Saturday, January 25, 2014

Highly Capable Services Delivery Model Task Force Nominations Open

The District is forming a task force to make recommendations to the superintendent on delivery model(s) for Highly Capable Services. This group will meet, investigate, discuss, and recommend the structure for the services that the District currently provides as APP.

Here is a link to the form for nominations for the Highly Capable Services Delivery Model Task Force.

Here is a link to the charge for the Task Force.

The charge seems to confuse the program, APP, with the service, Highly Capable Services. It's a common misunderstanding, but they are not synonymous. APP, the program, is the dominant delivery model for the service. Non-program delivery models are possible and, with the placement of highly capable services at Fairmount Park, necessary. Also, let's not forget that highly capable services are, purportedly, provided in Spectrum, in A.L.O.'s, and at Garfield High School.

You will notice that there is no task force for Spectrum or A.L.O.'s. Their structure and governance will be deduced from the outcome of the highly capable task force. They won't get a task force of their own.


Lynn said...

The term of service for the members will be for a period of one year beginning in February 2014. The initial period of analysis will conclude in June 2014 with recommendations. The second period through February 2015 will focus on implementation for the 2015-16 school year.

When will they discuss implementation for the 2014-15 school year?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wait, seriously? When are they EVER going to talk about Spectrum and ALOs?

Anonymous said...

I think principals could really use some support and a framework for ALOs. Ours seems supportive of meaningful ALO but daunted by the idea of selling it to the teachers in the building, who cannot agree on what it should look like.


Anonymous said...

Spectrum and ALO are not required by the law so they will be never discussed by SPS. APP is only discussed because it is required by the law.
- Simple rule (by SPS)

Charlie Mas said...

There will be no discussion of 2014-2015 implementation. None.

Which is not to say that there isn't a lot to discuss, they just won't be discussing it with anyone outside the JSCEE.

There will be no task force to make any recommendations for Spectrum or ALOs regarding either identification or delivery model. None. Again, that will be decided within the JSCEE, and they are likely to decide not to decide, as they have to date.

Support for ALOs is supposed to come from the consulting teachers in Advanced Learning. There are two of them.

Anonymous said...

Without any definition around services, does this mean every principal can do as they please to deliver "services?" This has me very concerned for the 2014-15 year at the newly opening JAMS.

-concerned parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Concerned Parent, I would think that would be so. In this district, in the absence of direction, principals tend to go their own way.

Lynn said...

The issue with 2014-15 is that the district is required to identify and provide services to every student in every grade (K-12.) So what is the plan for high school freshman entering the district from private schools or outside the area? There has to be an identification opportunity and services have to be provided once they are identified - if those services are not provided, the students aren't receiving the basic education required by the state.. If there isn't a plan before open enrollment begins, every high school will need to be prepared to serve those students.

Charlie Mas said...

Lynn, the schools only need to be ready with a claim that they are serving those students. They don't actually have to serve them, they just need a plausible narrative.

There isn't anyone charged with enforcing this law. There aren't any penalties for violating this law. Even if you reported the violation to the OSPI and even if they "investigated" (which they wouldn't; it's not their job and they don't have the staff for it), once the District sent them the plausible narrative about the phantom services, that would be the end of it.

What "services" do Highly Capable students get at Garfield? They enroll in "Honors" classes and have access to a large number and variety of AP classes because they are at Garfield in sufficent numbers to create the demand for those classes. Since every high school now offers a minimum number of AP or IB classes, the District is providing "highly capable services" at every high school.

Charlie Mas said...

This, of course, brings us to the place where "service" and "program" divide.

Historically there has been perfect overlap between highly capable services and the delivery model, Accelerated Progress Program. But now we see the services delivered outside of that program model. We see students getting highly capable services in Spectrum, in ALOs, in IBX, AP and honors classes, walk to math, and through "differentiated instruction" in general education classes.

Once the District acknowledges service delivery models outside of the program, they're free to proliferate those other service delivery models. They are also free to allow for variation in the delivery model. Lincoln has a self-contained school. Thurgood Marshall has self-contained classes. Fairmount Park has... whatever.

