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Sunday, December 09, 2007

How easily I get confused

I am really confused now.

In April as she delays the decision to split middle school APP, Ms Santorno commits to providing ample communication and authentic engagement with the APP community when the reconfiguration question comes back within the context of the new student assignment plan.

However, there has been absolutely no communication or engagement in the eight months since she made that commitment. Not a word. So what did she mean by that? I'm really confused by these two apparently irreconcilable facts.

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has made it very clear that changes in the size and location of Advanced Learning programs will be part of the new student assignment plan. This is consistent with Ms Santorno's April statement and the inclusion of APP student data on the new Student Assignment plan web site. Possible changes to APP have been discussed at various new student assignment plan meetings.

However, in her response to the APP Advisory Committee's annual report and recommendations, she wrote "At present, no near term changes [in APP configuration] are under discussion or anticipated." So what did she mean by that? I'm really confused by these two apparently irreconcilable facts.

According to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, the District staff have been modeling changes in program size and location for three months. According to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, changes in advanced learning programs have been included in these models. According to Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, no changes in APP have even been discussed.

So it appears that changes in APP are off the table for discussion in the new student assignment plan. Does that sound right to anyone?

Maybe I've misinterpreted some of these statements. Maybe this is all abundantly clear, and I'm just easily confused. Can anyone help me to understand?

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it because the student assignment plan is at least two years out, thus changes to the APP configuration - if part of the SAP- by definition not "near term?"

Melissa Westbrook said...

So far there isn't much in the new assignment plan. The staff probably has it pretty well planned out with a few exceptions. (Things like:
-that pesky John Marshall program
-how to divide up alternative programs when they are unequally situated
-Queen Anne/Magnolia high school
-unequities throughout the city between high schools/middle schools
-how to find a reference school for Eastlake
-how to draw the boundaries and should they include all kids within them or continue on as if SPS will never get back any private school students)

APP/Spectrum are, as usual, probably at the bottom of the list.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Here is your post on the Special ED report.

by Melissa Westbrook
This article on Special Education in SPS appeared in today's Times.

Here is your post on the APP report.....do you guys ever tired of just thinking about your gifted kids? I know I am......


by Melissa Westbrook
So it was announced that the review of the gifted programs was completed in an article in today's Times. The article only talks about APP so I wonder if Spectrum or the ALOs were even looked at. Maybe it's only the programs that get state funding that were reviewed. If so, that's not very useful. From the article:

"An outside review of gifted education in Seattle Public Schools said the district should act aggressively to diversify its program.
Almost three-quarters of the students enrolled in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP) are white, compared to about 40 percent districtwide."
I know, for a fact, that huge outreach has been done so I'll be interested to see what else the district comes up with to find more minority students.
Also,

"But according to the report, APP is perceived to be "elitist, exclusionary and even racist," and that some of its African-American students are bullied and isolated."

Okay, perceived by whom?

But at the heart of the problem?

"The program's curriculum lacks vision, the report said, and rigor in classes is inconsistent. "The philosophy and definition of giftedness in Seattle do not reflect current developments in the field of gifted education," it said."

This is absolutely key and, to me, absolutely true. I trust Bob Vaughn, who is now the head of the department, but if he doesn't get key support, nothing will change.

Here's a link to the full report which I haven't read yet.

Charlie Mas said...

Speaking for myself, I never get tired of thinking about my kids.

Do you get tired of thinking about yours?

Perhaps Mel didn't write as much about Special Ed as she wrote about advanced learning because she doesn't know as much about Special Ed.

Please feel free to write to Beth anytime you want to take over the work of maintaining this blog and offer your services.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Charlie,

I think this can be explained by there is what the district tells you and then there is what the district actually does. These are often two entirely different things.

Witness Denny/Seath or any one of almost innumerable other examples.

So why would APP be much different?

Thanks for your dedication to transparent communication.

Perhaps someday the SPS will have a bit more of not just transparency in communication but even transparency of actions.

Anonymous said...

"Please feel free to write to Beth anytime you want to take over the work of maintaining this blog and offer your services."

Now, this does really relate to what this blog is about? Is it about the Seattle Public Schools, and what we do about them (including how they serve all the children)? If so, you guys really do need more folks on your blogging team (special ed, someone in the private schools, . . .).

But, I'll concur that we're unreasonable if we're expecting Melissa and you and the others to address all of _our_ interests and concerns.

Anonymous @ 6:18 -- if you have comments on the special ed report, please do summarize it for us (in the comments?). I read this blog because I care about the schools.

And to enter the fray. Nothing I've read has convinced me of the appropriateness of offering "gifted" education within the public school system. I do not consider "normal" levels of giftedness to be a special need, more of a special want. Special wants (religious education/gifted education/montessori education/waldorf . . .) should be serviced by the private school system.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon at 7:59,

Given the current thrust of disallowing teachers to individualize within their classrooms for appropriate instruction for students, and with the emphasis on Fidelity of Implementation where all students get the same curriculum at the same rate and coupled with the likely inclusion of more special ed students mainstreamed within those classes (without any significant reduction in class size); it looks like everyone should be heading to private schools - except the cost is prohibitive for many.

Anonymous said...

What I as trying to say, is the APP issues are getting tiring...

Here’s is a challenge for any parent with an APP student for 2008.

Seek out a special Ed classroom and make a commitment to a student for the remainder of the school year. Go down to Dearborn Park and make a commitment to a group of ESL students who were refugees before coming to Seattle. Walk into any high school and ask to tutor a student who did not pass the WASL. Then write about these experiences.

Bottom line is this: Your APP students will be fine; no matter what the SPS gifted program is or is not during their tenure. They will pass the WASL; they will get great scores on the SATS, and get into good colleges.

Question is what kind of life will they lead? Will they reach out to those less fortunate or move into Ivory Towers?

You are their greatest mentors – imagine a dinner conversation where parents are sharing experiences of helping students, versus recounting the recent phone call to the APP office or the blog post written that day.

Anonymous said...

But, I oppose all those trends that you are describing. The solution isn't to escape them by creating a special classroom for a particular group of kids (who may be harmed by those trends, but I can't see how much more they are harmed than any other kid in that classroom).

And, yes, private schools are allowed to offer things that would be inequitable within the public school system and the solution can't be for the public schools to compete to offer those same things.

Anonymous @8:57. Yes, the chase for laurels among our over-achiever children bothers me. Yes, we know our children will be fine. Yes, I want them to respect everyone and everyone's challenges.

