option to do IB at a school with seats, like RBHS at the moment.

Another idea is offer IB classes at all HS an maybe cut back on AP offerings.

Eric B said...

If you want more rigor than AP, you can expand IB to more high schools. There's no reason (other than money) that couldn't be done.

Speaking as a parent of an APP-qualified, but not attending child, we asked two questions when deciding whether to enroll in APP. Is the child being served in their current school? Is it worth the effort (distance, making new friends, etc.)? I suspect that many parents ask the same. Having more APP sites in more places will dramatically change the response to the second question. Regardless of the actual travel time, TM seems like a long way from West Seattle. Having something closer, even if it's the same travel time, will induce more people to join.

Anonymous said...

Eric B - yes - an expansion of AP classes at all high schools would be good for everyone. Who is arguing against that? It wouldn't replace the value of a cohort in high school.

P03 - getting an IB program started is too expensive for the district to do it everywhere. Can I ask why you think the high school cohort should be dissolved? How would that affect your family?


Melissa Westbrook said...

"..all high schools should ensure any APP student can continue their pathway at their HS."

What would that look like?

Po3 said...

Can I ask why you think the high school cohort should be dissolved?

Because they are the only group of students who stay together (for the most part) after 8th grade.

Take a K-8 for example, they have been a cohort for 9 years, yet nobody thinks they need to stay together, because they have been together.

Many of the K8 cohort do continue to the same high school, but a fair number also scatter to IB, private and option HS.

Now that APP students have the option to choose GHS or IBX, it seems like the whole "keep the cohort together" argument is thin as they have begun to separate themselves between the two school choices, as well as private and in some cases back to their reference school.

How would that affect your family?

I think if APP students were spread out through the district at HS the rigor at all HS would improve, throughout the district. So I would have to say, it would have a positive impact on my family.

Po3 said...

What would that look like?

Well for math:

9th = ALG 2
10th = PreCal
11th = Calc or AP Calc or IB Calc
12th Stats or AP Stats or IB Stats

For Science - I would model GHS Marine Science or maybe add a Plant Science in 9th grade. Then onto CHEM, AP CHEM, PHYSICS, or AP PHYSICS, maybe offer Genetics?
That pathway could work.

For SS - potentially APP students could start with the AP US History, the AP World History, then move onto advanced SS-type electives such as Poly Sci.

I am not sure how LA would work as I am not familiar with how APP LA works in middle school.

Lets not also forget about Running Start as another option for APP students - many of which are all ready accessing at GHS.

Anonymous said...

Po3 hits the nail on the head. Putting the majority of APP kids back in neighborhood schools at all levels should increase rigor for all students. We're already seeing 6th grade algebra at middle schools and honors groupings for LA. Science is a problem, but parents at middle schools are clamor ing for more.
Apparently the new buzzword is opposed to intelligence. Rigor for all with differentiation of either material or depth. Sound more complicated than just setting up self contained classrooms, at least for staff, but less problems with siting and transportation.


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

P03 and Kim,

If your current schools aren't offering appropriate rigor for their students, I can understand your distress. Hopefully, discussions with your principals and your region's executive director will help. Is this something you need help advocating for?

It sounds like you think having APP students present in your schools will make quite a difference. That surprises me because I'm not aware of a time something like that has happened.

I don't see a benefit for the APP students in this change. Does that concern you? I can't imagine asking someone else's children to be moved to make mine happier, but I guess everyone has different comfort levels with that type of thing.

Thanks for answering my questions. Your answers were enlightening.


Anonymous said...

Yes, we need advocating for the General Education program in Seattle from K-12 across the board to provide more rigor and offer challenges to kids who can meet them, and we need options for kids to be able to take the most advanced classes they are capable of at the high school level. And of course they need to be prepared for those courses before they get to High School. Would anyone disagree with this? If this happened across the board at every school I think you would find most parents don't care when where or how the APP kids learn. Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

Gen Ed Mom,

The AP classes won't be too full for your kid because any kid can sign up at the same time as anyone else.

