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Friday, June 28, 2013

Advanced Learning Service Delivery Models

The District will appoint a Task Force this fall to answer the question:
What service delivery model should we use for Advanced Learning?

It's a question that can have only one answer. There can be only one answer because there is a bigger question that takes precedence:
Will we deliver service or not?

Students and families don't care if they get no service from a small group instruction model or whether they get no service from a "walk to" model. Either way they are getting no service.

We can't know what decisions the District will make about the future of advanced learning, but we do know that the actual service will have to be delivered in the schools, not in the JSCEE. We also know that no one in the JSCEE can - or will - guarantee the quality and efficacy of the service. In fact, they cannot even guarantee the existence of that service.

They never have guaranteed service delivery and they never will. Do they give any assurance of the quality or efficacy of ALOs or Spectrum? No, they do not. They don't even measure the quality or efficacy of these programs.

There is, however, one service delivery model that guarantees service: cohort. Ask anyone. Even when the instruction isn't there, the cohort will deliver value. over the years there have been dozens of classrooms where the instruction wasn't there, but the cohort made it work. So that's one service delivery model that assures families of service delivery.

What about the others? I think I can say that every other service delivery model assures families of no service. Sure, a teacher here or there will do it, or the service will be there for a while, but eventually that service will stop and it won't start again.

So we have one service delivery model that guarantees service and every other service delivery model that guarantees an end to service. Kinda makes the question easy to answer, doesn't it?

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

And here you told us segregated APP was necessary because students need "instruction at the frontiers of their knowledge", and would die of boredom if the right instruction didn't rain down on those brilliant, and well nurtured minds every moment. If the teacher is presenting a "floor of information" to the ignorant masses who are unfortunate enough to need that, those students from APP simply can't learning anything if they're already standing on that floor of knowledge. Good to know that it's simply hanging out with the right people that's important! And more importantly, avoiding the wrong ones. That's the winner of an argument. Send it to Banda! I'm sure he'll see it exactly your way.

-reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, well, Happy Friday to you as well.

Who might Charlie be avoiding in your dripping with sarcasm assessment?

Funny, though, Charlie isn't asking for more money or one way to serve these students and yet, first thing out the gate...

Anonymous said...

Once again Charlie speaks from both sides of his mouth. Best to just turn him off although I do get amused and exasperated by his rantings.

ALTF

Anonymous said...

Wow Melissa. I thought Charlie's post was the one dripping with sarcasm. Evidently, other people do too. But no. I wouldn't expect you to comment on that!

And, happy Friday to you too.

-reader

Lefty said...

Wrong. Cohort model works, without a doubt. However, there is another way to serve the gifted. Effective cluster grouping. It doesn't mean just splitting the gifted up, it means getting them together on a daily basis for math and reading. It can be done ,it works and parents need to demand it. Yes the cohort is easy and effective but it has problems, which we all know. Get on the train to cluster grouping. Why don't we hire Ms. Brulles way from Paradise Valley to take Bob Vaughan's place?

Anonymous said...

Lefty,
What exactly are the problems with the cohort model?

I agree with you - hiring Ms. Brulles would be great. Did you know her district has self-contained gifted programs for preschool through eighth grade? And another self-contained program for twice-exceptional students? That she suggests cluster grouping be used only in cases where there are not enough students for a self-contained class? That her program employs:

Gifted Education Specialists at each elementary school
Gifted Cluster Teachers at each elementary school
Gifted Education Liaisons at each middle and high school
Self-contained Gifted Program Teachers at the elementary and middle school levels
Self-contained Teachers for the Uniquely Gifted Program at the elementary and middle school levels.

I think she would be a wonderful asset to us. I doubt that taking on an advanced learning program in Seattle would be an improvement on her current situation - given parents' attitudes toward the program.

Lynn

No More Elitism said...

Parent of two APP kids here. The cohort model didn't work well for either one of mine. They both found the cohorts stifling, full of cliques, and mind-numbing group think.

I'm all for dismantling APP and starting over.

Mutiny!

Anonymous said...

No More Elitism,

Easily solved for your kids - no?

Lynn

Charlie Mas said...

So we have one person who says that cluster grouping can work.

Like it's working at Wedgwood and Lawton?

Public said...

The visceral reaction to immediately attack APP by some here just shows that some people don't believe that public schools are for everyone. Those people can't be convinced. They need to be defeated.

If you believe that public schools are for the public, as in everyone regardless of skin color, background, or beliefs, you need to fight for that. Or these people who want to limit or dismantle public education will succeed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie has one sarcastic sentence but seriously, (and again), don't like what you read here, no one is forcing you to be here.

Lefty, I like your idea about Brulles. Hmm.

Okay, Starting Over, any thoughts on what that would look like?

If we did cluster grouping a la Brulles, I would be fine with it but Cronas over at Wedgwood does not. In fact, I find him to be one of the more disingenuous staff in this district (and I predict he becomes headquarters staff at some point, probably Ex Dir).




dw said...

@Lynn,

"No More Elitism" is obviously a troll. APP is certainly not a good fit for every last kid who qualifies, but no one with two kids in APP would ever write something like that, the language gives it away. Not really worth responding; sometimes I wish posts like that were deleted.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I can't agree with you, dw. Just because someone has a viewpoint that is different from yours doesn't mean it's not true. We came into APP past early elementary, and it WAS difficult to crack the friendship groups for our kid. When everyone knows everyone else and you're new, it's not easy. And kids who had differing opinions WERE teased sometimes.

As for parents, we made some good friends, others were less interested in meeting new people. That doesn't surprise me-any group that's been together for a long time isn't always going to welcome and accept everyone.

I wouldn't want APP dismantled, but just because someone had a bad experience, I wouldn't call them a troll. If everyone loved it, there would be a 100% retention rate, and that isn't the case.

Righty

Maureen said...

My first thought on this was, why reinvent the advanced learning wheel? Find out what successful districts do and use that. So I asked, What would Massachusetts do?. Well, it looks like, not much. This parent lays it out in a blog post.

Boston Public Schools seem to offer Advanced Work Classes for 4,5,6th graders only in certain schools. As far as I can see, that is it. I could definitely be missing something. From a quick read, it looks like Brookline Public Schools seem not to identify "gifted" students at all and do all enrichment in regular classrooms.

You can play with NAEP scores here if you wonder why I picked Massachusetts. I just thought Massachusetts and went looking. I'm honestly surprised they do so little. (And as I said, I could be missing something.)

