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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SAP - APP/Spectrum

Open Thread.

75 comments:

Unknown said...

does anyone know about spectrum offerings under the new plan? will spectrum be in all elementary schools, or is that still just a rumor? not sure how to interpret the new maps wrt spectrum eligible kids. say my assigned school is non-spectrum, but my child is eligible, what are our options? and any additional options for sibs that aren't tested (K) and/or not elibible to keep them in the same school?

WS said...

Steve Sundquist asked that question in particular WRT West Seattle South. The answer from Tracy Libros was fairly convoluted (and I'm sitting feet away) but I believe it boiled down to, info on that will be online ... tomorrow?

Laura said...

They are opening four schools in the north - Viewlands, McDonald, Sand Point, and Old Hay, and they still CAN'T find a location for APP north? And, yet, all of APP north, and an attendance area's worth of kids will fit at Lowell?

What do you think of APP south/TM's attendance area? It looks like they shrunk it. I can't tell.

another mom said...

There are pdf documents on the website that all should go and read. Spectrum is mentioned for m.s. but not elementary. Unless I read it incorrectly, it looks as if all elementary schools will provide advanced learning opportunities. The SAP looks to be phased in at K,6, and 9 next year. No mention of current Spectrum students or set aside seats or where they fit into the plan. Best to begin thinking about your questions.

another mom said...

I think I read it incorrectly and do apologize.

Unknown said...

One of my worries about the size of the Garfield area is that, if the school becomes too overcrowded, someone down at the District may just decide that the easiest fix would be to "disperse" the Garfield APP kids to what would otherwise be their attendance schools. Since the cohort IS, for all intents and purposes, the program (at the high school level), this would effectively kill it. And that would be a real loss. I realize that many APP-qualified kids at the high school level may decide on other options, but having APP there for those who want to stay with the "program" until they graduate has seemed to serve that population well.

jd said...

If QA students move out of BF Day and back to Old Hay, then BF Day might have room for elementary APP.

steve in west seattle said...

At his last Coffee Chat, Steve Sundquist was quite definite that there would be spectrum available at all middle schools, and in each cluster at the elementary level.

He said the West Seattle South elementary location was not yet finalized. And there was a little discussion about varying quality levels in different spectrum programs. He expressed an opinion that the West Seattle Elementary program was not successful in it's current state.

ArchStanton said...

This isn't exactly the right place for it, but rather that hijack some non-APP thread...

Went to curriculum night (Lowell) and left feeling a little less optimistic about sticking it out with SPS. No glaring issues, but a collection of little things that nagged at me.

Twenty-eight kids in a small classroom - Not a lot of time for teachers to get to know the students or differentiate. An emphasis on following the "Everyday Math" curriculum - also not a lot of room for differentiation. A new librarian that is discouraging regularly scheduled weekly class visits, but wants kids to come during recess (yeah, right). Library often closed and librarian busy with MAP testing for two weeks, three times per year - this for kids that need books like the rest of us need air.

Between issues (known and rumored) with the APP split and merging with ALO, APP's uncertain future, and looming SPS budget issues - I didn't leave feeling warm and fuzzy.

(Also, why are second graders doing MAP anyway? I thought it started at third grade.)

Mercermom said...

Arch, aren't the large class sizes at Lowell (and smaller ones at TM) are a result of the strenuous lobbying by Capitol Hill parents for an expanded walk zone? I have already heard from parents who were on the forefront of that campaign, who are now dissatisfied with class sizes and expressing interest in switching to TM. My guess is that the schools will even out in APP populations, and thus class size, over time. For now, we're loving the small class sizes at TM, and happy that we opted not to stay in the walk zone.

TechyMom said...

Interesting... I went to the curriculum night for ALO K at Lowell and came away pleased. 5 kids left, so there are only 20 in the class, with a student teacher 2 days a week who will be full-time by spring. They're taking the ALO seriously. She talked a lot about how she's extending the reading curriculum, and things she wants to add to science. She expects that everyone in the class will be beyond the K report card requirements, and seemed surprised that 'scribbling' was listed under writing. Answers were less strong on math, but the play-based EDM K curriculum actually seems ok for developing number sense in K. Even K is taking MAP tests, and the reslts are part if how reading groups and walk-to-read are assigned.

Moose said...

Arch Stanton—

Sorry that you left your child's school feeling bummed. Though I know that sensation, I did want to point out a few things:

Class size at 28 is the norm at many public schools in the district, particularly elementary schools in the NE and QA/Mag clusters. Even in a number of private schools that I have investigated over the years, 28 is not totally unusual. Assuming that your child is highly capable, you would need to look at schools such as Seattle Country Day (average class size 16) at $18-20 K per year to get smaller classrooms. Like you, I wish the norm were lower for every single kid in this district (24 would be great, 20-22 dreamy). But that's just not going to happen in this state where we do not properly fund education.