APP is already on the road to disintegration, just like Spectrum. It's starting later and going slower, but it's on the road and it will get there.

After claiming to offer highly capable services at every high school, the District can easily expand to claim that they offer highly capable services at every middle school. After all, middle schools can have honors classes and high school math classes (the middle school AP analogy). And once they are there, how hard would it be to claim that ALOs or Tier II of MTSS is a delivery model for highly capable services? Not hard at all.

The only thing that is keeping them from dismantling APP right now is the capacity crunch in northeast elementary schools and Eckstein. They don't want to return those students to their neighborhood schools.

Old APP said...

Charlie is right. APP is well on its way to being dismantled or, at least, turned into what Spectrum used to be.

On the bright side, that means the much larger population of children working 1+ grades ahead might actually be better served than they are now.

On the down side, the very small group of children who actually need APP will no longer be served at all. At least, they won't be until someone forces the district to conform to the law.

For the next few years, I expect things to be a complete mess. APP and Spectrum will be dismantled and inconsistently offered, and ALO will continue to mean nothing.

Eventually, I hope ALO and Spectrum will be merged into APP, and APP will become a program of children working 1+ years ahead. With any luck, obeying the law will force the creation of a new much smaller program called something other than APP that will be created for the distant outliers that APP used to serve.

I wish I expected something better to happen, but this is the path we seem to be on.

Anonymous said...

Old APP,

I agree completely. The outliers will continue to suffer, as they do now.

On a positive note, however, at least the dismantling will restore some much needed justice to this district.

I, too, am an old timer who has seen the de-volvement of APP.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Currently, SPS considers those meeting the APP cutoffs as "highly capable" for purposes of delivering services. Other districts may set different, and perhaps lower, benchmarks for those considered "highly capable." It's really up to the district. SPS could set the cutoffs even higher as a means of reducing the number of students they are required to serve. Once again, it's really up to the district.

No matter an individual district's criteria for "highly capable" services, the state will provide funding based on a fixed percent of total enrollment (2.314%).

In regard to service delivery, APP has definitely changed at the middle school level and we are not seeing much fidelity to the "old APP," which means the scope and sequence as delivered at Washington Middle School. The courses may have the same name, but they are not the same. This is especially apparent in the LA/SS classes.

In an OSPI report on highly capable students, it makes the point that Highly Capable Program (HCP) services vary be grade level or grade span and uses SPS as an example. It states that "Seattle Public Schools serves grades 1-8 through self-contained classrooms composed entirely of HCP students." This may change and it sounds as though JAMS will have their own version of APP, different from both HIMS and WMS.

For the next few years, I expect things to be a complete mess. APP and Spectrum will be dismantled and inconsistently offered, and ALO will continue to mean nothing. It's already happening.

I wouldn't get too gleeful, @enough already. Rather than looking at gifted services as a whole, the district seems focused on APP only, in response to the state required "highly capable" services.

-wary parent

Lynn said...

enough already,

Can you explain what you meant by this? On a positive note, however, at least the dismantling will restore some much needed justice to this district.

Anonymous said...

The state law has a lot less teeth than APP advocates hope. Yes the district has to do something for kids K-12. But that something is not defined and there is a mindset that says vague and not standardized across the district will cause less trouble than highly defined cookie cutter at all grade levels. Fewer places for parents to claim that Johnny isn't getting what Suzie got elsewhere.

What parents want is not going to be the same as what SPS finance or legal or academics or transportation or capital planning or enrollment wants. That's all before the board gets involved.

If APP parents (and not even stepping into the Spectrum/ALO quagmire) think they are going to get satisfaction from the state law and these taskforces they are tilting at windmills. Forewarned is best. Saves emotional gutting later.


Lynn said...

I understand the tendency to assume the district isn't going to make the effort to do what's right for our children. I'm not ready to give up though - I have many more years of parenting school age children ahead of me.

The district will be required to submit an annual plan for it's highly capable program this summer. That program has to include identification methods and service options for grades K-12.

The OSPI has a Q&A presentation on it's website. One of my favorites is:

Is AP, IB or Honors sufficient at high school?

