In Which Michael Tolley Reveals The Plan to Dismantle Advanced Learning

At the regular Board Legislative Meeting on Wednesday, May 1 there was a discussion of the proposed policy 2190, Highly Capable Services. You can watch the video here. Jump to 87:55 of part two for the start of the conversation.

First you will hear Shauna Heath speak carefully so that she does not equate Highly Capable Services with APP. At first, I attributed this to Ms Heath's distinctive prose style - obfuscation - and her instinctive reluctance to answer a question. Seen through that lens, her confusing response is only amusing.

However, what if Ms Heath's talk was intentional? What if she was intentionally making a distinction between highly capable services and APP? What if this is the first step to the introduction of another delivery model for Highly Capable Services?

Am I paranoid? Sure, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.

We get three big clues. The first comes when Ms Heath explains that, following conversations among the district staff, they unilaterally decided to change the name of the proposed policy from Highly Capable Program to Highly Capable Services. Whatever the official technical definition of "program" and "service", the public perception is that services are provided to individual students within a general education classroom and programs have groups of students in their own classrooms.
This is completely beside the point, but I find it telling that Ms Heath can unilaterally change the language of the proposed policy all by herself but a Board member would have to put forward an amendment and get a majority vote of the Board for the same change. Who has the power here? Also, when Director Peaslee talks about edits she suggested for the policy, Ms Heath's response was "I did receive your edits and we will take a look at that." again, making it clear that staff, not the Board, is writing policy. Another linguistic quirk of Ms Heath - I've noticed that she really likes using the royal "we".
The second clue comes when Director Carr asks Ms Heath if there was an overall plan for Advanced Learning. She didn't hesitate. She said that she would be prepared to bring forward that plan in fourteen days. Really? This District has dithered and dithered about developing a vision for Advanced Learning but now Ms Heath tells us that it is done and she's ready to share it with the Board in two weeks. She even described it as "visual" and "more broad". Ms Heath clearly has something specific in mind.

In answer to questions, Ms Heath says that the Superintendent's Procedures will govern Spectrum and other advanced learning programs and services - despite the fact that the proposed policy only authorizes the superintendent to write procedures for the student identification process. They are clearly staking out their authority to make these decisions without the Board. And they are clearly moving forward with these decisions without any engagement with stakeholders.

The third and clearest clue lies in Ms Heath's careful refusal to equate highly capable services with APP - listen to how she answers the questions that start at 90:42.
Director Peaslee: So then, to go back to your comment that I didn't understand. You said that this addresses what's called for in the WACs - in the laws. So, does that cover all of our Advanced Learning programs, or does it only cover APP, or does it cover APP?
Ms Heath: So, the law covers 2.34% of students as far as a funding source and that was what we referenced in the equitable access framework and that's the same thing we're referencing here.
Director Peaslee: So that's essentially our APP program, right?
Ms Heath: Essentially.
Director Peaslee: So this policy only has to do with APP. Is that correct?
Ms Heath: It has to do with that definition under the federal and state law, yeah. So it's state law in this case, the RCWs and the WACs. Again, the procedures that are built out can address those more specific.
Director Peaslee: Okay, so the equitable access plan will address all of the Advanced Learning opportunities, but not necessarily this policy. Is that - I'm trying to figure out what the relationship between this policy and all of our Advanced Learning programs.
For reasons I described earlier, this weird obfuscation would not, by itself, be much of a clue. But when Mr. Tolley steps in and takes over the microphone we hear him make the same distinction. Here is what he said (jump to 92:04 to hear it for yourself):
Mr. Tolley: This is specifically referring to how we provide services to Highly Capable students. Current - our current service delivery model for highly capable students is our accelerated - well, we say APP. But the Accelerated Progress Program itself is not necessarily the only way that we can serve our students. As we discussed during the committee, we want to make sure that we also are training our teachers to provide focused instructional practices that better serve our students in that way. So that's one of the pieces that we added to this policy to emphasize that we need to insure that our teachers are using practices that benefit all of our highly capable students.
So, this policy is specifically referring to the services that are required by law but it doesn't prevent us, of course, from continuing to provide services to other students through our Spectrum and our ALO programs. 
Director Peaslee: But this policy does not address those programs. Is that correct?
Mr. Tolley: That's correct.
Director Peaslee: Thank you.
Now go back and listen to the entire exchange with this in mind. Ms Heath answers Director Peaslee's first question by telling the Board that Highly Capable Services are provided through ALOs, AP and IB - which is true. These are services that APP students can and do access. She clearly includes these among Highly Capable Services. Mr. Tolley jumps in to make just two points: 1) APP, which he referred to as our "current" service delivery model, isn't the only way to serve Highly Capable students and 2) We're going to train every teacher to address the needs of Highly Capable students. What does that suggest?

To me, it suggests that the district staff intends to significantly reduce APP and eliminate Spectrum and ALOs. They intend to replace them both with a sort of ALO in every classroom - although it won't be called that anymore - which is accessed as Tier 2 of MTSS. Students working beyond Standards will be served in general education classrooms through differentiated instructional materials and instructional practices - Tier 2 of MTSS. This is the plan for how the District will serve all students. Go back to the video and listen to Ms Heath and Mr. Tolley again with this in mind. Review policy 2200 with this in mind. Review the Equitable Access Framework with this in mind. The District will train our teachers - all of them - on how to address the needs of advanced learners through instructional strategies and some alternative instructional materials, maybe some small group instruction, maybe pull-outs or push-ins. It will be handled as Tier 2 of MTSS for advanced learners. That's the new model.

Don't believe me? Take a look at slide 45 of Equitable Access Framework:
Highly Capable Next Steps
  • Evaluate the student identification process
  • Evaluate the current service delivery model (current model requires additional funding)
  • Revise Board policy
  • ALO supported by professional development for differentiated instruction
They are already at the third step - they have revised the Board policy.

And what's the fourth step? ALOs.

Oh, what's that you say? When did they evaluate the student identification process? When did they evaluate the current service delivery model? Don't worry, they did. You just weren't part of it, or informed of it. They can't show it to you because they didn't document it. Sorry. 

Upset that the superintendent and Ms Heath didn't discuss it with you? Concerned that they didn't discuss it with the Board? They did. They did it in committee and in the Equitable Access Framework presentation? Don't you remember? Anyway, they don't have to. The superintendent has the authority (under F21.00 and 2200) to close any program he wants. Spectrum is screwing up their enrollment planning. Having all of the kids together gives the families an identity and a voice to agitate for authentic services. It also makes it too easy to demonstrate that the programs aren't working well. By spreading them out across all of the schools and making every student's program essentially an individual program they will completely wipe away the community and the ability of the community to petition collectively for authentic services. After this practice is implemented, they will only have to deal with individual cry-baby parents - who can be easily discredited and dismissed.

Students who reach Tier 3 of MTSS will get diverted into a program like APP to meet their needs, but that will be the access path. That's why the proposed policy specifically authorized the superintendent to write procedures for student identification. The days of self-selection and testing will be over, although diagnostic tests will be part of the MTSS evaluation process, you will have to rely on the teacher to refer the student to the program through the MTSS process. You will have to rely on the principal to oversee the teacher's referrals. Kids who don't demonstrate high ability on MAP tests or MSP will never be identified.

Here's the funny part of all of this. If I could trust the district and the schools to implement this well, I would totally support it. The problem, of course, is that I have absolutely no confidence in either the district's nor the schools' ability to implement this well. And I believe that they will eliminate the current plan and switch to this one before it's ready.


Anonymous said…
When do you think they would implement this change? Next fall? The one after? What would happen to kids currently in lower elementary grades of APP? Or identified already but in neighborhood schools? Will they grandfather them into the self-contained APP?


Anonymous said…
Not surprised. Seemed like it was headed this way.
Charlie Mas said…
The timing has been reported as MTSS fully implemented by 2015-2016.

I think those students already in APP would remain in APP until the MTSS process determines that they are not Tier 3. Part of MTSS is frequent monitoring to assess the continuing need for intervention.

Spectrum students will start as Tier 2 students and can stay in their assigned schools until they age out. But the self-contained classrooms at Lafayette and Whittier - the only two schools that have them - will be dissolved.

The same for the middle school APP students and Spectrum students. They will be allowed to remain in their assigned schools and they will start in Tier 3 and Tier 2, but they could be re-evaluated out of those Tiers in the future. The Spectrum LA/SS classes will be dissolved.

APP assignment to Garfield will end. There is no Tier 3 service high school because the Tier 3 service will be available at EVERY high school as an academic assurance. I'm not sure what will happen to IBX at Ingraham, but it could be regarded as a Tier 3 service. In that case, Rainier Beach and Chief Sealth may also offer IBX as their Tier 3 service.

The whole transition should be done in two years. Within that time any current elementary APP students who are evaluated out of Tier 3 will return to their attendance area school for Tier 2 service and any APP middle school students will age out of the building.
Charlie Mas said…
Here is the MTSS update delivered to the Board on April 26.

It ends with:
"This will guide the professional development support Central Office provides for the expansion of Tier II and Tier III interventions in 2014-2015."

I think that means full implementation the following year.
Anonymous said…
They're going to send elementary APP kids who don't meet the new requirements back to their attendance area school??? Insert expletive here. Really, please tell me I read that incorrectly.

- Martha
Charlie Mas said…

An integral element of MTSS is frequent monitoring and fluid movement between Tiers. Any student in Tier 3 that, upon evaluation, no longer needs Tier 3 intervention, will be moved to Tier 2.

Stop thinking in terms of the current delivery model and think in terms of MTSS and all of the answers will be clear.

Every comprehensive middle and high school will offer Tier 2 and Tier 3 services. The distribution of Tier 3 services among elementary schools will be analogous to the current distribution of SM3 and SM4 programs.

There won't be any more cohorts.

No Spectrum cohorts at all. Every attendance area school will offer Tier 2 services to students who will not be clustered into a single classroom, though they may come together for small group instruction if that's the model the school chooses.

The Tier 3 students will not appear in numbers much greater than a class at each grade level at most middle schools (except in the known hot spots) and a class at each grade level at fewer than half of the elementary schools (except in the known hot spots).

I don't think you'll be able to identify the Tier 2 or Tier 3 students at the high schools, except that IBX will likely be the Tier 3 service at Ingraham, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach.
Anonymous said…
I really hope you are wrong Charlie. Unless class size drop to 20 or so, neighborhood schools won't be able to meet the academic needs of APP students. There's no funding for that. Even if that were possible, our local elementary school will have one, maybe two APP kids per grade. There will be no peer group to help these kids develop the social skills required for a productive, happy life.

What can we do now to prevent this? And what will parents do with their kids if APP is dissolved? Homeschool? And why should we have to do that if there is a way the school district could meet their needs with no more cost than a general education program?

Anonymous said…
I too would support it if it really happened, and I too, am skeptical of success. You are also probably right that implementation timetables are the key to success.
Banda needs to think about sending kids back against their parents wishes, if he is indeed considering that tack.
There are many ways to alter entrance to APP, it could easily be cut it to the 2.3 % figure, I am curious , though, how subjective factors could effectively veto one's eligibility despite adequate test scores. I think tests have to be the gatekeeper.

Charlie Mas said…
Here's a list of the predictable impacts:

1. Student identification through screening and diagnostic assessments, not self-selection and testing. Student families will not have to navigate a bureaucratic process for their children to qualify for the service and they will not be able to volunteer their student for the service. Student families will not have a role in identification.

2. Selection based on suitability with curriculum rather than cognitive ability and academic achievement. The rigor will be available for every student who can succeed with it, without regard to their score on a psychometric assessment.

