Thursday, May 07, 2015

Highly Capable - MAP for K-2 and SBAC for 3-8

Thanks to reader Lynn who found out that yes, the SBAC scores will be used to find the students who can apply for highly capable programs.

You have to ask yourself a couple of questions:

- when was this going to be announced?
- why is the district, once again, using a test that is not created to be a gatekeeper as a gatekeeper test?

From the head of testing, Eric Anderson:
On using Smarter Balanced Assessment Data

We will continue to use NWEA national norms for MAP and use statewide norms for SBAs.

To help identify students for advanced learning programs, Seattle Public Schools uses percentile rankings generated from student achievement assessments. Each student’s percentile rank on an achievement test is the percentage of scores that were equal to or lower than the student’s score. For example, if a student scored at the 95th percentile, this means that 95% of all other scores were equal to or lower than the student’s score. For the MAP test, which will be used as the achievement measure in grades K-2nd, a student’s percentile rank is determined by ranking his or her score compared to the scores of a large representative sample of students who take the MAP test across the country. For the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), which will be used as the achievement measure in grades 3rd-8th, a student’s percentile rank is determined by ranking his or her score compared to the scores of all students who take the SBA test across the state of Washington.

Changing to a more rigorous or more difficult assessment will generally not have an impact on the proportion of students who would meet a given percentile rank threshold. What matters is how well Seattle students score relative to other students who take the test. If the new test is more difficult for Seattle students it presumably will also be more difficult for all other students who take the test. If Seattle students in general have historically outscored their peers across the state, for example, they are likely to continue to outscore their peers on the new test such as Smarter Balanced. For example, if 10% of Seattle students scored at the 95th percentile or higher on a given test, it is likely that a similar proportion of Seattle students (i.e., approximately 10%) would score at the 95th percentile or higher on a new test (even if the new test was more difficult) if the population of students that Seattle students are compared to does not change.

Eric M. Anderson, Ph.D.

Director, Research, Evaluation & Assessment Seattle Public Schools

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd make a new post but why bother. The one from before suffices.

How dare the district make SBAC the newest 'gateway' for advanced learning. 1) It is not what the test is meant to measure.
2) No competent district decides, after a test is already administered, to put it to a new use. Not one competent district does this. None. Nada. Zip.
3) And those MAP scores were for?...And those Amplify scores were for? And, and, and?
4) Back to SBAC what's happened to the assurance that fast turnaround of scores is a big new benefit to this test? Getting scores at the end of the school year is not one bit different than getting them over the summer. Same 'who cares' for teachers and students who will have all moved onto the new year.

Aghast

Wondering said...

Was SBAC intended for placement?

Anonymous said...

I see this as a way to cajole families to take the SBAC. Unacceptable.

DistrictWatcher

ConcernedSPSParent said...

When did the district announce this?. Considering the number of opt-outs if this was announced after even one child had opted out based on the information they had at the time then this is outrageous.

Lynn said...

It has not been announced. I'd asked the question and the document Melissa quoted was posted (in the last day or two) on the Advanced Learning website.

The tests were not created for this purpose. They have to use state norms (because there are no federal norms.) I wonder how long it will take OSPI to generate those?

Anonymous said...

I believe Lynn (thank you, Lynn!) is asking Advanced Learning what they will do for students who have opted out.

IMO, they HAVE to offer these students a chance to take an alternative assessment (maybe Amplify?).

TC

Anonymous said...

And what will they do for kids who are new to the district and who've not taken SBAC elsewhere? Would they look at PARCC if they are moving in from at PARCC state?

SBAC may be convenient to use. Whether a gifted child who is ELL would do well remains to be seen. In that sense, this is a discriminatory policy and they are setting themselves up for a lawsuit.

Po3 said...

SBAC has become an insidious disease contaminating every facet of our children's public education.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Well Sherry Carr does not even want to discuss SBAC at the board level so the district can do what it wants. So much for governance...

Anonymous said...


I am not surprised. Did Stephen announce this at the AC meeting?

