Friday, October 11, 2013

Who is on the Advanced Learning Task Force?

From the Friday Memo to the Board of October 4:

Advanced Learning Task ForceAdvanced Learning has contracted with a facilitator, Barbara Grant to help guide two task forces this year. The first is focused on the identification of students for highly capable services, with particular attention to reaching culturally diverse and underserved populations of gifted students. This group begins its work on October 10th, and expects to have recommendations by November 29th. The second task force will focus on service delivery models (APP, Spectrum, ALO, and other options) and will begin meeting in December in order to make recommendations by mid-February. Task force members are a diverse group invited from the community and SPS staff.

So who are these Task Force members? Anyone know? Any of our readers among those chosen to participate in these secret meetings?

157 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Here is the web site for the facilitator, Barbara Grant

Melissa Westbrook said...

So this is a different facilitator from before (good thing).

But I am furious - this makes no sense. There are a lot of people who would have wanted the opportunity to serve and to handpick people, well, that looks like you might be trying to assure the results you want.

Lynn said...

I am furious too. Too many people in the district offices don't have a clue about gifted education - and they're the ones who are making these decisions.

Charlie Mas said...

Has the new program manager for Advanced Learning been hired? I don't see the position posted on the web site anymore.

If there has been a hire, then why hasn't that hire been announced?

If there hasn't been a hire, then why are they moving forward with the task forces? What's the urgency?

Charlie Mas said...

The superintendent is appointing "task forces" instead of "advisory committees" to evade the policy requirements for "advisory committees". The Board is allowing the violation of policy as the Board always allows every violation of policy.

Task forces are advisory committees. Giving them a different name does not change their nature.

Lynn said...

Charlie,

I saw that the job is no longer listed too. Maybe someone is finally rewriting it?

They have to meet now because the rules on highly capable programs are changing next fall. I imagine they want to sort out delivery methods before open enrollment begins.

There is no good reason for the membership of this group to be a secret - or for it's meetings to be closed to the public.

Anonymous said...

The interim head of Advanced Learning seems quite capable, and I'm glad they are moving forward with the work, but I would like to see some info on the task force members.

Why the urgency? Seriously, Charlie? Spectrum is a mess, APP is getting split again, and more schools will be overseeing AL programs. There needs to be some consistency and definition around programs.

-curious

Charlie Mas said...

curious says "Spectrum is a mess, APP is getting split again, and more schools will be overseeing AL programs. There needs to be some consistency and definition around programs."

All of that is true. Of course it was true back in April when Ms Heath and Mr. Tolley told the Board that convening these task forces was the "next step" for advanced learning. Then they waited six months to take those next steps.

Now, all of a sudden, six months later, there's a big rush to move forward with them. If the need is urgent today it is no less urgent than it was six months ago when the task forces were declared the "next steps".

The urgency is either false or manufactured.

Anonymous said...

the next steps are already being taken - north end APP is being split again, a new West Seattle APP is being created... APP is becoming Spectrum and Spectrum is being steadily dismantled. Presumably the task force will simply sign off on what's already been done as Best Practices.

I'm not crazy about litigating against the district, but this smells a lot like the math adoption task force that recommended discovery math. Is Teaching & Learning opening themselves up to a lawsuit with merit? Could be.

-not a lawyer

Carol Simmons said...

Did we ever discover how members of the Task Force were selected?

Given the discussion on our Forum by so many who are extremely interested in Advanced Learning and have stated their interest repeatedly, it would seem that the District would have requested participation on this Task Force. It could be that the District still intends to do this. If someone is interested in serving on this Task Force why not call Ms. Grant or Dr. Lebros or whomever and request serving. Do we actually know that it is a closed Task Force?

Lynn said...

Well, they've already had their first meeting and there was no public notice of it. I hope we can get some information Monday.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, there was no notice at all that these taskforces (there are two) were being formed. No community members being asked to apply. No notice of any meetings.

The district is handpicking members to get the outcomes they want.

mirmac1 said...

Is the task force different than this one?

Anonymous said...

The APP Advisory Committee (APP-AC) as linked by Mirmac is different from the AL task force. The APP-AC is a group of APP parents, APP teachers and AL staff that meet to discuss what's going on at various APP locations and APP in general.

-parent

Carol Simmons said...

If, as suggested "the District is handpicking members to serve on this Task Force in order to get the outcomes they want" it makes total sense to request to serve on it. It certainly can't hurt to do so. I don't know if this Task Force is different from the one mirmac 1 posted. Since the District did not publicize the creation of this Task Force nor openly request participation on this Task Force an explanation is certainly warranted. Request to serve.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, you are missing the point. It's a done deal. There were NO public notices about applying; they handpicked who they wanted.

Sure, I could ask but I'm sure that the answer is no.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Carol, you are missing the point. It's a done deal. There were NO public notices about applying; they handpicked who they wanted.

Sure, I could ask but I'm sure that the answer is no.

Anonymous said...

There's a huge difference between picking the TF to get the result desired versus the people desired.

Pepsi

Anonymous said...

"...with particular attention to reaching culturally diverse and underserved populations of gifted students."

This possibly seems to be the key to why the committee/task force was not open. The current model of APP/Spectrum in the district is highly segregated. Many parents whose children are served by these programs have continued to be fine with this injustice, as long as their own children are benefiting (or rationalize arguments like the "intellectual bubble in Seattle"--which then logically follows that white and Asians are the intelligent ones). Others "wish" the programs were more inclusive, but remain complacent about the segregation as long as their children are qualified for the rest of their SPS lives (against all best practices, BTW).

Public schools should always have transparent processes, but given the segregation of the programs (and the attitude of many people who support how the populations are currently configured) you can see why the district went through the back door. You can't get a different (and moral) result if the same people keep dominating the discussion.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

"...with particular attention to reaching culturally diverse and underserved populations of gifted students."

This possibly seems to be the key to why the committee/task force was not open. The current model of APP/Spectrum in the district is highly segregated. Many parents whose children are served by these programs have continued to be fine with this injustice, as long as their own children are benefiting (or rationalize arguments like the "intellectual bubble in Seattle"--which then logically follows that white and Asians are the intelligent ones). Others "wish" the programs were more inclusive, but remain complacent about the segregation as long as their children are qualified for the rest of their SPS lives (against all best practices, BTW).

Public schools should always have transparent processes, but given the segregation of the programs (and the attitude of many people who support how the populations are currently configured) you can see why the district went through the back door. You can't get a different (and moral) result if the same people keep dominating the discussion.

--enough already

Lynn said...

Please do tell us about those best practices. What are the best practices in meeting the needs of highly capable kids? Which district do you feel is doing a better job at identifying highly capable students than Seattle? Where did you learn about best practices in gifted education? Do you have formal education in this area - or is there some independent reading you've done that you can recommend to us?

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

Other readers have speculated on the meaning behind your frequent "questioning" techniques to respond to comments, but none have equated it with the Socratic method.

Yes, I have a masters degree in exceptionality in children (which includes gifted education). Best practices always include frequent monitoring and adjusting how services are delivered. Testing into APP in the early grades, being put into self-contained for the rest of your elementary career (and usually longer), while never being monitored for appropriate placement/possible change in placement is universally against best practices for all exceptional children (and good general education, as well).

There are many ways to identify gifted children. I suggest you read the book that Melissa referenced earlier in the week (by Professor Ford) as a good starting point.

--enough already

Lynn said...

enough already,

I can see that my questions weren't helpful. I apologize for that. Can you give me an idea of the type of people who might be helpful to the district in solving this problem? (Work experience and educational background) I would also like to look at a district you think does a good job of identifying students. Can you recommend one?

I expect you realized that your comments above would not be helpful in this discussion either. Any parents would be concerned about changes to their children's program being made behind closed doors with no opportunity to follow the discussion or provide input. APP parents in particular have no reason to believe the district will make decisions based on our children's best interests.

Is there some particular incident that causes you to believe APP parents in general want the program to be segregated? Our neighborhood schools and option schools are highly segregated too. Is changing that a priority for you?

If you are willing to continue this discussion, I will try not to overreact.

Lynn said...

The task force was created by someone who describes Spectrum as "one year ahead" and APP as "two years ahead." It is highly unlikely that a group hand-picked by this individual is going to produce an improved, more culturally responsive identification system and/or service delivery model.

Charlie Mas said...

I have always proposed, on a number of occasions, a number of student identification practices that are radically different from the current practice. These practices would be likely to result in significantly different outcomes.

The smear that families with students in the program wouldn't advocate for change in the program is just that - a smear.

Anonymous said...

There are literally hundreds of posts about APP every time those 3 letters appear. They all decry the "education bubble" in Seattle, how it really is Lake Woebegone here, how segregation is a-ok here because we're special, implying of course that whites and Asians are really the smart deserving ones... and on and on. "We're just like special ed." Really? Special ed requalifies every 3 years. Mention "requalify" on an APP thread, and you'll be chased out of town. Imagine having to pay for that private testing every 3 years! How unfair. Charlie has lambasted the district's requalification effort, which was the weakest thing imaginable: "Pass the WASL" - back when there was a WASL. Nice try Charlie. You can call the truth a smear but it is what it is. People who benefit from segregation don't want to give it up. Why should they be on any committee of a public agency?

100 posts

Charlie Mas said...

Gee, why should anyone impacted by a decision have a role in forming that decision? Is that what is being asked?

Why should African-American families have anything to say about how their children are educated?

Why should Latino families have anything to say about how their children are educated?

Why should any family have anything to say about how their children are educated?

Especially when that work is being done by a public agency!

I forgot that all of this work should only be done by highly qualified experts working in an ivory tower. Of course, those were the people who gave us the current system.

Anonymous said...

Seems like being segregated is not the issue we are really looking to fix, 100. If the the program was racially and socioeconomically diverse (or whatever it takes to not seem like it is primarily serving affluent white people), and was working well for that population, would you criticize the segregated delivery? I wouldn't.
99th post

Charlie Mas said...

I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore by people who would impose on APP families and students in ways that they would never accept for themselves or for their children.

Go ahead and bus the APP kids all over the city; they don't deserve to be served at a nearby school - but MY child should only be assigned to the school most convenient for our family.

Go ahead and poorly serve APP students, but MY child should get an appropriate academic experience.

The truth is that APP students are constantly monitored to confirm that they continue to need the program. Those who don't are counseled out. It is done quietly and privately. Just because it isn't done with a high-stakes test doesn't mean that it isn't done. Just because there's no publicly reported count of exited students doesn't mean that there are none.

Why would anyone keep a child in an academic program that is unsuitable for that child? No reason.

Also, at middle school, APP is only the Language Arts/Social Studies block. That's it. I'm not really all that sure that the curriculum in Language Arts and Social Studies is accelerated, let alone deeper, broader, or compacted.

So, sure, go ahead and abuse the APP students and families. They're a legitimate target.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not even sure what problem people have with APP.

The kids aren't "special" enough to need something other than what they can get from the general education classroom? If that were true, then why would their families take them out of those classrooms?

The whole Lake Woebegone thing? These students are all confirmed to be in the top 2% for cognitive ability in two domains. Are people going to deny that? Based on what data?

Children living in poverty are under-represented in the programs. That's true. Children suffer consequences as a result of poverty. Are we going to dispute that?

Could other ways of identifying students deliver other results? Sure. But you have to ask some fundamental questions like: Who is the program supposed to serve? and How will the program serve those students? Then you can work on how to identify the students.

Also, you should read the law that defines these programs. The law allows the inclusion of many, many more students than you find in APP.

You should read the research and see what it recommends.

These decisions should be driven by research and pedagogy, not by politics.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you've stated repeatedly"it's the cohort". Eg, the segregation. Well you got it, but yes other people got go to school too. You don't like your many segrgated choices? Don't choose it. Choose. Remember. Other people don't get to choose Garfield, Ingraham, and assignment area school, not to mention option schools. Pointing out the obvious isn't abuse.

Exits? Your comments are laughable! The program isn't growing to huge by leaps and bounds by exiting kids out.

