Friday, December 29, 2006

Spectrum, APP and Teaching

The hot topic of conversation this past week on this blog deserves a thread of its own. This is not a topic that I have much knowledge on, so I'll just pose a few questions:

1) What happens in schools where there is a Spectrum program? Are students in that program treated differently? Taught differently? Are they clearly identified as "Spectrum" students, and if so, what is the effect on the school community?

2) What happens in schools where there is NOT a Spectrum program? Do students leave the school to find a Spectrum program? Does the school group advanced learners anyhow? And if so, how?

3) What happens to gifted students when they don't have advanced learning opportunities? Do most students who test into APP choose the program? What are the benefits of part-day pull-out groups? What are the benefits of a separate program?

4) Can the same teaching strategies used for students in the Spectrum program be used with all students?


Charlie Mas said...

There are no consistent answers to any of these questions. Every school is different and every Spectrum program is different.

At some schools, the Spectrum students are clearly identified as Spectrum students while at other schools they are not. Some schools have a single cohesive community which includes Spectrum students, some have communities that are - to varying extents - fractured by program. Although Spectrum students are supposed to be taught differently, it is unclear how or if that is happening at some schools while it is very clear how it is happening at others.

Some schools that don't have Spectrum have an Advanced Learning Opportunity to address the needs of Advanced Learners. These come in a wide variety of models. Of the schools that don't offer an ALO, some adequately address the needs of students working beyond Standards and some don't.

Right now, about 80% of the students who have been found eligible for APP are enrolled in the program. After all, why test for the program if you don't intend to enroll in it? There are SIGNIFICANT academic benefits of having a self-contained program.

There aren't any special strategies used for Spectrum students although they may benefit from increased focus and understanding of "rigor". Rigor has a very specific meaning in this context, one having to do with ambiguous, open-ended, and emotionally challenging material.

There are a few long-standing struggles for Spectrum. One is the inequities between Spectrum programs, others include waitlists for Spectrum programs and the placement of Spectrum programs.

Anonymous said...

I have had kids at 2 different SPS elementaries (not Lowell), one with a Spectrum program and one without. We switched to a school that happens to have Spectrum not b/c of Spectrum, but because the teachers at the school we're currently at are, as a whole, really interested in, and good at, "differentiation." Teachers at the first school really objected to doing different work with different kids. Differentiation is basically meeting kids where they happen to be learning-wise and moving forward from that point. Some schools embrace this idea and some, top down, reject it. At first it can be a little more work for the teacher, but many teachers approach differentiation by team teaching, trading kids back and forth between classrooms, or having small teaching groups / centers. To me, if we spent our efforts on true differentiation, we'd have more successes than the separate Spectrum/APP models.

I believe the Spectrum/APP programs fail our kids in some meaningful ways. First, testing: How can we rely on the Wechsler/CoGAT for entrance into these programs when the results are so racially biased? Like most standardized tests, the testing weeds out African-American kids. Second: Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences is very well accepted in psych and ed communities- yet we test- and teach to- only a limited set of intelligences when we break kids apart into the Spectrum/non-Spectrum camps.

It also offends me when people talk about their Spectrum/APP kids as if there is something so special and so unique about them that no possible environment will serve other than complete self-containment. As Marva Collins demonstrated so many years ago, children across the board respond positively to dynamic teaching and high standards. (FYI both my kids test in the top two percent just in case it seems like sour grapes.)

It's not PC to say this, but it seems to me that one solution for providing all kids the respect of the "just-right" challenge is to weed out the teachers who just don't care anymore, or, worse, actively harm students. We need the freedom to cut losers loose. If only the unions would take a stand for kids and true professionalism by agreeing to work with management to cut some of the red tape so it would be easier to fire poor performers, everyone would benefit. Just my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

I agree with "anonymous". I never really understood the whole APP/Spectrum testing process anyway.

1. Your kids has to be recommended by the teacher to test. I realize that as a parent, I can request it, but the teacher has to sign off on it.

