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Monday, August 13, 2007

Helping Students Navigate AP at Garfield

This article in the Times is about a program started at Garfield called Urban Scholars that helps students attempt upper-level classes and navigate college enrollment (especially if they are the first in their families to go). It recently got a grant from the Gates Foundation to help pay for it for the next three years.

I had been thinking about a program like this - districtwide - because of the importance of both goals of the Urban Scholars program. Kids have to have exposure to upper level classes because it is hard to get into college without them and even harder to stay in. High school counselors, especially at the larger high schools, are just maxed out with work. I wish this program was districtwide.

It was a good article for me until the last paragraph.

"It really helps to address what seems like a disproportionately small number of African-American students succeeding in the AP curriculum at Garfield," said Ken Thompson, program officer for the Pacific Northwest at the Gates Foundation. "A lot of the work of the foundation is about addressing inequity."

I'm not sure what inequity Mr. Thompson is speaking to in that last sentence. The district has bent over backwards to try to get more minority students in APP. The AP classes at Garfield, as stated in the article, are open to all students. Students with their parents make out their own schedules. At some level, parents have to be responsible for the academic choices their students make. The entire weight of education cannot rest with the public school system.

From the article:

"About a third of the students at Garfield High School are part of Seattle's Accelerated Progress Program for gifted students. Any student can take the advanced classes there, but many promising students don't because they don't know the other students in the courses or don't understand how important those classes can be to getting into college."

This paragraph points up a real need for something that I understand from Bellevue's website that they are already doing. Namely, putting it into kids' heads, from kindergarten on, that college exists and is important. It doesn't cost a lot of money from K-5 to talk to kids on a regular basis about what college is. It doesn't cost PTAs a lot of money to talk to parents about college in their newsletters and at meetings. How many people know about GET?

Then, in middle school, a harder push should be starting. We need to tell kids that they need to be prepared for high school in order to get ready for college. We need to have them talking about it, asking teachers and administrators about their college experiences and, in 8th or 9th grade, we should have an organized trip for these students to UW or SPU or anyone who'll have our students visit. When they get there, students from all types of backgrounds could speak to them about what they did to get there and what life is like at college. Bottom line, it needs to enter their consciousness at a young age and stay there.

I know not everyone is going to college but it has to be more than a casual thought in kids' minds. Waiting until high school is too late.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Then, in middle school, a harder push should be starting. [...]in 8th or 9th grade, we should have an organized trip for these students to UW or SPU or anyone who'll have our students visit."


There is a program like this for rural low-income kids in Washington. Middle schoolers come spend a week on campus. Go on tours, visit with faculty, and most importantly for them, get hooked up with UW students who come from the same rural communities. Middle schoolers for the very reasons you give, that you have to start showing them then what the possibilities are. I believe there is ongoing sponsorship/mentoring through high school, advising them on classes to take etc. It's called GEAR UP (Gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs).

Anonymous said...

I thought Garfield was no longer APP.

No matter how many feel good articles there are, Garfield is segregated because of the APP program. The testing to qualify still reflects the qualitifies (verbal acuity) that come from parental influence and a higher econoimic status. Seattle's APP program does not reflect true intellectual giftedness, although some in the program are truly gifted. A true gifted program should be a place for those students that can not operate socially, because of their intellect, to receive help. The SPS program is a place/pathway for high acheiving but generally not gifted students to jump ahead. The SPS program reflects the power of parents to influence the system.

Those APP parents have some kind of power.

WenG said...

anon at 12:17 pm: I’ll accept that you see it this way, but I disagree with you. Can we perhaps agree that taking your education into your own hands and planning for the future are not pillars of racism?

There are students of every color who, for a variety of reasons, don’t have what they need to feel comfortable and focused in school. I'm glad the Gates Foundation is putting money into a mentoring program. I think they should pledge a whole lot more and support this program district wide.

Anonymous said...

anonymous at 12:17, how would you determine who is accepted to APP?? Or would you do away with the program in lieu of some other advanced learning opportunity??

It is hard to hear the system is boken, racist, inequitable, when their is no solution offered to fix it. What would you do?