Kim and Po3,

It's a fallacy that schools will adjust their offerings if APP kids come back to the neighborhood. Roosevelt does not budge and many APP kids go there. They must redo the science they did in 7th grade despite having finished HS biology, they don't get to go straight into AP World as they would at GHS. There are other benefits like proximity that make that choice work for those families, but ask Kate Martin how flexible Roosevelt admin is.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Open Ears, Is that in theory or in practice? Is there room for everybody? Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

Talk to your principal, your executive director and Shauna Heath. Endless discussions of AL services isn't going to solve your problem.


Anonymous said...

I am not dicussing AL services. This is a never ending discussion on here though. Sound like you have no skin in the game except for AL services. Does anybody here? GEM

Anonymous said...

High school capacity is going to be a problem for my 7th grader so I fully expect APP pathway changes. The children have close ties with their neighborhood friends. From casual conversations among friends, there are already problems with getting into certain high school classes to stay on the college prep track. Many parents are wising up to this crunch. Non APP Middle schools are offering algebra and geometry now. I have heard friends talked about lobbying for a biology class and EOC testing in the local MS too. Personally, I think this is all good as I see this as more choices for a student with an APP designation. If you are firmly committed to the cohort and nothing else, then I can understand the fear. Though at some point, these students do grow up and must leave the herd. With high school capacity problem looming before 2019, I think it would be smart to ramp up the high schools now. If more and more middle schoolers are taking classes once offered to APP students and doing well, my child will have a larger cohort to work with. That's a good thing. As for music and the arts, there are already very strong programs in non-pathway schools to tap into.


Anonymous said...

If, and that's a huge if, APPstudents are sent back to neighborhood schools, they cannot be made to repeat coursework. I am surprised and incredulous that kids who have high school credit already for Biology are taking classes that they have passed. The surely don't do that for math.
As far as benefitting, I think the concern is that those students not be harmed and that would reasonable. Why would APP kids need a benefit?
It seems the district has two choices. Continue with a burgeoning program, or eliminate it for all but the kids who fit a much narrower criterium. If most APP kids can be challenged without a self-contained program, it would create a continuum of service more adaptable to each students needs. That could benefit APP kids and other kids as well.
Understandably, parents are reluctant to give a somewhat predictable academic pathway and the district is going to need to do good job of selling. I am very curious what is happening with the search for a new director. Does the board have input or is this Mr. Banda's decision?
My guess is we get a local person, Puget Sound, who has taken a similarly divisive and expanding program and changed it into a very small targeted one.

Who knows

Anonymous said...

Who knows,

I think it would be tough to find another city where parents are so eager to destroy an advanced learning program. It's quite odd.


Anonymous said...

GEM - Did you read the title of this thread?


Anonymous said...

Lynn, I did. When there is a thread about bringing up standards in the Gen Ed program and making sure all students have access to challenging classes in High School, I will comment there. But right now there isn't. Is it possible to add one? I don't want to destroy anything, I just want my kids to be able to go to college if that's what they want.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Sound more complicated than just setting up self contained classrooms, ..."

It will be a lot more complicated than it seems. Can it be done sure?

What I might do is ask the high school principals. I think most of them already know they have APP every single high school.

All the high schools have AP and have increased their offerings. As was mentioned, there's Running Start.

The issue of availability of classes really isn't around APP kids getting first crack (they don't) but not having enough teachers. That's Garfield's problem and it's troubling that they have struggle to get the money to hire enough teachers for all the students who want these classes.

There are no barriers that I know of to any student accessing any class (except AP classes that you need to have the background for like AP Spanish or certain science AP). Otherwise, sign your kid up. Roosevelt requires ALL sophomores to take an AP course (which is not the most popular decision but there you go).

Gen Ed kids go to college just like APP kids; both mine did (do).

I think people are getting siting APP confused with if there is enough rigor in high schools.

Anonymous said...

Believe me Lynn, other districts have had these exact same discussions and problems with their AL programs. Some choose to narrow them, some don't.
To say AL doesn't affect the rest of the district is disingenuous. You don't have to have a kid in AL or even a kid to have opinions about the program. It's important. All kids need challenges.
Furthermore, treating APP kids like a monolithic block is inaccurate as well. There is a range of kids from those who would completely flounder without self-contained to those who would do better in a more intellectually diverse environment.
Sure there are people who resent the program, but that doesn't change the very real fact that some kids, both in and out of the program, are harmed by the stigma and labeling. My cousin's kid goes to Bellevue schools and told horrible stories about the "regulars" vs. the Prism kids at her school. It's not what kids should be feeling about each other, although one could see where they get their opinions.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info Melissa. Just starting to think about High School but I don't want to get there and find there are barriers we didn't know about. When there are not enough teachers how do they decide who gets in and who doesn't? Is it luck of the draw or is there some kind of tie breaker or other deciding factor? Are there things you have to know before you get there or you get shut out? Just wondering. GEM

Anonymous said...