Also, 28 doesn't mean that differentiation isn't happening. My son was in a classroom with 27 last year, and again, while not ideal, the teacher was able to differentiate using flexible ability groupings for literature circles, vocabulary words, and science partnerings. I will say however, that every teacher I have spoken to has said that it is certainly easier to differentiate and to really know the kids when there are fewer of them in the room.

Everyday Math IS the materials adoption for the district. Schools don’t get to pick and choose which text to use any more, and in the first year of the adoption teachers were being told not to hide their Foresman or TERC in the closet and use it when they wanted to. A strict “fidelity to the implementation” mantra was being chanted at teachers. My personal take is that things have lightened up a bit in that regard, but that teachers can perhaps supplement, but not supplant EDM. And as Charlie has noted on a number of occasions, materials do not equal curriculum or pedagogy. I hope that your child’s teacher can use the materials to inspire kids to obtain a deep understanding of mathematical concepts (not sure if EDM are the materials to do that but just for the sake of argument, let's give it the benefit of the doubt). If you don’t see that happening – due to the materials, or due to the pedagogy – gently remind your child’s teacher that every unit has extensions for kids. That could at least be a place for him or her to start differentiation.

The initial MAP testing plan was for all kids K-9 to be taking it 3 times per year so that teachers can measure student progress. I believe grades 10 and 11 will be taking the PSAT instead of MAP. I would be interested in hearing from some K and 1st grade parents though as I can't imagine how a computerized test can be structured for non- or emergent readers.

I am not sure if this post will lift your spirits a bit or sink them further. I hope it is the former, not the latter.

dj said...

Funny -- I went to curriculum night at Thurgood Marshall last night and left in a good mood. My daughter is in a small class in a big room for a change (last year she was one of 23 kids in 101a), and I was happy to hear about the affirmative steps that Julie is taking to bring all of the teachers online with the same antibullying/positive discipline approach that I loved about Lowell. My daughter's teacher also seemed very familiar with my daughter's quirks, learning style, and personality (not to take away from her teacher last year, as I thought she was excellent) -- "class size doesn't matter" my fanny.

Moose said...

Arch Stanton,

I just read my lenghty post above and realized that it comes off rather lecture-y. I apologize; that really is not my intent. I am about making lemonade out of lemons.

Moose

TechyMom said...

From what I heard last night, the K MAP test is like an educational video game, but without the happy noise when you get the right answer. Our teacher said she was taking it with a grain of salt because "some kids may be having so much fun dragging monkeys to the tree that they forget to stop at 7"

Anonymous said...

It really does vary from class to class on size and teachers "knowing" of individual kids-our daughter is at TM in 5th grade and there are 29kids. However, the teacher has broken them into manageble groups, and had a good read on each individual kid for those parents who asked.
He certainly broke it down well as far as our DD is concerned.

I was pleased to see that he's supplementing the math curriculum with not one but two other texts, and backing up classwork with traditional practice of the basics (multiplication, division, etc.) and frequent quizes.

My understanding of MAP is that it will be used much as the two-three times a year assessments used to be used-which were given to kids from K on. So I would have no issue with a K-2 student doing MAP.

Thus far, from social issues to schoolwork, our experience at TM has been a positive one, as we expected it would be.

Bird said...

From what I heard last night, the K MAP test is like an educational video game

Here's a demo of the K-1 MAP test...

http://legacysupport.nwea.org/assets/demos/
PrimaryDemo2/index.asp?ref=assessments

Who knew all those dumb little flash games my kids have been playing for years were actually preparation for standardized tests?

My kid took the MAP last week and definitely noticed its "adaptive" features. She could see that some kids in her class got "harder and harder" math problems and some kids got "easier and easier" problems. She preferred the easier problems -- apparently they had cute puppies and rainbows and such. The hard problems just had boring numbers.

Maybe the district should invest in a few of those filters that the libraries use to prevent other people from seeing what's on your computer screen.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

I am certain my K student put all monkeys in because putting monkeys in a tree sounds like the type of fun that she couldn't get enough of!

I do like the test in general but I didn't know that about the Librarian.

Oh and mercermom it wasn't strenuous lobbying to expand the walk zone it was just pointing out that TTM and Stevens students could walk where Lowell students couldn't. In fact, I pointed it out before the vote to split Lowell but all the doctors in the room couldn't seem to realize that all the all city draws have dinky maps as just place holders as they were not defined by a true reference area.

Anyway we have our second curriculum night tonight and plenty of APP questions... Especially on math.

Thanks... Robert

ArchStanton said...

Mercermom: I don't know specifically what caused the difference. Walk zones certainly could be a piece of it. I would expect populations to even out some, as well - if SPS doesn't further split or move the programs.

Moose: Not lecturey, no sweat. I don’t mean to get anyone else bummed, either. Just reflecting on what I saw and felt. If more people left feeling positive, then maybe I need to re-evaluate.

Robert: Maybe I misunderstood – ask for yourself and see if you get a similar response.