98 post

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

It is beyond low to try and equate the historic injustices of blacks and Latinos with me calling out the segregation that is benefiting mostly white people of middle income in the APP/Spectrum programs in Seattle. You could have simply said that you believe these parents should be on the task force. Your attempt to tie historically oppressed groups to mostly privileged people would be laughable were it not so insidiously promoting white privilege. APP/Spectrum parents are not victims--far from it. When people like me call out the truth about segregation in these programs, it's not about the parents who are benefiting. It's about all the parents who don't have the means to advocate for their children. White privilege always has strong elements of narcissism--that it's always directed to, and about, you.

Is is a fact that people whose children are in these programs support these programs. It is not an attack on parents of these programs to read this blog and come to such a conclusion, just as the increasing numbers in the mostly segregated programs also demonstrate support of the status quo by voting with their feet.

You try to have it both ways. You make these token comments that you support more inclusion, but you continue to support the segregated programs. Just like the gig is up on these programs, many of us get your duplicity.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Our neighborhood's attendance area and option schools are more "segregated" than APP. To go to those schools (with all their extra resources? not) you have to be wealthy enough to live in this neighborhood. And it doesn't get less racially diverse than single family households in this part of the city.
Always seemed to me like APP's got more of a PR problem than anything else.
How does de-segregating a program that works for kids who have trouble in gen. ed. solve the (real) problem of parents who don't have the means to advocate for their children? Be specific instead of just talking about white privilege.

Specifics needed


Anonymous said...

To correct Charlie, APP in middle school is LA/SS and Science. Most APP students take Algebra 1 in 7th grade, but there are also students taking Algebra 1 in 6th grade. The science is accelerated starting in elementary and some science units are skipped so APP students start Physical Science in 7th grade, then have Biology in 8th grade. The 7th grade science requires some algebra, so it is tied to math level.

-clarifying

Helen said...

If possible, could some APP parents illustrate how their kids are better served at their APP school compared to their neighborhood school?

Anonymous said...

I am no fan of the neighborhood system that is a legacy of redlining, as Miramac and others have pointed out. When the Supreme Court handed down it's decision about using race as a tie-breaker, it was interesting to see how the "backward" Kentucky decided to keep to the spirit of the the decision--maintain the goal of integration without mandates--and "progressive" Seattle went straight to neighborhood schools without the the goal of even the conservative members of the Court in mind.

I'm especially concerned about gifted education because it deals with the role of capacity and intellect. Both have traditionally been part of the argument against children of color in the United States and have been used as a rationale to oppress people. Also, even with the segregated neighborhood schools, option and testing-in schools should maintain fairness.

I have a background in gifted education, special education, and extensive experience teaching children from many diverse backgrounds. With the mostly homogeneous neighborhood schools, there is usually less difference in preparation, and even less chance of well-prepared, but not gifted children, to be the only child who was an early reader (this does not mean a child is gifted, BTW). Groupings and clustering (even across grade levels) can keep many of these students successfully in their neighborhood schools. Giftedness is qualitatively different from preparation--it involves differences in thinking, relations with peers, etc. that mirror special education (which is the model upon which the need for gifted education was founded). It is not about being well-prepared for school--giftedness is sometimes found in children who are failing in school because of the the extreme differences in the way these children perceive, understand, and relate. IQ tests (which Seattle apparently doesn't use) can be a good screeners when coupled with teacher evalutaions and observations of children. I am eager to read the book by Professor
Ford.

I agree that we need to clean up the segregation in this district.

Also, I didn't use the term "white privilege" lightly or in the spirit of political correctness. The rhetorical devices that Charlie is choosing are classic white privilege markers.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't all kids get science in middle school? Why do only app have access to it? For most kids there is actually no science at all in middle school. Maybe the task force is addressing this?

Reader 35

Seesaw said...

Helen--
At our APP elementary, my student was able to check out any book in the library that she liked. In our neighborhood school, she was not 'allowed'to check out books with 'too many words' and was constantly redirected to the 'picture book' section. This is one very small way that our experience changed in APP.

I know all the haters will come out and say what is the big deal, go to the public library, get her whatever she wants, etc etc etc. Yes, I know, we did do that. But she hated library day at school, since she had no interest in Spot the Dog books. Why should a 5 year old hate library day? Why can't she check out a book at her level? Isn't the point of library in elementary school to teach kids how to navigate the library on their own, and a love of books and reading?

I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and so did the teacher, but the teacher didn't want to confront the librarian aboutit.

This is just one very small and probably insignificant way (to other people) we were better served in APP. It was a big deal to my student though. I just think this situation illustrates very well the point that the neighborhood school is just not always prepared or ready to support these kids. Or willing for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Helen-

One of my kids is in APP. One of the differences I was most surprised with is the speed with which the teacher goes. My child started in 1st grade, and the teacher zoomed through the materials. Not only is APP using materials two years ahead, but the teaching style is different than what my other child in the neighborhood school gets. Teachers in APP don't get away with repeating material because the kids will quickly tell the teacher that they already know the materials. It does look different than my other child's gen ed classroom.

Enough Already - this comment really upsets me: "it's all about the parents who don't have the means to advocate for their children." It sounds to me like you are saying that kids in APP are only there because they have rich parents. What is your source for this? Why aren't all the non FRL kids all over the district in APP if the only requirement for entrance is the wealth of the parents?

Enough Already, your comment that parents of APP kids support "white priveledge" takes things way too far. It is one thing to say that you wish APP were more diverse (as do most people), but it's another to say that parents are supporting white privledge. You need to remember that APP parents have nothing to do with testing or deciding who is in the program. Any issues you have about the program (and I have read your frequent posts on this subject so I know there are many) shoud be directed to the district.

We also need to look at low income kids prior to them entering kindergarten. I would happily pay more taxes to fund programs like Head Start because I know how effective they can be. It is a very difficult task for schools to try and catch kids up when they come in already behind their peers.

-broken record

Lynn said...

enough already,

I read the book last night. Please come back and tell me what you think of her recommendations when you have read it too.

Still waiting to hear of a district that you think gets this right.

Anonymous said...

For an example of how my APP kid is served better than in the neighborhood school, you have to go w/me back to K'garten. How APP meets my kid's needs depends on understanding the contrast w/"before APP":

We liked the community, walked to school w/friends, etc.

The K teacher let me take my child and 3 others out in the hall once a week for advanced math b/c they were bored w/drawing 9 cookies in the workbook. One kid was a little bit disruptive about it, and one was merely reading, but that was drawing other kids away from concentrating.

The teacher put together a 5ish pg packet for me. I took the kids out in the hall for half an hour or so, and they did all the pages. I brought them back in when math was over, and she stared and said, oh my goodness. I guess I'll have to have more next week.

She photocopied about 10 pgs of problems the following week. Kids did them all too.

She couldn't keep up w/them. This wasn't teaching them anything, just photocopying, but she couldn't make a packet big enough that they didn't do it all each week. By mid-way through the year, when the class was doing the money unit and learning what a nickel is, what a dime is, etc., the hall kids were writing price tags, "shopping", adding three prices w/decimal points and carrying, and making change within $5 using real money. This was kindergarten.

The teacher, who we loved, told us we needed to find more for our kids b/c we had already finished most of the first grade standards in the hall, working once a week, by Jan/Feb. She was clear that my child would learn nothing at all in 1st grade math. At the time this was not a school with walk-to.

Most other teachers were nice, but I found several to be ill-prepared or actively resistant to this level of math learning. One older grade instructor stopped while these kids were carrying across 3 digits and said "They're not using manipulatives?" That's those little blocks that you stick together to make sets of ten. I said No. "Well, they'll have to use them next year! They can't do regrouping without manipulatives." I said, they are doing it already. "Well, they won't next year. They'll learn to use manipulatives!"

That was the first moment I thought "We're out of here," even though I loved the school. Force a kid to go backward and learn a technique - a valid one that helps some kids, but not itself the actual math, merely a demonstrative technique - as if THAT is the goal? Using manipulatives is just a way of demonstrating the math, but to insist that using the blocks itself is the learning goal? No, no, no.

Then my child was reading out loud to another volunteer while I was tasked to encourage the bathroom lingerers to come out. A kid went past the reading table and saw the level of book my child was reading out loud, then ran to the bathroom calling "Hey, guess what level [NAME] is reading? Guess what level [Name] is reading?" to the other kids. The fact that my child's reading level was worthy of huge comment in kindergarten did not bode well for a future as "just part of the gang."

At a third point a different K teacher passed our math table while leading her students somewhere, and said out loud -- in front of the kids I was supervising and in front of her entire class -- something along the lines of "see, these are the smart kids doing math in the hall." She must have seen my shock, b/c after a beat or two she added, "But you're all smart too, right? My whole class is just as smart."

Shortly thereafter a kid in that other class started bullying my child very badly on the playground - and rounded up a posse to participate. Thankfully none were in my child's class, but I think that teacher's sneering attitude toward high achievers was interpreted to be permission to target a "smart kid."

END PART 1

SIGNED: APP FITS

Anonymous said...

For an example of how my APP kid is served better than in the neighborhood school, you have to go w/me back to K'garten. How APP meets my kid's needs depends on understanding the contrast w/"before APP":

We liked the community, walked to school w/friends, etc.

The K teacher let me take my child and 3 others out in the hall once a week for advanced math b/c they were bored w/drawing 9 cookies in the workbook. One kid was a little bit disruptive about it, and one was merely reading, but that was drawing other kids away from concentrating.

The teacher put together a 5ish pg packet for me. I took the kids out in the hall for half an hour or so, and they did all the pages. I brought them back in when math was over, and she stared and said, oh my goodness. I guess I'll have to have more next week.

She photocopied about 10 pgs of problems the following week. Kids did them all too.

She couldn't keep up w/them. This wasn't teaching them anything, just photocopying, but she couldn't make a packet big enough that they didn't do it all each week. By mid-way through the year, when the class was doing the money unit and learning what a nickel is, what a dime is, etc., the hall kids were writing price tags, "shopping", adding three prices w/decimal points and carrying, and making change within $5 using real money. This was kindergarten.

The teacher, who we loved, told us we needed to find more for our kids b/c we had already finished most of the first grade standards in the hall, working once a week, by Jan/Feb. She was clear that my child would learn nothing at all in 1st grade math. At the time this was not a school with walk-to.

Most other teachers were nice, but I found several to be ill-prepared or actively resistant to this level of math learning. One older grade instructor stopped while these kids were carrying across 3 digits and said "They're not using manipulatives?" That's those little blocks that you stick together to make sets of ten. I said No. "Well, they'll have to use them next year! They can't do regrouping without manipulatives." I said, they are doing it already. "Well, they won't next year. They'll learn to use manipulatives!"

That was the first moment I thought "We're out of here," even though I loved the school. Force a kid to go backward and learn a technique - a valid one that helps some kids, but not itself the actual math, merely a demonstrative technique - as if THAT is the goal? Using manipulatives is just a way of demonstrating the math, but to insist that using the blocks itself is the learning goal? No, no, no.

Then my child was reading out loud to another volunteer while I was tasked to encourage the bathroom lingerers to come out. A kid went past the reading table and saw the level of book my child was reading out loud, then ran to the bathroom calling "Hey, guess what level [NAME] is reading? Guess what level [Name] is reading?" to the other kids. The fact that my child's reading level was worthy of huge comment in kindergarten did not bode well for a future as "just part of the gang."

At a third point a different K teacher passed our math table while leading her students somewhere, and said out loud -- in front of the kids I was supervising and in front of her entire class -- something along the lines of "see, these are the smart kids doing math in the hall." She must have seen my shock, b/c after a beat or two she added, "But you're all smart too, right? My whole class is just as smart."

Shortly thereafter a kid in that other class started bullying my child very badly on the playground - and rounded up a posse to participate. Thankfully none were in my child's class, but I think that teacher's sneering attitude toward high achievers was interpreted to be permission to target a "smart kid."

END PART 1

SIGNED: APP FITS

Anonymous said...

