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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Equitable Access Work Session

I'm at the just-about-to-start Work Session on Equitable Access and I'm reviewing the PowerPoint.  I see a lot to like starting with:

An opportunity to commit to Academic Assurances for EVERY student is now.

More to come.

Update One:

Here are the questions they asked about this topic:

1) What is the significance of past, present, and future decisions on the Equitable Access Framework?
2) Are Academic Assurances the foundaiton to an Equitable Access Framework?
3) How will we prioritize our resources to accomplish this goal?

They will cover Basic Education, Special Education, ELL and Highly Capable.

Charlie will like this "we have Board policy commitments we need to honor."

I also like that Phil Brockman is calling out every RCW related to this topic.  Good reference to have.

Update Two:

Surprise to me - "Most elementary, middle school and high schools are not meeting standards for PE/fitness."

De Bell questioned that fact for elementaries.  He was told that most elementaries count some of recess as PE towards the 100 minute a week requirement.  I think DeBell was disappointed to hear that most of the elementaries are not meeting this standard.

Going over Special Ed, serving more students than state funds.  Increasing numbers of high needs SPED students.

ELL

Looking at the heat map, I was a little surprised.  That's a lot of kids in a lot of schools.  Elementary service model is 1 teacher to 70 students and secondary is 1 for every 45 students.

Need more PD for teachers/administrators, more teachers with dual-endorsements in ELL and General ED and serving 111 languages.

Advanced Learning

Oh boy, the heat maps for these are not good.  Not a solid base of students in the south end and Director Martin-Morris said he wants someone to explain it to him.  Bob Vaughan, head of AL, sat silent.  (They decided to move on but will come back to this.  I guess he may speak up then.)

They also say that the current service delivery model "requires additional funding" - I'm confused on that.  Is it transportation or what?

Martin- Morris - still on AL - "how did this happen?"  I can only say "Director Martin-Morris, where have you been for 6 years?"  This is NOTHING new.  He says it's a poverty issue so agreed.  But his shock seems a little misplaced.  Again, Bob Vaughan sits in the audience and remains silent.  Where is his explanation/defense?  It seems to be with Michael Tolley when Vaughan is the one to explain it.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems like the district is going to make a go of it since they are on an inflection point with the transition to neighborhood schools behind them, enrollment is increasing and noticed that the next work session on budget is day lighting to deal with the structural gaps as well as academic assurance.

It's about time!

A friend

mirmac1 said...

Not convinced.

From what I know of the day-to-day machinations in our district, the platitudes under discussion are just that, platitudes.

How is this different than MGJ and her canned "strategic plan"?!

mirmac1 said...

"Going over Special Ed, serving more students than state funds. Increasing numbers of high needs SPED students."

Of course staff will say this. They work incessantly at blaming special education for everything from the real estate bubble to moldy bread. Interestingly, when asked for details on their exaggerated claims...crickets. Does the board inquire? Apparently that is not on their radar. Remember, they have be trained to let the Supt/staff handle this stuff (even when they are presented with half-truths).

What is funny is that, when asked for PD for general educators last year so that they may know more about how to work with differently-abled students, Cathy Thompson said "No Money!" Now that we have a bilingual superintendent, PD for ELL is tops on the list. Can you blame some of us for being skeptical?!

Anonymous said...

The heat maps are quite interesting in ELL and AL seem to be complete opposites. Not terribly surprising AL and native English speakers are a match.

watching

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good point, Watching. Those maps sparked quite a heated debate. More on that to come tomorrow.

mirmac1 said...

Yes, I found it interesting how there are "hotspots" of disability and high-intellect in our city. Linked to income-level, p'haps?

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of exceptional children, the always exceptional Sherman Alexie, in his weekly (very) short fiction piece in today's Stranger, offers a warm perspective on "the short bus."
It's titled "Exceptional

Anonymous said...

What is the middle school requirement for PE? Is one semester per year enough?
Loves PE

Anonymous said...

Middle school PE requirement is 60 hours per year - 1/3 of a year of PE would actually meet the requirement. Is 1 semester of PE the norm at most middle schools?

a parent

Watching said...

Looking forward to Banda's work with the ELL. Clearly, 1:70 staffing in elementary school will not make a dent the achievement gap. Banda will providing ELL communities with additional supports to meet the needs of these kids.

I'm optimistic that Banda will be successful meeting the needs of ELL. He comes from a high bilingual area and has a proven track record for improving results for ELL.

The state is only funding for APP. Yet, there are thousands of other students in spectrum, AoL etc. Glad to see this highlighted.

Martin -Morris was basically saying- "Look, I know there are bright children in the SE. They need to be identified."

The board and superintendent looked quite different than last year. This is the first time in 4 years that the district hasn't had to close a funding gap of $25M-$35M, and we'll actually be getting dollars from the state. All positive.

We'll see how the dollars shake-out. I'm not excited about the millions that will be needed to roll out Common Core.

Funding for PE and art will take significant amount of dollars.





Anonymous said...

Is the school board sleeping or do they notice the vast inequity of special education resources in the central and south areas of the school district? These maps are quite illuminating of disparities. But they also give a false picture of the availbility of inclusion ("i") seats. For students in the Mercer area, the map shows hey just go a bit north to John Muir. That school has not functioned for 4"i" or any "i" for years. There is no inclusion opportunity in John Muir. There is no elementary inclusion opportunity for students with special needs, south of the University of Washington, unless they go over to West Seattle. Anyone heard about "inclusion" at McGilvra lately? A mess. Madrona? Shipped to Laurelhurst at the first burp. Leschi? A start up that stopped suddenly. Muir? No. Let's just keep moving south and send them to Portland. Susan Enfield's old haunt. Fitting.

reader

mirmac1 said...

