Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Puzzled Me This: What's Going on With APP?

APP just grows and grows.  Now some of that may be better outreach, some may be parents seeing the writing on the wall and fleeing Spectrum but APP seems to be growing.  There are six classes of second graders at Cascadia.  It does beg the question of how all these students will fit into the new elementary at Wilson-Pacific.  The short answer would be that they probably won't but where would half of them go?

Tomorrow, October 8th, is the deadline to apply for AL programs.  There are two testing sites and each school (in a group) gets one testing day.  From the Advanced Learning webpage:

You will receive a testing appointment time for that day as soon as the scheduling can be accomplished. Please make every effort to keep this appointment, as no rescheduling will be possible until well into the new year. We expect over 5000 applications this year, and there is LIMITED flexibility in scheduling. 


The first testing day is coming up fast on October 17th for students in schools in some parts of the NE/NW.   Something interesting is how the early testing dates in October have fewer schools in their groupings than later testing dates (although I see that they are also testing private school students so AL may hold out more spaces for those students because they don't know how many will be coming). 

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are rumblings over on the HCC blog that they are considering getting rid of appeals. A month ago I would have bet you a donut that a small group of HCC at Lincoln (200 kids maybe) would be peeled off and sent to the Decatur building either in 2016 when it was free or 2017 when they moved Cascadia to Wilson Pacific, depending on other enrollment. Even doing that at this rate the behemoth of Cascadia would start with portables.

Now, with the appeals and the weird screener thing, I wonder if they are trying to or hoping to shrink HCC enrollment and won't peel off part, and just put it all at Wilson Pacific with portables. I totally support shrinking HCC in theory, but I hope they are not keeping out kids who need it most. And, well, I think if this is what they are doing it completely sucks of them not to simultaneously increase advanced learning opportunities at neighborhood schools, and I doubt they are. All those families have tried at their neighborhood schools, and it didn't work, so without district pressure it's not going to happen. Plus the schools the kids would stay at are the most crowded in the district.

It is puzzling, for sure.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

There is also a section on exiting the program front and center on their webpage now. That's new and I support it.

Alys

Anonymous said...



Where exactly is that info Alys? I don't see it on either AL home or eligibility page.

-Do it

Anonymous said...

"Exiting Highly Capable Services: Students may be exited from Highly Capable Services if the services are no longer appropriate. A meeting of parent, teacher, administrator, representative from Advanced Learning office, and student (optional at parent discretion) shall precede such an eligibility change."

Under referral and testing.


And I liked that the video was a clear attempt at outreach toward minority families. There's no one silver bullet to fix equity, but this can help.

I still think these changes need to be made in tandem with increased advanced learning opportunities at neighborhood schools. Triply so if we are swinging back toward "fidelity of implementation." Kids need different things.

-sleeper

Outsider said...

As a short-timer in Seattle, I wouldn't claim to really know anything, but would speculate as follows regarding the apparent growth of APP:

SPS doesn't really want to let any kids escape the regular classroom. Spectrum was not intended as a gifted program at all; it was a pressure release valve and a purely political thing. The district knows there will be:

1) some parents who will complain loudly non-stop and be major pains in the butt unless there is some way to accommodate their bright youngsters. Spectrum was grease for squeaky wheels.

2) "Economically important people" might not view Seattle so favorably, and bring jobs and office leases to Seattle, if their very important kids were not assured an escape from the regular classroom.

Problem is, as the regular classroom grows ever more "inclusive" and politically correct, the desperation to escape it grows apace. Hence the 5,000 referrals for testing. Spectrum apparently grew too big, and as a result, had to be diluted to nothing (according to other commenters here; I have no personal knowledge).

Now with Spectrum being nothing, everyone is stampeding into APP because it's apparently still something. Hence the growing numbers.

p.s. We've been through enough of the year to suspect that our school's promise to differentiate and challenge every child is an almost complete fraud. And Seattle schools are not actually very good for bright kids unless they can escape into APP.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's the inclusivity or political correctness of the classroom that is driving people to seek APP status. It's the lack of any sort of challenge or high expectation for kids who are quick to learn. I know parents that have left the neighborhood elementary very regretfully, and after working for change within the school, because their kids were bored or just not learning enough. A little "walk-to" or some actual, systematic method of keeping those kids moving forward instead of treading water would go a long way to keeping the APP numbers down.

seen it

Maje said...

