Tuesday, April 01, 2014

MAP and Advanced Learning

There was a reader comment about wanting to opt an APP student out of MAP testing but the parent seemed to think that the child would lose eligibility if he/she did not take the MAP.  Here's what I learned from speaking with Stephen Martin, head of the Advanced Learning department.

The MAP is the gatekeeper to finding out if your child is eligible for AL testing.

However, once you are enrolled, your child does not lose eligibility in AL programs if he/she does not take MAP. 

What is a problem is maintaining your eligibility if you qualify but then do not access a program.  (Let me say that, on the surface, I think this policy is good because I used to hear many parents say they were just testing their children "to see how they do" with zero intention of enrolling them in an AL program.  That's just a waste of time and money for the district and it should not be happening.)

BUT, the issue is does your child have access to an AL program even if he/she qualifies?  The answer may be no.

If you are in APP, you have a guaranteed seat at an APP program.  You must move to that program to keep your eligibility.  If you don't, you lose it and must test again the next year. 

If you are in Spectrum, you are not guaranteed a seat EVEN if you qualify.  You have would have to be one of the lucky people to get a Spectrum seat in your region to get those services to keep your eligibility.

If you qualify for APP/Spectrum but don't want to move from your neighborhood school, you might keep your eligibility but ONLY if your school has an ALO.  If there is no ALO at your neighborhood school (and you can't move to one that has an ALO), your child will lose his/her eligibility.

Yes, there are many problems in this process especially from the parent side. 

One, you have no control if you can get a Spectrum seat. 

Two, you have no control if your school has an ALO. 

Unfair is putting it mildly. 

The AL department would LIKE to have services at all schools but that is not their call.  That would be the call of Teaching and Learning but apparently, the unfairness of this policy doesn't seem to matter.  Or more likely, it's just not a priority.

The Strategic Plan's nod to AL is just to say "implement equitable criteria for advanced learning placement."  Okay, but it's not saying, "make sure there are equitable opportunities for advanced learning at all schools." (What's interesting is that under former Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson's Strategic Plan, there was a plan to get ALOs in all schools without Spectrum or APP.) 

I note that Mr. Martin has now done a one-on-one with every member of the Board and feels that it was helpful in clearing up some issues for directors, especially around cognitive versus achievement abilities. 

As well, Mr. Martin confirmed the second of the two AL taskforces has been picked.  Info on meetings and minutes is at the bottom of the AL page.  There is also a separate Google group for the APP TaskForce.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mellisa-

Just a correction about the google group you posted, and a bit more detail about the task forces.

That google group is the APP-AC which is an advisory committee that has been around for a very long time and meets monthly. They have representation from all the APP sites with both a parent and an teacher.

The second AL Task Force (also called ALTF2) is focused on the "delivery model" for APP. The "charter" for this task force is posted on the website here: http://district.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/advanced%20learning/Service%20Delivery%20Model%20Task%20Force%20Charter_FINAL_1%2023%2014.pdf?sessionid=f21f17af5b65611ccbc3519c675f3d3b

The names of the people on that task force are not yet posted on the website, but at the last meeting they handed out the "Advanced Learning APP Task Force 2-2014 Roster" which had all of the names.

They also handed out the meeting agendas for the scheduled meetings.

Meeting Agenda's in brief:
4/2 4-8pm: "Alignment Challenges/opportunities"
4/10 4-8pm: "Equity Issues"
5/1 4-7 pm: "Experts Service Delivery Models; Julie's vision for Fairmont Park"
5/20 4-8pm: "Sketch out possible models/phases of those models for Seattle. Multi-modality options...Emerging Recommendations"
5/29 4-8pm: "Finalizing Service Delivery Model Recommendations"

Also, there is a meeting scheduled for Thursday for the AL task force 1 that is dealing with "identification." You had posted some time ago the names of the people that were selected for that TF. There are a number of the same people on both TF's

That meeting is currently scheduled for 9-1 am in the JSCEE auditorium on Thursday April 3.

Eden

ConcernedSPSParent said...

If your child is in APP and he/she takes the MAP test and does not attain the gatekeeper % would that have any negative consequences?

Anonymous said...

Not only is keeping AL eligibility at some schools but not others unfair, it is also plain ridiculous. ALO is meaningless in its current form, and giving a kid a large advantage for a fiction is ridiculous. It is utter nonsense.

I used to have a cat that would go out into the woods (I only have indoor cats now) and bring home a live mouse and torture it while playing with it before she ate it. To this distict, AL is that mouse.

-pickle

Melissa Westbrook said...

Who is Julie and why is she having visions?

Concerned, no, I don't think so. I have never seen or heard anything about MAP being a gatekeeper the other way.

Anonymous said...

I believe Julie is Julie Briedenbach, former TM principal.

No, kids are not currently thrown out of APP for low MAP scores.

-pickle

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Thanks Mellisa and pickle!

Anonymous said...

5th grade MAP scores are being used for 6th grade math placement, APP or not, so it is one time you don't want to opt out of the MAP test (at least for the math portion).

parent

Anonymous said...

"opt an APP student out of MAP testing but the parent seemed to think that the child would lose eligibility if he/she did not take the MAP."

My bet is that this is a HIMS parent. And possibly came from a HIMS teacher. Few years back a class of APP students were told they better do well on some test to stay in APP the next year.

Email to the principal cleared that right up.

HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa said:
"What is a problem is maintaining your eligibility if you qualify but then do not access a program. (Let me say that, on the surface, I think this policy is good because I used to hear many parents say they were just testing their children "to see how they do" with zero intention of enrolling them in an AL program. That's just a waste of time and money for the district and it should not be happening.)"

Although I doubt they're available, I'd be curious to see the numbers on that. In our experience, it's the reverse--NOT keeping your AL eligibility results in a lot more testing and costs to the district. We, and a lot of parents we know, have put a kid through annual APP testing, only to remain at the neighborhood school each year. It's not that we had zero intention of moving to APP, but rather we were crossing fingers we could continue to make the neighborhood school work, at least well enough. I always felt a little bit guilty about all the extra testing, but the district kind of forces your hand. Since testing is early and you can't really predict when things will finally get so bad that you really have to make the switch, it would be irresponsible NOT to test and preserve that option each year.

HIMSmom

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think both things are true.

There are people who don't access the program (but want to) and then have to retest. I'm talking about people who have no intention of moving their child and just want to see how they score.

I'm not sure I agree with your thinking but until the policy changes, it is your right to test yearly.

mirmac1 said...

I opted my child out of MAP at 6th grade. No biggie. Staff must actually LOOK and understand the child without this gatekeeper tool, like they did for, um, years.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on what HIMSmom and Pickle said. We continue to have our APP-qualifying elementary student tested though hope the neighborhood school continues to work for him. It's crazy that our non-ALO school status means we need to do this, yet if he was at a nearby school with the farce of ALO he wouldn't have to take the test. I won't feel too guilty about the extra cost until the ALO /Spectrum mess is straightened out.
A.L.Frustrated

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wish you parents would let the Board and the Superintendent know this.

Most of the AL money goes to testing which is the saddest thing of all. BUT the Board and the Super should understand why that is.

I am surprised at how many people will accept - year after year - crumbs of AL rather fighting for a robust program that - if it existed - would reach many more children in all directions.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the issue, Melissa, is that it's hard to know what, specifically, to fight for. We can't just fight for a "robust program" that reaches more children. Do we ask for a more rigorous APP program, with tighter entrance criteria? That would have been great for us, but maybe not for others. Do we push for increased rigor and greater differentiation in gen ed classrooms? That would be great too, but with class sizes what the are, how realistic is that? Do we push for walk-to's, despite the fact that some parents hate the visible tracking, and despite that fact that some schools (e.g., immersion) find them to be a logistical challenge? DO we push for Spectrum at all schools, with the logistical and academic issues that might bring? I ask because I really don't know what to push for--what would be a better system that what we have, that would work for my own kids and others, and that would be administratively, financially and politically feasible. If I knew the answer, I'd fight for it.

HIMSmom

Charlie Mas said...

What you should push for, HIMSmom, is a POLICY.

There is no policy to guide advanced learning. NONE.

A policy would describe what students need advanced learning services, why they need advanced learning services, and what needs those advanced learning services are supposed to address.

In the absence of a policy the superintendent and the staff have no guidance to do anything about advanced learning.

These are policy-level issues - who needs service, what service do they need, and why do they need it - they are not implementation matters. Policy level questions should be addressed by the Board through policy, not determined by the superintendent, the staff, or, as usually happens with advanced learning, the principals.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, let these two AL taskforces/committees do their work.

Then we read their work. I suspect it might be very good.

Then we see what policy comes from it from the Board (and naturally this will be with the staff's help as Erin Bennett works for the district, not the Board).

Then the procedures.

Every single step on the way, parents, especially AL parents, should put forth THEIR thoughts. That's when you gather - in numbers - and push and push.

TechyMom said...

I wonder if it would solve any problems to do testing later. Say that your kid is having a bad year, so you decide to chang schools during open enrollment. What if you could start the process then. Fill out an open enrollment form in march like everyone else. If you've requested an app or spectrum school, THEN you do the cogat. They could still use MAP scores. No October deadline and no testing just in case.

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac1: Once again, you find the humor in the insanity!

What a great idea! Pay attention to and familiarize yourself with a student, and maybe you don't have to pour through their data all year long. Wow! It never occurred to me that teachers might actually know how kids are doing without several standardized tests confirming it with DATA!

And I love all this "data-driven" decision-making so new to the tech zombies and their sycophants of this era. As if, in the old days, teachers read tea leaves, conjured spirits, or rolled dice to assign grades. Note to newbies: Data's been around since the beginning of time. Same with "data-driven decision-making." And how utterly naive that sounds coming from the mouths of Ed Reformers and their standardization freak minions. Almost as bad as Goodloe-Johnson's infamous "systems, procedures and controls" she'd "implement" after each successive scandal unfolded under her watch. A ridiculous dog & pony show of utter nonsense and falsehoods, which of course the Gang-of-Four lapped up like pudding!

I so don't miss those days, and look forward to piling many, many standardized tests onto the bonfire of history someday, hopefully soon.

WSDWG

Charlie Mas said...

@TechyMom, The testing can't be later, such as after Open Enrollment, because the school assignments, rosters, budgets, and schedules have to be done by May. There's no time to determine eligibility by the time we get to Open Enrollment.

Lynn said...

We could require every school to provide at least a minimum level of service to highly capable students and allow them to retain their eligibility even if they don't move to APP.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I tried to bring this up w/Board Member Carr. She had ZERO interest in discussing and pointed the finger back to the district. The inequities in having a Spectrum qualified kid but no space are ignored. And she was one of those ignoring.

-InequitiesinEd