I will say that I do love Shorelines self elected honors classes in middle school. Any kid can elect to take up to 4 honors classes (science which is a full year by the way, language arts, math and social studies). The only requirement is that they keep an average grade of 75, or they are bumped to the reg ed class. Sounds pretty fair and equitable to me. Much better than the "test in" and get it all, or don't "test in" and get nothing, program that we have in Seattle. I have a very bright, A+ middle schooler who is bored to tears in his classes, but yet does not test into Spectrum, so he gets no oppt for advanced learning. It is frustrating.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dorothy, I had vaguely heard of GEAR UP. I wish these programs were more visible so that parents would know about them as a matter of course. I just checked the website and there's whole brochure about it. It's available at 12 middle and high schools. I'll try to provide a link.
I wonder what the stats are on usage (as per the article for Urban Scholars).

Anonymous, we'll have to a separate thread on gifted programs and giftedness. That's an interesting statement that a true gifted program is only to help gifted students socially. I'd venture you'd get a lot of argument on that statement.

Anonymous said...

I'd appreciate a separate thread on APP/giftedness qualifications as well.

My son does test into Spectrum, but I would agree with the poster that it is in large part full of students who are just bright and academically ahead, not truely 'gifted'. I will admit that I think that is where my son falls even though he tests very close to the APP cut-off. I will continue to have him tested to get into APP mainly because I know he is capable of the faster-paced curriculum and will be in an environment of high expectations. But that's only because I don't want him in the general ed curriculum that I believe is targeted below the average students' capabilities and the Spectrum program is so hit-or-miss that I don't think it's going to be much of an improvement over general ed.

I think we all know of students in our past that we would consider truely 'gifted'. They stood out from the rest because they were so far ahead and couldn't fit in with their peers both socially and academically. From the kids at my son's ES that went off to APP or are on the verge of being eligible, I would have to admit that very few of them meet that criteria. For the most part they have all been well-rounded kids that are bright, but not 'way out there' and could be handled within a standard school that supplied demanding honors curriculum.

The problem is that there are no such schools that supply the honors curriculum so everyone clamors for Spectrum/APP.

The current curriculum that I've experienced in the public schools (ES only to date) is not very demanding so most bright (not gifted) kids that have learning opportunities outside of school, i.e. home, summer camps, etc, AND take tests well, has a reasonably good chance of getting into Spectrum and often are on the border and might be able to get into APP on a lucky testing year or with parents that pursue external testing or appeals.

I like the idea of open-to-all honors courses that stick to a certain level of rigor.

Anonymous said...

GEAR UP program dependent upon grants, SPS had it, but lost the grant to sustain it.

Charlie Mas said...

The anonymous post at 12:17 is from someone who is misinformed.

First, the writer thought that Garfield was no longer the high school APP site. The writer was misinformed. Garfield is the site for high school APP as it has been for a number of years. There is not, so far as I know, any effort to alter that program placement. The principal at Garfield has not expressed any desire to alter it. On the contrary, he has proven himself welcoming of the students and the program and he has been instrumental in strengthening the curriculum for APP students.

Second, the writer says that "Garfield is segregated because of the APP program". The writer is incorrect. On the contrary, APP at Garfield has been a key element for integrating the school. If APP were not there, the school's demographics would not reflect the District's demographics as closely as it does. Last year there were 1,607 students at Garfield. Of those, 705 (44%) were White - very close to the Districtwide demographic of 42% - and 447 (28%) were African American - a bit higher than the 22% Districtwide.

Last year there were 398 APP students at Garfield. Historically, APP is about 70% White, 20% Asian, 4% African-American, 4% Latino and 2% Native American. So we can estimate that the non-APP demographics at Garfield are:
Native American 18-4=14 1%
Asian 340-80=260 21%
African American 447-16=431 35%
Latino 97-16=81 7%
Caucasian 705-278=427 35%

Without APP, Garfield would not match the District demographics as well as it does with APP. It is clear that APP serves to integrate the school - not segregate it.

You could also consider the students who are enrolled at Garfield because the APP students there support the greatest number and variety of AP classes in the District. I can't make any conjecture about which students are there for that reason or what may be the demographics of that group. It isn't necessary.