3. No big testing process or appeal process. Less cost, less drama, and (hopefully) fewer claims of unfairness.

4. The money from the state grant can be spent in the classroom instead of on assessments. The grant will pay for a lot of professional development and perhaps for some smaller class sizes and more individual instruction for those in Tier 3.

5. No Spectrum - just something that looks like ALO (Tier 2) and something that looks like APP (Tier 3). There are only three Tiers in MTSS, not four, and only the top Tier is served outside the general education classroom.

6. No ALOs either. They will continue, but as Tier 2 service for individual students rather than a school program. This means no more self-selection for participation in ALOs, but this isn't part of most ALO programs anyway.

7. No grouping of students in Tier 2 in schools or classrooms. They will each be served individually instead of as part of a learning community or a cohort. They will distributed across classrooms instead of clustered. This will reduce political opposition to the service from those who regard it as segregationist. There will be no school or class community of Tier 2 students and it will be difficult for their families to organize politically or across school boundaries.

8. Smaller cohorts of students in Tier 3. Each comprehensive middle school and high school will provide Tier 3 service. Elementary service will be available at multiple sites in each service area, but probably not at every school. See the distribution of SM3 and SM4 program sites for a rough analog. Again, this will make it difficult for them to organize politically.

9. All Tier 2 elementary students served in their attendance area schools. This means students get served close to home. Reduced transportation costs. A significant number of elementary Spectrum students are locked out of the designated Spectrum site in their service area anyway. For them, this means getting service instead of not getting service.
Charlie Mas said…

10. No more Spectrum wait lists. Tier 2 students who could not gain access to a Spectrum program in the current model can be assured of access and service in their attendance area school through MTSS.

11. Many more students served in general education classrooms. All of the students now in ALOs and Spectrum will be in Tier 2 and a good number of those now in APP will likely fall into Tier 2 as well.

12. Many elementary schools will offer Tier 3 service. Geography and travel will less of an impediment to participation.

13. All middle and high school students in Tier 2 and Tier 3 will be served in their attendance area schools. Every comprehensive middle and high school will offer both Tier 2 and Tier 3 services. This will take enrollment pressure off Hamilton, Washington, Ingraham, and Garfield.

14. No more APP assignment to Garfield, though Garfield, like all comprehensive middle schools and high schools, will have to develop some kind of Tier 3 service, probably with AP classes. IBX at Ingraham is a Tier 3 service. Chief Sealth and Rainier Beach might also develop an IBX as their Tier 3 service.

15. Students could be moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 or from Tier 2 to Tier 1 during the school year with little trouble. Greater fluidity in both directions.

16. Students could be moved in and out of Tier 3 at year-end in accordance with the frequent monitoring intrinsic to MTSS. Greater fluidity in both directions.

17. The identification for Tier 2 can be in a single domain, math and not literacy, for example, without requiring a Tier 2 identification in both domains for eligibility. Students working beyond grade level in a single domain will get service instead of being denied as they are in the current model.

18. The District will have to think very hard about what universal screening and diagnostic tools to use. If they seek students working beyond grade level they may identify very few low-income students for Tier 2 or Tier 3. The opportunity gap limits these students' exposure to instruction outside of the Tier 1 curriculum. They will not show up as working beyond the grade level material because have not been taught anything beyond the grade level material. Representation of African-American students, ELL students, Latino students, South Pacific Islander students, students with disabilities, and students from low-income households will be even lower than it is now. Unless, of course, the district staff has a plan to address this flaw in the identification procedure.
Charlie Mas said…

Not every neighborhood elementary school would have a Tier 3 advanced program. For an analog take a look at the distribution of SM3 and SM4 special education programs. You can find a map in the Equitable Access Framework presentation or a table in the annual Program Placement report.

APP students, that is to say Tier 3 students, would not be in the general education classrooms. They would be gathered into program sites all around the district.

APP will not be dissolved. Spectrum will be dissolved; APP will only be fractured and scattered.

MTSS does not think in terms of cohort or critical mass for viability because it is centered around individual students, not groups of students.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for clarifying, Charlie. I am thinking specifically of the kids who are in early grades at APP at Lincoln right now (or are moving to APP at Lincoln in the upcoming year). These kids would be "evaluated" during the upcoming school year (or next), some students would potentially be found to not qualify for Tier 3, and then be moved again - to an attendance area elementary school, for the balance of their elementary school years - is that correct?

- Martha
Charlie Mas said…
What can we do to prevent it?

I'm not sure that's the proper attitude to bring. I think the right attitude would be something more like:
What can we do to make sure that the District doesn't do this badly?
What can we do to make sure the District addresses the obvious flaws in this plan before they move forward with it?

We can, and definitely should, demand transparency and daylight the plan. We can demand authentic engagement about the plan - with all of the stakeholders.
Charlie Mas said…

Yes. Any student in APP though the current qualification process is at some risk of being evaluated as not needing Tier 3 intervention under the new process. In that case the student would return to their attendance area school and receive Tier 2 intervention, whatever it is at that school.

It is, however, possible that APP @ Lincoln could retain the students and offer them Tier 2 services at Lincoln until they age out. Let's remember that APP @ Lincoln is a school, not a program, and it is capable of housing multiple programs.

That, I think, would be a good compromise option.

Some families, I suspect, would choose to bring their child back to their attendance area school for Tier 2 service rather than leave them at Lincoln for that same service.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's a funny thing.

It could be possible that as many as 25 out of 30 students in a class could be getting the Tier 2 service. There are some schools where high performance is wide-spread.

With MTSS there is no cap on the number of students getting an intervention.
Anonymous said…
I don't think there is a way to do this well. So Denny middle school (and one elementary school in Denny's zone) will have 9 or 10 APP kids served outside of the general classroom? So self-contained? That's not going to decrease resentment from other parents. These 9 or 10 kids will move in and out of the self-contained classroom as someone (their principal?) determines their needs are met? We all know there are plenty of principals who don't believe these kids ever have academic needs that can't be served outside the general ed classroom.

Self-contained neighborhood programs could work for students in the Eckstein, Whitman and Washington zones, but there aren't sufficient numbers anywhere else. This is worse than the APP split the north end is anticipating - not only does the cohort shrink, but your child can be moved out even if you believe they need the program.

Anonymous said…
I thought APP at Lincoln is a program, not a school.

Some kids who are in APP at Lincoln did not come from an attendance area school. Some came from SPS choice/option schools or from private schools. Having to attend 3 different schools during K-5 is undesirable, to say the least. Let's hope (demand?) that Tier 2 is available at Lincoln or that they let the Lincoln kids age out.

- Martha
Anonymous said…
What a load of crap, and fiction. Are the woes of AL the only blogging topic? MTSS is not an AL framework. It has nothing to do with AL, nor is there any AL in it.It is an extension of RTI, a nationally mandated framework for keeping students out of special education and to provide differentiated instruction. Instead of identifying every performance discrepancy as a disability, we look instead to the instruction students are receiving and changing that before a student's performance rises to the level of special education. Big deal. And exactly what we would all hope for. Has your kid been in a school with RTI? Mine has, and no, there's no AL in there.

Charlie Mas said…
parent, I wrote to Ms Heath and asked her if MTSS will be used to meet the needs of advanced learners and she wrote back to say that it will.

Here is her email response to me:

"Thank you very much for the email and bringing up important concerns related to MTSS and students performing above grade level. I can assure you that the inclusion of students performing above grade level standards has been a focal point of our conversations related to MTSS. The term “diverse learners” was intended to include advanced learners and this should have been stated more explicitly in the update. One of the main reasons the district chose to use the term MTSS (vs. the commonly used Response to Intervention) is that we felt this better reflected a framework intended to address the needs of all students, whether performing below, at or above grade level. We are currently working to clarify our identification and supports for advanced learners, and our MTSS lead will be working closely with our Advanced Learning department to ensure the needs of these students are clearly identified and addressed in the development of the district framework and professional development support provided to staff. As we move forward, we will make certain to be more clear in articulating this inclusion of advanced learners."

I think that's pretty clear.
Charlie Mas said…
I will say this about using MTSS for advanced learners:

The MTSS framework is designed with struggling students in mind. It has a goal of restoring students to Tier 1.

Of course, for advanced learners, that would not be a goal, would it?

So how will the object of MTSS be altered for advanced learners? Students will only have to stay ahead of grade level to continue to qualify for the service. And, since they will be taught an accelerated curriculum, one that is ahead of grade level, that shouldn't be a problem.
Anonymous said…
Based on the proposed changes to the policy, and its absolute vagueness, it's not a stretch to think changes are coming to AL. Why can't they articulate how those "services" will be defined and delivered, in conjunction with the policy rewrite? That's what gets me concerned. Either they're still making it up, or they know that there will be pushback. Either way, it puts me on edge. Over the years, various teachers and principals have expressed outright disdain of both Spectrum and APP, which I don't think will go away simply by calling the program or services by another name.

paranoid parent
Charlie Mas said…
I have sent messages to members of the Board and to Dr. Vaughan urging them to engage the stakeholders in this plan. They have already gone further than they should have gone without engagement, but the choice isn't to go back or start now, the choice is to either start now or delay further. Given that choice, they should start now.
Anonymous said…
@ parent,

I think your response is really valid but mis-directed to the blog. For some reason, SPS seems dedicated to re-inventing the wheel and re-purposing things that actually work to topics that for which they were never intended to work.

The MAP test could be perfectly valid if used as intended. However, it is now used for all of these off-label purposes. I can absolutely imagine that sps decided to take something that works in one area and apply it to a real or perceived problem in another area.

I agree with Charlie. He likely is paranoid on this topic. But that doesn't mean he is wrong.

- north seattle mom
Watching said…
The state provides funding for APP transportation. The district wanted to eliminate APP transportation from the budget. It appears the district is sending a very clear message.

I will be very disappointed if this course comes to pass.

This is NOT the signal I have been getting from several people in the district that I have spoken with on AL.

Most of all, giving parents no input until after all the planning is done? Bad form.

I'm not sure Ms. Heath and Mr. Tolley have truly seen APP parents in action. And, if you add in Spectrum parents, well, it will be interesting to see how parents react.
Lori said…
I'm rushing out the door but wanted to just remind everyone that certain Board directors have publicly stated their desire to see elementary APP offered in 5 sites based on geography (NW, NE, central, SE, SW) both for "equity" reasons and to save on transportation.

That would dovetail nicely into the proposed scenario where most students are served locally, and even those who need Tier 3 services are served closer to home than APP is for most families now. Not saying I support 5 locations in any way at all; just saying that that idea has been bandied about and works with the scenario Charlie has laid out.
Anonymous said…
I am nowhere near as involved in the inner workings of the district as Charlie or Melissa are, but I have been concerned something like this was in the works.

I may also be paranoid, but there has been much more talk recently of "serving kids where they live" coming from the district. We also seem to be seeing much less support from the district overall. Spectrum has been allowed to be dismantled over much of the district, no new location has been officially named for the north elementary APP kids, no word on how the district is going to fit all the kids into HIMS, etc. Coincidence? I don't think so. I think it's all part of whatever plan the district has. The NSAP is set to be reworked too, and now would be the time to change boundaries with new population counts.

Dismantling, re-working or however the district is going to phrase this, will impact almost every family in the district. If those kids come back to their neighborhood schools, how will that work? The View Ridge boundaries, for one, would have to be changed dramatically.

Anonymous said…
I went to Kay Smith Blum's community meeting specifically to ask her about this. As it happens, the floor was taken up by disproportionate discipline reduction advocates (with one question about inBloom), so I could only ask her as she was walking out the door what the proposed changes meant for advanced learning and APP. She said APP is a program, period. We did not make this change, we put a pin in it this idea, are having work sessions on advanced learning, but app is a program. She had to go, so I couldn't ask any more.