My thoughts on SBAC

1. Some SBAC test questions are confusing to teachers and most adults.
2. Written portion graded by minimum wage employees hired from Craigslist, not by teachers.
3. I am hearing reports of normally happy well adjusted kids having meltdowns after the test.
4. Parents are posting on HCC blog about loss of 3 weeks of academic instruction time at one middle school due to SBAC testing.
5. I can't see how this test will increase diversity which SPS says they care about.

The academic loss of instruction time and the emotional toll this is taking on our kids is damaging and has to stop.

I propose we all send an "I object to SBAC testing" email to OSPI,WA state legislature, governor, Nyland and the board on May 19th.

-nh
reader 'n': thanks for the links to the NPE conference videos.

Anonymous said...

How can a test where 90% of students with disabilities are disproportionately negatively affected, be used as a screening tool for advanced learning? This is really the last straw. Where is the SPED Department on this policy?

Logical thinker

Anonymous said...

Lynn, the letter from the district on scoring said that additional data from the state is expected in late summer. I guess they are thinking the norms will come then?

How will it affect the percentile norms if HCC families/families already qualified for AL opted out disproportionately? Won't that make the norms wonky?

TC

Anonymous said...

Amplify is a mystery. I have heard that most kids did very, very poorly...even the "smart" kids.

Problem is, if our elementary school is any indication, grades K-2 took MAP this year and grades 3-5 took Amplify.

So, what does that leave...SBAC? Even though it wasn't developed to be a gatekeeper test (unless, of course your kid scores in level 1 on the 3rd grade reading test).

I remember when all you needed was a strong teacher recommendation to have your kid tested for advanced learning.

- reality check

Anonymous said...

English language learners are projected to score proficient on this test in the 1-2 percent categories. So much for the SPS push for ethnic diversity in advanced learning.

Whatta farce

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand the surprise. SBAC is an achievement test. What else is a cash strapped district going to use? Do you want students to spend even more time testing? Do you want the district to spend their limited dollars on even more tests?

The Amplify results would be horrible for AL qualification. Let's hope that isn't even a consideration.

It would have been incredibly helpful for parents to be fully informed, however, before SBAC testing. Perhaps we've been part of SSD too long to be phased by much of anything.

-same old

Anonymous said...

Doh...fazed.

Anonymous said...

Wait--we have no idea if SBAC test results correlate with actual achievement, yet AL is going to use this for eligibility? Priceless.

And adding to all the other equity issues associated with this test, differences in test prep practices are also a factor--particularly if this is going to be used as a gatekeeper. As I understand it, some schools--including some in SPS--are using Amplify multiple times during the year, while others aren't using Amplify at all. If these are essentially "practice tests" for the SBAC, that's not equitable.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

It's the only way to make sure that not a single minority or disabled student gets into APP/HCC.

That's gotta be the final straw for the SBAC. Also, bad move for the district. All those private IQ tester inners - will have nothing to do but reject SBAC en mass.

Reader

Anonymous said...

I can hardly wait to hear about private school psych industry administering private SBAC exams for the HCC appeals. What a show!

Popcorn

Anonymous said...

Looking into gifted identification in other districts:

Shoreline - ITBS and CogAT
Bellevue - ITBS and CogAT
Northshore - ITBS and CogAT
Renton - STAR math assessments and CogAT

Interesting.

(You can't administer SBAC privately. It's only administered by the states in the consortium.)

-same old

Anonymous said...

Where there's a will there's a way!

Popcorn

Anonymous said...

Face-palm - is all I can say.
The justification is partly true- you would expect the highly capable students to be testing in the top percentiles whatever the absolute scores, however, this test is just too much of an unknown quantity to use right off the bat. It may introduce considerable bias (for all the reasons discussed here in the past) and has simply just not yet been shown to correlate with other verified measures of achievement. If significant numbers have opted out in our state how can we even know the percentiles are accurate (what are the demographics of the opter's out? what if lots of the smartest kids have opted out? or the weakest ? That is going to skew the percentiles that all the other kids are being compared against.
Substituting MAP (which was by no means perfect for this purpose) for this SBAC the first year it is undertaken, without even notifying parents prior to start of testing (what about those who have already opted out - is private testing their only recourse now? what if they can't afford it?) is shortsighted and wrongheaded - but that could be said about any number of things done by SPS.

exhausted by SPS idiocy

Anonymous said...

reality check says -
"I remember when all you needed was a strong teacher recommendation to have your kid tested for advanced learning."