@seen it - that's been my experience as well. Most of our friends who have gone to APP did so only after trying their best to make it work at their neighborhood school. Some left after a bad K year, but many stayed for as long as they could before they had to admit that it wasn't working. I don't know anyone who left because the class was getting too inclusive and PC (as Outsider suggested) - it was because their kids couldn't get their needs met.

Outsider said...

Inclusivity and political correctness require that every classroom have the full range of aptitude and interest; and that the lessons are pitched at the 40th percentile. The "lack of any sort of challenge or high expectation for kids who are quick to learn" is not some sort of accident or oversight. It's a deliberate choice by the neighborhood schools. I think there are two levels of reasoning:

1) Struggling or at-risk students are believed to do better if working side by side with successful peers (though statements like "this is easy" must literally be banned from the classroom.)

2) Kids who need more challenge and higher expectations often have clear advantages in life: stable, loving, supportive families; good nutrition; rich lives outside of school. The social justice crowd believes these advantages should be commandeered and shared around by forcing the high achievers to help their peers with low-level work rather than working to their own potential.

Nothing is happening by accident. And it is definitely inclusivity and political correctness that are the driving forces (along with possible fear of legal challenges based on PC principles).

Anonymous said...

I don't think Outsider is pointing the finger at parents for fleeing to APP to escape inclusivity. I actually agree with seen it, Maje AND Outsider.

APP [HCC!]

Benjamin Leis said...

@sleeper - An appeal process for advanced learning status is actually written into the WAC code so it will not be going away. AL is however considering what form it will take this year.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it is inclusiveness or PC that is driving the growth of APP. I don't think we are any more PC than we were 10 years ago, and with the loss of blended classrooms we are probably less inclusive. Classrooms are maybe more standardized, but that is not really inclusive. Opposite of, really. But APP is much bigger than it was 10 years ago.

I think class sizes have ballooned to the point that differentiation is impossible and Spectrum has been dismantled (you can see an influx at Lincoln each time a new Spectrum program was dismantled from whichever school). And as schools have gotten crowded principals are no longer interested in keeping students of any kind. Shipping them out is better. So when a parent tries to advocate for advanced learning, they are given a "no, try APP." When I first toured Bryant elementary, a decade ago now, the principal was wildly proud of the number of advanced learners they kept at the school and the different programs they offer. And they did- people did not leave in the kinds of numbers they do now. None of that is there now, and enormous numbers of kids leave. Programs that used to try to allow 2 years up of walk to math are now only allowing one. That sort of thing.

I would not say all neighborhood schools do a bad job with bright kids, but many of the most overcrowded ones do and ship the most kids out. They're also the wealthiest schools. It is a mess. But I think for different reasons than you say. I am hopeful that some of these changes may help, but it's not really going to get better without more advanced learning in more schools.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Benjamin- AN appeal process, but not ours, right? Neighboring districts have much more restrictive ones, and that's what they are hoping to be in line with. I should have clarified- I meant the private testing appeal system we have now is up for debate. As opposed to something like Bellevue, where you can appeal if the test is scored incorrectly, or something. Not even sure you can if you are sick. No private test scores.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

SPS would have to get a handle on much better administration of the Cogat if they are going to get very restrictive on appeals. Better proctors, consistent locations, fidelity to delivery of the test, etc. Especially for those young kids. I imagine it is a much different process in neighboring districts.

Alys

Anonymous said...

If private testing is abolished for appeals, there will be many very unhappy psychologists. It is big business in this town!

Skeptic

Anonymous said...

SPS would have to get a handle on much better administration of the Cogat if they are going to get very restrictive on appeals. Better proctors, consistent locations, fidelity to delivery of the test, etc. Especially for those young kids. I imagine it is a much different process in neighboring districts.

Alys

Melissa Westbrook said...

Outsider, what you list is exactly what seems to be the issue for the City's pre-k program (currently underenrolled in SPS). They NEED middle-class families because nearly every study says you need the stability and the richness that those children bring to a class. Teachers like it, too, and generally don't like when high-achievers leave the classroom.

Anonymous said...

A relatively large proportion of kids from our Elementary School (North Beach) went into the APP program. NB had a great Spectrum program. It was inclusive (meaning you didn't have to test to get in so long as you could do the work). The teachers in the Spectrum classes had Advanced Ed training. They had walk to math. They handed out separate Spectrum evaluations (in addition to report cards). It worked beautifully. Then, one day, mid year, with no warning it was eliminated by the district. Just....like......that. By next year a large number of NB kids had switched to APP.

-ThereUHaveIt

Lynn said...

