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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lowell Meeting 7PM Monday at Lincoln

Help Keep Lowell's APP community intact
Meeting at Lincoln, Monday June 27 at 7 p.m.

The predicted overcrowding of Lowell next fall has prompted the district to address capacity at the school.

That's good news.

But the solution the district has proposed so far -- and it's not a done deal -- is to send only the 4th and 5th APP grades to Lincoln High School in Wallingford, leaving APP grades 1-3, ALO and SPED at Lowell.

Splitting Lowell's APP community for the second time in two years is not a sound solution. So let's help the district make a better plan.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Come to the meeting on Monday evening at Lincoln. District representatives will be there to hear from the community.

From Executive Director Nancy Coogan:
We would like your feedback on this option. Please join us at a Lowell community meeting:

Date: Monday, June 27, 2011
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: Lincoln School auditorium
4400 Interlake Avenue N.
Seattle, WA 98103

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at necoogan@seattleschools.org. We look forward to meeting with you on Monday.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please consider signing the petition to keep Lowell APP together. Also lots of great comments from parents.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/Keep-Lowell-APP-Together-Fall-2011/

Lowell Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a link to the petition.

lil'dragon said...

I have now written letters to everyone I possibly can apart from the media. I am holding out until the meeting tomorrow. Let's get as many people to the meeting as possible. This isn't only for the APP parents and families, it is SPS families against the bad decisions and policies of the district.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I do have a question of what the joint force is advocating for -- the petition advocates for moving the entire APP cohort to Lincoln, in preparation for an eventual move to a north site. I think this is a good idea.

But, it does raise some questions:

1) does the Lowell walk zone exception for "South APP" disappear? Would these children be grandfathered into the move, and stay with their Lowell cohort?

2) is there sufficient demand for Lowell general ed to keep the Lowell program full without the APP program? I think there might be, since McGilvra & Montlake are so small and Stevens has been full/over-crowded.

3) would the newly envisioned "north APP" have a general ed program?

4) is the overcrowding issue at Lowell systemic or is it temporary? Would temporarily locating 4-5th graders resolve the issue?

As with Charlie Mas's other plans to open and operate new schools, a big part of my questions are about whether overcrowded problems are permanent or temporary. Is the SPS school age population just permanently -- or long term bigger? Or are we dealing with a spike that will disappear in a couple of years?

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me, (zb)

Ed said...

We feel the immediate all-APP move north should not occur without a plan to protect Lowell Elementary. Yes, the district precipitated this, but the response of the APP-dominated PTA is to simply dump the Lowell neighborhood families (remember, the local/ALO program is two years old, born out of closing TTMinor), and realize their dream of moving north. There currently exists no plan to ensure that Lowell will be a competitive, functioning school after half its population, half its staff and more than half its parent leadership simply exit.

The PTA would not allow us to communicate any points of view other than their move-it-all-now petition, so we are informally circulating a petition that insists that the move be accompanied by a plan the strengthen Lowell the neighborhood school, and to plan for a permanent location for APP North. You can find it here: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/Lowelldragons/

Unknown said...

I posted a comment pointing out that APP families often include general education siblings, but it was deleted by a blog administrator. I was not rude or insulting, I simply wanted to express an opinion that differed from the original post. Are different opinions not permitted on this blog? If so, I'm clearly in the wrong place, and I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Unknown, did you post anonymously? If so, did you sign the comment? I think they will delete posts that don't have any kind of signature - "Please sign your comment (with a pseudonym if you like) if you select the Anonymous function for leaving comments."
Signed, trying to help.

Unknown said...

If you don't sign in you can't post at all. My post was up, but now says, "deleted by administrator." I've posted to other threads today, do the standards differ depending on where you post?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unknown, you posted anonymously. That's all. If you read the box above the comments box, there's our policy.

Anonymous said...

no unkown it doesn't vary in the SPS blog. Always sign in some fashion. I believe uknown counts?

