Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Charlie Mas' Proposal for Self-Selecting Spectrum School(s)

This conversation was getting buried at the end of the open thread on Lowell/APP from last week, so I'm pulling it out to make it more visible. It is an idea from Charlie that has generated a good deal of enthusiasm among other blog readers.


Charlie Mas said...

What if Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne had no reference area at all? What if they were like The New School - a neighborhood school without a reference area? And what if people were told that the classes at these schools were going to all be rigorous and accelerated so that to enroll at the schools would be like to self-select for Spectrum.I have long been a proponent of self-selected enrollment in Spectrum, and these schools seem to me like a wonderful opportunity for the District to experiment with that. No tests for qualification, no barriers to entry. No cultural bias, no racism or classism. If you think you're up to the challenge, then enroll.I would really love to see that.

adhoc said...
Oh my gosh Charlie, that's absolutely brilliant! I love that idea. There is certainly no shortage of reference area seats in the central and south Seattle areas, so you're absolutely right, these schools could be self selected Spectrum sights!! I love it.
jd said...
Love it as well! Great for the kids, great alignment between the teaching staff of the APP and gen-ed populations (if you're thinking of this specifically as being post-APP split). Would still be great even if APP doesn't wind up in the buildings.However, even if it doesn't have a reference area,it would be good to have a distance tiebreaker, to give priority to south/central kids who want the rigor, and to reduce busing costs.
Charlie Mas said...
Oh yes, just like the New School. No reference area but with all of the other tie-breakers, including distance. And it would be part of the Cluster for transportation policy purposes. It would NOT be an alternative school, just as The New School is not an alternative school.I'm liking this idea more and more. If it goes over well at Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne, it can be duplicated in West Seattle-South where they have some elasticity in the capacity and no designated Spectrum school.
Central Mom said...
Charlie...as I just wrote on Harium's blog, your idea about making Thurgood Marshall into a self-selecting spectrum program while remaining a neighborhood school w/ no reference area is really innovative.I don't know the Hawthorne area enough to comment, but for the Central cluster, there would suddenly be a way to show how the closures and program movement bettered the offerings of the cluster as a whole. Thurgood Marshall becomes a significantly more rigorously academic school. Leschi is getting the popular Montessori program. Madrona and Leschi and Bailey Gatzert could boost their enrollment by folks who aren't drawn to the new format of Thurgood Marshall. More kids would mean more funding and more resources at those schools. Suddenly the north/south program quality split of the central cluster becomes less apparent (and less disturbing). What do the Lowell parents of students with disabilities think of this idea? How about the families presently at TM? What are the communities who would NOT appreciate this plan? What are the downsides from the district perspective? Additional input would sharpen this proposal.


Central Mom asks some good questions. What are your thoughts everyone?

I'm not sure I know enough to comment on all the specifics in the proposal, but I have always been a strong proponent of Spectrum being an "opt in" rather than "test in" program, where certain standards/grades have to be maintained to remain in the program. (as Shoreline does now very successfully)


SolvayGirl said...

Bravo Charlie! The lack of "opt-in" Spectrum is exactly why we left SPS at the middle school level. My child is very bright—especially in certain subjects—but not great with tests (esp. since she was Montessori from preK-8 and I didn't bother with private testing). She has excelled at her very rigorous independent MS (Latin is one of her favorite subjects). If we had had a Spectrum option (one that was truly rigorous and NOT in name only) we would have stayed.
Under your plan though, the District would have to set some standards for both Spectrum/honors/AOL since they can all vary drastically from school to school. You are definitely on the right track though.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Interesting. But isn't the district going to be drawing reference lines even for New School (and fyi, New School used to referred to - by staff and on documents - as an alternative school)?

But whatever the case, just announcing "This is going to be a rigorous school and here's how it will work." could jump-start some schools and enthuse parents.

hschinske said...

