Sunday, November 24, 2013

Advanced Learning Taskforce

Work is continuing of the first of two Advanced Learning Taskforces.  I have only been able to attend one meeting (on November 5th) but it was a good one.  The oversight and facilitation of this Taskforce is quite different from the last one and for the better.

Here's a link to the AL webpage; details of the meeting schedule,minutes and PowerPoint presentations are available at the bottom of the page.

The facilitator, Barbara Grant, is great.  She keeps people on task, keeps a careful eye on the clock and provokes expanded thinking.  Interim director Stephen Martin organizes the meetings and the agenda but wisely keeps out of her way.

It was noted that in late January, there is some kind of gifted institute at Whitworth University (by Spokane) about ongoing issues in identifying gifted students that several members of the group were to attend.

The meeting I attended had two good presentations.  One was by Dr. Roger Daniels who works in the AL office on a historical perspective of identifying underserved populations of gifted students.  It was quite eye-opening and helpful for discussion to come.  One key item I took away (and have felt true of our district and our country) is this idea of "ambivalence towards intellect."  There are three dominant themes:
  • the search for culturally fair cognitive assessments
  • talent development
  • behavioral characteristics
The other speaker was Dr. Nancy Hertzog from UW's Robinson Center for Young Scholars.  Boy, what a dynamo and what a great presentation.  Here's her PowerPoint. 

Her presentation was around finding the youngest of children - preschoolers.  She said she had an interesting experience herself where in one district her child was gifted but she moved 10 minutes down the road and found her child was not. 

She noted that it is difficult to recruit students after 8th grade and putting the money in the early years is the best place to find these students, both for equity and better academic outcomes.

She said something pretty telling which that you should treat all students as if they have potential because "it doesn't always show at once."  She said that parents are really the best identifiers of talent in young children (but not teens).  She also said that those "behavior" checklists don't always work well but it's important to use multiple measures and not just IQ tests. 

She also said "intelligence is malleable, not static, and prior experience matters."  She said poverty has a profound impact on lives of these children.

She believes in a "strength-based" approach with project-based learning.  She was pretty clear in saying that reading at 3 or 4 does NOT mean a child is gifted and writing and reading don't mean a child can learn how to read a graph or a map. 

Her verdict on any program?  Professional development is key.   She said the teacher acts more as a facilitator for these types of children.  And naturally, class size matters (as it does for every classroom of younger children). 

She also said that rich curriculum works for ALL students even if they aren't found to be gifted.  

This is the meeting where the Taskforce was told they may pause their work in January "we don't have any big hurry here" so clearly is the message they are receiving from the top.  Why, I don't know.

The next meeting is Tuesday, December 3rd at 10 am at JSCEE.

Here's info from their first meeting's minutes:

Initial Board Directed Question:

 How do we guarantee that the population of the Advanced Learning Programs (all tested into APP, Spectrum, ALO) reflects the diverse demographics of the Seattle School District?

Dimensions of the Task Force Question  
The committee was asked to divide into small groups to discuss your understanding of this question
  • Appropriately serving high quality students in programs? A fusion.
  • Entrance enhances or neutral to quality of program 
  • Identification of students – equity framework as a lens 
  • Match identification with programs 
  • Legal issues involved; Does every school require a “match” of data of specific demographic percentage of the city, district or neighborhood? 
  • How big should the geographic area be? 
  • Assessment for/against population 
  • Role of appeals 
  • Create not dilute program strategically/systemically to serve all students 
  • Changing culture or systems that institutionalize equity 
  • Systemic value of intelligence at a deeper core 
  • Historical perspective 
  • All students who need Advanced Learning should have option to be served 
  • How does assessment serve as an equitable tool?
From the October 23rd minutes:

Taskforce Goals/Deliverables:

Engage stakeholders in facilitated discussions to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current identification systems and processes.
Explore potential alternatives to our current achievement criteria (MAP) and our cognitive assessment (CogAT).
Make recommendations to the Superintendent (by December, 2013) regarding potential changes (which comply with State Mandates) for adoption during either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 school years.

Scope of Work and Expectations of Members

The scope of work for this taskforce is to understand the new WAC governing Highly Capable and Advanced Learning Students and to answer the question, What are the identification systems and processes that we must enact/guarantee district-wide to ensure equitable access and opportunity for every child who needs highly capable services and programs?

Recommendations about our identification systems and processes will be made to the Superintendent. It is outside the scope of work of this taskforce to consider the service delivery model and/or systems and processes related to the delivery model.


Lynn said...


My understanding from the latest Friday memo is that a group will be attending Whitworth's presentation in Shoreline in January.