2. It's really hard for me to believe that there aren't way more bright African American and Latino kids that test into APP/Spectrum.

My son (who is African American) tested in kindergarten before he could really read, and he scored in the high 80's. We let him test again this year as a first grader. He reads at almost 3rd grade level and is in 2nd grade level math. Yet he only passed one of the 3 tests with a 97, and almost passed one with an 87. I just found this hard to believe.

We weren't going to change schools if he passed, but we were going to talk to the Principal about adding more rigor to his academics. We still will, but the test score would have added more weight if they were higher.

What I really want to know is has anyone ever sat in on one of these tests? Does anyone even know what they ask? It seems to me that the test could be totally biased if there's a facilitator asking the questions and they can't effectively communicate with children of color.

Just asking the questions....

Charlie Mas said...

I think it is important to note that the District's inability to identify more students, particularly African-American students, who could benefit from access to Spectrum or APP does not diminish the District's duty to appropriately serve the students it does find eligible for these programs.

There are a number of reasons that African-Americans are under-represented in these programs. The programs are not to blame for any of those reasons, and they certainly aren't the fault of the children in the programs.

Among those reasons:

There is a very high correlation between family income and school readiness. The eligibility tests for Spectrum and APP reflect that correlation - they don't create it.

The students cannot learn what they are not taught. There is reason to suspect that some schools are not maintaining the same high expectations for all students. Consequently, those students would not be able to demonstrate the same level of academic achievement.

The District's market share among middle-class African-Americans is DISMAL. They do not trust the District to educate their children. Consequently, the group where you would expect to find high performing students isn't in the public schools.

African-American students who qualify for these programs are often recruited to private schools. Most of the students who go through Rainier Scholars end up at private schools.

Some African-American families choose not to enroll their children in these programs becasue there are so few African-American children in the program. Others leave APP in middle school because they don't want their child to be a Black kid in APP at Washington.

Also, while there are unquestionably multiple intelligences, the program is designed to support students with linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence and so those are the ones they test for. If the program were designed to support students with a different type of intelligence, say interpersonal intelligence, then it would be appropriate for the District to test for that intelligence and find students particularly gifted with that type of intelligence eligible for the programs.

To say that some students are good at these things does not imply that other students are not good at those things nor does it imply, in any way, that other things have no value.

So when anonymous said "I believe the Spectrum/APP programs fail our kids in some meaningful ways." these were ways (biased testing, neglecting multiple intelligences) that the programs were failing students who were NOT in the programs, not students who ARE in the programs.

I, too, am put off by people who seem to think that their Spectrum or APP students are so precious. Of course, I don't meet many people like that. Most of the folks I know with kids in the program are very understated about it. Ask a Lowell family where their kids go to school and they are as likely to say "on Capitol Hill" as "Lowell". It would be rare indeed to hear them say "In the APP program for highly gifted students at Lowell".

While there is a lot to be said for differentiation, it is difficult and labor-intensive. It also requires a certain amount of talent. It is a beautiful thing when done right. Experts in gifted education, however, continue to show, in study after study, that self-contained classes are what works best for the bulk of gifted students. It continues to be the unanimously acknowledged best practice.

Charlie Mas said...

First of all, your child DOES NOT have to be recommended by a teacher to test for these programs. That is simply not true. Anyone - anyone - can refer a student for the programs. The teacher recommendation is only one element of the application. They eligibility committee doesn't even look at it unless the test results are mixed.

Second, is it hard to believe that there aren't way more African-American kids who pass the WASL? Even if EVERY SINGLE African American student who got a "Level 4" score on the WASL were admitted to the programs - without any other eligibility criteria required - African Americans would STILL be under-represented. There are a number of reasons for the under-representation of African-Americans in the programs that have nothing to do with racist eligibility criteria.

The COGAT does not test academic achievement; it tests cognitive ability. Reading two grade levels ahead or doing math one grade level ahead isn't what it measures. Just the same, if a first grade student got a 97 on one and an 87 on another of the three COGAT tests, that student should have been invited to enroll in Spectrum Young Scholars. Student test scores do vary from day to day and from year to year. The district does provide an appeals process for folks who think that their child's score was not representative of the child's ability.

