Friday, June 10, 2011

Open Thread Friday

What's on your mind? 

My TFA article is up at Crosscut but I'll post that in a separate thread.  Here's a link to get you started.


Eric B said...

I was interested to see yesterday that Rob McKenna's campaign kicked off on a pledge for education spending. In some ways, that's an easy pledge to make, since I believe that the new funding formulas approved last year or the year before will start kicking in during the new governor's term. On the other hand, it will force the Democratic candidate to make promises as well. It also pressures the Democrat to take actual action this coming year if they are in a position to do so. McKenna is in an ideal position in that regard, since he has no budget-writing authority and doesn't have to practice what he preaches on the trail.

Whether campaign promises turn into actual funding is another question entirely, of course!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree, Eric. I was going to post on that because it will make for a good education discussion during the election.

I'll try to do a post because his promises/rhetoric raises some interesting questions.

Patrick said...

I'm shocked and discouraged by UW's tuition increase. 20% increase in a single year! Some of it will go to increased financial aid, but that only helps the poor. The middle class will be priced out. Those prices will keep students from majoring in fields that don't lead to high-paying careers, or they will study at some other college. UW will be a less diverse place. Washington will have to import more of its technical talent for the tech industries, and faced with importing talent employers will wonder why they should locate in Washington at all.

Laura said...

Adams Elementary Principal just announced that Tate Loftin will be Assistant Principal

StopTFA said...

A few more interesting emails regarding UW's amateurish attempt to design a special TFA alternative certification programs:





and here

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, Patrick, it is shocking. But keep in mind that UW has been one of the best buys for a public univerisity for a long time. The hike puts us more in line with other schools.

This is little comfort to those who have to pay it but it is not out of line with what others charge.

What is REALLY shocking is with the tuition hike AND admitting fewer in-state students that the Dean of the College of Education would give a tuition break to the (mostly) out-of-state TFA recruits.

They will pay about $11k instead of the normal $24-26K a regular grad student would pay.

AND TFA recruits get a Americorps grant of $10k over two years AND get to defer paying any college loans for the two years they teach.

How is it that the state has money to give a break ONLY to a small group of students from out of state while in-state students suffer?

dan dempsey said...


That increase in school funding may be court ordered. The McCleary v. State appeal goes to the State Supreme Court on June 28th. If Judge Erlick's McCleary decision is upheld ... there is going to be "a whole lotta school funding change happening".

WA State Constitution being followed ... what a concept for the Gov and legislators.

Anonymous said...

Have you posted the pdf of waitlist numbers for 2011? If so, where can I find it?


Eric B said...

Found the original law--ESHB 2261 passed in 2009. The proposed timeline as defined then is here.

Kathy said...

"What is REALLY shocking is with the tuition hike AND admitting fewer in-state students that the Dean of the College of Education would give a tuition break to the (mostly) out-of-state TFA recruits"

Thanks for exposing this.

There needs to be more awareness created throughtout the city and state on this issue.

CrankyParent said...

is there a way to find out how many families ended up with split sibling assignments?

Patrick said...

Yes, Melissa, a lot of other public universities have been increasing their tuition enormously as well. The fact that it's a nationwide problem doesn't make me feel any better.

I feel like we're returning to the pre-World War II era of higher education, before all those returning GIs took their GI Bill and went to college with it.

Dorothy Neville said...

Full disclosure is that for my family, UW with 20% hike is still an affordable deal. It's about 2 thousand dollars a year. I understand that this is a burden on other families. $11K a year still seems like a deal though compared to many alternatives.

Those who are shocked and dismayed have to understand what the cost cutting measures have done to the quality of UW education in the past few years. Fewer dollars for TAs means fewer lab sessions in science classes (I believe the Intro Chemistry sequence went from 7 or 8 labs per 10 week quarter down to 3 or 4), study centers closed due to lack of staffing, fewer TAs means work takes longer to get graded, less feedback, fewer opportunities to get help. Larger lecture sections and fewer of them mean it can be harder to get the courses one wants or needs. What does funding fewer TA positions mean for the quality of the grad school? How long before that would have a noticeable effect on caliber of grad students and the desire for high quality faculty to work here?

If one wants UW to continue to be a world class educational institution, one has to pay for it. If the taxpayers won't, somebody must.

Dorothy Neville said...

Charlie, are you going to write about the LEV event last night regarding technology and education? I thought it was fascinating.

Kay Smith-Blum was there. I thought I saw Sundquist, but don't know for sure. Linda Shaw was there, and several hundred folks I didn't recognize.