First off, isn't app under the control of the superintendent? Is this a turf war? Second off, what? I haven't watched the video- was there a plan to go back and think about this? I want a better feel for who actually gets to decide advanced learning policy. I thought the board had control over advanced learning policy for kids not in the "highly capable" (ie top 2%-app) definition covered by state law and federal grants, because those heavy mandates put them in the same bucket as sped and ell, under superintendent control.

I notice the proposed policy says "within budgetary limitations" while the old one does not. So advanced learning will be something we do in flush years? Like offering calligraphy classes? Cut first thing? Or is this boiler plate in the post McCleary era?

I can't imagine they would actually send Lincoln kids back, just for space reasons. I think they very literally could not fit all the Bryant and View Ridge kids back into their buildings.

Jon said…
If I read this correctly, the core of the plan is to change and heavily tighten the criteria to get into APP, then to try to do what Spectrum was supposed to do in the classroom with pull-outs, differentiation, and teacher training.

That plan isn't so bad, is it? The destruction of Spectrum in Seattle is a huge problem, and at least this is a plan to try to give better instruction to Spectrum-eligible kids. And APP has been getting too loose on entry and growing too fast, hasn't it?

Of course, the devil is in the details, and I have no confidence at all that the district will implement this in a way that is reasonable and actually helps kids. But the core of the plan isn't that bad, is it?
Charlie Mas said…
I think people should bear in mind the fact that the District claims that they right-size the attendance area for schools for all of the students who live in that attendance area - as if none of them were going to be assigned to any other school (for APP, Spectrum, ELL, Special Ed, alternative, or just choice).

I don't find that credible, but if it is, then they are ready for the students who would have left for Spectrum to stay in the building.

View Ridge and Wedgwood, because they are Spectrum schools, would get smaller, not bigger.

We can't be sure which elementary schools in the north would be sites for the Tier 3 advanced program, but the most likely candidates, based on the heat map and District politics, would be Sand Point with Bryant and/or View Ridge in the Eckstein service area, B. F. Day in the Hamilton service area, Whittier in the Whitman service area and maybe Loyal Heights as well, Lowell in the Mercer service area, Thurgood Marshall in the Washington service area, Hawthorne in the Mercer service area, Emerson in the Aki Kurose service area, Arbor Heights in the Denny service area, Lafayette in the Madison service area, and Coe or John Hay in the McClure service area.

That's mostly from the heat map but with some adjustments for space available and politics.

Remember that with this change the Spectrum schools will stop drawing students from a larger geographic area. The Tier 3 students will take seats that are now taken by Spectrum students in many cases.
Charlie Mas said…
sleeper, Board policies F21.00 and 2200 grant the superintendent total authority over program decisions. He can open them, close them, move them, grow them, shrink them, whatever he wants and he doesn't have to ask the Board's permission for any of it.

There is no power struggle - the superintendent has the power.

The policy for APP, D12.00, was suspended on January 29, 2009. It was never un-suspended. The proposed new policy only directs the superintendent to follow the law. It doesn't protect APP in any way (like the old policy did). There is no Board policy for Spectrum or ALO at all. None. They simply do not exist in policy and have no Board protection.

So the superintendent can do what he likes with APP and Spectrum.

Oddly, the superintendent does not have authority over ALOs, AP, IB, Early Entrance Kindergarten, or Honors classes. These are neither programs nor services. They meet the definition of a "curricular focus" in Policy 2200 and are therefore governed by site-based decisions.

That is, unless the District funds them, which it could do with HC grant money and call them part of the continuum of services for HC students. In that case they will fall under the superintendent's unilateral control.

The superintendent has the authority to institute these changes without a Board vote.
Charlie Mas said…
Jon, I don't know if the criteria for access to Tier 3 will be tighter or looser than the eligibility criteria for APP.

For a student to get moved to Tier 3 in MTSS, the Tier 2 solution has to be inadequate.

If the Tier 2 solution is one grade level advanced (as it will likely be), then a student just needs to be working two grade levels ahead to qualify for Tier 3.

Notice that this is all outcome-based. There is no questioning WHY the student is working two grade levels ahead. It could be high cognitive ability, it could be a strong work ethic, it could be intensive preparation. MTSS doesn't care why.
Charlie Mas said…
I will believe there are work sessions on advanced learning when I see a work session on advanced learning.

Actually, probably not even then because most of the work sessions aren't very substantive. The staff sucks up all of the time with a dog and pony in which they talk about what THEY want to talk about and then the Board is so poorly informed that they can't ask an intelligent question.
"I think they very literally could not fit all the Bryant and View Ridge kids back into their buildings."

This could be why they really want a bigger building at Thornton Creek (or their previous idea of two schools on one site). They need the room.
Anonymous said…
So under this system, take a 2nd grader, qualified for APP but stayed at the neighborhood ALO school, very much capable and willing to be working 2 grade levels ahead, but hasn't learned anything 2 grades ahead because no one is teaching it. (ALO schools don't even actually teach anything 1 grade ahead -- they just sling a worksheet!).

Are schools now going to be expected to reliably teach such a student the material that is 2 grades ahead so they can actually reach Tier 3? Or should we jump post-haste to APP so that we can learn enough to qualify for Tier 3?

This question has almost stopped making sense even to me.

Charlie Mas said…
Again, I don't know that any APP students will be sent back to their attendance area schools.

First, they probably all qualify for the Tier 3 intervention.

Second, they can get the Tier 2 intervention at their current school if the school offers (or, in the case of APP @ Lincoln, starts to offer) a general education program.
Anonymous said…
I actually don't hate this idea - in theory - as I have always thought the APP program included kids that didn't necessarily need it (mine included - as our kids were placed in the program coming from a different district based on their existing test scores so we didn't actively search out the placement and they are self-starters that adapt well and fit in socially with peers).

Being in middle school and now high school, our kids are doing just fine in their classes which include a mix of kids (although they are a very bored in a couple - but many high schoolers are "bored" so much of the time anyway :) Granted - their high school includes a large cohort of APP kids - so that certainly helps and may just disprove my point...

Anecdotally - a majority of my kids' friends are doing very well - with maybe 2-3 struggling due to social issues which I frankly associate with many of the top 1% of the top 1% - as I have witnessed their struggle to adapt in a social environment over the past few years and they probably would benefit from early graduation options.

APP should continue for those kids - but it would be much, much smaller (as we saw in our other school district which was equally educationally affluent to Seattle) - literally a handful of kids.

That being said - my kids did really need some kind of attention in elementary school. We were told when our son was in kindergarten that he wouldn't really be challenged until maybe 3rd grade when he would test into the GATE program - and that really wasn't ok. He certainly would have completely lost interest in school by then - so at the time we moved we were very happy with the APP option.

If SPS had done anything well during our tenure in Seattle, I might actually be excited about this development. However, with their historical bureaucratic paralyzation, vague messaging and refusal to listen to constituents, I don't hold out much hope of anything like this being successfully implemented.

-GHS Parent
Anonymous said…
Charlie, I think this is an irresponsible post. You have done good detective work and it is possible that something very similar to this is coming. It is also possible based on the evidence you presented that something somewhat similar is coming or that some folks in the administration want to do this but that it is undecided or unsupported by the majority of the administration. To spin it out as if the program is definitely happening and that you know all the details (a numbered list that goes up to 20!) is going to confuse and freak out a lot of people.

Charlie Mas said…
Ah, questions, you found the fuzzy lollipop.

On the good side, the Tier 2 interventions (what we now call ALOs), should offer more assurance of actual service at one grade level advanced. That is, they should, but there won't be anyone checking who isn't supposed to be checking now, so I don't see the reason for any confidence in this.

The principal and Advanced Learning are supposed to be confirming the legitimacy of ALOs, but they don't.

The principal and Advanced Learning will be charged with confirming the legitimacy of Tier 2 interventions, but I see no reason to believe that they will.

If your APP-eligible student now participating in an ALO isn't working two grade levels ahead, then it is unlikely that they will be referred to Tier 3.

I guess you could see that as bad news, but, in fact, you won't lose anything. Your child will probably continue to require Tier 2 intervention - which is what they are already getting - they will continue to get that Tier 2 intervention at their neighborhood middle school, and they will continue to get it at their attendance area high school. Your child won't "miss out" on middle school APP or high school APP because they will no longer exist.

AP and IB are the Tier 2 interventions at high school.
AMS, Charlie didn't say this is definitely happening. Could you cite the specific line that you believe confirms that?

He wrote his post in a careful way, showing the evidence for what he thinks. He says "clues" from the Equitable Access presentation lead him to his ideas.

Sorry but as district watchers with experience, we trying to be the canaries in the coal mine.

I think most adults can read and decide for themselves.
Charlie Mas said…
I just realized that the schools that will be most impacted by this change will be Eckstein and Roosevelt. All of those APP students who would go to Hamilton and Garfield under the current model will come back.

Eckstein will still be crowded even after they open Jane Addams.

Roosevelt will still be crowded after they open Lincoln High School.
Charlie Mas said…
Tell you what, ams.

Write a responsible post. Show me what it should look like.
Anonymous said…
I was freaked out. I'm not a frequent reader of this blog and didn't realize this post and some of the things in Charlie's comments were more predictive/theoretical and less definitively planned changes. Caveat lector. Definitely good to have the discussion.

- Martha
Anonymous said…
Charlie - this is in reference to your May 5 11:18 pm comment. I'm pretty sure that APP@Lincoln is considered a program - not a school. APP@Lincoln requested school status but the District denied the request.

Anonymous said…
Ugh, I don't know why SPS has the confidence that they can differentiate instruction in such a way that would serve all these learners! I certainly have not seen that demonstrated on the ground in most of my kids' classes. With all the NSF "kits" and the EDM curriculum and standardization, they have made that task even MORE challenging than it already was.

Consider this a vote of "no confidence" in this service delivery model. How about making sure the ALO program is an exceptional and consistent one before pushing it (or something like it) out to everyone, SPS?!

Keeping Tabs
Anonymous said…
So what would this do to the Ingraham IBX pathway?

Would be interested to hear what Kellie thinks of this speculation. Thoughts?

Eric B said…
I'm kinda confused here. Most of the changes that appear to be under consideration are ones that Charlie (and others on this blog) have advocated for years. Now that the District is actually doing what you're asking for, it's the demise of the entire program because you don't trust them to do it right?

Correct me if I'm wrong about any of these items, but from what I see above, the main changes are:

* APP students are tested annually to see if they are still working 2+ grades above level.

* Spectrum/ALO students are evaluated regularly to see if they belong in the program.

* Students will be served locally at their schools (except for an APP-like program for Tier 3).

* They're re-examining how they select students for advanced learning.

* They're trying to improve equity of access.

* They're giving PD to teachers to help them support ALO (presumably, differentiate instruction).

* They're finally getting their butts in gear and making a long overdue decision and revising policy that's old, not followed, and maybe not in legal compliance.

I do recognize a potential downside to having 5 APP sites in terms of maintaining a reasonable cohort size, but the title of this post could just as well have been "SPS gives us just about everything we've asked for on Advanced Learning!" You haven't even seen any of the plan and you've decided that they're trying to destroy APP and Spectrum.

Eric, you contradict yourself. You reference to Spectrum/ALO students when it appears there will be none.

I'm not holding my breath on that PD.

You say, "You haven't even seen any of the plan.." That may be true but, again, to district watchers like us, we see the signs, the code words and can see where this is likely going.

And, where was the input from parents and teachers?
Anonymous said…

With the current class sizes and a range of students from the most struggling to kids in the 97th percentile, do you imagine successful differentiation is possible?