The group COGAT is a widely published and vetted test. I don't think there is a lot of mystery around what's on it. Your child has taken the tests twice; ask him.

I do remember one student reporting that a question had to do with describing plaid. The child's parents, Chinese immigrants, had no idea what plaid was. Their American-born kindergarten student daughter, however, did know.

It may be that there is some cross-cultural miscommunication between the people giving the test and students of color, but I'm not sure how great that opportunity might be.

Anonymous said...

As far as I am aware, the district is still using grade-level CogAT tests, which have very low ceilings. (The publisher recommends using at least one, preferably two levels up when testing for giftedness, so that the child doesn't get bored with a lot of easy questions and tune out by the time they get to more difficult ones -- also so that the test shows something about actual out-of-level ability, rather than being very accurate at grade level.)

It's entirely possible that the difference between 87th and 90th percentile is just one question. If I were you I would look into private testing, and if the results are high enough, send copies in with next year's application. At the very least, have your kid take the CogAT again. You might also consider talent search testing through Johns Hopkins -- the 97th percentile score on the subtest would qualify him.

In the early grades, the test is read out loud to a group of kids and they fill in blanks next to pictorial clues. Some kids handle this process much better than others. I've heard of kids coming out saying "That test was easy, but there was a mistake on the answer sheet, so I didn't have anywhere to put the last answer!" Uh-oh.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

So much to say. There are documents out there if you want to see the history of the program.

Charlie is right; the program varies from school to school and that is why there is no real way to measure how well it works or doesn't work. (I am speaking of Spectrum here. When my older son was eligible for APP it was still at Madrona and I didn't like the feel of the school for him.)

The district has allowed this program to evolve in this manner and it makes parents have to become detectives to figure out if the program at the school of their choice will work. At Whittier, when my sons were there, it had been set up so there was not a defining line. The nameplates on the doors don't identify the teacher or class as Spectrum. The teachers are not referred to as Spectrum teachers and grade level teachers work together. The students split grade level classes for music and PE so every kid at every grade level knows their peers. The Spectrum students are never referred to as such in front of students. I know there has been unhappiness over the waitlists but every school has its own method of moving a waitlist, Spectrum or not.

Are the students taught differently? Under Colleen Stump's direction, there has been more professional development. Before, I felt that teachers were on their own. I know one teacher told me she would test the students and if they passed a chapter of a school book, she'd just go to the next one. Spectrum is meant to be more in depth and one grade level ahead. Most Spectrum students are far ahead in reading but can vary in other subjects.

I know little about ALOs as they came into being after my sons were nearly done with Spectrum. My observation is, like Spectrum, they are all over the place. I think parents are willing to move their student for a good Spectrum program. The ones in the south end are probably not as good as the ones in the north end if only because there tend to not be as many students and it is difficult to cull a class. Following on Charlie's reasons for fewer Latino/African-American Spectrum students, I know that some principals in the south end were unhappy to lose top achievers and so would NOT tell parents about the opportunity to test their child and wouldn't put out Advanced Learning materials. With the pressure from the WASL, they are even less inclined. No principal has the right to make decisions for parents. Parents have the right to know all the options available to them and THEY should make the decision. We can never get more numbers of minority students if this keeps happening.

We also have schools that tend to be more homogenous and with more funding opportunities where parents don't care about Spectrum because they believe they already have small class sizes and good teachers. However, some of these parents still test their kids just "to see how they are doing". It costs money to test every child and that kind of frivolous thinking needs to stop. The largest part of the Advanced Learning budget is used for testing.

Pull-outs have been tried and generally do not work. Teachers find it disruptive, kids wonder what the kids leaving are doing and vice versa.