Melissa,

And of course, a six hour a day, September through June preschool isn't what most middle-class families want for their children. If they have a stay at home parent, a half day three days a week schedule provides everything they need. If they need child care to cover full-time work hours, they need nine hours a day year-round.

Washington DC elementary schools offer free preschool for three and four year olds. (I believe with an admissions lottery.) That might have drawn some families in.

Lynn said...

The increase in HCC is caused I think by the combination of the disappearance of Spectrum and the reduced travel time to new HCC locations.

Anonymous said...

Our elementary use to keep most APP qualified kids with a mix of walk to, differentiation, & pull outs. Then it got crowded. At that time the principal began encouraging families to move to APP & told them their child's needs would not be met. As new young teachers came, the culture changed more to teaching to the district curriculum, all kids on the same lesson in the classroom. Now very few APP qualified students stay in that elementary. I think that standardized lessons do not serve many kids on either end of the spectrum, but APP kids have a chance to escape.

- long gone

Anonymous said...

Schools that provide equal challenge to all students while avoiding unhealthy ideas about intellectual ability are the ideal and we should strive for that, IMHO.

I believe most if not all HCC parents believe in the ideal but see no move or very little towards serving their children's end of the spectrum.

When the local schools can deliver the goods to those parents they will stay. It doesn't have to be self-contained and obviously won't be, but grouping strategies and some basic training can give most kids what they need, If there is the will. The problem is the district have to get their AL people out in the field. Most. I hope, of them are "highly capable" and have story to tell.

KI

Anonymous said...

I would be curious what others thought the changing entrance criteria has meant as far as increases go. My child entered APP as a first grader around 2005, just a year or so after entrance criteria were altered a bit. The earlier entrance criteria was 98 on two sections of Cogat and 98th percentile on both sections of the Woodcock Johnson achievement test. Just before my child entered, they lowered the WJ test to 95 on both sections. APP had not grown much year to year prior to this change and it didn't seem to affect numbers much after this change - I think numbers went up a little but not a lot.

When numbers really increased was when they stopped using the WJ and moved to MAP, a test not designed for this purpose. I know correlation does not equate with causation, and I am wondering if others think the achievement testing changed things...? The district has also dismantled any pretense at advanced learning around the neighborhood schools, so that may be all of it.

I do think the district should look at entrance criteria and see if that's an issue. I certainly does create the impression that Seattle is Lake Wobegone, and maybe it's true. I think it's important that people believe the entrance criteria gets the kids who need the program and not the ones who don't.

-harvey wallbanger

Anonymous said...

I know the results changed when they went from WJ to WASL. More kids tested in our school.

-long gone

Anonymous said...

As others have said, I think the big increase happened when Spectrum started disappearing in neighborhood schools, or at least when it was clear that the quality of Spectrum and Advanced Learning was highly dependent on the Principal instead of being something offered uniformly throughout the district. If you were in a neighborhood school without a program that was going to meet your needs, you made the hard decision to leave for APP.

We Jumped

Anonymous said...

I think it all has to do with the deteriorating quality of general ed. I am an elementary school parent and am unsure if the quality has always been this bad but I find it to be completely unacceptable, for all children.

We are at a SW elementary school where ALL of the HCC kids left this year. Not one single one remained. And the two Spectrum classrooms in the area had waitlists all the way until the Sept 30th deadline.

The exodus out seems to me due to the lack of incentives to stay. I have found general ed to be just dreadful for all 3 of my children. In my experience, the majority of teachers and leadership behave as if the curriculum has come straight from heaven and if students are not responding positively to it, then something is wrong with the kids.

SW Mom

Anonymous said...

My children attended Whittier Elementary - one of the last schools to have self-contained spectrum. When my daughter "graduated" half of the class were APP qualified and went to Hamilton. With my second child ... lots of families transferred to Lincoln from most grades every year ... especially after 3rd and 4th grade. From friends I've heard that some Spectrum classes are now actually SMALLER than the Gen-Ed classes. I've been told that the 5th grade class only has 23 students while the Gen-Ed classes each have 29.

What happened?

1) 3 principals within 9 years, all of whom HATE advanced learning
2) Quality of the Spectrum program has gone down - the difference between my two children's education is shocking
3) Families have been told to either take their APP spot or home-school
4) Lots of new teachers who "go along to get along" with the principal

The principal has announced that this is the last year for self-contained Spectrum. The school will provide Spectrum services but will use a new model. Plan to be determined ... ???

