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Monday, November 17, 2008

Whispers

The APP community has heard, through undisclosed sources, that the District has changes in mind for the program's configuration. There is no word, no hint, other than that whisper of change coming. No one from the District has made any effort to engage the community regarding the problem, let alone the ideas or the plans.

APP has capacity issues. The elementary program, at 500, is bursting Lowell at the seams. There was an abortive attempt two years ago by Raj Manhas to split this program between Lowell and Broadview-Thomson. The high school program, at 400, comprises about 25% of the enrollment at Garfield. There was an abortive attempt three years ago by Raj Manhas to dismantle the program. The middle school program stands at about 425 students and is located at Washington Middle School. Last year, Carla Santorno tried to split this program between Washington and Hamilton, but a board review revealed just how capricious that idea actually was and Ms Santorno, unable to provide data to support her decision, withdrew it.

Let's be very clear. The APP community is not opposed to change. They just want the District to be thoughtful about it so the program's quality and effectiveness will be preserved. Previous false starts at reconfiguration were not thoughtful - not at all. The community has been trying to actively engage the district on reconfiguration for years to no avail - the District staff just won't speak with them.

When the District withdrew their proposal to split middle school APP, they committed to engaging the community on the issue. They have failed to keep that commitment.

39 comments:

dan dempsey said...

they committed to engaging the community on the issue. They have failed to keep that commitment.

So what else is new?

Normally the public is engaged after the real planning has already been done. Usually the public like the board is to just stamp OK.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's pretty ridiculous.

I actually got started being active in the district over the Highly Capable program as it was called then. My son was in Spectrum.

This district acts like it's embarrassed about high achievers. I know of no other district that acts like this. There are magnet high schools over all the Northeast for high achievers and no one bats an eye.

My sons were never in APP but I would oppose splitting up the program simply because the program has so little and that move could weaken it.

I wish Spectrum were a stronger program with more uniformity from school to school.

With the assignment plan changing, these issues loom large. How will high achieving students get their academics? I think many parents would rather keep them at a neighborhood school but find that either there is nothing done or it's just "extra work".

Jet City mom said...

Since the APP community describe their children as having special needs- with which I am sympathetic, I suggest they get together with the sped community.

How the district seems to deal with the SPED community is, identify a building that needs additional students, slap together a " program" using keywords from ' best practices", write up students IEPs, using those keywords & say " hey" , this is the only building that happens to offer the program that you need according to your IEP.

Doesn't matter if that is what the student actually needs, my experience has been the IEP is written before the meeting- the meeting is just to briefly ( emphasis on brief) explain what the procedure is, ask parents to sign, they don't have to agree, with the way the IEP is written, because the signature is just to certify they were there.


However, if both SPED and APP banded together- to insure that buildings could actually attempt to fullfill requirements of what was attempting to be offered- they both might have better luck dealing with district.

Additionally, it could help to serve those students, like my daughter, who fit into both categories, but who often fall between the cracks.

TechyMom said...

What would it take to fix the Central District Spectrum program? Leschi hasn't really done anything with it. It's a shame. A strong spectrum program here could really take some pressure off McGilvra, Stevens, Montlake and TOPS, pushing one more Central school from the "bad" category to the "ok" category, and maybe eventually to the "good" category.

dan dempsey said...

The need for a program for high achievers in the SPS is compounded by what little is done to encourage achievement as in the learning of content. As I have mentioned there were no grade level learning expectations in math for years. Still the district saw fit to spend millions on two math series. Now that there are finally Grade level learning expectations in math .. the multimillion dollar programs do not in anyway match the published expectations. As several others have pointed out .. it is important for some students to be in a special program for academics because the regular program is often deficient.

It often appears the SPS goal is to have each child learn the same content as every other child. The goal should be to maximize the learning for each child given the childs capabilities. {It appears the SPS program fails to serve many potential high achademic achievers.}

As Melissa said:
"It's pretty ridiculous."

Charlie Mas said...

techymom, there is only one thing that could fix the Central Cluster Spectrum program - move it.

For the program to have credibility it would have to be at a school that already has a reputation for academic achievement. There are five of those in the Central Cluster: Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, TOPS, and Lowell.

