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Monday, June 11, 2012

Advanced Learning Policy Revision

One of the ten policies that the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee is scheduled to review and revise at their June 25 meeting is the Advanced Learning Policy, now called Highly Capable Student Programs policy, D12.00.

I don't really believe that the C & I Committee will actually put ten policy revisions on their agenda, so it is likely that this policy will not, in fact, be discussed that day.

Here is the current policy: D12.00 The policy was suspended on January 29, 2009. Also on that day the Board voted to direct the superintendent to review the policy and recommend revisions. Despite this direction - made by a vote of the Board - the superintendent never took any action. That alone, by the way, was sufficient grounds for dismissal with cause. The Board never reminded the superintendent that they directed her to take this action; it was one more case of the Board's timidity.

Nevertheless, the Board is finally getting around to revising this policy, just three and half years later. What policy will the Board want to set?

If you care, you might want to attend the meeting.

147 comments:

Greg Linden said...

I should remember the history on this, but I don't. Why was the policy suspended? Was it the line "the number of self-contained program sites shall not expand beyond the 1993-94 levels" that was a problem (because Goodloe-Johnson wanted to split Lowell to two sites in 2009)?

Anything wrong with simply striking that line and otherwise keeping the existing policy as is? I'd think that would be fine (and much better than having the current situation of having the policy suspended).

Anonymous said...

On a related note, any news on the AL Task Force report? Someone has been sitting on that thing for a while now.

- Still waiting for reports and Godot, and thinking Godot will make an appearance first

Greg Linden said...

Just to make it easier to discuss, let me put a copy of the policy into the comments here, but with the problematic "1993-1994 levels" line eliminated, so we can all easily review it and talk about it.

-------------

POLICY

It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that students identified as Highly Capable Learners shall have the option of being served by programs that address their academic needs through differentiated curricula. Highly Capable Learners are students who exhibit markedly greater than average potential or ability in cognitive ability, in specific academic achievement (in reading, mathematics, social studies, language arts, and/or science), or in exceptional creativity in cognitive functioning and/or academic scholarship.

Selection procedures for participation in state funded highly capable programs shall be consistent with state law. Selection procedures for all highly capable programs shall consider test scores, performance outcomes, and the diversity in ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and learning styles of District students.

Subject to Board review, in the event of substantial District wide enrollment growth, such program sites shall be distributed geographically and among clusters to provide equitable opportunities for program access.

Where feasible, students in self-contained Highly Capable programs shall be mainstreamed with other students for non-core academic subjects such as music, art, and physical education, and shall be encouraged to interact with other students through tutoring and other activities.

Former code(s):

Reference:

H05.00, H71.00

RCW 28A.185
WAC 392.170

Steve said...

A week or so ago, I emailed Dr. Vaughn to request the Adv. Learning Task Force report, but he hasn't responded. Perhaps if he received more direct requests, something would come out?

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

I have advanced learners..kids who qualify for the programs in SPS and honestly after much experience in the segregated classrooms, I have a new opinion of this approach.

Parents of advanced learners often have superior attitudes that DO trickle down to their kids.

Why on earth can't advanced learners be accommodated at the local schools? It would make life so much easier for everyone and surely, this could be worked out.

Separating kids out is not optimal, b/c they miss out on meeting lots of wonderful children in general ed who are plenty smart and could be great friends for life.

Scoring in the 99th percentile on standardized tests is not the only thing that matters in life. There are children all over the place with all sorts of gifts to offer in the way of morals, creativity, optimal personality traits; tenacity, humor, kindness,and many other talents. Who cares about standardized tests??

The self contained rooms for the advanced learners hold the kids back socially, IMO.

We need to give these kids challenging work at their local schools and let them be kids with everyone else. Geesh.


Parent

mirmac1 said...

Amen Parent.

Purplemama said...

Parent-

How is it holding kids back socially if they are friends with other advanced learners? There are lots of kids with tenacity, etc, in APP. There are also lots of kids with social challenges to interact yet. I think my APP son has learned a lot from his interactions with his peers in APP, including those with special needs.

Purplemama said...

Parent-

How is it holding kids back socially if they are friends with other advanced learners? There are lots of kids with tenacity, etc, in APP. There are also lots of kids with social challenges to interact without. I think my APP son has learned a lot from his interactions with his peers in APP, including those with special needs.

Anonymous said...

There's the wish and there's the reality. We would love if our neighborhood school could serve the academic needs of our children. It would be great if they could walk to school and be in class in with neighborhood friends.

In our experience, the neighborhood schools have not been able to differentiate well or consistently. It's a lot to ask of a teacher. Studies have actually shown that having multiple levels of instruction - in separate classes - such as gen ed, honors, etc., actually increases achievement for all kids. Without having to differentiate, the class is more likely to get instruction at their level.

How would this look at the neighborhood school? In elementary, maybe walk-to-math and walk-to-reading. The advantage is that a child doesn't have to be advanced in both reading and math to get advanced math work and vice versa. Could work, but the district seems averse to ability grouping. Really averse.

In middle school, it would be easier as classes are in periods and there are enough students to actually offer classes at various levels. Other districts manage to do it (Shoreline at Kellog Middle School) and students can opt in to higher classes.

My kids don't give a whip about standardized tests. Really, they could care less. If they never had to take the MAP test again they'd be quite happy. They just want to learn. They don't want to sit in class for a year and not learn one new thing.

Superior attitudes? I won't even respond to that comment.

another parent

Greg Linden said...

Can we get back to talking about the policy please? Anyone know why the policy was suspended? And any objections to just deleting that one like about "1993-1994 levels" and then putting the policy back in place essentially as is?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh Lord,must this be the discussion again.

Look, I have stated that I think Spectrum could go away - entirely - IF the district was willing to create AND enforce an ALO program that would be REQUIRED at every single school. There would be NO deviations allowed except by the Superintendent.

So then, you wouldn't need Spectrum (and I say this as a former Spectrum parent). Kids who are good in math? Covered. Parents who want a push for their kids? Covered. Real pace and rigor for kids who can work at a higher level? Done.

But do I believe our district would or could do this? I do not.

I personally don't care if people don't get the need for APP. If you don't get it now, you never will and that's fine. Just understand that throughout the country, other district do get it and do provide a different plan for those kids. It's not just here.

Godot, to update. I wrote to Wendy London and Pegi McEvoy about 2 weeks ago. I wrote to Bob Vaughn last week. I wrote to the entire AL Taskforce to ask for input this past weekend.

Do you know how many of those e-mails got an answer? The answer is zero (unless you count Charlie and I don't in this case).'

I have no idea what is going on but I am getting beyond impatient. Maybe it's some plan to wait out the school year but I am waiting until Friday and then I'm going to write what I hear at the last couple of meetings.

And, I will make no apologies for it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Melissa. The lack of info has been frustrating.

word said...

In Spectrum kids were expected to be working one grade level up in math and reading. In APP the metric is two grade levels up. What will the metric be for ALO? WIthout some measure of progress it is impossible for parents and teachers to know where the kids stand and what they should be aiming for. This is why I found Spectrum to be useful and ALO to be next to worthless.

Karen said...

For ALO to work, there needs to be an awesome teacher in every classroom. We aren't even close to even having just acceptable teachers in every class. Until that day comes, ALO isn't going to be anything more than a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Parent:
You know, I tried the community school. Not just one, but two. It didn't work out. The kids felt alone, were bored at school, didn't have friends because they couldn't talk about anything, there were no common grounds. One of them was kind of OK "just" hated to go to school. But the other one had a lot of problems. Since he is a boy, when he couldn't show his talent (because he didn't want to be the outlier) he started to act up and did crazy things. Just because he wasn't challenged. I advise you to read some books about the gifted kids if you are interested to learn about how they ARE different. They DO have special needs. They ARE special, they are on the other end of the Gauss curve.
-Another parent

Charlie Mas said...

@Greg Linden, yes, the policy was suspended so they could increase the number of self-contained sites - which was prohibited by the policy.

I don't know how the Board wants the policy changed because I don't know what the Board wants the policy to accomplish. The Board has never spoken publicly about it.

The staff also has no idea about how the Board wants the policy changed or what the Board wants the policy to accomplish, so they will just draft the policy that they want. Should be fun.

Charlie Mas said...

@Parent, if you don't want to put your child in a self-contained program, then don't. No one is making you do it. But why would you want to take that choice away from others who don't share your perspective?

Charlie Mas said...

@Melissa I don't count with you? :(

Anonymous said...

Parent - I have two APP qualified kids. One went to a neighborhood school with a strong ALO program and that worked out great. The second child has been pretty unhappy at the same school. Still a good school - but a child with different needs. I am so glad that the District offers APP so my second child can also have a positive school experience.

Michael

Nick Esparza said...

I don't personally understand this fascination with this advanced learners. We have schools that don't even have adequate funding, counselors, IA's, yet the advanced learner cheerleaders continue to strong arm the public to by into the "us first." mentality. We are catering to the top 10% of the student population while the rest of the students, General Education seems to get the leftovers. We are cultivating a culture of automatons, kids with weak critical thinking skills and an inability to function in a structured and "non-alternative" world.

Anonymous said...

"We need to give these kids challenging work at their local schools and let them be kids with everyone else. Geesh."

Well I don't personally believe this can be done. Or done reliably by 98% of teachers.