No Longer a Wildcat

Anonymous said...

Wow SW Mom I feel that way a lot too and I have SpEd, AOL, gen ed and HC parent experience.

Alys, the exiting info is old and not surprisingly has been seldom needed. 98% IQ's don't evaporate. My understanding is that comes in play when other health issues are encountered by the student.

Got my ES - HC kids SBAC results back with the explanation that they were equivalent to others in their grade at their school but higher than others in other schools in the district and the state. They got roughly 2550/2620 of the available points in both subjects. So 97.3 percent. Not sure how that reflects to regional percentile but I would have to assume pretty good.

A few compounds:

Tested on material taught two years before- so should have mastery
Tested on material taught two years prior- so may not be remembered
Train wreck test- but I guess that was universal

Now keep in mind SBAC will be the gate keeper test so what does 97% correct answers mean in student grade percentiles. I would guess 98+ which is inline with Map percentiles. Good luck families and AL dept. This is sure to be another interesting year(s).

-Do it


Charlie Mas said...

Is there anyone who thinks that the district doesn't know that the explosive growth of HCC is directly due to the inadequacy of academic opportunity in the general education classroom and the utter absence of any kind of authentic effort to address the needs of advanced learners outside of HCC? Do you really think the district doesn't know this?

It isn't an oversight. It isn't a mistake. It's the plan.

It is the plan because it facilitates their capacity management. It allows them to transfer students from overcrowded areas by making them part of non-geographic community that can be relocated to available space. The operations tail wags the instructional dog yet again.

Anonymous said...

Charlie hits the nail on the head.

-ThereUHaveIt

Anonymous said...

Charlie gets to my ambivalence about the supporting the strike. I supported the strike. But, I know that in my kids' highly rated elementary school there is only lip service to differentiation. The teachers leave it to the parents to do more. And the students who are not prepared fall further behind.

Differentiation in the general education classrooms -- the danielson rubric is supposed to capture that isn't it? -- it is so not a priority. It doesn't really even seem to be a major part of professional practice. Whatever the danielson rubric says to the contrary.

Reader

Anonymous said...

Ironically, I have the opposite view and supported the strike. What I have seen as a parent, is that teachers who are good at differentiation and support academic rigor have experienced blowback from the principals because their training and expertise fly in the face of the "one size fits all" teaching philosophy of the district. It appeared at our school that teachers were either not supported or actively discouraged by the principal from differentiating effectively. I would hesitate to blame the teachers for this.

-ThereUHaveIt

Anonymous said...

As principals in the overcrowded north end schools offload their HC students to Lincoln, which is ballooning beyond the capacity of Wilson-Pacific, one glances longingly back toward the under-enrolled Lowell building. As our local board member Harium Martin-Morris can tell you, there is a huge concentration of HCC students in the Bryant/Ravenna/Laurelhurst/UD area (neighborhood of major regional research university, so should be no surprise...). For this subset, the commute to north Capital Hill, EVEN through morning Montlake or University bridge traffic, will be better than commuting diagonally across the north end to 90th & Aurora. Why is the ship canal such a psychological barrier in this town? Portland, a similar city in many respects, has bridges all over the place. Children actually cross those bridges every morning to get to schools.

open ears

Devon said...


"It is the plan because it facilitates their capacity management."

Right on. Capacity is the number one problem in the district and having a few thousand kids who can be moved at will is real safety valve.

By the same token, it's not a bad deal for HCC kids; they do get the cohort experience and some degree of acceleration. Way better than at their local schools.

Like everything in the public domain, it's a compromise. It serves the most kids the best and I'd give the district some credit for making HCC so available, despite the problems.

Let's face it, trying to serve the HC kids at every school is huge mandate. I don't hear a huge voice calling for better AL opportunities at each local school. So, until that happens, the district will continue to offer the cohort and bus kids and use them as capacity tools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I don't hear a huge voice calling for better AL opportunities at each local school. "

Well, you don't get a huge voice when parents are repeatedly smacked down - by other parents, teachers, principals - for even asking questions. I think HCC parents have pretty much learned their lesson. Spectrum parents just kept their heads down, thinking it would save the program.

Didn't work.

Cautiously Optimistic said...

Just wanted to put out there that at my son's middle school curriculum night, his principal stated - loudly and in no uncertain terms - that her teachers had received and would continue to receive training in differentiated instruction, and that challenging and meeting ALL students' needs was a primary concern at the school. Not sure how this actually translates in the classroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a public acknowledgement of the needs of advanced learners in a non-HCC school.