I think you can see the problem. There's no room for additional students at any of those schools and two of them (Lowell and TOPS) would require significant changes to the student assignment plan.

Here's an alternative:

The district could designate Muir as the Spectrum school for the Central, South, and Southeast clusters. The three cluster draw would form a program as big and as credible as the one at Lafayette, which is (in essence) a multi-cluster draw.

taylor said...

The whispers are probably true... given the district has put tons of money into an APP program which doesn't meet national standards for gifted students and the experts in the field have told them:
1. Seattle Schools standards for student identification using top 1-2% for IQ and achievement scores in reading and math is such an outdated way to identify highly gifted. Isn't even close to meeting gifted industry trends.
2. National gifted standards recognize being highly gifted in a single subject area. Seattle's APP program only recognizes students being highly gifted in BOTH reading and math areas!
3. Seattle's APP program has very little, if any, representation of economically-disadvantaged students, African-American students and other students of color... these students are so under-represented, the word discrimmination comes to mind. (And to the minds of many in the know.)
4. The APP standards for identification have so many cultural biases that the testing measures used for identification barely meet the sniff test. Unless, of course, you're middle class and white.
5. Seattle's narrowly-focused APP program doesn't recognize or serve those highly gifted in other areas: creativity, leadership, the arts, intellectual... only academics.
6. Highly gifted students with disabilities (yes, gifted can be disabled too!) are rarely given access to the APP program because testing for eligibility is directly impacted by their disabilities. Some well-known gifted/disabled or Twice Exceptional are Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison (and maybe Gates).

Highly-regarded, rigorous gifted programs help prevent white flight. So regardless of any capacity issues, Seattle's APP program faces very tough scrutiny based on equity issues. This will leave the district scrambling to find an adequate fix to keep those families from fleeing the district while balancing those discriminatory perceptions of APP!

The group auditing Seattle's APP and other highly capable programs like Spectrum, are well-respected, industry experts and have been used by many urban school districts similar to Seattle.

Read the long-version of the highly capable audit... you might be quite surprised.

Charlie Mas said...

taylor is correct in a number of statements. Some other statements are not correct.

First, Seattle Public Schools puts very little money into APP. Most of the funding for the program comes from the State in the form of a grant that the District could not receive if they did not have a program. The grant pays for the identification testing and for most of the staff who work the program. The District's most significant out-of-pocket expenses for APP are the added transportation costs for the all-city draw program. The state covers a significant portion of these costs as well. The APP classrooms don't cost any more to operate than general education classrooms (they have about the same number of students) and there is no additional pay for the teachers. Since the classes don't have many special education students, they are actually among the lowest funded classes in the District. The general fund contribution to the Advanced Learning Office - which supports APP, Spectrum, ALOs, AP classes, IB, and Early Entrance Kindergarten - is totally punk. This is particularly true when you consider the number of students served by these programs.

The District's identification practice is poor, but not outside the norm. The primary deficiency is not the use of the CogAT, but the truly dreadful misapplication of WASL scores and the lack of out-of-grade-level testing. The District's efforts to add racial and economic diversity to the program by using the non-verbal CogAT was discouraged by the review as a bit misguided.

It sure would be better if SPS identified students as gifted in individual subject areas - they do for middle school Spectrum. The problem starts with elementary school where students are in a single self-contained class for all core subjects. The structure of the program dictated the identification process. It is less of an issue at middle school where, regardless of program, students are placed in math classes based on placement tests. It is not an issue in high school.

The under-representation of certain groups in APP is a well-known fact and the topic of a lot of discussion. The current program manager and the outside review team offer the same solution: talent development. Unfortunately, the schools that enroll a lot of minority students and students from low-income households have not shown any enthusiasm for supporting their gifted students or nominating them for participation in the program. In most cases they don't even acknowledge that they have any. The program can only serve the students who are in it. The deficiency here is not within the program, but outside it. High potential students, particularly African-American students, Latino students, and students from low-income households, are not getting exposed to the sort of challenging and rigorous curricula that would nuture their potential into ability.