But, I also want them to love learning, to find joy in intellectual exploration. Schools that kill that joy are bad, and we have to fight against them, even if the kid will pass the WASL anyway.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually there is a correlation between being gifted and the teen suicide rate. No, these kids won't all be "fine". Bright, unchallenged kids become problems in the classroom (go ask any teacher).

Last, meeting a kid's academic needs is a want? Okay, well, then I guess we don't need major advances in medicine, engineering, computing or anything else that contributes to the betterment of our world. Because most of the advances in those areas do not come at the hands of C students. Ask Bill Gates.

Charlie Mas said...

In the idealized classroom, in which the teachers are able to differentiate instruction so every student is taught at the frontier of their knowledge and skills, in which every student is ready and able to do the class work, in which every student is motivated and well-supported, and in which every student is welcomed and valued regardless of their differences, we would not need gifted programs or special education programs or bilingual programs or any special needs programs.

In the real world, however, a number of students cannot be reliably served with an appropriate academic opportunity within the general education classroom.

It has to do with two different views of education. One is criterion-based, the other is progress-based.

In the criterion-based view of education, academic achievement is measured by an absolute scale, such as the Grade Level Expectations. If a third grade student meets the Grade Level Expectations by the end of the 3rd grade, then the child is said to be achieving academically. If the student does not meet the Standards, then the student is not achieving.

As it relates to advanced learners, the folks who see the world from this perspective would say: "These students will be fine whether the schools serve them or not. They will pass the WASL, get good enough scores on the SATS, and go to college. We owe them no more education than up to the grade level expectations and no further."

Others among us see education as a journey rather than a destination. In the progress-based view of education, academic achievement is measured on a relative scale independent of any Grade Level Expectations. A child is said to be achieving academically if the child is learning new things. If the student does not learn new things, then the student is not achieving. In this view, it is possible for a ninth grade student who advances from reading at fourth grade level to reading at an eighth grade level to have achieved a great deal academically despite not meeting the Standards. It is also possible for a third grade student who begins and ends the year working at the fifth grade level to not have achieved academically.

I have a progress-based perspective, so I am not the right person to explain the other perspective. I have a hard time imagining the rationale for the perspective that tells a child "You've learned enough; no more education for you until the other children catch up." Perhaps those with that perspective can defend it. Perhaps they can't.

I can assure you that bright children left in a classroom where they don't learn anything new will not be "just fine". If you think it is, then I suggest you have your children placed in a classroom two grades lower than their abilities and see how they like it.

As to the question of whether gifted education programs prevent children from having empathy or altruistic motivations, I don't even know where to start. Where would anyone get such an absurd idea? The two are not associated. I would be happy to measure the empathy, altruism, and charitable impulses of APP children with those from the general education classes any day.

So let's try that same snarky challenge reflected back.

What I as trying to say, is the constant attacks on APP are getting tiring...

Here’s is a challenge for any parent for 2008.

Seek out a special Ed classroom and make a commitment to a student for the remainder of the school year. Go down to Dearborn Park and make a commitment to a group of ESL students who were refugees before coming to Seattle. Walk into any high school and ask to tutor a student who did not pass the WASL. Then write about these experiences.

Bottom line is this: Your students will be fine; no matter what their school is or is not during their tenure. They will pass the WASL; they will get great scores on the SATS, and get into good colleges.

Question is what kind of life will they lead? Will they reach out to those less fortunate or move into Ivory Towers?

You are their greatest mentors – imagine a dinner conversation where parents are sharing experiences of helping students, versus recounting the recent phone call to the school office or the blog post written that day.

The words are just as applicable to any other family as they are to families with students in APP. APP families are just like any other. They want the same things from school that every other family wants: an appropriate academic opportunity. APP families just have to work harder to get it. They have to work harder to get it from the District and they have to defend their expectations from people who think that APP students are getting something more, something better or something special. That's just not the case.

Not normally anonymous said...

Well said, Charlie.

Let me tell you a personal story. I tested 99th percentile on everything, starting as early as I can remember. I coasted into and through a very rigorous 7-12 prep school, bored, hating every minute of it. In 10th grade, I started partying because I was so bored. I was expelled from that school, and dropped out of the public high school the next year. Most of the kids I partied with, coasted with, engaged in risky behavior with, and dropped out with were also in top 5% on every test they took.

I went back to community college eventually, graduated from UW, and now have a good job. Many of my friends did not. They pulled espresso and wrote poetry. They destroyed their brains and their future potential with way too many drugs. Some died. Some went crazy. Some are homeless. Many are still working in food service. Some, like me, were eventually ok. However, I doubt this is the path any of you would want your children to take, even if they ended up with a good job in their 30s. I certainly don't want my child to take it.

There are kids for whom a traditional program, no matter how much homework it has, is a waste of time. Many of these kids hate school by the time they're in 1st or 2nd grade. Many of them will not "just be ok." The kids at the 80th percentile probably will be. The kids at the 95th will not.

The public schools have just as much duty to serve these kids as they do any other kid. That is what both gifted and alternative education are all about. There is no reason that only those with money should be able to find a program that allows their child to enjoy school and grow academically.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'm very familiar with all the literature on gifted education, and honestly, none of it bears out any of the statements made here that the children are "at risk" in any real sense. The kids who are served by our APP program are indeed going to do just fine. And I do mean SPS's APP program here. Some theoretical APP program that was able to identify at risk children (and some of them would be gifted) and help them might do something different.

And I say this as a 99% my self (I attended regular schools) who is very well versed in the gifted literature. There might be a group of kids who need special services (and who are gifted) but giftedness itself doesn't require special services. It can be served in an environment that is appropriate for a wide group of children. The data that argues against that point is sparse and suspect.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think it is fair for calling Mel out for her interest in gifted education as opposed to Special Ed. Mel isn't part of the school board or the district, she doesn't have to be up-to-the-minute on all issues.

I think Mel has been pretty clear from the beginning that she is interested in the gifted programs because her kids were involved with them and that her other main areas of interest include optimal use of facilities and the education gap (which I know is a tiresome oversimplified term, but I can't come up with a better one). She has committed far more time to kids in the district (who aren't her own) than I have, and even though I disagree with some (many) of her views (particularly around funding) I certainly would not think she was guilty of not doing enough.

Like others on this thread, I could offer my own story of being in a gifted program, and the good and bad long-term effects. But, I don't think they are relevant to this particular discussion.

The purpose of this blog is to discuss issues surrounding SPS in an environment that is not sponsored by any particular group (SEA, district, school board, parent group, etc). The fact that not many people seem interested in discussing Special Ed leads me to believe that those parents and advocates either haven't found this blog or are having that need met elsewhere.