Who, the teacher that is being judged based on student test scores? And what if the teacher only seems to recommend rambunctious white boys for testing, while lively boys of other hues are sent to the office. And those helpful gifted girls who finish their work and then go read a book. Who ever notices them?

Using a test that all children take - despite the flaws in this one - is actually a step toward equity. You don't need a parent who knows how to work the system to be noticed.

Lynn's post says that the test will help look for & identify students for further testing, not that it is the gatekeeper exam.

Yes, students can still be referred the old way, by parent or teacher nomination, and they still will need to take the tests from AL to actually get into the program.

sidneyd

Good Luck said...

This is just a mechanism to prevent opt-outs and embed SBAC deep into the fabric of our educational system.

Good luck getting English Language Learners into advanced learning.

Unknown said...

This is a really, really cynical move by the district. That's all that this is. There are so many things wrong with this I don't even know where to start. I am not the parent of an advanced learner, but I am furious by the capriciousness of this district and their complete lack of interest in engaging the community in anyway shape or form.

-Fedmomof2

Anonymous said...

Sydneyd: your points about the possibilities of teacher bias in gifted referral are well taken. But I don't think your statement: "Lynn's post says that the test will help look for & identify students for further testing, not that it is the gatekeeper exam." is quite accurate.

Eric Anderson says that the SBA "will be used as the achievement measure in grades 3rd-8th. . . ." So -- it is not an identifying measure (as in -- here, this assessment indicates that you may be well served by our gifted program; why don't you apply and we will assess you"). It is actually half of the assessment (the achievement half). If you don't hit the bar, they don't give you the other half (the COGAT half).

I don't think this is any different than how they were using MAP (and I didn't like that either). In the "old" days, the elementary kids took the ITBS and it was used the same way. Kids who scored in the 98-99 percentile were invited to take the COGAT to see if they qualified for APP. The problem is -- while many if not all of these tests have certain biases and limitations, none were used for this purpose before there was any aggregated data to indicate whether they do a reasonable job of identifying high achievement. To find this out, I think you would have to see whether the kids that score 80th, 90th, 95th, 99th percentile on the SBA also show those same relative scores on other assessments (Woodcock, ITBS, etc.). No one has done that. And -- if they don't correlate, someone needs to figure out what that means (in the area of identifying giftedness, but I would suggest in many other areas as well).

Jan

Anonymous said...

The SPS explanation also includes this:

For example, if 10% of Seattle students scored at the 95th percentile or higher on a given test, it is likely that a similar proportion of Seattle students (i.e., approximately 10%) would score at the 95th percentile or higher on a new test (even if the new test was more difficult) if the population of students that Seattle students are compared to does not change.

First, re: that "similar proportion" argument:
A similar proportion might score at the 95th percentile, but it might be a whole different group of kids. We can't assume it would be the same kids in the 95th percentile on MAP who would also be t in the 95th on the SBAC. But if it's not the same group, one or both test(s) is/are bad for that purpose!

And second, the population Seattle students will be compared to IS changing, isn't it? MAP was nationally normed, but they're talking about WA-based comparisons for SBAC. Assuming WA students typically perform above average compared to the US, wouldn't that make it harder to qualify now? Not that I'm against shrinking the program a bit, but this seems a BS way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Will the change shrink the number qualifying for the program, or just significantly increase the number of appeals? I'm guessing the latter.

n said...

The only thing I take from this is that the District is always reacting and never leading. Apparently our surrounding districts have a plan to which they adhere. Predictability is kinda nice.

dan dempsey said...

So the SPS apparently needs to find more reasons to convince all to take the SBAC tests.

Jay Greene has an interesting view that Opt-Outs are the result of Districts ignoring Soccer Mom concerns because of Common Core.

Check it out HERE

Anonymous said...