I hate to throw cold water, but I have serious doubts that this proposal would be any more politically acceptable just now than the idea of an APP/Spectrum 1-8 was. I think the super wants APP alongside a regular neighborhood program, with no preconditions ... not what would be in effect an alternative school. And I have to question how you could enforce rigor if there's no place within the school to send kids who turn out in fact to need remedial or grade-level work. I think standards would inevitably slide, especially as in my experience the district has only moved further and further *away* from coherent standards for advanced learning programs.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

I like the idea of housing an attractive program at TM for all of the reasons Central Mom states. I also like the idea of an opt-in Spectrum program. But I wonder about the wisdom of co-housing it with APP instead of a general ed program. I can see the pluses--APP sibs are likely to be Spectrum material, a principal who is happy with APP would do well with Spectrum level classes -- but, as Helen pointed out, it would mean that self selected Spectrum kids who weren't up to the rigor would have no where to go without leaving the school--that could lead to a dilution of the rigor in the program and make it no different than the currently unsuccessful Leschi Spectrum program.

h2o girl said...

As a parent whose child tested into Spectrum (tested in 1st grade for 2nd grade) and never cleared the wait list, I have long been a proponent of the Shoreline self selection model. It seems to me though that it would have to be co-housed with general ed though. I believe in Shorline you need to maintain a 75% average or you are asked to leave the honors class - if that meant changing to another school, I don't think that would work.

Charlie Mas said...

Strictly speaking, the District does have standards for Spectrum and ALOs, they just don't enforce them. They don't want to take the Spectrum designation away from a school or de-certify an ALO for fear that it would be seen as to harmful to the school's reputation. They don't seem to realize that failing to enforce the Standards damages the reputation of every school with a program without saving the reputation of the school that should be de-certified. The absurd claim that there is a Spectrum program at West Seattle Elementary, for example, doesn't fool anyone, but it does make people question the credibility of the program at Muir, Leschi, and Wing Luke.

Helen, please come back and expand on your statement. "Politically acceptable" to whom? To APP families? To the District leadership? To families in the Central Cluster?

The way I envisioned it, students in the general education program at Thurgood Marshall would be the regular neighborhood students. They would just all be in an inclusive ALO that teaches everyone to Spectrum guideline academic expectations. Basically that's their ALO model.

Other schools have made the claim that they teach all students to the Spectrum Standards, this would be no different.

The school would have to really commit to it. Once you accept the notion that every student can learn up to the State Standards, it isn't really very hard to believe that every student can learn a little bit more than that.

Students who are under-performing would get help and support. They would get early and effective intervention; they wouldn't get kicked out.

The reason that I suggested that the schools have no reference area is because they will only have room for one class per grade in their general education programs. That's only 142 students. I don't think that the District can draw a reference area that small. So they shouldn't even try.

It was The New School that gave me the idea that a school could be a neighborhood school without a reference area, and that they could not have a reference area, but not be an alternative school. If The New School can do it, then so can Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne.

Such a school would have no different a student body than any other school. They would have English Language Learners and students with IEPs. No reason they shouldn't. It would be inclusive. There is no reason that an inclusive school cannot also be high performing with an accelerated curriculum, is there?

another mom said...

h2o girl
-does the Shoreline model exist at the elementary level or is this a middle school model?

-I don't think that this is a bad idea, but without a general education program side-by-side how does it work if a student cannot keep up? In spite of what their parents believe,some kids should not be accelerated academically.What happens to those kids in such a school? At the middle school students could at least transfer out into nonhonors classes if unable to keep up or wants to work hard but a a pace that is more manageable.

It may be problematic at the elementary level, but certainly worth exploring at the middle school.

anonymous said...

Is it really realistic to expect all students to perform above grade level? To expect all students to be able to do well in Spectrum?

Personally, I don't think so.

My eldest son goes to Kellog and I love the way they do honors. All kids who want the challenge can take an honors class. But....they have to maintain a 75 grade average. If they don't they can be bumped into a regular class.