Ed, please tone it down. The other petition was sent out and published by the parents and not the PTA. Just like yours. The PTA is looking for answers and to make positive recommendations where they can.

XOXO

Stu said...

Ed wrote: We feel the immediate all-APP move north should not occur without a plan to protect Lowell Elementary.

It's funny . . though I think you make a good point, I find myself disagreeing with you this time 'round.

At the moment, I plan to advocate for the APP community and that's it. First, I don't want the message diluted in any way and I don't think that this is a time for "compromise." the APP community has been torn apart, been lied to about programs and equity, and is now threatened with an unprecedented kind of split; they're not just talking about splitting the cohort into different locations, they want to split the program into different grades. Since I believe that continuity is important, and have witnessed the way the 4th and 5th graders have helped with the younger kids, this is simply unacceptable to me.

But that's not really the issue you, quite correctly, write about. Trouble is, as I see it, there's no long term threat to Lowell as a building, community, or neighborhood school, with the proposal to move ALL of APP. Yes, it might be a stranger year, and some concessions might need to be made by ALL the current Lowell communities, but there's absolutely no reason why Lowell can't/won't develop into a strong, viable, local elementary in the following year or two. That can't be said of the APP program if they split it at 4/5. It adds additional inequity between the two elementary programs, it tears apart an ongoing community, it removes significant "experience" from the ranks of the teachers AND the current students.

I know we all want what's best for OUR child. And I think that everyone here -- those of us who spend time on the blogs and at the meetings and who send endless letters and emails to the district -- wants what's best for ALL children in the district. But divided we fall and, this time around, I want what's best for the APP program and, to me, that's not allowing the district to split it by grade.

stu

Lori said...

Schools like Sandpoint opened this year, and the families of the 50 or so kids there did the hard work of building a PTA and a functioning community from the ground up. In many ways, the neighborhood school aspect of Lowell is identical to what is happening at Sandpoint: neighborhood kids are now automatically assigned to these schools, which will grow in size each successive year as the initial Kindergarten cohorts move up thru the grades. If anything, Lowell has a head-start on Sandpoint and an established infrastructure that that school did not have when it opened this past fall.

So I guess I'm having trouble understanding why non-APP families at Lowell feel like they can't keep the school running without the full APP cohort there. If Sandpoint could create a PTA from nothing, surely the remaining Lowell families could keep a long-standing PTA running next year, even if much of the membership turned over.

Ed says that the Lowell PTA is dominated by APP parents who want to dump on the local kids to realize their dream of moving north. I think this language is unnecessarily incendiary and not reflective of APP parents' general motives and wishes. But that said, I do have an honest question for Ed and others. Why is the Lowell PTA "dominated" by APP parents? Not being snarky, but is it actually hard for non-APP parents to get on the PTA when spots are open? How many have tried?

Ultimately, I find myself agreeing with Stu. I don't want anyone's kid harmed in all of this, but the potential harm to the APP community if split into grades 1-3 and 4-5 at two locations is greater than any harm that might be done to the 200+ students who would remain at Lowell if all of APP left. Yes, some of the current parent leadership would be gone, but those 200+ kids also have parents who can and should pick up the slack on behalf of their children.

lil'dragon said...

Well said Stu and Lori. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

If APP keeps growing at the current rate, we'll be able to have one in every school. Wouldn't that be great? No need to go to a special school at all.

-parent

former dragon said...

a parent-

I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or deliberately provocative. Either way, you are off on the wrong tangent. No one wants a 'special school' for their APP student. All we want is our children's academic, social and emotional needs met in school. Met with a solid cohort of like-minded peer and understanding teachers. It's been said here a million times, that isn't possible in our neighborhood school.

Po3 said...