Most parents I know who have children with special needs are frustrated when talking with larger groups of parents. One told me that she was bored out of her mind in a PTA meeting where they were discussing including Spanish classes in the curriculum when her daughter was still having trouble learning to read.

Personally, I think that serving highly capable kids well is essential to the survival of the district. These parents are the first to pull their kids out of schools, when they often have much to contribute to the district.

The people on this blog who are interested in discussing highly capabable programs should continue to do so. If anyone wants to talk more about Special Ed, they should contact Beth.

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous at 12:43, thank you for your participation in this discussion.

When you write how "The kids who are served by our APP program are indeed going to do just fine. And I do mean SPS's APP program here." do you include those that the counselors at Washington Middle School reported as engaging in "self-harm"?

From the APP Review:

"Counselors indicated that they got numerous cases of self-harm each year, and it was always APP students. None had received specific training in counseling the gifted, and they felt they needed to refer these cases outside of the school as the school was not equipped to handle these counseling needs. Unfortunately, the counselors did not feel that they needed any additional training or support to work with gifted students, as they believed that these students received, at home, all of the support that they needed, a stereotype belied by their own observations of student behavior and assumptions about home environments."

Are those the kids you think will "do just fine"?

You write that "giftedness itself doesn't require special services. It can be served in an environment that is appropriate for a wide group of children."

You may sincerely believe this, and it may be theoretically possible, but I assure you that it has not proven to be the case in Seattle. Any examples of this within Seattle Public Schools are much fewer and farther between than the data that argues in favor of a separate program.

As to that data, it is clear to me that you are reading a whole different set of research literature than I've been reading. And you write that you are "very familiar with all the literature on gifted education" (emphasis added). Wow. That's a lot of literature to keep up with. For someone who denies the need for anything called gifted education, you sure devote a lot of time to reading about it.

I haven't read all of the literature, but everything I have read and everything that I have heard from experts has concluded that the vast majority of gifted students are better served in self-contained programs designed to meet their academic, social, and emotional needs than in general education programs.

For example, the experts who recently reviewed APP did not - in any way - suggest that these students would be better served in general education programs.

For another example, consider this article on that very topic.

Here is a paragraph from that article with data that demonstrates the need for gifted programs:

"Special class grouping of gifted learners by subject area has historically been the most utilized approach to grouping at the secondary level while pull-out by program focus has predominated at the elementary level. Special class grouping is one of the primary ways to deliver differentiated curriculum. Without such grouping arrangements, it is much more difficult to do so. Research has shown that 84% of time in heterogeneous classroom settings is spent on whole class activities, with no attention to differentiating for the gifted (Archambault, Westberg, K. L., Brown, Hallmark, Zhang, & Emmons, 1993). Moreover, special classes are the context within which good acceleration practices for individual students can be applied, as the level of the class by necessity needs to be more advanced in content. Many schools have provided special grouping for mathematics and language arts, but not science and social studies. Again, it is critical that a grouping policy apply to all relevant academic subjects, where size of school can allow for such clustering to be formed. Students advanced in all areas need the opportunity to interact with others at their ability levels and to advance academically at a rate and pace consonant with their abilities. Such a situation can typically only occur in a specialized group setting."

Please share with us the data and research you have which indicates that gifted students are realiably well-served in general education classrooms. I would love to read it. It would be even better if that data were from Seattle.

I know that parallel curriculum is possible. There may even be a few teachers in Seattle who could pull it off. I know that differentiated instruction is possible. There may even be several dozen Seattle teachers who regularly attempt it with some success. I'm sure you know that they are the exception rather than the rule and that even in those classrooms the episodes of differentiation are sporadic.

As I have said countless times before, I would be delighted if the neighborhood school could serve my child. They can't. If you ask about advanced math classes at Mercer they tell you that they don't have any. They say that if your child is ready for advanced math classes you should enroll your child at Washington.

This isn't theory; it is actual fact and real experience right here in Seattle.

What is the alternative that you would propose? That students sit in classrooms without learning anything new? Whom does that serve?

Anonymous said...

Charlie:

I would only deign to have an opinion on gifted education if I thought I was doing my best to keep up on the literature (you'd be surprised at how much I've read). I do know the literature you cite saying that grouping can help "gifted" kids, but it does so with the context that the classroom itself isn't doing what it's supposed to do. I oppose non-differentiated education for everyone. I don't think that the needs of a "average" child will be served by tracking them with an average education. I don't think a gifted child's needs will be served either. I'm ambivalent on whether tracking serves some need in the absence of differentiation, but think the solution is differentiation, not tracking. So, that's the alternative I propose: making differentiation work. I think it's possible and I think it's better for everyone.

Regarding APP students engaging in self harm, they are clearly at risk, but I am quite sorely tempted to reverse the cause and effect: tracking, pushing them to reach for the stars, celebrating their perfections also put children at risk for self harm. And children enrolled in the APP program are more likely to be exposed to those risks.

I also think that everyone should be able to talk about the issues that interest them, and certainly wouldn't call out anyone for focusing on the issues they think are important. I do wish that a non-anonymous reader interested in special ed would start telling us about special ed in SPS, though.

I'm not comfortable being non-anonymous here, and I respect Mr. Mas for posting his opinions under his own name.

Melissa Westbrook said...

About Special Ed; I have a child with a disability. Unfortunately, it did not get diagnosed until 8th grade and we were still somewhat flummoxed about what we could or could not ask for in the way of accommodations.

I have heard from so many, many parents with children with challenges. What I find maddening is how the district (indeed many districts) treat them as problem children. Yes, it's expensive but that's what public education is - for the public. The district tries to act as though some of these kids can be "cured" if they take medication as if medicating them solves everything from an academic standpoint.

What seems to worry parents the most (after will my child get services) is the uncertainty of where these programs are situated and how long they stay in any given place. This was a huge issue on closure and consolidation and I suspect will be (or should be) for the new assignment plan.

But as someone late to the party on this issue and not that well versed, I just never presumed to speak on Special Ed. But we have also, several times, had open thread time in case anyone wanted to bring up a subject that we didn't cover.

dan dempsey said...

Two thoughts.

1. I coached a State Championship chess team. Many of these students got a lot more out of that activity in whole person development and peer interaction than they received in the gifted program.

2. I am less than convinced that many of the SPS decision makers truly care about our children. As I watch school board testimony especially the Denny/Sealth fiasco it is difficult to deal with the way that SPS decisions are made.
APP - Special Ed - etc. It is getting more and more difficult to trust leadership. The Mainstreaming plan with essentially the same class sizes is absurd.