Personally, I think this is a very fair way to do it.

Some kids are motivated enough to work above grade level, some can't. Instead of expecting them to and supplementing, I think they should be offered a spot in a regular class. There is no disservice or humiliation if a kid is working at grade level, but not above.

Now, if a kid is working below grade level that is a different story. Then the support services Charlie mentions are not only warranted they are necessary. We should demand them.

So, I agree with both Charlie and Maureen. Charlies idea for an opt in Spectrum program is simply brilliant and I hope district staff are reading this blog. And Maureen I agree with you that an opt in Spectrum program should be co-housed with a regular ed school, so kids that need to bump into regular classes have a place to go without having to change schools.

Charlie Mas said...

I really don't see the tragedy if a student finds that - even with all of the support the school can muster - they still are not able to keep up. Either one of two things would happen.

1) The student can find happiness and success in the school anyway and stay. That doesn't necessarily require the student to meet all of the academic expectations in all of the subjects. Perhaps the student can pursue mastery of the grade level expectations without achieving competency with the stuff beyond the standards. Spectrum should expand the curriculum along three axes: it should go deeper, broader, and faster. Of the three, faster is the least important yet the most commonly mentioned. So long as the student can find happiness and success in their efforts.

2) The student's family would select another assignment for the student and make the move voluntarily. Let's remember, no one is assigned to this school; they have to select it. Perhaps the District can have some sort of understanding that the family would select another assignment if it wasn't working out. I know it happens, but I have a hard time envisioning the adult who deliberately chooses an inappropriate school assignment for their child.

Let's also remember that students with IEPs are working towards individualized performance expectations, not standard ones. So they can stretch and pursue rigor without necessarily being expected to reach all of the same academic expectations in all of the subjects.

So long as the students at least meet the usual grade level expectations it's no big deal. At least it isn't a big deal unless someone makes it into one. People have different talents and skill levels, but we can all challenge ourselves to go beyond the ordinary.

The key here is that the students all get the opportunity to try and that they all try and that the school supports them in that effort. There will be a lot of success with the Spectrum standards, but there will be also be smaller successes. And that's okay. It's not life or death, folks; it's third grade.

It's not Spectrum; it's an ALO. It's supposed to be inclusive. We're trying to reduce the barriers to entry, not create them.

Of course, students will need to meet the usual State Standards, but they will be reaching for more.

SE Mom said...

I have a question: What is the difference between "standards" and
"curriculum" for Spectrum? I've always heard that a Spectrum curriculum does not exist. Is having standards enough to give schools to provide the needed programming?

Which leads me to ask then, does Shoreline have a middle school Spectrum-like curriculum? Are honors subjects taught the same way in all Shoreline middle schools or does it vary from school to school?

anonymous said...

"The key here is that the students all get the opportunity to try and that they all try and that the school supports them in that effort."

And therein lies the problem, Charlie. Not all kids want to try. Not all kids are motivated to do honors work. It's a great goal, but I don't think it's a realistic one. If you avoid testing in to an advanced program, then I believe there has to be some criteria or standard to meet to stay in the program. This has been an issue with honors classes at Shoreline. Many parents choose honors for the wrong reasons. They choose them to get their kid on a college track (honors math is one year ahead) even though they may not be ready for advanced work, or they choose honors classes because they think they their peer group will be a better one (I hear this one all the time), meanwhile the kids struggle. Honors at Shoreline is hard work. They set expectations very high and only very motivated students can do well in there classes. My son is very bright, even gifted I would say, but not so motivated, and though he chooses honors, he has really struggled just to make b's and c's in his classes.

As far as students with IEP's are concerned...they have individual learning plans. If a student is exceeding his or her individual goals and is motivated of course they should be able to opt in to a self selected honors/ALO/spectrum program.