Don't have a pony in this race - but it does seem like moving the entire cohort makes the most sense at this point. As for Lowell, great opportunity to enjoy a small uncrowded learning enviroment for a couple of years. As for the Lowell PTA, non-APP parents should have been stepping all along and am surprised that the PTA is "APP top-heavy". I know schools are always looking to fill PTA positions and cannot imagine Lowell has been any different. So why more Gen Ed parents are not involved in the PTA can only be answered by those in the school.

Anonymous said...

My family attends Lowell APP, but I am not affiliated with the PTA. Over the late winter and early spring several calls for people to join the PTA board went out. Non APP parents apparently didn't apply. There was at least one ALO parent on the PTA board last year.

I do know that I went to the PTA meeting a couple of weeks ago and the parents went around and introduced themselves. There were only a couple of Gen. Ed parents there. There were a few spec. ed parents and lots of APP.

These are open meetings and the PTA sent out several invitations. Others need to show up.

The APP AC sent out an email last night and said the breakdown of the school population. This past year (10/11) there were 368 APP, 153 ALO, 32 special ed and 33 preschool.

Remember that the school district created this school, not APP. There are more APP parents at the school.

Lowell parent

Fremont Mama said...

Thank you to all the current APP parents who are working hard to get everyone to Lincoln. As a new Lowell parent this fall, I appreciate everything you are doing to keep the kids together.

I plan to be there tonight to show my support for moving all of Lowell APP to Lincoln.

Susanne

dj said...

A related point to Lowell parent (from the same APP ACC email) -- the projected numbers for next year outside of APP are:

206 ALO
32 low incidence and medically fragial special education
33 special education preschool

(11 kindergarten students on the waitlist)

So the program without APP is projected to be much bigger than it was in the 2010-11 school year.

Fremont Mama said...

I am wondering if parking is going to be hard to find. Anyone coming from Fremont and want to carpool or maybe even walk over? If interested, please email me at jas2000 (at) comcat.net

Thanks!
Susanne

Maureen said...

Does anyone have a ballpark figure for how many ALO students are APP sibs?

I'm noticing that Lowell without APP would be approximately the same size as Montlake (they had 240 students in 09-10).

Anonymous said...

Exactly right Dragon. At the current rate of growth, the APP program will likely need to split a few more times in coming years. And there's no need to have a special school, as you said, you don't want that!

--parent

Ben said...

Perhaps this is relevant:

I believe the PTA at Thurgood Marshall is composed mostly of APP parents, too.

Anonymous said...

A very good post from another threat posted by Lori.....

Thanks, WSEADAWG, for your wonderful post describing the social and emotional needs of a lot of APP kids. As the parent of one of those "complicated, bright, but chock full of issues" kids, I totally get it, and while I try to explain it myself on this blog from time to time, you've written a far better post that I ever have!

The potential Lowell split angers me precisely because I understand that the program is not just about academics. Elementary school is a critical time in a child's life to learn how to make friends, how to interact in groups, and how to exert influence and practice leadership skills. If you don't have a relevant peer group, you can practice none of these things.

I watched this happen with our child at our neighborhood school for an entire year, and when no one wanted to play the games she suggested at recess and no one laughed at her jokes or invited her to birthday parties, she eventually gave up even trying to fit in, and became sullen, sad, and lonely, and she didn't have the knowledge or experience to understand why life was so dang hard and frustrating.

Now, at Lowell, she has found her tribe, and she finally gets to be a normal kid, suggesting games at recess that others do in fact want to play, taking her ideas to the Student Council and leading an initiative for something she's passionate about. It's absolutely amazing to see the transformation that's occurred, and it's not just due to her grade level peers but rather to the exposure to like-minded kids of all ages, particularly the older kids that serve as mentors and inspire her.

The last day of school, she couldn't wait to go thru the Lowell year book with me, pointing out kids from each grade level that she knows and interacts with. I won't bore you with any more personal stories, but I have no doubt that splitting up the grades would truly diminish the school experience for all of the kids. The cohort needs to be sufficiently large to allow all of the kids to work on their social skills in the optimal environment; elementary APP should have as many kids in it as any other elementary school does, and the grade levels need to be together. Socially isolating just a few classes at a separate location is actually offensive to me and shows that the district just doesn't understand this program.