Anonymous said...


My cynical view is that this is how "we" ensure that we are able conduct multiple wars with an "all volunteer" military. If college were within everyone's reach, we'd probably not have enough people resorting to the military to help them gain employment skills. Then we might have to reinstate the draft, and it's a lot harder to start wars of choice when rich and middle class kids' lives are at stake.


Lori said...

Well said, Dorothy. It's true at all levels.

I help teach a class in one of the professional schools each fall. In the past, I received a small stipend for my work. This past year, I taught my section for free because budgets were cut and the school could no longer afford to pay part-time instructors like me.

It's an important class for these students; we divide 70+ into small groups of 12-14 so we can really go in depth and have each student participating in the material. The alternative is a lecture with all students at once, which won't be nearly as effective.

I don't expect any tuition increase to result in the return of my stipend, and I wonder how long I and the other section leaders can continue to do this for free just because we are passionate about the topic. Sad situation.

Anonymous said...

There will be an open house in my studio this Saturday from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM to provide students and their parents an opportunity to see the work that we do in the Architecture 101 workshops.

The studio is located in the International District at 601 S. King Street.

All are invited.

West Seattlite Parent said...

Crankyparent - I've been looking into that a little, but the data is not being published yet, as it is still changing and will through the summer. Rumor has it, the enrollment office will tell you how many of the families on the wait list you are calling about (and perhaps are on)are siblings. I don't know when they'll publish the list Melissa was talking about a few days ago, and if it will include siblings.

gavroche said...

"Blogger Laura said...

Adams Elementary Principal just announced that Tate Loftin will be Assistant Principal"

Now wait a minute. Is this the same Tate Loftin who mysteriously disappeared from her job as Principal of Coe Elementary School a few weeks ago without any clear explanation from her or the District?

She wasn't even able to complete a year at one school, and now she is rewarded with another job at another school (Adams)?

Meanwhile, a Principal who resigned from her last controversial Principal job at Meany 14 years ago, is going to be dusted off and assigned to Lowell Elementary next year as its third Principal. (!?)

What is going on here?

It sounds like this Superintendent is passing off poor or problematic Principals on strong school communities, rather than dealing with them herself --- just like Goodloe-Johnson did with Principal assignments at McGilvra and Lawton about a year ago.

Even Michael DeBell admitted Goodloe-Johnson was doing this, with the goal of getting the school communities to object and issue enough complaints about these incompetent Principals to give the District the grounds to finally fire them.

It's called "Passing the Buck," and illustrates cowardice, lack of leadership from SPS superintendents, and creates unnecessary turmoil and anxiety for the schools that are the dumping grounds for incompetent Principals.

If this is how Susan Enfield is clearing out the overstaffed Central Office to meet that 6% mark, it's reprehensible.

New To SPS said...

Robert Vaughan showed up at last night's Wedgwood Spectrum meeting, and confirmed that he supports Chris Cronas's changes to the Spectrum program. I took notes from last night's meeting, but I won't be able to get them typed in until later this evening. I can confirm that Bob Vaughan said the District does not have a written policy/requirement to deliver Spectrum as a self-contained model, but that it has simply been a tradition. He said this is why no formal district-level process was needed to make the changes at Wedgwood.

Ed Doc said...


For the record:

The principal assigned to Lowell for next year, as the second principal for that school, did not resign from being the principal at Meany Middle School.

I know that the district has a history of playing the shell game with some of the ineffective or unsuccessful staff and administrators to avoid actually addressing the problems. It is important to avoid painting all with a broad brush stroke and submit unfounded criticism simply because of unpopularity in some circles.

Dr. Enfield has refused to consider addressing the top heavy administration for headquarters operations. It is worth noting that the individual that has been collecting principal pay while shuffling papers in HR appears to be moving off the public roll and finally retiring from the district. We will need to watch and learn if this individual is brought on with a personal contract though...similar to many other former administrators for the district.

Anonymous said...

All here need to read this to understand the concerns about Charters & Ed Reforms. Frankenstein's Monsters are coming alive.

Education is not a Consumer Product

Then, have a good weekend. WSEADAWG

Charlie Mas said...


I think I will write about the LEV sponsored panel last night on Technology in Education. I really enjoyed it and I will admit that I am a fan of this sort of thing - if it is done right.

Technology is a tool that, like any other tool, is constructive when used properly and destructive when used improperly.

For me, the key was the way it changes the role of the teacher from the dispenser of information to motivator, facilitator, and relationship manager. The teacher can be freed from the less imaginative and creative duties and can focus on the more human contact and professional elements of the job.