99th percentile on the SBA also show those same relative scores on other assessments (Woodcock, ITBS, etc.). No one has done that. And -- if they don't correlate, someone needs to figure out what that means

Now this is REALLY absurd. Such a huge circle jerk. Everyone is all worried that this new test - give the exact same results as the OLD test. Who cares? Who cares if ITBS gives the same result as Woodcock (which gives really a lot of truly excellent scores)? None of these test ANYTHING that matters, at all.

Popcorn

Anonymous said...

This seems pretty duh this was going to happen to me. SPS has an achievement gatekeeper test and SBAC is the achievement test every kid will (is supposed to) take. Not that the SBAC makes any sense as a test to me, but maybe better than or no worse than giving all of those kids yet another test to take.

The real question to me is when will SPS and apparently much of Washington move away from a "highly capable" program that really is more pro-early achievement and transition to more of a gifted program like much of the country has where the focus is enrichment and not pure acceleration. Seems so strange to me since it's not what I'm used to, but especially since the actually acceleration part is done purely on the jump in transition into APP and then apparently trickles out in everything but math by middle/high school. It seems the exact opposite of what I would expect.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

The real question is.... "What is academic achievement?"

Well, it's anything we say it is. One year it's grades. Other year it's one of... ITBS, Woodcock Johnson, Map, Amplify, SBAC. Mix it up. Otherwise, too many people get in and the thing isn't going to be nearly exclusive enough.

Guess what? There's no real definition of "academic achievement", so the district is well within it's right to exclude ANYBODY from HCC/APP for any reason at all. Afterall, it's a program whose sole purpose is exclusion. Welcome to the club.

Pop

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's the gatekeeper if you have to have taken in to get in.

"This is just a mechanism to prevent opt-outs and embed SBAC deep into the fabric of our educational system."

Nailed it.

word said...

This is a poor test for determining HCC eligibility because it does not increase in difficulty like the MAP test does. The MAP is self-calibrating and tests limits (adaptive).

I took the SBAC and it was long, tedious and exhibited a uniform difficulty throughout. I did not find it confusing but I did find it to be lacking in depth and EXTREMELY repetitive. It never increased in difficulty (like it was advertised to do).

By choosing this test the district clearly has shown that politics trumps what is best for the students. This really illustrates how much the central administration holds parents, students and teachers in contempt.

My daughter took part of the SBAC test and confirmed what I had found - that it was boring and repetitive. (it's true - we hadn't opted out yet because, in general, I am not against standardized testing). I am proud to say that we have opted out of the remainder of the SBAC test.

I feel like it is important for families to resist this district's cynical dictates. They have demonstrated that they do not have our students best interests heart. I hope that will change some day but clearly not on Nyland's watch.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke, right?

The Special Education Dept higher ups have many times acknowledged the insane disproportionate impacts of this test on students with disabilities. Aren't they the next cubicle over from Advanced Learning? Don't these departments ever talk to each other? Or have they just rolled over as usual?

This test penalizes students with disabilities on many levels. It is inherently discriminatory. Somebody please tell me that using the SBACs for a screening out/in for advanced learners is a joke.

reader

Anonymous said...

word, don't be ridiculous. You did not "take the SBAC". It's not available to anyone but students in public school. You may have taken a practice test, but that's not the real thing. And no, a test to weed people out, doesn't need to be adaptive. It makes no sense that "adaptiveness" would be desirable. The test simply needs to be able to sort people. Regardless, the SBAC claims to be adaptive, just like the MAP. But you are right about one thing, it is extremely long and boring, by all accounts. Maybe that's the new meaning of academic achievement.

So we shall see who wins, SPS vs HCC wannabes. Tough fight! I'm rooting for HCC. Kill SBAC.

Pop

3inSPS said...

I hate this idea. But MAP wasn't great either and shouldn't have been used for achievement for the simple fact that APP kids were know to break it due the limited numbers of questions / and the inability to continue to advance with outliers.

Anonymous said...