For an example of how my APP kid is served better than in the neighborhood school, you have to go w/me back to K'garten. How APP meets my kid's needs depends on understanding the contrast w/"before APP":

We liked the community, walked to school w/friends, etc.

The K teacher let me take my child and 3 others out in the hall once a week for advanced math b/c they were bored w/drawing 9 cookies in the workbook. One kid was a little bit disruptive about it, and one was merely reading, but that was drawing other kids away from concentrating.

The teacher put together a 5ish pg packet for me. I took the kids out in the hall for half an hour or so, and they did all the pages. I brought them back in when math was over, and she stared and said, oh my goodness. I guess I'll have to have more next week.

She photocopied about 10 pgs of problems the following week. Kids did them all too.

She couldn't keep up w/them. This wasn't teaching them anything, just photocopying, but she couldn't make a packet big enough that they didn't do it all each week. By mid-way through the year, when the class was doing the money unit and learning what a nickel is, what a dime is, etc., the hall kids were writing price tags, "shopping", adding three prices w/decimal points and carrying, and making change within $5 using real money. This was kindergarten.

The teacher, who we loved, told us we needed to find more for our kids b/c we had already finished most of the first grade standards in the hall, working once a week, by Jan/Feb. She was clear that my child would learn nothing at all in 1st grade math. At the time this was not a school with walk-to.

Most other teachers were nice, but I found several to be ill-prepared or actively resistant to this level of math learning. One older grade instructor stopped while these kids were carrying across 3 digits and said "They're not using manipulatives?" That's those little blocks that you stick together to make sets of ten. I said No. "Well, they'll have to use them next year! They can't do regrouping without manipulatives." I said, they are doing it already. "Well, they won't next year. They'll learn to use manipulatives!"

That was the first moment I thought "We're out of here," even though I loved the school. Force a kid to go backward and learn a technique - a valid one that helps some kids, but not itself the actual math, merely a demonstrative technique - as if THAT is the goal? Using manipulatives is just a way of demonstrating the math, but to insist that using the blocks itself is the learning goal? No, no, no.

Then my child was reading out loud to another volunteer while I was tasked to encourage the bathroom lingerers to come out. A kid went past the reading table and saw the level of book my child was reading out loud, then ran to the bathroom calling "Hey, guess what level [NAME] is reading? Guess what level [Name] is reading?" to the other kids. The fact that my child's reading level was worthy of huge comment in kindergarten did not bode well for a future as "just part of the gang."

At a third point a different K teacher passed our math table while leading her students somewhere, and said out loud -- in front of the kids I was supervising and in front of her entire class -- something along the lines of "see, these are the smart kids doing math in the hall." She must have seen my shock, b/c after a beat or two she added, "But you're all smart too, right? My whole class is just as smart."

Shortly thereafter a kid in that other class started bullying my child very badly on the playground - and rounded up a posse to participate. Thankfully none were in my child's class, but I think that teacher's sneering attitude toward high achievers was interpreted to be permission to target a "smart kid."

END PART 1

SIGNED: APP FITS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough already, they could had a transparency process but said, we're selecting half the committee to reach out to parents who might no hear about it or traditionally serve. That wouldn't have been too hard to do.

So many commenters have used the word "segregated" that yes, I think it can be used in this case. If you are a parent of a child in any program or group, I think you have the right to advocate for that child.

I think parents - most of them - are more than willing to talk about change in AL. I certainly have said this, time and again. There are other things that could be done but aren't. I'd like the opportunity to advocate for them.

I'll just say the next time the group/committee/taskforce is something YOU care deeply about and it's created behind closed doors, don't come here to complain.

Anonymous said...

@ 98 post, when anyone refers to the value of APP as being partly due to the cohort, it's not the lack of diversity they are referring to--it's the intellectual abilities and interests of the kids. My child could not care less what color skin the kids in his APP classes have, so long as they understand him, are interested in the types of things he likes to discuss, and that they demonstrate their interest in academics and learning, questioning, probing, investigating, and enriching the classroom experience for others. He can engage them in conversations about nerdy topics that are meaningful to him, and can learn about new and interesting things from them. Non-APP kids are not interested in what he has to say--they just don't get it. That's the value of the cohort for him.

As a mother, I'd like to see more diversity in the program, as I think that would help with other types of learning. I hope the task force comes up with ways to increase identification of gifted kids from underrepresented groups, and that such families accept enrollment into the program. But in the meantime, I'm not about to pull my child from the program in order to make some political statement about perceived segregation, as this is the first time my child's needs are almost being met. Is that really what you think parents should do. Or what? Or maybe there's nothing we can do to not be labeled pro-segregation?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

APP FITS PART 2:

Sorry for multiple posts above! Weird word verification going on.

At our neighborhood school, our own K teacher and the school administration and librarian were very supportive of our move to APP. They acknowledged that the school had a long road to go on differentiation, and said that APP would provide the work my child was ready for.

I want my kid in a school where he/she will never EVER be labeled "the smart kid" - that is the root of vanity and laziness in the high achieving child, is incredibly hurtful to social interactions, and promotes ostracism or bullying. I have never heard the word "smart" cross any adult's lips at APP. They're all just kids there, no "smart" kids.

I want my child to actually learn something new, and clearly differentiation is incredibly hard to do day in and day out. The wonderful K teacher could barely keep up with photocopying and occasional extra help, no way could she have done a daily separate lesson.

In short, I don't want my child to have to hide his/her talents, and I don't want my child to be isolated.

That's what APP provides, and why we chose it. Learning at my child's pace, social interaction, and a sense of being normal. My child is not a freak. My child is a child. No one points a finger at him/her and says "Hey, Look at So-and-So! The smart one!" My child is NEVER used in a comparison.

Sure, in perfect world this might be done at the neighborhood school - but we're not in that world, and my kid isn't a dollar to be moved around or a tutor to be used for others or a test score to be added to a pot. My child is kid who deserves an education.

I hope that some of the readers who question whether APP has a right to exist will read those examples above, and then multiply them by every day for all of elementary school. Remember, those all occurred during the TWO HOURS a week I was at school. What occurred during the other hours?

Should any child be subjected to being labeled by adults? Far more labeling occurs in gen-ed programs, frankly. Isn't that what the unicorn of "differentiation" is -- labeling? You wouldn't stand for a hurtful "you're the dumb one" b/c you don't get to do "walk to" or "you're the poor one" or "the smelly one." If you don't think being labeled with "you're the smart one" is hurtful and causes problems, then you certainly haven't read the nasty comments on here!

I just want my kid to learn and be a kid.

Signed - APP fits

Charlie Mas said...

Insulting me isn't data. It isn't even an argument.

The self-contained classroom has been shown to be the best method for teaching academically gifted students. It works best for the greatest number of students. That's why Seattle Public Schools uses it. It is the delivery method that experts continue to recommend.

You can call that "segregation" if you like, but you'll just be putting a negative spin on a positive practice. Doing so does not propose an acceptable alternative. If anyone wants to show me a method to reliably provide an appropriate academic opportunity for these children through any other delivery method, I would love to see it.

Hey, you know what else is segregation? Separating the students by age. What's up with that? Shouldn't students of all ages be in classrooms together? That way they will learn to work with people of all skill levels. You know what else is segregation? Varsity sports. Any student who wants to play should get equal playing time.

The students in APP have all demonstrated that they belong there. Every one of them. They have all been in a regular general education classroom. If it worked for them, they would still be there. They aren't still there because it did not work for them. Everyone knows that it does not work for them.

The families of APP students have had nothing to do with the design of the program. They did not set the eligibility criteria, determine the delivery method, or set the curriculum. There is absolutely no reason to blame them for any of these things. They certainly are not responsible for the demographic make-up of the program.

The value of the cohort - and the only value that I have ever attributed to the cohort - comes when the district or the school or the teacher fail to deliver. Then the students can still get value from the cohort.

I know that a number of groups are under-represented in APP. Everyone knows it. Whining about it isn't enough. Some means of addressing that under-representation is needed. The proposed solution - to disband the program - isn't helpful for anyone.

So if anyone has got anything positive to contribute - something other than accusing people of racism or classism - let's hear it. If all you have is insults for caring families you can keep that to yourself. It tells more about you than it tells about them. Yes, there are families that cannot advocate well for their children. Is that cause to forbid people from doing so?

Jet City mom said...

*The whole Lake Woebegone thing? These students are all confirmed to be in the top 2% for cognitive ability in two domains. Are people going to deny that? Based on what data?*

Is APP only 2% of the district?
As that changes, then I agree we need re qualification at the very least every three years to insure it is still appropriate/needed

Anonymous said...

For a reference on identifying gifted children, check out the papers by David Lohman on the CogAT. Lohman is the developer of the CogAT, so not completely unbiased, but is also a thorough academic researcher and I have found his papers interesting and useful.

http://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/david-lohman/home

The site lists both academic papers, and presentations in powerpoint format (which may be more generally accessible) -- scroll down for the powerpoints.

Can someone post a link to the research that argues that self-contained classrooms are the "best practices" for exceptionally talented children? My preference would be for cites from academic sources.

zb

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

"Is APP only 2% of the district?
As that changes, then I agree we need re qualification at the very least every three years to insure it is still appropriate/needed"

Rough estimates, suggest that the MS level (6-8), there are about 750 APP enrolled students out of the roughly 10000 MS students (or 7.5%).

The 2% comes from the testing into the 98 percentile on the cognitive tests (which must then be followed by achievement testing) for eligibility.nwgania 28

zb

Anonymous said...

The "top 2%" does not mean only the top 2% of SPS students, it means students placed in the top 2%tile of cognitive testing based on national norms. If students were ranked and only the very top 2% of SPS students were served based on SPS enrollment, then many students would be denied services even though they met the score cutoffs. Also, it's top 2% in cognitive ability (CogAT), but top 5% in achievement testing (MAP).

The state partially funds the highly capable program at a flat percentage of SPS enrollment (2.314%). The districts then decide what "most highly capable" means and how they will serve those students.

The WAC defines "highly capable" students as those who "perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or their environments."

-clarifying

Anonymous said...

PS: usually the next step in the discussion for pointing out that 8% of SPS students are APP eligible by testing into the 2% in cognitive tests is a lake wobegone argument. But, the result is completely plausible statistically -- the 98% is set on national norms and Seattle is not representative of national norms.

The proportion of students who test into advanced learning is still, relevant, however, because as the proportion grows (and, as it grows in particular neighborhoods) one can reasonably argue that the children who test into the 2% in cognitive ability are not outliers in their neighborhood, even though they may be outliers in the national norming population. And if they are not outliers, they may well be able to find cohorts within their own neighborhoods, especially given that there is no magical thershold between children who score at the 98% and the 97% or the 99%.

zb

Anonymous said...

"The WAC defines "highly capable" students as those who "perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels when compared with others of their age, experiences, or their environments.""

A reasonable definition (not sure what WAC refers to, though). But, it's reasonable to expect that the comparison population for being "significantly advanced compared to" should be the other kids they would go to school with, in Seattle and in their neighborhood as opposed to in the nation as a whole.

zb

Anonymous said...

WAC: Washington Administrative Code

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=392-170

-clarifying

Jet City mom said...

In Portland, gifted students are not segregated but are incorporated into their local schools.

Lynn said...

Jet City Mom,

Portland offers services both in a self-contained environment and in neighborhood schools. Google Access Academy.

Anonymous said...

Enough already,
Revamping testing/identification to account for preparedness,

grouping and clusterings across grade levels in neighborhood schools, and

asking teachers (after being trained) to identify giftedness

are specific ideas that would help address the problem of inequity in advanced learning programs, I agree. thank you.

One more thing - I wouldn't call my choice to leave our neighborhood school for APP "voting for the status quo." At the time of our decision, it felt more like rescuing my child. Rescuing him from his gen. ed. school, a place where his differences - and how they were being handled in the classroom- were getting in the way of his learning and making him feel bad about himself and school/learning in general. I tried to talk to my son's teachers about gifted kids - instead, they told me I was nuts if I thought my son could handle an advanced program, that being bored in school is part of life. It's not fun watching your child enter school and, after a couple of years, go from an exuberant, enthusiastic learner to someone who surprises his teachers when he shows any interest in learning. I was grateful for APP as an alternative, even with its warts.