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

There are only 7,112 students enrolled in Brookline Public Schools. Diana Brulles's district has 33,000 students and provides all of the services I listed above. I don't think we'd even need to hire her - just print out their gifted education department information and hire someone to implement it. Oh - and reassign principals at school with gifted programs who are not on board.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Don't misrepresent the PV gifted program run by Brulles. Self contained is very restrictive, IQ 140 or over - go check it out. It's scattered among many schools and has smal cohorts, frequently a split class. I see it as a model for future APP. Also there is nothing remotely like self contained Spectrum in the PV district.

L

dw said...

Hi Righty,

Just because someone has a viewpoint that is different from yours doesn't mean it's not true.

I welcome different viewpoints, and I wouldn't dream of calling you a troll for having a different experience. I believe your tale (although I don't believe it's typical from all the tales I've heard and seen over the years). APP is not a perfect fit for all kids, and separately, some kids just take more time to acclimate socially.

However, read No More's post again and see the kind of charged language used, and nothing but "dismantle APP" for a "solution" (which you obviously didn't advocate). It reeks of troll; if I was forced to guess, I'd say they're not even an APP parent.

How many years has your child been in APP, and has it improved? I hope so! I can't think of any group or program, school-related or otherwise, that has a 100% retention, but APP is awfully high.

Also, as for making friends, remember that many parents of these unusual kids are cut from the same cloth, i.e. not highly socialized, or rather, "differently socialized". Perhaps it's best I leave it at that! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Maureen, you're right that you don't have the whole picture. I have several friends with kids in the suburbs there(I am often so jealous of the states's general attitude toward education). It is true that in city there is not a very structured gifted program. Fully half the white kids have fled to private schools, especially the robust Catholic system, and charters take a lot of the easiest kids-not a good system. In their suburbs, gifted identification is done in second grade, sort of black-box, you just hear whether your kid qualifies. Both of these kids have two full day a week pull outs where they do special projects. At at least one the classrooms are tracked into high, mid, and low performing classrooms, reset at each grade, but for the whole year(plus a special ed " inclusion" class you can opt into for a typically devrloping kid-like the blended classes they used to gave at Bryant) and there is walk to three grades up in math. Great for those gifted kids, but not something that would ever fly in Seattle.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

L,

Yes - the Paradise Valley Unified School District's self-contained programs would only serve our current APP students. They require scores at the 97th% or higher in two of three areas (verbal, quantitative and nonverbal) on one of a list of state-approved tests - or an IQ of 140. I can't access their state website right now - but one of those tests is the CogAT. You also need to demonstrate accelerated learning needs that are two years beyond grade level. It is true that their individual program sites look small - but given our population, we could have programs with more than one class per grade.

The best thing about their programs is that they have a curriculum - and it looks like a great one.

What do Spectrum parents want for their kids? Whatever it is, it needs to be offered at every school. If 30% of students in a neighborhood qualify, we should be able to meet their needs close to home. In some areas, only the students already attending a Spectrum school can get into the program. If - for example you live in Gatewood's attendance area, your Spectrum kid is out of luck.

Isn't the solution for the district to accept responsibility for ensuring every child makes academic progress every year? To do that, we need to reduce class sizes and bring in reading and math tutors for kids who need them. If we don't do this, kids who are ready to move ahead will continue to wait for their turn to learn.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

read the entire PV gifted site and do the math; very few kids get selfcontained- not at all like APP.Cluster grouping is the main delivery model for APP level students.
BTW, a method to reduce students in APP is to slightly shift the age component of the CogAT, so if a 9 year old takes the test 6 months is added to her age making her 9 1/2 on paper and needing a higher score to qualify.

L

Charlie Mas said...

No More Elitism expressed a sentiment I often see in discussions of APP and self-contained Spectrum.

The self-contained delivery model didn't work well for their child, or for them, or for someone else they know, therefore that delivery model should be ended.

People with APP- and Spectrum-eligible children are not required to enroll their children in the program. If it doesn't work for you or if you are opposed to it, then you don't have to choose it. But I don't understand why that choice should be taken away from all of the families that find it effective.

Charlie Mas said...

Can we return to the original topic?

Is the cohort model the only delivery model that assures students of service? Do you believe that the District can or will assure students will be served in any other delivery model?

If there can be no assurance of service in any other delivery model, then doesn't that eliminate the need for any discussion and limit the selection to the cohort model?

Agree or disagree?

Anonymous said...

Insight from Nancy Robinson (of UW Robinson Center for Young Scholars):

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right: Sacrificing the Needs of Gifted Students Does Not Solve Society's Unsolved Problems

Written 10 years ago, but timely nonetheless.

fyi

dj said...

I have had one APP student in APP and one in an ALO, and the ALO model was "no gifted support" for three-quarters of the year and "extra spelling words" for the last quarter. We talked to the teacher, and the teacher's response was that she did not have time to do things like identify the kid's reading level. We tried to meet with the principal, but the principal cancelled our meeting and did not respond to attempts to reschedule. (We are sending that kid to the self-contained APP program next year). Our experience with APP hasn't been perfect, but it has been a heck of a lot better than our experience with non-APP "advanced learning."

NW Parent said...

Can someone here provide a link to a decent explanation of the cohort model being discussed?

Wow,DJ, sounds like ALO in your child's classroom was a disaster. I fear that would be the case district-wide if the whole system moves toward more of an ALO approach.

Charlie Mas said...

The cohort model is the idea of bringing the students together into classrooms of their intellectual peers (or near-peers). It's what you see in elementary APP, self-contained elementary Spectrum, and the authentic Spectrum and APP classes in middle schools. It's also what you see in middle school math classes - even though they are not self-contained Spectrum or APP classes. It's also what you see at Garfield where there are no classes specifically or exclusively for APP students, but the District has concentrated their assignment there so there are a lot of them in the school and in each other's classes.

These are all cohort models. It means that the students' classrooms are disproportionately populated with their intellectual peers.

dj's ALO experience is a perfect example of the concern with any delivery model other than cohort: it depends on the teacher to actually provide the instruction. That's not dependable.

Actually, it is dependable. You can depend on the inevitability that it will fail.

Unless the District can come up with some kind of effective guarantee. I'm not aware of any promise they could make that anyone would or could believe.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Since you asked, I would assume anything other than the cohort model would be equivalent to no services at all. I wish the district would put together an appropriate curriculum for APP elementary and middle school too - but I'm not holding my breath.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

fyi,

Thanks for the linked article! Such a well-reasoned response to so many questions we see here over and over again.