Anonymous states, incorrectly, that the testing for APP reflects verbal acuity. Students testing for APP eligibility are evaluated in three domains of cognitive ability: verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative. The eligibility criteria require that the student be in the 98th percentile in two of the three. So a student could qualify with high quantitative and non-verbal cognitive ability. Students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch who qualify in one of the three areas are permitted a second test in the other two domains. In addition, students must demonstrate academic acheivement in the 95th percentile in reading and math.

These eligibility criteria are remarkably similar to those used by other districts around the state and across the nation. If anonymous would like to suggest other, more appropriate, eligibility criteria, those suggestions would be welcome.

Anonymous is incorrect about the purpose of a "true gifted program". It is not for students who cannot operate socially. That very idea is absurd. The bulk of the students in APP, like the bulk of all SPS students, are as socially adept as is developmentally appropriate. That's not why they cannot be well served in general education classes. They cannot be reliably well-served in general education classrooms because the teachers in those classrooms cannot adequately differentiate instruction to include material and assignments that would be challenging for the APP students while also meeting the academic needs of students working at and below grade level.

Finally, anonymous is incorrect when assuming that APP was designed by or for the students' families or that the APP community has any undue or disproportionate influence in the District. That is entirely laughable. The Advanced Learning community, APP and Spectrum, have received more bad faith, dishonesty and contempt from the District and the District staff than any other community. APP and Spectrum have been scrambling just to survive for at least the past six years that I have been active and probably since before that.

I will be happy to discuss what is good and bad about gifted ed, about APP, or about Spectrum, but let's get our facts straight in advance.

Jet City mom said...

IMO Garfield is as segregated as students choices make it.

Unlike some high schools, @ Garfield, if you want to attempt an AP or honors class- go for it. Teachers bend over backwards in many cases to help you succeed, staying after school regularly to tutor and even giving out their home/cell #s.

There are many programs to support a diverse population in challenging classes.
Gear up- African American Scholars, AVID, CAN ... all have recently existed @ Garfield and target minority/low income students.

My daughter has participated in remedial and AP classes concurrently, and she has friends who did the same, consequently her peers encompass students who are taking remedial/regular/AP classes.

I would admit that for young AA males, no matter what economic bracket ( as Garfield has less FRL than district), and no matter what education level of their parents, there is pressure from each other, not to acheive in school. I feel the school recognizes this, and is working towards dissolving it.

All Football players for example take the SAT.
Coaches in all the teams my D has been involved with, are very proud of students academic achievements as well, and talk them up.

From my experience, we need to educate parents.
#1- I hear parents say- they dont want their kid to work so hard.
( I hear that- even when their child is obviously very capable- I can't imagine the parent really realizes that they may be giving the impression they don't think their child can "hack" it.)
#2- Parents have no- f-ing clue, that getting into college in 2008, is hella different than getting into college in 1978.

More students are attending college and applying to more colleges.

For instance- just 6 years ago- the school my oldest attended had a 78% admit rate.
Today they have 33% admit rate.


Now if a student is borderline towards even staying in school- more hoops aren't going to make that easier. But I am a frequent volunteer, especially in the middle schools & I see both teachers and parents giving certain students- a pass- when they are obviously capable of much more.

I think that really does them a disservice.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Charlie.. anon is not totlaly incorrect. Why should we have separate schools for a group of students that are simply "smart" as opposed to gifted. We should build separate schools for the struggling students. Why are removing the leaders and role models? Garfield and the APP system has become a means for parents to not work with their local school and insist on instructional excellence.

And to top it all off many APP students enter through the ever best private testing system that money can buy.

Garfield is only APP technically. The current APPness is fostered by the "free" pass that the Washington students get for high school enrollment. (Smart and another gift that no one else gets). Why else do somany parents want their kids in Lowell and Washington?

The district is afraid of these parents. They are the most vocal and powerful group in SPS. How else could such a small group gain such a large amount of scarce funds?

Roy Smith said...

How else could such a small group [APP Parents] gain such a large amount of scarce funds?

Does APP receive any funding beyond that provided by the weighted student formula?

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that Advanced Learning, i.e. Spectrum and APP, get very little funding and almost all of it is used up in the testing process.

Huge amounts of money are going toward special ed and remedial education, (bringing students up to standard).

A school district should meet the needs of all students, not just those that are failing...

