On another thread, nitpicker referenced the Highly Capable Program Requirements for All Districts document produced by OSPI. The 2013-2014 school year was the transition year, so everything is supposed to be implemented and up and running at the opening of school in a few short weeks. We're likely to be missing some required elements here in Seattle. And that's saying something because the OSPI has set the bar really, really low.
Here's what's required:
1. Districts will have a plan for identifying and serving highly capable students Grades K–12
APP is a 1-8 program, not K-12, so there will be two big changes here. The District is going to have to allow eighth graders and high school students to test for APP eligibility. The District is also going to have to add services for second semester Kindergarteners and for high school students. IBX at Ingraham would probably qualify, but the "cohort model" and access to AP classes starting in grade 10 at Garfield isn't going to suffice. Also, they will have to provide highly capable services at every school where HC students enroll. Not all of the schools can claim to offer a "cohort model". The District is actually, for the first time, going to have to do something real for HC high schoolers.
2. Districts will establish policies and procedures...
Seattle Public Schools doesn't have a policy for Highly Capable Students. They did, policy D12.00, but the Board voted to suspend that policy on January 29, 2009 and never voted to un-suspend it. Even if D12.00 were an active policy, it doesn't meet the requirements of the law because it doesn't set the criteria for selection of the most highly capable students. There are no procedures at all and never were. The District is going to have to adopt a policy and the superintendent is going to have to write some procedures. Once that's done, students, families, and the community will be able to demand those procedures be followed. In the absence of procedures there has been no assurances of any kind for APP families and students.
I'm going to take a moment here to repeat another frequent theme of mine: the decision of what kind of student should be selected for the program - high cognitive ability, high performing, creative, leadership, etc. - is a policy decision, not a pedagogical one. It is a decision that the Board should make, not one they should delegate to the superintendent. The Board needs to step up and make the policy decisions and those decisions need to come BEFORE the procedure decisions reflected in the recommendations from the ALTF.
3. Districts are required to submit to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) an
This requirement isn't hard to meet, mostly because the OSPI will accept pretty much anything as "a plan". I think it could be written on a cocktail napkin. You will notice that there are no benchmarks for the required elements for the annual plan. The elements can be as vague as the district likes.
4. Districts must make an annual public notification... of identification activity.
Again, no benchmark for effectiveness. Any public notification will suffice. No one told anyone south of downtown about the process for APP eligibility? That's because everyone says it is someone else's job.
5. Districts must have clearly-defined written... selection system procedures in place.
We're getting new ones from the ALTF. Whatever they may be, the superintendent will have to document them in a superintendent procedure. The current procedure is not actually written anywhere.
6. Districts must use the multidisciplinary selection committee for the final selection.
The District has always had this. You should read the WAC on who has to be part of the committee. A special teacher - or not. A person with expertise in cognitive tests - or not. Someone else - or not.
7. Districts must obtain written parent/legal guardian permission before testing students
The District has always done this. And it has long been seen as an obstacle to program diversity. This requirement has been the obstacle to universal testing.
8. An appeal process.
The District has always had this. And it has long been controversial.
9. Districts must make a variety of appropriate program services available to students...
I suspect the District will fulfill this requirement by claiming that ALOs provide HC services for students who qualify and choose not to enroll in APP. There aren't any real benchmarks for the quality of service.
10. Districts will keep on file a description of the educational programs...
This will require schools to describe their ALO. The District hasn't been 100% successful with this in the past. I don't think the OSPI will enforce this requirement (or any other).
11. Districts are required to submit to OSPI an end-of-year report...
The District has always done this. The report says almost nothing. There are no benchmarks for the report.