Perhaps we’ve been “lucky” in that K was 24 kids with a student teacher for a good chunk of the year and First was 23 kids with a teacher that IMO excelled at classroom management. I’ll also add that I suspect this year there are a few more behavioral issues in my daughter’s class. The other factor is that two teachers are splitting the class (which has some upsides) – therefore each teacher is in contact with 28 kids for only 2.5 days per week, something we hadn’t considered, ‘til now.

I guess it’s still early to judge for certain. The teachers haven’t had time to get to know all the kids and begin to differentiate and the other issues still need to be ironed out.

As to private schools, I’ve often felt that most general ed. private schools didn’t offer much more than public schools, but their appeal was smaller class sizes and the ability to pick and choose students (thereby avoiding obvious problems). We will be applying to some private schools again this year as an insurance policy, but given that at least by the numbers, their cutoff is lower than APP’s, we’re not sure they will be an overall better fit.

dcarnegie said...

ArchStanton - I suspect our kids are in the same class together. I didn't leave feeling bummed, but rather wanting a bit more. It may be because I haven't been around the school much, but I feel like I don't have a good grasp on how things are going at the school with the transition. When I've asked others, they seem very vague (but positive) in their responses.

The lack of differentiation in math was a little disappointing -- I'm worried that my son won't be challenged, or that it won't be noticed that he needs to be challenged.

We walked in late, so I missed the conversation about the librarian -- that is disappointing and I hope it gets worked out.

Everyone I've spoken to seems very happy about the TM transition; would it be worth opening a thread here (or on the APP blog) to talk about how things are going at Lowell? Feeling a bit lost at the moment...

Shannon said...

Did anyone else feel uneasy at the comment that the Garfield reference area has increased and "we are not sure what that means?"

Is the inference that the APP cohort moving up to Garfield as at risk... again? Perhaps the need to move them to suit the decentralized advanced learning vision?

No idea, I just wondered what the comment meant.

Laura said...

Per Gregory King tonight, with the changes in the Stevens/Lowell attendance areas, so too there are changes the "Lowell Walk Zone." No longer will Stevens folks who qualify for APP be able to "walk" to Lowell. Your APP site will be Thurgood Marshall. The Lowell walk zone stops at 15th, and goes East towards I-5.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, I have a question that seems pretty basic, but I think I'm missing it.

If you have an elementary school child who is Spectrum-eligible, in the current world you can choose the Spectrum school, neighborhood school, or go through the regular assignment process (right?).

In the new assignment program, it's totally unclear if there are Spectrum schools at all, or if all elementary advanced learning (except APP) will be at the neighborhood schools. Is that right?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Scott, you should read my other posts but yes, there is Spectrum in every neighborhood (getting there in one spot). Your kindergartener would apply (as Spectrum starts in 1st) to the elementary in your middle school region that has Spectrum. This is done by a lottery if there is overenrollment AND new to the SAP, no sibling tiebreaker. Before, if you had a sib in the building, that bumped you up but, according to Tracy Libros, no more.

Now with Spectrum, there is no guaranteed seat even if you qualify. (One of the great downfalls of the program that irks me to this day.) According to the presentation at the Work Session, ALL elementaries are to have some sort of ALO for advanced learners. I support the idea that any child should be able to access it if they want to try the work. If it's in every classroom, why should it matter if you are Spectrum/APP eligible or teacher nominated? Let them try the work and they will sink or swim.

Robert said...

Laura I have sent an email to Greg which will be followed up to the board and enrollment staff if that is truly the case that they are changing the map again based on the new reference maps. Students have been walking all around the hill going to TTM, Stevens and Lowell based on maps that were approved by the transportation dept. The Board amendment clearly said safe walk zone which they prepared a specific map for and it didn't have anything to do with the new SAP.

Robert said...

Laura it isn't even April... Greg emailed back and there must have been some confusion on this as there is no new map for Lowell APP WZ.

Charlie Mas said...

I have used the feedback/questions function on the district web site to ask for a north-end location for north-end elementary APP.

I have also used it to ask about program placement for Spectrum in the Denny and Mercer service areas.

I suggest others do the same.

Laura said...

Robert,
You may have been at the same meeting I was last night, and heard the same thing. I didn't mean to post in a know-it-all tone, but rather simply alert "walk zone" folks and wanna-be "walk-zone" folks to the fact that SPS may be able to change what "walk zone" means based on the new attendance boundaries. Based on Gregory's comments, it seemed to me that's the way they (SPS admin.) want to go and that's what they've communicated to Gregory -- again, just my opinion. On it goes. Good luck. Laura

Robert said...

Arch, I came away with a reasonable feeling about the math... Yeah it is primarily Everyday and yeah they have cool calculators but the teachers have refined it a lot for APP and he mentioned that they have a calendar for accelerating it (my big concern going in) as well as pulling in aspects of Singapore and Saxon to supplement it. Also, I have a sense that the Everyday curriculum is OK for highly gifted students. We are looking into adding symbolic logic at home as was recommended in previous post.

