Sunday, January 10, 2016

Advanced Learning Updates (Good luck, parents)

Update: interesting comment thread from the Community Forum for HCC (APP).

One more update:
As observed the AL office has not reached the point of scheduling the K-2 callbacks. They don't have a predicted date for when that part of the process will start yet.
"CogAT scores are not expected until later in January. Students in grades K-2 who score at or above the 94th percentile on the Screening Form will be scheduled to take the full CogAT. Kindergarten students will be taking the MAP this month at school. Older students should have achievement data on file from last spring. Those who do not will be contacted for achievement testing."
"So they plan on using MAP results to determine if Kinders are advanced learners? For kids who have never used a computer and which content doesn't overlap at all with the CogAT..."
I say "good luck" only because I read this thing twice and the level of detail that you are supposed to track and follow is hard to believe.  Anyone new to this district and its AL system would be scratching their head.


From the district:
The Advanced Learning office will notify families (who referred a child by the Oct. 8 deadline) via email about a child’s eligibility as Cognitive Abilities Test scores are received and processed from late January through February. Families who haven’t received an eligibility email by Feb. 29 should contact Advanced Learning at alsupportanalysts@seattleschools.org with the subject line “Eligibility Letter.”
Important notes:
Enrollment: Families who would like their child to participate in Advanced Learning programs or services in a school other than the attendance-area school should enroll the child duringOpen Enrollment, Feb. 17 to March 1. Families should submit a School Choice Form during this window even if they have NOT received eligibility results by this time.

Ineligible Students and Appeals: Families who wish to appeal must provide all appeals documents no later than THREE WEEKS from the date of the eligibility email. (We have tightened the appeals window in order to accommodate budget and staffing timelines.) 
Eligible Students and Enrollment 
  • Highly Capable-eligible students: HC services are guaranteed, either at the attendance-area school or through self-contained classes in the pathway Highly Capable Cohort school. To join the cohort, families should submit a School Choice form during Open Enrollment. 
  • Advanced Learning-eligible students: Students may receive advanced work at the attendance-area school or through self-contained or cluster-grouped Spectrum classes, available at designated sites on a space-available basis. Families may submit a School Choice form during Open Enrollment, but a seat is not guaranteed. 
K-8 testing continues at least through January, but all families who referred by the Oct. 8 deadline should have received a testing appointment at this point. Those who have not should emailalsupportanalysts@seattleschools.org with the subject line “Winter Testing.”
For details about all of these issues, please see our Advanced Learning Enrollment page and ourAdvanced Learning Appeals page.

23 comments:

NE mom said...

And K-2 kddos have yet to be notified whether they qualified to take the full CogAT. How do you fill out an open choice form without any information on whether your child will qualify?

Anonymous said...

This still means that an HCC spot is guaranteed even if Choice application isn't submitted during the Feb-March window?

SW Mom

Charlie Mas said...

"Highly Capable-eligible students: HC services are guaranteed, either at the attendance-area school or through self-contained classes in the pathway"

So families can demand HC services at the attendance area school. Really? And what if they don't get it? What recourse do they have? What assurances will the District provide?


"Students may receive advanced work at the attendance-area school or through self-contained or cluster-grouped Spectrum classes, available at designated sites on a space-available basis."

Again, families can demand advanced work at the attendance area school. Really? And what if they don't get it? What recourse do they have? What assurance will the District provide? For that matter, what if they don't get the services at a designated site? What recourse or assurances does the District offer? And, given the absence of self-contained classrooms, what seats are set-aside for Spectrum-eligible students at those designated sites? Isn't it none? So aren't the Spectrum services available only to children who live in the attendance areas of the designated sites? How is that equitable access?

Charlie Mas said...

I'm trying very hard to imagine the response for a family that goes to the principal of their attendance area school and says that they are expecting HC services for their child. Would it be a sad denial or a laughing one?

Someone please get it in writing.

Anonymous said...

@ Charlie - I received an angry response as if I were making the principal's job needlessly difficult. I received a lecture on the merits of the curriculum, insinuating something was wrong with me for finding it inadequate and with my child for failing to respond to it in a way that makes the teacher's life easier.

SW Mom

Anonymous said...