Anonymous said...

I think the testing needs to be more rigorous. Several parents of APP students have told me that their children really would be fine in their local elementary school as they aren't that much above average. They send them to APP because they get in, and it seems like a superior education (which I'm sure it is). Also, the entrance criteria for APP is too easy. I feel like it is a disservice to kids who are really super smart to have watered down the program. Also, definitely agree with eliminating private testing as it is unfair to people who cannot afford it.

Helen

Anonymous said...

Spectrum parents didn't keep their heads down. Many spoke up here and in their buildings and got shot down for it. Some parents were politically smart and kept their heads down and rolled into into APP. The AL task force at the time appeared consumed by APP issues. Things were well contained in silos. Ironically, the same parents who campaigned actively against the "elitist" spectrum program in the local school now have their children in HCC along with the spectrum students who left for APP. Principals and teachers continue to speak highly of differentiation. It's everywhere and in every classrooms regardless of learning designation.

Basically, a typical FUBAR work day in Seattle. I can replace SPS bureaucracy for the city's and get similar scenario.

gopher

Cautiously Optimistic said...

Helen, you may be right about the testing needing to be more rigorous. But the "checklist" the district gives parents to decide whether or not their child may be a good fit for APP is SO BROAD. My child might be curious, ask insightful questions, and be extremely imaginative but still not be able to test at or above the 98th percentile in both reading and math. I think this is confusing to parents, and somewhat misleading. The HCC kids are doing work two grade levels above their peers, but is their curiosity and imagination truly being piqued?

Anonymous said...

I hear something a little different, Helen, that people think their child is not that different/above average and SHOULD be able to be served in a local elementary. But the local elementary refused. I think there are many kids like that, and I can't blame the parents at all. Who cares how your child could hypothetically get an education if the fact is that they are not, and you have been told they will not be going forward? The education is not superior. Maybe at TM it is. But Cascadia is far too large, has no music, because of the weighted staffing standards is not supported(except by extra classrooms) for the nearly 200 students it has above the largest elementary the school district contemplates. The district just stops funding at 600.

But the books are the right level and the math is not as boring as it would be back at the neighborhood school. If the neighborhood schools were just doing walk to math and reading groups- POOF. A huge percentage would never come. Of course then all these APP students would stay in crowded areas that the district doesn't really want them staying in. I think the district feels it's getting a little big, so they want to make it a little smaller. But in a way they can entirely control (testing).

-sleeper

Devon said...


"Well, you don't get a huge voice when parents are repeatedly smacked down - by other parents, teachers, principals - for even asking questions. I think HCC parents have pretty much learned their lesson."

That's so true. The district has forced families into HCC by neglect, intimidation, scorn, etc., so they can have this large pool of movable bodies.

It's too much to fight against when all you want is a half decent education for your kid.

NorthEndMom said...

My kid is thriving at Cascadia/Lincoln. At our neighborhood school his Kindergarten teacher with 29 students (29!!!) said he couldn't keep up with him. No wonder! The crowding plus the principal was anti-advanced learning conspired against that as a possibility. But had there been the inclination in the school leadership, an APP kid could have done great. Sad it's llip service.

My older kid qualified last year but we didn't move him from the neighborhood school. Reading all this I feel like I'm grateful we qualified under the old rules as everything seems uncertain.

NorthEndMom

Anonymous said...

@ cautiously optimistic.... what middle school do you refer to? I am seeking reassurance cos we will be heading to middle school next year and it sounds like they are a real mixed bag.

planning ahead

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous Cautiously Optimistic said...
Just wanted to put out there that at my son's middle school curriculum night, his principal stated - loudly and in no uncertain terms - that her teachers had received and would continue to receive training in differentiated instruction, and that challenging and meeting ALL students' needs was a primary concern at the school. Not sure how this actually translates in the classroom, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear a public acknowledgement of the needs of advanced learners in a non-HCC school."

I heard this as well. I'll believe it if and when I see it. I asked my kids if they had ever received any kind of differentiation....anything other than the same assignments everyone else gets....any kind of extra challenge to think at all....the answer was "no". I can't recall a single instance either. Three years at this school. I think her comments were nothing more than a palliative to parents whose kids lost Spectrum in the school's switch to blended. But I hope to be proven wrong.

This is a school that dumped a bunch of kids who'd had algebra early into a failed, lost, miserable year of on-line geometry.

realist

Anonymous said...