Where is the money coming from for this professional development?

ALO schools and "cluster-grouping" Spectrum schools don't currently reliably differentiate instruction. Will givng differentiation a new name cause them to do it?


Eric B said…
@Melissa: the words ALO and Spectrum go away, replaced by MTSS Level 2, right? I used those names because they're what's familiar. ALO in particular is exactly what I understand this new system to be. You have a child with some advanced learning needs in a regular classroom, with the teacher differentiating instruction. If you have enough kids at that grade level, you have work groups that are fairly similar to spectrum.

@Lynn: Our elementary school has had multi-age classrooms for the decade that I've been there. If that's not differentiation in a classroom, I don't know what is. As it happens, the 3/4/5 classrooms (2 teachers each with all three grades in their classes sharing instructional time) were the ones the parents begged to get their kids into.

Where's the money coming from for PD is a great question. I just find it strange that Melissa was bemoaning the lack of differentiation PD a week ago, and now that it's promised says that she doesn't believe it'll really happen. Sure, I've seen the District not follow through on promises before. I just think that the right response to that is to ask for details and timelines rather than slagging off the whole plan because you don't think they'll follow through.
Anonymous said…
I don't get the assumption that only kids in the 99.99th percentile really need APP.

A kid can be in the 98th % and be quirky enough that he or she will find no friends in their neighborhood school.

If your kids would be happy and successful in your neighborhood school, keep them there. Please don't assume you are capable of making that determination for other students.

Not everyone wants their kids to graduate early.

"If you have enough kids at that grade level, you have work groups that are fairly similar to spectrum."

And you know this how? No, a small group of kids, working off somewhere is NOT Spectrum.

Eric, again, PD hasn't happened for differentiation for EXISTING general ed classrooms. And you want me to believe that now it's going to happen for every single teacher and classroom in this district? "Promised?" I've heard many, many such promises in the past.

No, I'm not buying into promises or assurances until I see them happening.

And no one is "slagging" off any plan - you yourself said we haven't seen one.

All Charlie did is use clues and code to extrapolate what might be coming.

Where is all this faith coming from, Eric?
Anonymous said…
The only thing Charlie did was send out an email asking if AL was going to be something like MTSS. Well duh. Of course they are going to say yes. Of course they are going to say we have to differentiate and provide extra's to everybody who needs it. (Would they say - "No, we're just going to suck and do nothing." ??? Would they say that ever?) In large classes what else would you do besides differentiate as needed? The idea that you can't "differentiate" in large classes is absurd. It's what absolutely MUST be done or the whole thing flops. There aren't 35 kids who are equal - ever. So, from this basic "apple pie" response - Charlie concocts a vision of what he thinks it MIGHT look like, based on nothing except apple pie banter that he drew out of the latest administrator. Yes it's irresponsible and alarmist, and more of the same special priviledge attitude... "Ohhh, we might get something similar to what every other family has, and what a calamity that would be."

Charlie Mas said…

APP @ Lincoln was a program when it was Lowell @ Lincoln. Now it is a school.
The evidence for its school status are:
It has a CSIP.
A P223 enrollment report for APP @ Lincoln was submitted to the OSPI.
Superintendent Procedure 2200SP defines a school as "School: A school is an OSPI-registered school defined by state statutes." The CSIP and the enrollment report makes me believe that APP @ Lincoln has been registered with the OSPI.
It wasn't a school last year, but it's a school this year.

@ Keeping Tabs, in a Tier 2 intervention it is common for the school to use alternative instructional materials in addition to alternative instructional strategies. Tier 2 and Tier 3 advanced learning may not use EDM, CMP II, Discovery, or NSF science kits. Sure, it might, but then again it might not. The decision rests with the school.

@ Wondering. Ingraham IBX wouldn't be changed at all. It would be the Tier 3 program at Ingraham.

@Eric B, You're right. I like this plan. I think it's a great plan. I have few small, easily dismissed concerns about the plan but no complaints about it.

But the plan will only be on paper. I am concerned about the District's willingness and ability to implement it in real life. Actually, more than that, I believe the District will completely screw it up. They make these plans as if they were completely unfamiliar with themselves. They rely on their weakest links.

It reminds me of how I liked most of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's plans when they were plans. But all of her implementations were disasters.
Parent, you obviously did not read Charlie's post.

It was not "banter that he drew out" - this was testimony by district staff in the position to make decisions.

Pity that so many skim instead of read.

And, when the day comes to pass that he is mostly right, will we see those of you saying he's "irresponsible and alarmist" come back and take back those words?
Charlie Mas said…
@ parent, let me clarify.

Ms Heath did not say that AL will be "something like" MTSS; she said that it will be MTSS.

She didn't have to say it. She could have said what the District has said for the past ten years: we need to take some time and develop a Vision for Advanced Learning. That's what Director Smith-Blum said.
Anonymous said…
Here's my take on differentiation in classes - it's great in theory, and perhaps it can also work really well in practice with smaller classes, with plenty of teaching assistants/aids in the classroom, with ample professional development and adoption of evidence-based best practices, and with teachers and administration that are highly motivated to make it work.
However, I don't see these factors reliably coming to a school near me any time soon. I just don't believe SPS has the will or the resources to ensure any of this takes place.
There a so many different ways to "differentiate" and there are pros and cons with all of them.
Some folks have mentioned mixed grade classes (not necessarily always great for younger kids going into classes with much older kids). Some have "walk to" subjects where same grade kids are regrouped into ability groups.
Sometimes it's just extra or harder worksheets (but where is the actual 'instruction').
In the absence of a consistent, district led approach to MTSS for advanced kids this will devolve into a totally inequitable system, where the kind of support an advanced learner gets depends entirely on the school/principal/individual teacher and how they approach it (and whether they even believe in it). It will have the same problems as with spectrum and ALO, except perhaps that there would not longer be waitlists and 'it' will be in every school. It's all very well to say that it will be available to students in all schools but what 'it' is matters. And is this MTSS miraculously going to make the animosity toward advanced learners that we so frequently see displayed on this blog disappear? Disgruntled parents are still going to complain that tier 2 or tier 3 kids are getting something better than everyone else if MTSS is done too well.

So I think differentiation to this degree in every class in every school is pretty pie in the sky. There are always anecdotal examples of it being done well, but to I don't believe these are representative. I tend to think the norm looks more like my childs K class. My kids tests at 99th percentile in math but spends each day like the other 28 kids in the class coloring 3 fish out of 5, or adding 4+1. This kid is capable of so much more and is ready and willing to learn. However, there is no differentiation at school. I haven't pushed for any because, I guess it's only K and I don't want to be a pushy parent. It disappoints me that these kids are like sponges - they can take in so much but the teacher can (or will) only do so much in that setting - other kids still have to be taught the alphabet, and number-recognition.
Differentiation shouldn't only be available to those with parents who demand it anyway. That is not equitable or helpful to less privileged but equally capable kids.

So, call me a skeptic about this plan. In an ideal world it could be great, but SPS is not an ideal world by any means. That they may attempt to roll this out, if indeed that is what they plan to do, without any community/parent input and a total lack of transparency does not sit well with me. Is this going to be a 'June surprise' when everyone is on vacation and no one is paying attention. If so, why - what have they got to hide if it's such a great idea?

Anonymous said…
Ms Heath did not say that AL will be "something like" MTSS; she said that it will be MTSS.

And what will MTSS be? If it's anything like RTI - it's a powerpoint slide. In other words, nothing actually changed for anybody.

OK Melissa. Show us the district powerpoint where they link specific Tiers of any tiered service plan to various current AL programs and students in the programs. Show us. Where's that powerpoint or document? If you can't, it ain't "testimony.

Charlie said:
Here is her email response to me: [blah blah blah... yeah we'll do the same thing for AL.]

That's concocted banter. The fact is, the term "intervention" and MTSS doesn't make sense for AL. That said, I fully support making advanced learning available for all students via differentiated instruction. Really. It's hard to imagine a good school that works on anything else. It works at so many places it's hard to see how the district can do anything but laugh at a bunch of demanding parents who simply want a segregated experience for their kid. Really what these people want is the exclusion of advanced learning from other people's kids. Good luck with that one!

Charlie Mas said…
@ parent, I'm taking Ms Heath at her word. You're not. We have nothing to discuss because I can't make you believe her.

Go ahead. Don't believe what she says and writes. Don't believe what Mr. Tolley says and writes.

And, when it comes to concocting things, you're way ahead of me. You've concocted the truth which differs from Ms Heath's statements and you've concocted what is in the hearts of APP and Spectrum families.
Anonymous said…
Sniffy again: also wanted to add that even in APP more differentiation could/should be taking place than what I have seen. My other elementary aged child is working 2 grade levels ahead at math in APP and still says its easy, boring. So differentiation could be great in this setting too. Once again, it's easier said than done, and the staff have to be adequately trained/motivated to do it.
See @ parent, no need to feel like AL folks are getting something better and don't want to be subjected to what normal folks have to endure. We have same curriculum (just couple of years earlier), same resources, same pool of teachers. We just want our kids to learn and be challenged in school like everyone else.

Anonymous said…
Parent said:

"Really what these people want is the exclusion of advanced learning from other people's kids."

You don't know me or my kid. I will not allow you to speak for me. I did not put my child in APP for the reason you stated above.


"Is this going to be a 'June surprise' when everyone is on vacation and no one is paying attention. If so, why - what have they got to hide if it's such a great idea?"


Parent, I never said this:

Show us the district powerpoint where they link specific Tiers of any tiered service plan to various current AL programs and students in the programs.

I said that Charlie, looking at the Equitable Access Framework (yes, a PP) and reading all the district info at the website AND listening carefully to the yes "testimony" (or whatever you would like to call what Ms. Heath was doing but it was at a public meeting with elected officials with heads of departments).

Banter - "The playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks." Nope, not in the slightest.

But your final words say what you really think and nothing will change that.
Eric B said…
@Melissa: "In Which Michael Tolley Reveals The Plan to Dismantle Advanced Learning" is not disparaging of the plan? Coming up with a 20-point list of the problems with the plan when all you have is hints and rumors isn't pre-judging?

@Lynn: I am not saying that only the 0.01% need APP. I am responding to you saying that schools don't reliably differentiate. My experience is that at least some schools do over several years at all ages and with four different principals. I'm not saying it does happen everywhere, or even at the majority of schools. I'm saying it can happen.
No Eric because there is NO plan. I mean, there is somewhere in the bowels of JSCEE but us, the taxpayers, parents, teachers, etc. - we're on a need-to-know basis.

They'll tell us what we need to know when they think we need to know it.

And since when is "dismantling" mean disparaging? I'm pretty sure in a couple of years we won't even recognize the former AL because it will have been...dismantled.

As for pull-outs, back in the day when my kids were in school (I know, just eons ago to some of you), they were tried and rejected. Repeatedly by many schools.

But try, try, again. Fine by me.
Anonymous said…
In MTSS, since interventions are supposed to be more student-dependent, mean that SPS will have to be more willing to work with families to find appropriate education for outliers? For example, if a fifth grader is at the Geometry level, it's unlikely the elementary school teachers will be capable of providing that level of instruction in class, nor will they have sufficient time to do it. With more Tier 3 sites, it's also less likely there will be others in the same boat at that school. Under MTSS, would the district then need to pay for an online class or something? Or would there still be a "standardized" Tier 3 curriculum (like there is, in theory, with APP)?

Charlie Mas said…
"Coming up with a 20-point list of the problems with the plan"

Problems? What? I thought most of those predictable impacts were positive.
Charlie Mas said…
@ HIMSmom

That is an EXCELLENT question.

