Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

One of the most cherished memories of my childhood is gone.  Shirley Temple Black died today at the age of 85.  She gave laughter and hope to many after the Depression.  It's hard to pick a favorite moment from her films but her dazzling dance ability was apparent when she danced with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the The Littlest Rebel.  Or my favorite song, On the Good Ship Lollipop from Bright Eyes.

Good news - Denver did win something.  But really, the kids in the Boys & Girls clubs of Denver Metro and King County ALL won.

Student brings iPad into class (against the rules), teacher takes it, changes the password and gives the student an equation to the new password.  Right or wrong?

What's on your mind?

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

The continued delay in sending out the letters from the Advanced Learning is very frustrating. This week are the only announced tour dates for a local Spectrum school and another local option school that we would strongly consider if our child does not qualify for the regional APP program. I don't want to take off work and/or hire a babysitter for evening informational meetings without having the information about APP and Spectrum qualifications. What happened to on or around Jan. 31? -Waiting More

Anonymous said...

So we decided to have our 3rd grade daughter tested for advanced learning this year and have been waiting for the results. We tested in the fall and patiently waited for the end of January when the District said decisions would be mailed. As of today, we've heard nothing. I thought these decisions were based mainly on test scores, so I'm baffled by the delay. The website says the committee meets daily, but who's on the committee and what takes them so long? Couldn't they have started the selection process earlier to avoid running right up against open enrollment? Even worse, the appeals deadline is 2/21, the last day of mid-winter break. If I get a letter today and need to appeal, I will have a week and a half, most of which falls during mid-winter break when many families, including ours, will be out of town. Is this what happens every year? The Advanced Learning folks just tell you to be patient, that your letter will get there when it gets there. They seem oblivious to how these delays affect the families waiting for these decisions.

--Venting

Anonymous said...

We applied to have our son tested for AL, with a teacher recommendation.

We were denied the opportunity for testing, based on his MAP scores.

I didn't think it was supposed to work that way?

- North-end Mom

Lynn said...

Venting,

The AL office seems unprepared for the additional time required to score the CogAT this year (using the nonverbal battery is new.) They also administered a CogAT screener to every second grade student in the SE - and it appears they're processing those at the same time. (The results from that experiment will guide the identification task force's evaluation of our nomination process.)

And finally Stephen Martin reported to the APP AC in January that the scanner that reads the CogAT answers was not working.

The real issue here is that 5,000 families feel their children's needs aren't being met in the general ed classrooms. If changes were made there, this process would be much less of a mess.

Lynn said...

You should have been given a chance to appeal that in November, but you would have had to provide qualifying reading and math scores (from the Fall MAP) or on another nationally normed test.

Anonymous said...

We received the CogAT results letter a couple weeks ago from SPS.
--Satisfied

dw said...

If you want to see why it's a BAD idea to hook kids on calculators in elementary school, read the link above on the teacher who took the iPad away from a student and changed the password. You can see exactly how punching numbers into a calculator without understanding really basic fundamentals will destroy some kids understanding of algebra (or pre-algebra). Note: Harsh language on that page.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, thanks so much for the information.

Why can't SPS share the troubles they're having with parents instead of leaving us in the dark? Why can't SPS apologize for the delay? Asking parents to wait indefinitely with no explanation just further alienates parents from the District. Perhaps fixing the underlying problems with processing test results is challenging, but the negative PR they've generated could have easily been mitigated by better communication.

--Venting

Anonymous said...

Venting--
We got 1 letter last Wed (denial we were expecting due to sub 95% MAP score) and 1 qualifying letter yesterday. My guess is since they were swamped they mailed the denial letters first to give maximum appeal time...

Here's my question: is it worth appealing a decision if a math MAP score is too low? IQ scores qualify, MAP scores qualified math and reading (fall and winter 2013) last year but not math this year. Kid is doing APP math (2 years ahead of grade level) w/strong grades but stumbled on both spring and fall MAP math tests... (for different, stupid, non-academic reasons both times) Is it worth our time to appeal or does the MAP seal our fate?

--appeal ambivalent

dw said...

Also, Lynn said:The real issue here is that 5,000 families feel their children's needs aren't being met in the general ed classrooms. If changes were made there, this process would be much less of a mess.

Bingo. If only those people in charge could see the obvious.

The destruction of Advanced Learning in SPS has been systematic and from all appearances, purposeful.
1) Dissolve Spectrum, building by building (and weaken APP entry criteria), causing:
2) many more families to push up into APP, causing:
3) unmanageable APP growth and watered down courses, causing:
4) program splits, causing:
5) unprepared/untrained teachers (and principals), general teacher frustration and turnover, causing:
6) ultimately, a vastly poorer experience for the kids who need both APP and Spectrum.

Thanks SPS.