I still have high regard for the writing program... So I guess it looks like it is going to be a great year.

Robert said...

Yeah Laura I was there but got there late (no parking!) so missed Greg's part. That said, he reassured me that there is no change to the APP walk zone... so folks east of 15th will still be able to be reassigned to Lowell APP.

And thanks for the heads up... Had it been the case (and I follow your thoughts on how it could have been) I would have certainly wanted to start contacting anyone that would listen!

Maureen said...

So, just because I'm curious, do APP 1st graders use the 3rd grade Everyday Math text and so on? How does that work for kids who come in late? How about Spectrum? Are they one grade ahead?

TechyMom said...

I posted this on the APP North End thread, but since no one seems to be reading that anymore, I'm copying it here. The district says MacDonald will be open sooner than I had thought, but I'm not sure I buy it. Anyway, here's the post:

I'm late to the party on this post, mostly because I've been thinking long and hard about the topic...

I think it would be a terrible idea to move either APP program *this year*. The kids in those programs have had enough turmoil, and so have the kids in the ALO programs sitting in the same buildings. There are kids in the ALO at Lowell who were at both MLK and TT Minor, and we need to leave them alone for awhile.

In addition, the ALO programs need time to grow up. I don't think that its fair to use APP kids to improve a school, but I think that it is more than fair to use APP STAFF to do so. And that's what's happening at Lowell. I imagine it's happening at TM too, but I don't have first hand experience with that. The staff at Lowell has a lot of experience with advanced learners. They know how to recoginize them, how to grow them, and how to handle their quirks. They can train and mentor the ALO staff on how to do this. This is exactly what is needed to grow an ALO that actually works. It's also what's needed to convince the neighborhood families that the ALO is real. It will take several years to do that.

Now, MacDonald, or any other soon-to-open building in the North End, won't be ready for 3-4 years. In 3-5 years, after the ALOs at Lowell and TM are established and running, after neighborhood families have bought into the schools, taken positions in the PTA and ramped up fund-raising, after the kids who have been disrupted by the earlier moves have moved on to middle school, then, and only then, I could support moving both APP programs to locations that would be more convienent for people in that part of the city. North APP to the North End (maybe MacDonald) and South APP to the South End (maybe AAA/Van Asselt). APP STAFF (not kids) would then be able to build another ALO program at each location.

At that point, it's pretty likely that Central will need the capacity anyway, and opening up 500 more ALO seats in neighborhood schools would be very useful. But, that only works once those ALO programs are up and and running and considered 'good' schools.

TechyMom said...

I'll add that with the new SAP, the Lowell and Hay areas touch. Moving APP in 3-5 years could allow downtown and belltown to be in the Lowell area if growth in the child population in those areas makes it necessary at that time. It's a nice pressure valve.

Fixing Madrona would do more to alleviate current crowding in Central than moving APP would.

Robert said...

TechyMom I think Lowell APP may also be a tad bit more jarred by the split... So much so that moving it again they may loose a lot more than folks will admit.

Maureen 1st graders will probably make it through 2 grades of math in first grade... So end up the year completing 2nd grade math and eventually work to be up a full couple of classes ahead. So MS math in elementary and HS math in MS. We sent our daughter over in 1st as we didn't know how much harder it would be to catch up after that. I would think it would be hard... But perhaps a welcome change from way too easy.

TechyMom said...

Robert, I'm not sure if you're agreeing with me or not ;-)

I'm basically saying:
1) Don't move it now, but consider moving it after everyone who was involved in the split/merge has gone on to middle school.

2) If you move Lowell further north, you need to also move Marshall further south. Otherwise, APP is skewed to the north.

Robert said...

Haha. Yeah I am agreeing with you in that I also believe moving the North APP program to the real northern part of Seattle would not be a good thing right now for the APP program as well as the ALO program... They both need a few years to gather themselves under its new PTSA and admin.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't see any reason to defer moving north-end APP to where everyone agrees it should be. The move will always be "traumatic" for someone. The APP students at Lowell aren't the ones who had to change schools - it was the APP students at Thurgood Marshall who had to make the change. The Lowell students can stand the same change that the T. Marshall students tolerated.

There's no specific information on the district web site about the location of the elementary Spectrum programs in the Mercer and Denny service areas. It only says that "Decisions about the location of advanced learning, bilingual, and special education services would continue to be addressed through the program placement process."

Charlie Mas said...

Why doesn't the District guarantee access to Spectrum for Spectrum-eligible middle school students enrolled in the the Spectrum program at their attendance area school? The student is going to be in the school anyway, so it does not impact the school's capacity. Why would any middle school make their Spectrum program too small to accomodate the number of Spectrum-eligible students who want to participate in the program? Why would the District allow a middle school to restrict access to Spectrum? Access to Spectrum at a student's attendance area middle school should be guaranteed.

ArchStanton said...