In most of MTSS, which is generally seen as a process for struggling students, Tier 3 is a referral to Special Education and an IEP, an individualized education plan for the student.

This could mean a more individualized and less standardized approach to serving students working more than two years beyond grade level. This could be very, very cool.
Charlie Mas said…
I'm always surprised when people read my stuff like Steve Allen reading a letter to the editor.

I'm actually much calmer than that.
hschinske said…
I would be surprised, frankly, if parent advocacy for differentiation at the high end didn't end up leading to MORE private testing. I certainly had a hard time getting anyone to believe my kids needed anything beyond grade-level instruction until they got into an actual Spectrum or APP class.

In fourth grade, one of my kids was in APP acing sixth-grade level math, and her twin sister, who also had 99th percentile results on the math ITBS and a higher raw score, was in a 4/5 split class and not being allowed to use the fifth-grade math textbook. And when we finally did get the teacher to agree to send home 5th-grade math homework, it was stuff like four-digit subtraction instead of three-digit, and math-fact practice including multiplying by zero and one.

Helen Schinske
kellie said…
Wondering asked what I think.

I think there is a lot of room for healthy debate in what exactly does a "free and appropriate education" look like. I wish that SPS did not give us so many opportunities to have that debate.

IMHO, this is a solution in search of a problem and we have more than enough problems that genuinely merit a solution that should be much higher than this on a list. The change from a 30 year choice-based assignment system to a geographic assignment system is huge. Much larger than just how kids get assigned schools. It is a shift in accountability. In a choice system, families are accountable for making the right choice. In a geographic system, the district is accountable for getting basic services in the right place.

All-in, I that there needs to be something to replace what has essentially been the death of spectrum. There is only a handful of schools that do really good differentiation and if you get one of them, fabulous. If not, your only option is APP and if you don't qualify, you are out of options.

But that doesn't mean the lack of differentiation is an APP problem. I don't think there is an APP "problem." Students are adequately served. APP is certainly NOT a "cadillac program." It has one of the lowest is not the lowest per student funding in the district. Students at the top and the bottom of the ranges in APP are just as dependent on parent volunteers as they are at every other school.

APP is not a capacity problem. In fact they are a capacity solution. Geographic assignment systems are "uneven" because geography varies. It is standard practice in most districts with a geographic system to use "magnet program" to attract students from geographically dense areas to areas where a school is unlikely to fill otherwise. SPS needs to have a few magnet programs to balance out geography. APP does a perfect job of pulling students out of over-crowded schools. Such a good job that it is NOT possible to send them back to their neighborhoods.

Bottom line: great ideas are cheap; implementation is priceless. I would much rather see MTSS focused on getting kids to grade level first before it is mutated into the "solution for all lack of differentiation."
Happy said…
I've not read this whole thread, but I'm with Eric.

The district is changing and the writers of the blog do not have full information. I can tell you that there are a bunch of APP students heading to McLure over Hamilton.

Getting ready to be attacked for having a differing opinion.
Happy said…
Yesterday I held steadfast to my claim that teachers are getting varying levels of professional development. It is unfortunate that some would rather argue than listen.
Happy said…
I need to clarify the above. There are teachers getting professional development for differentiation.
Anonymous said…
Details, Happy? Elementary teachers? Middle School? High school? Just in targeted schools with wide tests scores? Only new teachers? Only experienced teachers? All teachers at all schools?

I have not seen anything on the PD front yet, so please do share with us your details.

-devil's in 'em
Anonymous said…
Thanks Mirmac,
From the district publication MTSS is being evaluated for:

Currently, student achievement data, including MAP and MSP, are being collected and will be analyzed at the end of the 2012-2013 to examine whether the literacy and math interventions appear to contribute to accelerations in academic achievement across diverse groups of students, including ELL students and students with disabilities.

I'm sure not seeing the AL gloom and doom scenario! Not seeing the Tiers being meeted out as described in this thread, nor any plans for it. But right! If they can differentiate for some, no doubt they can do it for all.

Not sure about the bunched undies for PD. Do you really want MORE days off school, while staff is diddling around doing who knows what? We should hire teachers who can already do this stuff. It's a diverse world, teachers who can't deal with it - are in the wrong profession. The real issue is will.

Another parent
Charlie Mas said…
Actually Happy has the same opinion as the rest of us. The writer doesn't have full information.

That's the problem, isn't it? The plan is being developed in secret.
Still Happy said…
Next year the district is allocating $1.3M to support differentiated learning.

Our schools are addressing differentiated learning through Building Leadership Teams etc.

Here is what the district has to say:

The first step in building a strong tiered intervention system is ensuring that our core content is consistently implemented across the system, is standards based and is data-driven. The use of Understanding by Design will strengthen the core and in turn provide a baseline with which to measure students' needs and effectiveness of implementation. This amount provides professional development for core instructional staff as well as effective use of instructional materials to support research based differentiated and scaffolded instruction in all classrooms.
Anonymous said…
First, what is MTSS?

Second, I have grown to dread hearing that a teacher will differentiate for every child's needs. I've heard that promised a number of times and then found out later that my child learned almost nothing - aagh! It takes a very skilled teacher to do it adequately - we've had a couple who were outstanding or adequate, but it is by no means the norm.

Besides, it works much better to differentiate for advanced learners when the school community as a whole is academically above average (high scores, low poverty/FRL, etc.). There are many moderate to high poverty schools in Seattle where differentiation for advanced learners would be almost impossible without a lot of extra expense. When many kids in the classroom are ELL, come to school from stressful backgrounds, and/or have uneducated parents, you can't expect the teacher to also reach the advanced learner in the classroom.

If you come from a school with an active PTA that raises more than a few thousand dollars a year - your child is not at the same risk of being ignored as many others.

Mom of 2
Anonymous said…
From the draft PDP Executive Summary as posted by mirmac [bold added]:

MTSS...Strong core instruction is the foundation, including embedded strategies to enhance core instruction for students with disabilities, English Language Learners, and advanced learners. The purpose of the interventions is to accelerate learning for students performing both far below and far above grade level standards.

a parent
mirmac1 said…
ARRRGH! It's comments like the last one that drive me nuts!

Sorry! It's not a perfect world with infinite resources! Just today, I was stirring the sh*t for my child for differentiation. But, you know, I thank gawd I can do that (along with a million other things), but do not begrudge the other children for their existence in our school in our zip code.

So we all do what we can, with the cards we're dealt. And the rest of us fight for the whole.
Anonymous said…
Wait, what? I didn't see begrudging in that comment. I thought I saw an acknowledgement that resources- especially individual classroom resources- were scarce, and that there is a group who takes priority. If the resources they need mean another group's needs are not met, then that's worth thinking about.

I wasn't around for pullouts, so I don't know what I think about those. I don't think that teachers can for the most part differentiate more than they do now, just because they are already overburdened with the amount they are required to do every day. Some of them are rockstars with an interest in advanced learning and differentiate regularly, but the educational plan for the city cannot be each child tries to get rock star teachers, otherwise too bad.

I don't see a lot of extra time in a typical classroom day for duplicate next grade up lessons. I want to hear how this is supposed to be better supported than ALO, what personnel they will be adding to school staff. Without new people I think I just see this as a loss for most above standard learners. Right now we have spectrum and ALO which works for some kids, and app, which works for some kids, and it sounds like after there would just be app for fewer kids and ALO, which is the least effective thing going right now. But if they're adding staff- tier 2 coordinators, extra in class aides- I'd be more than thrilled to eat my words.

Anonymous said…
Uh...yeah. Just trying to show that Charlie isn't totally off the mark - the MTSS does reference advanced learners. That's it. No judgments, just the facts. It's word for word from the draft document.

a parent
Anonymous said…
Wow, Eric B., I am glad you had such a positive experience at Loyal Heights with differentiation in split classes but we have had the opposite experience. My son was in a 2/3 split two years ago and there was NO differentiation. The teacher taught 3rd grade. She did not differentiate at all. Yes, they got math that in theory was at their level due to Walk to Math, but when you put the high 2nd graders with the low 3rd graders in one Walk to Math class, which is exactly what they did, the high 2nd graders are bored out of their minds because the low 3rd graders need much more time to grasp the concepts. In the 4 years my son spent at Loyal Heights only one of his teachers was somewhat successful with differentiation. Yes, the 3/4/5 class was highly desired by parents but that was taught by highly trained and motivated and experienced teachers. Very few teachers, even with training, are able to pull off differentiation successfully.
-MS Teacher
Anonymous said…
My child was placed in a name only 2/3 split as a 2nd grader. It was essentially a 3rd grade class. Appropriate math instruction happened only when the student teacher happened to be present. It was like skipping 2nd grade and then doing 3rd grade twice. When my child informed the next year's teacher that the same science units had done been last year, the teacher just said my child could be a helper. I'm a little skeptical of the expectation that all teachers will differentiate effectively.

skeptical too
Anonymous said…
Skeptical too-
It sounds like our kids may have been in the same class. Yep, our teacher taught 3rd grade science to the whole 2/3 class. The next year, when my kid was in 3rd grade with a different teacher, he was taught the exact same science for the second year in a row. Writing, due to Writer's Workshop curriculum, was pretty similar too. It was almost like he flunked 3rd grade and had to redo it the next year.
-MS Teacher
Spruiter said…
Charlie - don't forget in your ideas for placement of tier 3 programs that SPS will be adding 3 new service areas in the next few years. Would there also need to be tier 3 program sites in the Jane Addams, Wilson-Pacific, and Meany Service areas?
Anonymous said…
Don't forget the feds are coming to monitor disproportionate discipline. The current APP/Spectrum system certainly would contribute to a perception of a more generalized problem of racial inequity at SPS (if the shoe fits, wear it).

However, I think Banda is changing the system because he is appalled by it. What a relief that there will be fluidity, monitoring and research-based practices in the new plan. The current system is based on tracking--an outdated and widely known discriminatory practice.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
enough already,

How is your child being damaged by the existence of APP? If there is something amiss in his/her classroom or school - what is it? Do you need support in advocating for a particular change in their environment?

I do not understand why anyone would be appalled that a group of students have been placed in a setting where their unique needs can be met. Or why you feel a general ed classroom would be improved by their presence. I certainly added nothing to mine sitting at my desk for years surreptitiously reading novels.

Anonymous said…

The tiered system could have addressed needs like yours. If you needed self contained, you would have been placed in Tier 3.

As it is now, if you test into APP in kindergarten, you will spend your lifetime at SPS in a track, with no monitoring by the system, and fluidity (when another placement is more appropriate) by self selection only.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
Segregation went out with the dodo. Lincoln has exactly 1 black student, and raised more than $200,000 so far - for themselves. TM has something like 6. Move on. Time to figure out how to do advanced learning for more people and end segregation. An ever growing segregated population creates disproportionality and those predictable problems for those remaining, much like charter schools do. District is simply responding to that.

-Move On
Anonymous said…
Why Did Tracking Work?

This research shows otherwise.

Anonymous said…
Students that struggle in APP can be counseled out, you just aren't going to hear parents discuss it.

Is the solution dissolving AL programs, or increasing the substance in gen ed classrooms? I'd argue the attention on AL is misplaced and the district should work harder to improve curriculum district wide. Mercer's success is a testament to what is possible.

-raise expectations
Anonymous said…
Room2debate, I wish you found another study besides this one. It took place in Kenya. Around 2003, the Kenyan govn't did try to drop school fees or reduce it to bring forth universal primary education, but as a result what you have as this study reported, "average class size was reduced from 84 to 46 students in the 140 schools that received funds (from the study) for a new teacher." Govn't funding doesn't always reach schools. You hear frequent stories of civil service teachers not getting paid for months. Teacher absenteeism is a hugh problem in Kenya. You may find them running stores and tutoring privately to make up for unpaid salaries. Not to mention inadequate funds for school supplies and a severe shortage of teachers.