The accusation of cultural bias in the tests has been around for a long time. No answer - short of equal outcomes for all groups - would appear to satisfy those who claim it. The publishers of the tests do their best to remove bias and none is found in the instrument, only inferred from the outcomes. While it is simple and politically popular to claim test bias, this is not the case as widely accepted by measurement professionals (Jencks, 1998). The outside reviewers - who are acknowledged experts in all other matters - did not contend that the tests were biased. The tests used for identification pass many more tests than the sniff test for cultural bias - unless you have cultural bias stuck in your nose and therefore smell it everywhere.

The one notable cultural bias is language. The tests are given in English. Students who are new to the language are at a disadvantage. That's why the District introduced the use of the non-verbal CogAT. The outside reviewers found this the appropriate use of the test.

It is true that the tests are narrowly focused on academic giftedness, but that's what the program is for - the academically gifted. It is not designed to serve those gifted artistically or with leadership. Artistic giftedness does not make a student well-matched for an accelerated program in math and reading. It is giftedness in math and reading that makes the match. That what the program offers, so that's what they test for. The outside reviewers cautioned against testing for and determining eligibility on criteria that do not match the programs offerings.

taylor is correct that the District doesn't do a good job identifying students who are both gifted and disabled. That was known before the review and was noted in the review and is definitely an area that needs improvement.

I too encourage people to read the outside review of APP. Of special interest to any reconfiguration of the program, I suggest that you read what the reviewers had to say about cohort size. It is not what you might expect.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would add that it was wrong to say they audited the Advanced Learning program and then they only did APP (I was told that they only had money to do APP but then why do it at all when there are larger numbers of students in Spectrum?).

This makes it more difficult to know what parents want in the assignment plan under the heading of Advanced Learning.

I agree with the issue of students having to be good in two subjects when they may favor one. That's where differentiation in teaching should come in. But it usually doesn't and if you ask you may get just a shrug. I know that one elementary PTA funds a math tutor for their students who are gifted (they don't have Spectrum and I don't know if they have an ALO).

I with Charlie on the issue of differing kinds of giftedness. This program is about academic giftedness. I have actually never seen a program that addresses other kinds of giftedness even though it clearly exists. This district already tends to celebrate achievements other than academic so I'm glad there's at least a program.

Jet City mom said...

I will put my $.02 in again- although I realize this is just one case- but I think it is extreme.
My D who was found to have an upward of 160iq, and was tested over a period of several years by Dr Robinson- did not qualify for the Seattle public schools gifted program.
Any of them. ( she is average in math apparently)

However, she did qualify to enter into private schools that serve gifted children and her test results were impressive enough for them, that they gave her financial aid. through high school ( ok college too) graduation.

Its really a tragedy, when I think of how many kids are not served because they don't look like what the district has in mind.

SolvayGirl said...

My daughter is another one of those who doesn't do well on standardized tests but can excel in the classroom. Her performance in a rigorous independent middle school has been great. If the bar is high, she works for it and reaches it. She loves school and learning and would certainly have benefitted from a curriculum like the Spectrum/AP program—but it would not have been offered to her at SPS.

I know there are definitely students who are so far ahead of their classmates that they need accelerated coursework, and I applaud the District for working to meet their needs. However, in too many schools, the students in the standard classes have to endure a curriculum that is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator so they become bored and disenchanted with school.

There's got to be a way to serve a variety of students and meet all of their needs. It should not have to be up to parents to supplement the standard public education just to keep their child engaged. Does anyone know of other Districts who have managed to pull off such a feat?

Charlie Mas said...

Seattle Public Schools has made provision for high performing students who, for whatever reason, either do not fit the Spectrum/APP model or do not choose to participate in those programs. Any school can establish an Advanced Learning Opportunity (ALO) program. These programs are supposed to provide the same rigor, depth, and acceleration as Spectrum, but in an inclusive classroom.

ALOs follow all kinds of models, too many to list or describe. Schools that offer ALOs are noted in the Enrollment Guides.

qa_parent said...

For the ALO's, you have to test into Spectrum or APP. So no, it doesn't serve students "who don't fit that model of accelaration", it serves exactly the same kids and has the exact same profile. And no, it isn't inclusive. It just happens to be provided in schools that don't have Spectrum. Typically, it's pullout... not inclusive.

ParentofThree said...

"For the ALO's, you have to test into Spectrum or APP"

That's not true across the board or even within a school.

For example, at Blaine in the lower grades I believe this year you need to test in to participate, it seems to change year to year, so not sure what the current model is.