MG-J is hardly a bait and switcher I heard all this in her 90 minutes prior to being hired. I thought it was really incredible that she was hired, but now that I realize more of the political games it is a lot easier to understand. This understanding gives me no comfort as I watch more poor decisions in process.

Anonymous said...

"Here’s is a challenge for any parent with an APP student for 2008.Seek out a special Ed classroom and make a commitment to a student for the remainder of the school year. "

How very odd. Are you insinuating that the special ed community is not capable of advocating for their children and their community? That the parents are somehow in need of assistance from the more swift APP parents?? There is something just not right with this statement. I would be insulted if I were the parent of a spec ed child.

Teachermom said...

Ugg. I am a product of gifted programs, and I have committed (so far)10 years of my professional life to kids and adults with special education needs.

Is public education really about taking from one group of kids to give to another? Or is it about meeting everyone's needs? Or is it about putting mediocrity on a pedestal and making up some cool catch phrases and acronyms to prop it up?

The trends towards viewing kids' needs (academic, emotional, social) and strengths as "data", thinking about necessary services to be provided to kids as "minutes" and then underfunding and understaffing them are the reason why no one is "winning".

Let's be on the same side here - doing great things for all kids.

BTW, my son qualified for APP, knows what I do for a living and is interested, and he still wants to be a race car driver.

I have spent a lot of time working with kids in juvenile detention, on psychiatric units, and in self-contained classrooms for kids with behavioral disorders. Often, my students were intellectually gifted. However, they weren't "just fine". If only it were that simple.

It appears to me that the administration is trying to do too much too soon, and "fidelity of implementation" produces an echo if you shout into it.

-Teachermom

don't read it then said...

How odd, that is right. I actually read this very differently, that we parents of APP students are not properly mentoring or teaching our children compassion if we are not volunteering in a Special Ed classroom. I actually work in a Special Ed classroom, so I live that example every day. This anonymous person has no way of knowing the topics of my dinner conversation with my children, any more than I would presume to know theirs!

I would also like to know how this anonymous person knows that my APP kid will be "fine" no matter where they are. I would like to tell you that she was not "fine" in kindergarten when the other kids totally ignored her as too "weird". Even I felt shunned by the other parents when they regarded me as some kind of bizarre pushy "stage mom" and referred to my child as "freakish" in regards to her reading level. What a godsend Lowell was when we could discuss openly the books she was reading, the math she was doing, and talk to other parents who, like us, were just as mystified as to why their kids were performing at the level they were. My child has totally blossomed socially at Lowell in a way I know would not have happened at our neighborhood school. Would she be "fine" academically there? Probably. Would the teachers have been willing to work with her at her level? Maybe. There is just a lot more to it than that. There is being able to talk and socialize with your peers, which I remember was a huge part of primary school. I no longer wince when I show up at school at recess, because she is now happily playing in a big crowd of smiling friends, not sitting alone at the edge of the grass like last year.

I am so tired of people complaining about APP who do not have children in APP. If you aren't interested in the topic, then don't read the posts! This is the only place besides school where I can get information on this topic. You know, the alternative school topics don't interest me, so not only do I not read them, I do not make comments about how useless they are in the comments threads. (I don't think that, I am making a point)

Melissa and Charlie if I have never told you before, I appreciate every bit of information I get here, and please continue to post about all the topics that you are knowledgeable about. I learn a lot here, so THANK YOU.

It's About Quality said...

I wonder whether there's a middle ground here-

It does seem that for certain gifted children an environment like Lowell allows them to flourish.

It seems that for other gifted children, a neighborhood school is best.

So why not promote both options by supporting teacher development in acquiring differentiation skills? Differentiation would, as the APP report pointed out, raise the quality of all SPS classrooms, including Lowell.

How to do it? SPS has to offer a strong, supportive training environment, and the bad apples have to go.

At least we can work on lobbying for the first option.

classof75 said...

""Are you insinuating that the special ed community is not capable of advocating for their children and their community?""

I have been involved in the Seattle PTA for families involved in special education because I know that they operate under a handicap.

Because of privacy issues schools & the PTA can't get contact information from families of students with IEPs & 504s the way other groups can.
This limits the supports that are availalbe because we don't know who needs them or what is needed.
It is physically/mentally/emotionally exhausting raising a child with special needs, parents are made to feel guilty for what support they may receive and frustrated at how little it oftentimes is.
Teachers who are trained in special ed and who are effective are rare as hens teeth.
Too often teacher of special education, don't have background in that area.
Because they don't have training they don't stay long, with these kids who need consistency more than anyone else.
I could go on and on with the incidents that have happened since Sept.
But yes, I do think that the SPED community needs and will welcome more advocates

Anonymous said...

"How very odd. Are you insinuating that the special ed community is not capable of advocating for their children and their community?"

Not odd at all! Yes, if your kid has TRUE special needs you will find advocacy difficult, if not impossible. (TRUE special needs, as opposed to I need to get the most perfect, exclusive education I desire). You simply will not have the time if you're dealing with a severe handicap, AND SPS's will not and can not tell you of others to collaborate with. SEACC, SPS's own appointed parent advisory committee has essentially NO parents on it. The district appointed NO ONE, and gave out no lists to draw out members from.

Anonymous said...

"I have a progress-based perspective, so I am not the right person to explain the other perspective"

How very self-serving. I think we would all want a progress-based education wouldn't we? At the end of the day, who is really going to care about WASL? Nobody. Is that what you'll tell your kids about school, "Yes, I met the GLE's and passed the WASL. It was great."

What people argue over is the exclusivity many parents want. Especially something like Spectrum where no giftedness can be detected. At a white school, (my child attends one) 30 - 50% of the kids are qualified for it, and exclusively have access to programs because of it. With around 10 - 15% in APP. And that's after they've been picked over by the private schools. We're not talking "gifted" anymore, we're talking average... but white. In reality, "abilism" is the new racism. Because, it's uncool to be racist, but totally cool to be abilist, even if the same people are effected by the bias (which they are).

dan dempsey said...

The effect of the WASL has been largely negative.

The goal is now that all can attain low level mediocrity as measured by a defective instrument. {this bar is too low for many and too high for others and has been regularly lowered over the last decade in most areas to make OSPI look good}

This feeds into the one size fits all solutions offered.

No it is not going to be just fine for most. Until the realization is made that effective learning for all will come about only when individuals are treated as something more than members of a nearly identical herd, there will be little if any improvement on the current mess.