Charlie Mas said...

Funny how fluid rules and procedures can be when the District wants them to be fluid. These rules and procedures can also be rigid when the District wants them to be rigid.

The fact is that the delivery model for all advanced learning programs is subject to District review and approval. Dr. Vaughan does have the authority to set limits on how Lawton or Wedgwood can change their Spectrum programs.

Anonymous said...

The price of Higher Ed going up is merely the effect of more privatization and genuflecting to big money interests. This time it's the student lending industry, which is booming like mad, ensuring that someday, every student who goes to college will graduate with lots of compound interest they must pay for decades to a group of investors making money sitting on their butts.

The answer to higher prices is not cost controls, or budget constraints. No! Its to borrow, borrow, and borrow again. This is the "ownership society" GW Bush referred to. The rest of us merely rent.

Welcome to Feudalism folks! Keep voting for those Eyman initiatives and support lower tax rates that put $100 per year in your pocket, but put an extra million a year in billionaire's pockets. And watch the price of everything go up as the quality goes down, in the name of almighty profits!

Honestly, who is shocked by any of this? This is the world Reagan envisioned, where the wealthy classes scoop the cream while the working classes do all the work. (There I go sounding commie again! Actually, I'm trying to sound FAIR. Does that make me a pinko commie?)

We can all piss, moan, and whine. But how many of us vote against raising taxes, expecting somebody else to pay the freight, or buy into the rhetoric that lazy poor people, immigrants, or people lying to get loans they can't afford are causing all these problems. As we meanwhile spend a billion per week in Afghanistan and Iraq, much of it into the pockets of private contractors?

We are a dumb, irresponsible, knee-jerk public that is getting what we deserve for buying into this crap and playing the Dems vs. Reps game. Big $$ owns both parties outright. As Ralph Nader said, the only difference between the two parties is how fast their knees hit the floor when their corporate benefactors enter the room.

I hate to break it to you all, but it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Think we're in pre WWII times? Try 17th century Europe, my fellow serfs. Watch ALEC, the American Legislative Executive Counsel (I think), which is the think tank that is drafting all these copycat pieces of legislation being pushed and passed in all the state legislatures. What the big boys couldn't accomplish at the Federal level, they have decided to pass in the states, several at a time. Any mystery why all the Rep governors are all passing anti-union legislation at the same time?

Follow the money. Just follow the money. It answers everything.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"..Spectrum as a self-contained model"

It says this at the website and has on every single district document I have ever seen.

I can't believe Bob Vaughn said that.

Charlie Mas said...

I am plagued by memory.

I remember the Strategic Plan quarterly update in December of 2010 when the staff promised corrections to the School Reports. No corrections yet.

I remember the fanfare with which the Board announced their plan for quarterly oversight meetings. There was one in February about HR and there hasn't been another since.

I remember the District Leadership talking about earning the public's trust in March, but I don't remember them doing anything to earn the public's trust since then.

I remember the District Leadership talking about transparency in March, but I don't remember them making anything more transparent since then. The new web site is impenetrable.

I remember the District Leadership talking about community engagement in March, but I don't remember them getting community input on any principal or assistant principal assignments - not even at TOPS where is required by Policy.

dan dempsey said...

As the Board and the Administration fail to evaluate programs as to whether they are successful ... baloney programs continue. There is little communication as to the effectiveness of programs because programs are not evaluated by the District and the Board seemingly likes this arrangement.

Is the k-12 math program doing OK? Should it be continued? ... Check out the ongoing lack of substantive data from Anna-Maria in her presentations.

The Board fails to use data or investigate proposals and lets Holly Ferguson determine Board policy.

This house of cards continues to stand because the Board is deathly afraid of looking for any accountability in District programs. There is apparently no tool used to evaluate student learning.

Who knows the MAP testing might be such a tool but the district is too busy trying to sell MAP as a formative assessment tool, which it is not.

I am looking for 4 new Directors that will require proof that the SPS current practices are effective.... just calling something a Best Practice needs to end.

Anonymous said...

FYI, the district website now defines Spectrum as the following (see subsection 3):

The program is guided by four core principles:
1) Provide a rigorous curriculum.
2) Provide an accelerated curriculum that focuses on student proficiency in grade level expectations and one grade level beyond or more in reading and mathematics
3) Bring district-identified students together through self-contained or cluster-grouping strategies to form classroom rosters.
4) Provide instruction by teachers familiar with the needs of students who are academically gifted.