......
Lowell Parent

Jan said...

parent said: At the current rate of growth, the APP program will likely need to split a few more times in coming years.

Could you explain why you think the "current rate of growth" will continue at this pace?

My understanding is that people's best guess of the increase has been:

1. A one time change in the cut off standard that increased the population (but unless they continue to lower the bar, one would not expect that to continue, right?) and

2. A "shift" to Lowell of a percentage of APP kids who were currently being served in Spectrum programs, due to the fact that Spectrum is being changed from a "self contained" model to basically an ALO at many schools. Again, I would think this would be a finite number of kids (not an ever increasing one -- which "rate of growth" would imply). Once those APP kids change schools, why would the program size not stablilize?

The only things I can think of that would feed into a stable rate of growth (rather than a stable set population) would be if the number of Seattle residents with kids was scheduled to grow at a specific rate over the next X years. But I have not heard that from anyone, either on this blog or elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Jan,

you wonder if the sudden increase in the elementary APP population at Lowell Elementary has been caused by:

"1. A one time change in the cut off standard that increased the population (but unless they continue to lower the bar, one would not expect that to continue, right?). . ."

This does not sound accurate. What is the "one time change in the cut off standard" to which you refer, and when did it occur?

APParent

Jan said...

Dear APParent; uh oh. I hope I am not spreading bad information here. I had understood (maybe Melissa or Dorothy can bail me out here) that at some point, they tinkered in a small way with what they were looking at as cut-off scores, either for COGAT or Achievement tests -- and that the result was an increase in the number of students who qualified for APP. I don't have time tonight, but I will go back through blog posts and see if I can find what I read, and either repost it, or point you to it.

Catherine said...

I would think some part of the APP population "growth" has to do with the economy. There's a percentage of the private school population that's unable to afford that choice right now.

Anonymous said...

Here's a summary of the meeting: There is no plan.

Also added to the summary of options - "Expand" APP to 3 sites

SPS communications was present, though curiously not facilitating the meeting.

July 8 was given as a date for a final decision.

parent

apparent said...

Jan,

There has been no "one time change in the cut off standard that increased the population . . . [by] lower[ing] the bar . . ."

The APP entrance requirements remain where they have been for years, i.e: 98th%ile+ cognitive score, plus 95th%ile+ achievment scores in both reading and math. No change.

Claims have been made that more Advanced Learning testing has resulted from sending invitations to parents for permission to test based on high MAP achievement scores (reading and math), but another poster pointed out that similar letters used to be sent out based on high WASL scores.

You should also be aware that this past year Autumn MAP scores were used to limit testing, meaning that unlike previous years CogAt tests and further reading and math achievement tests were administered only to those who scored above an 85th%ile threshold on MAP, whereas previously those tests were administered to all who gave permission for Advanced Learning testing. This actually raised the bar rather than lowering it, or perhaps more accurately added another hoop for APP applicants to jump through. There are now even two separate appeal windows in the selection process, because of this new exclusionary screening process, allowing cognitive testing to proceed for some candidates based on independent evidence.

Regardless, all successful APP candidates still have to meet the 98%+/95%+/95%+ cutoffs that have been in place all along.

So Lowell's overcrowding crisis is not because the APP cutoff standards have changed.

Dorothy Neville said...

What is this hard and fast cut-off of 98% and 95% that folks talk about? I haven't looked lately but have noticed in the past that the district avoids using such language that there are hard and fast cut-offs for eligibility.

My son's acceptance letter from 2000 said that there were 3000 applicants and that of those accepted, the APP kids had an average cognitive score of 99% and an average achievement scores of 97%. This, I believe was typical language, not language saying that there was a hard and fast yes/no cut-off.