School appears to be good for politicians and bureaucrats and those students who are lucky enough to fit reasonably well with what is offered.

Unfortunately I see little happening within the SPS to change things for the better.

To improve a complex system requires a different model than centralized autocracy. SPS lack of transparency and frequent mandates are hardly the roads to better outcomes.
Look for more mandates and cherry-picked data to justify poor decision making.

Anonymous said...

"How odd, that is right. I actually read this very differently, that we parents of APP students are not properly mentoring or teaching our children compassion if we are not volunteering in a Special Ed classroom"

Are the special ed parents mentoring compassion and volunteering in the APP classrooms?? ALL kids in this district need more support. Shouldn't all parents be mentors for their children. Why in the world would this task fall only on the APP community? Do parents of special ed kids have no responsibility. Do their kids not need mentors. Many special ed kids are ADD, or behaviorally challenged, not disabled. Why are you not yelling for their parents to be mentors??

anony759 said...

I don't actually want to engage in APP bashing as a sport, and unfortunately the argument seems to always devolve into that sport.

I think that a separate program can be justified on two possible grounds: 1) satisfying a special need that cannot be properly addressed in the regular ed classroom or 2) providing an alternative educational model.

I think APP, as currently configuring tries to do both and argue for its existence on both justifications. But, I think the two justifications are different. The first justifies testing and an "admission" criterion, but requires a justification that APP isn't beneficial for everyone, but only for those chosen on those criteria. The second would support self-selection of those who desire the alternative education model.

People often say something along the lines of "APP students aren't getting anything better, just something that is more appropriate for them." If I believed that (for example, I think the Robinson young scholars program at UW is appropriate for only a very few students, and most would be dis-served by it). But, I think that APP as currently configured is offering a more rigorous curriculum that many students might benefit from. As such it's #2, and should be treated like an alternative. If it's #1, the criterion for inclusion should be more substantial.

Frankly, I'm a bit freaked out by the data on self-harm, which validates all my pre-conceived prejudices about pushing students into programs like APP (as opposed to selecting students who are functioning so far above the educational mean that there's no pressure in achieving the standards).

(and for those who use personal status to judge comments, my kids would qualify for APP under much more rigorous standards).

anony @ 7:59, 9:24, 12:43, 4:49 (sorry, I should have chosen a name for the thread).

Charlie Mas said...

There is no point in addressing the chatter of anonymous commenters who think they are better able to determine and identify giftedness from casual contact than trained professionals can with analytical tools. They are like fans in the bleachers down the first base line thinking they can determine balls and strikes better than the home plate umpire. It is a blessing that they remain anonymous so as not to make themselves ridiculous.

To anonymous at 4:49 (and, I suspect, at 12:43):

It is very likely that, with sufficient professional development, coaching, and instructional leadership, teachers will differentiate instruction more. If they did it a lot, and if there were all kinds of small group instruction, and every school committed the necessary resources to serving the full range of students, then it is possible that neighborhood schools could serve a broad range of students well.

I share that belief. I share that hope.

I also know that isn't the case today.

Before there were bridges across Lake Washington there was a ferry. It ran between Madison Park and Kirkland. (Fun fact: Madison is the only roadway in Seattle that runs uninterrupted from the Bay to the Lake.) There is no doubt that bridges are a huge improvement over ferry service. But it would have been foolish to discontinue the ferry service before the bridge was built. And it would have been foolish and dangerous to encourage people to drive across the bridge before it was complete. The ferry service didn't end when the plans for the bridge was announced - it continued until after the bridge was complete.

Until differentiation is in place - and it isn't right now - let's keep what we have that works. That shouldn't even be in question. It is an interim solution, but the only one we have right now. We cannot abandon it based on sincere intentions to differentiate, or plans for differentiation or even the initial tentative steps towards differentiation.

We have all seen too many education fads come and go. The District has, in just the past fews years, sworn fealty to Standards, to differentiation, and now to curriculum maps and fidelity of implementation. Reform math is fighting the flush but it too will go. These ideas come and go like clouds moving across the sky. It would be nuts to presume that differentiation will be instituted with permanence until we see some real sign of that.

Now, how can we encourage the introduction of differentiation when the District leadership is pushing standardization? Should we encourage them to make a parallel curriculum the standard curriculum? How can we communicate a message that includes differentiation within the context of fidelity of implementation?

How can supporters of differentiation such as us influence the district decision-makers to give it the prominence it needs? How can we push differentiation into the schools were teachers are trained?

And, until differentiated instruction can reliably provide an appropriate academic opportunity to every student in every class, what can we do to meet the needs of students outside the mainstream who would not be served in a non-differentiated classroom?

anony759 said...

I disagree with anon@2:36 that it's all about race (the proportion of Asians in the APP bely that). But, I do think it's about affluence/privilege/socioeconomic status and their correlation with the testing criterion used to select students for APP. The incredibly high proportion of qualified students in many neighborhoods supports that contention. If half of the children test in, we really are defining a new average.

(I've also never been fully knowledgeable about the role of private testing, which also skews the selection process in favor of the affluent).

Not Entitled or Demanding said...

Anonymous-at-many-times, If your child has qualified for APP and you didn't choose to send them there, how is that not an alternative? My children qualified, but no one made me send them there, I chose it because it works for us. How is this different than someone who choses an alternative program like AS1 or TOPS? For someone who claims to not want to engage in APP bashing, you are certainly devoting a lot of time to it in this thread. And no one "pushes" kids into APP. You don't qualify, you don't get in.If my kids were floundering there, I would pull them out. They are not. I would LOVE nothing more than to be able to send them to our neighborhood school, and be able to walk to it, and not get up so early to catch a bus across town, but we tried that, it didn't work. I'm not asking for anything special, I'm not demanding a more rigorous program to send my kid off to Harvard at age 16. I am looking for the same thing you are, an appropriate education for my children from the public schools.

anony759 said...

The problem we "differentiators" have with the ferry/bridge analogy is that we think the existence of the ferry (tracking/APP) will prevent the building of the bridge (differentiation) and actually favor the tragedy of having neither (standardization of mediocrity).

You defend tracking because it is working for you. But, tracking fails others (including those APP students who are functioning above the standardized advanced curriculum offered at Lowell). Mind you, I expect no one to jump onto the bandwagon to oppose a program that helps their child, so I do not mean that statement to be an ad hominem attack). But, neutral observers can't be too swayed by the idea that something helps a particular group of children if it hurts the overall goals of the educational system.

Charlie Mas said...

I, too, think that more students could benefit from a more rigorous curriculum. I think that more rigorous curriculum could be Spectrum.