What this tells me is that individual school communities may have different implementations; that the core requirement is curriculum be delivered one grade level ahead, and if it is, schools have freedom to set (rigorous) paths, self-contained or cluster.

Many of us do want the freedom to have different implementations / philosophies in Spectrum delivery. My kids have had self-contained as well as a variety of blends. One is not better: it's the teacher that makes or breaks. After all, diversity of approach is why I value offering both alternative and traditional educational models in our school system. My take is that diverse approaches toward Spectrum delivery are not by definition "watered down" (which they would be if the students were not learning at 1 grade level ahead), but merely different pedagogical methods. I view a one-size-fits-all Spectrum delivery model with the same lens that I view one-size-fits-all high school language arts curriculum: thankful that individual schools and teachers retain ANY freedom at all to deliver instruction.

Sign Me, Glad for Self-Contained AND Cluster

StopTFA said...

If you would like to comment on the UW's proposed discriminatory Alternative Certification program, send the PESB Board a message

Salander said...

I asked which measures will be used in the teacher evaluations.

For student growth measures we will be using MAP and MSP and end of course assessments in some 9th grade math classes (Algebra I and Geometry). I hope this answered your question, please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Since the MSP is not used in high school that leaves the MAP.

Jan said...

But wait, Salander -- which high school grades use MAP? I know seniors don't, and I thought juniors didn't either.

Frankly, since I don't believe in using test scores to evaluate teachers, it would be fine with me if they don't have either, and figure out a more credible way to assess student learning. But I admit to being confused.

seattle citizen said...

9th graders are tested using MAP, along with students in ELL, SpEd, and other "categories" even if they are in higher grades. But most 10s-12s are not tested.

Interestingly, the district (and I think the teachers' contract) talks of how they will evaluate teachers only in those subjects for which there are two or more district-wide tests. At the high school level, this would be zero, in my opinion, because students only take one test in 9th grade and one test in 10th grade (HSPE), so there is no subject that is tested by two district-wide tests in the same year. But that's just my take on it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Question; does anybody with a child at an Alt school know of an open position at your school that no one has applied for?

I'm wondering because there's one comment at the Crosscut article from someone who IDed themselves as "AltEd" saying their school has open positions and one has no applicants. I find that hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

The high numbers of younger APP students indicates how much of a farce "giftedness" has become in this district.

There are so many kids in APP now
(as a result of savvy parents) that the numbers show that something is amiss. The district is aware of the fact that many parents got "cognitive testing" to push their child over the threshold into APP. "Downtown" responded in typical inane fashion by pulling out MAP scores, while at the same time allowing opt-out students to bypass this step.

The district made a mistake a while ago when then let parents think that the upper end of average is gifted. I am a veteran teacher and I often think of the Lloyd Bentson quote to Dan Quayle when he compared himself to JKF.
"Your offspring is no Albert Einstein"

There is gifted and there is high-end average.

Signed, Giftedness is not the new average (and please don't get defensive)

Chris S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

Our (Alt) school now has two permanent and two one year positions open. When the positions were put online by HR they went on and off so quickly that three subs who work in the building and knew to look for the listings didn't have time to file applications. HR ended up sending a huge stack of applications to our AP and she had to sort through them all. A significant number of the applicants didn't meet the minimum requirements for the job and HR shouldn't have allowed them through. The process is ridiculous for the schools and for the applicants.

Charlie Mas said...

There are seven full time teaching jobs on the District's job opportunities page. Three of them are at STEM. The others are at West Seattle Elementary, Maple, Hawthorne, and Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

Wow, when Madison proposed a cluster model for Spectrum in WINTER 2010, Bob shot them down. They came with data, research, everything.Shot down.
It was self contained, no choice, that was the way Spectrum is done, what makes it Spectrum, they were told.

Anonymous said...

Veteran Teacher, sounds like your quarrel is with the district not with parents or these APP kids. These kids jumped through the hoops the district set up. What measure would you use to determine their eligibility?

If one of these kids show up in your class, how will you treat them? What will you say to them? Will you use your Lloyd Bentson's quote?

-concerned parent

Salander said...

Only 9th graders are tested at high school.

I guess teachers who teach 10th, 11th, and 12th are exempted.

Charlie Mas said...

I seem to recall from about ten years ago - when people spoke frankly about these things - APP was supposed to be for students who had cognitive skills 2.0 standard deviations from the mean and Spectrum was for students with cognitive skills 1.5 standard deviations from the mean.