Lynn

TechyMom said...

Charlie, what about grade skipping? I know there are issues with it, but it does seem to pass your dependable test. Once you're skipped, you're getting higher level work.

Anonymous said...

When our child tested into APP, the Lowell principal told us that they would not offer instruction at her level. At that time they offered 2 subjects that were 2 grade levels ahead, period. They would not allow her to do independent work different from other kids in the classroom. We heard the same thing again when we looked into APP at middle school.

I don't see this as assuring service. They offered a program, if your student didn't fit, too bad. No flexibility. Just like many APP parents complain about in their neighborhood schools.

I would like to see more interest in meeting student academic needs & less emphasis on a standard program.

- Not enamored

Anonymous said...

Charlie says: But I don't understand why that choice should be taken away from all of the families that find it effective.

Ooh, ooh, I know, I know!:
Because, as Sam Rayburn said, Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.

If it works in SPS, then it's Elitist!

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Yes, and once again, what @Not enamored points out was also a criticism of the "one-size-fits-all" APP program under the 2007 review. Not much has changed. There aren't many other school options for those students.

Is your child still in SPS? I'd like to know what others do when private school isn't an option financially, and APP isn't serving a student's needs. What is working for families? There's a limit to what we can do at home.

-advice welcome

Charlie Mas said...

Grade skipping can work, but it's pretty much limited to one grade or two and students are often working three or four grade levels ahead.

Again, even if the instruction isn't there, the cohort can help, and two grade levels ahead is still better than not two grade levels ahead.

We keep hearing that differentiation is hard - if not impossible. That's true in the industrial-style instructional delivery system traditionally used in schools. There are, however, other instructional strategies that are more accommodating to differentiation. Project Based Learning, which I'm told is employed at Thurgood Marshall, allows for differentiation much more easily than the traditional instructional style.

Anonymous said...

I think skipping works for awhile, but once they've caught up to the new grade, the pace isn't right. The benefit is temporary and you've got to do it again. Also, at the end you're faced with early graduation - and many families don't want their kids headed off to college too early.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

The article addressed gifted students. The problem with APP is that there is a huge over identification bubble, as clearly evidenced from the 11.2 percent. Truly gifted students should have their needs met like the students who receive special education--in a continuum of services that best meet each child's needs.

The remaining students who are not gifted but are currently in APP and Spectrum need be taught at their instruction levels. The district needs to implement a strong PD program to help make this happen.
Also, since the demographics have changed with the neighborhood schools, more students will be with their peers anyway (a double edged sword, in other ways).

BTW, WSDWG: There have been many historical precedents where a group of people have been very happy with their share of the pie, even though the system was not ethical. Unjustifiable segregation, based mainly on race and family income, is one of these cases.

Gifted students should be placed in an appropriate setting. Public schools have certain basic values that do not include putting well prepared students who are not gifted into a special school or classroom all day.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

@Enough Already: Please elaborate on the "certain basic values" you're relying on, and how the groups you believe are unjustifiably segregated would be served as well, or better, in a different model. I have a feeling you're overlooking one of the single-most important factors that justify APP, which is that many of those kids were not served well at all in a traditional or Spectrum classroom in the first place. Had they been, many would not have opted for APP as a last resort, short of expensive private schools.

If it's former (or really should still be?) Spectrum kids you're pointing at, then I'm not sure how you justify "segration" for truly "gifted" kids, but not those who qualify and enter the program, but aren't truly "gifted" in your mind, or by some other measure.

History has also shown that too many APP kids could not be served in traditional classrooms, and very recent history - and parents voting with their feet - indicates that many folks don't feel cluster grouping of Spectrum kids works as well as self-containment did at Lawton and Wedgewood, for example, where many former Spectrum families left for APP or private schools. Do their wants and needs not count for anything?

It's easy to use loaded terms like "segregation" to malign people who are just trying to do right by their kids, and who deserve an appropriate education for them. But to call it "unjustifiable" is even more loaded.

Show me the proof that total inclusion in one classroom works best for all kids, and my eyes and ears will be wide open. But it didn't work before, which is why and how we wound up with self-contained classrooms in the first place.

If you don't like the idea of "segregation" by ability grouping, fine. But kids experience that in every aspect of their lives, from sports, to scouts, to grades in school. Why is AGE "segregation" okay, but ABILITY or capability "segregation" inherently wrong? Is cluster grouping not segregation in itself, btw? Will those clustered not be seen as "the smarter" kids in the class?

It's a huge can of worms, but I'd like to hear about the "certain basic values" you're referring to.

WSDWG

Maureen said...

Charlie, would you include true Brulles style cluster grouping (as I have seen described here) as a form of cohort, or equivalent to ALO (ie, nothing) OR as a possible third way? What about flipped classrooms with computer based acceleration?

I am also interested in what people see as a minimum effective cohort size for an individual child. I believe I have see it said here (by Charlie?) that a cohort must have two full classrooms per grade level (so 50-60 kids). In my limited experience (two data points over nine years each) a cohort size of about six per classroom combined with experienced teachers with a project based style can be effective. Though it can be undermined easily by the District (aligned curriculum, Discovery math).

Of course I can imagine it depends on the kid. I guess some kids will sink to whatever the lowest common denominator is, and some kids will rise. Is that why an effective cohort may have to be a complete classroom? I'm honestly asking. My kid #1 was very peer dependent, but six was enough. Kid #2 was more self directed. They had classmates who probably could have been academic peers, but chose to focus on relationships with other kids in the class, so probably didn't meet their full academic potential (though they seemed to benefit socially and were often class leaders.)

Or is a classroom size cohort necessary because we don't trust teachers or the District? So little of K-5 instruction requires teachers to lecture to all the kids at once these days. So much classroom work is done in small groups or individually, that it's not clear to me why all 25-30 kids have to be on the same page at any given time. (Different in High School of course.) Is the large cohort necessary so there are enough parents to pressure the admin to meet their kids' needs?