Specifics

Anonymous said...

Access Academy in Portland provides an interesting comparison model.

http://www.pps.k12.or.us/schools/access/

Poking around, it appears that Access Academy enrollment is capped (a growth plan memo suggests that the program is about 200 students now with a plan to grow to about 300 students (in 1-8). Their testing criterion is higher (99%), but also allows students to test in by in the 99% in any subject (rather than in both math/verbal at 98%). They appear to use the NNAT (in house, though they appear to accept other testing, and allow eligibility for 2 years) and have an application process (don't know how the applications are evaluated).

The district seems comparable in size to ours (47K total enrollment, with about 30K in 1-8), so they are providing self-contained gifted education to about 1% of their population.


A model that captured approximately 1% of SPS, children with outlier needs, is a model I can imagine supporting. I would want such a model to be combined with district support for differentiation in a form that teachers support in their own classrooms.

zb

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

Fair comparison? can you show me data that states Seattle is 3rd most educated city in the country? You say Bellevue's population is similar. How so? By enrollment number? By FRL? By demographics?

curious2

Helen said...

It sounds like if staff at neighborhood schools were more understanding of the needs of gifted kids and reasonably accommodating, like letting kids read what they wanted and having effective math blocks, that some parents would be happy to stay. Increasing opportunities for more more rigor should be a priority at every school.
Would any APP parents consider moving back if their kids could get the rigor in the neighborhood?

Lynn said...

I would not. My kids need it for social/emotional reasons. I completely agree that we need to offer more rigorous options in neighborhood schools. In particular, science and math need improving K-8.

Anonymous said...

Did a quick google for this and found from US news and world report, Seattle isn't in the top 10. Not on forbes either. I was a bit surprised by this!

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/08/30/the-10-most-educated-us-cities-boulder-ann-arbor-and-washington-dc-top-the-list

We made 11th with most college educated METRO area, from NYT
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/05/31/us/education-in-metro-areas.html?_r=0

For those who are looking for answers and a paradigm shift on how we think about gifted education:

It's long, but there are plenty of research to bite into.

http://access.sd25.org/curriculum/gifted/Selected%20Conceptions%20of%20Giftedness-7(2).pdf

curious2

Anonymous said...

I think people would be much less likely to leave in the first place, but asking a family to move a second time on hopes and dreams in our current district climate is a bit too much. Right? I mean, theoretically it sounds workable, but in practice I can't really imagine the naive enough person to do it.

But I can think of many, many families who are only sort of begrudgingly in APP after their home school refused for years, after tireless, futile advocacy, some pretty basic accommodation for their kid. With walk to math, some understanding, and differentiation, none of those families would have sent their kid (which typically then splits families across two schools- most people will not do that unless there is a problem.)

I know this horse is beaten to death, but all of this would be easier with less crowded schools. It is happening in our district where the schools are not overcrowded, and it does not at schools that are overcrowded.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Re moving back:

Not possible to meet my kid's needs in a capacity crunch. W/more kids in the classrooms, neighborhood school has more kids with special needs who trump my kid (which I think is morally justified).

Frankly, I think it is a requirement to educate my kid to the best of my child's abilities, but it is a higher moral requirement to get the failing kids up to the standard ... but just don't deny my kid the chance to learn, so just let my kid go to APP and get out of everyone else's hair.

In third grade my kid tested 99ile for 9th grade reading and 99ile for 10th grade math, so if my child was in a gen ed fourth grade this year, the teacher might have to teach from 2d grade to 10th grade in math. EIGHT LEVELS. Or just differentiate for 2/3/4/5 levels and 10th grade... What?

That's not possible. It's not fair to the teachers, it's not fair to the other students (especially the struggling ones) and it's not fair to my kid. The absolutely best situation in this case is to give the extreme outlier a choice to go with other outliers. Not force them, but a choice - it eases the situation for everyone.

I do completely agree with the need for more outreach and targeted reach to kids in Title 1 schools, etc.

But I want to point out that African American kids who qualify for APP enroll in the highest percent - far higher than whites. So the issue is not that something about the program keeps qualified African Americans out; the issue is IDENTIFYING the kids - that's maybe the one thing Charlie and I agree on.

Signed: APP FITS

Lori said...

Helen, I'm sure that some families would go back if there were more rigor, but many would not. As several others have attested to already, there are some kids who join APP to also have their social and emotional needs met. For some kids, moving to APP is an effective clinical intervention. I am not kidding.

I have talked to many families over the past couple of years about why they came to Lowell/Lincoln. I'm not always great at small talk in real life, but when I meet someone new at school, it's pretty easy to strike up a conversation because we all have something in common, having left a neighborhood school. I ask everyone what school they came from and why they left. I've had amazing and heartbreaking conversations as a result. There are children who have developed clinically significant anxiety and depression, even suicidal ideations, for lack of a peer group in their neighborhood school. Families so exasperated that they viewed opting into APP as sort of a "Hail Mary" pass, they didn't dare dream that something as simple as changing schools might return their child to a previous state of happiness and bring some joy back into their lives. The social isolation and peer rejection that can happen to these kids is overwhelming. And these stories are from families who left high-performing schools with lots of bright kids. These are great schools that work well for many children. But they don't work for all of them. And even if they offered more challenging work, there are still some kids who would fail to thrive.

And it's these children that I worry about when I see plans to split south-end elementary APP into three small groups. If the cohort is too small, will these children be able to practice social skills and find the "safe harbor" friends they seek out at early ages? And if they can't, then what? Can they opt into a larger cohort program due to social/emotional needs the following year, if such a thing even exists in the future? But by then, another entire year has gone by, and that time is so precious. The worst year of my entire life, not just as a parent, but my whole life on this planet, was our last year at our neighborhood school, watching my once-happy child develop a flat affect and speak with quiet resignation about the fact that no one in her class liked her or wanted to play with her. We could not have endured another year like that. So it breaks my heart to think of young kids out there today who aren't yet in the school system but may very well be denied an experience similar to what my child has had at Lowell/Lincoln simply because the district is intent on splitting up the program for entirely unclear reasons.

Melissa Westbrook said...

My previous thread about gifted children (from earlier this week) has tons of links to all kinds of information. It might be a good source to start with instead of attempting to Google and look.

seattle citizen said...

Part of the issue, addressed by a couple of commenters here in their call for more differentiation in gen ed classrooms, is that 98% of students are "stuck" classrooms where ability levels vary widely (diminishing instruction thereby) while 2% of students get the comparative luxury of being in classrooms filled with students of a similarly high level (making instruction easier.) While I recognize that the students in the "top two percent" have unique skills and challenges, there is an equity issue: What do you tell the parent/guardian whose child is "only" in the top, say 10%, and has to be taught alongside students in the 50th percentile and the 10th percentile while the "top 2%" student gets to learn alingside similarly leveled students?

Anonymous said...

There's no "mandate for segregated, self-contained gifted ed". The WACs state that gifted ed is basic. Big whip! That's practically nothing at all. It doesn't define the obligations, nor fund the obligations. The equation that says: it's in "basic ed" so I get self-containment with no poverty, no special ed, and no black kids.... Well, the law simply doesn't support that. Sorry.

If we indeed have so many "gifted" kids in SPS, then gifted becomes the norm. If it's the norm, then the normal school can handle it. No, it isn't perfect. It's more like a 75% solution, just like it is for every other student. Like everything else, true outliers need something else. The norm is not an outlier. APP is loving itself to death, as the hundreds and hundreds of posts suggest.

Unbelievable - somebody thinks their kid deserves APP because the librarian tried to "make" her read a picture book! Don't other kids also deserve to choose their library books too. Was this parent even there? The fact that this would be evidence - says it all.

-Also a Reader

seattle citizen said...

And, of course, there's the fact that students are "smart" in different ways at different times....

Anonymous said...

The percentiles do not indicate a linear progression of ability, sc. My two kids in gen ed classrooms test several deciles apart- 50th to 80th or so, and they are very able to be educated by the same material, and are within a year or so in ability. They could easily be educational peers for each other if they were the same age, could be in reading groups and edit each other's work. My child in APP is several years ahead of those 80th percentile kids when at the same grad(the kid's sibling). 97 and 99 are as far apart as 40 and 80, in terms of material they are working on. Or something like that.

I sort of get that what you all want to do right now is just hate on APP so it's pretty silly for me to reply, but I get so tired of the special ed canard. Qualifying for APP disqualifies you from many special ed services by definition. Many of those kids have severe issues (my family would qualify for speech help, but grade level tests disqualified the child, despite them being 10 years lower than other abilities). The classroom is not quieter than the neighborhood school we came from. And all the classes have been large- 27 kids, every year. I do think that all this splitting dilutes what APP has to offer (less of a cohort for the higher end, less experienced teachers), to the point that it will not be that different from what a neighborhood school has to offer. But, as a cynic, I think that is part of the point. The district cannot easily get rid of self contained classes- it is the norm for large cities, the only research based method for educating gifted kids which does not require $$$ , which the district is not throwing at advanced learning any time soon. So they can't get rid of it, but they can make it kind of blah, pander to people who just sort of don't like it, even though this just waters down education for kids in the district who deserve it as much as anyone else.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I don't know who's on the task force, but I hope they have far better understanding of advanced learning that what is currently being practiced. They need to reexamine everything including first, admission standards, then delivery. Just because this way is easier and conforms somewhat with what other districts are doing does not make it good. It's also why where there's educational redlining, you will not find equity or parity.

I work with high schoolers prepping for college entrance, and see great diversity in intelligent and maturity range. You can see the students (who may or may not have AL labels attached) who have great curiosity, intensity, and creativity and who apply that part of them in their applications, they have a verve and a way of thinking that grabs you. It's like finding that 13 yo student who is reading at home Dante's Divine Comedy in middle school and able to discuss it with such surety that boggles you. The context is there even without the historical understanding, but then you find out this kid is a serious reader and thinker. Not labeled gifted by CogAT, but really should be by practice. I ask myself, how is this child missed? Talking to the student and the parents, in the past, 1 or 2 teachers did see this child's in
"potential", but without the investigation by the parents or the teachers, you can see based on grades and uneven standardization test results, this very bored student is regarded as a slightly above average student. (Honestly, I like to send this student to Reed college, but the social and emotional maturity are just not quite there yet.)

What I hear frequently from parents, students, and teachers is the emphasis on STEM, particularly math, as the more obvious sign of giftedness. I don't know how much US culture and current industry/ philanthropy titans influence parents and educational professionals (preparing graduates for jobs), but it doesn't surprise me why Finland remains the ideal and why we are stuck in this paradigm.

Curious2


seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the clarication, Sleeper, though I'mnI'mnot sure I understand how 99 and 97 can be as far apart as 80 and 40. Is the line between O-100 straight, or is there a steep curve there at the 98-99 end of "intelligence"? I don't get it: A student in the 80th percentile is "smarter" than 80% of students; a student in the 40th only 40%. My point was that a student in, say, the 90th percentile might also benefit from being grouped in a similar cohort, as the teacher could focus on those higher skills. But if you say there is a vast gulf between 90 and 97, but NOT a gulf between 90 and, say 50....I would just need more clarity on that, as it doesn't seem to make sense.

Lynn said...

Also a Reader,

Would you support testing kids in each school, pulling out the top 2% of students, and then adjusting the curriculum to the norm in that community? That's what it would take to make your complaints meaningful. That's going to take a lot of time and effort - testing every kid in every school. You would be creating a situation where kids who are doing fine now fail to keep up in the classroom. Ask Gen Ed Mom how she'd feel about that.

Why not increase acceleration opportunities in neighborhood schools now, then if you're right, APP will slowly shrink over time. If neighborhood schools meet the needs of these kids, their parents will leave them there.

Lori is talking about kids like mine. If there were no self-contained APP, we would homeschool. My kids are happy enough at home and I think that would be the situation (without APP) that would minimize the damage to them.