Charlie Mas said: I don't see any reason to defer moving north-end APP to where everyone agrees it should be.

That's how I feel. The North cohort will pretty much remain intact, with the possible exception of Capitol Hill families. The North cohort didn't have to move last year. If people are concerned about breaking up friendships that may be forming across APP-ALO lines - that's not going to be made any easier by waiting longer.

Robert said: I think Lowell APP may also be a tad bit more jarred by the split...

Do you mean more jarred than the kids who moved to T. Marshall? Can you clarify?

In the interest of full disclosure I will acknowledge that I live in North Seattle; so I have a personal stake in having APP-North closer to my home.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but IIRC Robert and TechyMom (who express a desire to wait) are live in the Central Cluster and would also have some personal stake in APP remaining at Lowell.

jason said...

I am a north APP parent and I would only support a move north if it is to a truly northern location (McDonald's location seems ideal). The commute to a school such as Jane Adams would be horrendous from parts of the city. I understand that far north families are currently doing that, but there's no reason to shift that burden to others.

Maureen asked earlier about APP math. In 1st and 2nd grades the math curriculum is one year ahead. By the end of 3rd grade the kids are doing 5th grade math. Fourth graders are doing the middle school curriculum. I am not sure of the rationale, but I have assumed it's because most of the kids seem to enter the program in 1st or 2nd grade.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Melissa etc. That's what I was thinking but I couldn't put it all together.

Charlie, you keep mentioning that Mercer doesn't have a Spectrum school - worth noting that neither does Hamilton: for all the talk of the North End schools being ahead on these things, the Eckstein region has three and Hamilton has zero.

(I am wildly, wildly unconvinced that saying elementary schools will have ALO makes it so, and makes it work.)

TechyMom said...

It's true that I live in Central and have a child in the Lowell AOL.

I've also been watching the development of the ALO from a front-row seat. It's working. They're taking it very seriously. I hear most ALO programs aren't very defined or real. This one appears to be real. I wouldn't move my child for Spectrum (even if the Spectrum at Leschi didn't suck), and I'm not sure I'd move her to Marshall for APP. The presence of the APP staff, and the culture of achievement at the school are a very important part of why the ALO is being developed to be a serious advanced learning opportunity (without capital letters). Moving that staff now would, in my opinion, result in a far less successful ALO. Remember that this ALO and the one at Marshall, are likely to be models for ALOs added at every elementary school in the city. This is a high-stakes effort.

I do believe, however, that once the ALO is defined, established, and running, once the neighborhood families have embraced Lowell as a high-quality neighborhood school, then the APP staff can move to another location, and the culture of achievement will continue. I expect that to take 3-5 years.

I also think that the kids from TT Minor, especially those who were also at MLK, should be given the opportunity to finish elementary school without any more disruptions.

kellie said...

It would take 2-3 years for Marshall to open, would that be enough time for the ALO to settle at Lowell?

CCM said...

ArchStanton said:

Please correct me if I am wrong, but IIRC Robert and TechyMom (who express a desire to wait) are live in the Central Cluster and would also have some personal stake in APP remaining at Lowell.

Exactly - and as a result they really don't have a vote in this "north APP" issue.

The Capitol Hill families that lobbied for a larger walk zone - which is exactly what it was complete with doctor's notes and umpteen emails to Dr. Vaughan - should be going to TM. The APP program is not a neighborhood school - if walking your child to school is so important, there is a very good neighborhood program at Stevens. Sending those kids to TM will help to even out the numbers for each location.

As for TechyMom - why wouldn't you consider sending your child to TM? There are just as many APP staff there that are every bit as well qualified as the Lowell staff.

That being said, I don't agree that it is the APP staff's job to make ALO work. That is up to each school's administration, the ALO teachers and the district.

If the district doesn't grant a North APP site now with the reopening of North-end schools, it very well may never happen. North APP families have earned the right to be able to "walk" their children to APP if they are lucky enough to be close to a North-end site, based on the many years that their kids have been bussed to Lowell.

Robert said...

Arch, I think folks can actually advocate for things that they think are good for APP as well as their family... Just like you right?

And my jarred comment was a bit of a run on... I meant to say "more than" most people will admit.

ArchStanton said...

Absolutely, Robert. I never suggested otherwise. Just asking for a little transparency. That's all.

Robert said...

CCM Wholly Cow where is that coming from...

1/ I have a vote even if you don't think so.

2/ We moved our kid from Stevens to Lowell and we would likely move our family close to any true north campus if that were to happen. Walking and being near the APP program is important to us and we feel is a good habit to pass on to our kids. (Full disclosure: because of issues with drop off we have not been walking yet this year. A shame I might add but we will get back to it shortly)

3/ I don't know why folks persist in calling it lobbying. The district corrected their obvious error in assuming that a postage stamp sized "walk route" map was the correct map and that students could walk to Stevens from Lowell but they couldn't walk from Stevens to Lowell... Which is nonsense.

a. I pointed this out to all the Directors prior to their vote and staff told them two things that were incorrect: that there were "walk zone" maps up for all to see on the SPS website and that the map for Lowell was correct. Based on that, the board reasonably voted to not bus kids that live across the street 4 miles down the road. Even you CCM can respect that. Oh and Mary Bass voted no on that a fact I still do not understand as she has never respond to any of my emails sent to both her campaign or district email.