However, in middle school, ALOs are open to any student with an A in the class, for 1Q all students are allowed to participate.

However, all the ALO consists of are projects to be completed entirely at home. Sometimes teachers will issue the ALO project at the beginning of a quarter, sometimes not. The adminstration has never really gotten a solid program in place (contrary to what their web site would lead you to believe).

Main point is that ALO programs have no real oversight from the discrict and so the ALO designation means different things at different schools.

Spectrum is also somewhat like this from school to school, although you can pretty much guarentee your student will get math and reading that is one year ahead, but that is about it.

For middle school, I cannot figure out what Spectrum means at any middle school. Anybody with any Spectrum middle school experience they care to share?

Maggie said...

We hear a lot on about how the APP high school students won't have access to AP classes if they all don't get to go hand in hand to Garfield. The reality is that by concentrating the APP students at Garfield, the district has ensured that Garfield has tons and tons of AP classes... and other nearby high schools have very few AP classes. That practice has essentially reduced access to accelerated learning to everyone else. If APP students were spread out at more high schools, AP classes would become available to more students who weren't in middle school APP and at a wider variety of high schools... and it would reduced transportation costs. Seems like a win-win situation... and one that made a lot of sense even when it was proposed by Manhas a few years back. People who liked that exclusivity of course hated the idea and killed it. It's high time we move on from that.

Charlie Mas said...

If someone - anyone - is telling you that students have to qualify for Spectrum to participate in an ALO they are DEAD WRONG. You should tell Bob Vaughan in Advanced Learning and you should complain harshly.

Charlie Mas said...

Maggie makes an intriguing suggestion, that if high school APP were dispersed, then all of the high schools would offer more AP classes in response to the demand for them created by the APP students in the school.

Interesting idea. It is predicated on two beliefs. One, that high schools offer classes in response to the demand by the students. Two, that there will be enough demand for the classes if the APP students were dispersed.

I'll set aside the first presumption because there is no point discussing it. Statements on either side would be pure conjecture. I could claim that the schools are not responsive in this way and others could claim that they are. Either way it is actually uncertain. There are no guarantees.

Regarding the second premise, we can do some reckoning. There are about 400 high school APP students. If they were dispersed evenly across all of the high schools - except the safety net schools - each of the big comprehensive schools would get about 35 APP students (some would go to Summit, the Center School, and NOVA). Of these 35 students, there would be about 8 or 9 in each grade, about 17 who are juniors or seniors in any given year. Of these, how many would want to take any one AP class? How many would want to take AP Calculus BC? Certainly not all of them. It's a class that is generally taken only by seniors after they took AP Calculus AB as juniors. So maybe six students would want it. Is that enough additional demand to merit offering the class? I don't think so. But AP Calculus BC is offered at Garfield. And what of AP Latin, AP Chemistry? Let's remember that Chief Sealth High School doesn't offer ANY AP classes and Ingraham only offers one. Will they suddenly create the a variety of these classes in response to spotty demand from 17 students? I don't think so.

It's a pleasant theory, but when you consider the actual events, they seem implausible.

anonymous said...

I would think that the APP students would go to traditional schools that offer AP classes. NOVA and Summit do not offer any AP classes at all (according to the Seattle Times Guide). Though NOVA seems to offer a very challenging curriculum, I would guess that no APP students would choose the school if it didn't offer the AP classes that they want. Same for Summit. Center school offers 3 AP classes so APP students probably wouldn't flock there either. The schools that are part of the SE initiative can't fill their AP classes currently, but perhaps if a group of APP students went there they would. Perhaps their AP program would even grow? The schools test scores would increase, the school would become more diverse, and parents might start to give it a second look. And as for Sealth and Ingraham, yes, they don't offer much in the way of AP classes, but they do offer IB. Isn't IB just as rigorous as AP? Wouldn't APP students be served in an IB program? My guess though is that most of the APP students will try for Roosevelt or Ballard where there is already strong AP course offerings. They will find most AP classes their, less maybe Lating and Calculus BC, but I think they would have to live with that. Or see if they could take those classes as a running start class? That's actually not so bad is it? I think Maggie brings up an interesting idea. One that is at the very least worth exploring. It really doesn't seem right that APP students get all of the AP classes up to AP Calculus BC, when other schools offer none at all.