Even without the major budget gaps of old, we still have to hear the fear-mongering about special education.

Believe me, we want all students who need and could benefit from additional supports to get them. Whether they be called AP, Sped, ELL whatever.

What we don't need is the beancounters downtown setting us up as the literal tarbaby. Even though we have warned them multiple times to quit making our students scapegoats, they continue with impunity. Who is their audience? Is it a board that readily believes whatever they hear? Data notwithstanding? Is it a superintendent who refuses to set his staff straight? I got my hunches.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This district is a tale of two cities in so many ways. Parents of those in the one city are rarely happy but complain until they get a bit more happy. Parents who are living in poverty or have limited English suffer through in silence.
That it took a map to point out the disparities in APP enrollment is a shame.

The first step is to retest all APP students, using an objective criterion that has a higher entrance bar (and that cannot be easily challenged, except as the law permits). The results will change the landscape profoundly.

Going to a neighborhood school model without planning for the inevitable inequalities was unethical, to put it mildly. Playing catch-up will not work.
The results will only change if the boundaries are gerrymandered and certain magnet programs are reinstated city-wide.

Blaming special education federal funding is also unethical. Every school district in the country could try this excuse. The over-the-top-heavy administration and their puppet masters at the Alliance don't get it: equitable means caring as much about other people's kids as you do your own (instead of statistics or political correctness or a poorly disguised put-down of teachers before the next contract) . Blaming special education in your power point about equity doesn't make for a good forecast.

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

Oh how I wish I were in town and could have been there.

It's good to see the District find the connection between Academic Assurances and Program Placement. Of course, that allows them to characterize Montessori, language immersion, STEM, and IB as "curricular foci" and therefore outside of any commitment to equitable access to programs and services.

As for Director Martin-Morris, there is so much to choose from. First we have his ignorance - he didn't know how few advanced learners have been identified in low-income neighborhoods even though this data has been available all along and has been highlighted a number of times in the past. That brings us to his dishonesty about not knowing. Or, alternatively, his six years of apathy about it. If he really didn't know, that it was only because he didn't care to know. Finally there is his dereliction of duty because he has made decisions about AL program placement without ever reviewing the data. How could he have made those decisions without the data to support them? He is a perfectly dreadful Board Director.

If you take a look, you will see that there are no Spectrum programs between I-90 and the Ship Canal despite the fact that this is an AL hotspot. That's because the superintendent insists on using Muir as the elementary Spectrum site for the Washington Middle School service area.

Anonymous said...

@enough already - the criteria for entrance into APP ARE already objective (specific percentiles on nationally normed, widely used tests). Maybe you don't feel the threshold is set high enough, but how is making the entry criteria tougher going to improve disparities in APP enrollment??
Sounds like you are proposing new criteria and kicking out all the kids who don't meet the new criteria even though they legitimately entered on existing criteria - yeah that is going to go down well!
If it was decided to tighten criteria: why not have it based on reaching certain percentiles compared with a local population (ie, total 2% of seattle kids rather top 2% compared with national norm). I think this would have the effect of reducing numbers entering the program however, and would not likely help improve enrollment coming from underrepresented areas. However, it seems most school districts compare against national norms.

Sniffy

suep. said...

@--enough already, What would be the purpose of re-resting the current (1,500?) APP-enrolled kids? And how would that "change the landscape profoundly"?

Seems to me the more appropriate action would be to test and identify kids who haven't already been tested, but who may need advanced learning services. In which case, SPS should consider testing ALL kids in first or second grade (with a real AL test, not MAP) and try to truly capture any kids who are not yet being identified for AL.

That would better address the issue of identifying low-income or ELL kids for advanced learning.

Can anyone tell me: Does the map in discussion only indicate where in the city kids are enrolled in AL options, or does it also show where kids have been identified as AL capable?

I am baffled that Director Martin-Morris claims to be unaware of these issues. That was one of the main rationales that was given by the district in 2008-09 to justify splitting APP into multiple sites -- to create more "access" and it was then presumed, therefore more "equity." It was a bit of a specious argument, though, because the APP schools -- Lowell, Washington -- were all-city draws, and all kids were provided transportation to them wherever they lived. And as was pointed out back then, merely placing a program geographically closer to families does not automatically make kids advanced learners or identify those who are.

So one could argue that the fracturing of APP has been a failure on this basis, if the map indicates that parts of town still do not have identified AL kids.

It also potentially highlights the failings of MAP as tool to ID AL kids, which was one of the main reasons Bob V. advocated for SPS to purchase MAP.

Charlie Mas said...

The fundamental question remains - who will have authority over these programs?

Whether it is Special Education, ELL or Advanced Learning, will the District exercise responsibility and authority over the District-defined programs or will they allow principals to dissolve the programs or refuse to provide the services?

I'm glad that the district leadership is coming to some consensus about what equity means, but we need them to come to consensus about how equity is enforced.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll do an update on the rest of the meeting. Sadly, not good.

The upshot is that this is a document with a lot of interesting and useful information. It did take a lot of work to pull together.

However, it is not a program placement framework and that is what the Board asked for.

President Smith-Blum asked, twice, if the last page (49) is the framework and could not get a clear answer.

So if you want to know where programs get placed and the framework for that placement, this is not the document to tell you that.