Had the board actually read my email prior to the vote they would have realized that the two programs would be of unequal size by a large factor. I hoped that would make them reconsider the split all together. Alas, no.

ArchStanton said...

...and it's honestly not my intent to create divisiveness within APP-North.

Robert said...

More transparent than discussing the walk zone issues frequently including in this this very thread? Please. You sure you aren't impugning me for lack of transparency in the hope it belittles my comments... Which I still stand by.

TechyMom said...

I didn't say I wouldn't send my child to APP at TM, or, at least that's not what I meant. I meant that the ALO is serving her needs, she's happy at Lowell, and I'm not sure I'd move her. I'm also not sure that I'd move her out of the ALO into the APP class at Lowell if she tests in. I'd have to see the differences between the teachers, etc.

I think it is the job of district employees who work on advanced learning, including the APP teachers who have experience with gifted education, to help design the ALOs that are supposed to be available to all elementary schools. This seems to be a point on which reasonable people can disagree. I just wanted to call out that it's not really the APP kids who are being called on to develop the program, it's the teachers.

CCM said...

Robert,

I'm not trying to start a fight - you are obviously a very involved parent that is doing what you feel is right for your child. I support that 100%.

However, I do think that it is silly that Capitol Hill families were allowed to stay at Lowell simply because they were fortunate enough to live close to the program. The program was split north/south of the shipping canal - end of story. And that is my opinion - as a Capitol Hill family.

There are many Montlake families that are being bussed past Lowell to go to TM - fair? I don't think so.

Of course the majority of families did not want the split - and the majority of families probably would have chosen to stay at Lowell so their children would not have been disrupted by moving - but the majority of families didn't get that option.

What's done is done - and both programs need to move forward in a positive way to create a successful environment for each location.

I still think that the North APP location should be North of the shipping canal - as that is how the program was split.

Sorry.

Robert said...

Yeah we certainly seem to be getting more and more segmented. Too bad.

I have compassion for parents concerns of the many hours on the bus... I wonder if they share my concern that the WZ kids cohorts' will be flipped from north to south once they enter into MS?

TechyMom said...

Kellie,
Did you mean MacDonald? That might be long enough. I think it would be worth looking at it when MacDonald opens, but I can't say for certain.

Dorothy Neville said...

Techymom, your daughter has been in school for what, about six weeks? I am glad she is happy, but realize that things change. I have a teen who is now a freshman at UW, so we've just finished the public school k-12 years (although only 10 years worth). I have lots of examples from Lowell APP and Bryant and other local schools where things can change rapidly. Kids grow and their needs are different. Teachers get cancer or divorced or they have a nervous breakdown. And leave suddenly, sometimes leaving classrooms in disarray. Sometimes not officially leaving so the principal has no choice but to use a string of substitutes for months. So be very happy that everything is stable and happy now. Don't expect you will continue to have such a quality experience or that you will absolutely get to choose APP or ALO or whatever based on specific teachers.

As for APP teachers working together to build the ALO model and curriculum. Good Luck. APP teachers couldn't ever get their act together to create and adopt an APP curriculum. The only real curricular reforms I have heard about have been pushed from above, notably Julie B. Some teachers are more innovative and attempting best practices and appreciated Julie's intervention. Some didn't. Guess which ones wanted to move with Julie?

I was pretty much underwhelmed by my son's Lowell APP experience. So was he. Others have different stories. Based on many factors, I chose to home school middle school part time and send him to Eckstein where he got some fabulous teachers. (best science year ever, 6th grade Eckstein.) Many APP (and non APP) parents have sought my advice over the years because of their kids' horrible experiences. Three families followed my lead and removed their children from full time Washington APP, homeschooling either full or part time. Several more I spoke with wished they could but logistics didn't work. And at least three more families home schooled one class (commonly, math).

Of course, I see the ones not happy. Many are. Many love Garfield. However thank goodness for UW Academy for Young Scholars. At the parent orientation, many of the Garfield and Roosevelt moms said their kids hated HS, especially the amount of BS busy work instead of academically challenging material. My son is finishing his first full week of university. Calculus and Honors Chemistry and Writing seminar and he is finally busy, finally challenged and NONE of the problem sets have any of that artsy fartsy bull his former teachers included to address "multiple intelligences" but which ignores rigor and critical analysis.

TechyMom said...

Central Cluster Mom says
"What's done is done - and both programs need to move forward in a positive way to create a successful environment for each location. "

I completely agree. However, I think that more upheaval is not moving forward in a positive direction, for anyone. There are also 4 programs to consider now: 2 APP and 2 ALO. That wasn't true last year, but it is true now.