Anyway, the study's conclusion states that "a central challenge in developing countries- the context for which our results are most relevant- is that students in the same grades and classrooms are extremely diverse."

They show that classroom homogeneity helps teachers deliver instruction and makes the argument because of this they can target more resources to weaker group to help them catch up with stronger counterparts. They also found students benefit from greater teacher effort toward teaching higher performance students. (That's NOT what you want to hear.)

** Here is an interesting comment though, "these results suggest that teachers may be more motivated to teach a group of students with high initial scores than a group with low initiial scores or a heterogeneous group."

Speaking of differentiation, the study also noted big differences in incentives to work hard with the new teachers (funded by the study) and civil service teachers who cannot be fired. They discuss "evidence that tracking led civil-service teachers to increase effort when they were assigned to high-scoring students but not when assigned to low-scoring students."

I don't doubt that if you have more homogeneous group of kids of like ability, it will be far easier for teachers to teach. IMO, that's science backing up common sense. What I don't like is the part about teachers making more effort to teach with higher-scoring students. I just have to hope that's a problem within the study, not here in SPS.

Fascinating study though, especially if you are interested in how other countries fare.

Charlie Mas said…
The District is approaching MTSS in three stages.

In the first stage they will focus on getting Tier 1 right. I know this sounds like the work they should do every year, but they will focus on making sure that every student is getting high quality instruction on the state standards.

In the second year they will work out the menu and content of Tier 2 interventions.

In the third year they will work on Tier 3.

So their first focus is to increase the substance in gen ed classrooms.

By the way, MTSS is a big part of Mercer's success. When students didn't do well with CMP II they were given an alternative text and instruction. Tier 1, however, was still CMP II. This is an example of what Tier 2 could look like.
Tired said…
As usual, any sufficiently long discussion of Advanced Learning turns into attacks on APP.

"Move On" and "Enough Already", we have been over this ground a thousand times. APP's diversity is the same as the city of Seattle's. Since there are not private schools that work two grades ahead (some claim to, but do not), APP attracts children more broadly, from all of Seattle, and the diversity of the APP program more closely reflects that of Seattle.

But we have been over this ground a thousand times. If you have not listened in the past, you are not going to listen now. The confused and misguided attacks on APP will continue, despite the fact that destroying APP will do nothing to help other children.
Anonymous said…
Tired, can you break down the APP diversity number for us? I actually don't know what that is (mean that sincerely, not an attack or snark or troll)

6 years to go said…
I'm wondering how MS Teacher knows 3rd grade students took a long time to understand concepts. Student information is confidential.
Anonymous said…
AP - The results showed that all students benefited from tracking, including those who started out with low, average, and high achievement.

All students benefited. That was the main point.

Anonymous said…
room2debate. Yes, but not benefiting equally. That's a problem for me. Of course, this is pretty extraordinary circumstance (compared to US) because you are talking about average class size of 84 students without the study's funding to reduce it to 46. I do want to thank you for bringing the study to attention.

For Charlie and others, speaking of math text and differentiation, here's a study I found on U of Conn gifted ed site (they provide a nice on-line resource into ed research): "The Effects of Grouping and Curricular Practices on Intermediate Students' Math Achievement." The researchers gather data from 5 elementary schools and look at classroom practices and how that might impact math achievement. The nice thing is when you read review of literature, here is what the study states:
"There have been over 700 studies of ability grouping and its effect on student achievement over the last century. Meta-analyses suggest that ability grouping for specific skill or content objectives may have a significant effect on student achievement if combined with appropriate curricular adjustment."

Anonymous said…
AP-tired is incorrect about the percentages/diversity being the same as Seattle. If you saw my desk you'd know why I can find the exact numbers, but I looked them up last time this topic came up. APP is roughly 3% black, while the city's black population is about 11-12%. For the district, though, it's about 20%. To find these numbers I looked at city demographics, overall district demographics and an in-depth report on the districts school population breakdown. You'd have to search that out.
The white and Asian populations are over-represented in APP in comparison with both the district's population and the city's.

But the reasons are complicated-I don't think, no matter what has been tried, that any efforts to move these numbers have worked. I DO know several black families who have opted out of APP or not bothered to test as a result of the low numbers of blacks in the program. And the cycle continues.

Tired too
Anonymous said…
That would be CANNOT find the exact numbers...

Tired too
Tired said…
AP, here are the numbers. The City of Seattle says the city is 70% white, 8% black, 14% asian, 1% native american, 2% latino, and 5% two or more races. APP says it is 69% white, 17% asian, 4% latino, 3% black, and 6% multiracial. As you can see, those are almost the same.
Anonymous said…
enough already,

Do kids get less smart between K and 12th grade? I can see that active, engaged parenting will improve reading and math achievement scores in five year olds. Early IQ scores are different though. Kids at that age may test lower than their actual abilities, but they rarely test at the 98% if that's not indicative of their actual abilities.

I would not want to leave my kids in APP if the pace wasn't appropriate for them. Why would you assume other parents do?

Finally, if there are students in APP who do not belong there - that is a problem for them and their parents - and possibly their APP classmates. How is it a problem for your kids in general education classrooms?

Tired said…
"Tired too", sure, the percentage for black children in APP is lower (3% compared to 8%), all others are similar though. We could have a conversation about why black representation in APP is lower than all the others (in part, it may be heavy efforts recruiting black children from the private schools), but that's a very different conversation than the original and false attack that APP is badly lacking diversity.

The point is that the attacks on APP have no basic in fact nor will they do anyone else's children any good even if they succeed in getting APP destroyed, but the attacks continue nonetheless.
What is quite telling is that two things happen at this blog when Advanced Learning is discussed.

One, it always starts a fight. And, for some reason it is always directed towards APP when I would think that Spectrum would upset people more because those classes are at neighborhood schools.

Two, it generates the most reads and comments. I can see the reads in a separate administrator area. Now you can normally chalk up some reads to the same people checking in but when it gets very high, then it's a lot more people reading a post.

Why this topic? We have such a range of topics and yet this one just hits a nerve.

It doesn't cost more money, it underserves students who are eligible for it, the district doesn't make ALOs available at all schools (to thereby serve ALL students who want more rigor) and yet the arguing seems more directed at parents than the district.

Anonymous said…
Nobody cares about Spectrum because it is dead.

Anonymous said…
As far as the diversity, I agree APP is underepresented by minorities, particularly African Americans. What kills me is why this ire is directed at parents. And why are the numbers/racial diversity stats for other schools raised here? Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Bryant and all the other NE schools - why aren't they blamed for having few minorities (and for raising money)? The northend of Seattle if pretty heavily white and decently affluent. Whose fault is that? Anyone's? This is where the north end APP kids draw from. I think the racial makeup will be pretty similar to their reference area schools. Has anyone ever looked at that? Real work needs to be done in the south - clearly not enough is being done to bring in more students of color from schools that HAVE students of color!

-stop hating

Anonymous said…
Thank you tired and tired too. After my 1st response to tired, I was researching SPS' site and thus far came up with this site for advanced placement program numbers, but leaves out ALO. This is what that report states:

"Data for students in ALO programs and schools were not available for longitudinal analysis and are not included in this section of the Profile, but have been included in the Advanced Learning data in the Individual School Summaries."

Where did you get your numbers from? Could you share the citation. (sorry for asking for more info, it's how my brain works) The only thing I would say, while the numbers reflect the city's current demographics, it doesn't reflect SPS' demographics which is quite a bit different when you look at the students that make up SPS population.

Some stats (for APP & spectrum students) can be found on the same site I cited above: about 8% of student population are in some kind of advancement programs as of 2012/13. About 2% increase since 2007/8. Biggest growth and largest concentration of students in advanced placement programs are middle schoolers (18.6%) follow by elementary schoolers (7.0%), and lastly HS kids (3.7%)

FYI: if you are into numbers and breakdowns for all groups such as spec ed, ELL, FRL, dropout, truancy, etc., this paper tells quite a bit.

Also for APP current enrollment and projected enrollment for elementary schools (w/o demographics data):

Anonymous said…
One big problem with your argument that APP mirrors Seattle's demographics is the fact that SPS enrollment does NOT mirror the city demographics.

According to OSPI, the demographics of SPS enrollment are thus:

Asian/Pacific Islander: 19%
Black: 18.5%
White: 43.3%
Two or more races: 5.7%

According to your post "APP says it is 69% white, 17% asian, 4% latino, 3% black, and 6% multiracial"

C'mon now, the 69% white population in APP represents a huge over representation of a certain demographic when the entire system itself is about 43% white.

The only reason I am weighing in is that I felt (perhaps incorrectly) that Tired is saying that APPs demographics are not a big deal. If I am misunderstanding/misrepresenting this, I apologize to Tired but I cannot let that notion stand unchallenged.

FWIW, I agree with Charlie and others that this potential shift to MTSS can be more fluid and possibly a better system to identify and address the racial disparity. But I have seen SPS roll out ideas before and don't have a heckuva lot of faith on how this good-on-paper idea will really turn out.

Maureen said…
Melissa, I expect that part of the reason APP related threads get more readers (and comments) is that a disproportionate percentage of your readers are APP,Spectrum, and/or eligible parents. Also that those parents are more involved in education and SPS topics in general.

I think part of the reason nonAPP parents noodge at APP parents (in general, I don't think their comments rise (or fall) to the level of attack) is that they see APP as: (1)drawing involved and active families away from schools that could use their participation; (2)drawing academically engaged kids out of neighborhood and option schools,leaving kids who are capable of doing higher level work (though perhaps only in one subject) with few peers and (3)creating a 'bubble' of sorts around the APP families so their perspective on SPS issues can seem somewhat distorted to nonAPP families.(*) Occasionally an APP parent will express concern and regret for the community they left behind and I, personally, appreciate that.

I feel like there is also, somehow, some element of "train wreck" in the APP threads that I think draws attention from all of us. And the posters on these threads are often excellent writers and debaters, which makes for good reading!

(*) I will say it is interesting to me how often (though by no means always) any criticism of APP is characterized as being "hate" or "ire" "attacking." The discussion seems to be taken so personally so often. (Thus contributing to the air of "train wreck") I don't see this in other threads to the same extent. I wonder why that happens?

Tired said…
Moose, as I said earlier, APP attracts people that otherwise would go to private school, as the private schools in Seattle do a poor job of serving children working two years ahead. So APP's diversity reflects that of the city as a whole. That's true of other alternative programs that have an all-city draw too, they offer something that is not available elsewhere, so they attract all the children of Seattle.

I have to say, I am amazed that you think that APP is 3% black when the city is 8% black is a worse problem than the much larger disparity in general education. Our public schools are badly out of whack with the demographics of Seattle (19% black in SPS compared to 8% black for the city, 43% white compared to 69% white for the city). That indicates people are fleeing our public schools. Isn't that a problem in your mind? Shouldn't the public schools diversity mirror that of the City of Seattle? Shouldn't our public schools be attracting and serving all the children of Seattle?
Anonymous said…

In my experience, private school students in Seattle are more likely than the overall population to be white and less likely to be living in poverty. It follows that public school students are disproportionately non-white and living in poverty.

These familes leave private schools (or choose not to enroll) because their kids have needs that aren't met in your average private school. This is where your affluent, white APP students are coming from.

Children who are living in poverty are not prepared to learn when they enter school.

If we want to improve academic performance for these kids, we need to decrease their class sizes, make their neighborhoods safer, help their parents prepare for and find jobs, provide quality preschool programs and training to their parents on how to prepare them for success in school.