Very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Sue P,

If a child enters APP in first grade, they are basically in for SPS life. That is ridiculous. Current research into how schools label gifted is starting to focus on how "well prepared" turns into "gifted" (which is a given, when you look at the racial statistics of gifted programs). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/nyregion/new-york-city-schools-struggle-to-separate-the-gifted-from-the-just-well-prepared.html?pagewanted=all

Retesting students every three years (or at least upon entry into middle school and high school)based on both cogitive and achievement tests would be a positive step. The entry should be at 1 percent in order to justify a self-contained program--which is basically a public school version of a charter school because it puts higher needs into fewer classrooms. It continues to disappoint me that you and others who are so adamant about the evils of charters partake in a public school version yourself, by rationalizing it on the basis of how it benefits your child.

Using MAP for entry was into APP was merely a ruse in order to justify the continuance of keeping MAP to evaluate teachers (and placate the Alliance, LEV and others). I have no further comment on that one.

Let's be equitable with everyone's kids, including your own. Even with well meaning people, this seems to be a huge blind spot.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I didn't attend the meeting but from the slides, I see the start of a framework. I'm reading and understanding from slide 13 that the district is defining "basic" and required services. It seems to me that they performed a GAP analysis and have a plan to plug these gaps, much of which is dependent on funding as I read the Budget material in the second work session. In Slide 47-48, they are clear about their priority which is to ensure that the "basic" is provided throughout the city before concentrating on "additional priorities" on 48.

I think they did a good job framing it. Now comes the hard part which is the slug it out to see whether the board see Equitable Access in the same way and each director advocating for their region: there will be winner and losers with the framework and resources will shift. Rightfully so, though!

A Friend

Anonymous said...

For me, the answered questions are:

1) Will the board go along with this?
2) Can the district execute?

It seems to me they have the tools to make it happen. Do they have the resolve? Waiting to find out......

A Friend

Thoughts said...

Does anyone use teacher recommendation for APP? Or, is it all test based?

I really think Martin-Morris was just wanting additional methods to identify advanced learners in the SE. Parents might be missing testing dates etc. There are 101 languages spoked in the SE. The district suggested calling families regarding testing dates etc.

Not thrilled about the $5.9M needed for Common Core professional development when there ae so many other things on the table.

We'll see how the numbers pencil out. If the district chooses to fund PE and Art, which is a law, there might not be as much to fund enrichment programs, materials etc.

The district did say they did not have enough services for sp. ed.

mirmac1 said...

Why is the "gap" for Basic Ed not identified? It is $90M, paid by O&M levy funds.

Why is the "gap" for special education always highlighted? It is also paid by levy funds.

Staff sticks to the script.

TechyMom said...

Is it really a surprise to anyone that there's a cluster of giftedness with UW, a major research university, at its center? Similarly, that hotspot on Capitol Hill/Central District is where the software and biotech people live.

Giftedness as measured by IQ and achievement tests runs in families. It has both genetic and environmental components. Academia, medicine and engineering select for the same criteria that APP and Spectrum do, criteria their employees pass along to their children. This is the same reason that more than 2% of Seattle's children are in the top 2% of nationally normed tests.

Does that mean the tests are fair or that there shouldn't be more services for bright kids in the Southend? Of course not. If there were more services in the Southend, you'd probably see a similar cluster near I-90 for eastside software commuters. But, given the current housing patterns, even with mythical perfectly fair tests administered universally, I'd expect to see hotspots exactly where they are.

Anonymous said...

Melissa --
Was there any discussion about the fact that in many cases, the school PTAs are paying for the art/music access that is shown on the map? Are the budget totals to meet the state mandate only paying for the schools who don't have adequate resources or do they also include paying for art/music staff that are currently paid for by PTAs?

Sick of Auctions

Anonymous said...

Techymom,

I think you missed the point.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

Thank you for attending this meeting.

The "Highly Capable" Map (p 43) lists only K-5 schools offering services, and does not include Jane Addams K-8 or Broadview-Thomson K-8, which, according to the District website also currently offer Spectrum (grades K-8). That seems a little odd.

The ELL map (p 43) excludes the ELL program currently at Jane Addams, though it includes ELL programs at other K-8s and option schools.

Was this discussed at all during the presentation?

Thanks.

North End Mom

suep. said...

@ enough -- You appear to want fewer kids in advanced learning programs. In fact, you appear to want to cull existing kids from these programs. Why? How “equitable” is that?

Isn't the discussion here about how to identify more kids who need it and help get them into it?

Claims like yours indicate a bias against kids in gifted programs, and a personal judgment that somehow they don't belong there. Again, why? And how is targeting these kids a demonstration of "equity"?

That NY Times articles focuses on extreme examples of highly competitive attempts by NYC parents to get young kids into certain schools by prepping them to pass the qualifying tests. Sure, if a kid is prepped intensely for a test they will likely do well on the test (though not always), and they may not do well in the school thereafter.

But that is not the intended purpose of APP and not why families like mine were advised to seek it out for our children. There was zero test prep at our house, but lots of people (including teachers) telling us we should seek gifted ed for our kids.

My understanding is that APP and Spectrum are intended for kids who need advanced learning options without any artificial test-prep.

My opposition to charters has to do with a number of facts, but the most straightforward is
my fundamental belief that our public schools are a public trust, a founding principle of a democratic nation, and should not be sold off to private businesses to run and profit from, and with little to no public oversight.

I also believe that every public school should be given the creative autonomy and resources that charters are purported to have, that every child’s needs should be met.