It's interesting to me that they feel there is no rush. The district will be required to have both identification processes and a variety of services available for highly capable children in grades K-12 next year. Those processes and services have to be reported to the state by June 30th.

This task force should be making a recommendation now on how students in 9th - 12th grades will be identified next year - for services to be provided next year. I believe this will affect open enrollment.

Lynn said...

A couple of links:

Presentation on changes

Response to questions

Anonymous said...

Interesting information from Barbara Grant regarding Pre-K through third grade:

"Practices No Longer Defensible:
•The practice of labeling young children as gifted through standardized tests, in particular IQ tests
•The use of behavioral checklists that include curiosity, persistence, and attentiveness to label young children gifted. We know that these skills can be taught and should be part of all early childhood learning experiences
•The practice of separating young children—determining some are gifted and others not—does not take into account influences of early learning experiences and unwittingly serves to widen the opportunity gap."

Amen!! The information from the task force meeting shows that the district may finally be on the right track. Best practices are long overdue in advanced learning.

--enough already

Lynn said...

As Barbara Grant's background is in international business issues, I think (hope) you've made an error there.

I do wonder if you accept that there are children in K-3 classrooms who learn much more quickly than their classmates, and so receive no educational benefit from being in those classrooms. You seem so gleeful at the thought that these young children will not have their needs met. Can you explain the reasoning behind that?

Here's some information from the OSPI that I find more interesting:
As the legislature placed programs for highly capable students under basic education, districts must develop HCP identification procedures and service options for Grades K-12.

It's hard to identify without labeling.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lynn.

Dr. Nancy Hertzog from UW's Robinson Center for Young Scholars
was the source of the information.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I think all parents want all kids to be challenged in whatever they do; academics, sports, music, chess.....Their kids and all other kids.

The position that Lynn takes, nanny nanny boo boo my kids is smart bc the tests day so, is the problem.

There are lots of kids who are smart in lots of ways. Taking one test on one day does not by any means mean that that child is gifted. It means that child did well on that test on that day.

Identifying a child's academic needs should be continuously done and done in many different ways taking into consideration the kid's life.

Lynn the attitude you display in your above comment is exactly why people cringe at APP.

Change the 'tude. There is more to this than passing a test on one day. Way more.

Relax people (Lynn). Enjoy your kid's in exactly who they are. Not what you aspire for them to be. What they are to be is for them to figure out and for you to support.

-Al Prazalom for Lynn

Lynn said...

Back to the original topic. Is anyone else concerned that teaching and learning feels no sense of urgency regarding meeting the requirements of the law? Or do you think they'll pull it together by June?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, Why do you get to throw something out there that is so rude and then ask to get back tot eh original discussion?

Please acknowledge/apologize for your rude attitude and then maybe people can get back on track. Again, this type of attitude is what people see and do not like re APP. Start behaving better for all of us.


Anonymous said...

These threads tend to bring out the worst in people - both the APP supporters and APP haters. I will summarize the age old discussion: 1) your kids aren't so special and 2) yes, they are.

All children are gifts. All children have gifts. Not all children need additional services, but some do. The fact is that the State has acknowledged academically highly capable students need additional services as part of basic education. If we can agree on those simple facts, then maybe this conversation can move forward.


Anonymous said...


I totally agree. My point is not if there are kids who have different needs. My point is how communicate about it. reread Lynn's post. She is claiming a higher ground both in her words and her tone. How once speaks affects us all in this program. I am tired of people talking as if they are better. Lynn should admit her terse language and then we can all move on. We cannot pretend that this of communications does not negatively affect this program. People cringe at us all the time and it is for reasons like Lynn's comments that cause the cringing.

We try and teach our kids all the time to apologize when wrong. Just apologize Lynn and speak less rudely in the future.


Anonymous said...

Has there been any discussion of twice exceptional students in this process? That's a population that's really underserved by SPS--and the current policies for identification make it really difficult for kids with asynchronous skills to access advanced learning. I know Stephanie Bower is on the taskforce, but I don't even know if the topic is on the table.
We're paying the price right now in our house for a kid whose gifts make her disabilities invisible and vice versa :(

Melissa Westbrook said...

Al, first of all, you made your point the first time. Please do not continue to go after Lynn. Second, your use of a med to go after her? Unwarranted so again, enough.

Peace made the point quite clearly and you can agree to disagree. Lynn has her opinion and Al, you have yours. No one needs to apologize.

Monkey, I haven't heard discussion yet of twice exceptional but it is, of course, known within AL (I had one of these myself). You could write to Stephen Martin and request that this be part of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Hertzog was so clear to the committee on the current views of identification of young children.

She doesn't seem to have stated it clearly in the powerpoint document (I'm guessing she didn't say it either), but it's pretty clear that using the CogAT (or even individualized IQ testing) as the sole method of identifying high ability children for early education is not considered appropriate process in the gifted community.