Do it - numerous studies have shown that "giftedness" in young children in fact often does disappear - higher IQ testing generally shows preparedness, even if not intentionally trying to game the system - kids with stable backgrounds, highly educated parents, etc. True geniuses remain of course, but it does appear many kids testing in are merely smart and well prepared, not truly exceptional.

I think that so many educational challenges could be dramatically improved with smaller class sizes. I'm not a teacher, but it makes sense to me that you can't differentiate K-2 classes of 28+ kids effectively or effectively include kids with special needs. Now take a class of 15-20 kids, ideally with an assistant for at least the academic part of the day and you could do so much more to include and differentiate. But $$$.

North Seattle

Anonymous said...

Cascadia is great. Might as well go to your neighborhood middle school though. Unless you go to Washington and even that veteran program is declining. There is no coherent HCC offering in middle school as many of us have discussed ad nauseum here and elsewhere. I really can't emphasize enough the emperor has no clothes situation. It's so bad that there is no sense in earmarking a middle school path anymore. Might as well force every middle school to serve the kids. Right now neighborhood 6-8s don't bother to serve the kids because "HCC can handle it." And then HCC doesn't handle it. So better to put the onus on every single comprehensive middle school to provide advanced programming.

HCC observer

Cautiously Optimistic said...

Planning Ahead, I'm talking about McClure. Maybe Realist is too. This is my first year at this school, so time will tell - but what I heard from the teachers in their classroom spiels last night made me feel good about my child being there. The teachers articulated their educational approaches to meeting students' needs in a way that was pedagogically sound. Most of them were quite specific about ways in which they create opportunities for kids to be challenged or go further/deeper. I have seen rubrics for writing assignments where these options are clear. Now, that doesn't mean all kids will rise to the challenge or be aware that their teachers are working to differentiate instruction (nor does it mean that they are necessarily doing enough for all advanced learners), but it's not nothing. I am a teacher by training, and have always worked to meet my kids where they are, at all different levels. It is challenging in the best of environments. And small class sizes certainly help. I wonder if small SCHOOL sizes help too - I was tempted to send my child to Hamilton, but I am happy with how accessible and manageable McClure feels at half the size. We will see, but I am pleasantly surprised at the vibe I felt at curriculum night.

Anonymous said...

North Seattle

Sure there is variability throughout your life but not enough to warrant exiting kids out ... unless there are extenuating circumstances beyond classroom achievement kids stay in the program. Or at least that is my experience with over 20 years combined kid APP/HCC experience.

Private testing is provided for any FRL student.

And yeah CM hit the nail on the head... it's all about capacity.

-Do it

Anonymous said...

I think a real problem at most schools is overcrowding + huge class sizes. My son is in a first grade class with 26 kids. His teacher wants parent volunteers pretty much the whole day to help manage the class. The room is scarcely big enough to hold the desks. The district got money to reduce the class size, but the school opted instead to hire aids for math/reading. So now my son is in a tiny room for math with 30 kids in it and two teachers. He says it is loud and chaotic. I don't see how much differentiation can be done because one teacher is usually just managing the kids who are being disruptive. With class sizes of 20, I think it would be more feasible for teachers to differentiate instruction. Right now no one seems to know what level my son is at. He keeps telling me that first grade is easier than kindergarten and asking when is it going to be more interesting. As someone who went through the public school system in another state where I wasn't challenged at all until perhaps some AP classes in high school, I have no desire to see him waste his school years like I had to waiting for the rest of the class to listen, behave, and catch up. There's too much of a gap---kids in HCC get some level of service, kids with learning problems get other services, and the bright kids in between are pretty much given nothing now that Spectrum is gone. As far as parents picking it up at home--my husband and I both working full-time and don't have much time to tutor son on the side.

-frustrated parent

Anonymous said...

My principal actively disciplined my student after I spoke up about increased Spectrum/HCC opportunities at the elementary school.

It's not hostility and intimidation toward the parents that made me back down, but the ways my 7 year old was targeted.

Yes, the teachers are responsible for standing up for the right thing, even if that means risking their jobs and offending the principal.

We all face these ethical judgments in our professions and we are all responsible for our corner of the world. Teachers are no exception.

Why would Spectrum/HC fight to remain in the local elementary schools? They are AWFUL. Getting out is a bonus, not a burden.

SW Mom

Anonymous said...

Cautiously Optimistic said: "I was pleasantly surprised to hear a public acknowledgement of the needs of advanced learners in a non-HCC school."

Great, and good luck. If only we could hear the same in all HCC middle schools!