And that includes struggling students, kids with special needs, all the overlapping and kids in between, and yes, gifted kids too, of all backgrounds.

That's my understanding of equity.

TechyMom said...

enough already,
That's entirely possible. I look at this data and see no surprises at all. You see something different. Can you help me to understand what?

Anonymous said...

Techymom, are you suggesting that the minority, lower-income and ELL students found primarily in the south Seattle area are not as bright as a whole when compared to the primarily white population to the north?

Further, are you also suggesting that only the offspring of science/software-"techy" people are bright enough to feed into the APP programs? Surely there are humanities type parents who have bright kids-why should only the "hotspots" include techy parent enclaves?

What exactly are you trying to say?

Not a robot

TechyMom said...

I am saying that the university, biotech and engineering workforce has a larger percentage of gifted adults than other industries, and so it makes sense that there is a larger percentage of gifted children in the neighborhoods where they live.

The university employs many people who work in the humanities.

I expect you would see a similar cluster around any university in the country, and around any large employer that selects for high-IQ.

Anonymous said...

Techymom,

I think the jury is out on understanding the brain, which is why Obama is opting for a brain map. We are in the caveman stages of neurology. There is nothing definitive about intelligence, but the studies of how environment affects genetics is promising. Therefore, I think one has to be very careful to assume that parental achievement causes intelligence and vice versa. It certainly creates substantial advantages in terms of preparation. There is clearly a bias indicated in test results unless one adheres to a eugenics model. That is the point that I believe was missed. It's not about zip code or parental job or what the latest identifying model is/or has been, but the fact that there is a serious racial basis in identifying these students, as well as the given socioeconomic disparity.

@Sue P.

While I do not imply that you prepped your kids intentionally, it is a fact that well educated parents are prepping their kids for school all the time. Should that get them removed from their peers when they get to public school? I say no, except in cases like special education students who on the severe end of the spectrum are removed from their peers all day.
I think parents like you should be advocating for a special education model in their neighborhood schools instead.

I am happy to announce that I don't have a bias against gifted children, having taught many over the years to rave reviews by parents. You didn't need to go there to make your point. If you are against charter schools because they infringe on the "public" in public schools, then I hope you can see that a highly segregated population is doing a similar disservice to public schools in the name of a highly inflated APP population.

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

By the same token, I would expect hotspots of autism-spectrum disorder among science/software-"techy" people. ASD runs in families of scientists, mathmeticians and musicians. Does the map show that?

Maybe they are all undiagnosed or not served. One of the irksome bugaboos in our district is that parents of a 2E child are made to choose between special education services and APP.

TechyMom said...

mirmac,
I would too, like the ones found in this study, or this wired article about autism in silicon valley. I also remember reading about an autism hotspot near an IBM facility on the east coast somewhere, but can't find it now.

And, I think you're right. I know several affluent parents of 2E kids who have them in ALO and Spectrum with private tutoring for their special ed needs, because it is hard to get both services, or in private school. These kids are off the books for special ed.

mirmac1 said...

And I would venture there are many non-affluent parents with 2E (or 3E!) kids in the southend who, because of lack of resources, self-advocacy skills, and/or overidentification find their student in a special education setting with lowered expectations.

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

enough,
thank you, that makes sense. I agree that the tests aren't fair, and that's something that we should be working on. It's also a problem for 2E kids, as mirmac points out.

I think we should have different solutions for high-achieving vs. very high IQ. Kids who are approaching 3 standard deviations from norm on IQ need something different, and often have trouble forming friendships with kids who are closer to norm.

For high-achieving kids, I like differentiated learning,. However, it's pretty hard to do with the large class sizes we currently have, especially if you have a wide range of abilities in a single class (above and below grade level). My own child is in an ALO classroom, which is working quite well for us, but our school has a high percentage of advanced learners, as we live in that hotspot. I'm not sure it would work as well in a school with fewer advanced learners or a wider range of achievement in the same class.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sick of Auctions, no, it was not mentioned how often parents are paying for the art programs in our schools. It was vaguely mentioned about the IAs for some of the immersion schools (and Sherry looked worried).

It was broadly stated that many "grants" are actually coming from parents (but not arts in particular). I believe the budget totals include all schools.

NE Mom, no, your catches were not mentioned. I would have thought that Harium or Sharon might have seen those but it wasn't like they discussed every school.

More to come.

kellie said...

There seems to be a fundamental mis-connect on what a heat map is supposed to show.

Heat maps are visual representation of the intersection of two things. As they are designed to display the intersection, that means there are many things they are not showing.

Moreover, none of the maps have truly empirical data as they are designed to display relative data. In other words, the empty spaces do not have have ZERO students, it is just relatively fewer than the high density areas.

It is not at all surprising that areas that have a high percentage of English language learners would also NOT have a high percentage of students that test in the top percentiles of a test that is given in English. Does that mean there aren't smart people there as well? No it simply means that the area that have high test scores of a test given in English also have a higher percentage of native speakers of English.

Finally, none of the programmatic heat maps give you any real data unless they are compared to a baseline. If you look at the baseline map which would be the K enrollment heat map, you can see that pretty much all of the high density area for programs are ... the high density areas for students.

The data that is truly interesting or meaningful would be the place where there are high clusters of a particular program that is significantly different from the overall enrollment patterns.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To build off what Kellie has said, Director Martin-Morris, in his anger, thought that the map was saying there were no eligible students in the southend for AL. (Unfortunately, no one told him that was the wrong way to read the map including Bob Vaughan.)