It seems like SPS has set HC/HCC up to serve the top 2% (5%/13%) period. Regardless of test. The gifted community has LONG pointed out that most educational criteria (such as what SPS uses) for identifying gifted/talented is WAY to narrow and therefore fairly inaccurate. A recent research study notes a correlation between high private test scores and lower group/school-based scores. It's a trait of some gifted students to respond more favorably to 1:1. So whether it is the SBAC, MAP, or a pottery-making test that is administered, SPS simply identifies the top 2% as "gifted." There appears to be no forcing function to make SPS broaden the screening tools or to align the program with the kinds of kids they are receiving. It was previously mentioned that acceleration is going away. This seems to be true. It was also noted that acceleration only happened upon entry into the program. This also seems to be true. "Deepening" and "enrichment" is cheaper and doesn't require as much effort. I can't help but think this is because SPS is under no legal pressure to offer an appropriate program, they just have to offer a program. It doesn't have to be good or helpful. Sadly, SPS seems to be plagued by a mentality that one only does what they "have" to. If it is not legally required (even then), the SPS ignores it. Like an obstinate child. I am for public education but that last thing I want is my child taught values of blame-shifting and low standards.
The AL SBAC letter has been up for a number of days now, I noticed it earlier in the week.
FedUp

word said...

Pop - you are right - I did not take the "real" test I took the practice test on the SBAC site. I would advise others to do the same - it is not "ridiculous". It is an informed move.

My daughter did take the real test and I questioned her closely about it.

Then we made the collective decision to opt out. I'm sorry if I seem ridiculous to you. Postings like yours make it difficult to share to information on this site. Maybe a little less POI is in order.

Anonymous said...

3inSPS is right about MAP - it has a ceiling, especially with reading, which some students were hitting in elementary school. It's adaptive, but not unlimited in its scope. Scores would increase over the years and then go flat (with some minor ups and downs).

From what we've experienced of middle school HCC, they identify students, group them, then fail to actually provide an appropriate curriculum. Students can take some math and science classes ahead of schedule, but they aren't especially challenging courses. School has become social time for our child, and we're scrambling to provide appropriate challenge and advancement at home. There does not seem to be anyone responsible for ensuring the grade level skills and material get covered, let alone enrichment and whatever else they are supposed to be providing. We're in some kind of directionless MS HCC holding place, biding our time until high school.

When discussions revolve around identification, I think, why does it matter? SPS isn't providing instruction commensurate with the abilities that justified placement in the program in the first place. More resources are spent identifying students than actually serving them.

Anonymous said...

You are going to get a watered down program when too many students qualify, it has poor entrance criterion, it has no monitoring for placement (except for the phantom "some are counselled out" phenomenon) after identification occurs, and no tiered system is in place so that the most advanced and/or actually gifted students get some of what they need.

Quite a few of these students were "identified" in kindergarten or first grade and continue through high school even though their performance is less than stellar. There is actually no accountability for performance whatsoever.

In the meantime, the district pretends to widen the net for students from underrepresented groups (i.e. low SES, ELL, disabilities) by using MAP and now SBAC as screening devices. Typical SPS--pretend to do something so the problem is willed away.

Melissa and others on this blog have defended it for years with the mantra that it is open to anyone who qualifies and, therefore, claim it is bias free and fair--in denial of the fact that the very identification criterion itself is biased.

Pop is entirely correct and so is the NE Parent. This program is a complete joke. It may actually be an illegal one that is next in line after SPED and ELL for its flagrant violations, exclusions, and disregard of basic best practices.
At a minimum, it is not on the side of history.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Although I am the one Popcorn is verbally flaying (or one of them) -- I actually agree with some of his/her points. I am no huge fan of either Woodcock or ITBS (I only think that at least we have years of using them, so we have some sense of what those scores mean or imply when they are attached to a specific kid -- in terms of what kind of pacing, rigor, etc. might best work), and I support the District parents who have long lamented that the current system is limited and wrongly leaves out lots of kids(2E kids, kids who have high math OR verbal ability, but not both, kids whose giftedness runs to the arts, and not academics, etc.) all of whom would thrive with different instruction than what we offer them.

I also agree that the idea that somehow you serve children who are very bright and learn faster (or deeper -- whatever that may mean) best by assuming that if they are 2 grades ahead in first grade -- they will stop accelerating and happily remain challenged at "2 grades ahead" for the next 13 years. Really? Who makes up this stuff?

But the fact that we don't do well enough in first identifying, and then teaching, kids who need different learning materials, styles, or pacing doesn't mean that we can't do it worse -- and by (mis)using first MAP, and now SBA, we seem determined to do just that.