Anonymous said...

One advantage McClure may have is it's status as a neighborhood school. It was impacted much more than any other north end school by busing and QA/Mag has really enjoyed having the change. The NSAP worked for this school and the kids are all quite invested in getting along and respecting each other. Our experience was the blending worked as described above, specific work listed to do for everyone of increasing challenge. Now since it's middle school an A could be different for different kids, but all kids were expected to do 95% of their best to get that A.
There are also special programs at McClure which require a level of insight and compassion unfamiliar to most of us and the staff and students do a good job there as well.

They sort of got to start fresh when busing stopped and they created a healthy culture for kids, including HC and Spectrum.

My 2

Not surprised said...

Wow. So McClure is so much better for the neighborhood now that those pesky brown kids aren't being bussed in anymore. I see.

Anonymous said...

'My 2'. In writing "when busing stopped" things 'got better' at McClure. You mean when the poor and ethnic minorities from the South End stopped coming up to Queen Anne? That the school is so much better now that it is just Queen Anne and Magnolia kids? Sure sounds like it.

Did you type 'QA/Mag has really enjoyed having the change'? Yes, you did.

'My 2': Perhaps I will throw a bone and believe you meant no disrespect in your attempt to promote your school. But you did just show why Seattle is spotlighted as having some of the least educational equity compared to all districts in the f'n nation.

Economic privilege. White privilege. OK commenter may not be white but QA-Magnolia demos skew heavily that way. Both alive, well and unexamined in SPS North End.

Here's a clue for the North APP parents worried about getting the perfect education for their kids. A perfect education is about more than APP academic challenge. It's about recognizing and operating in a world that doesn't look majority white, wealthy, sheltered. That's the reality in our city, if not in the McClure school. Our kids down here - ever come down here? - are kicking it despite the lack of north end navelgazers advocating for us.

The country our kids are facing as adults will not be majority white. It's likely to be less prosperous than now. The students at which middle schools are being prepared for this world?


Southie

Anonymous said...

Oh come on,if the kids were from Clyde Hill it would have had the same negative impact.

Maybe worse!

My 2

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Ironically, the same parents who campaigned actively against the "elitist" spectrum program in the local school now have their children in HCC along with the spectrum students who left for APP."

I agree, there's some irony there.

"I think that so many educational challenges could be dramatically improved with smaller class sizes."

I absolutely agree.

Southie, I would point out that Aki Kurose has gotten hugely better, test scores and all. Denny is a very good middle school with solid, long-time leadership. South Shore K-8 gets nearly a million dollars a year more (plus F&E levy money).

Anonymous said...

How about paying for advanced learning, like Bryant has just been asked to do?

Cargopants

Anonymous said...

How about paying for advanced learning, like Bryant has just been asked to do?

What???

Anonymous said...

http://www.bryantschool.org/news/save-the-interventions-and-extensions-program-at-tuesdays-general-membership-meetin/

Melissa Westbrook said...

Cargopants (great name), do tell us more.

I note that Alki has started a GoFundMe campaign to save their teacher.
https://www.gofundme.com/alkiway

"The Alki Way is to "Always Be Responsible". Repeated lack of proper planning is not responsible! This same issue affected Gatewood Elementary last year and it seems nothing was learned.
Issues:
1. Alki Elementary was allocated staffing for the express purpose of reducing split classes in our school. The staffing that has been pulled is the staffing that was allocated for that purpose, resulting in both an additional split class AND at least one class in overload status.
2. As a choice school, we are enrolling students from other SPS schools and now resources are being pulled from our building."


Anonymous said...

I lived in QA when I moved to Seattle 20 years ago. McClure was a pit of a school and under enrolled, so when kids got thrown out of their schools for extreme behavior, the district placed them at McClure. I remember two McClure kids were found to be behind the torture and killing of a number of neighborhood cats. Another McClure kid killed a transient in Kinnear Park by clubbing him to death with a skateboard. There were problems with weapons and drugs. People in the neighborhood had a choice and they sent their kids to other middle schools, furthering the cycle of under-enrollment. People being bussed in to McClure in those days didn't choose the school because it was awesome, they were put there because they couldn't go back to their old school they were expelled from.

Has nothing to do with skin color. If SPS had bussed in a random sample of kids from the south end, it would have been a fine school. But it was not a random sample, it was the real problem kids. When things switched to neighborhood assignment neighborhood families had no choice and McClure seats were filled up by kids with behavior more along a normal curve of good to bad, instead of a concentration of kids at the bad end of the curve. That changed the school considerably.

