Schools typically don't define their ALO in any meaningful way. They cannot and do not describe the ALO for families or tell families what the ALO provides that is any different from the norm for good teaching practices.
There are typically no practices specific to school ALOs. Schools cannot identify anything they do differently for students in ALOs than they do for students who are not in ALOs. Often the school cannot even say which students are participating in the ALO.
There is no assessment of school ALOs. The District has never made any assessment of their quality or efficacy (or even their existence) and the schools make no assessment of their quality or efficacy.
The bulk of ALOs are a fiction. They exist exclusively in marketing materials.
I recognize that this is a pretty harsh characterization of ALOs and, let's face it, Spectrum since Spectrum is, in most schools, no different from an ALO. You might wonder what evidence I can show to support this complete discredit of ALOs. Here is the best proof of that claim: school CSIPs.
Normally I would say that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but in this case it is. If something doesn't show up in the school CSIP, it doesn't show up at the school.
School CSIPs are supposed to include their plan for Advanced Learners. You should read those plans. Go through them one by one and you'll see what I see. Start at the top of the list with Adams Elementary and here's what you'll find:
There is a reference to their ALO in the CSIP. It's on page 14. That's commendable. Here's what it says:
"3-5 teachers will use AMPLIFY data to identify instructional needs of ALO students and work with instructional teams to design accelerated instruction."
So needs have not been identified and accelerated instruction has not been designed. They are doing the work; they are still determining what work to do.
"K-2 teachers will use grade appropriate assessments (K screening, TC, DIBELS)to identify instructional needs of ALO students and work with instructional teams to design accelerated instruction."
Same as with grades 3-5, but even further behind because they haven't even selected the assessments to use to identify the needs.
In short, they are still at square one. No, they haven't even reached square one yet. They are still making a plan to determine where to look for square one.
Those who would say that this is important work that should get done and it reflects well on Adams that this is in the CSIP, ask yourself this question: how is this any different from what they should be doing even if they did not claim to have an ALO?
And who is responsible for getting this absurdly vague work done? Lead: unspecified
Progress Monitoring Lead: unspecified
Professional Development Lead: unspecified
Family Engagement Lead: unspecified
And that's for a school CSIP that even mentions advanced learning. The next school in the list, Alki, has no reference to it. Neither do the bulk of the school CSIPs. The overwhelming majority of them contain no reference to advanced learning at all. In case you were thinking that there's no requirement that the CSIPs have such a reference, you're wrong. The District has said, for years and years, that the CSIPs should include the schools' plans for serving advanced learners and the District has promised, for years and years, that they would. The state law that requires the CSIPs says that the school improvement plans shall address educational equity, which the code defines as "giving each student what she or he needs and when and how she or he needs it to reach their achievement potential."
Spectrum sites are not any better. Arbor Heights offers Spectrum through differentiated instruction, but they cannot define it, identify it, or quantify it. It doesn't exist. It's barely referenced on the last page of their CSIP in the context of professional development on differentiation. We were at that stage ten years ago. Dearborn Park CSIP's only reference to Spectrum is their claim that they offer it. Although all of the attendance area middle schools is supposed to offer Spectrum, most of them make no reference to it at all in the CSIP.
What should it look like? Check out Bryant's CSIP. Here you find some real, concrete descriptions of what distinguishes their ALO. Is that the way it is in the classroom? Only Bryant families can say, but at least it looks right in the documents.
Want another good example? Concord says this: "Students who are already proficient in CCSS are being provided instruction in the next grade level CCSS." They're simply sending kids to the next highest grade classroom for math and language arts instruction. That's their ALO: grade skipping. Hey, that's something real and I commend it. I don't know what they do for fifth graders.