I have previously written that there ARE tests that are geared to ELL and new immigrant students that are visual rather than written. It can be done but is the money there.

One snappy comment DeBell made even after Martin-Morris spoke out was somewhat dismissive, "Thisis just 2% of the students, I have to worry about the other 98%." That's true but why have ANY program if it is going to be inequitable, incoherent and less than helpful to the students it serves?

A-mom said...

Enough Said:
"Going to a neighborhood school model without planning for the inevitable inequalities was unethical, to put it mildly. Playing catch-up will not work.
The results will only change if the boundaries are gerrymandered and certain magnet programs are reinstated city-wide."

I agree.

To support transportation for magnet programs and option schools we need more funding.
Co-pay for transportation?
A hub system (more kids per stop) so that routes take less time and fuel?

Charlie Mas said...

In September of 2011 the Board demanded a program placement framework. Dr. Enfield and the staff asked for and got a year to work on it. They had a September 2012 deadline.

In September 2012 no work had yet begun on the framework and the Board extended that deadline for Mr. Banda and his staff to April.

The Framework is supposed to be complete by the deadline. This barely starts the discussion.

If anyone on the Board has any interest in accountability this failure to meet the deadline cannot go unmentioned.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

I'm curious, what are you looking for in a framework? Definition to guide. Check. Guiding priority. Check. A gap analysis wouldn't be part of the framework yet the district did it. I realize what was presented was high level, but doesn't it guide the district to first make sure the basics and required services are covered before investing in boutique programs?

I agree with you about the missed deadlines specially as important as this topic.

A Friend

Benjamin Leis said...

@A-Mom

While transportation logistics and the costs associated with it make up a piece of the problem here, I think the more fundamental issue is how option programs interact with capacity management. Even assuming you could just bus everyone for free, there is no excess space in the existing option schools and not really any excess buildings or space around to spin up new ones either. What construction the district is planning will not even fully solve the capacity issue for general education.

For example, let's say JSIS was converted and 100 students accepted in from outside the current attendance area. Since the school is full that means 100 students have to be placed somewhere else. At the same time every surrounding school is already full and there is no space for a surge.

Melissa Westbrook said...

A Friend, I think staff needed to at least put forth an idea of how it should all play out vis a vis Enrollment. They didn't. In lieu of that (and after repeated requests), the Board should do it themselves.

Also, you hit on a divide on the Board - funding academic assurances at all schools versus supporting popular programs.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I respectfully disagree. What was presented is a framework. Now it is up to the Board, as you alluded to, to decide whether they accept this framework. Implementation of the framework comes after the decision. I do see Academic Assurances as a high priority on the budget slides which tells me the district means business. Will the Board unite? Time will tell.

A Friend

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, President Smith-Blum asked, twice, if it was a framework and there was a lot of demurring. While this is good information, I'm not sure I see a clear framework vis a vis the SAP.

Since the SAP changed from choice to neighborhood, that piece is vital.

mirmac1 said...

I saw no academic assurances for students receiving special education services...? Only keening and wailing. Essentially laying the groundwork for further deterioration of services. But, hey, those popular programs will be funded.

Jan said...

I have never been a devotee of the "enough already" line of thinking that says APP and/or Spectrum are riddled with kids who did intense test prep to pass the COGAT or achievement portions of the tests. Assuming I am right (so they are not "faking" brilliance to get it), I am also not aware of any solid research that suggests that, short of eating lead paint, or getting a TBI, anything that happens that makes gifted kids NOT gifted later on. So -- except with respect to kids who are "counseled out" of the program because they are not doing well in it (and yes, this happens), I don't lose sleep over kids unjustifiably getting in.

I DO lose sleep over unidentified gifted kids (particularly 2E, or ELL kids -- but also just kids dealing with poverty and a whole host of issues that may delay language development, access to enrichment activities, etc. -- that cause them to never be tested, or to do poorly enough on the tests that they are not properly identified as gifted.

While it is possible to test kids with nonverbal tests that indicate intelligence regardless of language issues, I don't believe the MAP (our current gateway) is such a test. As a result, who knows how many gifted kids grow up in homes with no books and no exposure to art, science, etc. --and thus go unidentified? I know of a family where the kids have (or read) no books at home, and where they claim their gramma keeps the tv on all day -- tuned to professional wrestling if she can find it, or various reality tv shows when she can't. How much MORE gifted than other gifted kids would they have to be to get noticed from a family like this? How many of the "average gifted" kids who should be in APP, or at least in Spectrum and/or ALO programs do we miss, because they simply grow up with fewer opportunities to learn?
AND -- when you GET them into an APP class, which is where they should be because they have the same IQ and the same learning issues -- are they really "two years ahead" of the curriculum? Are our APP classes ready to teach gifted ELL kids whose English is not proficient, 2E kids, or a gifted child who -- due to poverty and/or homelessness --has never read a book or known food security? I worry that we almost totally miss this largely invisible population.

Anonymous said...

A timely article that touches on achievement gaps and literacy:

Talk to Me Baby

parent

mirmac1 said...

"Are our APP classes ready to teach gifted...2E kids,"

We have established that they are not, by design. The NSAP codifies that a child must be either/or, not both.

I wonder how this contributes to the mindset that students in special education are not worth effort, that they should be warehoused or tracked into low-expectation courses, particularly at the secondary level. Here our district fails miserably. MAP data demonstrates that, after tracking closely up 'til the 4th grade, by the eighth grade, special education students are nearly 5 grades below grade level.