SE mom, there are only two Shoreline middle schools and only two Shoreline High Schools. As far as I know they both offer pretty much the same things. The only difference that I know of is that Shorewood HS uses a more traditional math curriculum, while Shorecrest uses IMP.

I am by no means an expert on advanced learning, and am only sharing my experience in opt in honors classes in Shoreline. I'm sure there are many different models that could work. The key is "opt in". That is what is crucial, and we should work to get it any way we can.

uxolo said...

Instead of dreaming up a way to alter the gifted program in Seattle at this moment, stick to the issue at hand. Providing Equity and Access (the reason given for moving Lowell) means using the current entry policy and recruiting angles to provide for those students who currently are not identified nor offered entry into the APP program. The team who reviewed the APP program was not asking for new ways to start an ALO.
If you want to advocate for an opt-in program, why not start with APP at Washington Middle School?Experiment where there are hundreds of APP students, experienced teachers, and plenty of unidentified students already being educated in the same building in general ed classes.

another mom said...

"but I have a hard time envisioning the adult who deliberately chooses an inappropriate school assignment for their child."

Really? Many,many parents choose to test their children for gifted programs knowing it is inappropriate. I just looked but was unable to find the numbers tested last year on the Adv. Learning website. As I recall it was well over three thousand. Probably 2000 too many. A child's attitude toward school is shaped by experiences in the early years of elementary school.It's only the third grade and you cannot keep up so you will just have to deal with it Johnny? Or...Janey, you sit here and do your work while eveyone else is doing the other work? A school wide enrichment model would be a much better fit for most kids rather than the accelerated ALO that was described. While I believe that the bar can and should be set much higher for SPS students,acceleration is not inclusive. Every elementary school should have enrichment and strategies for educating their brightest students. Why do students that currently attend Thurgood Marshall need to wait for APP to ride in to insure that they get a better program? Obviously the perception is that the program there is not adequate or bad?

An opt-in Spectrum,ALO, or whatever you want to call it is a great idea at the middle school, because a student can opt out without needing to change schools. Elementary school,however, is very different.

Sorry to sound so grumpy,but this really hit a nerve with me.

AutismMom said...

I like the idea that kids can self select into an honors class AND not be judged by some arbitrary standard if they don't "make it". This sort of opportunity is something many students with disabilities want. And it is nothing like a current ALO. ALO's are some sort of weird pullout... where the chosen "smart ones" are siphoned out of a class for various periods of the day. At our school, the ALO is populated entirely by girls who love to sit in front and raise their hands often. I have no problem with the girls (who are great), but with the system that rigidly stunts growth based on a profile. The ALO's are not at all inclusive, and not clearly effective either.

How bizarre that another_mom, feels her special kid needs attention to the exclusion of others.

Every elementary school should have enrichment and strategies for educating their brightest students.

No doubt, this mother feels her child is really super bright. But why propose enrichment that is only available for her child?

And really, in elementary school, (remember, it's third grade) do you really think 1 kid (the stupid one) will sitting around, twiddling his thumbs... because another kid is doing the cool, advanced assignment... which is (of course) impossible for the stupid kid? Have you never heard of accessing materials at different levels? Such a practice would mean the teacher would need to have to actually do something. And that wouldn't be too terrible either. And it's totally NOT the issue that Johnny will have to "deal with it". Johnny will have his own say, and who knows? Johnny might surprise us, and be able to bring another angle to the assignment in the process.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow, this thing is getting really misunderstood. I have done a terrible job of explaining this.

Let me try again.

The key word in Advanced Learning Opportunity isn't "Advanced"; it's "Opportunity'. It isn't pilot training or medical school where we're trying to identify the best and wash out the rest.

If the suspense is too much, then I just tell you right now - a lot of the kids won't meet the accelerated learning expectations.

And that's okay.

They can stay at the school and continue to do their best - so long as they are happy there and are finding success. They should leave if they are becoming dejected or stressed out.