We have an advanced learner in a neighborhood school for a variety of reasons (our naivete, wanting to attend a neighborhood school, keeping sibs together, etc.) and she's not had challenging work yet in 5 years. This despite being at a school that has a good reputation, board certified and enthusiastic teachers, and other very bright kids, and that preaches the gospel of differentiation at every opportunity.

And I don't mean she's been challenged but not sufficiently. No, I mean she's been given no meaningful differentiation. An occasional harder worksheet, with no instruction at her level.

It's a total joke, and if I knew then what I know now, I'd have chosen differently. I've lost faith that public schools can meet these kids' academic needs.

Disillusioned

Floor Pie said...

Parent,

I think just about every school and/or program has a few "superior" types out there doing an absolutely abysmal PR job for their school. It's a shame that some have come to regard APP as a prestige thing. But we can't judge the whole school/program based on the cringe-worthy remarks we hear now and then.

I agree that advanced learning should be available in a meaningful way at all local schools, and I hope someday it will. But I also see the need for a program like APP -- especially for those students who are most likely on the extremely high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, probably undiagnosed and unlikely to qualify for special ed services, but very much in need of help. Because that's what "gifted" often is.

Most of the parents of gifted kids I know aren't smug about it. They're anything but. Some are almost apologetic about it. Our kids have all kinds of social and behavioral challenges. Sometimes they refuse to participate in their schoolwork. They act out in school and get characterized as "bad." By the time they finally wash ashore in APP/Spectrum, the parents I know are feeling anything but "superior."

Those aren't the people you'll hear bragging about these programs. But those are the people who need it most.

dw said...

Sigh. It's so sad when these posts crop up. Granted, it's not very often anymore, but it just gets old having to repeat again and again.

I have advanced learners..kids who qualify for the programs in SPS and honestly after much experience in the segregated classrooms, I have a new opinion of this approach.

Parent, I really have to wonder what kind of "advanced learners" you have. Simply because your comment is so ignorant of the system and advanced learners in general. You can't even seem to make a distinction between "segregated classrooms" (a obviously nasty term meant to antagonize) and self-contained buildings.

Parents of advanced learners often have superior attitudes that DO trickle down to their kids.

Of course there are always a few, welcome to real life. But I've lived in both worlds (APP and GenEd/Spectrum) and I've seen far more "elitist attitude" and programmatic bullying at the local schools than in APP. When APP was in a single building at Lowell on Capitol Hill, there was almost none of that, simply because there were no competing programs in the same building and everyone was on the same page of simply educating their children.

Why on earth can't advanced learners be accommodated at the local schools? It would make life so much easier for everyone and surely, this could be worked out.

Again, statements like this make it seem like you've never been part of any advanced learning program in Seattle. For kids who are operating roughly a grade out of band, they most certainly can and should be accommodated at their local schools. But the reality is that there are issues with resource/energy allocation, lack of any understanding or desire to teach advanced learners, distrust and resentment. Not to mention a complete lack of support from central administration. It can work, but it doesn't work well in Seattle.

For kids who are 2 grades or more out of band (and yes, this can be fuzzy), it's just not possible to serve these kids well in mixed classrooms, and it's tricky to even make it work in a mixed building. "Making life easier" for others is NOT a good reason to serve kids poorly. That's selfish and thoughtless.

Separating kids out is not optimal, b/c they miss out on meeting lots of wonderful children in general ed who are plenty smart and could be great friends for life.

There are children all over the place with all sorts of gifts to offer in the way of morals, creativity, optimal personality traits; tenacity, humor, kindness,and many other talents. Who cares about standardized tests??


Your implication is that kids in a self-contained advanced-learning program (classroom or building?) have poor morals, lack creativity, have non-optimal personality traits, lack tenacity (what?!), lack humor, kindness and the rest. That's total BS.

The self contained rooms for the advanced learners hold the kids back socially, IMO.

The self-contained rooms are at least as important for the social aspects as they are for the academic aspects, at least in elementary. Understand that most of us advanced learning parents were at one time advanced learning students. We understand firsthand the difficulties these kids go through and we make efforts to help our kids survive the early years without social isolation. If you think you have a solution for this, please present something meaningful, not antagonizing personal opinions and recycled platitudes.

Anonymous said...

Nick, you are basically saying that the only kids that deserve to learn how to learn (this is what appropriately leveled work does....push kids to learn and work) are kids that are at "norm" for their age.

It is as if age is all that matters, and if you perform at the appropriate level for for your age, we can forget about teaching you. Sit there in the back row and wait until everyone catches up to you (if they ever do) and then, maybe, we will teach you, too.

Here's what is going to happen: Anyone with a kid that wants to learn and is capable of learning at a faster pace will flee the public schools. SPS will be a place only for kids who are right at norm, or who cannot afford better. Advanced learners who cannot afford better schools will be at a disadvantage vs. advanced learners from families with means.

Absolutely FASCINATED with my child

Anonymous said...

Thank you dw.

.AL parent.

Jet City mom said...

UCDS gives great scholarships.
;)

dw said...

Greg,

As Charlie said, that was indeed the reason the policy was suspended, and his other points are relevant as well. Charlie's research into D12, along with HUGE pushback from the community, saved APP from being split a couple years earlier.

Why didn't the Board just axe that one provision instead of suspending the policy? Good question. One possibility (warning, snide alert): it was just haste because district staff didn't have time to write a fully updated policy for the Board.

Better question: why was that provision put into D12 in the first place. Doesn't it seem like an odd thing to write? Disallowing the expansion of self-contained advanced learning program sites? Unless... the Board at the time understood there would be an unrelenting push by staff to dilute the programs via "expansion" and they wanted to prevent that. How prescient!

Most of the policy is fluff, the first paragraph could almost be the end of it. Why on earth does it need to be spelled out in policy that the programs shall be consistent with state law?!

word said...

I think ALO could work but only if there is a metric that the teachers can use to advance the students. Will it be half a year ahead? one year? two years? Different kids are going to need varying acceleration. You don't need an awesome teacher in every classroom (though, of course that would be great), you need a teacher who understands the level that his/her class is working at and knows how far to push them. To expect teachers to teach one entire classroom throughout a two year range in an all inclusive classroom setting is cruel and unusual punishment (for the teachers). Furthermore, the students do not like getting extra work just because they can handle it - it can be demoralizing. They want to work with peers. Thus, it is a good idea for both the students and teachers to have some tracking and sequestration of kids working at the same level.

And there is the interesting point that Floor Pie mentioned which I know, from talking to him, is a concern of Robert Vaughn's: How do you teach the kids whose brains really do work differently? Is it important to distinguish them from the 99ther's who are bright, responsible hard workers? That's a tough question.

Thank you Melissa in advance for your promise to discuss the AL task force - the school year is rapidly coming to an end and we need to know what is going on.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's turn this conversation in a different way.

What should the Advanced Learning Policy say?

I think it should say that the District will offer a program that meets the criteria set by the state for a Highly Capable Students Program.

Right now it is the District's policy to guarantee access to that program for qualified students who request the access at Open Enrollment.

Right now the program is for grades 1-12.

The current policy does not address Spectrum or ALOs; it is strictly about APP. Should Spectrum and ALOs be addressed in the policy?

The Board has definitely indicated that they want every elementary school to establish an ALO, but that has led to a large number of schools that have one officially but not actually. There is no quality assurance effort at all.

The Board has encouraged the district to guarantee access to Spectrum for qualified students.

I wonder if the Board intends to punt and ask the ALPTF for help forming the policy.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie (who is, of course, important to me :) does sum this up nicely.

Why is our Advanced Learning program so varied, confusing and without any real way to measure if the programs work well (since they are all so different in how they are presented school-to-school)?

Because no one in the district (except maybe some teachers) really cares.

Anonymous said...

Here is Shoreline's Highly Capable Policy, for comparison:

http://www.shorelineschools.org/school_board/policy_manual/content/2166.pdf

Charlie said, There is no quality assurance effort at all.

This is true for all AL programs - ALO, Spectrum and APP. If the school's principal doesn't support or understand the program, there is little recourse for families.

another parent

Anonymous said...

Parent has APP qualified kids and one who was reading BEFORE THE AGE OF 3. So, don't call me ignorant. I know what i am saying here. Parent has child who scored in the 99th percentile on 4 out of 5 categories when child was in Kindergarten. So, please do not call me ignorant. I have seen my child have better social interactions when this child has access to more kids.

Anonymous said...

-Signed, Parent

Anonymous said...

-Signed, Parent

Anonymous said...

Parent also takes issue with the lack of concern about WHERE the district puts APP kids in therms of buildings less than 500 feet from major interstates (now, there is a law that no school can be built less than 500 feet from a major highway)....not healthy for kids. School district should consider WHERE children go to school first and then develop programs in an environmentally safe place..lots of local schools are in small neighborhoods like they should be and i think it is BS that APP/Spectrum/ALO can't be done there. BS.

Parent...

Anonymous said...

That there are no APP options near the homes of most APP qualified kids is just totally ridiculous. Why can't there be ONE school within a few miles of everyone that has APP? I just don't see that as an impossibility. Then, have certain classes with just APP kids and other classes with the rest of the school..so all the kids can meet each other. Best idea yet.

Parent

Anonymous said...

What you need to acknowledge is that SPS parents are limited to the system in place. Is APP the ideal for parents that choose it, or do they choose it because that is the best SPS offers as a means to meeting their children's academic needs?