I, along with Dorothy, have had the experience of a principal or teacher just shrugging when I asked how they could help my child in class. (This was in kindergarten and he read at a 3rd grade level.) It just wasn't an acceptable answer. Every parent, I repeat, every parent has a right to expect their child's academic needs to be met, no matter where it is on the scale. I readily concede that it is most important to get all kids reading and writing and doing math but all focus can't be at the lower end.

Most schools don't group advanced learners. They tend to like to spread them out. This is because (and I have heard this from many teachers across grade levels up through high school)those students tend to drive the discussions and spark other students' interest. (There is also this "they help me teach the class" thing which I greatly resent. Kids can all teach each other things but no child is there to be a substitute teacher.) If advanced learners are grouped, it makes teachers unhappy.

There was an experiment at Van Asselt Elementary to teach to the top with great WASL results. So yes, you could apply some of the Spectrum thinking to a regular classroom. Van Asselt, I believe, threw lots of money at extra tutoring to help. This is what Superintendent Riley in Bellevue is doing with AP. He wants all high school students to attempt an AP course before they leave high school but provides the back-up help to help them succeed. It is no good to teach to the high end and not help struggling students.

There's a big push to differentiate curriculum and teaching. In theory, you are shaping the curriculum to met students' abilities. However, it is far harder in larger classes and when you have many more challenging students. Hale has moved to this model and has very few separate AP classes believing that they can cover AP material (with the student doing a lot of extra outside work) AND provide regular curriculum. With this model, if a students wants honors credit or to take the AP test, a lot of learning is on their own as well as extra homework without the benefit of having backup from the teacher. It's great if you have a motivated student but if not, your student is less likely to attempt honors or AP.

Spectrum waters down at middle school where a school (again, they get to choose) can have honors math (which is open to any student who wants to take a math test)and LA. Some schools have Spectrum social studies. I thought my sons had good teachers at Eckstein although I did pull my younger son out of his LA class (and homeschooled him in it) because of the lack of solid work expected by the teacher. There is no Spectrum in high school and APP is just whatever high school has rigor and a lot of AP classes. That's not gifted programming for high school students.

In closing, this is what brought me to being an activist in the first place. I saw a program that was not coherent, not accountable and seemed to be an embarassment to the district. It continues to be that to some degree to this day. You don't have to go far to see how differently other districts treat advanced learners. Look at Bellevue, Shoreline, etc. One of the best I've ever read about is a suburb in Minneapolis that has so much enrichment that virtually every kid has access to it, tested or not. There are public schools throughout the country just for gifted kids. There are high schools in NYC renowned for their advanced learning programs (and numbers of students who compete in science and math competitions). Several states have public boarding schools for gifted students so that smaller or poorer districts can get those kids access to what they need. But here in Seattle, it is elitist, it is totally unPC to call a student gifted (and yes, there's a difference between being gifted and bright) and our district has never had a champion, in either a superintendent or board member for this area. Carla Santorno impressed me in her interview with even mentioning it. So maybe there's hope. But, as I have learned, it is not a popular program to champion for even if there were students who it could help. I suspect that many of the students who may end up at the TAF Academy at Rainier Beach HS (if that happens) would be minority students who might have been Spectrum students if tested. It is painful to reflect on this issue because I never felt I got anywhere on it.

It's not about saying, oh my kid's so bright and needs a special program. It's about saying, please how can we work together to meet my student's academic needs?

Maggie said...

Under Robert Vaughn, the program was different from school to school and that fit his view of choice. Parents could chose the program they preferred. Some choose acceleration; others, enrichment.

Dr. Stump has tried to universalize the program and her strategy is acceleration. Not my cup of tea but I do follow the District's lead. I think enrichment promotes thinking skills. I teach elementary and, honestly, given the various stages of emotional development in kids, faster can be frustrating and harsh. Also, children often miss the underlying learning.

I'm actually curious about the poster who said that the Spectrum kids are even getting worksheets . . . I know in my math program which I am expected to teach, we are working a year ahead. It does have worksheets.