While folks are familiar with the idea of fat tails on real-life distributions (unlike the thin tails on theorized ones), I don't think fat tails would explain the growth of APP in Seattle Public Schools from 1200 in 2005 to 1500 in 2010.

Of course, APP became a lot more attractive to north-end families when it meant middle school in Wallingford instead of the Central District.

Salander said...

Is there any evidence that ANYONE in administration at SPS has ANY idea what they are doing?

gavroche said...

Ed Doc, are you saying this Seattle Times article about Francois-Griffin's resignation is inaccurate?

Things didn't look promising last spring, however, when an ad hoc committee of dissatisfied parents was demanding that Stanford remove the principal, Marella Griffin. Formerly at Madison Middle School in West Seattle, Griffin was Stanford's hand-picked choice to manage the Meany project.

As a result of parental pressure over continuing lack of discipline at the school, and a still unfocused curriculum, Griffin resigned at the end of the year, taking a job the superintendent offered in the district's central administration.


(Francois would be Lowell's 3rd principal, not 2nd. Why should an elementary school have 3 Principals? What a waste of money.)

Anonymous said...

Charlie, financial analyst I'm not, can you explain fat-tail vs. thin-tail to me? (My husband is quite interested by this... though I think he is on the wrong tale.) Also, are more people getting their kids tested into APP/Spectrum these days? If so, why do you think that is? (Hubbie thinks it is the college rat race permeating.) How do other districts like Bellevue or Redmond test for advanced learners?

We have only 3 years experience with SPS and it has been a very confusing time.

-concerned parent and ex-E. Coasties

Anonymous said...

yet another app voice:

I would like to see more discussion of starting elegibility for APP at 3rd grade. It would even out the influence of early reading on testing. It would definitely cut the elementary numbers down just by eliminating 2 grades.

To those who say "but my kindergartner was bored because the teacher was teaching other kids to read", that will always be the case in kindergarten and first grade. Of course a smaller teacher student ratio at those grades would help differentiation more than anything.

Charlie Mas said...

APP enrollment has been kept artificially low through the non-enrollment of APP-eligible (or potentially eligible) students.

Three factors have changed.

1) The north-end middle school program has removed a significant barrier to participation in APP. If you life in the north-end a middle school in Wallingford is dramatically easier than a middle school in the Central District. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get to Washington from Ballard? The placement of the north-end program in the north-end will release another huge wave of participation.

2) People didn't used to even know about APP. It was like a secret. The District sure wasn't talking about it and neither were most of the schools. APP families kept a low profile to hide from District interference. The District still doesn't talk about it much and neither do the schools, but peer-to-peer communication among families (this blog is a prime example) has spilled the secret. Also, APP families have learned that keeping quiet was no protection.

3) The loss of confidence that high performing students will be adequately served in general education, ALO, or Spectrum programs.

So the potential demand for APP was always there, but until the two barriers were removed and the goad was applied, that demand was not realized. Now it is. BOOM.

As for the fat tails reference, it has to do with normal distributions, bell curves. Theoretically, they have a big hump in the middle but trail off to nothing at the ends, the tails. In real life, however, there is a phenomenon called "fat tails" in which many more occurances at the extremes appear than the theoretical model would predict. In short, there are a surprising number of outliers.

By the way, be careful when searching online for "fat tails". Not all of it is family friendly.

Jan said...

Charlie: Fat-tail/thin-tail? Here are my questions:

First, we are looking at an increase in 300 students over 12 grades, right? What percentage of that proportion might be accounted for by overall growth in SSD student population? (Not much, I assume, but any?)

Second, my impression has always been that there were two other "options" for APP-qualified kids: (1) Closer to home Spectrum programs (or quasi-Spectrum programs, like TOPS) that sometimes could fit an APP kid -- especially if they were closer to the Spectrum-end, rather than the Einstein end, of the APP range, and (2) private schools with gifted programming -- Seattle Country Day, Evergreen, UCDS, etc. Do we have any idea whether, during that time period, APP saw an influx of kids from either of these alternatives?

If you wound up getting an addition 100 from population growth, and an additional 100 from each of these other areas -- you would have your 300 without any need to cast aspersions on the educational testing professionals in Seattle, NONE of whom I have ever been known to falsify, fudge, or "make up" data to get a kid into a program that might be academically over his/her head.

Finally, while there are many fine private schools in Seattle, it may in fact be the case that a greater percentage of Seattle's gifted kids are in APP than are in other SSD programs -- because that is a harder population to serve educationally.

Jan said...

By the way Charlie, I am not accusing YOU of casting aspersions on the educational testing community. To my knowledge, you never have. But that is not true of other posters, who seem to believe these folks can be bought off at will.