We don't think APP/Spectrum/ALO are all they're cracked up to be, yet it's all we have. There's room for improvement and the formation of an ALTF gave me some hope, but we see the results are ?

I feel we're all groveling for a basic education.

-can't we all just get along

Anonymous said...

I don't feel like my kids are challenged even within their APP classrooms. Yes, they're given loads of homework; yes, they're teaching two grades ahead. But, two grades doesn't matter if the kid is already testing beyond that level. If true differentiated teaching isn't possible, I at least want classes that encourage them to think critically. So far, we haven't found that.

But, even so, I know it would be worse for them in general classrooms (been there, done that).

-wishing APP would do more

Anonymous said...

WHY ARE THERE STILL NO GENUINE SPECTRUM IN SOUTHEAST CLUSTER ???

-TIRED OF ASKING THIS EVERY YEAR

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think that kids in Spectrum could walk to reading and math and then be integrated with the rest of the school for the other classes.

I experienced a self contained Spectrum first hand and those kids are held back socially..they stay with the same group in one class for the entire time they are in elementary school..AND, there are other qualified Spectrum kids in the building who just can't get into the Spectrum classroom because of space in the room. It is so weird. That there are kids out there qualified for Spectrum who never get in the door where it is taught is a HUGE issue..and should not be ignored.

And, exposing the kids to different kids each yr is healthy and is an important component in how one makes friends and finds best friends, etc.

In terms of APP, I agree the kids are unique and maybe need self contained rooms for more than math and reading, but honestly, I don't get why the program has to be in one or two locations in the whole entire city...and it is not selfish to consider location, btw. There are real logistical issues with this model...I would drive my kids to China and back if need be, however, it is not ideal or cost effective for anyone. So, I resent the insults up there just because i am expressing my opinions about these programs and how they are implemented...I have experience with them to back this up.

Charlie seems all about policy and I suppose it is necessary to focus there first to figure out change for these programs..I do agree that APP should be considered special needs just like the other end of the spectrum is...

And, I stand by my comments about some of the parents in advanced learning programs. Man o man, I have been around this for 6 yrs or more and the things I have heard over the yrs...it is weird...and just another way to make themselves feel superior to others. I guess I could feel superior for having brilliant kids, but I would rather focus on raising them to be well adjusted and humble and do good work and love others..then, they will have success. So, my pride or personal responsibility for their smarts comes dead last in the equation for them. They come first...raising them to be kind and compassionate comes first. We are speaking about degrees here when we talk about these things and I will maintain that I have seen too much in the way of "attitude" regarding IQs when it comes to these kids' parents....Spectrum and APP. Sorry.

Parent

Anonymous said...

"degree" that is.

Parent

Anonymous said...

I would prefer to see some kind of walk-to-math or reading at our Spectrum school--there are always way more eligible kids than places. There are over 20 kids on the waiting list for Spectrum next year (3rd Grade), and a good chunk of them attend the school in question. My kid is way down on the list (2nd year in a row).
Seattle Parent.

Anonymous said...

To "Can't We Just All Get Along"..you are talking to the wrong person here. Apparently we cannot. If you know how some of the parents in my advanced learning class have behaved, you would be mortified and shocked to know them..you would question the very fundamentals of human decency and ask yourself, "why would I ever want to expose myself to "people" like this or expose my kids to them. So, sadly, "no" we can't just get along. I learned that the hard way..we can get along when we have mutual kindness and respect for all kids and their parents, but that is not the world we live in. People out there do evil things that hurt others deeply and families should have more choices in order to gravitate toward moral people.

The advanced learning programs give people few choices there. Sadly, we can't all get along. Everyone has to be playing by the same rules to get along and there are parents out there who will use any agenda to feel powerful and big..this is one of the many ills of the self contained classroom.

Parent

dw said...

Tired shouted: WHY ARE THERE STILL NO GENUINE SPECTRUM IN SOUTHEAST CLUSTER ???

I think the real question should be why there's no genuine Spectrum in ANY cluster anymore.

Okay, maybe there are vestiges left here and there, but let's be honest, SPS has almost killed Spectrum. And APP is suffering because families who would have been well-served by Spectrum are desperately searching for something to help their kids.

Fix Spectrum and APP will automagically stop "growing" (diluting) into what Spectrum used to be. At least growth will be limited to city-wide percentages.

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, parent, a few things...

* It's weird for you to refer to yourself in the third person. It's off-putting.

* If you don't want people to call you "ignorant" then don't write such ignorant stuff. And, while we're at it, there is no shame in ignorance, unless it's willful.

* Speaking of your own or your child's experience is fine. Presuming that it is universal (or even typical) is not. Prescribing it for everyone else is right out.

* If you think it is BS that Spectrum and APP can't be done in a small school, then you really are ignorant about the programs. The programs require critical mass to be effective. That critical mass is about 100 students for an elementary Spectrum program and about 250 students for elementary APP. Small schools do not have room for programs of this size plus an attendance area general education program.

* Your surprise and apparent indignation at getting corrected does not correlate with your intentional effort to troll. If you don't want people to take offense at what you write, then don't write such offensive things.

* The only person who has demonstrated a "superior attitude" here is YOU: "Parent has APP qualified kids and one who was reading BEFORE THE AGE OF 3... Parent has child who scored in the 99th percentile on 4 out of 5 categories when child was in Kindergarten." Well la-dee-dah. I'll go bake you a cake.

seen it all said...

A self-contained classroom provides the highest likelihood that the curriculum will actually be accelerated as defined by the program, but yes, you have the issue of being with the same small group year in and year out. What do you do if the mix of kids somehow is not working? In gen ed classrooms, where there are multiple classrooms for each grade, this isn't so much of an issue.

This is where having a large enough cohort of APP kids makes it more like any other school. Students aren't with the same class of 30 for 5 years, because they mix the classrooms each year. If the APP cohort gets too small, you also get into split grade level classes. How do you teach a 1/2 split class with an accelerated curriculum? If it gets too small, then you're back to the Spectrum dilemma - same kids year in and year out.

As others have said, ALO and Spectrum are different at different schools and we're now seeing that with APP. At a Spectrum school my child attended, teacher identified kids could opt-in to Spectrum to round out classroom rosters. This seemed great for those kids that received the benefit, though unfair and frustrating for other families, but this also posed a problem if more Spectrum identifed kids enrolled the following year. Kids that were teacher identified and accelerated in the Spectrum classroom could then get placed back in the gen ed classrom, and repeat material done the previous year.

Didn't North Beach have walk-to-math and reading at one time? Wasn't it successful until it was dismantled under a new principal? I still remember a teacher's tearful public comment at a Board meeting years ago. She was essentially forced out of the school for supporting what had been a successful program.

So, lots of room for improvement...Let's keep the focus on the structure, delivery, and placement of the AL programs, not the parents...

(I will second the comment about locating schools next to freeways - JM comes to mind)

Charlie Mas said...

There is no legitimate Spectrum in southeast Seattle because the District will not set critical mass minimums for the program.

The elementary Spectrum site for the Aki Kurose service area is Wing Luke. The elementary Spectrum site for the Mercer service area is Hawthorne. If these two small, weak programs were combined, they could form one program of sufficient strength.

Also, the District continues to draw students away from the program with false claims about ALO programs at every other school in these service areas. The District claims that nearly every school in southeast Seattle has an ALO but almost none of them do. Not really. But by the time families discover that it is too late.

Also, the small, weak middle school Spectrum programs at Aki Kurose and Mercer should be combined to form one reasonably strong one.

The District won't do it be it would cost them pride and transportation dollars.

Charlie Mas said...

The Shoreline policy is good. It's all at the level of governance and policy. Here in Seattle it would need some accountability elements added because if this were our policy we would have no programs at all.

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

Charlie, you obviously have a handle on policy here, which I respect.

However, you yourself have written ignorant things here on your blog...and more than just ignorant..and we won't go there now..but not forgotten.

Maybe it is possible to have APP in smaller class sizes around town and maybe it is not..what makes you say such things? Where is your evidence to back it up? You are always short on evidence when you post stuff, which then confuses and misleads readers.

FYI: If you want people to listen...stop hurling policy at them that puts them to sleep and instead pitch the vision clearly and then add the details over time. You do the opposite and then never clearly explain the vision...forest for the trees..you gotta see it clearly and you are too in it to see it. See?

And if I want to refer to myself in the third person, I will.


Parent

mirmac1 said...

Charlie, that is harsh. (Coming from a snark like me, it must be REALLY harsh.)

It is true that attitudes can be found anywhere, whether from the gifted or not so. I see this among middle school parents, those from the "good" feeder school as opposed to the "eh" feeder schools.

Ignorant and troll? Melissa, remember the whole name-calling thing. Please chastise accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cake, Charlie. My birthday is coming up and I don't get much cake. :-)

I only gave details of my kids to show someone up there in the thread that I, in fact, have APP kids and I am not just blabbing here without some experience.

And, who does care that the kid read before 3?? Really, beyond it being interesting, I don't. Just using it to show I do have these advanced learning issues to tackle too. Wish I could send the kids down the road and have it be done. Can't.

-Charlie's Favorite Parent

Anonymous said...