An awful lot of kids get in Spectrum through private testing. Kids who don't test in through the District's test usually do via private testing. Makes one wonder. However, some of my privately tested kids have proven to be very high achievers. Others, not so much.

The District is aiming for uniformity in all Spectrum classes. The problem with that is, as others have posted, all classrooms are not equal. In some schools, so few kids are identified that they must find creative ways to make it work. I can recall a teacher at my school saying that when she taught at a south end school, her enrollment was so low that she was forced to combine it with Sp. Ed. kids. Now that's fine and she made it work; but, that requires very different teaching than a classroom of eighteen-to-twenty-six Spectrum-identified does.

Charlie, thanks for your redefinition of rigor. I wonder if that isn't your take on it as opposed to the District's but it is definitely a kinder and more child-friendly view.

Several years ago the District had teachers give the test at first grade. I was called upon to help. That test asked children to identify patterns, continue sequences, and it tested vocabulary. I don't remember much having to do with reading nor do I recall a lot of math. I was surprised at the content. I think the ability to identify patterns and sequences was crucial to identifying giftedness as opposed to achievement in math and reading.

Also, Charlie, I don't agree that the District is looking for high achievers in math and reading although those are the kids we seem to get. I have had children gifted in the visual arts and they often do not excel in the reading, writing or math areas. They tend to be very constructivist in their abilities. We don't have a good model for attending to them. I wish we had magnet schools or possibly alternative ways to help these children succeed in their areas of strength.

The bottom line for me is that their may be no one recipe for all. We might be asking too much of schools. I really appreciated the Van Asselt anecdote. Why aren't they being publicized more and their strategy working its way through the system?

I think we are back to communication again. Somebody has to make people aware of successful programs. Take the lead and make it happen. Hope that doesn't sound contradictory . . . (lol!)

Anonymous said...

Maggie, to answer your comment "I really appreciated the Van Asselt anecdote. Why aren't they being publicized more and their strategy working its way through the system?" I think this really has to do with teachers in general. You would have to get an entire set of teachers in another school to actually follow up with Van Asselt, agree to work toward doing something similar, then actually go through the work to get it done.

That's just not going to happen--particularly on the South end. And it certainly won't happen if it's a mandate from the District central office. I think that there are some hard working and very talented teachers out there who don't have the energy to move the useless teachers, so things just continue as they do.

Maggie said...

That's where a principal can be so powerful. You make it sound as though you think teachers are dug in to not wanting change. At my school, we have all kinds of teachers. Some are less willing to change than others. But, discussion and facts change minds.

I don't know if you are a teacher, but I don't agree with your statement at all because I see something different at my school.

Principals can be very persuasive and all teachers want kids to learn. We just don't all agree on how to make that happen; and we're not all willing to try every new idea that comes along. We've learned from experience to assess and then decide.

Anonymous said...

I don't see enrichment and acceleration as being opposed to one another *in reality* at all. Almost any enrichment that is worth doing will wind up being acceleration in some sense, though. For instance, taking a discussion of a poem to greater depth than one ordinarily could with a second-grade class will lead to discussion of imagery, word choice, onomatopoeia, and other rhetorical effects. It's awfully difficult to do that without bringing in language arts concepts that are usually taught in higher grades.

In general, public school curriculum is packaged so much in grade level units that it is difficult, especially in math, to get AT anything more challenging without taking something that's technically meant for some other grade. Unfortunately that also means it's prepackaged with assumptions about developmental level, which may account for some of the difficulties asynchronous students encounter.

The reason that many parents tend to prefer acceleration philosophically is that there is much more accountability and structure. Kids do something that really is at a level ahead and are tested on it and get credit for it. (Not on the report card, unfortunately, but that's a separate issue.) Whereas if children are never held to standards that are any higher than the EALRS they would have been working towards in any class, they develop lazy habits and the feeling that being smart means that you get to do easy work and then futz around with fun ideas. The whole POINT of gifted education is that all kids need to learn to work rather than coast. Of course it has to be done at a developmentally appropriate level, without ridiculous demands on kids who have grade-level writing fluency and so on. Not *more* work, but the right level of work.