It would be interesting to see her views on identification of older children. There's the line that says that parent evaluation is quite reliable for young children, but not for teens. Are tests quite reliable for teens?


Anonymous said...

Note further that nothing about the law is in conflict with Hertzog's recommendations, which do not map well to a self-contained school as the gifted delivery model:

"Practical Programming
Suggestions for Early Childhood
Gifted Education

1. Identify strengths in young children by ongoing assessment to inform instruction
– Youngc hildren are moving targets
2.Redefine what is meant by “A Gifted Program”
3. Focus resources on professional development for teachers – teachers key to engagement and challenge
4. Focus on environments where children are appropriately challenged
5. Develop and maintain
ongoing positive relationships with parents – parents know their young children."

Her model for this age group involves resource teachers, flexible grouping, professional development, subject area acceleration, opportunities for exploration.


Trish Millines Dziko said...

She also said "intelligence is malleable, not static, and prior experience matters." She said poverty has a profound impact on lives of these children.

>>I complete agree with how she characterizes intelligence. And while poverty has a profound impact, it doesn't mean kids can't be labeled as "gifted" and not be given the opportunity to be seen as highly capable, because after all "intelligence is malleable, not static..."

She believes in a "strength-based" approach with project-based learning.

>> PBL is a great way to teach all kids because it does give kids many chances to show their strengths and the practical experience helps them understand and improve their weaknesses.

Her verdict on any program? Professional development is key. She said the teacher acts more as a facilitator for these types of children. And naturally, class size matters (as it does for every classroom of younger children).

>> I think regardless of whether you're talking about gifted children or not, the teacher should act more like a facilitator of learning and of course that works better when you don't have huge classes.

Anonymous said...

"Her model for this age group involves resource teachers, flexible grouping, professional development, subject area acceleration, opportunities for exploration."

This seems like a perfect world scenario. One that ignores the reality of time, class size, and funding. It is a wonderful model if practiced as per the above. While I don't doubt her own expertise and experience with gifted students, it is important to remember that Dr. Hertzog works primarily with high school aged students who are leap frogging into the U.W.

Anonymous said...

Oops forgot to sign above that was me.

Anonymous said...

The argument that in a "perfect" world we would offer services to all young high ability learners, including those born impoverished, but that in this imperfect world we'll opt for only offering those services to those who already had significant opportunities to learn is not a solution to the problems of an imperfect world.


Anonymous said...

It would be very interesting to hear Hertzog's views on the identification of older children, since they do that in their own admissions programs, and relevant to the question of id'ing the 9-12 population of high ability learners.

I do believe the process would be different, but, at least partially because by the 8th grade (the age she mentions as being "difficult to find high ability learners", the damage of unequal opportunities to learn will have already been done. At that point, the academic programs are identifying for achievement, and not for potential.

The Robinson center is identifying high ability/achievement learners, not those with a potential for high ability for the EEP/Transition/Summer school programs (>5th grade).

For their programs for young children (Saturday programs), they use an open admission/self-selection policy (i.e. anyone can sign up).


Anonymous said...

Professional development is a significant challenge. Is the district really going to provide all teachers with appropriate PD, and will it make a difference? They don't even require it of current teachers in Spectrum and APP classrooms.

One thing to note from the OSPI WAC presentation:

This [funding] percentage [of 2.314% of the district's total basic education enrollment] is not to be used to determine the number of students a district will serve.


Anonymous said...

zb, I do not disagree with you.As a longtime follower of SPS (think ancient), I can tell you that a Task Force(Highly Capable Education Task Force not APP) in the mid 1990's recommended the very things,that Dr. Hertzog espouses. It was presented to the school board, but was not funded. It was called Spectrum and set out four models of gifted ed for the district. Spectrum APP, Spectrum self-contained, Spectrum flexible groups, and Spectrum enrichment.Schools could "choose" which model worked best for their population with the exception of the two self-contained models. The local models (enrichment and flexible groups) did not require formal assessment for participation. Think talent developmen. The idea was that any school could provide for its highly capable students. It required professional development and resources. It got nil. My point is that recommendations are worth nothing unless their are dollars to provide implementation.

Lynn said...


She does seem to be saying in her PowerPoint that young children should not be identified as gifted. That is in conflict with the law, which requires identification of highly capable children beginning in kindergarten.

I think the kind of classroom she describes (small number of students, additional classroom support, inclusive, project-based learning, very little rote and drill, etc.) could work for many HC children in the early years if there were a group of them in the class.