TechyMom said...

I would add that i don't think the main benefit of the HS APP cohort is academic. I think it is a survival issue for many of these students.

Gifted people are percieved as different by their peers, and often have issues fitting in socially. They have high rates of isolation, depression, suicide and alcoholism. They are also often the target or bullying in schools. Having a large cohort of similar students offers them safety in numbers from bullying, and a chance of having deep and meaningful friendships that can ward off so many of those other things.

It's not just about AP classes. It really isn't.

anonymous said...

I should add that I do not have an APP student and probably don't understand all of the dynamics of the program or needs of the students. It sounds logical that courses offered around the district would serve the entire community better, but again I don't know enough about the program to come to an educated opinion.

Dorothy Neville said...

If APP remains a program in high school, then there ought to be a way to be admitted to said program in high school. Right now, the last time one can gain admission to the program is testing in 7th grade to join APP in 8th grade. Very definitely, 8th grade APP is a program. How is APP in high school a program? What is a program?

reader said...

APP in high school means that all the kids who were in APP in middle school get to go to Garfield. A guaranteed "cohort", a benefit given nobody else. They also get priority enrolling in popular AP classes, which anyone can enroll in.

No, you wouldn't have to spread APP high school students around evenly. I guess we will all see the actual plan at some point. Perhaps you could split it into 2 or 3, maybe with the eventual goal of an even split. Even if you wanted to, the split wouldn't be even. In any case, the downside might be a few esoteric AP classes would no longer be available. The upside... many other students, in many other schools, would have access to a range of AP classes. Because the advanced students are all concentrated in one place, it lowers demand at other schools. That much seems obvious.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm so happy to have the opportunity to have this conversation. It's really helpful to discuss these questions.

First point: despite the absence of AP classes, a lot of APP students choose NOVA. My own daughter, for example. She is not alone. At least a half a dozen of her friends from Washington are enrolled there with her. While it is true that NOVA is right across the street from Garfield and NOVA students may enroll in classes at Garfield on a "space available" basis, very few of them use the opportunity. If they seek advanced classes they are more likely to use Running Start. The presence of APP students at NOVA has not fostered AP classes there.

If APP students don't choose Summit or The Center School, then the suggestion that dispersing APP would expand AP opportunities would not extend to those schools.

Roosevelt and Ballard already offer plenty of AP classes, nearly as many as Garfield. There is no need to expand the AP opportunities at these two schools, is there?

Chief Sealth and Ingraham offer IB instead of AP. These classes are already available, so there is no need to expand those offerings, is there? In fact, if the APP students were in the building they might take seats in these classes from other students. That would actually restrict access.

Nathan Hale chooses not to offer AP classes as a principle of their teaching (or political) perspective, so adding APP students would not extend any AP opportunities at Hale.

In short, dispersing high school APP would not improve the number or variety of advanced classes available to students at any of the high schools north of downtown.

What about at the schools South of downtown?

Dispersing the program would certainly reduce the opportunities at Garfield. Let's remember that any student who accepts the challenge can enroll in an AP class. They are not for APP students only. Garfield has long boasted that they have more African-American students taking AP classes than any other school. Those kids aren't all in APP.

Chief Sealth, as mentioned, offers IB instead of AP.

So, really, there are only four schools that might possibly offer more AP classes if the high school APP were dispersed are West Seattle, Franklin, Cleveland, and Rainier Beach.

Two of these, Cleveland and Rainier Beach, are in the Southeast Initiative. adhoc says "The schools that are part of the SE initiative can't fill their AP classes currently, but perhaps if a group of APP students went there they would. Perhaps their AP program would even grow?" Perhaps, but how many APP students are likely to enroll at Cleveland or Rainier Beach? Probably less than the estimated average of 35. I doubt any more than 20, which is only five per grade. I cannot see how ten or so upper classmen are going to create sufficient demand for AP classes to merit Cleveland and Rainier Beach to expand their offerings. More likely they will only take a few of the empty seats in the existing classes.

Really the only schools that might, by any stretch of the imagination, add AP classes as a result of dismantling high school APP would be West Seattle and Franklin, and there is no good reason to believe that they would.