I'll all for raising taxes for these social welfare programs.

I just don't understand what this has to do with "fairness" of the existence of APP.

Anonymous said…

I think it's pretty obvious why APP parents can be sensitive. People will actually post negative things about our kids. You will regularly see people posting about how the kids in APP don't need it and are not, in fact "gifted," say that parents pull their kids out of general ed in order to get them away from "other people's kids," and that APP parents couldn't care less about anyone other then themselves. These are just a few recent examples. People, for some reason, feel free to say these terrible things about complete strangers. It is one thing to say negative things about adults, but I am amazed people will say nasty things about the kids.

Top that off with all the turmoil in APP caused by the district in the past few years, and you get touchy parents. Before anyone says that some other programs have also faced instability, I know that. It doesn't mean that APP is not also unstable.

Anonymous said…
You are all typing much faster than I am. I do think that the large number of kids in Seattle enrolled in private schools is evidence of a problem. People don't trust the school district. Programs change at the drop of a hat - with no warning to parents. Parents squabble over who has access to popular programs. A horrible math curriculum is chosen and used for years. Math scores drop, parents and UW professors complain and there is no response.

Maureen said…
The demographics posted above by tired are for the whole city population. On a March thread on the APP blog, TechyMom teased out the school age populaiton demographics which is more relevant to this discussion:

From 3/6/13 Open Thread on discussapp blog:

TechyMom said...

I looked up 2010 census data. This spreadsheet from the City of Seattle Census Data page shows the total and over-18 population of Seattle. I subtracted the over-18 from the total and calculated the percentages to get these numbers of the racial breakdown of children under 18 in Seattle. I'm going to assume that the preschool population is not significantly different from the school-age population. That might be wrong, and I'd love to see that data if someone can find it.

The racial breakdown of children under 18 in Seattle in 2010:

57.4% White
12.4% Black or African American
0.8% American Indian and Alaska Native
12.8% Asian
0.6% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
3.8% Some Other Race
12.1% Two or More Races

(from earlier posts for easier comparison)
APP is
69% white, 17% asian, 4% latino, 3% black, and 6% multiracial

ETHNIC GROUP 2012/2013
American Indian 504 1.0%
Asian/Pac. Islander 9,050 18.1%
Black/Afr. American 8,818 17.7%
Hispanic/Latino 6,269 12.6%
White 21,924 44.0%

So, both are true. APP is more white that Seattle's children, and SPS in general is less white than Seattle's children.

Personally, I think both of these are issues that SPS should be working on.
March 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM
mirmac1 said…
I would be interested to know how the overall demographics changed since the NSAP AND the rising enrollment/baby boom/recession hit us.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, if the district isn't planning to work on Tier 3 until the 3rd year of MTSS implementation, does this mean APP would likely remain as is for several more years?

Also, folks have suggested MTSS is likely to provided more equitable services for advanced learners--that it may help increase the diversity of who receives advanced learning services. Can someone please clarify why this is so? Current APP entry criteria rely on test scores, which some argue are not an effective measure of giftedness but rather reflect better preparation. Won't this "better preparation" issue also come into play with MTSS? Relative to their classmates, kids from more educated families are likely to be better prepared for more challenging work, so may need higher tier services in order to progress. While having Tier 2 services available within the school and by relying on more subjective assessment criteria may allow for greater #s of currently underrepresented groups to receive higher tier advanced learning services, will this really change the percentages/distribution overall? In other words, if the criteria for higher tier services take into account factors such as readiness for greater challenges, won't those more traditionally "better prepared" groups see even larger increases--and thus greater disparities? If being one year ahead of grade level qualifies you for tier 2 services, it seems likely the bulk of tier 2 services will occur in the better off schools.

The only way I see this as not being the case is if the the criteria are different at each school. In other words, if in a high performing school, where most students are already performing above standard, the basic instruction was at that level, with tier 2 reserved for those who are even further advanced. In contrast, at a lower performing school where the majority are below standard, a student working at standard may need a tier 2 intervention in order to keep progressing, no? But in a scenario like this, tier 2 at one school does not equal tier 2 at another, and that seems problematic.

I'm sure I must be missing something here, so any clarification on how MTSS helps with better diversity in programs for advanced learners would be much appreciated!

Anonymous said…

I agree that SPS enrollment is problematic and that yes, our public schools should more closely align with our city demographics. But that is shifting the discussion.

I can only compare what IS (the actual SPS enrollment) to the demographics in the APP program. You say that APP attracts a demographic that would otherwise go to private school (thus it is okay to use some different metric there) - but that is conjecture and anecdotal. What I am discussing is evidence.

The evidence is before us. 69% white in APP, 43% white overall. To me, that is clear evidence of a problem in the system as it done at present. Not for you?

I am intrigued at this MTSS plan as laid out by Charlie because I think it has (on paper, at least) the potential to do a better job both with this demographic gap and/or kids who are 2E. However, a huge caveat is that I have seen the way SPS has rolled things out in the past and I've learned to be skeptical of implementation. I am curious what you think.


Anonymous said…
Moose says:

"C'mon now, the 69% white population in APP represents a huge over representation of a certain demographic when the entire system itself is about 43% white."

In reality, APP is does not have an over-representation of whites. Gen ed/Neighborhood schools have an under-representation of whites. (Whites as a proxy for people with means, as whites are over-represented in the upper income ranges.)

One possible interpretation is that the neighborhood schools aren't doing the job, and that whites are more likely to be able to afford private school.

Families with means are the canaries in the coal mine. Public schools in many instances are becoming only for those who can't afford better. Rather than calling each other elitist, why not explore that problem?

SPS mom

Anonymous said…
Oh comm'on Tired. You really are tired, and don't mind deluding yourself with excuses about the program's disproportionality. If you don't think it a problem - it's a problem because everyone else does, including the school board and the staff.

Since there are not private schools that work two grades ahead (some claim to, but do not), APP attracts children more broadly, from all of Seattle, and the diversity of the APP program more closely reflects that of Seattle.

Golly. You mean when little Johnny is 34 he might be working at the level of a 36 year old?

Really? Private schools don't provide advanced stuff? Why then does Lakeside beat the pants off our APP kids at Garfield when it's all said and done? Look at National Merit semifinalists. Garfield doesn't even beat the public schools on the eastside.

Private schools MOSTLY cater to white and accelerated learners with money. They MOSTLY are already in private schools. That is why our public schools are disproportionately minority. Our PUBLIC school gifted programs should feature MORE minority students as a percentage or enrollment - not fewer. Given that the district is already disproportionately poor and minority as compared to the city's demographic, disproportionality is even more problematic. Do a little Every Day Math.

The district should come up with testing that isn't skewed for biased results.

It's one thing to have neighborhood schools that are disproportionate. It's entirely another to create or maintain optional programs that make that worse.

mirmac1 said…
reader, I agree.
Anonymous said…
Mirmac, you can find it here:

Scroll down to demographics and enrollment projections and click on W. Les Kendrick's presentation.

Also to piggyback to Maureen's last post, here are 2012 breakdown of SPS student demographics:

American Indian 1%
Asians/Pac. Islanders 18.1%
Black/AA 17.7%
Hispanic/Latino 12.6%
Whites 44%
Multiracial 6.6%

As to Charlie's thread about the future of AL & MTSS, I like the way he described how he thinks MTSS may play out for all learners, but like many, I'm waiting & waiting for SPS official banner proclamation. I want to see how they are going to roll it out. If there are big changes, I suspect it will take several years of multiple painful adjustment to see how this shakes out for all the kids in SPS. I will admit I know very little about MTSS except what Charlie has outlined so far. So need to educate myself here.

Whatever SPS plan might be, this blog will have lots to chomp on and live a long life as a place for people to come, vent, exchange ideas, and debate. So thank you Melissa and Charlie. Do you ever wonder where you'll be in 5 or 10 years time with this blog?

Anonymous said…
Move on - You are wrong about the number of minority students at TM this year. My child's APP class has 3 African American kids, as well as biracial kids. This is in just one classroom. Where do you get your numbers and are they for this year? The school report gives data by school, not program, by the way. Please don't provide misinformation like this. Thurgood Marshall APP is becoming increasingly diverse. All APP programs should be much more diverse than they are, but please don't paint all APP schools with the same brush. Let's recognize progress where some progress has been made.
-- Thurgood parent
mirmac1 said…
Thanks AP. I must not be seeing it. Was hoping to see how demographics changed. Will keep looking.
"Why then does Lakeside beat the pants off our APP kids at Garfield when it's all said and done?"

Very, very funny. Tell you what, I'll play Charlie. Let's put all the Lakeside teachers at Garfield and vice versa and see what the results are. Let's give Lakeside Garfield's demographics, shall we?

AP, intriguing question. I'd like to think the blog will live on whether we are still here or not. (And believe me, I know there are MANY who want us to go away and from some the comments, they are with us today.)
Anonymous said…
My concerns relating to metrics/eligibility in this proposed system.....
Could result a lot more regular testing for kids (and I thought folk already felt there is too much testing).
The type of tests/metric used are very important - they would need to be appropriate for the specific purpose (i.e. not just using MAP or something)
It doesn't make sense to check kids IQ every year to see if still eligible (its not realistically going to decline in absence of head trauma/lead poisoning etc). So that makes me think they would have to use tests that measure growth, or meeting certain standards (i.e. 2 grade levels ahead). However, isn't this highly dependent on the quality of the teaching/differentiation received? For instance if a kid is tier 2 but not given adequate differentiation to ensure they are actually being taught material that is at least a grade level ahead how on earth can they be expected to maintain the designation (or even progress to tier 3). Wait a minute! That's a great way to reduce the number of tier 2 or 3 kids requiring service - just provide MTSS in an inconsistent, unquantified way and they'll miraculous become ineligible for ongoing interventions!
The goal of MTSS at the other end of the ability spectrum is clear: get struggling kids up to tier 1, where they will no longer need or qualify for the MTSS interventions. How will this work at the advanced end of the range? What will the goals be for tier 2 and 3 kids, how/how often will they be measured, and how will they meet them and therefore retaining eligibility or moving to next tier?
The success of MTSS interventions is easily monitored at the other end - they are successful if the kid is able to be assigned to tier 1 (general education) and not require additional support. If the intervention is not successful, and they are still not doing well they continue to receive the interventions (or more/different kinds).
So how will the success of MTSS for AL be measured? If the MTSS intervention or differentiation is not done well this could account for the kid not reaching the standard (rather than the kid getting dumber) but then instead of getting better differentiation/interventions the kid would no longer be eligible for the intervention.
Given the secrecy with which this is being ushered in (if indeed it is) I really worry about what sort of transparency in terms of goals, interventions etc there will be. It seems like it will potentially be managed the same way as 'ALO" designation is and that is a total farce. Any school can claim all these great ALO opportunities and practices but there is no consistency and no accountability. I could see a great deal of parent battling taking place to ensure kids get appropriate kids intervention/instruction - look to the way the parents of special ed kids have had to for years. Will there have to be different standards for different school as HIMSmom suggests - that is a minefield!
If the MTSS approach is to be used for AL then transparency, consistency between schools, appropriate goals setting, and accountability is essential. I am not at all confident of SPS's ability to get this right even if it is a sound idea in theory.

mirmac1 said…
Ah! I see. Pg 11 here:

District Data Profile
Anonymous said…
Harium Martin-Morris is speaking tonight at View Ridge Elementary to talk about changes to SPS. 6:45
-Be there
Anonymous said…
Ok Melissa. Just the facts. Sure there are lots of uber rich there, but also many poor.