The thing is, the achievement tests have changed over the years. With no ITBS, the HC office used WASL for achievement (couldn't afford another test) and that is not at all designed to measure kids working above standards. Now it's the MAP. Does anyone get the Woodcock Johnson anymore?

As for the cognitive measure, they most certainly did relax the requirements because they started administering all three parts of the CogAt and accepting students based on two out of three scores (verbal, analytical and non-verbal, if I remember correctly) when in the past, one had to get high scores on both verbal and analytical. Non-verbal was only given to ELL students. That most certainly did relax eligibility. Have they rescinded that?

Ten years ago there were 360 elementary APP kids. Next year they anticipate close to 700. There are a whole slew of reasons for that, but it most certainly does include different eligibility requirements.

Jan said...

Thanks, Dorothy. The COGAT test change was the thing I had recalled hearing earlier at some point.

apparent said...

Dorothy (continued . . .)

It is true that the APP appeals information mentions other possible evidence other than test scores, such as teacher input or student work portfolio. But only this past year, Advanced Learning quietly REMOVED from their web page criteria certain language that previously noted that test scores are general break points, not absolute disqualifiers (or absolute qualifiers (?!)).

When invited on the APP blog, no parent came forward with any actual instance of a successful APP eligibility appeal that did not rely on independent test scores at the stated 98+/95+/95+ levels. Are there any out there, or are they just anecdotal? If alternative evidence of highly gifted ability is not considered in place of qualifying test scores, it then seems cruel to raise the hopes of families whose kids just missed the cut. In borderline cases of missed scores, do such appeals ever succeed?

Dorothy, you write that "Ten years ago there were 360 elementary APP kids. Next year they anticipate close to 700. There are a whole slew of reasons for that, but it most certainly does include different eligibility requirements."

It's a really convoluted process. But the key point is that the stated score thresholds for APP were not lowered recently. The CogAt 2/3 policy to which you refer seems to have been introduced many years ago (before the current elementary APP students were even born?) and so can have had no influence on this recent APP enrollment rise and current Lowell overcrowding.

Yours is among a couple of recent posts that blame supposedly recently relaxed APP eligibility criteria for these problems, but there is simply no factual basis for this.

apparent said...

Dorothy (apologies, here's the first half of the last post, it did not appear):

you will find the language setting out the 98%+/95%+/95%+ clearly laid out in tables in two separate places on the Advanced Learning web page: first under Eligibility Criteria, which refers only to the District's own testing; and additionally under Appeals, which lists other nationally-normed tests that can also be used.

There was an interesting discussion about all this recently on the APP blog. This past year it seems that MAP achievement scores at the 85th%ile or higher in both reading and math were required just to be given the CogAt. Tough on brand new kindergartners in the Fall who may never have sat at a computer. And even already being in Spectrum based on the prior year's testing results was not enough if the kid dipped on the Fall MAP test! A separate initial screening appeal in the Fall(say based on an independent achievement test above 85%) might still allow such a kid to be given the CogAt. I think that kids from private schools with no MAP scores were also administered the CogAt first, then achievement tests second.

Only after this initial MAP threshold score (or successful initial screening appeal in November), the CogAt was administered to the much smaller group in January. According to their procedures, achievement scores were then considered only for these tested candidates with CogAt scores at the 98th%ile or above.

Apparently MAP reading and math scores both at the 95th%ile or higher were sufficient to show the achievement portions without any further testing. Only students who had been administered the CogAt and scored at the 98th%ile or higher, but who did not have MAP scores in the top 5%, were then administered the Woodcock-Johnson achievement tests in reading and math.

Advanced Learning then sent out its first batch of eligibility letters to those children who had CogAt scores at 98th%ile or better, as well as either MAP or Woodcock-Johnson scores in both reading and math at 95th%ile or higher.

continued . . .

apparent said...

Dorothy (continued . . .)