Can you answer a couple of questions for me? Has the existence of self-contained APP caused your child to be clinically depressed? Have you had to medicate you child for panic attack-causing anxiety because some kids in her neighborhood don't attend the local school? If not, I think my child's needs trump your hurt feelings.

Anonymous said...

Reading the edweek links in last week's post raises the issue to me that SPS might be worried about discrimination suit with the current gifted delivery model -- especially since the cognitive testing criterion, the cogAT, is freely admitted to have a disparate effect across race. Lohman, the author of the cogAT, attributes that effect to differing levels of preparation in different communities for the kinds of questions on the tests. (Not cheating, mind you, but natural experience).

He states that the test only picks out outliers in similarly prepared populations.

zb

Anonymous said...

A model where each school tested out the top 2% (1-2 kids in each grade level) and normed the level for the remaining population would be vastly different from the current system.

I'd consider that model, because it would have minimal impact on the character of the general ed program while addressing the needs of true outliers (though I'd set the threshold at 1%)

zb

Lynn said...

zb,

Do you have a child in APP?

How do you suggest we pay for that testing and renorming?

Lynn said...

zb,

In the case mentioned in the Ed Week article, the district set up two gifted programs - one for Hispanics and one for non-Hispanics. I'm pretty sure SPS isn't doing that now, though creating a giant APP-only school in the more affluent, white north end and three tiny non-self contained classroom programs in the south end might be something we could sue over.

Anonymous said...

Reality check:
Last year, my student's class at Lincoln was diverse, without a majority, FYI. Out of 26 students, 12, per the class list, belonged to 1 demographic, 14 belong to other demographics. (Doubt accurate facts will deflect anybody's 'perception', but just in case anyone was interested.)
-Not monolithic

Anonymous said...

zb said: "A model where each school tested out the top 2% (1-2 kids in each grade level) and normed the level for the remaining population would be vastly different from the current system.

I'd consider that model, because it would have minimal impact on the character of the general ed program while addressing the needs of true outliers (though I'd set the threshold at 1%)."

If I'm understanding this correctly, you're suggesting to pull the top 1% out of each school and put them all together, right? Do you really think those kids will all be at the same level, able to jump in and start learning together? The top 1% at some schools are likely to be the most extreme outliers, while at others they could be more like Spectrum-level kids, no?

More importantly, it sounds like you're then advocating for the adjustment of teaching and curriculum to accommodate the 99% left behind, right? So third grade at at a school that would otherwise have had a lot of AL-qualified kids would be more like 4th or 5th grade in another part of the district? Keep all the really smart kids, and bump up the academics in some schools, but leave things as they are in others? That would create huge disparities across the district gen ed programs.

HIMSmom

dw said...

Seattle Citizen said: Thanks for the clarication, Sleeper, though I'mnI'mnot sure I understand how 99 and 97 can be as far apart as 80 and 40. Is the line between O-100 straight, or is there a steep curve there at the 98-99 end of "intelligence"? I don't get it:

IIRC you're a teacher, and from what I've read here over the years I think you're probably a pretty good one, but please, please tell me you don't teach math! ;-)

I'm going to explain here, so please read this post carefully, as I think many people don't understand this, and it's really fundamental to why we do need a program for APP kids, and why it really does make sense to have it self-contained, for the benefit of all kids.

Here's a reference page to bring up as you're reading here:
Math is Fun; Standard Normal Distribution

The whole page is worth reading, but for now scroll down to where it says "In More Detail" to see these numbers on a chart.

I'll pick slightly different numbers than the post above because they're easier to work with, but the same idea. Approximately 34.1% of any normal distribution lies between the middle and the the first standard deviation from the middle. That's roughly the 50th through 84th percentiles. The next standard deviation adds about 13.6% of the population, getting you up to the 99.7th %ile. The 3rd standard deviation adds only about 2.2% of the entire population, because the tail is getting thin, and the 4th std deviation only adds about 0.1%, but it's as far from the 99.7th as 50th %ile is from the 84th %ile.

So to put different, but real numbers in place of the post you were questioning, the level differential between 50th percentile and the 99.6th percentile is the same as the difference from the 99.7th percentile and the 99.99th percentile.

If you want to try to relate this to real kids in school, you can kinda sorta imagine 1 std deviation from the norm would be the ability to work 0.5 grade level up, 2 std deviations working 1 grade levels up, etc. The amount of differentiation you need to do as a teacher is dependent the range of abilities in the classroom. This is the important part: the amount of differentiation in a typical classroom (if advanced learners have been removed) is roughly the same as it is for the advanced learners! Because the vast majority of kids (and adults) fall into the tall part of the distribution, the level of differentiation is relatively narrow compared with the tails, which are long -- on BOTH ends.

In reality, research has shown that the high end of the abilities curve is longer and slightly thicker than a perfect normal curve. If you could see the chart stretched out far enough to show the significant outliers in APP (not all APP kids, mind you, but some, you'd see that APP classrooms can easily have just as wide a range of abilities as a normal classroom, even if they are all (questionable these days) above the 97.7th percentile.

I hope this makes sense, please let me know here!

Anonymous said...

Would be good if not monolithic have better breakdown. Otherwise, people will find this from SPS and OSPI.
Lincoln demographics, 2012-13 with 520 students

Whites 73.7%
Asians 13.7%
Blacks (1student) 0.2%
Hispanics 3.1%
Two or more races 9.4%

FRL (4 students) 0.4%
Spec ed 3.8%
ELL 0%
Sect 504 2.5%

Not monolithic, but to be honest, not really diverse either.
APP mom

Anonymous said...

I have one simple question. Is there any APP parent who wil say they think they have a sweet deal. From my perspective, a lot do have a really good thing for their kids, and I don't begrudge them. Why settle for second best? That's not common sense or normal.
In fairness, Helen, you should let kids stay in the pathway, even if the rules for new kids change. Also, the new levels of rigor should be in place before any change is made that would keep kids in their neighborhood school,not after the switch although, let's face it, that's not the district way.
So again, anybody out there who has kids in the program thinks it's something special?

Wendy

Anonymous said...

dw, coming from someone with a math focus, that's good math.

I pick up on part of your last sentence: ...even if they are all (questionable these days) above the 97.7th percentile.

I do think it's questionable. I want to have a real conversation about how/why this is happening.

Cal

Anonymous said...

Lori,
I've read many of your posts and find your story very poignant; I think we hail from the same region and I really sympathize with your daughter. I wonder if there is any room in your story for considering if it is possible that your daughter got stuck in a (for lack of a better word) "bad" group at your neighborhood school. I really believe that different groups of kids develop different group thinks, and some grade bands have a weird/unhealthy vibe. If you had changed schools to any school, could it have been better even if it wasn't APP? Are you sure the kids were better for your daughter just because it was APP?

NE parent

seattle citizen said...

Thank you, dw - math is NOT my forte, and your response clarifies things enormously. I retract any suggestion I made suggesting the top 2% are close to, say, someone in the 95Th percentile. It appears (by the test, anyway) that there is a karge difference.

Anonymous said...

The difference between someone who scores 95 and 98 on the tests (especially when you can pick any MAP score out of a handful to qulaify) is not necessarily very great, though. Especially in K/1.

Cal

dw said...

NE Parent,

I'm not going to speak for Lori specifically (I'm sure she'll reply soon enough!), but the countless tales (easily more than 100) like Lori's and Lynn's that I've heard from APP parents over the past >10 years are proof enough to me that her situation at that particular school is not only not unique, but the norm.

Yes, there are counter-tales as well, but they are few and far between. There are teachers who care and can kind of accommodate with great effort, but it's extremely difficult even when they want to, and trust me, most teachers do not want to deal with the true outliers. It takes a special building with principal support and teacher support across multiple grades. Very rare.

But there are also social stigma issues to deal with, such as APP FITS brought up. Those are virtually impossible to erase without changing schools. Yes, there are interesting personalities among certain grade bands at certain schools (that could be a whole separate topic of conversation!) but there's another unfortunate layer on top of that.

Anonymous said...

Wendy asked whether there is anybody out there with kids in APP who thinks it's something special and that we have a sweet deal.

I bet some do.

For us, I guess that depends on what you mean by "something special" or a "sweet deal." My inclination would be to refer to it more along the lines of "better than nothing..." But since we could very well find ourselves with nothing, does that make it a "sweet deal" to have APP? Even if it's not rigorous enough for my child, he isn't learning a whole lot, and he still doesn't totally fit in with his APP peers? I don't know. While we are lucky to at least have APP, it doesn't FEEL like it's something special to us.

Does that make us ungrateful? Are you trying to see whether APP parents all expect the moon, and are unsatisfied no matter what? I hope not, and that it was an honest question... I think most of us take what we can get, knowing it's not always enough--and that's why we fight to protect the little we have.

HIMSmom

dw said...

Thank you, dw - math is NOT my forte, and your response clarifies things enormously. I retract any suggestion I made suggesting the top 2% are close to, say, someone in the 95Th percentile. It appears (by the test, anyway) that there is a karge difference.

Whew! I don't mind helping out, I just don't want it to be wasted. :-) I hope it was enlightening, and frankly, spreading the word to others who don't understand would be helpful!

One small thing I'd like to point out though; when you say "by the test, anyway", this distribution is not just based on a (or any) particular test. The distribution is as close to mathematical fact as its possible to be. Normal distributions are the way nature works, whether it's height, weight, humans, plants or animals. IQ has a normal distribution.

Now, one could argue that a particular test doesn't do a perfect job of identifying where someone falls on that distribution, and I would agree with that. But the distribution is what it is, for better or worse.

dw said...

Cal said: The difference between someone who scores 95 and 98 on the tests (especially when you can pick any MAP score out of a handful to qulaify) is not necessarily very great, though. Especially in K/1.

Hahaha, don't even get me started on MAP.

Great in theory, not so great in practice, and terrible in distinguishing amongst the highest achievers (let alone high ability). To be fair, it was never intended to be used for that purpose, but we're all working to fix that, right?!

Anonymous said...

Jeez HIMS mom,
I was just asking if any parents felt it was a very good, almost private school experience at a reasonable price(free) to have their kids in APP. Maybe there are no such parents. I know when my own kids were in a self contained gifted program I felt fortunate and like I was getting a very sweet deal from my district. Way better than a blended classroom from an academic standpoint. I just wondered if anybody reading this blog felt that way and would comment. I not saying that necessarily anyone feels that way.
Just askin'

Wendy

Anonymous said...

To Person who posted the % breakdown of Lincoln by race:

Could you post the % breakdown of the north end, QA and Magnolia, the areas that feed Lincoln, by race?

How different is Lincoln?

Could you post the % breakdown of ALL KIDS LIVING IN SEATTLE (b/c that's who is eligible to attend APP - all kids in the city, the 72% in SPS and the 28% in private school).

How different does that look? How can SPS get more white kids to enroll in SPS? Should they try, or not? Can any system that doesn't strive to serve 28% of the kids be successful in the long term?

Could you post the % breakdown by race of all kids in JSIS? In West Woodland? In Laurelhurst?

Are families going from those schools to APP embracing racial diversity or fleeing from it?

There's a lot of challenges about race in this city, and a lot of questions those sets of numbers should bring up. APP's RIGHT TO EXIST for the kids who need that program should not be one of them, and certainly not the first and only one of them.

Yes, my questions may seem a little aggressive - but that's the real comparison if someone is making an argument about whether or not Lincoln is racially diverse or segregated. Don't hold Lincoln's numbers up in a vacuum and say "see, that's bad". Compare them to the real numbers they should be compared to.