Anonymous said...

There is a fourth reason for the surge in numbers and that is the
outside testing that is being done
for students who did not qualify by district testing. This number is significant by itself and is the result of loopholes, parent rights, and having access to the right information.

There are many younger students in this program who are simply not gifted. The differentiation in APP allows for different abilities to succeed.

And, once they're in, they're in.
No retesting for eligibility ever.

Signed, Restating a fact

Anonymous said...

APP students begin middle school math in 4th grade and some have been doing pre-algebra and beyond (at home) in 3rd grade or earlier. It's not just a matter of being an early reader.

As far as the increased numbers:

- There's been growing enrollment throughout the district, so Spectrum/APP numbers are bound to increase.

- NE schools are over capacity and there's no guarantee of getting a Spectrum spot, whereas APP placement is guaranteed.

- The Spectrum model has been changing and students that may have qualified for APP and remained in the neighborhood are now enrolling in APP.

- two cents

TerryB said...

Just received a recorded message from the Principal at Whitman. He's accepted an administrative position with SPS, working with/training(?) SPS principals. Bree Deussault will be conducting the interviews for a replacement. I am just now recovering from the Ingraham/Floe issue with my older son.....oy.

Dorothy Neville said...

Charlie is right about all the reasons for the growth of APP, but he is missing one. The district has increased eligibility by weakening requirements. Thus, there is no aspersion on parents or testing professionals, I have not seen any evidence of lying or cheating. The district simply accepted lower scores.

APP has grown faster than the district.

Jan said...

Dorothy: can you remind me -- what were the old cut-offs (Cogat and achievement) and what are the lowered ones?

Anonymous said...

It's Friday and dinner is on the grill, so enough time to thank all of you bloggers (esp. Charlie and Melissa) on this site. As relative"newbies" to SPS, we discovered this blog a year ago and it has answered so many questions that went unanswered going through the official route. (We would get responses, but not answers if you guys can understand that.)

-concerned parent

Anonymous said...

It is possible that there were positions with no applications because the internal hiring is just wrapping up this week. I heard that there weren't a lot of displaced applicants this year.


Ed Doc said...

Yes gavroche, the Times reporting on this was inaccurate...did I miss the sarcasm intended in your comment? Although, to their credit the reporters were probably accepting the official line from headquarters.

One of the top frustrations John Stanford experienced in his short tenure was the cronyism in headquarters that resulted in many people being in their positions through the network rather than by merit and ability. Perhaps a few may recall that one initiative Stanford was unable to realize was to have all headquarters personnel apply for their jobs and go through a screening/hiring process in order to retain said positions. District history since that time reveals how unfortunate it truly is that it was not accomplished, fairly certain it would have made strides in clearing the deadwood out of HQ.

It is my understanding that Lowell is to have two principals and one assistant principal in the fall. No question as to the inefficient use of personnel and resources that continues the pattern from headquarters.

Anonymous said...

The APP requirements changed about 6 years ago (I don't know the exact year - it was before we were in the program). From what I understand, the Cogat score of 98 or above stayed the same. It was the Woodcock-Johnson achievement score that went from 98 and up to 95 and up. This was done in hopes of increasing minority enrollment.

One factor not yet mentioned in increasing interest in advanced ed. - Map testing. The other night at the APP AC meeting, Bob Vaughn said APP growth was attributable to this factor. When kids score high enough on the map test, letters are sent directly to parents telling them they should sign their kids up for the Cogat. This tactic circumvents schools who don't tell parents about advanced learning.

The growth of APP isn't too surprising to me either. With the economy, people are coming to APP from private schools - I know of many in the program. Also, Seattle has disproportionally more college graduates than other cities.

parent 2

New To SPS said...

I have almost finished typing up notes from the Wedgwood Spectrum meeting. I expect they will generate comments, since a lot of philosophical issues about Spectrum were touched upon. Should I add them to the old WW Spectrum thread (already at 159 comments), or would it be better to have a new thread? Just let me know where to best post them. Thanks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

New to SPS, send them to me at


and I'll start a new thread.


New To SPS said...

Melissa, please read the email I sent. Thanks.

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

There are three additional factors named for the recent growth of APP.

The change in eligibility requirements definitely has played a role. Although it was done years ago, it is just now reaching its full impact.

Private testing has not played a role. The people who conduct the private tests have integrity and scores cannot be bought. The benefit of the private test comes largely from taking the test one-on-one instead of in a big disruptive group.