I know this may just incite people, but sometimes I wonder if it's even possible to understand the needs of gifted kids without being gifted yourself. To take it a step further, I often think that it's impossible to truly understand the needs of the highly or profoundly gifted without being highly or profoundly gifted yourself. It's certainly possible to appreciate some of the issues from an academic standpoint, but apparently that's not enough. People constantly mix up the needs of bright kids who do well in school with gifted kids. Sadly, it's the parents of these bright kids who do well in school that often seem to be know-it-alls about "gifted" issues, when they don't really understand the issues themselves. With that in mind I guess it's easy to see how staff keeps getting it wrong. It's just depressing.

Anonymous said...

dw, do you think there is still teacher frustration and turnover at Lincoln? I thought that team had stabilized well.

NEP

Anonymous said...

DW, I want to help. I want to engage with you about what you are seeing in APP. First, I want to know, is my kid "a bright kid who does well in school" or gifted? He has an IQ of 135-140 and has no special challenges that prevent him from doing well, staying focused, being motivated in school. Do you want an IQ cutoff for APP? Do you want it to be for 2E kids only?

Signed, Bright?

Anonymous said...

ambivalent, it's not that hard. You can have your child take a private achievement test in math that will suffice for the lack of a qualifying map score. you decide if its worth your time or not.

parent

Anonymous said...

Good thing they are fixing that scanner. Got my kid's scores last year: 75% and "not enough questions answered to yield a score". Knew that was wrong, contacted SPS and they looked into it. Oops, bad scanner. Actual scores: 99% and 98%.

Still elected against HIMS due to the pending split and my uncertainty about its impact, marginal reviews of some teachers, a poorly-planned HIMS open house that gave us virtually no useful information about the program, great reviews of a few teachers at our neighborhood middle school, and our kid's wishes.

Super bright kid, and we are muddling through the best we can.

Muddling

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is still teacher turnover, both this year and last we have lost the most experienced teachers we have. The younger teachers have a lot of energy, and are starting to get a base if experience, but I'd be surprised if the average teacher age in that building is over 29.

I really, really, really do not like the idea of a "quirky enough" test, which is how this "bright" vs "gifted" line comes across (especially with the somewhat circular argument about who is qualified to speak on the issue), and want school to be focusing on how fast and how critically kids can learn. Not whose quirks are worthy of being worked into the curriculum. If you can learn much faster than average, you should get to learn more at school, because what school is fundamentally about is learning how to learn, and if you know all the concepts before you walk in the door, you're being denied the very basic opportunity to learn how to learn. But the other personality related stuff- I don't think that should be codified.

I wouldn't mind if they moved the line up to all 99's, made the appeal system like bellevue's(only internal) but I am afraid that would leave a lot of kids unserved since there is currently not middle ground. And I think it is more important to capture those kids than shrink the program, though if know the commenters here would love that, and it would probably be better for the kids who would still qualify.

I wonder if this discussion would be better suited to the app blog.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Sleeper, I don't think this string should be only on the APP blog, because there are a lot of parents like me out there whose kid qualifies for APP but, for one reason or another, are choosing year by year to keep our kid at a neighborhood school. I want to keep up on the APP issues, as maybe next year would be the year to put him into APP. I am frustrated at the lack of Spectrum and ALO support, I don't have a 2E "gifted" kid who definitely needs APP, but is bright and want more than current. I don't think non-APP parents can join the APP blog, right?
Interested

Anonymous said...

Although I am interested if anyone wants to talk about what a mid level should be like, if there should be anything besides gen edclasses (with the occasional walk to math program if the principal likes that kind of stuff) and some self contained option for some number of kids. I feel pretty strongly that there is no one size fits all - MGJ's "every third grade classroom in the city on the same page in the math book" is anathema to me, because I believe different kids need different things. So I think there should be a number of different programs.

I think there should be something both for kids who don't need an all city draw to get peers, and for kids who are one area advanced, but it would not serve my family, so I don't know. I hear a lot of complaining at the schools that used to have spectrum but don't now(and everybody who could left for app) but I wonder what the way forward might be for those kids. Are any spectrum families working to get something back?

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Yes they can! Anyone can comment, and non app posters often do. You are thinking of the snapp Facebook page. But discussapp.blogspot,com is an open blog.

Point taken; I am just sensitive to the people who don't like reading about advanced learning on this blog. But I am happy to keep yammering and listening here.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is an open thread. You can talk about anything on this one.

Maje said...

@appeal ambivalent-
According to the appeal website:
Qualifying Fall 2013 MAP scores may be used to support an appeal.

If you're on the fence, it seems like an appeal just using the Fall 2013 scores without having to get a private test wouldn't take too much of your time. Then you can figure out what to do next.

Patrick said...

About the confiscated ipad -- good for the teacher. Any 6th graders who can't work out that problem have bigger issues than not being able to use their ipads.