Charlie Mas said...

TechyMom, there is also the Special Education program at Lowell. Please don't forget those children.

Charlie Mas said...

I see from the table at the very end of the Proposed Attendance Area Boundaries Report that the Spectrum school for Mercer is going to be Hawthorne, for Hamilton it will be B.F. Day, Muir for Washington (Leschi's program will apparently close), and Arbor Heights for Denny (West Seattle's program will apparently close).

Setting aside for a moment the discussion of whether these are good choices or not, when and how were they made?

Program Placement continues to be one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional process in the District. It challenges even Facilities for coming up with irrational, political, and wasteful decisions.

As for the choices themselves, there is fault to be found with many of them, but I would like to highlight the selection of Hawthorne for the Mercer service area. Did the District learn NOTHING from the failure of the Spectrum program at West Seattle? I predict that families in the Mercer area will continue to choose either Lafayette or Muir for their Spectrum-eligible children. Any other school in the service area might have worked - any school except Hawthorne. Once again, the District placed a South-end Spectrum program in the least desirable school in the cluster.

What are the criteria for selecting the Spectrum site? What was the rationale for choosing Hawthorne?

What do these program placements mean for the program placement process this year? Was it already done without giving people a chance to submit their proposals?

ArchStanton said...

I wonder if they share my concern that the WZ kids cohorts' will be flipped from north to south once they enter into MS?

That wouldn't be a concern if there was not a walk zone as CentralClusterMom suggests.

Are you implying that kids in the Lowell Walk Zone should be be sent to Hamilton instead of Washington to remain with their elementary cohort?

Charlie Mas said...

South-end APP kids who attend Lowell can try to get into Hamilton and, as kids who attended a feeder school for Hamilton, they will have a preference that comes before the lottery.

Maureen said...

But Lowell isn't a feeder school for Hamilton. It feeds to Washington--that is where the cohort tiebreaker would apply.

CCM said...

My understanding is that Lowell WZ will go to WMS - which was verified by Bob Vaughan at an APP meeting at Lowell last spring. That is what happened this year for the 6th grade - why would it change for families that made the decision on their own to stay at Lowell?

I also know families that were displaced from Meany - and as displaced students were supposed to get their first request, which in their case was Hamilton. They didn't receive it - so if the district isn't going to follow-through on their promises to kids that were at the closed schools, why would Lowell WZ receive preference? For what it is worth the kids are now very happy at Washington.

That is one of the primary reasons that some families in the walk zone chose Thurgood Marshall.

TechyMom said...

Charlie, of course you're right, there are 5 programs, 2 APP, 2 ALO, and one Special Ed. I think I didn't call that out because it hadn't changed since last year. Actually, this is one of the things we like about Lowell: a culture of achievement AND inclusion. It doesn't change my argument, though. If anything it adds to it. The kids in the Special Ed program don't need their school ripped apart again either.

Robert said...

Thanks Charlie!

And Arch and CCM... no! Hows that... you both want to put words/motives to me. we made a choice like you... however the app kids from my dauhter's local area were cut in half ... that's unique.
right?!?! And yeah CCM Arch we could have decided to bus 4 miles verses walking to the closest school to our house... but why?
And to both you.... why should we feel it's good to wedge each other apart?

Charlie Mas said...

The New Student Assignment Plan includes a number of Program Placement notes, particularly regarding Advanced Learning programs. A number of the placements are questionable. It is unclear if these are proposals or decisions.

If they are decisions, how were these decisions made? Did they follow the usual Program Placement process? Where is the data and the rationale to support these decisions? How was public input gathered for these decisions? How were stakeholders engaged?

If these are not yet decisions but only proposals so far, the same questions apply. Will they follow the usual Program Placement process before being finalized? Where is the data and rationale to support these proposals? How will public input be gathered for these decisions? How will stakeholders be engaged? In addition, how will any changes in these proposals alter the boundaries? Will there really be any possibility that these proposals will not become final decisions? At Seattle Public Schools, proposals have a way of becoming decisions largely through inertia and without any authentic opportunity to divert them from that path.

Specific questions:
In the Hamilton service area, B.F. Day was selected as the Spectrum site. How was B.F. Day chosen? Was it chosen solely because it has space available? The Program Placement Policy was adopted to stop the District staff from using available space as the primary determinant in program placement.

In the Washington service area the District is closing the Spectrum program at Leschi. How was that decision made? Muir was chosen as the Spectrum site for the service area, despite the fact that Muir is the least central of all of the schools in the service area. It is further south than two schools in the Mercer service area. In fact, it’s a bit surprising that Muir isn’t in the Mercer service area.

In the Mercer service area, Hawthorne was chosen as the Spectrum site. This is another surprising choice. Did the District learn nothing from the disastrous choice of West Seattle Elementary as the Spectrum site for West Seattle-South? How is Hawthorne different from High Point?