Signed: Math counts

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I'm not sure how I got dragged into this, but please don't imply (or state) that I ever complained that my child couldn't keep up. I'm not worried about that in any scenario even though she isn't "spectrum qualified". In fact, my child did suffer in some of the way you describe being in a totally unsuitable classroom setting of "left over" kids (hives, anxiety, talking about being stressed out, asking about commercials that said "ask your doctor about x if you are depressed", refusing to go to school) because of her Gen Ed experience in a school with 30 percent spectrum. We did have to pull her out and homeschool her for part of the year. Our experience is more like yours than you will admit. It feels like many of you think that's ok for my kid but not yours. That has all since gone away, but we had to move her to a school that doesn't have anywhere near the wonderful facilities of our neighborhood school that we pay taxes to support and she can't walk to school and be with her neighborhood friends. Well, ok, it's doable. But please know that being in a unsuitable setting with kids who are not peers and have nothing in common with you and are difficult if not impossible to teach together can be every bit as damaging for a kid of average intelligence as it is for a genius.

Gen Ed Mom

Lynn said...

Math Counts,l

As a start, there are more students from Bryant (54) than from any other elementary school. Here are Bryant's demographics:

Race/Ethnicity (October 2012)
Asian 51 8.8%
Asian/Pacific Islander 51 8.8%
Black / African American 3 0.5%
Hispanic / Latino of any race(s) 36 6.2%
White 447 77.5%
Two or More Races 40 6.9%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2013) 35 6.0%




Lynn said...

Meant to say more students from Bryant at Lincoln in case that wasn't obvious.

Anonymous said...

DW -- the explanation of the rarity of kids who score at different points on the normal distribution of the cogAT (which is a normed test) is relevant to the discusssion of how classrooms might work.

standard deviations remain the same as you move up the normal distribution, though -- I.e. the difference between someone at the 2nd v 3rd sd is not bigger than the difference between someone at the 1st v mean. And, if the gen ed classroom includes 95% of the children, +/- 2 sd, it would contain a range of 4sds -- a broader rang than the +2 to +4 sd one might find in the gifted classroom.

I'm not sure how you are translating the distribution to "grade level'" but if one did assume that 1sd of the distribution was ".5" grades, the folks at 2-4 sds would be one grade a part and the folks in the gen ed classroom would be 2 grades apart. There would be far fewer kids in the 2-4 range, though (and there would be more kids close to the mean in the gen Ed class.)

I find it useful to think about this math in terms of height

stat.stanford.edu/~naras/jsm/NormalDensity/NormalDensity.html

For women 18-24, each standard deviation is 2.5 inches, and the mean is 5 foot 5.5 in, 1sd above is a 5 foot 8 in, 2sd is 5 foot 10.5 in, 3sd is 6 foot .5 in, so 4sd above is a 6 foot 2.5 woman: each difference in sd is the same.

zb

Ps sorry if I just misunderstood your explanation.

Lori said...

NE Parent, thanks for your question and kind words, although I don't know exactly how to respond.

It's never been my intention to have anyone feel sorry for me or any member of my family, and I apologize if sometimes my posts are too emotional. I try to stay objective but I do feel passionately that someone needs to speak up and make sure these conversations about the need for APP go beyond simply focusing on academics. But it's hard to find a balance between sharing enough to make a point and sharing too much.

So for that reason, I don't really want to write any more about my own family. I was actually hoping to make a larger point that there are a lot of families out there whose kids needed more than just additional rigor. I'm glad dw and lynn and a few others add their voices and stories to this conversation.

But to try to more directly answer your question, all I can say is that, no, based on every book I've read about gifted education, every expert I've ever talked to, and every conference I've attended on the topic, plus the many stories of other families, I don't think our experience was due to some sort of "bad grouping" that would have resolved if we'd stayed put longer or tried a different neighborhood school.

Lynn said...

Gen Ed Mom,

I'm sorry, it was unfair of me to use your name as a stand-in for all parents of students in general education classrooms. My point was that the classrooms in our neighborhood schools have to be set up to first meet the needs of the majority of students - those who are academically in the middle.

I have a lot of empathy for your child - and yes her story sounds much like mine. I would much prefer smaller classes and walk-to math and reading to self-contained Spectrum.

I would never refer to (or think of) any of my children as geniuses. They are pretty much exactly like their cousins and seem pretty normal to me.

Anonymous said...

Math counts, I could do that at least for the separate schools. Private schools post their own and how detail their breakdowns depends on the school as they don't have to meet OSPI or fed standards. Parents chose to pay for that extra privilege if they don't qualify for scholarships.

I posted the Lincoln number because it's a defensive act (in response to not monolithic) as I don't want to NOT appear like I'm not aware of the stats. I rather be upfront about them than be accused of being oblivious to them.

I'm bothered by gifted program stats and hardly alone in this. I've read research written by gifted ed researchers (Renzulli, Ford, etc.)and many have looked at this problem and ways to mitigate. It's out there in mainstream press and it's not going away by ignoring it. I for one am willing to move beyond stating I'm for higher taxes, but would ask to use additional means to increase FRL and ELL students participation in this district's AL programs. If private schools are willing to recruit and work with groups like Rainier Scholars, bring students in for summer school to prevent the slide, then this district needs to be just as aggressive in trying to keep all our best and brightest. That means be willing to accommodate an ELL student who may not meet the verbal part of the test, but meet the quantitative portion. Find better test to test them with (and there are than cogAT and MAP). For the FRL students, especially the youngest ones, who show potential, get them in the program faster, add on the enrichment with scholarships and mentoring with parent volunteer if their own parents aren't able too. We have a robust fundraiser and strong volunteers among our parental community, why not raise that endeavor? Think of the brilliant minded parents here, number cruncher extraordinaire willing to spend time to work out capacity and geozones, conduct and analyze surveys, sit on committees, help search up and down for info to post on this blog and other sites, show up at school board meetings and rallies. This is an amazing group of bright, giving, and energetic people. And yes, I have sent in my 2 cents on this matter to the district, Dr. V. (during his tenure), school boards, and have volunteered my time in local schools working with students, including the ones I mentioned here and it's from those personal experiences which have changed my views, I am convinced this district can do better.

APP mom

Anonymous said...

Needs Specifics says: Our neighborhood's attendance area and option schools are more "segregated" than APP.

Let's just call BS on that one. Lincoln has 1 black student. Uno. There's not 1 other school in the district with this type of segregation. Not one. Before last year, there was no black students at Lincoln. Zip. Thurgood Marhshall had 6 in APP.

So you can count your segregation any way you want, but segregated gifted ed became popular when segregation of black students was outlawed. Really, it's just another way to accomplish the same thing. It's great that you want to count Italian ancestry, curly hair, or Chinese ancestry as diversity, and of course, there's a modicum of truth to it. We all represents points of diversity. That just isn't the problem the district is trying to address.

-Poster 100+

Lynn said...

Can you tell me where you found the data on the demographics of T Marshall APP?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I got very little empathy from anyone on this board when I came here and told the story of what my daughter experienced. It absolutely was the worst year of our life. My point exactly is that the schools should serve the majority of the kids and my kid is in the majority and yet she became a different child, one I did not recognize. She was not served by our school because the resources at that school were not equitably managed in order to serve the majority. And moving schools did solve the problem. And she was fine in the private school we previously attended. And she's a kid with a very high degree of emotional intelligence. That just shouldn't have happened to her. When you have a kid who has needs outside the norm, I think you probably expect to search for the right situation and are happy to find it, and I'm glad you did. When your kid is right inside the norm why should you think that would be necessary? It shocked me.

( and you implying that my bright child is dumb ie can't keep up without even knowing her is kind of what she got at Whittier and that's depressing for everyone).

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

SeaCitizen Wrote:

Part of the issue, addressed by a couple of commenters here in their call for more differentiation in gen ed classrooms, is that 98% of students are "stuck" classrooms where ability levels vary widely (diminishing instruction thereby) while 2% of students get the comparative luxury of being in classrooms filled with students of a similarly high level (making instruction easier.)

Here's the thing, SC: As you make that argument, the district will respond that "effective teachers" can differentiate across all levels without "diminishing instruction thereby." I appreciate your honest acknowledgment, but we both know Ed Reformers and Administrators don't want to hear it.

Most teachers I know say ability grouping is the best way to go, and that teaching kids whose abilities are 2 or 3 grade levels apart is extremely difficult, if not impossible for most teachers, without substantial classroom supports, which most schools currently do not have.

So, when you raise the equity issue of how much suffering there is in typical non-APP classrooms, realize that you are advocating for APP kids and families to likewise "get stuck" back in that environment, and make a bad situation much worse for all students in the classroom by enhancing those ability variances.

I don't see how that's better for either cohort, and telling people who finally found a decent school that fits their kid that they need to give it up because it's not fair? Well, breaking what works instead of fixing what doesn't is no solution. We've been there and done that, and because of our experiences, have plenty of reasons to be skeptical that the district could suddenly fix the problems that drove us away in the first place.

WSDWG

Lynn said...

Poster 100+
Here are some of the schools that feed students into APP@Lincoln and the % of students in those schools last year who were black:

Bryant, Viewridge, Wedgwood, JSIS, Laurelhurst, Loyal Heights and North Beach - all 1%
McDonald, West Woodland, Blaine - all 2%
Greenlake, Coe, Lawton, Whittier - all 3%
Bagley - 4%

Do you honestly think families are pulling their kids out of these schools to find something less diverse?

Lynn said...

GEM,

I did not mean to imply she is not a bright child. Zb suggested we could send most APP kids back to their neighborhood schools and adjust the curriculum to meet their needs. I don't think that is fair to the majority of the students - those for whom the current curriculum is (theoretically) appropriate. I already apologized for using your name, I won't do it again.

Anonymous said...

Poster 100+, did you see the Bryant statistics above? Or are you saying the line between too segregated to exist even with legions of people dedicated to improvement and "oh well, neighborhood school" is 1 black student? Bryant is whiter. I am sure several other schools are too. I think the demographics are something we should work on, to say the least, but the fact that they currently mirror the city of Seattle's, a little better than some neighborhood schools, much worse than many, and not sps enrollment overall, is not prima facie evidence that we should not have a self contained gifted program. It is just proof that it is a good idea to test all the SE second graders this year.

Zb, I think the problem with your otherwise spot on analysis is that it implies a cap which is not there. So whatever we are using as our standard deviation, 1 grade level, at the last one, it's 4+, emphasis on the plus. That's how there are ranges just as large. I feel like this is getting a bit into the weeds, but I'd say it does basically mirror my family's experience in both. In the later grades the app classrooms I have been in have as much range as the gen ed classrooms, though it is a different range. In neither classroom are the kids at the top end well served(gen ed kids way ahead in one subject or app kids just way ahead) which I'd love to see improved, but unfortunately there seem to currently be more pressing problems.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Except that I want the opposite Lynn of what you propose Lynn. I want the level of rigor to increase in the Gen Ed program, not to go down or stay the same because my kids "can't keep up." I think that is what ZB wants too. My kids don't test into Spectrum let alone APP but they could handle more rigor and I suspect most kids at the schools in my neighborhood could. Maybe most kids in Seattle could. My only problem so far with unfairness in this system has been my child being basically warehoused for a year in a holding tank with the label "not Spectrum qualified" on her forehead because there were not enough resources to serve her at a school that should have been able to teach her but failed to do so on every single level. So don't send the APP kids back, I don't care, but don't say it's out of concern for my kid.

Gen Ed Mom

Rufus X said...

This right here - a thread about the manner in which an Advanced Learning Task Force was selected, has turned, yet again, into a thread about the merits or demerits of the advanced learning program and the students it serves - is the EXACT reason I and Rufus XY keep our kids' APP status/enrollment to ourselves. We do not wish to engage in conversations about whether they are truly gifted according to the masses, the perceived "perks" of APP, or to be lectured about how their enrollment in a program they tested into (BTW they didn't set the criteria that they exceeded) harms everyone around them. In fact, when the question "Why aren't your kids attending (neighborhood school X)?" comes up, Rufus XY and i note the other non-APP aspects of their school and we don't list APP as a priority or even mention that are students are in the program.

Considering this (and every other thread mentioning the three magic letters, APP) tends to come down to the same old questions, conjecture, and disdain, I can say that I'm extremely glad the youngest of my students are soon to exit 1-8 APP. It's taxing and tiring to mentally justify your childrens' academic needs to the internet's version of the Muppet Show’s Statler & Waldorf.