FRL vs NFRL Predicted_Grade_Level_ SpecEd & BiL vs Reg Ed

Anonymous said...

The point Enough is making is quite simple. Segregation is a disservice to students. The idea of segregated AL - should be that it is for students who absolutely can NOT be educated inclusively, and not that it is something we should hold out for "as many students as possible." Creating a huge entitlement and segregated track is not best practices though it placates those who really hold racial and classists ideals. Regular classrooms should work for as many students as possible with universal design and differentiated instruction. Enough is right on. The whole idea that charters impoverish the rest of the district is exactly the same problem as segregated AL. But somehow, AL parents think they deserve it.. and charter school families don't.

If the norm in Seattle for smart people is really "oh so large", because of the "oh so smart tech and university residents", then the regular classroom should be fine because it the norm will be higher. If SPS's intelligence quotient is truly higher - then the bar for gifted program should likewise be higher. Since APP is now serving about 5X the number it should, ostensibly because people in SPS are 5X smarter than the rest of the country - then lets set the bar for segregated programs at 5X national norms.

It's ridiculous to "lose sleep over unidentified giftedness". Much better to lose sleep over the failure to provide advanced learning opportunities to as many as possible through inclusive education. Why do we have to identify "giftedness" in order to provide advanced learning? That's crazy. There's never going to be a perfect "identification" of worthy students. Nobody should use that as an excuse not to educate to as high a level as possible.

-another parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Segregation is a disservice to students"...in your opinion. Okay?

How does AL impoverish a school? I don't get that.

I also disagree that these programs are an "entitlement."

I would actually agree that APP should be the top 1%. If there were ALOs, of quality and in EVERY school, even get rid of Spectrum.

But the main thing that HAS to happen is differentiation in the classroom - a teacher has to know how to teach and the curriculum must be able to be broken up to help each student at their potential. So on that Another Parent, we do agree.

However, to my view, teachers tend to teach to the middle. Mostly, it's not their fault and especially with larger classes and standardized testing. But it leaves high-achievers staring out the window or twiddling their thumbs. It's wrong.

I believe that there is change a 'comin'. I hope it's a new AL director and I hope it is clear and coherent.

Anonymous said...

I think you have some incorrect data. I have an incomng kindergartner, so have been looking at it. Sometimes on the charts people think "advanced learning" means app, but it's not. 2000 students are currently app qualified and enrolled in some advanced learning program, out of 50,000. About 4%. Which is in line with what you'd expect in a city with our education level and demographics. The cutoff is 2%, which is where every body currently researching puts the bar for children who will consistently learn differently/faster. I know you don't think it should exist at all, but assuming it does(and I do, not for racist reasons, thx, but because I have been in enough classrooms to believe differentiation is great...to a point. And then it fails, and kids don't get to learn.), these are the right numbers.

I also think these heat maps could have been really helpful in furthering outreach efforts, but they look so hyperbolic without looking at the baseline heat map it seems like they're just provocative. We should do an overlay, look at those differences, then focus.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...


"'Segregation is a disservice to students'...in your opinion. Okay?

How does AL impoverish a school? I don't get that."

Substitute APP for Charter and here are your answers:

From this blog 1/19/2012
By Melissa Westbrook

Why don't I support charter schools?
"Charter schools are...less likely to serve students in special education. They serve fewer homeless students.

This has a two-fold problem. One, the resegregation of our schools. Two, it puts more of the responsibility on traditional schools and the accompanying costs."

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

Segregation in general is a disservice to students. It should only be done when the benefits outweigh the costs. It should only be done for legitimate academic reasons, not as a matter of choice, preference, or racial bias.

That's the difference between creating self-contained classes for students with special needs and creating self-contained classes for students from families that choose to remove themselves from the general education classroom.

Even then, we should only make the decision to create a self-contained class when the benefits outweigh the costs. We want to preserve the least restrictive environment for all students.

The rationale for self-contained APP is predicated on the research that shows that children with cognitive abilities more than 1.5 standard deviations above the mean think differently from those closer to the mean. This is the source of the "top 2% nationally" idea. The state law allows districts to classify many more students as "highly capable". Further research has demonstrated that the inclusion of these children in a general education classroom has - on the whole - a detrimental effect not only on their progress, but on the progress of the other students in the class. Hence the self-contained delivery model acknowledged best by nearly all gifted education experts, and why APP is self-contained.

The APP enrollment exceeds 2% of the students locally because we are home to a fat tail as a result of being an urban center. People are not evenly distributed; they gather in cities and communities in a variety of cluster types.

Opposition to self-contained classrooms for APP are based in politics, not pedagogy.

This leads to the question about why Spectrum is self-contained. These students may not have cognitive abilities in excess of 1.5 standard deviations above the mean and the same rationale would not apply to them.

The rationale for Spectrum lies in the regrettable fact that advanced learners cannot be reliably served in our Standards-based general education classrooms.

Our classrooms are, in large part, devoted to bringing every student up to grade level standards. This focus leaves little time, attention, or effort to advancing students beyond Standards. Most Spectrum families can tell a tale of woe about how their child went essentially un-taught for a period. While this is likely to happen to all students briefly at one time or another, we're talking about things like kids going an entire year without learning any new mathematics. The Standards, intended in theory as a floor, function in practice as a ceiling.

Not in every school. Not in every classroom. But in enough that becomes detrimental - for everyone - for these children to remain in the general education classroom. For Spectrum, the rationale for self-contained is operational, not research-based.