Back to policy discussion: I mean this in all sincerity, but does the written policy actually matter in this town? Time and time again, we see the willful and deliberate misapplication or outright ignoring of written policies and procedures by staff and administrators at nearly all levels. Though I am hoping beyond hope that the new superintendent will bring in enough change where the written word actually means something again, we are not at that point yet.

So is this year another futile exercise, just more tilting at windmills? It is so bad that the paper-pushers have been sitting on the the AL taskforce guidelines for weeks, as the most recent example of this. Should we be debating policy, or should we be focusing on exposing the people who continue to hold back reports, make decisions after open enrollment, shut down programs with no recourse, and otherwise refuse to implement existing policy?

- Wondering if it is like this in other districts

Anonymous said...

"Seen it All" had a point about APP and the classes there. At least APP has more than one class for the kids and they mix it up a bit. However, if this program was broken into smaller programs all over town, couldn't these kids interact with general ed kids in music, art, PE and more??? That is valuable time spent with peers too. Of course, this does not address some of the other needs of kids in APP..I know some have a hard time socializing much, but these kids are not the majority in APP anyway are they?

Charlie's Favorite Parent Again

Anonymous said...

Charlie's Favorite Parent - if this program was broken into smaller programs all over town Aren't you now describing Spectrum or ALO? If these programs were working, there wouldn't be a massive influx of families into APP.

Anonymous said...

Until academics are the top priority of the district and Advanced Learning has support at the top levels of SPS administration, I don't anticipate significant improvement.

realist

Anonymous said...

Whether it be advanced learning programs or not.. SPS classrooms are too crowded. Observing at my kids' school has opened my eyes to the fact that each teacher needs an aide if she or he has 25-30 kids in the room. It is too chaotic otherwise.

Cramming more and more kids into a school causes too many problems that will have to be paid for anyway down the road...so do the right thing and allocate funds for teachers' aides.

Didn't some employee recently make off with 2 million dollars of the district's money? What a crying shame..2 million would go a long way in hiring teachers' aides.

The district needs to reassess budgets and see that the most important factors in a school are quality instruction and behavioral management. that means enough teachers and aides..not amazing swimming pools and top notch running tracks, etc. This is my opinion. Teachers and instructors first and luxury items second.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Right Anonymous. We need to address why ALO and Spectrum are not working...I believe these programs could work locally...APP, Spectrum and AOL..if qualified instructors were at most schools and were there for the sole purpose of implementing and maintaining the programs. There would be accountability if qualified people were placed properly. No?

-CFP

Anonymous said...

I would add: Having qualified instructors that believe in gifted education

We have experienced teachers that think bright kids just need to be put in their place - kind of knocking them down, rather than supporting them in being their best. It's something I'll never understand.

Anonymous said...

Little anecdote about attitude....

When my daughter was just a toddler I went to Carkeek Park to let her splash around in the water.

There was a school group there, and many of those kids were splashing in the water as well. A mom connected with the group made small talk with me, and when I asked what school the kids went to, she said "Lowell."

Not knowing anything about SPS at the time (ah, those were the days!), I asked, "So where is that?"

She looked around, and in a conspirational whisper said, "It's on Capitol Hill. It's where the smart kids go."

Not knowing ANYTHING, I replied, "Oh, I bet most parents say that!"

The bizarre look on her face after I said that made me realize I didn't know the whole story, but in retrospect it makes me crack up.

Signed,
Sick of Competition

Anonymous said...

I wish our elementary school (an ALO school in the NE) could just implement ability grouping (i.e., walk to reading or walk to math) for more than just reading groups in kindergarten. I hear families at our school talking about how their child "needs" APP, but there are a handful of APP or near-APP qualified kids in my son's class, and grouped with kids from other grade-level classrooms they could have made a nice peer group for the core subjects. Anecdotally, I haven't observed most of these kids to have specialized social needs to the point that they would "need" a different social environment. (I am NOT saying that's not a real concern for many APP kids; I'm talking strictly about the families at our school that seem to push through to APP just because it is the Best for their Smart child). I wish we could serve these kids at our school and I think we could, with ability groups.
--APP in ALO

Anonymous said...

Sick of Competition,

I hear ya. When my son was 2-3, we had a Lowell family sell us wrapping paper at our front door. We asked the father of the girl selling about Lowell and he was all about telling us that the most brilliant kids go to Lowell and we told him that we thought our boy was academically ahead and he was like, "no, you don't understand..the most gifted students alive go to Lowell..most kids will never get in." We were like "la de da to you, Mister." However we bought his kid's wrapping paper and our son ended up getting into Lowell..or TM as is our school.

It is THE attitude of parents that is off. and it is bad for all...

Teaching kids love and compassion is the most important thing at the end of the day and if they are academically gifted, wonderful...absolutely brilliant for them and those people they can make a positive impact on in life..I sing the praises of anyone who can go far in thought and truly satisfy intellectual needs... we, as their parents must attend to their needs but do it with humility.... consider this from the brilliant and wise Maya Angelou....I teach my kids this:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

-Parent

Anonymous said...

Stop. Just stop with the spiteful stories, ok? I have a young kid in a Spectrum program, and you would not believe the animosity I get from some of the other parents at the school. I do not brag, I do not mention test scores, I do not talk about her abilities, none of that. I am highly reluctant to even mention that she is in the program, or that she likes science-related subjects, even to people outside the school. But when I am asked who her teacher is, you can see it on their faces, and it is not pretty. The bias and the nastiness that is directed at our family at times is unlike anything I have seen since junior high. I have been called names to my face, I have had people turn away from me when I wave hello, I have been told I am ruining my child's social skills, and I have been lectured about how simply enrolling her in this district program means I am some sort of elitist who is unjustly seeking more than my fair share of resources (yes, those exact words have been said out loud).

I say enough. Stop, just stop and listen to yourselves for one moment. Your words are narrow-minded, nasty, and openly hostile towards people who are essentially complete strangers to you. This entire twisting of what gifted programs do, and who they serve, has become an ugly, mean-spirited mess. Just stop with the hating.

-Appalled at some of you out there

Anonymous said...

Mystified as to how those APP-in-all-schools proponents think this could work. I don't know the average size of elementary schools here, but even in a large one with say 500 kids, if APP serves the top 5% (and really it should be less) that's just 25 kids. Spread them out over 5 grades, and that's 5 APP kids. Not sure how that's feasible with our current budget woes, but heck, if a 1 to 5 teacher to student ratio is an option, sign me up.

ELB

Anonymous said...

AASOYPT,

Yes, I see your point. Wanting your child to get a good education is normal..if it means Spectrum, then whatever. I am sure hostility exists from others to you like you say.

All of this is somewhat superficial, no? We don't really know people based on little interactions and feelings we get from them in short conversations and so giving people the benefit of the doubt is important.

The elitism that exists in Advanced Learning is real maybe a minority ..I don't know..maybe you are not one of them, but it is something to consider when you're thinking of how you want to raise your kids.

And to the next person's comments... why not give a 1:5 ratio for the APP kids and have them all in one room in a school??..or collect up 15-20 in a region and put them together..so not every single local school has APP, but say 2-3 in an area might. Not a bad idea.

Parent

Anonymous said...

I agree with Appalled, but don't imagine the nasty comments are going to stop. I think they come from ignorance, envy (probably not PC to say that, but there it is), or a combo of the two.

No feelings of superiority here, but you also won't get me to feel guilty that my kids are at the top end of the bell curve. Not gonna happen.

ELB

Anonymous said...

I hear ya, Floor Pie...I really do.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Parent—what is your problem? We're supposed to be discussing policy, and you just seem to want to do nothing but disparage a program and the people in it.

Sure we can discuss the pros and cons or self-contained vs. differentiation—even the quality of teachers. But to paint all APP parents with this broad "I think my child is far better than yours-attitude" brush is out of line.

Let's keep the discussion to the KIDS. There definitely are some children who NEED the kind of program that a self-contained AP offers (not my child, so I have no vested interest here). But I've known a handful who were so obviously in need of AP that it was striking.

In my daughter's kindergarten, there was a boy for whom the teacher got third-grade work. He needed it to be challenged and thrive; he ended up in AP, and rightfully so.

Other friends have a brilliant, but socially awkward child. She was spiraling in a traditional middle school. When she qualified for AP her 7th grade year, she blossomed and is now having a successful high school experience, with other kids as nerdy/smart as she is. She still wont be prom queen, but she has a place to belong.

And that's the point—handful. We're talking the top 1–2%, that means <1 kid per classroom on average—especially in some schools. There's no way these kids could be well-served in their individual neighborhood schools. You don't want to put a 7-yr-old with 9-yr-olds on a regular basis or worse, a 10-yr-old with 12-yr-olds. You don't want this kid singled out in class as the weirdo who needs harder work.

There are lots of bright kids who get bored in school on occasion, or have been reading since they were itty-bitty, or a math wiz, but a language-phobe. They need to be challenged at times too, but many can get it via differentiation, ALO and Spectrum, or parents can augment with tutoring, on-line learning or enrichment.

If people don't like the concept of AP, fine, but please stop turning it into a personality issue. Obnoxious people are everywhere—learn to ignore them, but don't punish their kids.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

@Parent--really, you think APP should advocate for class sizes of 15-20 when classes are way too full elsewhere? Sounds kind of elitist to me, like there's some sort of entitlement...

And where would all these APP qualified teachers come from, anyway? Not to mention an APP curriculum suitable for replication.