In the Denny service area, the District selected Arbor Heights as the Spectrum site and chose to close the existing program at West Seattle Elementary. Last year the District rejected a proposal identical to this as completely unacceptable. They wouldn't even consider it. What changed to make it a good idea this year?

The District did not take this opportunity to find a north-end location for north-end elementary APP. What is the rationale for choosing to locate north-end APP at Lowell, a school outside the area where the students live? This program placement is completely inconsistent with both the Program Placement Policy and the Highly Capable Students Program Policy.

Why couldn’t the District use McDonald as the north-end elementary APP site? It has the necessary capacity, it is centrally located in the service area (north-end Seattle), it has excellent transportation access, and it is in the feeder pattern for Hamilton, the location for north-end middle school APP. Because the school is currently closed, no students would be displaced by the decision. The attendance area for McDonald might have to be made smaller, but as drawn it stretches across a number of arterials including Interstate 5.

Charlie Mas said...

By the way, if APP were moved out of Lowell, the District could put the Washington service area Spectrum program there. It would also open up a lot of capacity - perhaps enough to close a building.

Another possible location for the Washington service area Spectrum program is Madrona K-8. That would provide the school with a bit more impetus to serve students working at and beyond grade level (not to mention more credibility to their effort if they should ever make one) and provide the neighborhood with a middle school Spectrum program if the Washington program is ever limited in size.

Greener Mom said...

When will high school APP be split? I realize that during last year's APP trauma-thon, it was promised that high school APP would remain at Garfield. Does that give me confidence? No! For other parents of middle school kids, what is your confidence level about that promise? My local "comprehensive" high school is known for anything but academic rigor (and I will give you a hint that it is not north of the ship canal).

CCM said...

I agree with you Charlie - regarding Spectrum placement.

However, I think the closing of the Spectrum program at Leschi will have little to no effect on the central area, as so few families chose to send their children there it will hardly be missed. Will Capitol Hill and Montlake families send their kids to Muir? Not likely, as Montlake and Stevens seem to do a decent job of serving those kids.


Placement of Spectrum at Hawthorne will mirror the Leschi program. I can't help but also feel some sympathy for Hawthorne, as they were first thrust into the APP split picture last spring, then that quickly changed. They are then given a new principal for this year and now are being asked to make room for a Spectrum program next year. How are any of these decisions beneficial to the current population at the school?

Madrona K-8 is interesting for Spectrum and could give Spectrum kids another option in the central area for middle school since there is always a Spectrum waitlist at WMS. I would never send my Spectrum kid to Madrona instead of WMS however, without some radical change in leadership.

CCM said...

And Robert - re wedging each other apart - I was going to try and ignore your comments and not feed this fire - but you are not helping the situation by making comments like"

"we would likely move our family close to any true north campus if that were to happen. Walking and being near the APP program is important to us and we feel is a good habit to pass on to our kids. (Full disclosure: because of issues with drop off we have not been walking yet this year. A shame I might add but we will get back to it shortly)"

That was exactly my point about walk zone -- several families that were very happy to be in the walk zone never walked a day in their life. At least it sounds like you do walk sometimes...

Based on your comments - it sounds to me that you would do ANYTHING to avoid being part of the south cluster...maybe I'm reading between the lines but I'm pretty sure that you never considered moving to Madrona or Leschi to be closer to the program. If you did that - you could actually walk to elementary, middle AND high school! But then, you would be in the "less desirable" cohort, as you have made clear by your actions.

I am well aware that the district created these issues - you didn't - and the programs will continue to become radically different once the SAP goes into effect.

How to solve it? I'm not sure - but maybe following the guidelines set forth by the program split and not asking us to feel sad that your kids will be split in middle school from their "cohort" would help. Hopefully you have a few years before you have to move so you can make sure your child goes to Hamilton.

I've said all I'm going to say about this now -- and yes - maybe there has been some major frustration building on my part since last November when the North/South issues were kindled. We have many North-end friends that we miss very much, and feel it very unfair that some families made a "choice" between the two.

ArchStanton said...

Greener Mom,

Since they discussed splitting HS APP last year, that tells me it's on someone's radar, regardless of any promises that were made. I fully expect HS APP to either be split into two schools or else diluted across several schools within a few years - as long as MGJ & Co.are at the reins.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Again No CCM!

Just because you say "maybe I'm reading between the lines" doesn't mean that you can then define my point of view incorrectly. I DO NOT feel that TM is a less desirable cohort. Please STOP making statements about me based on your own false assumptions.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Arch, I agree with your assessment on APP at Garfield (at least with Dr. G-J still here). Maybe the SAP will be so much work that she won't be able to consider it.

TechyMom said...

Well, Robert, looks like the class size wasn't that small for long! 3 kids transfered into my daughter's K class at Lowell yesterday, from Leschi. I think that puts the class at 23. Still, with a student teacher, that's pretty good.

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