The outreach effort by Advanced Learning is nothing new. They have always sent letters inviting high scoring minority students to apply.

Salander said...

Does anyone know what the minimum qualifications are for the job of principal? I recall reading somewhere that a principal must have five years of successful teaching experience.

Just curious as the principal at my school has never had any teaching experience.

Anonymous said...

The primary reasons for the growth of APP are national demographic trends. First, there is a well-documented trend towards high-achieving, highly-educated people seeking out partners with similar characteristics, maximizing all the relevant advantages (genetic, economic, social capital) in particular households and fattening the tale substantially. Second, there is a well-documented migration of those same people to urban areas, particularly a dozen or so urban areas with the "right" mix of job opportunities and amenities, Seattle being one of those cities. Any model you might develop to predict the number of students in a particular locale who score in the top 2% of national tests would tell you that the number in Seattle should be well over 2% of the population and steadily increasing.


Doc Ed said...

Ed Doc

Just what did Stanford "accomplish" besides getting his picture on every wall in "World Headquarters" and creating the smoke screen of PR people to double speak us into the end of MGJ's regime.


You "had to be here" Ed, not just read the press releases on google.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if there is also a change in the achievement tests that they use. We tested my 2nd grader in the fall, thinking that he would qualify only for spectrum because he is not reading at a 4th grade level. The district used the ITBS for achievement testing and he scored in the 98th or 99th percentile.

--Part of the fat tail

Anonymous said...


The change in outreach is sending out letters to all students with high map schools, not just minority students. That is the big change. I know five families (not minorities) in the NE that had no plans to test for AL as they are very happy at their neighborhood schools.

Capacity is another big change. These families were then strongly encouraged to go to Lowell rather than stay at their overcrowded school. That is a huge change in the NE.

I have been around long enough to remember a huge meeting that Linda Robinson had at Bryant in 04. 1/3 of the K class at Bryant had tested into AL - either Spectrum or APP. Linda held a huge meeting explaining that they did not need to leave to get advanced learning and she laid out the plan so that the families could stay at Bryant.

IIRC, only one family left. Not this year, families that test in to AL are encouraged to "try it out."

- ne parent

Dorothy Neville said...

The district has always kept the actual cut off of scores for APP close to its chest. My son's letter from 2000 said something along the lines of "the average CogAt was 98%."

Since then, the district went through a phase of using WASL for achievement, and that is a grade level criterion based assessment, definitely not comparable to Woodcock Johnson. Also they started giving all three subtests of the CogAt, the Math, Verbal and Non-Verbal, and considering kids with high scores in any two out of three categories. Previously, only ELL students were considered using the nonverbal portion.

Helen Schinske is probably the best person to answer this question with the most accuracy; she's followed the changes and researched the assessments.

An interesting little tidbit is that APP enrollment counts for a bit under 3% of elementary enrollment, about 3.4% of high school enrollment and 5% of middle school enrollment. My suspicion is that non-app kids leave for private middle schools at a higher rate than APP kids.

Charlie Mas said...

I might as well be the one to say this out loud since the conclusion is clear.

If the target for the outreach letter has been extended from minority students to all students, that would work to make Spectrum and APP even whiter.

If students in the overcrowded Northeast are getting additional encouragement to participate, that would also make the programs whiter.

After years of trying to increase the minority and low-income representation in the programs, that is apparently no longer a goal.

Anonymous said...


"Does anyone know what the minimum qualifications are for the job of principal?"

This doesn't seem to matter. Even the NW Ed Director doesn't meet the minimum job qualifications to be a principal.

Ingraham Parent

Maureen said...

Salander, our school had a long term principal (10 years) with no teaching experience (was a HS counselor), so I don't think that any teaching requirement was enforced in the past either.

Anonymous said...


I think looking at next year's APP elementary numbers would be quite illuminating - and back up your point. The APP population at Lowell is going to be almost 2x what it is at TM.

The district has done a terrific job of getting more APP south involvement by splitting the program.

parent 2

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

@gavroche: Tate Loftin thread.

Without knowing more, I'm guessing this is a case where Loftin's privacy wins over our curiosity. I heard about health concerns so I hope she's OK. The thread comments from the many "involved" parents were intimidating to me and I'm only reading them, so I have no idea what the school climate was like for her. Haven't met her, but her experience looks good.

PurpleWhite said...

I found this great story on the Broad Academy at Education week. I think its interesting they didn't mention MGJ getting a no-confidence vote:


Salander said...