Seniors get first crack.

open ears

Anonymous said...


Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion. What I don't understand is how where one student attends school affects anyone other than his or her classmates. Really. How does what happens at Denny affect kids at Madison? How does what happens at Garfield affect students at West Seattle High? There isn't a limited amount of rigor to go around. Academic challenge isn't something APP kids carry around in their backpacks and refuse to share. While we're wasting time arguing about this here, we're making no progress telling the district what we want to see in our schools.

Is middle school science a waste of time? Let's tell Shauna Heath we want real science in all our schools - not just the STEM ones. Is language immersion beneficial to all kids? Let's get it in every school. What do you want to improve at your school? Or at all schools?

I think it would be awesome to find out how many sports teams we'd have to cut in order to get a new math curriculum for the entire district - not just the schools who can afford to purchase their own. That would benefit every kid.


Anonymous said...

The question isn't Mercer and Madison, it's about a parrellel system for kids who are able to pass a set of tests and are willing to and able to travel to another location. Do we as a district, as a city who pays the freight, feel such a system is desirable and appropriate. As I said, many districts say yes and many say no. Outcomes can be measured by testing, but psychological effects are harder to quantify. How many kids whose self esteem is damaged is acceptable? Maybe there aren't any adverse effects other than perceptions of parents. I don't claim to know.
My question is would all kids in the district be more challenged socially and intellectually with less self-contained AL? Would APP kids suffer academically or socially from reintegrating to blended classrooms?
Would gened kids and the mildly gifted benefit from less self-contained?
Research shows self-contained works for the gifted, but is it the only thing that works? Does clustering and differentiation also work?
The self-contained research is already out of date. New research shows that skills like perseverance are more important for success than CogAT scores. Don't we want successful kids above all else?


Melissa Westbrook said...

"My question is would all kids in the district be more challenged socially and intellectually with less self-contained AL?"

I hope this is not a serious question because there is absolutely no way to know if ALL kids would be any one thing from a change. (And do we want to "challenge" kids socially? Not sure what that means.)

" Would APP kids suffer academically or socially from reintegrating to blended classrooms? "

I would answer that, Jim, but you say that the research is out of date. (And how are you so certain that so?) Suffer is a big word. The research shows that blending the classroom does not help academically gifted kids. It helps the other kids. It helps the teacher. It helps the school. But the kid? Not so much.

Socially? Again, you have a blanket statement there. Would it hurt some gifted kids to be in a Gen Ed classroom academically? Yes. I think many parents (including me) would say so based on their own experience. Some of these kids have odd behaviors, some might feel they can't speak up because other kids tease them (or the teacher tells them to quit putting their hand up).

All of them? Clearly not as several parents here have said - they left their kids at their neighborhood school because they don't like a self-contained classroom (and so didn't worry about social problems).

Charlie Mas said...

I think it is silly to argue about whether there should be a self-contained option or not. Of course there should be a self-contained option. Firstly because all of the research shows that it is what works best for the majority of students.

The inclusive model is also available because the self-contained model is optional. If you don't want it, you don't have to choose it. About 20% of APP-eligible students don't participate in the program.

No one is threatening to take away the inclusion option. No one is saying that families should not be allowed that choice. So why would anyone threaten to take away the self-contained choice or say that families should not be allowed to choose it? Please respect the choices that other families make for their children.

As has been noted, making the self-contained choice is not without sacrifice. Everyone that I have ever met would prefer that their child get an appropriate academic opportunity at their neighborhood school. It is only when the benefit outweighs the costs that people make the choice to participate in APP or Spectrum. Again, I think that we should recognize the costs associated with that choice and acknowledge that these families think it is worth it.

Please also remember that every child in Spectrum or APP was in a general education classroom. Their families have that experience and they know that it did not work for their child. You can't lie to them about their reality and you can't deny their truth.