If teachers were truely capable of offering differentiated instruction in the classroom then no one would be pushing for these programs, but it hasn't been the case in my experience, or anyone else that I have talked to. They generally teach right to the standard and work mostly at bringing up those that are just below so that the overall number of students that are passing standard improves.

As an example, in my son's math class he is ahead and after the first ten minutes of class he is asked to read for the remainder of the period. Is that acceptable? SHould we just grin and bear it because the needs of the struggling students come first?

If they are incapable of meeting the needs of advanced learners in the regular classroom because of the number of students that are struggling or the inability of the teacher to differentiate the instruction, then we do honors, or special classes.

Dan Dempsey said...

GEAR UP is a program that is funded for a particular class in school. Once a class has the funding in middle school that class receives GEAR UP funding through 11th grade I believe.
I am teaching 4 hours to GEAR UP students at UW this month. The students I am teaching will be entering 9th graders. A group from Federal Way or Kent and another from Eastern Washington.
When I taught at Royal High School we had our first GEAR UP class arrive from middle school. We used the funds for Graphing Calculators, Science equipment, and a large geology field trip. These were in addition to trips to Central Washington University and a theatrical performance.
GEAR UP has school eligibility requirements based on poverty level. Once a school class secures funding at the middle school level, that class will receive funding each year for after school activities in addition to the other funding I described above.

Cheers,

Dan

Roy Smith said...

spectrum 1 said . . . They generally teach right to the standard and work mostly at bringing up those that are just below so that the overall number of students that are passing standard improves.

One of the many pitfalls of high-stakes testing, and with comparing schools based on WASL pass rates, in my opinion.

If one school has a laser-like focus on increasing WASL pass rates (and thus delivers instruction as described by spectrum 1), and another is focused on delivering a good education to everybody, which school is more likely to have a high WASL pass rate? Which one is more likely to challenge all students appropriately? Are they the same?

Anonymous said...

So, Roy, are you saying that schools that are under-performing on standardized tests, are challenging students better than those who do well on the tests??

Dfferentiated learning/teaching is not working because it is difficult for a teacher with 30 kids to spread the curriculum to include kids that need remedial work to those that could/did test into Spectrum. It is even more difficult in mixed grade classes, as my children were in. In our k/1 class it was very difficult (as stated by the teacher) to stretch the curriculum to include kids with no skills at all to advanced level first graders.

This doesn't have anything to do with "teaching to the test".

We need special ed programs, we need advanced learning programs. We can not and should not rely on differentiated learning within the classroom, until class size is reasonable, and each teacher is given the appropriate training.

Anonymous said...

"Huge amounts of money are going toward special ed"

Yes, because serving special education students, particularly those with multiple disabilities that require full time aids and nurses and therapists cost HUGE amounts more than educating any other student group. And the law REQUIRES all school districts to meet the needs of special education students, even if the state and federal government don't fully fund those needs.

There is no such requirement or state funding for gifted programs. No school district is even required to have a gifted program.

How about you try to propose a solution rather attack the idea that disabled students - who cost more to educate - get a bigger slice of the pie than your child without a disabilty?

Charlie Mas said...

"Why should we have separate schools for a group of students that are simply "smart" as opposed to gifted."

Which separate school is this? Lowell? The middle school and high school programs are not in separate schools - they are at Washington and Garfield - so you must be making reference to Lowell.
We tried co-housing elementary APP with a general education elementary school. It was a disaster. Do you want APP co-housed at your school?

And who says that the students are simply smart and not gifted? You? And what exactly are your qualifications and supporting data for reaching that conclusion? Why should anyone accept your conclusion instead of the conclusion reached by gifted education experts who have viewed the students' assessments?

"We should build separate schools for the struggling students.

Why is that? Whom would that benefit and how?

Why are removing the leaders and role models?

These students are not a resource for the District. It is not their duty to serve the academic needs of other students while their academic needs go unmet.

The anonymous writer is self-contradictory by saying at one time that Garfield APP offers "instructional excellence" and then saying, just a paragraph later that "Garfield is only APP technically."



"Why else do somany parents want their kids in Lowell and Washington?"

Ummm. So they can get an appropriate academic opportunity?

"The district is afraid of these parents. They are the most vocal and powerful group in SPS."

Really? That comes as news to me. Just how do you measure this?

"How else could such a small group gain such a large amount of scarce funds?"