While Hertzog's description of ideal environments is lovely - it's meaningless in our district. We don't have the resources (or the will) to create those classrooms. What we have are large kindergarten and first grade classrooms, with no classroom aides. Quite a bit of time is devoted to learning to read, whether you can read or not. Unless we are willing to require entirely different teaching methods from our classroom teachers, and we receive much more funding from the state, self contained classrooms are the only method we have to provide a basic education to highly capable children.

In any case, the task force's charge is to evaluate our identification process, not to recommend whether we should identify young children.

Anonymous said...

The word "hater" is name calling to me. I am a veteran teacher who is an advocate for all of my students. Parents of gifted children have requested me to teach their children for many years. I study research and apply it.

I have been a longtime advocate for better identifying and serving gifted learners in this district. The district has not followed best practices for advanced learning in very basic ways, as a careful read of the information that was posted demonstrates.

Many of what I and others have been saying on this blog for a long time is consistent with the information that Melissa has posted.

This does not make me a "hater."
I hope this term is not allowed to persist.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

My reading is that the law refers to highly capable and not gifted. These categories are separate in more ways than semantics. Gifted
is a persistent condition.

That does not make the UW researcher in conflict with the law. Quite the opposite.

--enough already

Lynn said...


I don't think anyone is arguing that all young high-ability learners shouldn't receive services. Do you think our achievement testing requirements are limiting access to services for impoverished highly capable children? If so, why not drop them?

I think we can provide services to children with a demonstrable need for them and simultaneously support other children with talent development plans. Shouldn't ALOs serve this purpose?

Anonymous said...

But ALO's aren't segregated. Which is the entire point. Segregation and exclusion are the key wishes for people like Lynn who has repeatedly said that her little dear can't be expected to behave unless segregated with those worthy of him. Advanced learning has loved itself to death.

Aren't there any other task forces to report on?

-Move On

Melissa Westbrook said...

"My point is that recommendations are worth nothing unless their are dollars to provide implementation."

I, too, do not like the word "haters" and, as well, I don't like phrases like "her little dear." Please refrain from these kinds of words and phrases. It adds little to the conversation.

Other task forces to report on? Move On, I only have so many hours in the day and this report is a couple of weeks late as it is. Again, don't like this topic? Skip it next time.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think our achievement testing requirements are limiting access to services for impoverished highly capable children? "

I believe that the way that we use CogAT testing, with national norms, is limiting access to services for impoverished highly capable children. As I've repeatedly cited, the CogAT only functions as a test of exceptional ability for those children who have similar opportunity to learn. Highly impoverished children do not have equal opportunity to learn (as cited in the Hertzog powerpoint).

The CogAT developers think that one solution is to use differing norms for groups with different learning ability.

Hertzog suggests, I think, using qualitative assessments by teachers and parents and then using the ID to provide flexible access to gifted services.

Portland uses other testing mechanisms (like the Naglieri assessment combined with an application process).

All of those are possibilities we could discuss, but our current system, is, in my opinion discriminatory towards low SES children and exacerbates and stabilizes those differences in opportunity producing unequal access not just to early education but continuing forward.


Julie said...

Can we all knock it off and stop projecting nasty motivations on each other? I read all these comments on the presumption that everyone here cares about the kids and want things improved. And that these opinions and thoughts are colored by personal experiences.

So can we respect each other's opposing views and know it carries some parts of the truth. The problem is complex and so is the solution. Gathering of different experiences and perspectives will draw a more accurate picture of the problem than the simplistic "I'm right and you're wrong" attitudes. We should look at the problem honestly, even if it challenges our closest beliefs.

Lynn said...

enough already,

I think that your classroom experience makes you a valuable resource in this discussion. So - I have lots of questions but I am not being argumentative - they are just questions.

Can I ask what you mean when you refer to the difference between highly capable and gifted? Is it that highly capable only includes academically gifted children when there are other gifts it doesn't cover? Or that highly capable only includes academically gifted children who are also high achievers? When you say that giftedness is a persistent condition, how are you suggesting that should inform our identification process?

Do you think the methods you use to serve gifted children in your classroom could be effectively used by all our teachers.? Do you believe that the range of services provided to young students can and should include both inclusive and self-contained classrooms?

Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

" I believe that the way that we use CogAT testing, with national norms, is limiting access to services for impoverished highly capable children."

This is one of my main heartburns with how I see AL being executed in SPS. There is serious gaming of the testing to "get kids into APP" for instance. Multiple private re-tests with coaching... There is something truly askew when a significant percentage of an attendance area tests into a program for 98th percentile populations...



Anonymous said...

whoops. The reason I brought up the coaching and re-tests is that we're dealing with parents with sufficient means to do that vs. children who my be poor and can't...


ArchStanton said...

Multiple private re-tests with coaching...
Citation Required

Anonymous said...