Charlie Mas said...

seattle citizen, due to the shape of the curve, there is as much or more range of ability in APP as you will find in a general education classroom. If a general education classroom has students who range from four years behind grade level to four years beyond grade level that is a nine year range. APP classes often have a nine year range as well.

I also fail to see the benefits achieved in denying anything good to some because we cannot offer a similar good to all. Should no teacher be a great teacher for his or her students out of a sense of fairness because other students don't have a great teacher?

And, yes, students are "smart" in different ways at different times, but we have a program for students who are "smart" in math and language so the program is for students who are "smart" in those ways. If we had a program for students who are "smart" in creativity or leadership then we could test for those attributes.

Charlie Mas said...

also a reader,

I have no cure for your hate.

You are angry with an academic program because some groups are under-represented in it. They are under-represented for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the program at all.

No. There is no "mandate" for self-contained gifted education. That just happens to be the delivery model that works best for the greatest number of students and is among the least expensive to deliver.

You are wrong about the funding. The WAC does fund gifted ed. The WAC only has meaning as the rules around the grant.

Your covetousness about a program with "with no poverty, no special ed, and no black kids" is disturbing. APP families aren't asking for that. It's weird that you are. Sorry.

We do have a lot of gifted students in Seattle Public Schools. But even at 8% or as much as 12% of the total population, they are not the norm and they are not reliably served in general education classrooms.

They are not the norm and normal schools don't handle it. The schools that handle it the worst are in parts of the district with high concentrations of poverty and minority majority populations. Those are the students who will be harmed the most if APP is dismantled. It might be less than tragic for an APP student to be in a general education classroom at Eckstein - particularly if all of the other 300+ APP students who live in the Eckstein attendance area are also returned to the school. What will it be like for the APP student sent back to Aki Kurose with eight others? Will that student be reliably served there?

If you think a 75% solution is good enough, then I don't see why you're dissatisfied with APP.

Again, even where they are most common, APP students remain outliers because they are not reliably served in the general education classroom. Even where they are most common they are still a minority and outside the norm.

seattle citizen said...

Charlie and others, I'm not saying get rid of APP because Gen Ed students aren't getting their needs/levels met; I simply state that the PERCEPTION ("hate") might be that "those" APP students are getting THEIR needs met (kinda...) while the thousands in gen ed aren't. A sure path to animosity/jealousy....

Seesaw said...

I still don't understand why all the people who hate APP kids so much don't support a stand alone school. Out of sight, out of mind. We won't be clogging up your schools, and stand around there with our lily white skin making you irrationally angry that some kids learn differently than others.

Anonymous said...

I do. I support a stand alone school for APP. I don't support 30 percent self contained Spectrum in my neighborhood school. I want more rigor in Gen Ed and I want to bring standards UP for all kids not keep them low or lower them out of concern that some kids may not keep up (and I respectfully ask APP parents to not concern yourself with keeping the standards low enough in Gen Ed that hasn't been a problem I've seen so far). I imagine many Gen Ed parents would agree with me as would many of the parents of kids with normal IQs who have the means to put them in private schools and do so simply because they don't have the energy to fight and hunt and find a reliable situation for their normal child who should be easily served and reliably challenged every year.


Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

Ps I don't hate ANY kid. I just hate what my kid had to go through.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

When AL takes up such huge numbers it skews proportionality for everyone else. Special ed for starters. Classes become heavily disabled, and it isn't productive for anybody. That isn't hate. It's obvious. The segregated white south did benefit some people, like APP, spectrum. Pointing out the similarities isn't hatred. More likely that APP families hate minorities and disabled, on some level, if you want to go down that path.

Another Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

What do APP parents propose to do about the (granted small) number of kids who are retested repeatedly privately into APP because their parents want them in the smart school? They exist. Should the task force address this or ignore it?

What about kids who are socially average & fit very well in neighborhood schools but move because their school isn't teaching them?

Questions

Seesaw said...

Yes, that is why my kiddo is in APP. Because I hate minorities and people with disabilites. That is also the reason I work in Special Ed in another district. That is an absurd leap. Walk a mile, people.

Lynn said...

Questions,

More importantly, what can we do for kids whose parents need APP, aren't aware that the CoGAT is not terribly accurate and don't qualify for free IQ testing from the district? Best practices require using independently administered tests.

Are you suggesting kids should stay in general education classrooms until they're unhappy enough to go to APP?

You worry about some weird things.

Anonymous said...

Questions-

You are asking people to respond to some vague notion you have that people are "buying" their way into APP. Considering that you recognize this is a "small" number, how much of the district's money would you like to see spent on this? Should they hire private detectives? Maybe Magnum PI has some free time.

Your other question has been addressed many times. There are APP kids (I had no idea how many) who would likely stay at their neighborhood school if there were a real Spectrum program that had actual guidelines that were enforced by the district. Because of my child's needs, we would have chosen APP regardless. I know for other people being in their neighborhood is very important and they would prefer that.

-unwashed

Anonymous said...

Another Gen Ed Mom, I personally feel that when it is done well, with the right supports, "special Ed" kids can and should be integrated into the regular classroom and in many instances no one needs to know which challenges any particular kid faces unless that kid and his family want to share. It's good for all kids when everybody is accepted and no one is stigmatized. I personally have not seen exceptionally bright kids stigmatized in SPS but I believe the APP parents who say it happens. I have seen the opposite - kids being gossiped about because they have an IEP or because they DON'T have an IEP but some parent has made a diagnosis based on the fact that the kid annoys her (and this is the downside of parents volunteering in the classroom).

And it is the law that the right supports should be in place. But the nature of the parent culture in SPS right now is "I need to get my kid in a bubble away from all those OTHER kids".

I don't have a kid with any special needs or requirements, but I fully support the nature of the federal laws as they pertain to Special Education and wish more schools would implement them.

Gen Ed Mom

Lynn said...

Another Gen Ed Mom,

You are totally right. I do hate myself, my kids, my nieces and nephews. How did you know?

It's really only parents outside of APP who think the best thing about the program is the opportunity to avoid minorities and disabled children. Why is that?

Seesaw said...

"But the nature of the parent culture in SPS right now is "I need to get my kid in a bubble away from all those OTHER kids". "

What? Who says this? Not the APP parents I know. If anything, the move to APP is to get away from the STAFF that won't support our student's learning, not the kids. I would guess at the top of all of our CON lists, when making the decision to move to an APP school, is leaving peers and friends behind in our neighborhood school and starting all over again with the peer group.

Anonymous said...

Maybe not with APP parents. I don't know much about APP. I saw it in a school with self contained Spectrum though.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

The purpose of AL testing is to find the best academic fit. I've heard enough stories about the pitfalls of group testing to understand why some parents seek confirming assessments from private testers. I would not begrudge a parent that seeks to make decisions based on the best information available. If a parent has other motives, well that's unfortunate, but I doubt that's the norm. The state laws around highly capable identification allow for an appeals process. They acknowledge that doors shouldn't close if other information is available to support services.

moving on

Karen said...

@RufusX,
So you are embarrassed or ashamed or just paranoid about your kids being in APP? So you say they aren't at your neighborhood school for other reasons. Like?
It would either be the superb language offerings at Hamilton or the superb music opportunities at that school or especially at Washington.
But needless to say you used the APP enrollment process to get into this school.so aren't you one who has "gamed" the system in the truest sense? You used it to get into a school, that since it houses APP, has a program(s) you wanted.
But since you don't brag about your genius kids or mention APP in polite conversation , it somehow not taking advantage of a system in ways most cannot?
Pray tell, how yours would have suffered at the neighborhood MS, and what became of their classmates from elementary days who couldn't get into APP ?
You pretend to be above the fray, but you are truly the poster parent of for why APP needs to change. You used the rules to get a choice assignment for your kids, according to you, not even so much for academics!
You also demonstrate the fact that persistent parents, who know there way around the district can get into APP in ways others with less savvy cannot.
Thank god your days of trial any tribulation are soon over! Bless you for putting up with is who see unfairness in your situation and some of your co-APPers.

Lynn said...

Karen,

I agree. I don't understand why RufusX would not want to discuss her child's enrollment in APP. Her neighbors and acquaintances are sure to be supportive and to assume she made that decision after thoughtful consideration. That's what I have experienced.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of frays, what the heck is going on over at the APP blog, where people are slinging accusations and counter accusations regarding the SNAPP PTA, public records requests and personal vendettas against those running for school board? Names are being named by people who are remaining anonymous themselves. It's crazy.

I'm sure it's just a small sample of the APP north parents but it makes everyone associated with APP up there look pretty bad. Can anyone shed some light on this?

Go Hawks!

Rufus X said...

Lynn, I can no longer tell when you're being serious or sarcastic.

Karen - Settle down, Beavis. Wow. I didn't say my "genius kids" - your words, not mine - didn't HAVE needs (which BTW have and are being met in APP). I said we don't talk about those needs. You vividly illustrated exactly why I don't bring up APP: Accusations of "gaming the system", "brag about your genius kids", "used the rules to get a choice assignment". No. Our students were found eligible for APP, we felt they needed the program, we enrolled them. There is no shame, embarrassment, or paranoia. There is a desire to avoid confrontational, aggressive diatribes like yours. I appreciate the reminder as to why I stay out of APP conversations here. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

FYI--You aren't doing south-end teachers and students favors by having a bloated APP program, and thereby keeping the range of abilities more limited. This is a new line of argument that has been brought up in this thread, and it is insulting to the staffs and students who are in these schools.

Please don't go there. It is simply not true. Well prepared students and the privileges that they bring to general education environments have been proven to help, not hinder, the success of low income students.

As always, I am a strong advocate for a range of service deliveries to me the needs of exceptional children (which includes self-contained when appropriate for the student).

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Enough already said: Well prepared students and the privileges that they bring to general education environments have been proven to help, not hinder, the success of low income students.

How exactly is that? When my child was instructed to no longer raise his hand to answer questions because it made the other kids feel bad, how exactly did having him there help them? And how did it help him learn, when he had to sit there waiting long periods of time for them to come up with wrong answers that then required more teacher explanation? I honestly do not see how anyone thinks that sort of setting is good for any of these kids. Please enlighten me.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Or when the neighborhood school kids told him to stop talking, because nobody was interested in what he had to say? How is that, enough already, helping the success of other students? (Aside from their own social bonding over being rude to the nerd, perhaps?)

If you don't have a kid who really and truly needs APP, please stop trying to pretend you know what these kids need.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Kee-rist! Some days I wonder if private school is worth the cost. Other days, I read threads like this and think it's worth it, if for no other reason than to avoid the hate, vitriol, and constant need to stand up against false accusations and misrepresentations.

The sad part is that it hasn't changed in a decade and isn't likely to change any time soon. No need to bother posting - Mel and Charlie can just recycle the same tired talking points from archived posts. The names change, but the story stays the same.

-No Regrets

Brian said...

Hate to call you out RufousX, but you did blog quite a bit about getting your "things" as you called them into Washington a couple of years ago. Your moniker always sticks in my mind. I'm glad it worked out and you should never feel ashamed to advocate for your kids. Downplaying their inclusion in APP, however, to many people, only adds to the distrust and misunderstanding about the program. Parents should own the program, they have no trouble defending it here. If it's fair and appropriate, then wear it proud. If it is all good then don't talk about hiding it in a school where no one will be bothered by seeing the kids. Let's get some more sunlight on the program not less. If it's best practice, then educate the district, the parents, the students and the general public.
It's like kids who do high level anything, from gymnastics to fencing to music to drama. Those parents usually are proud and vocal about their kids abilities and success, why not APP parents. All this defensive and passive aggressive questioning and hyperbole almost seems a cover for a deep guilt.
No parent should ever feel guilty about doing things for their kids. But not owning your actions and your efforts and your beliefs does not serve the APP community well in the short or long term.

dw said...

Brian said: It's like kids who do high level anything, from gymnastics to fencing to music to drama. Those parents usually are proud and vocal about their kids abilities and success, why not APP parents. All this defensive and passive aggressive questioning and hyperbole almost seems a cover for a deep guilt.