AP, IB and Honors courses provide students access to advanced content and instruction (acceleration).
These courses are long time options that have been used at the high school level and will meet the needs of some HCP students.
For students whose unique basic education needs are not met by these courses, then the district would need to provide other options.

I don't believe the honors English classes offered at our high schools meet the basic education needs of highly capable students. I am hoping there's now an opportunity to request other options.

Anonymous said...

@Lynn re comment above. It is called Running Start.

Think like the district not a parent.


Lynn said...

DW - I did think of that, but 9th and 10th grade students don't qualify for running start.

Charlie Mas said...

That 2.314% thing does not indicate the portion of the student body who should be identified. It's just a number for funding. I don't know why the funding isn't based directly on the total enrollment, but there's no connection between funding and identification.

Anonymous said...

Assuming a normal distribution, 2.314% is 2 standard deviations from the mean (97.7%ile). It's not just some random number. Obviously the number of students identified won't work out to be exactly 2.314% of the district's enrollment, but it's a logical number for HCP funding.


Lynn said...

The Highly Capable Program Technical Working Group was created to establish recommendations to be provided to the Legislature on what constitutes a basic education program for highly capable students. On the funding model, they said: Based on HCP end-of-year reports and national research findings, the group determined that the current enrollment limit of 2.314 percent is a constraint based more on funding than comprehensive identification of eligible students. The group found that HCPSs comprise at least 5 percent of total enrollment and recommended that the above enrollment assumption be revised from 2.314 percent to 5 percent to mitigate the number of identified, but unserved, HCPSs.

Lynn said...

The current enrollment in APP is about 5.3% of grades 1-12. Given the characteristics of our population, I would expect it to be higher.

Anonymous said...

Again think like the district. The 5.3% statistic is unlikely to get the district to expand services if the budgeted amount is half of that number.

SPS could shrink eligibility. Or it could go the other way and water down services to stretch to the 5.3%. Lynn thinks she is shaming the district into doing the right thing. Years of watching tells me shaming the district into anything is rarely possible.


Lynn said...


It might be reasonable given your experiences to assume the worst of district staff, but where does that lead us? What actions would you recommend to parents of young academically gifted children? Where would you enroll your child if you were just starting out again?

There's my annoying tendency to converse in questions again - but I really do want to know what you would do.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, I think most here have the same feeling that most do about Congress and the own congressional rep.

They don't like Congress but like their rep.

Most like their school but do not like how the district is run.

When I'm asked, I tell people to save their money for college. I think, by far, most elementaries in Seattle are warm, caring places where good work is being done. (And a lot seems to ride on who the principal is.)

Middle school tends to be a black hole but I think parents fear it so much that they have some wrong perceptions about it. The schools tend to be so much bigger than elementary that they get worried. I think most of the middle schools are decent/good but frankly, they have never gotten the attention they should at the district level.

I think all the high schools are much better from the time my own children started high school.

It would seem, to me, that Seattle schools are rising up despite the district. We would probably be the best district in the state (if not one of the top in the nation) if our district was run more coherently.

Anonymous said...

@ Lynne: What Melissa said.
And this: make it my job to supplement. I understand that not all families can or want to do so. But it's the only way to make sure your kid's needs are met.

Waiting for SPS to do so is a false hope. I don't say that with bitterness, although in many cases it is called for. I say it because it is the way things have been and will continue to be so might as well get crackin'. Wheels of change in SPS move too slow to put your kid's education on the line.


Anonymous said...

Agree with district watcher. I have sent 2 app qualified kids through SPS. One kid in app & one not. Both have needed significant amounts of supplementation. I think it is good to work with a teacher, school or program to try to get the needs of kids met. But it is pretty optimistic to rely on it. Just ask the sped parents.

-been there

Lynn said...

What then, is the point of a blog post like this? Is it meant to be merely informative? If we assume there is nothing parents (or the OSPI) can do to influence district administration, why do so many of us participate in these discussions?

ivy vollye said...

What a great idea! Sounds ideal, really. It's great that they let the learners set their own Educator and you connect what they do with the requirements. That's what we did as homeschoolers.