What does a school or a district do with child who comes into K reading at a second grade level, knowing addition and subtraction and also energetic?
Maybe it's all home enrichment and the student is really only average in a pure IQ sense. But the fact is the student is ready for rigor and won't find it unless they move into either a self-contained program with similar kids or a very well differentiated classroom(likely?) or some kind of walk to( different grade level?)
It's like the parents did the child a disservice by ramping them up at home. That doesn't seem right, but it is the feeling you get at a neighborhood elementary.
On the other hand, many parents are more, say laid back and feel that kids should learn to read in first grade or their kids aren't really ready until first grade. Both camps seem reasonable but there is a built-in antangonism between them. Labeling and self-containing surely helps the advanced students and it seems unfair to slow them down, but it also seems like they are getting a jump on everyone else and the district is facilitating.
It's a real problem and I'm looking forward to the delivery TF, if it's as good as this one is looking.
I too find the dichotomy of hater and supporter annoying and a very blatant attempt to denigrate people and stifle discussion. This is an issue of real importance that goes on year after year and needs real thought and careful consideration. People who post sometimes seem to think they can shape policy with their comments. Less grandstanding and more talk.


Anonymous said...

Private testing should be outlawed, but I don't think its a huge influence on program size. And coaching? It's having a parent available to talk and go over homework and discuss far-ranging topics and provide stimulating experiences that is true "coaching". That will get a slightly above average kid into APP as surely as professional coaching and a private test.

ArchStanton said...

@ George:
There are mixed messages in the culture around this. The current message to parents is how important it is to read to children at an early age, to build the pre-reading skills and foundations for kids to learn to love books and reading. When a kid is born, the parents have no idea if the child is gifted or inclined to reading, so the parent does all of those early reading things and, lo, some kids take off like a rocket. What then? Sorry Jane, I can't let you read that chapter book; you have to be bored now so that you won't be bored in kindergarten. Would anyone advocate that I hold my very physically precocious daughter back so she won't get bored in soccer or gymnastics?

Catherine said...

It seems to me that all the "infighting" or "competition for resources" is indicative of two things: We're asking the wrong questions, and we're competing for limited resources. I don't think the second, requires explanation. The first.. is I think where we can change the dialog - slowly. By having multiple task forces each focused on the needs of a subset of students, we design systems that are in competition with the other for resources (space, teachers, training, time, money, approach). And we create systems that may/may not be compatible with the other systems.

I truly believe there is no one right approach. I've seen lousy self contained spectrum, and great distributed implementations. I can certainly imagine the opposite happening. I think it has more to do with the teacher and their training, than the structure. As long as each kid, gifted/special/totally average is getting what they need to succeed in school, then we're ahead.

But the planning system isn't set up to even let us look at that. And the planning system (I maintain needlessly) sets us up as adversaries in our distributed planning processes. I don't think we can look at the needs of one group, without understanding the needs of another, IF we want to get together.

I think someone here already nailed it - small classes and some more training - would solve the majority of the needs of all of all of our students. Yet - we're not pulling together - because of the way the planning processes is set up - we're being split apart.

Lori said...

befuddled wrote, "There is something truly askew when a significant percentage of an attendance area tests into a program for 98th percentile populations...

I'll bite. What's the "right" percentage at any given school that should test into the top 2% nationally? Sounds like a lot of people think that it should be exactly 2%. And sometimes it will be. But when it's not, it's not evidence of cheating or malfeasance.

That's how sampling works. It's easy to observe variability in small samples, and small samples are affected by outliers.

Here's an analogy. Let's say we flip a coin 1,000 times. We will typically get about 500 heads and 500 tails. But do we expect the pattern to be heads-tails-heads-tails over and over? No.

Let's randomly look at 10 consecutive flips within our 1,000 flip sample. Sometimes, we'll see 8 heads/2 tails or even 10 heads/0 tails in that small sample. Do we conclude that something is wrong with the coin? Do we call the coin an elitist and yell at it on blogs? No, we chalk it up to small sample variability and recognize that that subgroup contributes its data to the whole. Even though it looks skewed by itself, it's just part of a larger data set.

Yeah, we expect 50% heads if we flip the coin enough times. But there's nothing wrong with finding an 80% heads run within our data set.

That same logic holds true for advanced learning. About 4% of SPS kids participate in APP. So what? The 51,000 kids in our district are a tiny sample of the 51 million in public schools nation wide and an even tinier sample of all school age kids in the country. The "pattern" we see doesn't alarm me.

(And I'm not even accounting for selection biases in this analogy, which do exist and are probably a big contributor to the skew in SPS. That's another post.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

The reason I brought up the coaching and re-tests is that we're dealing with parents with sufficient means to do that vs. children who my be poor and can't...

