Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Let Them Test ", Says Times Editorial

This article appeared in today's Times editorial page. It supports additional testing for APP AND Spectrum for students whose schools are closing. (I'd say some more about it but I'm running short on time today.)


Mercermom said...

I don't see how the District can refuse to offer testing to those who might have tested but for their current attendance at, or plans to attend, a school that won't exist. But testing won't create more advanced learning opportunities at the Spectrum level unless the District expands the program. The District doesn't project any increase in the number of Spectrum seats at WMS. If additional kids from Meany meet the eligibility criteria, there will likely be no room for them in the 7th or 8th grades; and if they get in in 6th grade, it could mean that they simply took the place of another eligible Spectrum student (except to the extent that some WMS Spectrum kids currently choose the school over their program in the south or southwest).

Rudy D said...

The district MUST extend testing for students displaced by closed buildings or programs. If not, how can they claim they want to improve access to advanced learning?

The district MUST expand true Spectrum programs in all areas with demand, in order to begin to allow students who already have qualified, but are now on long waiting lists, to enroll. That would not cost them one extra penny, and may lend credibility to the district's claim to want increased access to advanced learning. Their track record on Spectrum has been abysmal.

The district MUST expand Spectrum at Washington Middle School, in order to provide continuity for displaced Meany students currently taking Advanced Learning Opportunities. Otherwise how can the district claim that splitting APP increases access to advanced learning, when Washington would have fewer advanced learning seats if they don't?

The School Board MUST represent the public who elected them, and demand accountability. The School Board must require the district to show PROOF that splitting APP will increase access.

ATTENTION SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS: If they can't prove it, don't approve it! Please don't rubber-stamp the district's proposal. Kids are counting on you!

Rudy D said...

Central area students who are currently enrolled in Advanced Learning Opportunity at Meany this year and making adequate progress with satisfactory grades, should be offered the opportunity to enroll directly in Washington Middle School Spectrum without additional testing.

Because these students have demonstrated they are capable of advanced coursework they should not be required to take more eligibility tests.

These students will move from Meany to Washington if the current proposal is approved. Meany does not offer Spectrum. Washington can simply make some classrooms Spectrum instead of General Education. That would not require any extra space or expense of any kind.

There is no excuse for not expanding Spectrum at Washington Middle School!

After all, why should the district want to keep kids OUT of Spectrum who are capable of the classwork? They should provide as much opportunity as possible for every student to reach their fullest potential, by reducing barriers to advanced learning.

Stephanie Jones said...

This just came to my attention this morning from some Meany families: Meany students have been told by the district that even if they have a Spectrum designation (several do) or if can get testing (still unconfirmed), are told that they may be out of luck in terms of accessing advanced learning at the schools they'll be redirected to -- mainly Washington.

This confirms what Mercermom states, and the irony in this is that many families with advanced ability kids have chosen Meany in recent years as it has developed its ALO program, BECAUSE they were attracted to the open access which does not rely on self-contained classrooms or gatekeeping by tests. Now they are told that the gates may be closed, unless they choose something other than what the district wants them to do, because the plan leaves Washington as the only Central Cluster middle school.

As Rudy D notes, we have a significant, unresolved problem with access to advanced learning by kids/families with interest in it by the design of Spectrum and APP. ALO has promise as a model, but the only middle school ALO is at Madison in W. Seattle. Why isn't the district promoting and supporting its own model, especially as it makes the argument of improving access to "successful programs"?

So, let them test. But will it make any difference?

Ben said...

"Otherwise how can the district claim that splitting APP increases access to advanced learning...?"

But increased access to Spectrum or increased Spectrum capacity is independent of the APP split. Isn't it? I understand that this might have been one of SPS's nonsensical arguments, but what's the connection?

Even without splitting APP, they could (and should!) add Spectrum capacity.

jason said...

The school district appears to have no plan regarding the advanced learning programs. Instead of improving consistency and access to Spectrum (which would help a lot of kids) and ALOs (which would help even more kids), the district is proposing to "improve" access to APP (which benefits fewer kids) by placing it in two central cluster schools it will soon fill (thereby knocking out neighborhoods kids).

I think the district should define each of the advanced learning programs, APP, Spectrum and ALO, before making changes to any of the programs. Once the district knows what each program should look like and how many kids in each cluster would be included, they will have a much better idea of how to provide these advanced learning services. When you have empty spectrum seats in one part of the city and waiting lists in others, you know you have problems. ALO exists in some schools in name only, while in others it does mean something.

Until the district can guarantee access to all advanced learning programs, and show where the kids are who need it, they should not split any programs. If they were to offer new testing now, they will have a lot of unhappy Spectrum parents who find out that there is no room for their kid.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good point, Mercermom. How come it's important to expand APP but not Spectrum? If you test into APP, they find a seat but not Spectrum.

The audit only covered APP; why when Spectrum is the biggest part of AL?

Spectrum has always been the poor stepchild to APP.

whittier07 said...

It would be great if the district decides to let students test - as long as they test into APP. If they test into Spectrum & live in the NW, N or NE clusters they are probably out of luck. These clusters continue to have wait-lists but no one in the administration cares enough to create more seats. Our student ended up on the wait-list in 1st grade and we were told our only hope is that a space may open up in 4th grade when they increase class size from 28 to 32. How crazy is that?

seattle citizen said...


"First, do no harm."

Spectrum, Alt, "Regular", SpEd, Culturally Relevant, APP, ELL, ELO...

GROW the variety of programs, etc, that meet the varied needs of students! Pedagogy over the last half-century recognizes more and more needs. We used to GROW services to meet these needs, because it's the right thing to do.

But another way to educate students is to put them all in a little box and stand an automaton in front of them, regurgitating direct instruction without differentiation. This is less expensive, and in these lean times, what with a deficit and all, perhaps this is the way to go?

GROW the variety of quality education that meets students needs.

Meany Spectrum students are losing Spectrum? I hope ALL "communities" looking for the individuation and differentiation that meets the needs of ALL children will watch the doctors and get second opinions.

"First, do no harm."

Josh Hayes said...

whittier07, I have it from a couple of parents at Broadview that the Spectrum program there is being dried up -- that is, they're not taking first-graders in Spectrum. I don't know if that's true or not, but it does fit in with the sentiment expressed by others: it's APP or nothing.

(Meanwhile, my 6th-grade son is taking 8th-grade math at AS1, a school with no Spectrum and no ALO; organizationally, the place is a mess right now, but as usual, the teachers are heroic in what they can accomplish.)

Maureen said...

Even if they don't arrange for new testing, they should allow kids who tested in in the past (but didn't move) to enter APP and Spectrum programs. Kids who do enter don't have to retest every year, why should they have to retest if they didn't chose to move? The test measure cognitive ability, not knowledge, that doesn't vary from year to year.