This is a truly weird bit of misinformation. APP doesn't get a dime of the District's money. The whole program is financed by a state grant that can only be spent on a highly capable student program. The only District money that goes into APP is for transportation

Anonymous said...

Abled 1 said... "There is no such requirement or state funding for gifted programs. No school district is even required to have a gifted program."

You are probably referring only to Washington State, but you all might be interested to know that Colorado has recently passed a law requiring districts to identify and serve gifted students. There might be other states with similar legislation as well.

Anonymous said...

Abled 1 said... "How about you try to propose a solution rather attack the idea that disabled students - who cost more to educate - get a bigger slice of the pie than your child without a disabilty? "

I wasn't attacking disabled students, I was just trying to dispute the other poster that stated that Advanced Learning received a huge amount of funding... Special Needs and remedial needs are where the bulk of any specialized funding goes. That was all I was stating, not that those programs should not be funding or should receive less funding...

I agree that disabled/special needs kids should get the funding. I don't think that Advanced Learning should get as much as Special Needs students, but they should at least get some additional funding for teacher training which currently is almost non-existent.

Anonymous said...

Are AP classes "self-elect" at Garfield? If so, isn't the system the same as Shoreline?

I'm guessing part of the problem people are perceiving is the special access APP students have to Garfield? How many students is that?

Charlie -- you've been a vehement defender of the APP program, and I honestly see a lot of flaws in the identification process. And, an identification process that has effects all the way to high school has to be nearly perfect. For example, why shouldn't children with the ability to do the AP work (some of whom might have actually participated in out of the district "APP" programs) have equal access to the AP programs at Garfield as the in-district "APP" students?

This brings me back to my increasing dissatisfaction with the "choice" system in Seattle. It seems geared towards satisfying some subgroup of parents (the most savvy, knowledgeable and involved ones). Those of us who know that can work within the system to make sure things work for us, but others get lost.

The system seems designed to make some people happy and others unhappy, rather than having people share what resources there are. Hence the arguments between special needs/app/regular "bright" kids/high achieving kids/remedial education.

nssp

Anonymous said...

I was talking about Middle school, where it is Spectrum, APP or nothing.

HS is different, there are more advanced learning oppt's for HS students.

Anonymous said...

Kim-

Does Colorado provide funding to school districts to carry out that mandate? That is a key piece to serving kids, the state has to provide the funding to back up the mandate.

Anonymous said...

Sell College or Sell Skills?

Since the recessions of the 70's, a college degree has NOT been a guareentee into a securely middle class existence.

There are millions of jobs which require few hard skills, but, in order to lessen the applicant pool, employers require 4 year degrees.

In my 30 years of working before teaching, I've worked with 100's of people with 4 year degrees who are not maximizing their skills, earnings, or opportunities.

However, the job market is still rewarding skills in some areas. Not with life time security and a gold watch and a pension and health care, but, with money, now.

We should be teaching our kids to be aggressive about what are the opportunities and what do they need to do to increase the liklihood of accessing those opportunities.

It might be a Ivy English degree, it might be a 2 year highly technical / foot in the door to some high tech industry degree.

In spring 2004, Harvard's President said that they'd start paying tuition for admitted students from the bottom 2 quartiles of family (or household) income. The President of Harvard cited a study which showed that of the top 146 U.S. Colleges and Universities, over 90% of the students where from families / households in the top 2 quartiles of income. (google 'America's Untapped Resource ')

The affluent kids can afford to drift around in school, because when they get out someone will help them with a reliable car, or the car insurance, or the health insurance, or the rent, or the mortage downpayment, or the vacations, or the professional clothing bills, or the grad / law school degree ... or many or all of the above.

When your making less than 40 grand a year, as 1/2 the households in the u.s. are making,

where is the money coming from,
while you go to school
for rent, food, health, transportation ... ??

Where is the money for the years after school coming from, as you take a degree with few hard skills and break your butt moving up the un-skilled but highly credentialed job ladder?

I love Shakespeare and Opera and arts and Gatsby, and they should be part of all kids education, but

there are 6 BILLION people in the world who need clean water, sewars, housing, food, transportation, health care, clothing, banking, vacations ...

these are HUGE technical problems.