Anonymous said...

A new meta-study looking at controlled data reports that single sex classrooms do not help academic achievement.

Since single sex private schools, especially for girls - Holy Names, Seattle Girls School and the like are popular in Seattle, this seemed an interesting study to pass along.

2E said...

APP is really not a great program for many 2E kids. Many 2E kids have a hard time meeting the achievement testing bar for APP as a direct result of their disabilities. This is true even if their IQs are high enough that a GenEd classroom is a not a great placement from a standpoint of intellectual growth, quirkiness, or shared interests with other students.

Something more like the old IPP program, and based purely on IQ would work better for 2E kids, and for kids at the far right end of the bell curve. Combined with some sort of honors program for high achieving kids regardless of IQ, and raising of the GenEd standards (common core may be doing this?) would serve the educational needs of more kids than programs that require both IQ and achievement to be high.

2E said...

Forgot to add, that many 2E kids also have trouble with the homework load in APP.

Lynn said...

2E - that sounds about right to me. I'm not sure what the honors component would look like in elementary though.

Anonymous said...

The fact that APP is not a good fit for 2E kids means that APP as presently structured needs to be rethought. Period. It is illegal to not offer entrance to a singular course of study based on disability. APP is a singular course of study. Disability access does not have to be in every APP building, but there does need to be access to APP at both the elementary and middle school level.

Again, there is no excuse whatsoever for non-inclusion for children who meet the intellectual standards and with their 504 or IEP accommodations/plans can be in the classroom. There are a lot of kids in this district who should be getting advanced learning opportunities who have been shut out of APP by the administration and the APP community. Those days need to end now.

Yes we are pressing this through multiple channels.

2E Family

Also, when a family has been excluded from a community it makes one sensitive to single-sex classrooms. Philosophically our family has given them a thumbs down and it is interesting to see current research that shows it doesn't do much for kid achievement.

Anonymous said...

I just noticed the post of the single sex classroom report was not signed so I am reposting.

A new meta-study looking at controlled data reports that single sex classrooms do not help academic achievement.

Since single sex private schools, especially for girls - Holy Names, Seattle Girls School and the like are popular in Seattle, this seemed an interesting study to pass along.


2E Family

Anonymous said...

Continually reading about parents complaining about the planned disappearance of Spectrum (which I don't dispute), followed by APP always being under the gun, while I rarely, if at all, read from parents with students who will never have the CogAt in front of them because they're failing.

Isn't this what 'reform' and charters are built on? Isn't this what curriculum alignment was supposed to be all about? So, is any of this working? On whose word is any of this going to work, when the jewel in the crown of doing things differently is the Harlem Children's Zone, and nobody, nobody, is going to spend for another HCZ. Gates won't pay, not even in their own back yard. Poors gotta work, gotta live. Just don't do it here?

Westside

Anonymous said...

Really? You think you never read about special ed? I think if you took out the ginormous several hundred post threads on whether advanced learning should exist at all, you'd see equal ink dedicated to both. Probably more to special ed, and with zero posting energy having to be dedicated to defending the programs, we can see lots more solutions and attempts to help students and families, constructive ideas and information about different schools. I wish people would stop lobbing insults on the advanced learning threads so we could hear good ideas on them, too, because this stuff always starts up before we get to hear people's great ideas. I think who we really don't hear from is spectrum families; app is mandated from the state and has a blog; special ed has great advocates on here and in real life, and downtown focuses on the middle, doesn't want to think about anybody who doesn't fit right in the regular program.

Or do you just mean poor kids? I'd dispute that, too, but different poor kids need different things.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I don't equate an academically failing student with a special ed student. Really.

'You think you never read about special ed?' I'm not talking about Sped. I'm also not lobbing anything at AP. They have their own fight. It's one of several, and if you don't agree with my observation, disagree, but don't misconstrue what I said.

I've read here since before the MGJ era. The majority who are posting are often discussing the details in how their AP child is under served, or don't have access. I don't dispute this. What I don't read are comments from parents, or even students, who are failing academically. It is these students are are the premise for a lot of the reform schemes we'll be paying for, but again, where is the Big Data that says new standards are going to - FIX - these students. In that, I think this particular cohort shares the same relegation that Sped students face.

Westside

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay Westside, just to be clear - AP is not APP. We've had this discussion before. So you may have been typing quickly but if not, please don't muddy the waters by getting the two confused.

You are right on these promises to under-served and/or at-risk kids. Big Data IS saying they will do better with these new standards, testing, etc. but really, they are guinea pigs in the Gates education test lab.

mirmac1 said...

Yes Westside, I thought the connection of "failing" to "special education" regrettable. It seems the middle has disappeared. Either you're gifted or disabled.

Anonymous said...