So what does that mean? It means that students at these schools could take those classes as a running start class. That's actually not so bad is it?

I agree that it isn't right that some schools don't offer many (or any) AP classes. But breaking up high school APP won't change that. I think that's clear. The only thing that will change that would be for those schools to choose, on their own, for the benefit of the students already enrolled in their school, to start offering more AP classes. So why don't they?

If these schools aren't offering enough advanced classes, you can't lay the blame on a group of students in another school. That's weak. People need to take responsibility for their choices, and the courses a school offers is a choice that the Building Leadership Team makes. If your school doesn't offer enough AP classes, you need to talk to your principal, not try to dismantle APP.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, just to really beat the hell out of this dead horse...

Reader wrote:

"The upside... many other students, in many other schools, would have access to a range of AP classes."

Actually, no. At most, just a few other students at just two other schools might have access to a couple more AP classes. Probably not. We can, however, be sure that all of the students at Garfield would have less access to AP.

Don't go with the conclusion that seems obvious. Think another step further and you'll see that dismantling high school APP would most likely reduce the net total access that students have to advanced classes. Any increases at West Seattle or Franklin would be more than offset by reductions at Garfield.

In fact, there is no reason to believe that Garfield would offer any more AP classes than Franklin, so there would no longer be any school south of downtown that offered a wide range of AP classes - only Roosevelt and Ballard in the north end would have a strong selection.

Let's also remember that the District does not receive state funding for students who are in Running Start. The District is funded on AAFTE, so they only get half funding for a student who is at Running Start for half the day.

reader said...

If Ingraham and other IB programs can already serve APP students, then why shouldn't they go to Ingraham? Why should students be shipped to Garfield, if they indeed can be served at Ingraham?

And if the district put an APP-cohort program at Cleveland, and NOT elsewhere, then maybe more would actually go to Cleveland, as noted by Adhoc. Then AP classes would be offered there because there would be enough students to warrant having them. Sounds like APP parents simply don't want to go to Cleveland. Well, neither does anybody else. Why should a particular group be exempt? I thought we cared about the SE? Good for everyone else... just not APP kids.

reader said...

PS. You can do running start at Cleveland too.

SE Mom said...

"Chief Sealth and Ingraham offer IB instead of AP. These classes are already available, so there is no need to expand those offerings, is there? In fact, if the APP students were in the building they might take seats in these classes from other students. That would actually restrict access."

I'd like to support Charlie's statement above about APP and IB classes. The really great thing about IB at Sealth is that kids don't have to test into the program and for the most part, APP students are not filling seats there. IB at Sealth is the most academically rigorouss program south of Garfield and I think it needs to remain wide open to any student who wants to attend. In fact, the IB teachers at Sealth seemed to me very invested in having the program not associated with the APP high school cohort - they've worked hard at Sealth to create a very different philosophy of academic inclusiveness.

TechyMom said...

In your calculations, don't forget that these students are easily admitted to private schools, awarded various types of scholarships, and some are sought out by early-entrance college programs. A significant portion will leave the district to find a cohort of similar students elsewhere. I don't know how many, but 20% seems like a conservative estimate.

anonymous said...

Reader, I think saying APP doesn't want to be housed at Cleveland is not fair to say. APP was placed at Garfield when it was considered a pretty rough, poor performing school in a bad neighborhood, and as I recall I didn't hear APP complain about it.

Charlie raises some good points in that there is power in numbers, and it takes those numbers to drive a program.

I find it interesting that not all APP students make the move from Washington to Garfield. I didn't realize that and was surprised to hear that several chose Nova. I wonder if some APP students that live north of the ship canal choose Roosevelt, Ballard, or the IB program at Ingraham? And if they are not choosing schools soley based on their lack of AP offerings (NOVA) are they choosing Hale or Center School or any other schools? Does anyone know the numbers or percent of MS APP students who do not move on to Garfield? It would be interesting data to have.

The other thing to note is if the APP program moved out of Garfield and the school was a regular neighborhood school, there would not be a high demand for AP classes, and I would assume that most of them would not be offered any longer. The rigor at the school would deteriorate, and in the end the Central/South end could watch as their strongest school turns into another Cleveland, or RBHS. Can this district afford to let this happen to yet another school south of the ship canal?

anonymous said...