Part of my concern with self contained APP is that it skims off 12 % of the kids so leaves no peer group for the ones (1st-12%) left behind and nothing for the 13th percentile to aspire to. I don't think the current system is so perfect that it couldn't be tweaked to provide a chance for all kids to have a motivated peer group. If only 2-5% of the kids were being skimmed, I wouldn't worry so much, but 12% is a significant chunk of motivated kids to remove. (And please don't say that I want to trash your kid's education for some nebulous (and, you'll say, disputable) positive impact on the other 88%. We are comparing possible delivery models. What are the system wide pros and cons? Why is the current system preferable to other models?)

Anonymous said...

Advice Welcome,

We talked to our local elementary about it. They basically cobbled together different learning opportunities every year. Sometimes it was volunteer tutors or independent work or special projects with the librarian or walking to another teacher who was doing a unit that was appropriate. We usually had teachers who put together special materials & sought out learning opportunities. Often my child learned from the gen ed material like a unit on civil rights poetry or public speaking. I would say that my child was learning academically 50% of the time that the class spent on academics. Better than what APP offered us. She did most of her learning outside of school on her own just pursuing things she was interested in. We did not do workbooks or courses of any kind.

Middle school & high school were much less flexible. At middle school they offered appropriate math through independent study in class with teacher support. And of course, electives that were challenging & fun. That is 3 classes out of six but it seemed like less learning, so we added some online coursework in those years. High school allowed online coursework & running start, & electives were again the most engaging. Being able to test out of required classes would have helped a lot. I don't understand why they don't allow that.

If we had home schooled, it would have been much more academically appropriate, a completely individualized curriculum. The main reason for my child to attend school was to gain social skills, to be able to work with & communicate with different kinds of people. Working on projects with ELL kids & sped kids & gen ed kids as well as other advanced learners was the most valuable learning experience that my child had at school.

So not perfect, but better than nothing.

-not enamored

Anonymous said...

WSDWG

From the Supreme Court's ruling on Brown v. Board of Education:

Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0347_0483_ZO.html

These are the values I am referring to.

--enough already


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

Enough Already,

Could you answer a few questions for me too? I'd like to understand where you're coming from.

1. What professional qualifications do you have to identify gifted children?

2. What data are you using to identify children (other than your own) as gifted or not gifted?

3. Do you have a child enrolled in APP? Or eligible but not enrolled?

4. If you do not have a child enrolled in APP, how do you believe students currently in self-contained APP classes could improve your child's educational experience if they were returned to your neighborhood school?

5. How do you believe returning APP students to neighborhood schools would improve their educational experience?

6. If you have a child in APP, why did you enroll them in the program?

7. Do you believe the district spends more of it's money on APP students than non-APP students?

8. Where does your child attend school? (I would like to tell you if you've made the correct choice.)

9. I would love to enroll my child in a language immersion elementary school - but there is no opportunity for that in our attendance area. Do you think we should shut down our immersion programs?

10. One of my children plays a musical instrument but is actually not very talented. Do you think his school should rearrange it's musical program so that each group has a cluster of very talented musicians who can be good examples/leaders to the others?

11. Is there something your school could do differently that would improve your child's exerience? If it does not require moving someone else's children - I'll bet there are people here who would help you advocate for that change.

I'm eager to hear your responses.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Enough Already: Brown vs. Board of Ed? How convenient. So APP is a oonspiracy to deny children their constitutional rights. Now that's a new one I haven't heard yet. I guess that maks Bob Vaughan like Bull Connor or George Wallace then.

I'd hoped for more sincerity in your responses, than to label everyone in APP as racist segregationists. But if that's how you see it, then that's that.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Posted above w/o moniker:

Let us remember that 12% is one middle school, where we'd geographically expect an outlier population. The other is 6%. Elementary is lower.

It also allows the 13th percent to be leaders(why do they need kids above them to aspire to? Do APP kids need that? If so, cohorting them is just about the only way to get it for them, right? Since they'll all be ahead of the kids in their gen ed class in everything, but more likely to have other kids better in some subjects when they are put together?), when otherwise they're shouted down a lot. That is one of Brulles' big insights with that cluster model.

I have a lot to say about cohorts in classes(my kids also go to a project based school), which mostly is that I hear and believe it worked quite well for many APP kids several years ago, before class sizes ballooned and resources were quite so strapped. It also worked quite well for one of my children for several years(until it didn't, if that makes sense), having a little to do with her, but mostly to do with classroom dynamics and way above average teacher skill. It worked not at all-not one bit-for another one. Works great for my solidly gen ed kid, who has a few areas of strength.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

There's no evidence that the identification of gifted dos students has slowed. It has quadrupled in 5 years w APP. If we're lucky, half the district will be highly capable in a few years. And what's this talk of segregation? Lincoln has a black student. So, it does happen.

Reader

Anonymous said...

Actually some of your APP parents were against self contained spectrum and ability grouping while at Lawton. Now that their kids are in APP, they chose to send them to Lincoln and Hamilton. Go figure!

befuddled

Charlie Mas said...

Maureen, good questions, as usual.

I suspect that "true Brulles style cluster grouping" would be a legitimate form of cluster grouping. But who is going to police it?

I think that flipped classrooms and computer based acceleration are among the organizational strategies that facilitate differentiated instruction, but they don't guarantee it. What assurances would come with those structures?

It is district officials who have said that a cohort must have two full classrooms per grade level (so 50-60 kids), but the strong elementary Spectrum programs have only one class per grade. District officials say that at middle school it takes three or four classes per grade to form the needed critical mass.

I think we all acknowledge that there are structures, instructional strategies, and individual teachers who are capable of providing an appropriate academic opportunity for advanced learners outside of a self-contained classroom. What also needs to be acknowledged is how fragile and ephemeral those situations are and how the District cannot assure the quality or efficacy of these situations.

So, yes, the classroom size cohort is necessary because we don't trust teachers or the District.

It's not just lecture. Listen to the experiences of APP families. The Standards-based classroom puts a ceiling on student achievement in the name of horizontal and vertical alignment.

It's not political, but that can become an issue.

If self contained APP skimmed off 2 % of the kids and left no peer group for the ones (1st-2%) left behind and nothing for the 3rd percentile to aspire to, would that be okay?

I agree that the current system is not so perfect that it couldn't be tweaked to provide a chance for all kids to have a motivated peer group. The District is free to set the eligibility criteria for APP and Spectrum however they like.

Let's face it. The District is also free to assure appropriate academic opportunities for advanced learners in general education classrooms, but they haven't. That's the biggest system-wide con. That's why the current system is preferable to other models.

Presented with a situation in the the people who really have all of the power and really control everything won't do the one thing that they should do, advocates for advanced learners have to find a safe island in the flood. Self-contained is that island.