Former QA resident

Anonymous said...

Just last night I was explaining a bit about the capacity issues to my husband. Our kid is still a toddler, but I want to get informed about SPS because I feel like it takes years just to wade through the mess. We're both from advanced learning programs in public schools, so I'm naturally interested in how they work here even if it winds up not being relevant for our family. Anyway, after telling him how the HCC schools are becoming quite full and growing, he wanted to know why they were trying to shove the advanced learners all into one or two schools - that surely most schools would have the population for a class or two per grade. This may seem ridiculous to those used to the cohort, but it's what we were used to growing up and if our neighborhood school had that option, we'd likely take it.

I didn't have a good answer at the time (explaining SPS issues feels like such a swampy mess, I inevitably get tangled up and have to backtrack) but Charlie's comment makes it crystal clear and leaves me with a sinking feeling. So those comments about parents getting smacked down when they advocate for advanced learning at their neighborhood schools. Good times ahead.

-New Mom

Anonymous said...

Whoops, meant "so *do* those comments..." Missed a word.

Also I'm wondering if the schools here are much smaller than the ones I'm used to. I came from schools with up to five classes per grade.

-New Mom

Anonymous said...

@Cargopants, that's not exactly being asked to pay for advanced learning. "The Intervention and Extension program‘s goal is to identify and support students who are approaching or surpassing academic standards." Some kids may be advanced, and some may even be AL-qualified, but it's not an AL program. It seems to be assistance with providing a bit of challenge beyond the "teaching to the bottom" approach--some actual differentiation. Awesome, yes, but I don't know any other schools that have a funded position/program like that. In theory, AL students can be served without that funding, so you don't have to "pay for advanced learning." Aren't HC students at Bryant still legally entitled to appropriate services even in the absence of this funding?

Yogapants

Anonymous said...

Bryant received staffing for an additional teacher to reduce class sizes, but didn't have an empty classroom and had a bunch of underwhelmed parents about math, so they elected to move a teacher over to be in charge of Interventions and Extensions. Bryant has received a lot of pressure from Spectrum and APP parents and in general has gotten much worse at differentiation over the years. Its unclear how this program is going to be any different than simply adding another layer to manage the tutors, but the fact is that the tutors have always been there to provide interventions for students below standards. What is new is the idea that tutors could be used to provide extensions for advanced learners.

Now that numbers are down and they are losing an FTE, they are asking parents to pay to retain this bizarre management position.

NP

Lynn said...

Hello New Mom,

Here's a link to a schedule that might be interesting to you. If you look at page 8, you'll see APP@Lincoln - it's the self-contained program for north end highly capable students in grades 1-5. The most students any school sends is only 85. No single school has enough students for a classroom per grade. http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/Section%204%20(1).pdf

Here's another link - this one is a schedule of September 2015 enrollment for 2015-16 by school. That will tell you how large our schools are. http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/Migration/General/P223_sep15.pdf

Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for that Lynne. I feel like that list is very nearly a list in order of the most overcrowded to least overcrowded (but still overcrowded) schools in the district. I was trying to figure it out for TM, too, but I don't know enough about the schools it pulls from, or how much of those numbers are changed boundaries vs people opting into HCC.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

The 2014-15 enrollment trends for high schools are interesting. Lynn's link shows enrollment trends to a given school based on assigned neighborhood school (not HCC specific).

To Ingraham
-from Ballard (130)
-from Garfield (14)
-from Roosevelt (150)
-from Nathan Hale (92)

To Garfield
-from Ballard (48)
-from Roosevelt (50)
-from Ingraham (11)
-from Nathan Hale (23)
-from Franklin (107)
-from West Seattle (79)

-a reader

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they relaxed the requirement to 96th or 97th percentile for the cognitive assessment they would be able to get a full class in some of the schools.

-curious

Lynn said...

I believe the various task forces have suggested there is a minimum cohort size that works well for both students and teachers. With one class per grade, teachers don't have anyone to collaborate with - and children don't have the benefit of mixing up the classes from year to year. If you look at page three of the APP enrollment report for last year, you'll get an idea of which middle school regions children come from and where split programs might be best located. http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/Section9.pdf

37 Questions said...

North Beach was ill equipped to deal with my profoundly gifted 2e kid. She was looked at as a remedial student and kicked out of her walk to math because of her learning disabilities. We still have concerns at Lincoln, but it is a far better choice for her.

37 Questions said...
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