Well, and if you knew SPS' testing policy you would know that the district will pay for private testing (on an appeal) for kids who are F/RL.

So much for that theory.

Now do all these parents know this? Probably not but you can lay that much more at the feet of their school than their district.

Anonymous said...

Not only do limited English and families struggling to eat not know about the policy, but they probably (up until recently) weren't tested in round one.

I think the poster's point speaks for itself.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the urban legends about tester-shopping and kids cheating their way into APP, largely founded upon the erroneous "Golden Ticket" belief.

OK, so what if they did cheat or buy their way in? Then what? Somebody else does their classwork, homework and takes tests for them too? If they don't belong in APP, they won't make it in APP. Kids get counseled out every year. And what parent wants that for their kid? Think about it. Seriously.

Conversely, if they can handle the workload and make the grade, don't they belong there? Wasn't the testing obviously sub-par and erroneous in identifying an obviously HC kid? I.e., discriminatory testing, just like so many argue all the time?

There's no Golden Ticket folks. APP means 2 to 3 hours of homework every night, and 3 to 5 in high school. Contrary to the urban legend, it would not be a golden ticket experience to put a kid in APP who didn't belong there. It would be child abuse.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough Already, my point is that I believe the schools are more responsible here than the district.

I know from long ago evidence that some schools - especially with minority populations - do little to tell parents about the programs. And I can only believe it continues today given that schools/teachers are evaluated on test scores. They don't want their high achievers leaving.

The district has tried hard to do outreach but if the school is not helping, then it doesn't go far.

Also, what are the solutions to finding more students? Univeral testing? Multiple measures? How do we make schools want to help these children?

Anonymous said...

The information posted, as well as the state law, makes it clear that a single test is never best practice (and is now not even legal) for qualification.

Therefore, thankfully, the whole single-test-as-a-basis-for-entry into these programs is about to become a thing of the past.

It wasn't best practice in the first place. This ship has sailed. The argument is moot.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Lori, sampling error, which is roughly what you are talking about doesn't depend on the total population (i.e. kids in the US). It depends on the size of the sampled population, in this case about 50K, yielding a sampling error of about +/- 0.5%, and thus is not a likely explanation for the numbers (not an impossible explanation, just an improbable one).

Some statistical artificats that could contribute include the re-testing of kids, and the acceptability of a qualifying score for admission to the program (even after multiple re-tests -- across years, we don't have to talk about private testing, though that too increases the odds, statistically).


Lynn said...


Thank you for your level-headed comments.

I think defining the problem we're trying to solve is important. The initial board-directed question:

How do we guarantee that the population of the Advanced Learning Programs (all tested into APP, Spectrum, ALO) reflects the diverse demographics of the Seattle School District? was all about politics.

The task force is instead working on this question:

What are the identification systems and processes that we must enact/guarantee district-wide to ensure equitable access and opportunity for every child who needs highly capable services and programs?

This change of focus to meeting children's need is an improvement. We spend a disproportionate amount of time and energy discussing our highly capable students. Aren't there opportunities to make changes now that would improve the educational services provided to the majority of our students? Things like choosing quality math and science curricula for every grade and replacing our literacy programs for early elementary. Those changes would affect every student. Because children living in poverty don't generally have parents who can provide the after school support or pay for the tutoring to make up for our weak curricula, they would benefit the most.

Move On - I'm not going to address most of your post. I will point out that you seem to be remembering some things I've said incorrectly. My child was miserable and lonely in his early school years, but he was always well behaved in school.

Finally, here's an article by the cofounder of the Robinson Center on the disproportionate enrollment of underserved minorities in gifted programs.

Anonymous said...

The unreliability of the CogAT for identifying highly capable disadvantaged children is established and thoroughly discussed in the literature about the CogAT test. We do not need to resort to concerns about private testing, etc. to have significant concerns about the discriminatory effects of current id procedures in the SPS.


Lynn said...

enough already,

The easiest change to make to our identification system would be to require two of the following:

98th percentile on the CogAT or WISC
95th percentile on a math achievement test
95th percentile on a reading achievement test.

That would solve the problem of using a single test as a basis for entry wouldn't it? I don't think that's what you're suggesting though - what would you use to identify students?

Anonymous said...

It's not the case now, though. If anything that no-single-test line just solidifies the MAP in our district. MAP + Cogat= more than one test. Ugh. Or maybe we'll get rid of the MAP and just use the Woodcock for achievement, like they do for kindergarteners now.

I had a conference today, for a kid of mine who is very happily placed in gen ed. My APP attending child had this same teacher for the same grade several years ago, and Jesus H Christ were those different conferences. My gen ed kid has so much great stuff to learn there, and all the lessons work together to help her progress. It's really wonderful, and I'm so happy she's there. This teacher is fantastic, and I have always thought so.