TechyMom said...

One could design a computer-based acceleration system that allowed the district to measure whether acceleration is actually happening in any given classroom, or for any given child. I know a lot of people don't like solutions that measure individual child and teacher data, but it is one way that the district could ensure that service is actually being provided both above and below grade level.

It has benefits over testing in that there is a lot more data, so a bad day doesn't skew results, and it's easier to spot patterns and address them. The downside, of course, is privacy. This stuff is coming. Parents, students, teachers and the community need to have a discussion about where the balance should be.

Anonymous said...

"So, yes, the classroom size cohort is necessary because we don't trust teachers or the District."

I'm sure all the teachers out there appreciate this comment. Sounds like Michelle Rhee on steroids.


--enough already

Anonymous said...

Techy Mom,

A computer-based test to determine progress? Or would the students who were prepared to move ahead be working independently on the computer? I think that kind of system is only justified if the district can't pull together more than one or two advanced students. Otherwise, they deserve to be taught be a teacher.

Lynn

TechyMom said...

Someone else suggested blended learning or a flipped classroom as on approach to acceleration. In these models, students progress through a curriculum on the computer, watching videos, reading, and doing exercises on the computer. Teachers act as mentors and tutors, helping kids decide what to study next, answer questions, encouraging, leading group and hands-on activities (labs, field trips, etc.). The data to measure acceleration is already there in such systems, because practice (what is now done as homework) is done in the system, as are unit tests.

I'll be honest here. I'm drawn to such systems because they fit my own learning style very well. My best educational experience was in an experimental self-paced school in the 70's. Without the technology, self-paced teaching requires lower ratios, as teachers need to help students one on one, rather than in groups. Montessori is also self-paced, though I believe there is more group teaching in sps Montessori classrooms than in many. I don't know if there is peer reviewed research on the effectiveness of blended learning and flipped classrooms.

I suspect part of the reason software people like them is that they have similar learning styles to mine, and were frustrated with lack of acceleration and deepening opportunities in their own educations. Anecdotally, that's true of a lot of the people I work with and know socially. The trick with these systems is to figure out how to get the "I love my teacher" aspect that's so important in elementary, and maybe less important in the learning style of kids like me who ended up in software than it is for some other kids.

But, my original point... These systems, if designed well, can facilitate acceleration, deepening, and branching into new subject matter. They can also measure how much that happens, at a student, classroom, school and district level. Maybe this can help get more kids theses opportunities. I, like any other data, could also be misused if the system is not designed well.

TechyMom said...

*It* could be misused, though I suppose I could too ;). Typing on a phone...

Anonymous said...

Let's,face it, with the SAP parents aren't going private if they have even the slightest commitment to public schools. It's the perfect time to revamp AL programs. Now, the expansion model to more sites seems in place but will it be accompanied by a drastic reduction in numbers of self contained classrooms? Will Spectrum meld with APP to form cluster groups at all schools? Will middle and high school grouping take on new models? Take the cohorts at Ballard for film and the other acadamies. Equity says they need to offered in all high schools or something similarly rigorous like IB. But what about equity within the school for kids who don't get in those cohorted programs? Or in middle school, the honors classes, while not cohorted year to year, will draw from the same pool, excluding sped, ell and low performing kids, who, as mentioned a few times recently, will be concentrated.
Maybe those kids, the hard to teach, will be clustered in classrooms with the gifted and high achievers.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Eldon,

Equity within the school for kids who are not in advanced learning programs? They already have access to classrooms set up just for them - evey non-AL classroom is designed for general ed students.

Why is this the perfect time to revamp Advanced Learning? And what changes would you like to see? And what would be the benefit of those changes?

Lynn

Anonymous said...

TechyMom,

I can see the appeal of that kind of an environment for some kids. I also attended a school during that period where the work was all self-paced. It was the least painful part of my early education.

I would have much preferred to have a classroom full of kids working at about the same pace as me. I think that would have been very helpful in improving my social skills too.

I think what you're describing would be great for some kids. It would make an interesting option school - but I woudn't want it to be the only way to access acceleration.

Lynn

dw said...

Here you go TechyMom,

Eleven "Steve Jobs schools" will open this fall in the Netherlands

Not even sure what to make of this. It seems like it could allow some atypical kids to thrive, but somehow I see "Fail" written all over this if it were to be implemented on any kind of wide scale.

I do see the possibility that systems like this could work well in specific areas, like math, where there is a well-defined path of topics to work through and master. I don't see it working nearly as well in social studies (the conversations with teachers and among peers need to be fluid and shared), and not very well at all in writing.

Also, when you say that the "data could also be misused if the system is not designed well", I'll slightly modify that to the "data will eventually be misused if the system is not designed well". In fact, I'll say that any large-scale data that can be tracked down to individual students is extremely likely to be misused no matter how it's designed. The only way to prevent abuse is to never let the data be distributed beyond the individual school or district data systems, and to attach "kill dates" when the data is automatically and irrecoverably destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Lynn said,

"They already have access to classrooms set up just for them - evey non-AL classroom is designed for general ed students."

"they" have classrooms filled with everybody who isn't gifted, i.e., every kid under 90% percentile who can operate outside of a selfcontained program. Maybe a range of 5 percentile thru 90. I hope my kid isn't in there. He is at about 88 percentile and will be the one who "doesn't need any attention because he'll do just fine". And the teacher needs to help boost up those under 50 percentile to close the "gap". Sucks for my kid, but, hey, those gifted kids are going to run the planet and deserve extra care and feeding. I can't remember, is that fascism or communism or meritocracy? Will those 10%ers see the rest of us as fully human?

Eldon

Anonymous said...

One thing that AL and gen ed can change is figuring out a way to accomodate students who are "gifted" in one area. It's very hard for many of these kids who can do algebra math (or even higher) by 4th and 5th grade, but can't access it until middle school, in some cases delayed until they are in 7th grade, unless they have an understanding teacher or principal. Or if they are very "gifted" verbally. There are little opportunities and sitting by themselves reading or writing individually doesn't really cut it. For these outliers, there isn't a cohort of even 3 kids in some of these gen ed classes. Adaptive computer classes may help, but again that isn't offered officially or consistently. I tutored some of these kids informally and it is very frustrating for all involved. These are the kids I send math workbooks and texts home for the summer. I give them lists of books to read and if their parents can swing it, some on line classes, and 826 writing programs.

uneven






Anonymous said...