Over the years I have known many fine and experienced teachers who have earned principal certification. These folks never seem to be hired into principal positions. Many of these people continue to teach and have given up on ever being principal.

Instead we have all these "instructional leaders" that need to be coached to do their jobs as they know nothing and have no experience.

The fish smell in Denmark just continues to get stinkier.

Anonymous said...

I think that in the last 2 years, the NSAP has increased APP enrollment.
Overcrowding in desireable schools, assignment to an undesirable school (fairly deemed so or not), or a maybe/maybe not assignment to a more local Spectrum - possibly w/o transportation, or guaranteed assignment to a crowded program that is still functioning decently, even if it's not for every kid?
I think the NSAP and its stupid rules and variables has helped boost APP enrollment. The district may eventually kill the program, but watered down or not, I bet for lots of families it represents the best chance they have for their kid to get served

- another two center

dan dempsey said...

Moving to....

Better Results through Better School Management (not to be confused with the current SPS Board's no management no oversight plan ... championed by Board President Steve Sundquist.)

The SPS's huge emphasis on testing as opposed to any emphasis on management:
Consider the following from comment #2 which appeared below this Ed Week article.

1) What system of high-stakes testing would best serve the needs of California's children:
d) None of the Above

I am glad that you dumped PARCC, with it's "through-course" tests which would have locked the state into a national test-driven pacing guide.

But I still think that SBAC is the lesser of two evils. Computer-adaptive testing requires much larger pool of higher-quality and better-calibrated items, and we have consistently failed to get good quality tests from our contractors.

The better solution would be to throw NCLB/RTTT (as well as "Steering by Results") into the trash and select the "None of the Above" option.

What California needs is an approach to "Quality Management" (rather than "accountability" which is such a top-down term) which is not based on tests alone (or even in large part on tests) and which reflects the richness and diversity of individual school and classroom contexts.

It seems over the last four years Sundquist has been a great believer in NO Management .... It would be a big leap and a huge change in direction to go from No Management to Quality Management.

Hopefully newly elected school directors might give Quality Management, in place of no management, some consideration.

dan dempsey said...

Salander said:
These folks never seem to be hired into principal positions. Many of these people continue to teach and have given up on ever being principal.

Instead we have all these "instructional leaders" that need to be coached to do their jobs as they know nothing and have no experience.


The requirement to be in SPS leadership positions is alignment with "the approved message" .. it has zero to do with the ability to deliver results.

The SPS emphasis is on cheerleading and spin.

Look at NWEA/MAP testing... SPS admin is still trying to sell that as a tool for formative assessment ... because that was a major "publicly given reason" for MAP purchase. The fact MAP is a completely ridiculous tool for formative assessment is never touched by the "Spinners in Charge".

It is all CYA ... MAP testing ... MATH program ... TfA ... spin it (do not evaluate it).

Salander said:
"Many of these people continue to teach and have given up on ever being principal."
==> a wise analysis as without "philosophical and ideological alignment" to the SPS line of total BS ... ya just can't get on the admin totem pole.

SPS rule #0
Ideology trumps getting results.

SPS politics rule #1.
BS trumps Data ...

SPS politics rule #2.
Spin trumps reality

SPS politics rule #3.
Hire people even more poorly qualified and poorly prepared than you. Thus they are unlikely to leap-frog over you on the SPS Admin ladder.

SPS politics rule #4
Do not allow anyone with the knowledge of what needs to be done and the courage to do so ... into Admin. Such a person would make most all others look bad.

It should now be clear why Susan Enfield was the immediate pick for Superintendent by the Board.

Maureen said...

Channel Q13 has a piece by Cliff Mass describing what he would have said about math education on KUOW if they had let him (it's prefaced by a piece on protesters submitting a petition to KUOW). You can see it here.

Ed Doc said...

Doc Ed,

I was not intending to shower any unwarranted praise upon General Stanford or his tenure as superintendent; as I was certainly here and up close to the 'action' I do know all too well the reality behind the PR. The point I was trying to make was that the idea 'floated' out about headquarters directors and managers applying for their jobs could have done wonders for the entrenched bureaucrats clinging to positions.

It has been awhile since I was more familiar with RCWs, but there had been a requirement of years of service as a teacher in order to obtain a principal certification. Unfortunately, waivers are available and districts can find ways around the requirement; Seattle had a principal that had actually falsified documents in order to receive state credentials not that long ago...when informed of this, the district swept it under the rug and maintained said principal in a school until retirement.

Linh-Co said...

Why are we even paying Bob Vaughan? I've never seen him advocate for advanced learners.