At this same conference with the same teacher for my APP kid, it was all about things we could do at home for him to progress(because there weren't materials at school), interests we could cultivate to have more intersection with peers, ways to help him wait more patiently while the other kids had lessons on things he already knew, and how quickly we would consider advanced learning testing. Honestly, do none of you have more than one kid? Are your kids all the same, academically? My kids are very very different, and they have the same genes and were raised in the same environment. I don't see how it doesn't follow that a) other kids with different genes and different environments will also be different and b) so some of them will require different environments to learn. We all fought for Pinehurst because some kids need a different environment to learn. APP is just a different environment.


Anonymous said...

That's the rub. Many parents want three hours of homework and challenging classes but hey either don't want to bus, don't want to test, don't want to segregate or their kid misses by a point or two, or is single subject gifted. That's another problem with these threads, along with the hater comments, is the "we have so rough in APP, you wouldn't want to be us".
It's like against propagandafest and not helpful. I remember a couple weeks ago, WSDWG was trying desperately as well as the admin on the APP blog to convince WS residents of the horrors of blended APP at Fairmont.
Stop the the self serving agitprop and let's work together for all the kids.


Anonymous said...

All this energy around AL issues is great. It needs work for sure and I don't mean to minimize it.

But I sure which that folks could channel all this energy around math adoption because our poor math curriculum at the elementary, middle and high school levels is hurting a large proportion of our SPS kids.


ArchStanton said...

Also, what are the solutions to finding more students? Universal testing? Multiple measures? How do we make schools want to help these children?

As long as teachers are afraid of giving up students that they perceive as boosting teacher evals or improving the classroom environment and as long as parents, teacher, and administrators are suspicious and distrustful of gifted learning for whatever reason; we won't be able to make anyone want to place underrepresented minorities in SPS' gifted programs. As ideal as it may be to do so; I don't think we can change those systemic problems and cultural perceptions before getting those kids into AL.

Mandatory testing. Early and often. For everyone. Failing that, for anyone remotely considered a candidate for AL (i.e. set a low bar to trigger testing). Do not rely on teachers and parents alone to identify, but do support anyone who nominates.

Mandatory enrollment into appropriate AL programs at regional schools. Why can't we say that at some given measure a child's needs can't be met in the GenEd classroom and if they want SPS' services, they have to be enrolled in an appropriate program. This assumes that other supports are provided (e.g. transportation, schools that aren't an hour away, before and after school programs).

If every gifted, underrepresented minority in Rainer Valley has to go to an AL school in Rainer Valley, no one will be able to complain that the gifted kids don't 'look like them' or share similar cultures. If one of the issues people have with APP is that there are no people of color and no people of color want to enter the program because of it; then by forcing all the eligible students of color to enter the program, no one has to be the first or do it alone.

Admittedly, this is a little hyperbolic. But it's systemic, and I think maybe more realistic than trying to change a culture of teachers, principals, and parents that are either unaware, afraid of, or antagonistic towards gifted programs before creating programs to serve the kids who don't have the opportunity because of those attitudes. It would mean having to commit to a strong gifted learning program in SPS - and I don't think we're anywhere near there.

Anonymous said...


1) Anecdotally, my kid barely has any homework, in middle school APP. 2-3 hours a night? With Common Core and standardization and lack of appropriate texts - well, we're just not experiencing the level of challenge we'd anticipated.

2) When was there ever just one test to qualify? There is the CogAT, which measures verbal and quantitative ability, plus achievement testing which measures math and reading. That's 4 different numbers being factored into the qualification process.

3) An appeals process is required as part of the state laws on highly capable. SPS allows private testing as part of the appeals and pays for low income students to retest in house.

Anonymous said...

Melissa why don't you tell Lynn enough. My guess is bc you side with her. Itell my three kids that in public remember that u represent the school, teams , and clubs that u are associated w. I just think Lynn needs to be reminded that many people outside of APP read thhis info and a post like the one this morning makes our group look really bad and it embarasses me that I am in this group.

Al P.

Anonymous said...

Okay, my kid took one test in K. Passed in for life.


Anonymous said...

I think middle school APP homework at Hamilton has decreased significantly. So I think a couple years ago, it probably was 2 - 3 hour a night. However Principal Watters at Hamilton has really worked to reduce the amount of homework. I'm not saying this is good or bad - it's just a change that has happened. I don't know if that's the situation at Washington or not.

And I agree completely with sleeper about different kids needing different things. I have 2 APP qualified kids. One did fine at a neighborhood school which had a good ALO program; the other needs to be at Lincoln and the self-contained program.