ELB

Anonymous said...

ELB,

There are real concerns out there regarding these programs and they have nothing to do with envy or wanting bright kids to languish without getting their needs met...ignorance. This is the counterargument that can shut down meaningful conversations.."ignorance, envy." I mean, I have APP kids and i was one of the smart kids in school at every school I went to..so, what reason would I have to be envious?? There are concerns about how the system is set up...FOR REAL. No judgement to those with bright kids. Wonderful..Something to celebrate for sure.

Parent

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

ELB,

If the district would allocate the funds appropriately to REALLY help kids, then it could hire APP qualified teachers. They are everywhere. Are you kidding me??? What a dream job....just go to UW School of Education and grab a few grads. What r u talking about???

It is about putting the resources where they belong..with the kids, not on using money for bureaucratic nonsense.

Parent

Anonymous said...

I never said it was elitist to educate APP kids in the way that they need to be educated. Schools accommodate kids at the other end of the spectrum, and so why not the top kids too?? So, giving them what they need is not elitist in and of itself. See?

-"Parent" who is getting weary from typing.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Parent,

I've been agreeing with much of what you post, however, as the parent of a child in special education, I put most of what I read in these threads in that light. We are often told our children are not afforded a "Cadillac" education. We don't want that, but we don't want holding pens, coloring books and token "inclusion" hook ups either. Again, federal law protects our childrens' rights. Our district must reach that bar first.

- Perplexed by the "massive influx" into the 1% "gifted" category

Jan said...

AASOYOT and parent:

I believe that both of you have been in situations where you can verify, from visual observation of what was said to you, or what you heard, that some parents on both sides of this issue sometimes can, and do, behave badly. And to the extent that the behaviors you have experienced have persisted, over time -- it is difficult to deal with.

But -- two things. First -- please don't "extrapolate" to all (or even most) parents in a group. It is inaccurate; it leaves "right-minded" parents (parents who wish for their children the same kinds of things that "parent" describes) no way to defend themselves against a group slur.

And, most important of all -- it is utterly useless and unhelpful. Nothing that the District can do (as a matter of policy) will prevent a parent who wants to feel and act elitist and superior from feeling and acting that way. Nothing that the District can do, as a matter of policy or practice, can prevent a jealous parent of a "merely average" child from feeling envious and jealous, and from saying absolutely outrageous things to parents whose children are in advanced programs.

Let's just focus on creating, to the best of our ability with the time, money, and grace we have available to us, environments where all children can learn to their maximum potential. For some gifted kids, that means coming up with a big enough "group" to give them, for lack of a better word, an "academic peer" experience they can't get in a regular classroom. For others (and I had one of these) a Spectrum, or (real) ALO, or school with walk-to-math/reading is not only ok -- but maybe is actually better (for all the reasons stated by other posters). If we have kids in Spectrum and are not concerned about other "spectrum eligible" kids who cannot gain access to the program (because of size constraints, or because of the ridiculous ruls that requires advancement in BOTH math and verbal areas to get appropriate access to either area) -- well, shame on us. We SHOULD care. Kids NEED us to care. Given that the District has washed its hands of any responsibility for educating these kids at their appropriate level, they depend on us to carry this burden for them. And if you have a kid in APP and have thus washed your hands and mind of any further worry for the other programs (Spectrum, ALO, gen ed, alternative, SPED, -- ALL of them) well, shame on that as well.

In my opinion, the reason Charlie emphasizes policy is because this District steadfastly refuses to place and manage these programs with any degree whatsoever of integrity. What other stick does he have to brandish? Only policy (common sense, decency, and reason evidently not being part of any incentive package that has ever worked where gifted ed is concerned)! We can't even get them to follow POLICY, for Pete's sake -- but at least they have to pretend, from time to time, to mind. And high-level policy review does give anyone who wants to (big question there) an opportunity to think about the bigger issues -- around access (not which test, or what cutoff percentile -- but bigger things like access for kids who are 2E, or who are very advanced, but only in one area), program quality and consistency (including the issues Charlie raises around minimum size), transportation, funding, etc.

Anonymous said...

The program is not the top 1% - now that would be interesting to admit based on local norms and only admit the top 1%. Talk about competition.

The admittance is based on 95% on achievement tests (MAP...) and 98% on CogAT.

parent not Parent

Anonymous said...

Is it a done deal that Spring MAP 95% will remain next year's cutoff?
--my eyes hurt

2E parent said...

SPS actually does a decent job with 2E kids. My kid's MAP reading score was 86th percentile, which is one point below the cutoff. Math was higher. We wrote an appeal letter describing his 2E status, which included a diagnosis of a learning disability by a psychologist. Kid took the cogat, scored in the spectrum range, and was granted spectrum status. Kid is in an ALO school that is working well, so we're not moving until middle school. But, I though the district did a pretty darned good job of weighing multiple variables in this case.

Floor Pie said...

Yes, Roger Daniels works really hard to help the 2E students find appropriate placement and accomodation. He's terrific.

Jan said...

Perplexed said -- " Our district must reach that bar first."

I respectfully disagree, and I HAVE a SPED kid who made it through this District only because of stuff I did (or paid for) on the side -- i.e., NOT because he was adequately served by the District's programs.

If you had said "they must reach that bar as well" I would be with you. But how can we deny another child his or her chance at learning just because the District also falls down on special ed? We -- or at least I -- can't. Every kid matters. We are raising ALL of them. We are the adults for ALL of them.

2E parent said...

I'll add that having the spectrum status means that we can access the ALO services, without having to convince every teacher that Kid is reallyverysmart, even when written work products don't always reflect that. Some teachers get it, some don't. Having the designation makes a big difference.

Greg Linden said...

Trying one last time to get this back on policy, and especially to Charlie Mas, what do people think about just putting the old policy back in place, minus the "1993-1994 levels" sentence, so at least we have an active policy again, then also kicking off a discussion about what the policy should be?

Perhaps the best of both worlds? Put a pretty good policy back in place while there is also discussion of what an even better policy might be?

2E parent said...

I would like to see a policy that covers APP, Spectrum, and ALO.

If the district is phasing out the Spectrum programs, in favor of placing Academically Gifted (Spectrum-qualified) kids in ALO programs in their neighborhood schools, I would like to see that documented in policy, along with some rules for what an ALO is and does. It seesm that this is the case, and they should say so in policy.

I would like the great work that SPS does with finding placement for 2E kids codified in policy, so that (god forbid) Roger Daniels ever leaves, that great work continues.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"People out there do evil things that hurt others deeply and families should have more choices in order to gravitate toward moral people."

C'mon! If you hate advanced learning - programs, families - that much to the point you think them amoral, you will never be happy anywhere.

Here's my answer; Banda, Banda, Banda.

Anyone with two eyes and a brain can see that the AL program is nonsense. Incoherent, poorly overseen, not enough training (so if you want those kids in their own neighborhoods, the teachers need more differentation training). Not that the program doesn't work - it does but not well and not for nearly enough kids.

So tell you what, I will put up what the staff told the Board are priorities and we will then create our own list/petition and get that to Banda. Then he can hear what parents and community are saying. A lot of what is on staff's list is not about what happens in the classroom and it's a shame that our district is so ill-managed that that is the case.

Anonymous said...

Greg and Jan are right, (Jan is a wonderful writer, BTW and IMHO.)

The district should meet the needs of the children at either end of the spectrum.

Greg wants to get back to policy talk and I suppose it is necessary to do so.

Charlie talks a lot of policy here, but I feel like he loses readers with too much policy gunk and not enough vision talk.

Parent, not parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I don't hate advanced learning programs and I don't hate the parents whose kids are in them. I do have concerns given my experience with some of these folks..legit concerns. Although, someone writing on this thread is right..what I said earlier is my experience and not necessarily everyone's.

I like the idea of bringing parents' concerns to the table.

One thing this new superintendent should focus on is bringing aides into the classrooms...not just for advanced learning classrooms, but for all classrooms. It only makes sense that if the class sizes are growing then more instructors are needed. Why doesn't anyone in the district get that???

Parent

Anonymous said...

Well Parent, for starter in terms of class size, skip up to the thread re: "Contact Sen. Murray Today" to see our education president is ready to take $600 million from reducing class size fund so we can have more TFAs. So while we're beating our selves silly over "advanced learing," the future of public school will be one where we won't have any learning left to fight over, unless you count learning to hit the MAP norm as being good enough.

-wake up people (or as my kids put in, we are heading to district 12)

Anonymous said...

Greg,

I read the policy you pasted up there and like all of the P&P from SPS, it is too vague.

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

The policy is the vision enacted.

Parent, it's fine you have "legit concerns" but you said something pretty unpleasant and now you are acting as if you didn't. Not cool.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

My kids would never make it in general ed as it is. I have one kid who would be taking his desk apart or something like that. I mean, come on..just because I think there are issues with the self contained classes as they are, does not mean that I don't want advanced learners accommodated. I am all for keeping kids together for certain subjects and then integrating for other subjects so all kids can meet and greet.

When I had my first child I believed some of the APP parents and how all APP kids have to be with one another all of the time, but then I saw how happy my kid was when he met kids he just liked and had things in common with and bonded with personality wise. You have to admit, THAT can be any kid. Right?

So, I am not advocating the end of advanced learning, I am presenting some of the drawbacks to self contained rooms, esp. when there is only ONE classroom in the entire school for the kids in Spectrum..