Once again, we are watching one of those District situations where everyone has to spend their time trying to prevent the District from screwing up even more badly than it already has -- and it is exhausting and time consuming, and prevents parents and educators from using their time and efforts to try to make any of the existing systems better!

And no, nothing that has fallen from the lips of Mayor Murray gives me ANY hope that he would do this ANY better -- he appears utterly clueless and entranced by ed reform money and jargon.

Still trying to figure out what "Such a huge circle jerk" means.

Jan

Anonymous said...

But -- I continue to disagree with enough already that one of the "problems" with the HC program is that we don't demote kids out of it often enough. Rarely will a child score highly enough on both COGAT and achievement tests (at least the older versions -- Woodcock and ITBS, etc.) and NOT be appropriately placed in a faster learning environment, unless something (disease, accident, etc.) causes brain damage.

There are lots of reasons that very bright children may not get great grades in HC classes -- the biggest one being that they are STILL not getting enough acceleration/enrichment -- and are still frustrated and bored out of their minds, and unable/unwilling to concentrate. The LAST thing these kids need is to be placed in gen ed classes.

HC, done right, is not a reward for 100%s on tests and gold stars on papers. It is (or should be) an accommodation for kids who aren't/can't be adequately served with regular class pacing and pedagogy. Assuming a functional HC system (where the classes really do meet the needs of gifted kids), if the program offerings still aren't accelerated/enriched enough, or if a child is homeless, is dealing with the death of a parent, is struggling with mental illness, etc. -- that doesn't somehow become less deserving of HC services.

Jan

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Jan,

I have a SPED endorsement. Gifted education was originally based on the fact that many truly gifted children are underperforming or failing in general education. Gifted Education was like a SPED category without the legal protections.

It morphed into HCC, which is often based on preparation rather than giftedness--and that is where it becomes murky and often is a perpetuation of class privilege. Giftedness is usually way more than a test score. It is an orientation toward the world that is deeper and atypical.

So, yes, given this point in time in SPS Land and the (yes) politics of this now beyond large group of exclusionary students, some degree of monitoring of levels and skills is essential. In SPED it is called the "Present Level of Performance."

If, in fact, the program is conducted in the model of SPED (which most high quality programs around the country now do), a continuum of services would be provided, and it would not be a punitive placement, but an "appropriate" placement (even though some parents may believe otherwise).

Most importantly, if there is a tiered model, those students wouldn't be "thrown out" in the first place. They would receive a continuum of services that are appropriate to their needs and skills. We wouldn't, however, have an ever expanding group of elementary students of similar demographics in self contained programs, but would have some pull-outs in neighborhood schools, etc.

As always, Jan, many thanks to your thoughtful response.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Reposting an anon from earlier. Please give yourself a name, otherwise you could be deleted.

"Anonymous said...
3inSPS is right about MAP - it has a ceiling, especially with reading, which some students were hitting in elementary school. It's adaptive, but not unlimited in its scope. Scores would increase over the years and then go flat (with some minor ups and downs).

From what we've experienced of middle school HCC, they identify students, group them, then fail to actually provide an appropriate curriculum. Students can take some math and science classes ahead of schedule, but they aren't especially challenging courses. School has become social time for our child, and we're scrambling to provide appropriate challenge and advancement at home. There does not seem to be anyone responsible for ensuring the grade level skills and material get covered, let alone enrichment and whatever else they are supposed to be providing. We're in some kind of directionless MS HCC holding place, biding our time until high school.

When discussions revolve around identification, I think, why does it matter? SPS isn't providing instruction commensurate with the abilities that justified placement in the program in the first place. More resources are spent identifying students than actually serving them.

5/8/15, 7:59 AM"

- mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"SPS isn't providing instruction commensurate with the abilities that justified placement in the program in the first place. More resources are spent identifying students than actually serving them."

That's it in a nutshell and has been since my kids were in SPS. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

According to your posts, at least one of your children was in self-contained Spectrum from first grade. Correct me if I'm wrong, Melissa.

If not, give us all a break!