Eldon,

I apologize - I assumed that you were one of the many posters whose only plan is to dissolve self-contained APP classrooms. At the 88th percentile, your child qualifies for Spectrum. If you are at a school with self-contained Spectrum, and didn't test in early enough to get a place in that classroom, I feel for you. A general ed classroom in that school is probably not a good fit for your kid.

What would you like to see changed in advanced learning? If you could have a Spectrum designation for math or language arts only, would that help? If students were guaranteed an advanced class? If Spectrum isn't self-contained, we could set up a system like that without CogAT testing. (Placement could be based on performance in each subject in the prior year/trimester/quarter.)

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Uneven, my son was one of those kids. He did not start out in WA, and we used a combination of homeschool, then Montessori, and eventually an alternative program, but none were really ideal. He was so far ahead in math but just "above average" in writing skills that he would not have qualified for APP even if we had lived here. By the time we moved here, he was completely turned off of school but I could no longer afford to stay at home. I have always felt like I failed him.

I think Lynn's idea of a Spectrum for one subject type alone would have been ideal for him and others like him. I would not have wanted self-contained though. His best friends were always kids with adventure in their hearts, regardless of ability in school.

Sad Mom

Anonymous said...

Will those 10%ers see the rest of us as fully human?

Eldon


Dear Eldon,

If you act fully human, and treat them as fully human; I expect that they will see you as fully human.

Prudie

Anonymous said...

Dear Prudie,
I don't doubt anyone's humanity or willingness to see it in others, I'm afraid that sell contained classrooms create an environment where kids are prevented from interacting on a daily basis in school with kids outside the cohort. And of course it works both ways, the non-gifted "regulars" view the self contained classrooms as being populated by snobby smart kids. It's a two way street where nobody gets out of their car to talk to each other. The needs of the gifted should be as important as any other students and if self contained is the only way to meet them and all parties are willing to deal with any and all consequences, then we should do it that way. However, I would suggest that we try to compromise and give cluster grouping a chance. In fact, the AL dept. was supposed to be following the performance of kids who switched from self contained to clustering. Where is that data?

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Eldon,

The district isn't doing actual cluster grouping anywhere. Any data they come up with would be a comparison between self-contained Spectrum and Spectrum-eligible students who were evenly dispersed through general education classrooms. So - a comparison of services and no services.

This is why parents are skeptical of any suggestion of reconfiguring AL programs.

Lynn

Charlie Mas said...

Eldon, dismantling self-contained isn't a compromise.

We already have the compromise you seek. Families that want self-contained have it and those who want inclusion have that. Self-contained Spectrum exists in only a very few schools.

So you have what you wanted. Please stop asking for more.

Anonymous said...

Effective cluster grouping as done in Paradise Valley is in fact a compromise. Embrace it, it's coming.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Eldon,

Effective cluster grouping seems to be quite a bit more expensive than our current system. Paradise Valley's gifted program employs the following personnel:

Gifted Education Specialists at each elementary school
Gifted Cluster Teachers at each elementary school
Gifted Education Liaisons at each middle and high school
Self-contained Gifted Program Teachers at the elementary and middle school levels
Self-contained Teachers for the Uniquely Gifted Program at the elementary and middle school levels
Honors, Advanced Placement, & International Baccalaureate Teachers, K-12
Administrative Assistant
Gifted Testing Technicians

You must realize that there is no way our district will spend extra money to educate the kids in an "elitist" gifted program. Any changes they make will be to remove services - not to replace them. Currently, they're talking about adding new elementary Spectrum programs for the Meany and Wilson Pacific attendance areas and expanding ALOs.

What do you think your school could do differently next year to challenge your child?

Lynn

dw said...

Effective cluster grouping as done in Paradise Valley is in fact a compromise. Embrace it, it's coming.

Eldon,

1) What on earth would lead you to believe that any kind of cluster-grouping-in-name-only that our district is doing would be "effective"? Quite the opposite has been happening, and absolutely nothing the district has done in this area would lead any sane person to have these expectations.

2) Why should we embrace it when there's a better solution available?

3) "it's coming." Are you privy to inside information? Or just guessing based on circumstances?

Maureen said...

Quite a ways up there, Charlie said If self contained APP skimmed off 2 % of the kids and left no peer group for the ones (1st-2%) left behind and nothing for the 3rd percentile to aspire to, would that be okay?

I think so. (Although 2% is a somewhat arbitrary cut point). I'm thinking about the shape of the tail of the distribution. From what I understand, 2% is way out there and each individual child who is on that part of the tail could be very isolated. Once you get down below 2% (and certainly once you get to 12%) the tail is much 'taller' and those kids have more company on that part of the distribution. Once you start factoring in kids who tested in at different ages and through multiple chances, the error bar around the 12th to (say) 3rd percentile is probably big enough that those kids would have peers in almost any school (or certainly within a MS service area). The ones at the absolute top won't have academic peers anywhere, so need a very different sort of advanced learning model.

I'm with Techymom on the programmed learning thing--I loved that model (had some version from about 4th-8th) and think it could be much better now with technology given proper teacher training and support. (Especially in math and reading, but even in social studies and science, technology could provide more depth of information and more complicated questions to answer.) It seems to me that if the random teachers in my small town Catholic school could handle it, the Seattle teachers could too. Is QA Elementary doing anything like this?

Anonymous said...

The AL audit already compared self contained APP students to APP eligible kids remaining in general ed and found test scores were actually lower in the self APP. The audit noted this as a peculiarity worthy of future investigation, but others think it a problem . If self containment doesn't yield significantly different academic results as measured by higher test scores for participants vs eligible nonpartcipants it should be abolished. Same for any service delivery vehicle.

Parent

Anonymous said...

Parent, I often wondered about that. When I proctored the MAP in elementary school, many of the kids asked me what their scores were and where to find it as they wanted to write that down to show their parents. I showed them the number and purely anecdotally here, I noted among the highest scores, many were spectrum/APP students, but I also noticed several students who didn't do pull out 1 year ahead math were also hitting the 97-99 percentile. Some of the spectrum students have tested into APP, others didn't do the CogAT re-test and continue on to their neighborhood MS and are taking more advanced math. Based on their MAP scores in elementary school, these kids did well. It would be interesting to see the comparison of these ES cohorts, now split into different MS and AL programs and how they do on MAP and EOC.