I will be the first to say that families often choose Spectrum not so much because they want Spectrum but because they are trying to escape the general education classroom. The same may be true for APP. Were the general education classrooms better places for these children they would not leave.


Jim, I don't understand where you think you're trying to guide this conversation, but you'll never sell people on the idea of accepting an inappropriate academic experience or their children. They have been in the general education classroom and it didn't work. Many of them have horror stories about it. The questions you ask have all been answered. You can stop asking them now. Yes. The District has decided that self-contained is the way to go. Yes. The District has decided that everyone is better off that way. Yes. The District has decided to offer these programs. That's all settled. Thank you and good night.

Gen Ed Mom asks a much better set of questions. Who, she asks, is demanding rigor in the general education classroom? How can we get some?

I understand that Jim - and others - don't like the self-contained model for gifted education. The path to ending it is not to prohibit it, but to improve the rigor and opportunity in the general education classroom. This is rigor that should be there anyway. Then people would not choose to leave it. Or at least would not choose to leave it in such numbers.

Anonymous said...


I'm aware of the research on perseverance. That's why I support offering academic challenge to all kids (including mine.) How many kids who don't learn perseverance through appropriate challenge are you willing to sacrifice?

In my experience parents of children who are not in APP are more likely to suffer damage to their self esteem than the students themselves.

Parents enroll their kids in APP because they did suffer academically or socially from being in blended classrooms. You are concerned that kids in general ed programs miss out by not having APP kids in their classrooms. I can share with you that none of my kind, funny, bright child's classmates (and few of his teachers) missed his presence in the classroom when he left them for APP.

Interesting that you want a successful child above all else. I think fear that one's child won't be able to compete for college admissions is what leads to excessive concern about what those kids over in APP are doing.

I want my children to be mentally and physically healthy, to enjoy learning, to know that making a mistake isn't the end of the world. I want them to go to college and to find jobs they enjoy. I want them to be self-supporting. I want them to make friends and feel a little less unusual.
You don't have to worry about them taking your kid's spot at a competitive college. Your kids probably have better grades and more extracurricular activities than mine. Most likely your kids don't lose track of their homework as often as mine. It's not a competition and if it were - we're not winning.

I am realizing there's no point to this discussion. We have such different priorities and concerns that we are not going to find common ground.


Anonymous said...

Charlie it appears we were typing at the same time.


Charlie Mas said...

"To say AL doesn't affect the rest of the district is disingenuous.

No. It isn't. Students who are not in classrooms do not have any affect on what happens in those classrooms. To suggest that they do is absurd. Are the children in other schools affecting your child's class? Are the children in other districts? other states? This is madness.

"All kids need challenges."

Yes. Advanced learners need challenges also, and they don't get them in general education classrooms. This should pretty much be the end of the discussion right there, but Jim has more to say.

"There is a range of kids from those who would completely flounder without self-contained to those who would do better in a more intellectually diverse environment."

No, Jim, you're wrong. All of the students in APP were in a more intellectually diverse environment and if they had done better there they would either still be there or would go back there. They haven't. You don't know what's better for these children than their families and you would be wise to stop pretending that you do.

"Sure there are people who resent the program,"

Yeah, like you, Jim.

"but that doesn't change the very real fact that some kids, both in and out of the program, are harmed by the stigma and labeling."
Ummm... no. That's a lie. No one children are harmed by the stigma and labeling of either being in or out of Spectrum or APP. And those do are irritated by it - not harmed - can learn to endure.

"My cousin's kid goes to Bellevue schools and told horrible stories about the "regulars" vs. the Prism kids at her school."

Wow. Thanks for the urban legend that you heard from a friend's cousin. That's real scientific data you got there.

"The question isn't Mercer and Madison, it's about a parallel system for kids who are able to pass a set of tests and are willing and able to travel to another location."

Is that how you describe Special Education programs? Is that how you describe ELL programs? Actually, it's about a system that provide students with an appropriate academic opportunity. It's not better, just different for students who need something different.

"Do we as a district, as a city who pays the freight, feel such a system is desirable and appropriate."

Yes. We do. Obviously. That's why we have it.

"How many kids whose self esteem is damaged is acceptable?"