Charlie et al., get with it. The answer is differentiation. It works for all students.Teachers have been doing this since humans discovered fire, about 3.2 million years ago.

ground control




cmj said...

ground control, differentiation takes extra books, extra energy, extra planning, and extra time. Teaching three different levels in the same classroom is exhausting. Teachers are being pushed to get their students to pass the state tests. If they have any extra time, they're going to spend it on the students is the bottom third, who just need a little extra push to pass the state tests. They're not going to spend any time differentiating for a student who can easily pass the state tests -- they don't get any kudos for it from the principal and other parents would probably accuse them of being elitist.

Anonymous said...

@ ground control,

How large were class sizes 3.2 million years ago?

DisAPPointed

Charlie Mas said...

Maybe differentiation works. It can certainly work on a small scale by individual teachers now and again. Can it reliably deliver an advanced curriculum within a general education classroom? I'll know when I see it tried.

Anonymous said...

We were told we *were* receiving differentiation. For 3 years, this amounted to being told the teacher was "expecting" more writing wise (which we never saw), the child specifically not being placed with writing peers for peer editing, but instead with lower performing kids (so they could all learn from different learning styles -huh?- and my kid could have the "opportunity" to teach, which meant in this case my kid never got any appropriate editing feedback, from peers or teachers), no books at their assessed level in the classroom for some reason I never understood, and the opportunity to do extra math workbook pages on their own from a Singapore book one level up *after* the child completed the extremely tedious in class work of drawing hundreds of circles to show subtraction, which they had mastered years earlier. A math professor parent offered to help and do a once or twice a week pull out since so many of the kids were bored, but the teacher said it would hurt the other kids feelings, so it didn't happen.

HCC has a lot of problems; it is too big, constantly under scrutiny and threat from the district, and the curriculum is the same pretty hackneyed stuff, but at least the math is closer, and the peer editing is more useful. This was the case with 3 different teachers(I am not including kindergarten, which I think is a different beast). I don't think differentiation can really happen in a scalable way, at least not with the incentives and class sizes we have now.

We Tried

Anonymous said...

I think spots are now guaranteed only until May 31st. They are encouraging families to sign up for HCC during Open Enrollment but really you have until May. There is a Cascadia open house in April, too, for families who are notified late.

About the rest of the K-2 testing...there must be a lot of families waiting to hear whether or not they need to dedicate another Saturday in January to three more hours testing. I'm sure early elementary comprises almost half of the testers.

shanti

n said...

The magic word - "differentiation." And it is magic. With curriculum mostly now made up by teachers as we go, when do you think we have time for differentiation. I struggled trying to keep Math in Focus current because at least it is an organized curriculum with all the bells and whistles: homework, practice pages, assessments. But because I'm having to toe the line with the District's scope and sequence (and gazillion reference materials and pages), I spend so much of my time trying to put together a cogent curriculum that I really don't have time to do a great job on everything. When people do you think teachers get all the plans made and papers corrected? Teaching has become an impossible job. I would venture that few of us are teaching well. I'm sure that some teachers will chime in that they're getting it done but at elementary my observation is different. It is rush, rush, rush all the time. That's not good teaching and certainly not good learning or understanding.

Good differentiation relies on the same foundation that good teaching generally requires: time to plan.

One more thing: walk-to-math seems to work at some schools but at mine, it doesn't. The high kids go to a teacher who pretty much sails through. The low kids get a small group generally and the teacher takes time and learning is better. The middle teacher has those lows who are too numerous to stay in the low group (thus negating the good the low-group teaching would do) and the few high kids who are kept out of the high group to control for capacity. So your middle teacher continues to struggle. That's the situation at my school. At my school, the high and the medium classes are pretty much matched in numbers. That is the problem. The high group should be the biggest group without a doubt. They come engaged, with home support generally, and ready to learn. But that is not what happens. So the middle teacher has 25-28 extra kids (beyond homeroom kids) to monitor and for whom to do paperwork and parent communication.

We have so many issues in our schools. Many of them brought about by administrative people who simply do not understand education, developmental stuff and the teaching of kids.

Lynn said...

n,

How does walk to math work for students at your school? It sounds like it's an improvement for both the above and below grade level kids. Would it work at your school if you had additional support - maybe a math specialist who worked with a group in each grade so that every group was slightly smaller? That's something that could be done with class size reduction funds in any school that doesn't have physical space for more classrooms.

n said...

Yes, I think additional support is crucial. But we don't have it. Last year, our principal did try to recruit parents at fourth grade but I haven't been aware of any such help this year. But it might be there. However, we need it at more than one grade level. We do not have any extra space. Also, since our walk-to-math is at the same time for all classrooms, one person isn't going to do it.