Lakeside numbers (from the website), which you could compre to Garfield APP cohort:

Lakeside has 793 students (50% boys, 50% girls)

Students of color: 51 percent

Faculty: 107
Faculty of color: 20.5 percent

29 percent of all Lakeside students receive financial aid, and average tuition for financial-aid recipients is $7,000.

Lakeside also offers additional aid of $600,000 to support students for costs above and beyond tuition.

Anonymous said…
There has been more grown at the younger grades, though. I'd like to see it broken out by grade(I bet it is richer and whiter at first grade than 6 years ago).

Anonymous said…
True about Lakeside. We toured there, and it was crazily diverse compared to SPS. They pluck out a ton of Rainier scholars from other schools. Lots more poor (smart) kids too than in my kid's class in SPS. Definitely some big name families (like Gates) but it looks way more normal than I expected.
-be there
mirmac1 said…
My niece attended Lakside via a program for disadvantaged students. I observed a diverse student population, certainly more than at Lafayette.
Tired said…
Reader, if you want to eliminate all option schools with 60-70% white, you're going to have to eliminate NOVA, McDonald, and Center School. That's fine with you? Where do you stop? A lot of schools in the north are 60-70% white too. Do you think we should stop having public education there as well? And why is it you think public school access should be determined solely on the basis of race?

Someone earlier asked where the data for APP diversity came from. It was in a report published by Bob Vaughan four years ago, but he pulled it and it is no longer available. There is, however, another report with similar data here:

Data for APP is on the last page. If you run the numbers for 2011-12, it says 4% black, 4% latino, 68% white, 17% asian, 1% American Indian, 7% multiracial, which is similar to what I said earlier.
Tired said…
Yes, that is true, as I said, Lakeside and other private schools aggressively recruit Seattle's Spectrum and APP-qualified latino and black children.
hschinske said…
Lakeside gets a lot of former APP students, FWIW. They also draw from the east side quite a bit.

Tuition is now over $27K (far more, even adjusted for inflation, than when I was there). If 71% of the population can afford that, often for more than one child (and presumably some of those on aid are paying not much less, given that others must have free rides), that's a pretty well off population.

Helen Schinske
Reader, oh...I see. You are comparing Garfield's APP kids to Lakeside kids (instead of the entire Garfield population).

"..way more normal than I expected."

Oh, because of the diversity of skin color? Because you don't know for certain anyone's background or socioeconomics. Not to mention Special Ed or ELL needs. You can see all this just by looking around a room.
Tired said…
On Lakeside, "students of color" conceals the actual data, probably on purpose. It seems hard to find the diversity data details from Lakeside itself, but here is a report from Movoto. It says 59% white, 5% latino, 9% black, 2% American Indian, and 24% asian.
Anonymous said…
@reader - Our child was not served in a private school. They likened it to Spectrum, which was a close comparison. Yes, it may have been slightly accelerated compared to a neighborhood public school, but it was not able to accommodate those working 2+ levels ahead (nor could they accommodate those working significantly below grade level). APP, though not perfect and not like a private school in other aspects, was a closer match academically. Lakeside and Seattle Country Day are about the only other options, and Lakeside doesn't start until 5th grade. Not only that, they cannot accept all those that apply (not to mention the cost that is prohibitive for most families).

-SPS parent
Anonymous said…
Is the HMM/View Ridge meeting being hosted by the PTA? Is anyone welcome to attend? Can you provide any more details?

Anonymous said…
From the View Ridge website:

VR PTA General Meeting on Tuesday, May 7th from 6:45-7:45pm. Please join us for the third and final meeting of the year. Director Harium Martin-Morris, our School Board representative, will discuss capacity, the district’s new strategic plan and school boundaries (which may be redrawn next year). You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions as well. The rest of the agenda includes the election of next year’s Executive Committee (two Co-Presidents, a Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary), adoption of the 2013-14 budget and standing rules and an update from the playground committee. We will honor the winners of the Golden Acorn and Joan Platt awards and you’ll have the opportunity to sign up for open volunteer positions for next year. Treats provided!

Anonymous said…
SPS mom, I disagree with this statement on several points.
"In reality, APP is does not have an over-representation of whites. Gen ed/Neighborhood schools have an under-representation of whites. (Whites as a proxy for people with means, as whites are over-represented in the upper income ranges.)"

You should check out the elementary schools data to see the lop sided demographics number when it comes to neighborhood schools. It's a reflection of the neighborhoods the kids are drawn from. Take a look at Wedgewood, Hay, Loyal Heights, Northgate, Kimball, Wing Luke, Schmitz Park, Highland Park, etc.

In some cases, you have an over representation ( > 65%)of whites and other schools, an under representation (< 25%) of whites. There are schools that run closer to SPS's demographics like BF Day, Stevens, but surprisingly, not as many as I thought! What does that say about liberal & diverse Seattle? (I do fault the power that be which has controlled Seattle's politics, levies $, transportation plan, infrastructure, policing, growth & development, and interferes with our public schools for the last 25 years. And my idiocy for voting for them in.) Our neighborhoods are very segregated by race/ethnicity and SES. More importantly, look at the FRL and ELL numbers. It's not faulting AL programs, but it tells you where the focus/resources NSAP schools might place when it comes to setting educational priorities and the enrichment opportunities each school can provide.

I don't have any hard data and don't like to draw on personal experiences, but I would argue, if you have a smart kid, even gifted, it's tougher to find the network of support that would end up sending that kid into APP or even Spectrum if your family is poor, fractured, and/or are new immigrants with limited English. You need parental fellowship, info, teachers & administrators willing to clue parents in, parents who take the time to read school letter, follow up on it, fill out the paperwork, get the kids ready for testing, etc. What happens to kids who don't have the language fluency, but can do the math?

There are very complicated reasons why you don't see more under-represented groups in AL (and I include FRL kids of any color/ethnicity). It isn't just because you may be the only brown/black face in the class. Sometimes, it's a home environment issue. Kids who are latch key kids with only one parent/grandparent. Kids are needed at home to help out with childcare, translation, cooking & cleaning, etc. Thus parents may want kids closer to their homes and not be on long bus rides especially when they live in sketchy neighborhoods or have school work competing with duties at home. It's not because these parents are bad parents or selfish, but it's about the well being of the whole family vs. the need of one child. Parents want their kids to do well in school, go to college, and get a good job. It's the pressure of keeping things together day to day as a family that interferes with that dream.

Anonymous said…
6 more years: You make a good point. I made a generalization and those are never good. Of course there are 3rd graders who quickly grasp concepts as there are 2nd graders who do not. My point simply was that it is very difficult for a teacher to meet the needs of a math class that has a group of high kids and a group of low kids. My experience has been that it is very very difficult to differentiate effectively. Most teachers are not able to do it. It doesn't mean they are bad teachers it just means they don't have the time, understanding or desire to do it. True differentiation would mean doubling/tripling the work load, prep time, etc. of teachers. I personally am not sure it is even fair to ask that of teachers, considering how little they are paid and supported by the district.
Po3 said…
First we tell teachers you better get those struggling students up to standard or we are going to fire you. Now we are telling teachers you ALSO have to meet the needs of students working way beyond grade level?


And,how are all those APP kids going to fit in their reference schools, aren't the northend schools packed to the gills?

Anonymous said…

Lakeside (with it's 800 students)does serve mostly gifted students. So too do Seattle Country Day and UCDS. The majority of the rest of the private and parochial schools in Seattle serve bright children. Not APP kids.


That enrollment data combines APP and Spectrum. I haven't found a way yet to back out the APP-only numbers either.


Anonymous said…
@ Lynn:

UCDS (University Child Development School) does not specifically serve gifted students. It has a lot of high achieving students and wealthy families, but they don't claim to serve only students at a certain percentile.

SCDS (Seattle Country Day School) serves gifted students (98th), as does The Evergreen School in Shoreline (95th).

IIRC Lakeside doesn't use IQ testing as part of their application, but does use PSAT/SAT - thus uses achievement vs. giftedness

-2B Clear

Anonymous said…
This all reminds me of Carla Santorno's infamous reply to Michael DeBell's question as to why EDM had not, after 3 years, yet received the supporting materials, such as Singapore Math.

"It's not that we AREN'T doing it; we just haven't gotten to it yet."

UCDS is where Gates' daughter attended.
Anonymous said…
Each time a thread evolves into a discussion about the validity of ability grouping and whether or not APP should exist, I will post this document:

Tracking, Ability Grouping, and the Gifted

same old
Just Saying said…
It is also worth noting that UCDS only accepts children if they are six years old. Atleast, that is the way it used to be. I also noted that a lot of children in my child's spectrum classroom were held back one year, or were Sept. babies- making them almost one year older than some of their classmates.
Po3 said…
"To apply for Kindergarten, children must be at least five years old by June 1, 2013."

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Former APP kids go to a wide range of private schools. For 6th grade, my child's APP 5th grade classmates went not just to APP middle school (the majority of kids), but also to Bush, Northwest, SAS, Lake Washington Girls' School and only 1 to Lakeside. Lakeside doesn't market themselves as serving "gifted" students in pretty stark contrast to the SCDS or Evergreen approach. Notably, not one kid from my child's class left SPS to go to a "gifted" private like SCDS or Evergreen.
- APP parent
Anonymous said…
There are also former APP kids at UPrep - also not a school specifically for "gifted" kids. Families choose schools for lots of reasons and many don't feel their kids need to be in a "gifted" program to thrive. Many of us find it refreshing to lose that label and its baggage. Of course the cost of Lakeside and other private schools that, like Lskeside, are not just for "gifted" 98% kids is another issue...
--APP parent
Anonymous said…
According to the website - 29% of Lakeside students receive needs based financial aid. And the average tuition for that 29% is $7,000. Not too shabby! Evidently, the tuition for the Uber-Rich funds a big chunk of students without those means.

Tired said…
Just for comparison, Garfield's funding per student is only $5500/year. Perhaps if some of those private school resources were attracted to our public schools, we could help all of Seattle's children.
Anonymous said…
For those of us with children in the lower elementary grades and currently enrolled in APP it would be enormously helpful if SPS would be transparent and make announcements about the district's plans for APP before the end of the school year or at least prior to the fall so that we can self-select back into our neighborhood elementary schools for the coming school year if appropriate while it is still relatively easy for our children to do so. Any chance announcements will come that fast?
Anonymous said…
Any chance announcements will come that fast?

You'll get better odds buying a lottery ticket.
-2B Clear
Anonymous said…
Apparently Bob Vaughan has announced that he will retire at the end of the year. Any thoughts about the timing/implications of this?

Charlie Mas said…
HIMSmom asked:

"if the district isn't planning to work on Tier 3 until the 3rd year of MTSS implementation, does this mean APP would likely remain as is for several more years?"

An excellent question. I don't know the answer. Strange as it may seem, the District has a bad habit of mistaking the announcement of a goal with the achievement of the goal. As a result they could refer students to a non-existent program.

This is an implementation issue and, as we know, the District has a poor record on implementation.

As for the question of diversity, MTSS does not acknowledge the question. It focuses on students as individuals and therefore doesn't consider how groups of students may be affected.

However, I would be concerned that the shift to MTSS would exacerbate both the under-representation of students from low-income households and the over-representation of students from affluent households for the very reasons referenced by HIMSmom. Preparation and motivation will play even larger roles than they do today.

All schools are supposed to have the same Tier 1 curriculum. It is likely that some schools, where high performance is widespread, there could be classes in which 20-25 of the students are in Tier 2 advanced while another two or three students are in Tier 2 for working below standard and only couple students are actually getting the default Tier 1 curriculum.
Charlie Mas said…
I have contacted people within the district about the adoption of MTSS and how this is likely to change the way the District operates advanced learning.

My sole message to them is to engage stakeholders without further delay.

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