The idea isn't that the kids need to meet the Spectrum standards - the idea is that we need to put rigorous and challenging work in front of them. The idea is that we need to create and maintain a culture of academic opportunity and high expectations. That's what is missing in a lot of low performing schools and that's what the kids need.

It's not about changing the kids and what they do - it's about changing the school and what it does.

There is no need to remove the students who are not working one grade level ahead. That's going to happen. There is a need to remove (or counsel or train) teachers who do not present that work and support student work beyond Standards. There is a need to remove administrators who don't supervise teachers and confirm that they are presenting that work and supporting students to achieve beyond the Standards. There is a need to remove any adult from the school who does not support a culture of academic opportunity and achievement.

There will be some among you who are undoubtedly thinking "Sure, but isn't that how it's normally supposed to be? How is that different in any way from what we intend and expect for every school?" I would have a very tough time answering those questions except to note that this may be how it is supposed to be, but this is rarely how it is, and even more rarely how it is at school in low-income neighborhoods. Perhaps if we start with these two schools and make a concerted and deliberate effort to make it this way in those schools we can learn how, with intention and focus, to make it this way in every school.

It's not about changing the kids - it's about changing the adults. We're not trying to turn the kids into something they're not. Some of them are not going to be ready or able to do accelerated work, but we owe it to all of them to put that work in front of them, to give them the opportunity to try it, and to support their efforts.

We don't have to wash out the kids who don't work a grade level ahead because it's totally okay if they don't. Their progress report will describe their advancement towards the regular grade level expectations. They won't get the Spectrum or the APP progress report with adjusted expectations (unless they are Spectrum- or APP-eligible and they have requested it). They will take the grade-level WASL and will be compared to their grade-level peers. They are regular kids, not a set identified for their special abilities.

They are, however, a self-selected group. Their families have intentionally put them in this program saying "We want a culture of academic opportunity and achievement for our children. We care about this and will take action in support of it." We're looking to create a culture, not to create geniuses. We can tolerate children who don't work a grade level ahead; we absolutely cannot tolerate adults who don't believe the student should have that opportunity. The only people who will be asked to leave these schools for failing to meet expectations will be adults.

Even as I write this I can feel the horrible inadequacy of this explanation. I'm not doing a good job of this at all. I can only hope that I'm communicating better than I'm writing and that the reader makes the leap where I cannot build the bridge.

Anonymous said...

At last night's meeting, the APP Advisory Committee and Dr. Vaughn provided some more information on the district's plans for Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall and suggested that the district is half-way on board with Charlie's proposal. They stated that the district intends to turn all of the non-APP classrooms at te two sites into ALO-certified classes with teachers trained in gifted education strategies. They also said that they planned on joint teacher training between the APP and non-APP teachers and hoped that the APP teachers would be leaders in developing learning strategies for the whole building. At some moments, they seemed to be suggesting that they believed the schools would draw primarily on gifted, non-APP students from the southern and central clusters, though at other moments they seemed to be proposing that the school would continue to draw primarily from its reference area and would simply be using differentiated learning methods to push the students who happened to be in the classroom.

reader said...

Amseigal, thank you for the summary. What was the discussion about differentiating to support access to these opportunities by the district's students with disabilities? A significant # of these students are called "twice exceptional" yet at present they are not allowed to access advanced learning opportunities. Let's make sure that the district and the APP teaching cadre step up on this matter.

anonymous said...

Wow!! Thanks Amsiegal for reporting back. If this is the case then perhaps we are really seeing that these closures and relocations will have a positive impact and offer stronger educational opportunities.

Although I certainly don't agree with all of districts proposals in regard to the closure/relocation process, I do think that in the end it will be a positive for all involved.