I think that entrance to Spectrum should be based on self-selection. This would be coupled with a functional and effective means of moving students out of the program if it proves an inappropriate placement for them.

Think of the money that would be saved on testing if students could get into Spectrum simply by enrolling in it. Think of how many more students would be exposed to more challenging, rigorous schoolwork. Think of how test scores would rise. Think of how satisfaction with the District would be improved. Think of how enrollment would grow.

Let's be very candid. A lot of people who opt out of the general education classroom - either for advanced learning programs, alternative education programs or private school - aren't running TO something they want, they are running FROM something they don't want. If they could be assured an escape from the chaos, the low expecations, the wasted time, the behavior problems, and the peer pressure to underachieve in the general education classroom, without leaving the public school system, I think they would take it.

Could this mean that 40-50% or more of our students would be in Spectrum? I think so. How would that be a bad thing?

APP could then be more selective - as it once was - and be just for the students who really need it: the severely gifted (that's actually the correct jargon). These would be the kids who enter UW after the eighth or tenth grade.

Even these steps would still be interim solutions. There is no reason that every classroom could not offer rigorous, challenging, and, when appropriate, accelerated curriculum. Wonder why they don't?

When teachers, particularly those in South Seattle, are encouraged to nominate their advanced learners for Spectrum and APP, a lot of them say they don't have any such students in their class.

When principals, particularly those in South Seattle, are encouraged to nominate their advanced learners for Spectrum and APP, a lot of them say they don't have any such students in their school.

It's actually worse than that.

Not only do a number of teachers not present challenging, rigorous material, many of them do not even teach to the Standards, the grade level expectations.

We know this to be true because we know that students are arriving in classrooms unprepared to do the work and unfamiliar with the pre-requisite material. Students who fail the 10th grade WASL are the same students who failed the 7th grade WASL are the same students who failed the 4th grade WASL.

I'm not great fan of President Bush, but when he talks about the soft bigotry of low expectations, he hits the nail on the head.

Look at Van Asselt. Do you know why this school, with 457 students - one of the biggest elementary schools in the District - with 44% bilingual, 98% minority, and 82% FRE - had 4th grade WASL Reading, Writing and Math pass rates of 74%, 68.5% and 63%? Because their plan there is to teach to the strongest students and help the rest to keep up.

anony759 said...

"Anonymous-at-many-times, If your child has qualified for APP and you didn't choose to send them there, how is that not an alternative?"

Because it's not an alternative for the children who didn't qualify through a process that is by no means a consensus method of selecting for "advanced" programs. If it's an alternative program, it should be treated like an alternative, not a "special ed" program for which children qualify.

The fact that it could have been an alternative for my own children has nothing to do with any of my thinking on this question or my participation in this forum. I read and think about these questions because I care about the SPS and I care about the equity issues. I oppose SPS policies that allow people to find solutions that work for subgroups of children without considering all the children.

Again, I think we have to separate the personal from the political. I don't expect anyone to not defend policies that help your own children, but that's not going to prevent me from arguing for the decisions I favor (even when they don't affect my children).

anony759 said...

Charlie writes:

"I think that entrance to Spectrum should be based on self-selection. This would be coupled with a functional and effective means of moving students out of the program if it proves an inappropriate placement for them."

"APP could then be more selective - as it once was - and be just for the students who really need it: the severely gifted (that's actually the correct jargon). These would be the kids who enter UW after the eighth or tenth grade."

"I'm not great fan of President Bush, but when he talks about the soft bigotry of low expectations, he hits the nail on the head."

(among other things)

Well, I agree with all of this. I could be comfortable with a self-selected Spectrum program (and a requirement that it be offered at schools in every cluster) + a much more stringent APP standard that actually identifies kids that have special needs. (Though I believe the correct term is "Profoundly gifted", not "severely"). Even in our rarefied world, though I'd expect that to be a small proportion of SPS children (something close to the 1/1000 the statistics would support). That would also decrease the size of the APP program relieving the current problem of over-crowding.

And, I too am neither a fan of Bush or NCLB, but I have seen a consequence I like: I think we've been forced to face up to the inequity of expectations in our different schools and that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

To anon at 8:57 - Sorry I don't agree that "those APP" kids will all be all right. I taught in the APP program a few years ago. Prior to that I taught in special education. Both sets of parents had concerns about the education and welfare of their children. The special ed parents had a set of prescribed procedures that insured a process for determining a specialized program for their children. They were invited to participate in the planning of an appropriate IEP. They had voice in the process and usually a strong advocate working with them, the special education teacher.

My personal experience is that APP parents, while perceived to have a strong voice and nothing to complain about, actually are worrying about more than whether their child will get into an ivy league college. I dealt with APP students with both special education and emotional health issues. I never had one of my special ed students attempt suicide, but it did happen with my APP students.

APP and special education have a lot in common - students who need consideration of their unique abilities. I never hear people complain about the special ed parents who have advocated for their child's placement in a particular program including placement at district expense in a private school. Is that because we feel sorry for those parents?

Let give APP parents some credit for the value they do add to the district. They do volunteer, they help raise money, and they have kept their kids in the public schools. And they do care about kids.

Anonymous said...

If you had self-selected Spectrum, that *would* be lowering expectations for the regular program -- you'd have people thinking they had to "opt in" to get a real education. Spectrum would become the "non-remedial" program, not any sort of real accommodation for advanced learners. I think that would be much *more* elitist, much *more* open to charges of parental pushiness, and much *more* like a private school within a public school than the current system.

I'd love to see differentiation, cross-grade classes, all that. But to do it all right, I doubt you could manage with current class sizes. I think given the way the whole school system is set up, with the expectation of age-based groupings and large homogeneously taught classes, the best we can do is tinker within the age groupings, which pretty much leaves us stuck with self-contained gifted classes.

Anyway, given that we've *got* a particular program, and we've *got* this particular issue with how the assignment plan is being handled, what on earth is wrong with discussing that? Why do we need to start from the beginning every time the subject of APP is brought up?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

"APP could then be more selective - as it once was - and be just for the students who really need it: the severely gifted (that's actually the correct jargon). These would be the kids who enter UW after the eighth or tenth grade."

I like this a lot. I think there would be few that would disagree that a special program is needed for kids that are so far ahead that they are entering college in 8-10th grade.

I agree that for those falling below this criteria the justification that they need/deserve a separate program more than others, and where that line of eligibility is drawn is problematic.