...and on a tangent here, why is it that so many kids qualify, hang on a wait list and never get to Spectrum? Why not have another classroom with Spectrum/gen ed split or something? Surely, some teacher out there has the talent, drive and dedication to handle it?
The University of Washington cranks out great future teachers, why not try that pool of people?

Resources are not being utilized in the community if this problem can't be improved.

Parent

Anonymous said...

On the topic of the policy, I would like to see the policy for APP be separate from Spectrum or ALO. My understanding is that the APP program is a state mandated program, while Spectrum/ALO are not, so there may be differences. The policy as it is written for APP generally looks okay.

I envision the wording for a Spectrum/ALO policy to be specific that these students have access to differentiated instruction appropriate to their identified capabilities in math and/or reading, meaning an extra worksheet won't cut it. My understanding is that teachers are given guidelines of some sort indicating how much class time should be spent on math, reading, science, etc. It should be stated that students would be taught at their level for the allotted time for that subject or at least a certain percentage of that time. That would basically require a walk to math/walk to reading setup which I feel is necessary to meet these kids needs. A policy for Spectrum/ALO should also state that all students shall be the opportunity to participate in such a program. If it's not available at their school, they will have a guarantee of access somewhere else in their area.

Just my thoughts.

Kitty

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Sorry you feel that way. One day maybe we can talk in person.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Parent-

Again, you are taking your experience and extrapolating it to everyone else. While I am sure your child is wonderful, they are not every child. My daughter, for instance, had ZERO friends when she was at our neighborhood school. She felt like she had nothing in common with the other kids. She was the only kid reading chapter books on her own in her kindergarten class, and she felt different than the other kids. Is this true for all kids? No, but it was true for mine. She has been in APP since first grade and has met a lot of great friends and feels socially normal, something that is worth a lot for a small kid. Since we don't live in a bubble, she also meets lots of other kinds of kids while doing her other outside of school.

As for policy for Advanced Learning, I would love to see the district put out a statement, maybe as part of this policy re-work, that Advanced Learning is part of meeting kids' needs and does not require any additional expense. There seems to be this faulty idea that APP gets all sorts of things other programs don't. APP uses all the same books as everyone else. The books used are just ahead of what same grade kids would get elsewhere.

-Sheesh

Anonymous said...

One thing many parents don't realize, especially if their kids are at schools that consistently test high, from wealthier areas of town, is that being an advanced learner in a school with lots of disadvantaged kids is extra hard. When many kids in a class of 26-28 don't speak English well and/or are several grades below standard, it's unrealistic to expect a teacher to also differentiate for an advanced learner. That's where a self-contained class has extra value.
If your child goes to a school where the parents routinely get tutors or outside help for every child with challenges, you might not understand that there are many SPS schools where advanced learners cannot just "fit in".

Anonymous said...

Signed
Mom of 2

Anonymous said...

Sheesh,

I see your point. I get it.

Parent

Floor Pie said...

Jan said "But how can we deny another child his or her chance at learning just because the District also falls down on special ed?"

I absolutely support APP, and I absolutely stand by what I said above about Roger Daniels and his awesomeness in helping 2E families.

But I absolutely get what Perplexed is saying, too. And when someone makes the very valid point that SpEd students' most basic civil rights are simply not being met in many cases and perhaps THAT's where more of the attention should be, I think it's respectful not to try and wrangle and argument out of it.

Nobody's going to deny APP anything by acknowledging that special ed in this district is rather a mess and the stakes ARE higher than other programs. It's not just that their academic needs aren't getting met. Some seriously bad stuff is going down.

It doesn't hurt Advanced Learning the least bit to simply listen to somebody speak that painful truth and get it off their chest. Just listen.

Anonymous said...

Parent -

There was this person once who posted all over a blog that I read. That person was full of negative generalizations about APP parents boasting and APP kids being socially underdeveloped, but at the same time puffed themselves up by touting their child's intelligence. Then they tried to act 'reasonable' as though they were just passing the time of day.

Should I now assume that all parents who wouldn't choose APP for their child are negative, defensive hypocrites who don't have the guts to stand behind their inflammatory comments? After all, my experience tells me that's the case, doesn't it?

If I shouldn't, then maybe you shouldn't be so quick to judge others either. And endlessly posting in a thread while others try to get on with the actual topic doesn't help anyone. Just step away and get some...

- freshaire

Anonymous said...

Freshaire,

I did not mean to imply that all APP parents are that way. I presented the downside, but there is an upside too. I believe that. Thank you for the reminder. :-)

Parent

Anonymous said...

Also, Freshaire, I never said that I would not choose APP. Where did I say that??

I think you are right, this needs to get back to the issue of policy. I wrote that above in reference to Greg.

Sorry I blew off steam by expressing myself. After all, that IS what many people do here. Apparently, not all expression is welcome. I get it.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Regarding the policy, a couple questions:

1. It says "Highly Capable Learners are students who exhibit markedly greater than average potential or ability in cognitive ability, in specific academic achievement (in reading, mathematics, social studies, language arts, and/or science), or in exceptional creativity in cognitive functioning and/or academic scholarship."

Does SPS actually use these other criteria such as science or art achievement for APP eligibility purposes? What are the practical implications of this language in the policy?

2. "Selection procedures for all highly capable programs shall consider test scores, performance outcomes, and the diversity in ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and learning styles of District students."

Those are "and" not "or" requirements. Is this consistent with current eligibility requirements?

ELB

Anonymous said...

I agree there should be a separate Spectrum and/or ALO policy. It seems like this should include minimum requirements for what constitutes and ALO program, e.g., available to for all grade levels, available year-round, # of hours/wk, which subjects, etc. My understanding is that ALO programs now are all so different and there's no equity. We were at an ALO school, but for my child's grade there was ALO in language arts only, and even then it was only half the year. By the time things got started, it meant about a dozen meetings total. Better than nothing, sure, but not a significant learning opportunity at that age.

ELB

Anonymous said...

ELB,

Getting into Advanced Learning programs is about test scores..whatever else is written in the policy does not seem to apply....

.. "exceptional creativity in cognitive functioning and/or academic scholarship"..what does that even mean?? This is another vague statement among many in the SPS policy book.

P

Anonymous said...

Districts can choose to not have a program. There is no mandate to have a program. If they do have a program, they can get a grant from the state, and they have to follow the WAC for Highly Capable. My understanding is that districts can set their entrance requirements, but have to apply them equally.

On the subject of testing, the AL website says Fall MAP can't be used for appeals, and only Spring MAP is considered for entry. That wasn't the case when we tested (more than a year ago).

This past summer, principals decided to make 2011 FALL MAP optional across schools. The Advanced Learning Office therefore advised principals that, because 2011 Fall MAP would not be available for all children at all schools, we would NOT consider these results in evaluating any student’s eligibility for Advanced Learning. This includes initial consideration of eligibility and appeals of initial decisions.

Why not administer Fall MAP (and skip Winter) so the most recent scores could be used for entry and identification?

hmm

Anonymous said...

Sheesh,

My child has the same experience as yours but is at a different end of the curve (not the opposite end, mind you). Is my child afforded the Cadillac? no.

A wise friend of mine once said "self-contained is what the (insert descriptor here APP/Spectrum/ALO) families want and what the Special Ed families don't. Why is that? Who gets the choice and who doesn't? Who gets the cohort and who gets put wherever there's space for a program?

I am of the belief that Special education in our district should be, once again, managed under the same umbrella.

Perplexed

Anonymous said...

P - below is an except from the WAC that might shed some light on your question about, "exceptional creativity....."

392-170-035
Definition — Highly capable students.
As used in this chapter, the term highly capable student shall mean a student who has been assessed to have superior intellectual ability as demonstrated by one or more of the multiple criteria specified in WAC 392-170-040.
These students exhibit high capability in intellectual and/or creative areas, possess an unusual leadership capacity, or excel in specific academic fields, thereby requiring services beyond the basic programs provided by schools. Outstanding abilities are present in students from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor.


In my personal experience, there are highly capable students whose true abilities are more on the creative side, even though they are capable of the APP academic curriculum. I don't think APP does any better than our neighborhood school on the creativity and artistic front. However, I'm thankful that my daughter's love of learning has returned this year with our switch to L@L. I asked her recently how she was feeling now that her transition year is coming to a close and she is happy and said she basically has the opportunity to learn interesting things and isn't bored all of the time. And to those of you who feel the APP parents are elitist I can say that my observation is of little difference to any other school community I've been involved at and one can choose to ignore that minority parent group.

K

Tree said...

fact- grouping works
fact- grouping in a neighborhood school is not usually fair. If you take the top 33% of kids in one classroom, the next 33% in another and the bottom 33% in another, the low class is going to range from a CogAT of say 40% to 10%, a very tough class with lots of hard to teach kids.That top class will be CogAT 15% and up, a dream class even with 2E kids, and SPED kids are more likely to be in that low class. We need a middle ground with blending AND grouping. Self contained works for high kids but not for low kids.
And the name calling here is very unseemly.

Charlie Mas said...

So what should the new Advanced Learning policy say and do?

Here's a list of possibilities:

* Require a program for highly gifted students (perhaps defined as those with cognitive ability 1.5 to 2.0 standard deviations above the mean) that complies with the letter and intent of the state law for programs for Highly Capable Students.