There are, of course, a number of schools and classrooms where students working beyond Standards are well-served. APP- and Spectrum-eligible students remain at these schools in higher numbers than at other schools. Though qualified, their families choose not to participate in the programs because the schools have assured them that their child's academic needs will be met.

That's all that anyone wants - for their child's academic (and social and emotional) needs to be met. If it can happen at the neighborhood school, all the better. But if not, then they need another option. Not as a matter of choice or for segregation's sake, but to provide the child with an appropriate academic opportunity.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't regard the elements provided in this presentation as a framework.

First, while I see some frame, I don't see any work. This is not actionable. It does not, in fact, provide a guide for decision making any more than we already have from Policy 2200. I don't imagine that the data in this presentation will be used to designate Stevens, View Ridge, and Loyal Heights as the elementary APP sites (as the heat maps would suggest).

This presentation represents the start of a conversation is which we have barely defined the terms. The actual discussion was not advanced. Strictly speaking, the presentation did not even complete the discussion of the nomenclature. You'll notice that Montessori, language immersion, international, IB, and alternative instructional strategies have been put outside the discussion of equitable access by classifying them as "curricular foci". This, despite the fact that they were specifically included in the Board direction in September 2011 and in September 2012.

Can anyone read this presentation and say "Ah! Now I know how the District will make program placement decisions!"? I don't think so.

Charlie Mas said...

I was just looking at the presentation again and I noticed that the heat map for ELL and Special Education didn't match the distribution of students around the district.

Clearly the district isn't doing a good job of identifying ELL and Special Education students in certain neighborhoods.

observer said...

To clarify the APP threshold - it's 98% for CogAT, but 95% for MAP. If it were 98% across the board, both for CogAT and MAP percentiles, you may have a lower percentage of students deemed "highly capable." Part of the presentation mentions the need to evaluate the identification process. By using MAP, more students were identified as highly capable; but if they were to raise the thresholds, it may not have the effect that HMM and others want to see.

Anonymous said...

Some gifted children will not perform to a gifted level if they are not surrounded by other gifted children. Instead of lifting those around them in general ed, they drop to a lower level. I was one of those children. Being identified as gifted and sent to a gifted school saved me. Gifted children were selected for testing by two means, teacher recommendation which I did not have and by a standardized test we all took in 4th grade, Iowa Basic Skills test. Those kids who scored well on the test and/or were recommended by teachers, took an IQ test and the those that scored well above average went to gifted school. There is no way I would have done as well in life if I had not been pulled out for the gifted program. Some gifted kids will continue to excel in general ed but many will not and will grow bored and be disruptive.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

My Part two of the Work Session might flesh this out better with the Q&A from the Directors.

Enough Already, I would just say that charters are not like AL. It's quite the apples and oranges. There ARE twice gifted students in AL. Are there homeless students? I don't know but there is no discrimination in who takes the test or how it is scored for any student.

"..because the schools have assured them that their child's academic needs will be met."

Charlie's comment goes to the heart of what the Work Session came down to (and there were some early divisions among Directors).

Should the District seek to create academic assurances at EVERY school or forge on with popular and thriving specialty programs? (Don't say both because there isn't the money for them and there was also one key phrase used that showed that.)

mirmac1 said...

Let me guess:

""we have Board policy commitments we need to honor."

That trumps legal and moral commitments.

Anonymous said...

Charlie's comment at 4:55 AM -- yes! Exactly.

TC

Anonymous said...

My fears for my child are a return of the subtle (and not so subtle) ways that she would be discouraged from learning. Things I know have been said to her by adults, prior to her being in a classroom with similarly-matched peers:

"Stop showing off".
"You couldn't possibly understand that book; it's too complicated for your grade level".
"Don't overthink that math problem."
"Finished early again? Just find something to do while I help the rest of the class."
"Please write shorter reports next time, and focus on better penmanship."
"Stop reading that book in class, and start reading this (simpler) book."
"No, you have to solve the math problem the way I taught you (said about long division)."
"Pick a less boring topic."
"Your parent must have done that work/that research/that design/that project for you."
"Don't copy passages from books (she hadn't)."
"Stop doodling in class and pay attention (said after she'd already completed the worksheet being discussed).
"Your science hypothesis is too complicated, please make it simpler for your classmates to understand."

And this is the ADULTS talking, not the other kids. In a mixed classroom, without enough other similarly-matched kids, you hear and see this all the time, and the total net effect is deeply discouraging. I get that you may not see or hear such things, but for those of us who do,it is extremely demoralizing.

She began deliberately holding herself back and suppressing her interests, to better fit in with her existing classmates and to not piss off her teachers. I watched her internalize the messages: "don't be too into math", or "don't use too many big, sciency words", "don't read those big thick books", all of which go against everything our public education should stand for. When she was moved to a classroom that had enough students with similar learning styles, pacing, and general knowledge, she began to thrive again.

We would NEVER tolerate such messages on the other end of the spectrum. Bias is bias, and any messaging that shuts down a student's love of learning should never be tolerated.

I do not care if the classroom is self contained or not, some portion of the school day needs to be with kids who have similar learning styles, at either end of the spectrum. Given our current funding levels, there is simply no way to make our huge classrooms work without hearing statements just like this for kids anywhere outside the middle of the range. It is simpler, cheaper, and provably effective to provide targeted learning for at least part of the day, if truly fair and equitable education for each child is your goal.

DK

Anonymous said...

I filled out many a coloring book in 4th grade. I totally understand what your daughter went through DK.

HP

Anonymous said...