MGJ is the first super to approach closure with a real focus on improving the remaining schools. The south end and Central area are looking a whole lot stronger all of a sudden aren't they. The SE initiative, though not enough, was a start. It was a first, or baby step. But now, with the addition of the Montessori k-3 Leschi will become a strong school, especially since it is already a Spectrum school. Then addh Thurgood Marshall and Hawthorne into the mix. If they take the APP cohort and the remaining seats are all ALO they will both be desirable, popular programs too. Hopefully many of these children will rise to AKI, the reg ed program at Washington, Cleveland, Franklin, RBHS (if they are still around).

And, I know that it is a bad idea for the current Summit community to move south, and I acknowledge that RBHS should not rely on a co-housed Summit to keep them alive. But, that said, I think placing Summit in a South location has some good forethought. The south end needs more options. They continually ask for stronger, more diverse schools. Summit will fit the bill in a lot of ways, ant the school may just thrive in the south end.

Thanks, MGJ! The south and Central really are moving in the right direction.....finally.

SolvayGirl said...

I thought your explanation was spot on Charlie. I think one of the problems is that some of the readers don't realize how low the standards can be in some of our underperforming schools.

For example, a friend had their child at one school where it took the 8th graders SEVEN MONTHS to read "Lord of the Flies." When asked, the teacher explained that since many of the students would not read the book on their own, the teacher was reading it aloud in class every day.

That may be a great strategy to reach those kids who might not read well, or not be willing to read, but it definitely turns off those who are eager to read and discuss such an interesting book.

FYI...the family went to private school for high school because of that experience. If their child had had access to ALO, they might have had a very different experience and outcome.

Charlie Mas said...

adhoc writes:
"I think placing Summit in a South location has some good forethought. The south end needs more options. They continually ask for stronger, more diverse schools. Summit will fit the bill in a lot of ways, ant the school may just thrive in the south end."

I don't mean to pick on adhoc - I really love hearing adhoc's perspective precisely because it isn't like mine - but I don't think the South end needs more options at all.

Stand at the corner of Rainier and Henderson and count all the options! You have a K-5, Dunlap, literally next door to a K-8, The New School. South Lake High School is on the same property as The New School. Rainier Beach High School is across the street. Van Asselt is moving into the AAA, not a mile away, and just blocks from there is Wing Luke, a Spectrum school.

The place is already crowded with options. How will it improve the enrollment at any of these under-enrolled schools to introduce Summit and siphon off more children with involved families?

According to the District, under-enrolled schools cannot offer the full range of services. That's why consolidation is good. If consolidation is good, then introducing additional options and splintering the students is bad.

Where families already have two options for K-5 right there - Dunlap and The New School, the District wants to add another K-5 option, Summit, right across the street! Incredible.

The South-end doesn't need MORE options, the South-end needs BETTER options.

For example, there is not a single school with an ALO anywhere in the Southeast cluster. There is only one in the South cluster (Dearborn Park). There is only one in the Central cluster (Thurgood Marshall). There are none in West Seattle at all. That means that Queen Anne/Magnolia, the smallest elementary cluster in the district, with its three ALO schools (plus a Spectrum school), has more ALO's than the Central, the South, the Southeast, the West Seattle-North, and the West Seattle-South clusters COMBINED.

I'm not saying that ALOs necessarily equates to school quality, but it does equate to a program opportunity. It does indicate a willingness to support academic achievement beyond the grade level expectations. It is a very telling indicator. It bespeaks of a culture that believes in the academic potential of the students - all of the students.

I suppose everyone has their own measure of school quality, but academic achievement has to be part of that measure. That is, after all, school's primary function. When people complain about the quality of schools in the South-end, they invariably point to the low academic expectations in those schools. Instead of importing new options, I would rather the District focused on raising the academic expectatations at Dunlap and Emerson.

Want to know why Maple does so well and why Van Asselt and Dearborn Park are showing such improvement? Because they have adopted high expectations and they are maintaining them. That's what they need to do at all of the schools. They don't need to add Summit as an option; they need to fix Aki Kurose.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow. I just re-read that comment and got sprayed a bit by the spittle on it. Pardon my rant.

another mom said...