The opportunities are infinite, but, virtually inaccessable to those without some kind of technical understanding of some facet(s) of our enourmously complex world.

finally, pardon the spelling / editing gaffes. for some reason my editing ability online stinks, and, I've got too much to do to get ready for showtime on 5 Sept to spend hours editing a blog post.

Bob Murphy

Charlie Mas said...

nssp and others will be pleased to learn that AP classes are all self-elect at all Seattle high schools. These classes are open to any students who choose to take them, although some have some pre-requisite courses.

There are about 400 APP students at Garfield. That's about 25% of the student body there. 75% of the Garfield student body, 1200 students, went through the normal set of tiebreakers to get in. Any APP student who chooses to enroll at Garfield is admitted, so there is that special access. Similarly, any APP student who chooses to enroll at Lowell or Washington are admitted as well. I would suggest, however, that the presence of APP is a significant part of what makes Garfield an attractive school and creates the demand for the other 1200 seats. The school was seriously under-enrolled when APP was moved into it.

I, too, see a lot of flaws in the identification process for APP and Spectrum. I don't think the solution to those flaws is to scrap the program. I think the solution is to fix the flaws. The eligibility criteria for APP have been liberalized quite a bit over the past few years as the District has intentionally worked to increase the size of the program. The District was hoping that the new eligibility criteria would identify more African-American students as APP-eligible. Instead, the demographics of the students nominated and the students found eligible has remained generally steady or gotten a little bit Whiter.

Fortunately, Garfield students with the ability to do the AP work have equal access to the AP classes there. There are, of course, a similar variety and number of AP classes offered at Roosevelt and Ballard, and a good number of AP classes offered at Franklin. While other schools may not be able to offer a lot of AP classes, nearly every school does offer some. Students have other advanced learning opportunities including IB (at Ingraham and Sealth) and Running Start.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Charlie - you answered several questions about AP that I've had during this discussion but haven't had time to ask (and unfortunately did not get clarity about when I went to the district's website - particularly about how one gets into the classes but also relative to the testing that's referenced there - do I understand correctly that the testing is after the class, to obtain college credit, and not before the class, as an entry requirement?)

One more question - do APP students generate greater demand for AP classes and if yes, does Garfield offer more of them (sessions and/or classes) as a result? Do the 1200 non-APP students have greater access to AP classes (than they might at other SPS high schools) as a result of the APP program being sited there?

When you say "Garfield students with the ability to do the work", is that as demonstrated by getting a certain grade in the prerequisite or by some other means?

Thanks -

Anonymous said...

Charlie:

you write "Any APP student who chooses to enroll at Garfield is admitted, so there is that special access."

Is that the same as saying any child who is currently enrolled in Washington's APP program? Or can one be "APP" identified w/o being enrolled in the APP program and gain access to the "APP" seats at Garfield?

Does Garfield's APP capacity increase to include any APP students who wish to attend? or do tie breakers apply to this subgroup too? Has it not been relevant because enough APP students use other options (private/other HS), too?

I'm pretty deeply enmeshed in the identification process for education of high-achieving children out of academic interest and my problem with it is not specifically it's under-identification of disadvantaged populations (that is a problem, too, but it's a subset of a more general problem). It's the statistics of identification that bother me. The statistics of the cut-offs means that some outliers make and miss the cutoff every year (that is, some students who "should" -- based on underlying ability-- make the cutoff don't, and others who "shouldn't" do). I think there's too much variability in the identification process for it to lock people into high school choices.

If the APP individuals are valuable to Garfield, I would be interested in seeing an admissions process applied at the level of high school, rather than grandfathering in students who were identified in earlier grades. Presumably APP students would have an advantage (because they've had the opportunity to prove their learning ability already), but it would give other equivalent learners a chance at those same spots.

Jet City mom said...

to enroll at Garfield-with the APP in, you would have had to have been enrolled in the APP program at Washington-

As far as "doing the work" goes, there is not a stated GPA requirement, or a prerequisite, as in some districts for instance that require honors Bio before AP bio.

IMO- more so than raising the bar for "gifted" students in the APP programs- I feel a close look should be given to assisting students who are low income- who could benefit from APP.
Lowell in particular & Washington not as much because they do have a "regular" program- has a very low FRL rate for an urban public school.
According to stats from Lowell October 2006- 28 students or 5 % qualify for FRL.
In the district 38% do.