Anonymous said...

Al P, really, you owe Lynn a very significant apology. Your behavior has been far ruder and more aggressive on this thread than anything I have ever seen Lynn write. If you're going to call for self reflection, try a little on your own, first.


Lynn said...


The WAC requires that:

Parental permission shall be obtained in writing before:
(1) Conducting assessment(s) to determine eligibility for participation in programs for highly capable students.
(2)Placement in the district's highly capable program before any special services and programs are started for an identified highly capable student.

LN said...

My kid barely has any homework, either. And, there are kids who really hold-up the class and three years later they are still there. Not counseled out! If all the tests were age-normed instead of grade-normed, it would help some. Kids starting a year late (i.e. start K at 6 instead of 5) crush the MAP tests which are the gatekeepers for the CoGat.

On another note, does anyone know anything about math curriculum? Not APP specific, but in general. My kid started with Saxon, went to EDM at Lincoln, now is doing My Math, and I am curious what the MS math will be? Again, forget APP, please. Even though this sounds APP specific, it's not given how many kids are getting yanked out of HIMS and Eckstein and sent to JAMS. Then, we'll have probably a year at John Marshall and then onto WP.

Enough with my rant, I hate EDM and CMP. However, a bunch of schools are again doing their own math curriculum since EDM and CMP are so bad. What happens when all these kids merge into MS or get yanked and put into a new MS? Blah, blah, blah....

What math will be at JAMS and, I suppose it's too early to ask, but also at WP? Does anyone know if Whitman is looking at new math or will they stick with CMP2? I might want to send my kid to Whitman for a year to avoid John Marshall, but we'll have had a lot of math curriculums between K & 7th grades!

ArchStanton said...

@ Lynn:
The WAC requires that:...

So? What was the rationale behind it? When was it written into the WAC? Does it still make sense? Does anyone think it's worth re-writing to provide AL services to minorities?

Anonymous said...

along with the hater comments, is the "we have so rough in APP, you wouldn't want to be us".

Bricklayer: Show me anytime, anywhere, an APP parent has written that. Take all the time you need.


Lynn said...

So the task force is discussing how we can best identify all the students who need highly capable services. Can we talk about (1) whether we're missing children who need the services and (2) who those children are? Then we could work our way around to (3) how our identification process could be changed.

Currently, the only service we offer is acceleration. However, the state doesn't want us to choose a service and find the students who need it. We're first supposed to find the children, and then provide the highly capable services/programs they need.

Anonymous said...

LN, it will be interesting to see if more APP kids will qualify for Algebra in 6th grade (based on a single MAP score, yet another discussion...) because they have bypassed two years of CMP2 in 4th and 5th grade and been skipped to 6th and 7th grade math that's perhaps more comprehensive than CMP. Time will tell.

I would expect JAMS to use district adopted curricula - CMP2 and Discovering Algebra/Geometry - though different materials could certainly make JAMS more appealing. I don't think either curriculum (CMP or Discovering) is well suited to the higher number if ELL students that may be at JAMS. The texts are just very language dense.

Also, I thought the CogAT was age normed, while the achievement tests (MAP) are grade normed. I'm assuming your K child first took the MAP (test one) then qualified to take another district test (test two)?

Lynn said...


I think we have to let the parents decide whether to leave their children in a general education classroom or not.

The rules related to highly capable students (including the parental/legal guardian permission one) were updated in March 2013.

ArchStanton said...

I think we have to let the parents decide whether to leave their children in a general education classroom or not.

Why? (the law notwithstanding - laws can be changed)

How does SpecEd work? (and here I admit my ignorance) I get that there are rules around least restrictive environment, but at some criteria, aren't the kids required to be in certain programs or receive certain services?

Likewise for ELL/ESL? (also ignorant here) Is there a point where kids are assigned to the World School and not allowed in the GenEd classroom?

On the other hand, if we let the parents make the choice; what's so bad about insisting that all kids be tested and identified? At least then we would have better data about who we aren't serving?

LN said...

ArchStanton, Based on the posted presentations, we won't really know who is gifted unless ALL kids get access to the same exact preschool curriculum and daily exposure to number of new vocab words.

The presentation made the case for early education more than improperly identifying gifted kids. It actually, in my opinion, explained why lots of middle class kids test into advanced learning and porr kids don't.

Lynn said...


Special education in Washington requires receipt of informed parental consent before any evaluation takes place and before any special education services are provided.

Anonymous said...

Well some of the stuff written on the Horace Mann threads were far more cring worthy revealing than her stupefying tone here. Think Lynn just met her match.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I think we will end this "discussion" here.

In the future, I'll likely moderate all comments on AL before they are posted. This kind of back and forth by some is just unworthy.