"How bizarre that another_mom, feels her special kid needs attention to the exclusion of others."

I don't think this at all. Enrichment opportunities should be available to every student in a building. School wide enrichment programs should benefit the entire school population, not just the academically gifted. And I agree children do surprise us,they rise to a challenge. But that said, parents cannot choose a special ed. service for their student without an assessment that determines the need. Should there be an assessment to determine the need for an accelerated model?

I don't know the answer to that but IMHO, too many parents get caught up in the Advanced Learning testing circuit. The uber gifted should have a service and perhaps APP is the best model but they are not all uber gifted in APP. OK, Charlie's idea has merit but why confine it to Hawthorne and Thurgood Marshall?

anonymous said...

Charlie, I totally get what you are saying. I understand completely that logistically there is plenty of space in the south end, and they do not need another school. But, very few families are picking the existing, limping along, under enrolled, low performing south end schools. As Solvaygirl and SEmom post all the time, they are looking at private schools, they are looking at out of district schools, and other clusters, as are many of their neighbors. I don't think they are alone, rather I think they do what most middle class families in the SE cluster do. Avoid SE cluster schools like the plague. And I don't blame them.

So yes, of course, the SE does not need more schools - they have plenty as is. And yes of course we need to work hard to strengthen the schools that are already there. No argument whatsoever from me here. The problem is that this vision or transformation won't happen overnight. It will take years, maybe decades to undo all of the damage that has been done, it will take years to change leadership or at the least change leadership mentality. And it will take years to get those ALO's and other strong programs added, to change reputations and get community buy in. Should we start right now, with vigor. Yes, we should. No doubt about it.

My rational in thinking Summit could be a good south end option, is that it is an immediate option for the south end, available next year, for families like Solvaygirl that are working with what they have right now, today. They have to make enrollment decision in a few weeks, so for them all of the vision in the world, and daydreaming, and future promises, don't mean a darn thing.

anonymous said...

I should add that the other positive thing about adding Summit as an immediate, SE Seattle stop gap solution for next year, is it serves all grades k-12. It could be a shining star in SE Seattle until the other SE schools are made to be attractive.

Of course, the district wouldn't need Summit, if they picked one existing elementary, one existing middle school, and one existing HS and decide to work vigorously to improve the schools by next school year. If they super focused on just three schools, adding programs such as ALO's, Spectrum, Montessori, language immersion, AP or IB, hiring a great band or drama teacher to jump start an arts program, changing leadership or as leadership mentality, doing community outreach, marketing, etc. then that would work too.

They could work on one or two schools per year thereafter. Until all SE schools had attractive programs.

They should set some type of goals, and then stick to them. Just like they do building renovations.

AutismMom said...

another_mom writes: But that said, parents cannot choose a special ed. service for their student without an assessment that determines the need. Should there be an assessment to determine the need for an accelerated model?

Eligibility special education service is detailed in 2 federal statutes: IDEA and ADA. You must qualify under a particular category (and there's short list) Assessment for service is required under IDEA, as are the areas service. Notably, there is no similar requirement for "gifted" or "advanced" students under IDEA or ADA. But, perhaps it is still advisable. And assessment should certainly be used to monitor progress and delineate an education path. But rigid, single, specific IQ tests, and other single measures, are specifically prohibited under IDEA. The assessment includes parent observation and evaluations on multiple domains. I guess I don't understand why people are so bent on keeping other people out. Why shouldn't people want advanced opportunities for their kids, if they think they need them? So, what's "uber" gifted? According to the APP review, Einstein wouldn't have qualified for advanced learning in Seattle. People like another_mom, would claim he shouldn't be there because: well, he didn't test in. Poor Albert.

uxolo said...