I think some schools who do make it work manage by getting extra people - IAs. Our schools budget doesn't allow much extra help at all.

Anonymous said...

@ n

Your comments are a breath of fresh air and you might be the first educator I have heard speak so frankly. Most often, I get the impression that teachers (at least the ones I encounter regularly) think the system is actually good because they spend so much effort defending it to me when I question it. At what point should teachers be expected to stand up for what is morally right rather than what the principal or the district wants?
Many of us, in our own professions, have risked a great deal of personal security to take an ethical stand, is the teaching profession exempt from this?
Differentiation is the perfect example. As long as it continues to be measured in terms of what was given by the teacher instead of the impact on the child, the power structure continues to reward bureaucracy over students. I don't know how any teacher, in good conscience, could support this. Silence is consent and, in my world of elementary school, there appears to be a lot of silence these days.

(Frustrated)
SW Mom

Anonymous said...

It was sarcasm folks. Like world peace. Uh boy!

ground control

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, so we have a District policy/procedure saying that attendance area schools are supposed to provide HC services for enrolled HC students. We also have principals saying, out loud (though not yet in writing) that they will not do this. So what happens next? Do families go to the Executive Director of Schools and lodge a complaint? Do they go to the Ombudsman? And if the issue has to be escalated in this way, then shouldn't the resolution include some sort of measurable outcome?

How can a student's family know that the student is getting either HC or Spectrum/ALO services? What are the hallmarks, the benchmarks, the metrics, and the assessments?

In the absence of an HC or a Spectrum/ALO curriculum isn't it impossible to tell?

Anonymous said...

Couldn't the measurement be ongoing high scores on achievement tests?

If student drops, then school is responsible?

SW Mom

Anonymous said...

SW Mom, many of the AL/HC students could stay home all year and still score at a high level on the achievement tests. Maintaining a high score doesn't mean they are learning anything, nor does it mean the school is providing AL//HC services.

HF

Anonymous said...

I had a conversation with my child's principal, Advanced Learning, and the state about HCC Services in our attendance area school. Basically I understood the state to say that the district doesn't have to provide any specific HCC services, or identify students in any specific way. Yes, the district has to identify HCC students in someway, and yes they have to provide some set of services within their budget. But the HCC services may be nothing more than standard in class differentiation, if that's in budget. It also was made clear that Advanced Learning provides a testing service and teacher professional development support to the attendance area schools, but that's it. So until the board explicitly specifies some set of required HCC services, parents would seem to have zero recourse. In effect the principal can do (or not do) whatever they want. The same goes for Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

At Lincoln, the third grade teachers (perhaps all grades) voted to follow the Math In Focus book and not the district's scope and sequence. When I need to help my daughter, I can open the book and know just what they've studied and just what will be on the chapter test. When my daughter was sick, it was so easy to just do the next set of pages in the book. When my daughter was confused, I found extra practice for the chapter on the Internet. What a relief as compared to last year when her teacher was following the district's nonsense. I gave up trying to ever figure out where they were at or what they were doing. Having studied a lot of math in my life, I think Math in Focus is a fantastic book. No book is perfect, but I would be extremely pleased if our kids learned what was in those books. Rather that spin their wheels and money on a different scope and sequence, I wish the district would spend their money on professional development for the teachers, and putting the related enrichment and other materials online that are already available for Math and Focus.

Anonymous said...

Seattle Public Schools administrators do not put enough emphasis on Advanced Learning. They are lacking administrative (leadership) support to improve the Advanced Learning area in system, increase in staffing and systematic processes.

Something has to give this team works tirelessly to assure that our kids get the testing and chance that they deserve in accordance to the WAC codes.

Write the school district to find out why they aren't funding this department to allow for systematic processes to help them process over 5000 kids through the testing, decisions and notification processes.

I feel for the staff trying to keep their heads afloat through this.

SeattleHiker said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Seattle Public Schools administrators do not put enough emphasis on Advanced Learning. They are lacking administrative (leadership) support to improve the Advanced Learning area in system, increase in staffing and systematic processes.

Something has to give this team works tirelessly to assure that our kids get the testing and chance that they deserve in accordance to the WAC codes.

Write the school district to find out why they aren't funding this department to allow for systematic processes to help them process over 5000 kids through the testing, decisions and notification processes.

I feel for the staff trying to keep their heads afloat through this.