The only caveat is from what I've read about middle schools, nationally schools don't serve this population well overall. Students can stumble a bit here resulting in MS academics taking a hit. So if you have a large cohort such as APP with very engaged, focused parents, these students may have better academics outcome.

curious

Maureen said...

Can someone provide a link to the 2007 Advanced Learning Audit Report? I think someone posted it recently, but I can't find it.

Anonymous said...

The '07 report found as a "cause for concern" lower WASL reading scores for APP vs. APP eligible, but not attending, and their recommendation was to examine the curriculum, not scrap the program. Reading was the only area cited by the experts with lower than expected scores.

Yet, once again, the APP critics rejoice in any such finding, as a reason to say, "see, see, see how unfair/broken/inequitable/etc., etc." APP is!!" One area of lesser scores between groups that include 100% APP eligible kids is a reason to "abolish" an entire special needs program?

What's completely missed, once again, by APP critics, is that, as a special needs program, most kids in APP simply didn't function in the typical classroom environment, and for a variety of reasons, needed to switch cohorts. To the many kids in the top 2% who do fine in their neighborhood schools, good for them, as they do fine without needing a different cohort. That is not the case, however, for hundreds of APP's students who can give unending testimony of the challenges and failures they went through for years, before entering APP.

As a special needs program, APP is not all about performance and high marks that its critics imply are unfairly gained at someone else's expense. It's called a "special needs" program for a reason.

Perhaps its the case that, without APP for a large portion of it's students, those kids would be in deep trouble in their neighborhood schools, or driving their parents into poverty to get their needs met at a private school. I don't see how that would be helpful for the SPS community in the long run.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Maureen - I can't create a link - but I found it by searching for Evaluation Report Accelerated Progress Program on the district website.

WSDWG - I couldn't agree more. I read comments by critics of APP and think they don't know my kids. Nobody is missing them in their neighborhood school classrooms. My oldest was a friendless, depressed bundle of anxiety before we moved him to APP. He was not improving the educational environment for anyone. The peer group improved his life in a way nothing else could.

His test scores were the least of our troubles - they were high enough to begin with - and that was in spite of rather than due to his early educational experiences.

Lynn

Maureen said...

Thanks Lynn! Here's a live link to the 2007 APP Audit. I haven't read it all yet.

I can see why you would be annoyed by parent's comment:
If self containment doesn't yield significantly different academic results as measured by higher test scores for participants vs eligible nonpartcipants it should be abolished.

As you point out, there are nonacademic and/or unmeasured reasons for APP to exist. But don't you think it is kind of strange that unenrolled high testers do at least as well in reading as enrolled APP students overall? I understand that the ones whose schools are working for them are more likely to stay, but still...two years acceleration plus a population self selected to value APP and no significant positive difference in reading OR math scores? Could that imply that neighborhood schools have developed curricula that better address the needs of advanced learners than two years of acceleration (what ever that means in reading)? Should we look into that?

Go to page 16 of the report to read the concern:

Analysis of data on student achievement on the WASL indicates that both students in APP and those eligible for APP, but choosing not to participate, is very high relative to overall SPS performance. However, an ANOVA comparing APP eligible but not
attending versus APP eligible and also attending that compares the groups’ mean scale scores on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning is discouraging. The
ANOVA reveals APP eligible but not attending Lowell or Washington had
significantly higher WASL reading scores than the APP group who attended Lowell and Washington. There was no significant difference between groups on the math scale scores. Reasons for this discrepancy are unknown but cause for concern. It would be expected that an advanced curriculum would result in higher scores. Perhaps the curriculum of the APP program fails to address the standards measured by WASL fully or at least as directly or fully as the general education curriculum. It is possible that the students at Lowell and Washington do not take the test as
seriously. This difference, in any case, is cause for concern and suggestive of need to re-examine curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Maureen,

I'm not personally concerned about the reading scores. I believe they looked at scores for just one year - so were measuring reading skills on one day. It looks like a year ago APP students at TM and Lincoln were 99% and 100% proficient on the state reading test.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

No, Maureen, it doesn't imply that at all. It implies and demonstrates that there are super bright kids all over Seattle outside APP who do not need the services offered by APP to "special needs" kids. So, why the glee at the thought of destroying and abolishing a program that has been the only refuge for many advanced learners who cannot function in a regular classroom? The only thing I see implied is that some people are incredibly fixated on test scores and achievement, to the exclusion of all the other reasons why Highly Capable programs exist. No one within APP considers it a "golden ticket" although I read and hear that a lot from people outside the program who have no understanding at all of the emotional issues that accompany many kids in APP which impede their learning in a traditional classroom environment.

What it may also imply is that many others who resent APP can find many examples of others who do just fine without it. So, why the resentment toward others?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

the issue goes back to the question, do 12% of northend middleschoolers have special needs relating to giftedness that require selfcontained to accommodate?

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Eldon,

What does your child need? Brulles-style cluster grouping would put more Spectrum kids back in his or her classroom. Would that help? APP kids and Spectrum kids would not be placed in the same room - so how would dissolving APP affect you?

If all the kids in self-contained Spectrum classrooms were returned to their neighborhood schools - how could we ensure their teachers will differentiate instruction for them?

I feel for you. Can we work together on a realistic solution? My kids will not be returning to a general ed classroom. I think the disproportionate number of APP students in the north end is proof that we're not the only family in SPS only for APP.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

If a kid needs self contained to survive she should get it.if she just needs harder work to stay challenged, she should get it in a mixed class like everybody else. Differentitiation is doable and it is equitable.dissolving APP is not the goal, saving it for those who truly need it, is. Just like self contained classes for discipline or other special needs kids.
The legacy of APP is one of parents finding a safe and rigorous path for kids who otherwise languished at lackluster neighborhood schools. The district needs to convince parents that their kids will not just do as well, but do better staying closer to home. So far, parents in APP are far from convinced and the wagons are circling. Sue Peters is their great white hope. I am very curious what her thoughts are on this issue.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

WSDWG can you explain for me what you mean by "special needs"? From reading your post, I think you're saying that some APP-level kids don't need APP for the academics so much as the social/emotional aspect-am I understanding you correctly?

If that's so, perhaps there should be another special designation-highly gifted kids who also have special non-academic needs over and above being in a classroom with other bright children.

I'm not really up on this-is APP actually designated as a program for gifted AND social/emotional/other special needs? I don't mean 2e-that doesn't seem to fit what you're saying.