Anonymous said...

To ultimate fan:

"do I understand correctly that the testing is after the class, to obtain college credit, and not before the class, as an entry requirement?"

Yes, that is correct. There are prerequisites for some courses. It is unlikely that a student would be allowed to register for AP Calculus without having first taken Precalc and passed it. But most history and english classes are open to whoever is up for the challenge. AP tests are administered in May.AP tests are distributed by the College Board and administered on a schedule determined by the College Board. Students receive their results in mid July. Many colleges will award credit and waive distribution requirements.

Charlie Mas said...

You've got questions, I've got answers.

ultimate fan asked:
"do APP students generate greater demand for AP classes"

Yes. They do.


"and if yes, does Garfield offer more of them (sessions and/or classes) as a result?"

Yes. They do.

"Do the 1200 non-APP students have greater access to AP classes (than they might at other SPS high schools) as a result of the APP program being sited there?"

Yes. They do.

nssp asked:

"can one be "APP" identified w/o being enrolled in the APP program and gain access to the "APP" seats at Garfield?"

It is an interesting thing, but APP eligibility is only good for one year. So if your child tests in kindergarten and is found eligibile, you can enroll the child in APP for the first grade. If you do not take the opportunity and enroll your child in APP that year, the eligibility expires. If you want to enroll the kid in APP for the second grade you'll have to re-test and re-qualify. There are three ways to extend a student's eligibility:

1) Enroll in APP. If you do enroll your child in APP then their eligibility is extended each year that they remain in the program.

2) Enroll in Spectrum and make special arrangements. It is possible to preserve APP eligibility if your enroll your child in a Spectrum program and the Spectrum teacher agrees to teach to the APP expectations and use an APP progress report. This is entirely at the teacher's discretion. This only works in elementary school - not in middle school.

3) Enroll in an ALO and make special arrangements. It is possible to preserve APP eligibility if your enroll your child in an ALO program and the teacher agrees to teach to the APP expectations and use an APP progress report. This is entirely at the teacher's discretion. This only works in elementary school - not in middle school.

Since the testing is only allowed for students in grades K-7, and since the eligibility expires in a year if the student is not enrolled in APP, there are, in fact, no APP-eligible ninth grade students other than those enrolled in APP at Washington in the eighth grade.

"Does Garfield's APP capacity increase to include any APP students who wish to attend?"

Yes. It does.

"do tie breakers apply to this subgroup too?"

No. They don't. The District does not deny access to APP for any eligible student who makes on-time application.

The District has, from time to time, toyed with the idea of extending testing to grades 8-10, but doing so would incur costs and trigger significant logistical challenges.

classof75 notes:
"Lowell in particular & Washington not as much because they do have a 'regular' program- has a very low FRL rate for an urban public school.
According to stats from Lowell October 2006- 28 students or 5 % qualify for FRL.
In the district 38% do.
"

The distribution of FRL students in Seattle's elementary schools is bi-modal. There are a lot of schools with a high concentration of students living in poverty and there are a lot of schools with a low concentration of students living in poverty, but there are not many schools with an average concentration of students living in poverty. The graph doesn't look like a bell curve, it looks like the Golden Gate Bridge. Lowell is not all that unique.

That said, there is a known correlation between family affluence and identification as gifted. Efforts have been made and are being made to address under-representation. Suggestions for additional efforts are welcome.

Anonymous said...

The main way I see to increase the number of underrepresented kids testing into APP is to fix the testing problems and lessen the bureacracy in Advanced Learning. The easier the whole application process becomes, the less likely it is that people who lack socioeconomic power will get weeded out (because they couldn't face another call to Advanced Learning, or they didn't have the chutzpah to look at a 50th percentile score and say "That's ridiculous, something's wrong," or they didn't have good information on the appeal options).

If you put hoops to jump through in the way that have not a darned thing to do with the capability of the child, then the families who get through the hoops will disproportionately be those with time, money, and the self-confidence that comes from previous generations having been academic high achievers. It doesn't mean their children are unqualified. It means that those families represent only a subset of those whose kids *should* be in advanced programs.

Fixing such problems would benefit everyone. No group would lose out by making the programs more diverse through fairer, simpler testing processes.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Charlie said: "The District has, from time to time, toyed with the idea of extending testing to grades 8-10, but doing so would incur costs and trigger significant logistical challenges."