Right Enough Already. It's perfectly FINE to segregate for APP becuase they're really a lot more deserving than everyone else, and 1 study proved it... but as Melissa said.... charter school students aren't deserving. For them (and all the rest of us) resegregation is a bad thing. Only OK for advanced learning, and hopefully for as many as possible. Crack open the private tests!

370 rocear

Melissa Westbrook said...

370, you are confusing me.

What study are you saying "proved it?"

Where did I say charter school students "aren't deserving?"

I'll wait.

suep. said...

"Segregation" is a loaded term with a specific racial history. To use it in the context of advanced learning programs in SPS is buying into the spin of the advanced learning detractors.

If the critics on this thread are truly concerned about SPS schools being racially segregated, then why aren't they broadening their focus to include all the schools in the district where there is racial imbalance? There are numerous schools that are whiter and richer than the APP schools. Why aren't they raging against them? Instead they return to their obsession with gifted ed.

The irony is that, done right, APP/Spectrum, even ALO if it were consistent and meaningful, offers kids of all socio and ethnic backgrounds a chance to be academically challenged at their level, and within the affordable public education system. If Spectrum were more solid, arguably more advanced learners would stay in their neighborhood schools instead of being forced to pursue their academic needs at the APP schools. But the district has chosen to essentially dismantle Spectrum, taking away that option for these families.

@ another parent - All the positives that are claimed by charters should be allowed in all public schools, and with the oversight that is meant to come with it, as I stated earlier.

But charters have a troubling history of high attrition rates, high teacher turnover, racial segregation, and overall, not very good results. There are rational reasons to say no to charters. But what are you arguing for? They are now legal in Washington, so go ahead and sign up for one.

@ enough already - I didn’t go anywhere you hadn’t already gone. All I did was follow you through the thicket of your own thorny reasoning to the logical conclusion.

As for your bizarre obsession with charters, my children’s schools have all been part of the Seattle Public School system, subject to the mandates, overcrowding, whims and oversight of the district. Their classes have included kids with various needs. The schools they left to join APP are doing just fine without them. So your comparison is contrived and false.

By the way, who are you to say who my children’s peers are or that they aren’t among them in their current schools (and the other aspects of their lives)? You have no idea.

Parenting and test–prep are not the same thing. And test-prepped does not equal gifted. But, if a person were to follow your logic here, you probably aren’t going to like where this leads either, for you are essentially saying that giftedness comes from households where parents teach their kids at home, which therefore means that kids who don’t come from such households can never be gifted.

I don’t happen to agree with that. I believe there are innate abilities as well as nurtured ones. And sure, any child who is born into a nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment will have a leg up in the world, including academically. But that doesn’t mean that a child born into such an environment can’t also be highly capable by nature. And it doesn’t mean that a highly capable child can’t be born into a less stimulating environment, but nurtured intellectually outside of the home.

That’s the conversation I would rather have: How to reach and help those kids. Not, how to toss out, disparage, or repeatedly test a certain percentage of kids already in certain schools, just to suit some random anonymous blog commenter’s notion of social balance.

Anonymous said...

I will restate some points:

True giftedness is like special education and should be delivered in a similar model--self contained is best for a the cases where an inclusion model is not the best environment for the child.

SPS is not identifying giftedness correctly unless one ascribes to a eugenics model.

There is a difference between well prepared students and giftedness, and tests cannot be counted on to make this distinction. Many students in the APP program (and the similarly bloated programs in NYC and other places) are well prepared but do not fall into the research based definition of giftedness (which has certain characteristics of thinking, etc.)
They could and should be served in their neighborhood schools with enrichment.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/18/nyregion/new-york-city-schools-struggle-to-separate-the-gifted-from-the-just-well-prepared.html?pagewanted=all)

The very bloated APP program is segregated by race and income and, although there are plenty of 2E students, their disabilities as an aggregate in that program are less severe that in other schools.

This is definitely a political issue. Charlie's statement about giftedness is research generated but this district has a history of not using research to make decisions. The currently bloated APP is neither research based or fair.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I didn't find 'enough already's' point particularly offensive. As to the segregation usage, it was used at one school as a reason to do away with self contained spectrum. Ironically, some of the parents who supported doing away with self contained classrooms and such segregation practice have kids in APP now. It feels a bit odd when you bumped into these parents now at APP sites. But hey, more power to them.

There are talks about appeals and cut offs. But I don't think you are going to get parents to admit they prep kids in the open or how many times their kids went through CogAT testings to finally test in. I am not bothered by that as it just means parents are willing to do what they need to do to get the education they think their kids need. What it means to me is there are real advantage to parents who are well socialized about APP. APP culture and tone is changing as it expands.

CogAT is not an IQ test. And yes there are studies out there that do suggest using such measure to determine giftedness is not always reliable, especially when children are in kindergarten and among children who don't have the environmental exposure and/or are ELL, or 2E students Sue P. so eloquently stated. Many school districts now won't test kids until they are in 1st gr. and more and more in 2nd grade. Other school districts re-test between elementary school and middle school. And school districts with well thought out G & T program don't just use the CogAT as a measure.

As to wanting to do more to bring in kids that APP seems to miss, that's all good talk and that's the frustration I sensed from 'enough already's' posts. For the true outliers, I suspect parents of those kids are already looking at UW's program for early entrance.

hues

Anonymous said...

Enough Already -

Tru dat!

-EA2

Anonymous said...

Recommend reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers" over spring break. If nothing else, just read the first chapter and then let's talk equitable access.

hues