I don't know. How many you got? Again, I disbelieve that any child's self-esteem is damaged by either being identified as Spectrum-eligible or APP-eligible or not. And if there is one, then it is time for that child to suck it up.

"Maybe there aren't any adverse effects other than perceptions of parents."

I think you're on to something there, Jim.

"I don't claim to know."

Actually, yes, you do. It's disingenuous for you to pretend otherwise at this late point.

Charlie Mas said...

"My question is would all kids in the district be more challenged socially and intellectually with less self-contained AL?"

No. They wouldn't. Glad I could answer that for you. The advanced learners would not be more challenged intellectually and, frankly, social challenge isn't something we're looking for. Remember that you're the one concerned about the delicate little flowers getting wilted by laels.

"Would APP kids suffer academically or socially from reintegrating to blended classrooms?"

Yes. They would. That's why their families took them out of those general education classrooms.

"Would gened kids and the mildly gifted benefit from less self-ccontained?"

No, they wouldn't. I sure am glad can be of such service to you by answering all of these questions.

"Research shows self-contained works for the gifted, but is it the only thing that works?"

No, it isn't, but it is the thing that works best for the greatest number. That's why we're doing it this way.

"Does clustering and differentiation also work?"

Not nearly as well.

"New research shows that skills like perseverance are more important for success than CogAT scores."

And how are advanced learners going to learn perseverance if they aren't challenged? They won't. Glad you agree that they need the challenge that they can only be reliably delivered in a self-contained classroom.

"Don't we want successful kids above all else?"

Many of us do. What is it that YOU want above all else, Jim?

Po3 said...

Oh my, left for an evening and APP has been dissolved district-wide. (lol)

I was only talking about eliminating the HS APP cohort, not the lower grades. So let’s look at this realistically.

First, gone and never to return, is the APP WMS to GHS pathway where most of the cohort did move on to HS together. However, remember there was, (and never will be) self-contained APP classes at GHS.

Right now there are two APP middle school sites, or two cohorts. These kids can choose 1)GHS, 2)IBX-IHS or 3)return to their assigned HS. So the APP cohort is splitting up.

Going forward it looks likely that there will be four APP MS cohorts – WMS, HIMS, New NE site, New WS site.

So, what the district should do is say:
WMS APP kids go to GHS
HIMS APP kids go to RHS or BHS (depending on address)
New NE site to IHS
New WS to WSHS

And built in to this model are – wait for it – APP cohorts created from the MS sites.

If you want IB or IBX, you ask for it during open enrollment. (For IBX you do have to prove you are qualified) So any APP kid could put in for IBX and most likely get a seat.

In terms of situation at RHS where they are limiting access to classes –that ends!

We would need to think in terms of pathway and not grade level when we think about high school.

For example in math you may have a class of 9/10 Alg I students. 9/10/11 Alg II students, depending on their given pathway.

In this model, most APP students will be attending schools near their home and all high schools would need to ensure they have classes that serve all their student’s needs.

Anonymous said...

In terms of situation at RHS where they are limiting access to classes –that ends!

Why can't that end right now? Why is it being done?


Anonymous said...

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post and I apologize if it came across as antagonistic or presumptuous. I was "wildly speculating" as per instructions.
One fact, the "urban myth" about the Prism self-contained classes in the Bellevue district was, in fact, a first hand account from students; "regulars" is the term they used for themselves.
I don't have children of school age, but as a taxpayer and citizen, my feeling is that drastically reducing the size of self-contained APP would be good thing. The devisiveness it creates is evident and the effectiveness is debatable.


Anonymous said...

Further wild speculation. In 1978 the US Supreme Court ruled Washington initiative 350 invalid. 350 had outlawed mandatory busing for purposes of desegration.
Also in 1978, the precursors to APP and Spectrum were created. White flight in the district was a problem and these programs offered a segregated classroom or program, but segregated on the basis of academic criteria and therefore legal.
APP is still underrepresented by black and Hispanic students, very much so.


Maureen said...

I think Charlie and Lynn made a lot of assumptions about Jim's opinions that are not supported by what he actually wrote.

Can someone who knows first hand tell us whether RHS students are actually currently being forced to retake Physical Science and Biology? That seems unlikely. I know that, until 2008, RHS offered a science placement test that allowed qualified students to skip 9th grade science but that option wasn't available from 2009 forward. From 08-12 (our experience) they seemed really hostile to the idea of separate Honors classes (except in math).