* Require transparency - the Superintendent SHALL establish a procedure for determining eligibility for this program, for the structure of the program, requirements for teachers and principals, etc.

* Require accountability - the Superintendent shall annually report on the program providing statistical analysis (complete with benchmarks and goals) of the accessibility of the program and the efficacy of the program.

* Require another means for addressing the academic needs of students who require more academic challenge than a general education classroom can reliably provide. Yes, Spectrum, I'm looking at you. The Superintendent shall establish procedures for any such programs.

* Require transparency and accountability for this program as well. This should be done by the inclusion of the program - a description, information about accessibility, efficacy, etc. - in each school's CSIP.

* Require some opportunity, available to every student on a self-selected basis, for additional rigor (engagement of higher level cognitive skills, deeper understanding of the concepts, broader application of the concepts, access to GLEs for higher grades, etc.) in a systematic way. This is what ALOs were supposed to be. Again, require transparency and accountability - we want to know just exactly what the program is supposed to be and we want to know how well it is working.

Let's remember that policy should not dictate how things are done, but set the goals for what should be the outcomes.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

The blended grouping, or "cluster" grouping is the model that was proposed as an alternative for Wedgwood Spectrum self-contained:

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10691.aspx

nP

Greg Linden said...

Like that a lot, Charlie. Still think it would be a good idea to put the old policy back in place immediately during the inevitable lengthy debate around wording of a new policy, but your take on what should be in a new policy looks fantastic to me.

Anonymous said...

How about if the policy also requires some teacher training in how to work with these kids?

ELB

Anonymous said...

"Thoughts?" Charlie please add that access to GENUINE advanced learning opportunities must be available to qualified students in every geographic location of the district INCLUDING SOUTHEND

-TIRED OF ASKING THIS EVERY YEAR

Anonymous said...

I do not think there should be an upper limit to those served. Forcing kids who are working 4 or 5 years ahead to do the same work every day as those in APP is no better than making APP students do the same work as their general ed counterparts. Not that they can't work together some of the time or in some subjects, but not limiting them to the same work everyday.

I think kids should be able to test out of required classes for credit.

I think there should be more independent study options available on school campuses during the school day.

More options to meet the needs of individuals and less emphasis on programs because gifted kids come in all varieties and most commonly develop asynchronously.

A change in the goals of the district to allow all kids to learn as much as possible instead of using the standards or program definitions as an upper limit.

Parent of profoundly gifted

Anonymous said...

I'm in agreement with the previous poster. Some kind of flexibility and accommodation for students working beyond APP level would make the program more robust. I don't know that our child would be categorized as profoundly gifted, yet our child is willing and capable of working beyond what they're doing in class (pleading may be a more accurate description). This is especially true for math, an area in which more acceleration and challenge seems doable.

Part of the issue has to do with curriculum - right now, it's little more than the regular district curriculum compacted and accelerated - and another issue has to do with principals not allowing students to accelerate even when more advanced classes are available (HIMS). Parents are left to provide instruction outside of the class day (homeschooling, tutor, or online) for classes that are being offered in school.

In the big picture, it may be a small number of students, but with some flexibility on the part of the district I think that there could be a way to serve these students without creating undue burdens on teachers or schools.

just a parent

Anonymous said...

An example of a regional school using specialized curriculum for gifted learners is the Puyallup School District. They have the QUEST program for grades 3-6 and the PAGE program for grades 7-9.

If you look at the curriculum (it's actually delineated and posted online...) they use College of William and Mary materials for language arts and Project M3 materials for math, in addition to the district materials. For science they have extension materials for the district units, and the students participate in science fair.

The point is that resources include materials designed for highly capable learners. This is something that's currently missing in SPS's programs.

http://schools.puyallup.k12.wa.us/programs/quest/index.htm

just a parent

Anonymous said...

I just want to re-iterate what TIRED has been saying - there needs to be, as part of the policy, a clear statement that every child have access and transportation to an advanced learning program. With the current programs, this should mean at least one Spectrum program per middle school attendance area. That is not happening, and it really needs to.

Also, Wedgwood did not implement a clustering model. They reconfigured first grade to evenly distribute the Spectrum kids among all classrooms. No matter what it is called on paper, in practice that is a heterogeneous model, not a clustered model.

TraceyS

Anonymous said...

That should read "every qualified child".

TraceyS

Anonymous said...

Reading on the tracking/ability grouping debate:

http://www.sbsdk12.org/programs/gate/documents/200912_Detracking.pdf

nP

Jan said...

I agree with parent of Profoundly gifted and 'just a parent.' We need a policy that will address the needs of profoundly gifted kids (I didn't have one -- but my APP kids were friends with a few). Some of these kids just leave for university programs in their early teens, or cobble something (homeschooling, online learning, etc.) together, but we shouldn't put the burden on them to have to do this.

I don't necessarily want to see dictated curricula (though it would be fine if vetted materials were made available for teachers who want them), because I think many of the teachers who teach these kids are really good at coming up with their own materials and lesson plans -- and that bright, engaged kids often collaborate with their teachers to take learning in directions where they have passionate interests -- and that is a really good thing. This last comment is not limited to gifted ed, by the way. I think that in every school, units on conflict resolution might have been very different, after Columbine or 9/11, than what a publisher 2 years earlier put together. Great teachers, given autonomy and a collaborative environment (both with other teachers and with their students), come up with incredible stuff.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

My kid is not profoundly gifted, but is smart and well ahead of her peers. Way. Not the top 1%, but top 5% for sure. But the class is taught to the 50% level.

Math is the big problem. She can adjust her reading and writing to her level, but math kills her. She understood the stuff they are teaching a long time ago. Differentiation means she gets extra worksheets to do at home. So she is bored in class, and has extra homework.

Math is so skills based. Master a skill and move on to the next. I see kids struggle with a concept and yet they are forced to move on before they are ready. Others are bored. How can we improve the way math is taught?

My other child was put in a blended class to balance out the "tough to teach" low kids. Teacher did not begin to differentiate. He despised school for the total boredom. Got a teacher this year who deals him the work he can handle, and he loves it.

So blended may be easier on the teacher and better for the low kids, but is hard on higher kids that are used for balance. Good teachers can make it work, but we are 1 for 3.

SPS mom

Anonymous said...

My kid is not profoundly gifted, but is smart and well ahead of her peers. Way. Not the top 1%, but top 5% for sure. But the class is taught to the 50% level.

Math is the big problem. She can adjust her reading and writing to her level, but math kills her. She understood the stuff they are teaching a long time ago. Differentiation means she gets extra worksheets to do at home. So she is bored in class, and has extra homework.

Math is so skills based. Master a skill and move on to the next. I see kids struggle with a concept and yet they are forced to move on before they are ready. Others are bored. How can we improve the way math is taught?

My other child was put in a blended class to balance out the "tough to teach" low kids. Teacher did not begin to differentiate. He despised school for the total boredom. Got a teacher this year who deals him the work he can handle, and he loves it.

So blended may be easier on the teacher and better for the low kids, but is hard on higher kids that are used for balance. Good teachers can make it work, but we are 1 for 3.

SPS mom

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Also agree with Parent of profoundly gifted, but have a question--You mentioned wanting to see more independent study options for during school day. Are there actually options now? We were told, by district and HIMS, that students could not be on campus during independent study period, as they have to be supervised. Since its not feasible to have a kid walk home, work, and walk back to school during one 50-minute or however long period, that means your kid just ends up taking an extra class and then does all the indep study work on top of all their other work--so later nights, busier weekends... It sure seems like it would be easy enough to provide basic supervision to such kids during the day--heck, just stick them in the back of the class they'd otherwise be taking if there are no other options. It would be good if a new policy would at least require some sort of accommodation on this...

ELB

Anonymous said...

Also agree with Parent of profoundly gifted, but have a question--You mentioned wanting to see more independent study options for during school day. Are there actually options now? We were told, by district and HIMS, that students could not be on campus during independent study period, as they have to be supervised. Since its not feasible to have a kid walk home, work, and walk back to school during one 50-minute or however long period, that means your kid just ends up taking an extra class and then does all the indep study work on top of all their other work--so later nights, busier weekends... It sure seems like it would be easy enough to provide basic supervision to such kids during the day--heck, just stick them in the back of the class they'd otherwise be taking if there are no other options. It would be good if a new policy would at least require some sort of accommodation on this...

ELB

Anonymous said...

Your student cannot be on campus if they are not scheduled for a class. If you can't arrange to have late start or early release (start one period late or end one period earlier, not always easy to schedule, plus you have to provide transportation one way), your child can take an extra class (art, PE, etc) and then still has the task of finding time for the 5 hours+ of classwork outside of school.

That's how it is at Hamilton.

Parents of accelerated kids at Eckstein have said students sign up for a math class and sit in the back working independently (I'm assuming this is done with the teacher's permission).

The "policy" seems pretty school dependent.

Anonymous said...

The independent study that we experienced in SPS included a full year of different curriculum in the back of the class - independent & small group, push in/pull out tutors for individual or small group. None of it was for high school credit. All with the teacher's cooperation. I know there has been pressure from the district to keep every child moving at the same pace, on the same text, so some of these things have disappeared.

What I would like to see in the larger secondary schools would be an independent study classroom supervised by a teacher with a tutor available, where a child could practice remedial skills on a computer or do an online class or have a small group project.