Charlie, can you please explain how the costs and logistics involved are different from those entailed in K-2 (for example)testing? I can imagine that they would in fact be lower and the benefit potentially higher (especially since many people test in the lower grades but choose not to bus their young ones to Lowell).

Charlie Mas said...

The additional costs of testing in grades 8-10 are just those - the costs of the additional tests. Also some academic achievement test will have to be provided for the ninth graders. In fact, some nationally normed academic achievement test will have to be provided for all students (See Policy C40.00), but particularly for determining eligibility to Advanced Learning programs.

The logistics will be a lot tougher. Suppose fifty students in grade nine and fifty students in grade ten test into the program and want to enroll. Where in Garfield will we put them? There isn't room. Will the school have to hold the seats for them? When there is a waitlist?

I have never tried high school scheduling, but everyone who has come close to it assures me that it is a tangled nightmare of complexity. This is what I was told would be so difficult about allowing students to test into APP in high school.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought -- why not use the SAT or ACT? They're easy to schedule, appropriate for identifying out-of-level academic needs ... and don't need administering by anyone at the district.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts regarding APP, AP and Spectrum:

Spectrum: Several years ago, my son did not test into the Spectrum at Eckstein M.S. I was fine with that, but I decided to interview his L.A./Social Studies teacher to find out what he would be missing.

She told me that she and her colleagues (with one exception) who taught both regular and Spectrum classes, taught the same material--essentially no difference between the classes. The one exception had an additional special project. When I asked about the difference in the types of students in each class, the one thing she commented on was that some of her Spectrum students were highly anxious and tended to put pressure on themselves. My general impression from this interview and hearing other teacher and parent comments is that Spectrum exists for competitive parents and is not popular with middle school teachers. I have also heard from other parents that Spectrum classes can often be more crowded.

AP: In high school, kids can choose if they want to take AP classes or not. My son has decided to take AP classes and he is a top student, in fact doing better than some of his former Spectrum classmates. AP classes do cover more complicated material and of course, they are helpful in college admissions if your child can maintain a good grade in the class. Every Seattle public high school should offer some AP classes if only because so many parents equate AP with a quality h.s. Interesting to note that the popular Catholic Blanchet H. S. does not offer AP classes.

APP: I think there is a place for this program for "truly gifted students"--supposedly these are the top 1% of the population--while I believe you can "tutor" your kid into Spectrum. However, I think there is some danger in isolating APP students whose social skills often need further development--sorry, but the kids I know who went to APP programs at Washington and are now at Garfield tend to have weaker social skills.

Anonymous said...

"She told me that she and her colleagues (with one exception) who taught both regular and Spectrum classes, taught the same material--essentially no difference between the classes. The one exception had an additional special project. When I asked about the difference in the types of students in each class, the one thing she commented on was that some of her Spectrum students were highly anxious and tended to put pressure on themselves."

Um, gee, could that POSSIBLY have something to do with the administration not providing appropriate-level curriculum, and expecting the students to challenge themselves? I keep saying that gifted students who are constantly underchallenged will "challenge themselves" in some unfortunate ways -- some by becoming perfectionistic and anxious, some by misbehaving, some by becoming cynical ... Grouping doesn't make a program. You have to have significantly different curriculum. Expecting the kid to do it all themselves is developmentally inappropriate, and likely to lead to anxiety. These kids do need to be TAUGHT.

(Note: I suspect the actual current situation in Eckstein classrooms might be better than the above. I'm just reacting to the version I heard here.)

I think an inappropriate educational placement can be an enormous social drawback for a child, and that many kids are far happier socially at Lowell and Washington than they would have been in their home schools. I see it as "isolating" in some cases to keep kids from finding out what it's like to be among a group of intellectual peers. Socially ineffective behaviors, such as boasting and correcting others, are a lot more common in kids with no true peer group.

I see a big range of social and emotional development in all schools, but I'd say on average APP students tend to be if anything advanced in those areas.

There are certainly students in all schools who struggle with social issues, and children who are out of synch with themselves (very mature in one area, not so in another) do tend to be more obvious than children who are generally immature or generally mature.

Helen Schinske