If RHS is to be a required pathway for HIMS APP students they are going to have to let go of their "all of our classes are Honors classes" attitude because that is just not true. I'm a huge believer in inclusive classes in the younger grades, but think it wastes everyone's time to do that in High School. Don't get me wrong, RHS is a great school with many high performing kids, but in our experience it was not a great fit for kids who want to move faster than their peers.

Anonymous said...

My daughter sometimes struggles with work that is at her grade level (....maybe she'd do better if there was just more rigor?). To hear people talk, there must be something really wrong with her, because apparently 80% of the kids in her class must be bored to tears with the easiness of it. And sometimes, things are easy for her. My outrage-o-meter must be broken, because nothing’s registering.

In every grade level, determined by kids’ chronological ages, there is a huge range. At almost any given age, say 8, there are kids working everywhere from preschool to college level. I’m at a loss to understand how a teacher could teach a group of randomly assigned kids of a particular age at their own personal optimal level in every subject all day. This seems to be what is expected, otherwise, school doesn’t give a rip about kids.

Then, if schools try to meet as many of these individualized needs as possible, they are segregating and labeling, which is completely dehumanizing, and further evidence that they don’t give a rip about kids.

When I was a kid, sometimes I felt stupid if things were too hard, and bored if things were too easy. As an adult, sometimes I feel stupid and sometimes I feel bored. Why are we expecting schools to create a place that doesn’t exist in reality? Now we are heading towards a world where you are a failure if you don’t go to college (no jobs for you!), and if you go to college, graduate, and the jobs available are “beneath you”, you don’t take one. Better than being bored.

I am not saying that schools shouldn’t try to optimize every kids’ education to the greatest extent possible, but it is a huge endeavor. And to minimize it by saying that if a teacher is good, he or she will have kids of all levels in their class, and all kids will feel optimally challenged and supported all of the time by his/her mad differentiation skills is folly. And to say that if teachers aren’t able to do this they are somehow defective or don’t care, is counterproductive. And to look at all attempts to do this as something coming from evil masterminds to harm children...probably not very productive either.

No, but let’s think of how many ways we can say our schools are failing or how terrible educators are, and continue to manufacture outrage to the fullest extent, because then we can continue to build the case for defunding this mess, and everyone will get what they want. Right?

-Outrage deficiency

Anonymous said...

The history of IPP, precursor to APP, was started in 1978, the same year that SPS instituted The Seattle Plan of compulsory busing. I 350, outlawing busing, was passed two months later and declared unconstitutional in 1982.

In 1989, a group called Save Our Schools supported Iniative 34, which would again outlaw busing.

So much to learn at
My history teacher wants us to learn search methods and I'm home sick today. I'm goingmtomusemthismfor a paper.

Grade 10er

Anonymous said...

@Outrage deficiency: Beautiful post. Spot on.


Anonymous said...


Who set that "All our classes are honors classes" attitude at RHS and who do you think can and will require them to change it? The registration instructions for this year's freshman indicate there has been no change.


Anonymous said...

As grade 10er points out, IPP was started BEFORE busing, so people trying to call its founding white flight have their timing off. The label "Spectrum" may have been initiated then, but it replaced gifted programs which were already in place in Seattle, variously called "Horizon" or ironically, "AAA". IPP was started as only two classrooms with the intent to serve those outliers who could not be served in the existing gifted programs, and in some cases to prep kids for the UW Early Entrance Programs. The "I" in IPP was for Individual. It was not intended as an escape for white people and included children of color from the start.


Anonymous said...

In addition, a fair number of the IPP kids then went on to Nova, founded in 1971, because it was the only high school at that time that could meet the academic and socio-emotional needs of these kids. Nova continues to be a good fit for advanced learners.


Anonymous said...