I think it is important for kids to work with others who have different gifts & challenges. The social skills learning involved in school was more important to my kids than the academics. I think it is even important to learn to do things that are mundane, just not all the time.

Parent of profoundly gifted

Anonymous said...

"independent study classroom supervised by a teacher with a tutor available"

When I was in middle school, this was called "Study Hall" and everyone was required to have one period of it. If you had a hole in your schedule, you got a second period of it. Is this really not part of the middle school experience anymore?

TechyMom said...

sorry, last comment was me.

Jan said...

Anonymous (who might be deleted for failing to sign) said: "But we do have dictated curricula - EDM, CMP and Readers and Writers Workshop - that aren't geared toward gifted education. We have teachers that aren't good at coming up with their own materials. Doesn't it make sense to use some materials developed specifically for gifted ed? Without them being part of the stated curriculum, would extra materials get purchased?"

Your point on $ for purchase is a good one -- so I think there should be some budget, and maybe some recommended materials. But to your point above? All three sets of materials you cited are either horrible, or at best flawed -- all of them would be left in the dust by materials/lessons put together by a good teacher. I think I am reacting less to your idea though than to my own bias against expensive, bad curriculum materials being peddled, at exorbitant prices, by Pearson and others. My apologies. I need to keep my head in THIS thread and not gravitate to my soapbox.

We have lost so much of our Lowell expertise -- with teachers being hounded out of the school -- but at least a few years back, I think if you had put all the gifted elementary teachers together and asked them to survey "what's out there" for gifted kids and then come up an aligned curriculum (with some leeway for different materials for different teaching styles), you would have gotten an incredible work product. And the same was true of WMS (at least for language arts and social studies) several years ago.

On independent study -- the only family of a gifted child I know who did this well ultimately resorted to "part-time home schooling." She was WAY ahead in math (probably calculus in 7th grade), and reasonably advanced in other areas. She was also an incredible artist and needed studio time. They did part days at WMS, and had her work independently, off campus, in math and something else. But it would be great if there were creative, flexible school-based solutions for these kids (and also for special ed kids who need schools to step up and help them use THEIR time more effectively as well).

Anonymous said...

Re: Study hall

Middle school students have homeroom, which can be used to do homework, and you can get a pass to talk with another teacher if needed.

It's reported that some Hamilton teachers are not allowing homework during homeroom...they are supposed to sit and read, and it's not supposed to be reading for class...

HIMS parent

Linh-Co said...

"But we do have dictated curricula - EDM, CMP and Readers and Writers Workshop - that aren't geared toward gifted education. We have teachers that aren't good at coming up with their own materials. Doesn't it make sense to use some materials developed specifically for gifted ed?"

EDM and CMP are a joke. Working 2 years ahead in those textbooks is meaningless when the assignments are busy work and incoherent. No student, gifted or otherwise, should have to use crap materials.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

OT, but Linh-Co or anyone who can answer,

I have a 4th grader doing Singapore Math at home. We are nearly finished with 6A, and she wants to keep working during the summer. So I imagine we will crack into 6B.

What do we do after that? She has a new teacher in the fall and we hope she will differentiate instruction, but if not, we don't want a completely wasted year. So what's after 6B?

A bit worried I'm going to run out of math before we get her to a qualified teacher who will actually teach her. I'm hanging in but can't make sense of the "net of a cuboid" stuff.

She tests high 99th percentile in MAP every time, but only high 80s in the CoGat, so thus far, we aren't doing APP. Don't know how much that will help anyway, given the curriculum and complaints about HIMS.

hanging in with the math

Linh-Co said...

I've used Singapore with my own kids and students up to 6B. There is New Elementary Mathematics Syllabus D Workbook 1 which is the equivalent of 7th grade Singapore Math (I think). It can be intimidating for a lot of kids as some problem sets have 40+ problems.

I use Saxon 8/7 (7th grade) for my 7th grade students at grade level or my high 6th graders. It is very comprehensive and does a nice job of teaching a lot of pre-algebra. My son was able to roll right into the Saxon Algebra 1 book. I like Saxon a lot with it's easy and clear explanations and worked examples. It is very easy for parents and students to use. Every problem has a referenced index that will track back to the original lesson.

I currently am single subject homeschooling 4 students from Whitman and will be going to 8 next year. All my students opt in to MAP and MSP testing in order to document growth for the district.

The kids either opt out of 1st or 6th period. They sign themselves out of the office and ride their bikes to my house. It seems to work better than the one day a week private tutoring because it is consistent and comprehensive. My students have better than expected growth on both MAP and MSP and they only see me Mondays and Wednesdays. On the off days they are doing the assigned homework independently at home. Math is math. Schools are pulling your leg when they say that CMP teaches higher order thinking and that kids can't do problem solving if they don't use inquiry based instruction and textbooks.

Anonymous said...

You don't need to be in APP to take accelerated math in middle school. It's ability based.

To give you a benchmark, students wanting to test into Algebra I for 6th grade (1 year ahead of APP pathway) need a Spring 5th grade MAP of 250 [this is new for 2012-13]. This translates to a Fall 5th grade MAP of 240 (assuming your child has 10 points of growth over 5th grade).

My advice - don't count on differentiation at school.

just a parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks Linh-Co. Sounds like you have a great system going for those kids. I'll look into the books you suggest.

That's good news, Just a parent. She's at 252 as of this spring, so she should test into Algebra by middle school. I sure hope so....she's chomping at the bit for Algebra.

hanging in with the math

Linh-Co said...

Can you tell me where you got the information about a score of 250 qualifying for algebra in 6th grade? Whitman refused to put any 6th grader beyond 7th grade math. My son had a 5th grade spring MAP score of 268 and the administator refused to let him opt up to 8th grade math. I've also heard from parents at Hamilton APP that students can't work beyond 2 grade levels higher in math.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yes, at Hamilton the highest math class available to 6th graders is Math 6 Honors Honors, which presumably means it's two years ahead. Based on what my kid's friends say they cover in that class however, it does not sound like an Algebra class.

Like Linh-Co, I'm puzzled by that MAP score cut-off as well. We had a 5th grade MAP in the 280s and were only assigned to Math Honors, even after a call to the district. Good thing we were planning to do independent study already. Perhaps some middle schools allow greater acceleration than others, even beyond APP? I seem to recall hearing that Hamilton may be behind the curve on math offerings...

ELB

Anonymous said...

Oh I see, the 6th grade Algebra class for Hamilton next year will be a new offering. About time!

ELB

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what the policy is for advanced students in math at McClure?

Mom

Jan said...

There are really two issues here. One is whether a school will provide the appropriate level of acceleration (be it one year, or three). It sounds like after things getting WORSE for awhile at Hamilton, maybe they are improving? I know nothing about other schools. But advancing kids here still means advancing them through levels of CM and (at high school) the Discovering series. I think that kids doing Summer Stretch get taught with better materials. At Garfield, the discovery texts didn't stop until Honors Pre-Calculus. So if just accelerating -- but using discovery math -- works, that is one thing.

The other "issue" of course is the curriculum materials and pedagogical approach -- some of which may vary, based on teachers, based on schools (like Mercer using Saxon and RHS using UW materials at the pre-calc or calc level, etc.) For that, you need to know the intricacies of your specific teachers and departments. And if you can't get what you need (and aren't willing to just concede), then the only options are to "afterschool" with supplemental materials or programs (Kumon, etc.) or if you don't want to do both, then to pull your child out and do homeschool/independent study. I am intrigued by the person who works with multiple kids after school. Until the District addresses their incredibly poor materials, I think there is a huge opportunity for other families to do something similar.

And (hope he is reading this) I reiterate that if Mr. Banda comes in and IMMEDIATELY replaces math materials (at least for the grades where replacement is due) with better ones -- he will look like a genius in the test score category. And my guess is that the change will be apparent at the end of the first year.

Linh-Co said...

So the 250 cut score for eligibility in algebra for 6th graders was set by Bob Vaughan, but will Hamilton honor that. Did anyone check with Chris Carter to see if algebra is even offered to 6th graders next year? And 8th grade CMP2 is NOT algebra, regardless of what the teachers tell you.

I also want to know how a district policy can be ignored by individual schools. I know Whitman is not offering any algebra classes to 6th graders no matter what their MAP scores are. I haven't heard of this at Eckstein either.

The district math placement letter that came home last year to 6th graders had weasely language about placement being offered upon space availability in fine print.

dw said...

Anyone still here?

Linh-Co said: I currently am single subject homeschooling 4 students from Whitman and will be going to 8 next year. All my students opt in to MAP and MSP testing in order to document growth for the district.

It's fantastic that you have the time and ability to do this. Your students are lucky.

That said, please reconsider opting into MSP testing. The district gets credit (with the state) for teaching these children math, when they are in fact NOT teaching them at all. Also, because MSP is grade-leveled, it doesn't provide any valuable information about achievement for out of band kids, either for you (as their real teacher), the school or district. Opting into MSP gives your building absolutely no incentive to ever teach high achievers, and because the kids are likely to do better with individualized programs, it may actually act as a disincentive to the buildings to serve these kids if they take the MSP.

MAP is a completely different beast. It can potentially give some coarse information about the students' achievement over time because it's adaptive. This may possibly be helpful in some situations with the building and/or district. But it also, to my knowledge, doesn't give your building any unnecessary credit with the state for teaching your kids.