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Advanced Learning has already gotten a sense of the SBAC scores from the kids at Lincoln, or at least a summary, and that is making them comfortable with using it for achievement as early as next year.

dragon

Lynn said...

I assume they're using SBA scores becuase it's all they will have. I'd like to know what they'll use for students who opted out.

There's no conflict in pointing out that appropriate instruction isn't provided to students and enrolling a child in the program. It's not a great program but it's better (for these students) than general education classes would be.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough already, I'm not sure what I said that upset you. One son was in Spectrum starting at 3rd grade, the other at first (one qualified for APP but we wanted him at the same school as his brother).

Anonymous said...

"The cohort model" is designed for high I/Q and achievement kids to not burn out teachers and buildings. It is a firewall not an accommodation. But it works.

I too wish more kids who excelled in leadership or arts or who were 2e/ell/SES would be identified. As well as a program that would work for those high achieving - not 98% I/Q kids. But I just can't see throwing the baby out with the bath water.

The district will still test I/Q if you apply and if you need another achievement test they provide those too for 2e and SES kids.

Cynical Sups split APP not to better the program but to fix a ton of other problems. Unfortunately some buildings -HIMS- were opposed to the very rational of gifted ed like "Enough Already" and staffed and supported the program like a foisted step-child.

Having spent hundreds of hours in APP classrooms I can say quite honestly that it worked before the splits, during the optional pathways and now during common core.

SBAC is entirely another issue.
I will most likely opt my kids out next year in the hopes the district gets the message. What a waste of time. Especially when you consider the kids are being tested at grade level (although all have been accelerated in math at a minimum) and are doing practice test, having to learn to type and recover old material. I feel for the teachers too.



-Enoughof enoughalready

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

You certainly didn't "upset" me. I was just addressing the fact that you used your children's tenure at SPS as "ridiculous" in terms of service delivery when, in fact, you just confirmed that they got a quite a good bang for their buck in self-contained Spectrum.

I left SPS in large part because many children and their families were not getting a good bang for their buck.

Get real.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Bang for their buck? I don't recall paying anything!

-Enoughof enoughalready

Melissa Westbrook said...

Where did I say my kids got a "good bang for the buck?" I stated no such thing. I made a choice based on what I thought best for my kids but no, Highly Capable has never been all that it should be for any student.

Anonymous said...

What I wish is that instead of spending what seems like ALL our time stamping out new fires caused by incompetence, indifference, or the actual ill intent of ed reform -- we were working on the kinds of issues that enough already and others here have mentioned -- figuring out how to reach a broader group of kids for whom gen ed classes don't work well and tailoring classes that help them learn better, figuring out better methods of identifying kids who would learn better with different models -- and then how to provide them.

Sometimes, though -- I think the push back is that parents with kids being "moderately" or even "marginally" better served in HC classes fear that the District is only too ready to toss the baby (any attempt to meet HC needs) with the bathwater of the currently flawed system. I can't speak for anyone's motives but mine, but I suspect there are a number of parents who find them defending the current HC model against its naysayers not because they think it is great, or even good -- but that it is far better for their kids than nothing -- and they fear that "nothing" is what a number of the SSD administrators would like to provide -- with just the eensiest bit of encouragement, and they know well that this District is nowhere close to evaluating or adopting the more comprehensive system that enough already describes -- so it is really this, or nothing.

Now that the "blended" Spectrum programs have been in place for a few years, I would love to know how parents and teachers (and kids) feel they stack up against the prior delivery system.

Jan

n said...

Enough Already, sometimes you sound like you just have vendettas against programs you don't like.

I've in my third decade now and I haven't found a really good sped teacher yet. Endorsements mean nothing is SPS. I will admit that sped teachers are getting better but they still aren't where they should be.

As for any program, it is only as good as the teacher - be that sped, regular or HC. A good teacher makes a difference because it takes a lot of energy, creativity and a resourceful nature to engage children. All children. That is the biggest failure I find in schools and some of it is the result of poor principals, very poor support for all teachers, too many demands on time, and curricular choices that strain learning for children. I am finally going to put the new Math In Focus in that group.

I put Jon Greenberg in the group of great teachers based on the feedback from the parents and kids who had him.