Until that point, the Advanced Learning procedures apparently did not take any independent testing into account (other than to reconsider an adverse initial screening decision appeal). Independent assessments showing intelligence scores at 98th%ile or above, and reading and math achievement scores at 95th%ile or above on a list of approved nationally-normed tests were only looked at for the very first time during the appeals process in February or March. In other words, even if a candidate had submitted all those scores with the initial application in October, or if say the cognitive score or an achievement score was even already on file and valid from last year, that student would still receive a letter denying eligibility and be forced to go through the motions of an appeal in the spring! Really weird process.

continued in the initial post addressed to Dorothy above . . .

apparent said...

Melissa,

I responded to Dorothy because she and a couple of other posters are quite mistaken in suggesting that there has been any recent relaxation of APP eligibility requirements that could explain Lowell overcrowding this year. Even though I broke the eligibility process into two (then three) posts, your spamfilter gobbled it or the word count was too long. Because this seems important, could you try to make sure that the post does appear, hopefully in its original order? Thanks.

Dorothy Neville said...

Apparent. Looking forward to seeing your whole post when it gets restored, but clarification, I never said that it was a recent change. The changes in what is used for achievement testing seems to be ongoing, but the change to the CogAt was through Colleen Stump and dates back to 2005 or so. I do not think that there was a sudden change and a sudden overcrowding. This has been a gradual process. Probably a gradual process that started long time ago, from discussions with long time veteran teachers. Remember, IPP was for kids who were way out there, like four standard deviations from the mean. What's 98th percentile? Two sd or so. The HC office has always been coy about actual cut offs, allowing them discretion based on other factors.

hschinske said...

My understanding is that when they switched to 95th percentile for achievement in 2005, that was a hard cutoff, not an average. However, quite soon they were talking about "95th percentile on the WASL," which of course has not got meaningful percentile scores at all anyway, and it was much fuzzier what such a score would mean.

The difference between 95th percentile and 99th percentile on a grade-level test is often somewhat random anyway (if you take two kids who scored 95th and 99th on a grade-level test and give them a test for two years up, it's not at all unheard of for the one who scored 95th to turn out to score higher on the out-of-level test).

Helen Schinske

Susan said...

Another point to be considered is 1500 APP/47,000 SPS = 3.2%. APP supposedly represents top 2% of kids nationally not in SPS. I don't think 3.2% in APP is an anomaly or equates to watered-down entrance requirements.

I know several people who have kids scoring in the 50th-95th percentiles on the MAP tests who send their kids to private schools. Many folks who have kids qualified for APP realize it might be (used to be?) more appropriate than a private education. So, the APP kids may stay in SPS while many average to above-average kids leave for private, other districts, etc.

To summarize, 3.2% of SPS qualifying for APP doesn't sound like a crazy figure to me. Folks need to equate APP growth with SPS growth PLUS the defection of kids to private school who don't qualify for APP.

P.S. I know a family whose daughter had 98/99 MAP scores and got a 97 on the CoGat...DENIED APP.

Jan said...

Thanks, Apparent, for all your information. The change I couldn't recall, but meant to allude to, was the change in accepting 2 of 3 qualifying COGAT scores -- which I don't recall was available when my kids tested, in the late 90s, early 2000s.

This probably isn't the thread for it, but I would be really curious to know what you, Dorothy, Helen (and anyone else with a better knowledge of the tests than I have) think of the migration from:
1. COGAT/Woodcock-Johnson (or ITBS in upper grades); to

2. COGAT/Woodcock-Johnson (or WASL in upper grades); to

3. MAP/COGAT/selective use of Woodcock-Johnson -- which is what I understood you to say was the current protocol.

To the extent I believe in the tests at all, I believe in COGAT, and W-J. I also had high correleations between W-J and ITBS in the one child who took both.

I have found WASL test results to be highly DIS-similar to any other test results -- and I held them in withering contempt while they were used.

I know nothing about MAP, as my children were all above MAP ages when it was introduced.