My daughter absolutely was harmed by being labelled "not Spectrum qualified" in a classroom where that seemed to be the only thing the teacher knew about her. So these labels can harm kids. I hated that this person talked to me about the labels the other kids in the classroom had as well. It shocked me actually. This might not be the way it is supposed to work, but it can happen. Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

White flight has been a problem in Seattle Public Schools for decades and attracting white students back from private a schools has been an intentional act on the part of the district. Spectrum and APP are no doubt keeping some white families in public school. The NSAP is no doubt keeping white kids in and bringing some back as well. It's also resegregating the district. APP continues to have a huge over representation of whites. If APP doesn't get more diverse it will have to be eliminated except for the most outlying of kids. It's a very disturbing picture to have such low numbers of kids of color and FRL. White folks can't have neighborhood schools AND a segregated stand alone program.
All this talk about bright kids suffering in general Ed classrooms when SE kids are dying and going to jail just doesn't get much traction down here.
SE dad

Anonymous said...

SE Dad,

Nancy Robinson (Founder of the Robinson Center at the UW) wrote a relevant article in 2003 titled: Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right: Sacrificing the Needs of Gifted Students Does Not Solve Society's Unsolved Problems.

I would be very interested to see a discussion by parents from the South East region about their schools - what is working and what is not, how you think the schools could better serve your students. Do you want to talk about that?


Anonymous said...

Let's look at the first wrong, the one that's already been committed. Poor kids fail in school and fail to test into AL programs because our society has not addressed poverty, racism and classism. The parents lack a solid education, a remnant of Jim Crow, slavery, racial discrimination, structural poverty, and economic system which perpetuates a lower class. The poor are concentrated, a remnant of housing discrimination and economic redlining. Preschool and daycare are substandard compared to Europe and the reast of the developed world perpetuated by the governing class who can afford to pay for these services. The social ills are being maintained by the very people who benefit from gifted programs. The middle class families benefit from low taxes and a cheap workforce, they are the oppressor.
As Robinson points out, the children are blameless and should not be punished for the sins of others. But the parents in Seattle of APP are using their children as a human shield to deflect criticism of their own actions.
If you don't want another wrong done then fix the first one, or at least try.
Two wrongs don't make a right, but leaving a,wrong to fester generation after generation makes that wrong worse and worse. It compounds the wrong, makes wrong after wrong. By your logic a hundred wrongs are OK and it's OK if there are a hundred more, as long as those wrongs are one way, against the same group.
Illogical Captain.


Anonymous said...

Wow Spock. You know the parents of every APP student in Seattle? I have a pretty bright kid (or two) and that fact makes me "the oppressor." Are there things I am I doing (or not doing) that oppress poor children - or is it just the fact that I have these kids?

It's amazing how you know everything important about me already. You know how I feel about our federal and state tax systems. You know I am not now and never have been poor. You know how I feel about state-funded childcare and preschools. Stereotypes are so useful - there's no need for you and I to even have a discussion.

The oppressor.

Syd said...

I too would like to see a discussion by parents in the SE public schools.

I'll start.

My APP student just graduated from Garfield. He had a great experience there, and a middling one at Washington (what do you want? it was middle school. who is happy in middle school?). He was pretty happy the two years he was at Lowell. I for one wanted him to stay at Beacon Hill (not an International school at that time), but the teachers there strongly recommended he move to APP. And they were right. One other note: that cohort in HS was very important. Those kids are odd. I love them, but they are nerdy as all get out. Having a crew of kids they could hang with made all the difference. Yes, anyone can self select into AP classes, but there is still a cohort.

I have two more children. One is 5th grade at Graham Hill (contemporary not Montessori). He is high performing, but not APP. Although when he started at GH there were lots of middle class kids from a variety of cultural backgrounds in his class, that is not the case now. All those families are either going to private school or Orca now. And boundary changes are coming. What is that going to look like? Who else out there is looking at Aki Kurose? Anyone actually have a kid there? What is going on there. Rainier Beach? What is going on there now?

SE Dad, I don't think APP is resegregating our SE schools. There are not that many kids at TM. What segregates our schools in SE Seattle is parents choosing private. Middle class parents choose private in SE Seattle. They will skip lunch, give up their car, never take a vacation, and work extra jobs to send their children to private school. They appreciate diversity. They celebrate diversity. Some of them even try to send their kids to public school for a few years. But it wears them down. I understand ...I really do....when I hear parents say they have tried and just feel the needs of their kids are not being met. I feel that way sometimes myself. Those very passionate teachers and principals are focused on meeting the needs of the majority of the kids in the school - English language learners, children with disabilities, and children who face the myriad challenges of poverty. And it makes a certain amount of sense.