And whether acceleration or enrichment doesn't really matter if you are engaging the student in learning. That is the key. And that takes a smart, creative, resourful teacher. And perhaps a risk-taker as well.

Anonymous said...

@ n, "great teachers" are usually great in certain circumstances, not across the board. A great math teacher isn't necessarily a great science teacher. A great high school teacher isn't necessarily a great middle school teacher. A great gen ed teacher isn't necessarily a great gifted ed teacher. Fit is important. It sounds like the teacher you mentioned is back in a place where the students, curriculum, etc. are once again a good match for his teaching, so that's great.

HF

n said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you. And I think that applies to principals as well. Too many principals who are poor fits for the age group of their school and/or their experience.

There is a big difference even in elementary between K-1 and 2-5. Few people who haven't taught K-1 realize how much academics along with immaturity and socio-emotional issues is on that poor teacher's plate.

And the differences encountered from elementary-middle-high school? Oh, man!

Fit is huge. If we had real support, money and really smart people running things, our schools would look so different.

n said...

@HF . . .

Rereading your post, I do think great teachers s/b great regular and gifted teachers because all teachers should be creative, resourceful and intellectually bright. I don't think they are. If a teacher has those qualities, she/he can wear any hat. I really believe that.

Working with children with disabilities? That's a different story. Specific expertise, understanding and constant relearning is needed to address learning disorders and neurological issues. When SPS won't even partner with Hamlyn Robinson to address dyslexia when Hamlyn Robinson has a school in our community, you know SPS is not doing the best job it can. SPS is not addressing the problem.

I was a LAP teacher many, many years ago - and I'm not saying I was properly trained which is pretty normal in SPS - but I learned a lot on my own. Most of the children who were served by lap were dyslexic. They needed specialized help. And the number of children cited as dyslexic has gone up.

Please let's not start a dialogue on dyslexia and what it really means. I believe that SPS does not adequately address anything. From testing gifted kids to servicing the sped population.

Too much turf at Stanford and a mentally-and-emotionally retired superintendent who just wants to make nice and collect the paycheck. He's a placeholder.

Oh god. I'm on a rant again.

n said...

That "any hat" should be "either hat."

Anonymous said...


Apparently we don't have enough Standarized testing.

Seattle opt out Facebook page reports that SPS wants to spend money on Amplify testing for all schools. This means that our kids will be spending more quality classroom time doing Amplify worksheets to prepare for Amplify tests and SBA.

I wish SPS would add exta instructional days at the end of the school year to make up the time lost to these Standarized tests and prep.

-nh

Anonymous said...

I do think great teachers s/b great regular and gifted teachers because all teachers should be creative, resourceful and intellectually bright.

I think there's more to it than that, n. It's not about a teacher being "smart enough" and creative. A great teacher of gifted children needs to really understand these kids, the way they think, the way they learn, the way their past experiences can impact their self-esteem and risk-taking, etc.

Here's an example:

A well-regarded general ed HS teacher--who by all accounts is creative, resourceful and smart--is temporarily appointed to teach HCC 8th graders. Since they are capable of working significantly above grade level, those 8th graders are probably just as able to handle the material this teacher might present in HS. In practice, however, the kids don't feel like they learn much. Not because they can't keep up, but rather because the course moves too slowly, is too repetitive. The teacher is used to introducing ideas, presenting them in many different ways, reinforcing them over and over and over so that kids can really learn them. In that teacher's past experience, that works really well. For HCC kids, however, not so well. They get bored, frustrated, even resentful, and feel like the teacher is hitting them over the head with the same concepts they already learned the first time around. The teacher misinterprets their disengagement as a sign that they just don't get it yet, so repeats the material again--maybe in new, creative ways, but to the kids it's just more of the same, so they tune out.

That's not to say that such a teacher could not become a great teacher in gifted ed as well. It's probably the smart, resourceful, creative teachers who are most likely to be able to do that. But it takes practice and an understanding of giftedness and what those kids need to truly be great at it.

HF

Anonymous said...

This may be a dumb question, but where do we find our child's percentile on SBAC results? (MAP test results always provided a percentile; I don't see a percentile given with the SBAC results.) Thanks.