No parent should ever feel guilty about doing things for their kids. But not owning your actions and your efforts and your beliefs does not serve the APP community well in the short or long term.


Spoken like a true idealist. Or a noob. Or both. Said with a smile. ;-)

Kids who are awesome gymnasts, fencers or pianists are held in high esteem by most people in our fair city. But even a hint that your kid is super-smart, and you might as well be a leper or a sex offender in many, if not most people's eyes. Really. I'm guessing by your comments that you haven't mixed it up enough in different environments around various parts of our city and tried to advocate for APP. It truly is HOSTILE. When you've been verbally abused as many times as we long-term advocates have been, you get gun shy. Frankly, in most contexts, I'm like RufusX, because I'm just too tired to deal with it anymore.

It's not for lack of wanting change, it's for lack of energy, time and especially lack of progress.

dw said...

enough already said: You aren't doing south-end teachers and students favors by having a bloated APP program, and thereby keeping the range of abilities more limited. This is a new line of argument that has been brought up in this thread, and it is insulting to the staffs and students who are in these schools.

Please don't go there. It is simply not true. Well prepared students and the privileges that they bring to general education environments have been proven to help, not hinder, the success of low income students.


If I'm understanding what you're trying to say (you can correct me if I'm misinterpreting your comment), this is an absolute false myth, that has been completely disproven with decades of research. Having high achievers mixed into classes with lower achievers DOES NOT HELP ANYONE!

This has been studied to death, and if that's indeed what you're saying, you need to read up on the topic and stop listening to anecdotal crap that seems to get repeated over and over. Fortunately, rather than posting countless links to papers and studies, the kind folks at HoagiesGifted have put together this list of references to a bunch of academic sources. Please read up on the topic.

Summarized in two sentences: There is absolutely no merit to the argument that mid and lower achieving students are harmed when gifted kids are removed from mixed classrooms, and there is absolutely measurable improvement for the gifted kids' education. There is more recent evidence that shows benefit to the general ed kids when the gifted kids have been removed, but nowhere near the hundreds and hundreds of studies that show they are not harmed.

Anonymous said...

"Andectotal crap". "Lower acheiver". Is that my experience and my child your referring to? Are these worth less than your experiences and your child? It seems like you think so. Or am I misinterpreting you?

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

You're not your (less you label me a lower acheiver)

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

P.S. despite the studies, my child WAS harmed.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

No, your kid would not be a lower achiever, in this context. That would be the kids who are behind, who are having trouble. Your kid is considered average (I have two of those!), and absence or presence of app kids does not make a huge difference for them, except that those app kids were more disruptive, and there was marginally less class time generally if the teacher was differentiating. But it did take away time and resources that were more necessary for the struggling kids(not our kids, gen ed mom, struggling academically) who needed extra help, and I thought it didn't really help with their self esteem to see a kid doing all this stuff so easily (for my gen ed kids it is not all so easy, though they do not really struggle.)

-sleeper

dw said...

Sigh. GenEdMom, while I'm extremely empathetic to the situation you faced last year (more than you could possibly know), your ongoing hypersensitivity is to the point that I'm kind of worried about you. No, my comment has nothing to do with you or your very specific situation, it has to do with general egalitarian notions that all manner of kids should be stuffed into the same classrooms, blended up and homogenized because somehow it's better for someone's education. Or society at large, or whatever. Notwithstanding the abysmal situation your daughter was in last year, the overwhelming majority of situations do not call for blending kids together.

To quote Thomas Jefferson: "nothing is so unequal as the equal treatment of unequal people."

Really, believe me, it goes back for centuries, this discussion is not about your kid.

Anonymous said...

Except when your school is 30 percent high achievers and there are no girls in the 4th grade because such a disproportionate amount tested into the high achiever program that the regular achievers all left the school so your kid gets put in a 4th grade class to balance the gender and that's presented to you as a split but there is no plan for how to teach your kid in that class and everyone shrugs their shoulders and says "that's how it is". Oh, and throw on top of that a teacher from the "leftover" pile who is new to the school and got the labels she's sticking on all the kids to anyone who will listen from SOMEWHERE (could it be the school culture? Not sure but possibly).

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

My daughter was "blended up" so to speak to accommodate another group. Is there a plan to keep that from happening when you remove the high achievers so that the other kids can also be with peers?

Gen Ed Mom

Maureen said...

dw, It may be that enough already is referring to the evidence that low income children benefit from being educated with wealthier peers (see Richard Kahlenberg and Diane Ravitch(ch. 31) for starters.) Gifted designation in Seattle (and elsewhere) is strongly correlated with income. I suppose the studies you reference control for income?

Anonymous said...

Was Jefferson referring to his African slaves i n that quote or what?

Monti Cello

dw said...

Maureen,

There are very few studies that are properly able to control relevant variables, including selection bias, with real-world students, for obvious reasons. One that I know of, but don't have a handy reference for was done by Dina Brulles in Paradise Valley AZ. It's very difficult to do these kinds of studies because there are few situations where student placement has a randomized component. IIRC they had to go outside their own district to get their data.

In any case, this particular study explicitly showed improved outcomes for the non-gifted kids by removing the gifted kids from their classrooms. Again, I don't have a link, but I spoke at length with her about this very subject when she was in Seattle during the Wedgwood debacle. If you decide to dig and find an online reference, please post it!

The ties between wealth and gifted designation is troubling, but not unexpected. Some fraction of it, I believe, is failed policies that refuse to help bright kids with potential (that are not working at APP level) get into their own classrooms and buildings where it's accepted (and even cool!) to be smart and work hard. To get out of the poison atmosphere in many schools where the brainy kids are picked on and hide their talents (or put them to use in less-than-desirable ways). That does NOT mean putting putting bright, capable, but ill-prepared kids into APP, because that is a recipe for disaster. But by helping potentially capable kids get into an environment where they may actually be able to develop their talents, then with time certainly some of them will continue on a faster trajectory and qualify for APP. More importantly than that, they will more likely be psychologically prepared for and interested in a move to APP. This system could be achieved by having 1-2 "real" (self-contained) Spectrum buildings in each region that pull in the top 10% of students IN THAT REGION.

Sadly, the current environment will probably not support a plan like this, because the administration is in the process of dissolving APP and destroying Spectrum. They see it as privileged education, rather than a way to help students.

dw said...

Was Jefferson referring to his African slaves i n that quote or what?

Y'know, I suppose it's possible, but I try not to think about stuff from the distant past through modern glasses. I simply saw the quote in multiple places while I was looking up the above references and thought it was apropos.

Since you made me look, it appears the quote may actually have been originally stated by Aristotle ( Aristotle brainyquotes.com ), though he might be accused of some of the same flaws. Then again, he was living in a vastly different era, and was certainly one of the top handful of most influential humans in the history of our planet. Mostly in very positive ways.

Remember, Thomas Jefferson also (famously) wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal", so I think it's a stretch to think we know what any of these people actually meant or thought. Best left for historians to argue about amongst themselves, IMO.

Anonymous said...

DW. How discouraging you are. It's a good thing those kids didn't listen to you and there are adults who believed in them to help them through APP despite naysayers and into good universities. Thank goodness there are private schools willing to work with these students. It's a pity Rainier Scholars don't have more seats to meet the needs. Here I thought APP already has a wide range of abilities. Not every 1st graders come in able to add or subtract well or read fluently, yet they aren't turn away. Math in MS allows for variations, both lo and hi, yet they get the same APP science regardless. If accommodations can be made, why not for these kids? Besides you don't have to cross the ship canal to THAT REGION to find them. Many live right in the NE region. Oh, if only they can have that spectrum program, that would be the answer. Oh, the pity. Oh, it's troubling. Oh, if only we had head start, better taxation. Oh, if only......the cows would come home.

moooo




Lynn said...

@5:28 pm,

What would you like the task force to recommend for students who have APP scores on the CoGAT but not in math or reading? Or on the verbal CoGAT and reading MAP but not in nonverbal and math? I think you have an opinion on this. Could you share it - and the reasoning behind it?

I have some thoughts on the topic - but am not decided yet.

dw said...

Lynn,

moo might have an opinion buried in that mostly incoherent ramble, but I can't find it either. Apparently moo thinks the current situation, where few black and hispanic kids, and few SE kids qualify for APP is A-Okay. I don't.

What moo fails to grasp is that while there certainly are kids with potential that miss the mark in all areas of the city, those kids in the NE are going to have decent options with a decent peer group. Not perfect, but not terrible. Most of those kids in the SE, in contrast, will have squat. moo seems to think that's fine too. I don't.

Potential is merely potential until it's realized. Throwing a potentially capable, but unprepared kid into a situation where they're functioning significantly below the rest of the class is a great way to kill a kid's confidence, not to mention the difficulties presented to the teacher. I've suggested a scaffolding system to help those kids (and more) realize their potential, and somehow that's considered "discouraging"?! Rainier Scholars provides a vaguely similar function, and it's great, but I think it would be nice to have something like it within in the school district.

Oh, and as for 1st graders coming into APP not reading fluently, it didn't used to be that way. 10 years ago you could walk into any APP 1st grade classroom and every last kid was reading well above grade level. A few years ago that changed with the misguided changes to APP entry criteria, and it's been exacerbated in recent years with Spectrum being killed around the city. There's nowhere left for many kids who are operating somewhat above grade level, but who are not true APP outliers. As someone else wrote here the other day, APP is becoming Spectrum and Spectrum is being killed. THAT is what's discouraging.

Anonymous said...

DW,

I was not talking about gifted children. I was specifically talking about well prepared students, as I indicated.

I am a strong advocate for gifted children, but not for treating well prepared students as though they are gifted.

Maureen's references are some of the studies I was referring to you
(thank, you).

--enough already

Lynn said...

dw,

I always appreciate it when you show up here - you are often the voice of reason.

I think that is a really good reason for every school to have a plan for providing Spectrum services. A solid Spectrum program could over a year or two help a gifted student who did not have the ideal preschool preparation bring their math and reading scores up to match their CoGAT/IQ/ability scores. Maybe they'd want to move to APP at that point - maybe not.

The book I read the other night on another reader's suggestion called this a talent development program.

Anonymous said...

Reading before beginning school does not mean you child is gifted.
Some of the most gifted students are late readers.

I stated this earlier in the thread. However, early reading is often a indicator of being well-prepared.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Ah yes peer groups. Does it matter if there are sufficient peer groups if these under represented students are not in the program to begin with? It's bad to start with talk of scaffolding when there isn't anything to scaffold on to. Push comes to shove, APP and its leaders had opportunities in the past, but chose not to engage over spectrum/ALO.

It also rings hollow to say 10 years ago, kids were reading in 1st grade, but now the current crops don't have to because the standard is declining. (Research agrees with just saying by the way.) I don't hear loud oppositions made about these current students from SNAPP or of APP becoming more like spectrum. If you don't like the status quo now, why aren't you suggesting turning these less than well prepared students back for more preparation so they won't lose confidence too. Why aren't loud APP voices clamoring for re-testing at MS like other districts if there's so much concern about dilution and rigor? Why reserve such strict scrutiny for those kids with "potential" who don't have the enrichment and social advantages? Their presence were not the cause of APP decline because they never got a chance to have a presence to begin with.

That is why all this handwringing over spectrum demise and wishing for a SPS program like Rainier Scholars accomplish nothing because they are wishes on paper.

moo

Anonymous said...

Aghhhh!!! In N Seattle all the kids all well prepared. My kid was reading at 3. Is she a genius? No. We read a lot. We like to read. She would qualify for Spectrum in Math but her MAP scores are consistently in the high 90s in reading. AND YET, she was left without a peer group!!!! In a leftover bunch. Does this kind of kid count? I think it would have been better for her without all the social engineering and just letting all the well prepared kids be with their peers. For the true outliers, yes, APP is needed. But it should be APP, not Spectrum.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said...

Meant to say would NOT qualify in Math. And before someone says "let's not talk about your specific situation" let's. Because, yes we left the school but this is bound to happen to other kids if APP becomes Spectrum!

GEM