My son is on the upper edge of Spectrum, as are many of his peers. I think he would have no problem handling the APP middle school curriculum. He tested into the math class where most of the APP kids are in and is getting an A so far. It's fortunately that math placement is independent of the district eligibility test. So why should others get the more rigorous curriculum in APP when they just scored a few points above him on the eligibility test and he could handle the curriculum?

That's my issue with the program. I would imagine it's the same issue for those that don't meet the eligilbity requirements for Spectrum but feel their kids could handle the curriculum.

I think that the general ed classes are taught to the middle and below and so anyone that is performing above the middle and below Spectrum feels that they want more rigorous coursework and that the people that tested into Spectrum and APP are not all more deserving of it then they are.

Charlie Mas said...

The presence of tracking no more precludes the introduction of differentiation than the presence of the ferry precluded the construction of the bridges. There is absolutely no basis for saying such a thing. How does the presence of Spectrum or APP prevent teachers from getting training in differentiation? It doesn't. How does it prevent principals from getting training in it? It doesn't. How does it prevent the District from using coaches to support differentiation? It doesn't. There is a plenty big range in the general education classes already to provide teachers with practice. There are plenty of high performing students in general education classes to provide teachers with practice. There are plenty of APP- and Spectrum-eligible students in general education classes to provide them with practice. As has been pointed out, there is a plenty big range in the Spectrum and APP classes to practice differentiation there too.

There is no reason to dismantle the system that works pretty well for a large number of students BEFORE the new system is built. It is entirely unnecessary.

Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that Spectrum and APP hurt the overall goals of the educational system. The suggestion is inflammatory and it is irresponsible to state such a thing without some sort of supporting details.

DFM said...

We live in Seattle but live very close to the Shoreline border. We opted to enroll our son at Kellogg, the Shoreline neighborhood middle. In addition to the fact that Kellogg has 690 kids VS. Eckstein's
1250 kids, Kellogg also has a self elected honors program. I have posted about this before, but I will mention it here again as it relates to this thread. Any student at Kellogg can elect themselves into one, two, three or all four honors classes (Soc Stud, English, math and science). They have a large enrollment in their honors program, and no wait list!! Everyone who wants to take an honors class, takes it! No competition. No tests. No wait lists. The only requirement is that your child maintains a grade of 75 or higher. If they fall below, they get bumped into a regular ed class . Unlike Spectrum in Seattle which is "all or nothing", with self elected honors classes you can customize your own curriculum. If you are strong in math, you can take an honors math class. If you are super interested and motivated in science, you can just take a science honors class. You can take one honors class, all honors classes or none. And the best part is its all up to you! It's very civil. And, with the exception of math (which is about the same) we have found the classes to be far more challenging than our friends Spectrum classes at Eckstein.

In addition to all of the above, they offer full year science at every grade in MS, and every kid gets an ibook laptop for the entire school year!!! It feels like a private school. Now I understand why Shoreline is ranked so high.

I know Shoreline is a smaller district, and their demographics are different. But, there is no reason Seattle couldn't do many of these things.

Anonymous said...

And to Helen Schinske, I would say go and take a look at Kellogg MS. See how self elected honors works. About 30% of their MS students take one honors class. About 19% take 2 or more honors classes. They all take them by choice. If they can't keep up a grade of 75 or higher they are bumped into regular ed. This is how they keep these classes challenging for the kids who need the challenge, and don't overwhelm the kids who really are not at that level. Your perception is wrong about the non-honors classes being or feeling remedial. Quite the opposite. My child went to Salmon Bay last year for 6th grade. All of his classes felt like remedial classes. He learned nothing, and goofed off a lot. His English class was a joke. This year at Kellogg,, he is in a regular English class where he is challenged every single day! It feels like an honors class as they are light years ahead of Salmon Bay. No where near remedial.

You shouldn't try to cut down something that you haven't tried or haven't seen in action. Shoreline is doing a fantastic job of challenging EVERY student. Please don't be so defensive and so quick to condemn.

DFM

DFM said...

One more thing, and I'm sorry to be so long winded, just very passionate about this topic.

To Helen Schinske, if you went to Kellogg, you would notice that they don't have all of those pushy parents and elitist notions. Because it is not competitive. No test. No wait list. No stress. No limited access. No clawing your way in or to the top. It is much more simple. You just elect to take a class, and viola, you're in. It eliminates all of the elitist, entitled, privatized, pushy parents, and opens the door to kids who just want a challenging class. Think about it!

Anonymous said...

Wow, think about that???.....

No competition to get into a school. Shoreline has neighborhood schools with plenty of space and guaranteed access if you are within the boundaries.....

Once you are in, no competition to get into honors classes. There are enough for everyone.

Compare that to choosing a school in Seattle. You have no idea if your gonna "get in". If you don't get in you get a mandatory assignment somewhere you don't want to be that may not even be in your neighborhood. Then when you finally get to whatever school you wind up in, and you "test in" to Spectrum you still have a good chance of getting dumped on a Spectrum Wait list if you are in a popular school. This system MAKES parents become pushy, competitive and stressed out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is all a great discussion.

What most of you need to do, all of us, is rise up, together, and tell the Board, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT THE PROGRAM TO LOOK LIKE. I'd be interested in learning more about Shoreline's program. I think that works at middle school because there are separate classes but I am unsure how it would work at elementary.

Nonetheless, why can't it be like that here? Why can't whoever wants the challenge and can keep up be allowed in a so-called honors math, social studies or LA class?

But the district needs to hear this loudly and in large numbers.

Anonymous said...

Mel-

Shoreline does have a seperate test-in program for high cap for Elementary. There are two sites that are co-located in larger schools. Again, there is no wait-list. If more kids test in, they add more seats.

I don't have the exact figures with me, but the programs aren't used by all who qualify. The principal at our elementary school told us that about 40% of the kids who test in go. I think that parents who feel like their kids are doing okay at their home (in walking distance) school see no need to put their kids on a bus each day. If a student tests in and chooses not to go, their home school gets the funding from the state to purchase extra materials.

At the middle and high school levels, there is definitely some pressure from the school (teachers and administrators) both for kids who they think will do well in honors classes to take them and for kids who might struggle to consider opting out. But, in the end, it is up to the family.

The biggest differnce I see in Shoreline is a high value placed on neighborhood schools as opposed to Seattle that places a high value on choice. But, I think Shoreline can do that because of the more homogenous population.

Spectrumstepping stone said...

Mel said "What most of you need to do, all of us, is rise up, together, and tell the Board, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT THE PROGRAM TO LOOK LIKE."