I am not talking about pushing kids to do stuff that's harder than they should be doing -- no way. But I've never yet seen any *content* level in my kids' Spectrum or APP work that was higher than they could handle. Frequently it was much lower, and in the days when I had kids in the Spectrum and regular programs side-by-side, the twins often brought home identical worksheets.

In fourth grade APP, my daughter was doing sixth-grade Connected Math units and Wordly Wise units that were at least sixth grade level. Those were "canned," of course, but they served as an anchor of appropriate-level instruction. The social studies that year was in theory the same subject that any fourth-grade class gets, but in fact it was taught in greater depth. Given that there IS no logical connection between Washington state history and fourth grade -- it's a topic you could do anywhere up to post-graduate level -- I felt that they were doing it at a level that was indeed accelerated, even though it wasn't called so. The work they did appeared to me to be comparable to that done in sixth- or seventh-grade classes at Washington. My daughter now says that's the first year she really felt she was learning something in school. (I think that's an exaggeration, by the way, but it's certainly true that she "woke up" as a student that year.)

I'm puzzled by those who say that Colleen et al. are choosing an accelerated model over an enrichment model. In the past few years, I've generally seen LESS acceleration in APP than there used to be, and a lot of talk about "moving away" from the one-year-ahead and two-years-ahead oversimplifications that were the common descriptors some years back. APP now talks a lot about making sure the kids are solid at grade level before moving on to one and two years ahead material (half the time they never seem to get more than one year ahead). I suspect WASL anxiety has a lot to do with it.


Anonymous said...

Helen's comments reminded me of one last point, namely, the WASL. The WASL is of little use to highly capable students although their scores certainly help a school's average. I didn't have my sons take the WASL because I think it's a poorly written test and because their scores wouldn't tell me anything about how they are doing. (Interestingly, not all APP/Spectrum kids score 4s as you might expect. However when you get a question like "Where is the moon?" and the answer is "the sky" and a Spectrum student tells his teacher the moon is in space, you can see the problem.)

Advanced Learning solved this problem of parents who don't want their kids to take the WASL by making it a requirement to stay in the program. No other group has to meet this requirement to be in a program but the district decided they couldn't lose any high-scoring students so if they don't have a WASL score for your child, that child is exited from the program.

Maggie said...

Helen, I agree and have always told parents who march through my classroom exactly that: acceleration is built into enrichment. I choose enrichment because my kids do not always have the foundation they need to go higher.

As for parents choosing acceleration, my experience again has been the opposite. Interesting. I guess it is a matter of different strokes for different folks. In fact, at our school, parents seem to prefer a curriculum that includes lots of art and music and have confided to me they prefer the enrichment model.

So, your argument is not with me but with the District. I've been teaching Spectrum for about ten years. I started under Bob Vaughn. I can say with certainty that he allowed both models (enrichment and acceleration) and he thought parents could choose.

Colleen Stump initiated the acceleration model in the program. She may be moving away from it . . . but I sure haven't heard anything about it. In fact. last year a group of teachers came together to create an accelerated Spectrum math program. From first to fifth, the Investigations math was piloted at the level advancing the curriculum ahead by one year.

Not sure what's going on at APP.

Melissa, Hadn't heard that. So much for valuing parents' roles in children's education.

Anonymous said...

Re: the poster who professes to take offense at those who believe only self-containment would serve their students. It's not just the academics. It's the environment. We've had a child in "regular" public school classes and in self-contained Spectrum. In the "regular" class he was persecuted for standing out, for wanting to ask a lot of questions, for doing well. Never mind the academics; it was a poisonous environment, and the fact our district doesn't seem to be proud of its advanced learners certainly doesn't help. For all the claims of "Spectrum/APP elitism," the real prejudice for us has been running into people who ask us followup questions when we dare to admit we have a kid in Seattle Public Schools, and they say, OH, one of THOSE. Like there's something to be ashamed of. In self-contained classes, at least, our child isn't picked on so much. Yeah, yeah, I know, the real world is going to be mean, get used to it. Fine, but at least give them a running start till they are comfortable with themselves.