If the APP Advisory Committee wants to bring more kids into the APP classrooms, why not start at Washington? Why not do the same at Eckstein and open up Spectrum to the kids in the next room? Who are these new administrators who want to do this type of work? Why start the process by moving another school?
The district has no unified way to measure progress from school to school, no oversight of Spectrum from school to school and now we go along with the idea that two new principals (from where?) will create a yet-unproven model of instruction. Why can't this start in a building that already has the APP kids in it?

hschinske said...

"According to the APP review, Einstein wouldn't have qualified for advanced learning in Seattle."

Actually, he probably would have. It's a myth that he was a poor student or a particularly late bloomer. He was doing calculus at age 12, for example -- considerably ahead of most kids in APP.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

uxolo, when did the APP Advisory Committee say anything on these topics?

So far as I know, the APPAC has made no statement about bringing more kids into APP classrooms. Where did you read that?

What is it that you think should start at Washington? It's not clear. Washington Middle School has APP and Spectrum. In addition, math placement is made without regard to program.

If you're writing about the ALO model I propose, you should know that it doesn't need APP in the building with it. It has nothing to do with APP. This sort of advanced learning opportunity can be done at any school that chooses to do it.

I don't know what "new administrators" you are writing about, I don't know what you mean by starting "the process by moving another school". What idea is it that we are going along with and what unproven model of instruction? So far as I know, no one is going along with anything and no model has been selected for the ALO at Hawthorne. Thurgood Marshall already has an ALO in which they bring their advanced learners together into their own gender-specific classes - a sort of Spectrum model. That model won't be possible when the general education program is reduced to one class per grade.

SolvayGirl said...

Though Ad Hoc may be correct in theory about the infusion of Summit into RBHS, I have yet to see some details as to how it will work in practice. Will there be two separate administrations? Or will one displace the other? if so, which one? The answer to that question would make a huge difference to me.

I too would prefer the District to really work to improve at least one middle and high school in the SE. I know they have added some AP classes to RBHS, but AP doesn't kick in until the upper grades. What happens to kids in 9th grade who are used to/want rigorous work? There is also the safety issue to consider. I don't have a lot of faith in the school's current admin.

You're right...my decisions need to be made soon, and I can't base them on a wish or a dream. But if I could, here's what I'd wish for:

Restructure RBHS (new admin at least--many of the staff are terrific). Beef up the general academic offerings and the expectations (both academic and behavioral). AND...keep the performing arts focus (making sure you have quality teachers in place) and ADD an emphasis on environmental science. With the school's proximity to Lake Washington, Pitchard Beach Wetlands and the Audubon Center at Seward Park, this is a natural fit. A program of that caliber would do a lot to attract neighborhood families who are looking for a quality academic experience for their high schoolers. It could really become a jewel as no other school has the natural setting.

AND,,,if this were coupled with an assignment plan that has some teeth--guaranteeing that a critical mass (300-400) of new students from the neighborhood would enroll I think it would have some real chance of success.

anonymous said...

Actually, I acknowledged that Summit should not be co-housed in the RBHS building. I agree with Solvaygirl, it's not a good idea to co-house these two schools, as they have nothing in common, and I think it is ridiculous to think that an a parent of a 5 year old would think it prudent to send their kid off to one of the most notorious high schools in the district. It will scare people away from Summit, instead of drawing people to Summit.

Summit should go into one of the buildings proposed for closure, like Van Asslt, AAA or Lowell??

Or better yet close another way under enrolled south end school and put Summit there.

Unknown said...

I would guess that everyone would want to put their kid in this "high expectation, high rigor" school, whether that kid could keep up or not. It seems that one of the big problems in most public schools is the disturbance that comes from kids who can't keep up or who really aren't interested in keeping up. Spectrum and APP is a way to eliminate that factor. How would you guard against that presence of unruly kids? Sure, send them out. Send them to a different class. Send them to a different school. Uh oh, this starts to get tricky. If we could just weed out the "bad apples"- students and teachers, alike- our schools would be much more ideal.