The HC grant pays for testing anyone. Do away with private testing and we have a more level field. Go to the School Board and ask them to ask the supt how many kids get to APP from Spectrum. The answer is "most." APP starts out small and as the grades get higher, the enrollment increases. Spectrum was defined as a gifted program and only recently were the enrollment criteria changed to make it a "borderline" gifted program. This was an effort to reduce the APP program until it shrivels up and goes away. One unified test-in program would make for a much stronger, larger population. Getting rid of waitlisted Spectrum seats is something to request. Combine APP and Spectrum.

A big part of the admin. challenge is finding teachers who can teach these kids. In some states it requires an extra level of certification. FInding principals who like these kids is the greatest challenge.

DFM said...

We found our Seattle neighborhood elementary school to be fantastic and didn't go to Shoreline for elementary, so I can't speak to how they handle advanced learning k-6. I will go to the Shorecrest HS info night in February, and will post anything that I find out about their high school honors/AP program then.

DFM

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder why Shoreline has plenty of room, plently of money, but is closing schools? They have a deminishing school age population because the city is built out and families with grown children are staying in thier homes, not downsizing. Absent the importation of students from other districts, they would have to continue closing even more schools, and will likely do that anyway.

Before folks get too grass is greener, remember that the Shoreline School District Board also faced a recall petition, had a walkout on thier hands for teacher treatment, and is being sanctioned by the Office of Civil Rights for the Dept of Ed for discrmination against special education students. Not knocking what appears to be a good thing for dfm and others, but Shoreline is not perfect.

Anonymous said...

I apologize for upsetting people. I was not thinking of a middle school environment like Kellogg's when I wrote -- rather of an elementary school where the choice would be all or nothing. I was also thinking specifically of the proposal to turn a program that *had* been test-in to an opt-in program -- rather than a situation where there had been honors and regular classes for a while.

I'm also speaking in the context of a district in which there are undeniably classes that don't suit anyone, and that people want to get away from. Providing an escape hatch in the form of honors classes doesn't fix the real problem there, and is an elitist solution. Classes at all levels *should work*, just as first-grade classes should be as successful on their own terms as second-grade classes, and so on up. It sounds as if Shoreline is a lot closer to that ideal than Seattle is.

By the way, does Kellogg use placement tests in math at all? Can one test out of a year, or is the honors math enrichment rather than acceleration?

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

Mel said "What most of you need to do, all of us, is rise up, together, and tell the Board, THIS IS WHAT WE WANT THE PROGRAM TO LOOK LIKE."

Wow!!! that worked so well in math there was no record or even video of any public testimony of the May 30th Everyday Math adoption.

The idea that the SPS board hears anything worth acting on without massive disruption has not been born out in the last 24 months.

There is no data driven intelligent decision making in many areas.
No transparency.

If you can arrange for fights and shouting you might have a slight chance.

Logical rational thought well presented by a variety of parents both professional and non-professional has been virtually useless.

Witness the recent Denny/Sealth ongoing disaster.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why are honors classes elitist? If they are open to all, what is the problem?

Anonymous said...

I never said honors classes were elitist. Indeed, I never even *mentioned* honors classes until someone else brought them up. I was responding to the situation Charlie described in the words "Not only do a number of teachers not present challenging, rigorous material, many of them do not even teach to the Standards, the grade level expectations."

He proposed using opt-in Spectrum classes as a way of getting away from such teaching. I disagree. I think such a solution would be less just.

As far as I can tell, I'm not disagreeing with Charlie at all over ultimate goals -- only over the best way to achieve those goals.

Helen Schinske

DFM said...

Kellogg does not do a math placement test. A 7th grader can opt into honors math, which at Kellogg means 8th grade math. They 8th grade work book. In 8th grade honors students take integrated I, which is 9th grade math. Again, no test. You elect yourself in, and if you drop below a 75 you get bumped into a regular ed class. Most families that we know have been very responsible in trying to choose the right placement for their children.

Anonymous said...

Charlie and differentiation -

Charlie, I teach, and you don't.

differentiation in math has been a great excuse to mix and match kids skills just any old way, and it is your fault as a teacher if, with skills that are all over the map, the kids behavior is all over the map.

I have never seen this idea detailed so that it workable in reality, but, I'm sure that there are reams and gigabytes of 'research' showing it works on paper and on hard drives.

p.s. - for anyone considering applying for a job teaching math, do not use anything I just said in an interview, if you need a job.

anon sat

dan dempsey said...

Dear Anon sat at 5:43,

So true.

The classroom group that a teacher must use differential instruction for gets more and more diverse as the grade level gets higher. In the SPS, due to the failure to enforce the defining of necessary skills to be taught at each grade level and complete failure to either provide effective interventions and/or non-promotion based on necessary skills, the diversity of this group becomes larger faster than in many other places.

The current idea of evaluating teachers on their ability to turn pages in a uniform fashion with the uniformity of synchronized swimmers is one of the most bizarre ideas yet. This is now know as Fidelity of Implementation.

Do not worry if the children do not understand just keep turning those pages for in the end the kids will understand {at least when it is discovered in the end that they did not get it, the kids will be long gone from your classroom}.

---------------------
Consider the following from Niki Hayes:

We need to be really careful about believing everything a company’s salespeople or representatives tell us. Our children's academic lives depend on our doing our homework. We also need to stop turning these issues into politically- charged ones ....in the decision-making process that leads to big bucks for people.

As a sidebar, I wouldn't buy a product that has 3,000 pages (1,000 pages in the teacher's lesson guide alone) for my third grade teachers to try and wade through in 176 days of instruction when they must teach four core subjects.[the 3000 pages is in reference to Everyday Math]

Niki Hayes
----------------------------

Here I thought the national emphasis on math was going to be a big improvement. Well it was for publishing houses,especially for Pierson with the WASL contract.

The top scoring math countries have math specialists teaching math beginning around grade 3 and none have the social promotion policies of SPS.

The fear of tracking students is greater than the fear of failing to educate them.

I as a part of a team of three had great success once with developing a middle school program that effectively used differentiated instruction at the middle level in a team taught classroom. My principal could have cared less because it disrupted the uniformity.

Well the SPS is certainly on track for great uniformity. Unfortunately that is miles away from the best education that can be provided each child.

We have moved from the idea of uniform access to education for each child to the absurd idea of uniform educational outcomes.

NCLB had no effectively researched ideas for improving failing schools. NCLB according to NYU research analyst Diane Ravitch has produced five years of disruption and little else.

When a program is based on the fake accomplishments of Houston schools, under Supt. Rod Paige during GWB's governorship in Texas, that hardly makes it based on creditable research.