Anonymous said...

To the Poster who wrote this: "My son (who is African American) tested in kindergarten before he could really read, and he scored in the high 80's. We let him test again this year as a first grader. He reads at almost 3rd grade level and is in 2nd grade level math. Yet he only passed one of the 3 tests with a 97, and almost passed one with an 87. I just found this hard to believe."

If a white parent at a North-End school recieved those results from their child's testing they would have appealed through private testing. This is why in my schools Spectrum program it is all blond, blue eyed kids.

And my kids see this every day. They know who the Spectrum kids are. Their parents are the ones that drive the new SUV's and there kid wear all new clothes to school.

My child took the test and like you came very close, but the appeal was 200 and I live pay check to pay check.

Anonymous said...

With borderline results, especially with just one number slightly too low, it's always worth appealing even if you haven't got new numbers to show them. I would point out that you can't afford private testing, even with the sliding scale, and ask how your child's abilities in [fill in area with highest scores] are going to be served.

Those who meet the criteria might look into Rainier Scholars, too. Oh, and I've just checked, and the Johns Hopkins Talent Search offers financial aid, right down to the fees for the testing. See http://cty.jhu.edu/financial/outreach.html .

There are a lot of kids on full scholarships at local private schools, too -- that's an area where economic inequities can actually work in favor of the people with the least money for once.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

Appeals of the decisions of eligibility committee are NOT $200 as an anonymous poster claimed. They are free. Just ask for it.

Anonymous said...

I have three children one "unusually off the bell curve" I'll call it gifted but it really seems like parents who call their child the "g" word have to face so many people who role their eyes at you.

My "g" child is so very unusual that it scared me. He tried to have conversations with me about whether there is an after-life when he was 18 months old. He has a photographic, and auditory memory. When I gave him a handful of fish crackers before one he said, can I have three more so I can have 20.

We are in our neighborhood school and it is working for now, but we know statistically that as he gets older he is more likely to commit suicide and do drugs, etc... and all these other statistics tell you that you have to be careful and fine the right school environment.

With this "g" word come a child who is very hard on himself and at times is very depressed and has overwhelming feelings of being "stupid". He does seem unusual to peers and not accepted by his peers parents as well.

But nevertheless people in school tend to think "poor gifted child" and they don't see what the the "g" child and his family are struggleing with.

With the "g" comes a very real and heavy burden to try and give our children a normal happy childhood--what I really want for my "g" child most of all, but seems so out of reach so much of the time.

Anonymous said...

The anon poster who said there was a fee to appeal is absolutely right. They strongly suggest another private tester. These start out at least $200.

Anonymous said...

There are more testing options for low-income families than there used to be. The Advanced Learning website states "Students who qualify for free/reduced lunch and/or are bilingual who do not demonstrate scores at eligibility threshold levels in cognitive ability in the required 2 of 3 areas, but do achieve threshold in one area will be provided additional cognitive ability testing using different instruments. Therefore, students are provided a second testing opportunity to demonstrate cognitive ability performance levels at threshold.Students who qualify for free/reduced lunch and/or are bilingual who do not demonstrate scores at eligibility thresholds levels in academic achievement in both reading and math who are testing during their second through fourth grade year will be provided additional testing in the academic area in which they did not meet performance threshold."

Anyone know more about this process?

Maggie said...

I'd like to clarify the "fee to appeal" statement: appealing is free. I have a friend whose child was just above borderline in two areas but quite low in the third. She wrote a very strong letter on his behalf citing skills and abilities. The District admitted her son. No additional testing took place. This was five or six years ago . . .

Fees are paid to testing services. If you appeal and provide private test scores, you do have to pay the testers. And yes, you can find people who will test privately for varying fees.

The appeal is free.

Anonymous said...