Hale, Summit, and Nova don't offer AP classes due to their alternative, inclusive philosophy. Center school is truly to small to offer a wide range of AP classes. Sealth and Ingraham have strong IB programs and are already rigorous. Roosevelt and Ballard already have a wide range of AP classes. RBHS will likely (or at least hopefully) be closed during this round of closures

So that leaves three schools, Cleveland, West Seattle and Garfield that may be suitable for the APP cohort. If they were split between these three programs how would the numbers look? And how well would the students be served

Dorothy Neville said...

There were 129 APP students in fifth grade 04-05 who would be the current 9th grade cohort. How many 9th grade APP students are there at Garfield?

If many students elect to leave the cohort for high school, then there is no reason why other eligible students who need the cohort can't move in, is there?

Melissa Westbrook said...

QA, I'm with Charlie; no ALO should have a requirement of testing into Spectrum or APP. If they tell you that, it's wrong. But ALOs, like Spectrum, vary from school to school. I thought I understood that most of them were done in-class or were at-home work. Again, no quality control by the district.

The reasons some APP kids would not take IB (even though it is very rigorous work) are there. First, the kinds of classes in IB are not, as I understand it, as broad as AP. So kids with a particular interest might not be served by IB. Second, IB is a whole program with multiple steps and extra community service work. Some students might not want that extra paperwork and outside the classwork (I have a friend with a son at Ingraham in IB and it is a lot of extra watching over to get it all done.) Third, if you want the IB degree, you have to take multiple tests in a shorter period of time than AP so that may be another factor. (Although I know at Ingraham and Sealth, they do encourage students to take individual classes and they don't have to be in the IB "program" per se. This is a great way to expose more students to rigorous work.)

Roosevelt is planning on adding another AP class next year - AP Spanish Literature. We have many students who come in from middle school having completed a year of Spanish and top out after junior year so RHS is planning to add this AP Spanish class for those who want to continue on.

anonymous said...

"IB is a whole program with multiple steps and extra community service work. Some students might not want that extra paperwork and outside the classwork (I have a friend with a son at Ingraham in IB and it is a lot of extra watching over to get it all done.) Third, if you want the IB degree, you have to take multiple tests in a shorter period of time than AP so that may be another factor."

Can you explain why this would be an issue for APP students? I don't understand? Aren't APP students up for the challenge?

TechyMom said...

roots100,
As charlie has pointed out, splitting up APP probably won't improve rigor in the south end, even if its only spread across a few schools, especially if you account for the students who will leave the district if the program is split up. It would reduce rigor at Garfield.

So, what would increase rigor in the south end? I live in the Central area, and I'd like to have more choices too. Here's my "queen of the world" scenario for increasing rigor in the south end. These are just ideas, I'd like to hear what people think about them.

1) Close Rainier Beach (this is probably going to happen anyway), and consolidate it with Cleaveland.

2) Create an IB program at the new Cleaveland. As Charlie has pointed out before, the school is already set up for academies, and this could be a good fit. With the money saved from closing a whole high school, there should be plenty of funding for this.

3) Create a high school Spectrum program and place it at Franklin. Franklin is a great location for an all-city draw using public transportation. It has a Sound Transit station, two arterials with bus service, and a freeway entrance nearby. Consolidate the AP classes currently offered at RBHS, Cleaveland, and Franklin, since RBHS/Cleaveland will now have IB. If each now has 3 (picked for easy math, probably not the real number) Franklin will now have 9. If having advanced students really does drive schools to offer AP, the presence of the Spectrum students will cause Franklin to offer more over time.

3) West Seattle. I don't know this area as well. Will the students currently in West Seattle and Sealth fit in one of the buildings? Could they be merged, providing access to the IB program to all the students? The savings from closing another whole school should be more than enough to pay for additional sections of IB classes.

If they won't fit in one building, split the new Spectrum program between Franklin and West Seattle.

4) Finally, leave Garfield alone. Garfield is doing a good job. These other schools having more rigor will take some pressure off Garfield, and make it more available to neighborhood students.

TechyMom said...

and teach me to do list numbering by hand, or get my browser to do it for me ;)

anonymous said...

Techymom, that is the most reasonable, realistic solution to increasing rigor that I have heard to date!