I'm also wondering what's taking so long with the Advanced Learning selection. My son was tested back in November (without my receiving an advanced notice of it, I might add), but I still haven't gotten the results.

Feeling thoroughly frustrated with this process.

-- D's mom

Anonymous said...

appeal ambivalent:
We had a similar situation - our child scored high in the CoGAT (we are among the few who got our letter last week), but had a very low MAP math score. We had her privately retested with a district-approved math achievement test (Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, 2nd Ed. (K-TEA-II)) and she scored very high. We plan to appeal with this information.

Question to Lynn or anyone who might know:
I have a SE 2nd grader who took the CoGAT screening test (which I wouldn't have known about if not for this blog - there was zero communication about it from the school). If she scores high, will she be considered for advanced learning for 2014/15, even though we didn't go through the traditional process? Or are the SE 2nd graders just guinea pigs for future screenings?

- southpaw

Charlie Mas said...

The students who demonstrated high cognitive ability on the screening of Southeast Seattle second graders put the district in a tricky spot.

They were not, in fact, nominated for APP, so they cannot be admitted to the program based on the results of their CogAT.

In addition, WAC 392-170-047 requires parental permission obtained in writing before conducting any assessment to determine eligibility for participation in programs for highly capable students. No such permission was sought or provided for the universal screening.

So does the District simply go ahead and advise the families that their children are eligible, or does the District send them a letter strongly encouraging them to nominate their child for the program - similar to the letters that the District has sent out for years to students who get high scores on MAP or state proficiency tests?

Charlie Mas said...

Bear in mind that the District breaks the law all the time. It's no big deal. The laws the District breaks have niether enforcement nor punishments associated with them.

For example, suppose that a district were in violation of the WAC referenced above. What, if anything, would anyone do about it? What do you do, call a cop? And what would the cop do, arrest the superintendent? The program manager? the test proctor? And what is the penalty for breaking this law? There is none.

The illusory nature of the rules is part of the culture of lawlessness. There is only the illusion of regulation. In practice there is none.

All of the Special Education families know about this.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if any other schools are having the same issues we are when it comes to substitute teachers. On many occasions this year (at least 5 that have affected my own child's classroom,) our school hasn't been able to get a sub. As a result, the class without a sub is split among other classrooms for the day, sometimes in the same grade and sometimes not. It is understandably disruptive for the students, frustrating for the teachers and unsettling for the parents. We've gotten the response that it is a "district issue" but this isn't happening at any of my friends' schools so I'm not sure where the disconnect is.
-wsmom

melody said...

To mention The Littlest Rebel without including a bigot warning is reprehensible.

I agree with a blogger who said:

Among the worst of the movies was undoubtedly The Littlest Rebel that starred Temple as Virgie, a little girl trying to save her Confederate officer dad from the Union army.

melody said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said...

southpaw,

The point of giving the screener was to assess the effectiveness of our nomination process. They're having a hard time finding children in the SE who qualify for Spectrum or APP and wanted to see if they are out there and just not being nominated for testing.

I hope that they contact the parents of children who performed well on the screener and recommend that they nominate their children for advanced learning testing next fall.

Anonymous said...

Regarding subs - I have seen it happen a couple times this year with my kids' classes - in both instances, the assistant principal subbed.

We've been fortunate to have some moms who are teachers who have subbed quite a bit, especially in last minute situations. I can imagine it would be quite disruptive to break classes up.

NE Mom on 3

Melissa Westbrook said...

Melody, that film was made at a very different time than what we exist in today. That the filmmakers had a black man in charge of a little white girl was pretty groundbreaking as well as the fact that they held hands as they walked. Ms. Temple-Black had acknowledged this proudly.

Anonymous said...

I hope the district informs parents of the results of the Cogat screening as well, especially since the kids are their unwitting data points. Thanks for the info.
-southpaw

melody said...

​Melissa, you could just acknowledge that The Littlest Rebel needs a bigot warning. Rationalizing bigoty in any circumstances past or present is, in my opinion, as reprehensible as the original action.​

That is all I am going to say.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't agree with you, sorry. I'm not rationalizing anything but speaking from a historical perspective.

That's all I am going to say.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know anything about this book Burgess is reading?
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1612506348/

"The authors conclude by outlining the elements of a new agenda for education reform."

Chris S.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Chris, it appears to be brand-new. That all of its endorsements come from ed reformers should tell you something.

Anonymous said...

Never bought the "historical perspective" argument. Racism was called on that film from the day it was released. Yes, the public tolerated, even celebrated racism at that time, and Jim Crow was going strong and lynchings, but to say that all that, including this film, wasn't seen by many as completely wrong at the time is ludicrous. If Ms Temple Black is proud,of,it, so,be,it. That doesn't mean it wasn't racist by today's standards or by the standards of right thinking people of that era.
William