As a former spectrum teacher, I can tell that most of the comments herein are made by parents. Parents of public school gifted children generally do not understand the impact financial constraints play in gifted education programming. Also, there are many paradigms in the gifted education spectrum worldwide. Taking these two facts into account, it is impossible to make everyone happy. There is simply not money from the feds or the state to implement a gifted program that serves all students to the best of their abilities. Gifted education gets short shifted and blaming the school district and teachers is unfair. You should blame society and lobby your representatives to have gifted ed served and funded the same way as special ed. However, the catch-22 of this idea is that if the feds funded gifted ed, they would control the definition much as they do special ed. Parents would have even less say in the programming, even though the programs would recieve more funding.

I truly do not understand why parents complain so much about public school gifted education. Public schools function on low budgets with limited resources and truly do the best that they think they can. One commenter mentioned "loser" teachers. Spectrum parents are notorious in the complaining about teachers who do not do what they, the parents, ask. At the same time, the exact same teacher can have lots of supporters. It is a joke amongst spectrum teachers that every classroom has at least one parent who is extremely whiny and unhappy and prone to calling the principal or even superintendent when the teacher does not do what they want. That is a parent problem, in my opinion. There are school districts around this country, Issaquah for example, that have implemented harrassment training for teachers to deal with parents like this. Teachers are being harrassed for things they cannot control.

I really think that an answer for the people who complain so much about public school gifted programming is home schooling. I don't know why it is not considered. Even working parents can homeschool their children. Parents could combine together to form a small group and watch/teach the children around their work hours. Gifted children who are experiencing behavior problems in classrooms and parents who are unhappy with teachers usually find homeschooling an answer. They can control the content and direction of their child's education and their child is offered a limitless horizon and can extend learning as far as he or she wishes.

Instead of complaining endlessly (and I do mean endlessly as I have been teaching gifted kids in the Seattle area since 1993 and this complaining never changes or ceases) why not try something different, something proactive? Be the change you want, or something like that.

I think Seattle Public Schools is doing a better job than you think. I think the major problem with the district is that the school board is not allowed to make or stick with decisions because someone is always complaining. It is not the school board or administration that are hurting education in Seattle. It is whiny parents.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to tell the anonymous poster with the "g" child that I understand and empathize, my son had a very similar start to his little life - spelling out "c-h-e-e-r-i-o-s" or typing "waffles and juice" on the computer when I asked him what he wanted for breakfast, before he could even talk!

While he has always tested "borderline" for Spectrum/APP, we never pursued appeals or additional testing. (I have to say that I did ask for a different testing process the 2nd year - since he was an advanced reader with a very visual style, the group testing was very distracting. They agreed to give him the next level up, which he could read & answer individually).

We didn't pursue appealing because we found that he was doing very well in the SPS alternative school we enrolled him in, where they focused on social/emotional development just as much as the academics, and that's what he really needed. He blossomed there and is now doing well in a "regular" middle school. He takes on the challenge assignments but my biggest concern is that he continues to love learning and is inspired him to push himself to what he is capable of.

Anonymous said...

For the "former Spectrum teacher," I'm sorry the perception is that most of us parents are whiny. We came to public school after a bad early experience in private school (not that we could afford it then, much less now, but we had believed SPS's bad press before we ever gave the district a try) and are overall quite pleased with the education our Spectrum student has received -- the teachers each of the three years he's been in Spectrum elementary have been incredible, kind, good-humored, patient, and innovative. But I truly believe they are still allowed to work this way only through benign neglect -- I see no signs the district truly values or supports them -- only that the school is more or less "left alone" -- if only its successes were shouted from the rooftops.

kd said...

Regarding "the program is designed to support students with linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence and so those are the ones they test for"... this seems like a flawed design. What if a child is gifted in linguistics and average in math, or vice versa? Shouldn't the child scoring in the top 5% in one of the subjects be put in a gifted program for that subject?

Saad Amir said...

Every teacher has different method to teach with the students.That thing has been very interesting for the peoples and to educate the community.
regards, saad from
Federal Urdu University

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