However, it is hard not to feel that no one cares if your kid is getting what they need...since teachers are actually pretty honest that they will not be able to differentiate for the high end of the class. It may be true that SPS is trying to win back families from private in the North End, but that is not the focus of the SE schools. I struggle with this every year. We are not leaving. We just need to find a way to make the schools better for everyone.

It is a chicken and an egg thing. Do the schools start offering incredible programs to lure parents or do parents start choosing SPS and change the schools simply by being there?

I would love to see some ideas about how we move past the current state of affairs. I want magnet programs in every SE school. And not a magnet program and a general ed program in each school, that is divisive. I want whole school programs.

Anonymous said...


Are you thinking the kinds of magnet programs we already have in the district (STEM, language immersion, STEAM, Montessori?) Makes sense to me. Reducing the proportion of high-needs students in a school makes it easier for staff to meet those needs.
I think the school boundaries have to be stabilized too. A family under lots of stress already shouldn't have to deal with kids in two elementary schools.


William Lee said...

I think the egg comes first Syd. Parents will do whatever they can for their kids as you say and if the district can't deliver, parents will leave if possible. Magnets were tried long ago to integrate the district with little success. What's needed is 110% commitment by the district to make all schools safe, respectful and challenging. Easier said than done. It all ties together, the disproportionate discipline problem, the over representation in sped, underrepresentation in AL programs.
Anecdotally, went to some MS sports today and the SE kids don't have any whites on their teams and they and the parents have that we don't even know any white people look in their eyes. It's disturbing. There has to be some interaction between the schools from different parts of the city to make this NSAP work and get things evened out. Regular contact, like sister schools. I don't know how it could work, but getting the kids together once a month or so could do so much. It's the kids who can make it happen.
Thanks for sharing Syd

Syd said...

Having been at those events, I assure you we SE parents see a similar look in the NE parents eyes. I always thought we were reacting to you guys. :)

Seriously, this is Seattle. It is mostly white. We all know white people.

On another note, I am pretty sure there is at least one example of a magnet program bringing income diversity to a school. APP was placed in Garfield for a reason. Is it perfect? Do the kids mix as much as we wish they would? No. But they are there.

What other magnet programs were tried?

If I were ruler of the universe, I would have remodeled all the SE schools first, and put all the programs there. Our families have shown a lot of willingness to have their kids travel long distances for elementary through middle school through HS...especially in the days of the minority to majority preference. I have never met a child yet coming voluntarily the other way.

Instead, the last high schools on the list are Franklin and Rainier Beach. And don't think that having a relatively new performance space is the same as a whole school remodel. Walk the halls of Rainier Beach and see how cramped and dark and dingy it is.

I think SPS is hoping it is a chicken thing. That is how their neighborhood assignment strategy manifests in the SE. If we make them go to their neighborhood school, providing no chance of going to any other public school, then the middle class families will diversify the income levels in the SE schools. Instead I think it means those middle class families will go private.

I sort of wish we had that teacher who was moved from Center School to Hamilton to help moderate these difficult conversations.

William Lee said...

You know Syd, you're right. It's SE parents and kids reacting to us. It's possible to go many, many weeks north of the ship canal or in QA/Magnolia without seeing more than a few black people or groups of kids of color. When we go to a sports event it's a bit jarring for us, and I'm sure that registers with folks who see it. I know when I'm down at Lowes on Rainier or, gee I'm kinda at a loss here for other times I'm down there, I'm always struck by how there are white people, all shades of color and everybody, except maybe me, seems very relaxed. We live and dare I say, love, a sheltered life here and see our nation's diversity on TV more than in real life.
My hope is that with the NSAP we will see families moving north for school because just making things better in the south will not fix the racial separation of housing. People have to move. Gentrification is getting whites down south, but will people of color move north?
Lake City is seeing some changes and hopefully so will the very white areas around QA, Magnolia, Ballard, Wallingford, etc. the districts chicken approach is interesting. It is based, like you said on the theory that parents will own what they are stuck with and demand improvement. As long as those improvements are granted when demanded, it could work. The egg approach does have that patronizing flavor that is offensive to many. I pray Mr Banda has the personal experience and professional know-how to thread this needle. It's going to be tricky.