If RBHS/Cleveland had IB, then there would be a program in the north, in the south and in the west! All students would have reasonable access to an IB school!!!

And if Franklin, probably the strongest of the three schools anyway (Franklin, RBHS, Cleveland) increased it's AP course offerings to a reasonable level, say 9, I think the school could have a renaissance (it used to be a very strong program).

And, yes, leave Garfield alone. It's doing a good job. Same for Montlake, McGilvra, TOPS, NOVA, and AS1. They are smaller programs, in awful buildings, but they are doing their jobs and doing them well. Lets leave the successful programs alone!

SE Mom said...

Sealth High School is slated to move into their new building for the 2010/2011 school year (along with the plan to include Denny middle school as part of the campus). West Seattle recently moved into a new (renovated?) building. From what I know, those schools seems to be doing well with programming and
filling seats.

I do like the idea of a Franklin
"renaissance". Don't know enough about their current programs and why things are not as good there as they used to be to say what changes could be made. Franklin is the closest high school to where we live, yet I don't know a single student going there.

Charlie Mas said...

reader asks:
"If Ingraham and other IB programs can already serve APP students, then why shouldn't they go to Ingraham?"

The answer to this question is easy. APP students who want IB do are free to enroll at Ingraham - or at Chief Sealth. They are not required to enroll at Garfield.

Question #2:
"Why should students be shipped to Garfield, if they indeed can be served at Ingraham?"

Answer:
If they want to enroll at Ingraham they may. No one is shipping them anywhere.

Question:
"And if the district put an APP-cohort program at Cleveland, and NOT elsewhere, then maybe more would actually go to Cleveland, as noted by Adhoc."

Cleveland is not very centrally located and therefore not a particularly good choice for an all-city draw. The school is not well-served by METRO bus routes, especially for people coming from all parts of the city. That said, if the District relocated high school APP to Cleveland I'm sure a lot of the students in the program would enroll there.

"Then AP classes would be offered there because there would be enough students to warrant having them."

I suppose this would be a likely outcome of a rather unlikely decision.

"Sounds like APP parents simply don't want to go to Cleveland."

Really? Who made these sounds? Where did you hear anyone say any such thing? Please share that with us all; we'd like to know.

I did write that APP students are less likely to enroll at Cleveland than at some of the other comprehensive high schools. Let me share my reasons for this. First, APP students' homes are more sparsely located in Southeast Seattle than in other parts of the city, so Cleveland isn't a nearby school for a lot of them. Second, Cleveland is built around two vocational academies. It holds little appeal to students who are not interested in pursuing one of those two vocations. Third, Cleveland's focus is on getting their kids to pass the WASL. From their web site: "Our new math curriculum is designed to help students pass the WASL and gain powerful math skills." Cleveland does not offer any AP math classes or AP world language classes. It just doesn't offer what a lot of APP students are looking for. That's why I didn't reckon that more than 20 APP students would choose it if the program were dispersed.

"Well, neither does anybody else. Why should a particular group be exempt?"

Right now, no one is compelled to enroll at Cleveland (except, of course, special education students assigned to a program there), so everyone is exempt. No particular group - everyone. Nor are there any future plans to compel anyone to enroll at Cleveland.

"I thought we cared about the SE? Good for everyone else... just not APP kids."

We do care about the Southeast. Does the fact that high school APP isn't located there somehow indicate that the District doesn't care about the Southeast? By that reasoning, the District currently doesn't care about the Southeast, the Northeast, the Northwest or West Seattle, because there's no high school APP in any of those parts of town either.

I'm sure reader has a point; I just can't divine it. Perhaps, reader could explain this to us again.

Is reader suggesting that Cleveland a better location for high school APP than Garfield? Did reader simply misread my comment of 8:19? reader, please come back and make yourself more clear.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Roots, what I meant was that IB is a total program and AP is not. AP courses are stand-alone classes. Apparently at both Ingraham and Sealth, it is encouraged to take the IB classes stand-alone but if you want the most benefit out IB, you take all the classes AND do the extra community service (which you have to do each year, not when you want)AND take the tests.

It's not that APP kids aren't up to this; it's simply a matter of what is the best academic course of action for them, just as it is for any other student.