If that's the case, it should be very clearly stated in all district literature as some kids, no matter how bright they are, wouldn't need it. If it is NOT, but such a program is NEEDED, then perhaps that's the answer-split APP into a gifted but typical cohort and gifted but special needs cohort. Or am I misunderstanding you?

My ex, for example, is highly gifted. Had he grown up in Seattle, he most certainly would have qualified for APP. He also found out only recently that he has Asberger's. The special needs cohort would have suited him as well. My current husband is also tested as gifted but has always been able to adapt in "gen ed" classrooms and work with "typical" people. My ex prefers to surround himself with others like him. School was a special kind of hell for him. Using these two as an example, I can surely see the need for more than one kind of highly capable program.

Call me Confused

Anonymous said...

Advanced learning is about the academics. It is not about social needs. Kids at all learning levels have many different social and emotional needs. Please talk to special ed staff and any classroom teacher.

mud

Anonymous said...

Mud, that's what I was thinking, but having no experience with either, I thought WSDWG was saying that there IS an emotional/social component. And I've seen several APP parents saying something similar, that it wasn't just the lack of academic support at their neighborhood schools that was the problem, it was not having access to other bright kids. But I don't know much about this issue, so that's why I asked him/her.

Confused

Anonymous said...

The AL website says: "Students who are academically highly gifted present significantly different learning styles, learning pace, and curricular needs that require comprehensive and substantial modification to the general education curriculum and classroom experience to achieve educational benefit." That is the main reason APP exists. So much modification to the general education curriculum and classroom experience would be required that the effort to do so is not worthwhile. To give these kids a fair chance at "achieving educational benefit" would result in shortchanging their classmates.

One of the four guiding principles of the program is "Support student social/emotional development as well as academic development."

So, if the district is correct and these children require the program to achieve educational benefit, what are the possible negative repercussions if we do not provide it? Some become lazy. What is the point of working really hard on something you can already do? Some develop the superior attitude people are always afraid APP will give them. Moving from a situation where you're the one who always knows the answer to a classroom where everyone is as smart as you cures this. Some become perfectionists. If you have no experience with working on things that are hard, failure can be terrifying. I have seen all of these in my house.

The point is that these kids are learning in their APP classrooms, and the district and their parents believe that is the best place for them. They all need it for educational reasons. Some of them suffer more from not having their educational needs met than others.

I really do not understand why so many of you are so invested in shrinking/dissolving/canceling a program that meets someone else's needs.

If you don't want your kids in a self contained class - don't put them there.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Mud and Confused,

The AL website has a link to Resources for Gifted Students. I recommend checking out the National Association for Gifted Children and Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted if you'd like to learn more.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

As I said before, my kid is at 88 percentile. I want him in a self contained classroom of kids from 85 to 95 percentile so he doesn't get superior or lazy. Where is my self contained option? My other kid is a solid 75 percentile kid, where is her classroom of self contained that will maximize her talents by not boring her and also keeping her humble?
And my 50 percentile, exactly average kid needs a cohort of 5 percentile points on either side to maximize his academic success. Where is his self contained classroom? Yes Lynn, I want self contained and a cohort year after year but I can't get it.

Eldon

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

Show me research that says such grouping is detrimental and I will support you.
In fact,ability grouping at all levels is supported by research. also research show teaching all kids as gifted produces favorable results. Gifted kids deserve as much as anybody else and as I have said, if they can only do well in self contained, they should get it. And that reddest of herrings about if I don't like it, don't do it, well Lynn, WSDWG et al., it seems that the public part of public school wanders from your minds at times. We are all in this together and we all want the best for all kids and all our society. and if you don't like that, then get the hell out of public school.

Eldon
Eldon

Anonymous said...

...my kid is at 88 percentile. I want him in a self contained classroom of kids from 85 to 95 percentile so he doesn't get superior or lazy. Where is my self contained option? My other kid is a solid 75 percentile kid, where is her classroom of self contained that will maximize her talents by not boring her and also keeping her humble? And my 50 percentile, exactly average kid needs a cohort of 5 percentile points on either side to maximize his academic success. Where is his self contained classroom?

Now you're just being obtuse. Kids at the outer edge of the bell curve think and learn differently than those near the middle. We can debate where cutoffs might be best set to meet the needs of highly gifted kids while maintaining a robust cohort, but you don't seriously think that your 50%-ile kid has significantly different needs from a peer at the 40 or 60 %-ile, do you?

Prudie

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I am quite familiar with NAGC, Davidson, Hoagie, UW early entrance, etc. Did the research for my own kids. What I want is the advanced learning part. It's not that my kids don't have social emotional issues. They do, but I can't justify that part as being a unique criteria to AL. I can't make that argument to any parent in SPS with a straight face. These gifted sites have great recommendations and high brow mission just like most child advocacy groups, bu what sounds good to read is rarely what students find in practice. It's not helpful throwing spectrum out as a program to students when their school or cluster doesn't offer it by self containment or cluster grouping.

mud

Anonymous said...

I will add my advocacy for advanced learning means it comes with both praise and criticsm. Fixing the problems of AL means fixing a lot of wrongs in SPS first. Fixing the problems of AL means fixing the admin and delivery issues of SPED. And many other programs and services like it.

mud

Charlie Mas said...

Eldon wrote:

"if she just needs harder work to stay challenged, she should get it in a mixed class like everybody else. Differentiation is doable and it is equitable."

No. It isn't doable. That's the point. It may be "doable" in theory, but not in practice.

When the District demonstrates that differentiation is real and reliable, then we can have this conversation. We're a long way from there. A long way.

Right now, we have a majority of teachers who adamantly REFUSE to differentiate in their classrooms to accommodate the needs of advanced learners. Their focus is on bringing all students up to the standards, not on supporting students working beyond the standards.

"dissolving APP is not the goal, saving it for those who truly need it, is."

Since differentiation is not doable, the number of students who "truly need it" goes way, way up. It's 6% of the middle school students in the south-end and 12% of the middle school students in the north-end.

Before the bridges were built across Lake Washington, there was a ferry. The bridges are clearly better. I'm all for building a bridge, but let's keep the ferry service running until the bridge is built. Otherwise you'll have people driving off the end of a half-built bridge.

Maureen said...

So, this thread is about Advanced Learning Service Delivery Models.

I may be missing some smaller single posts but from the amount of energy (at least words typed) put into the current system's defense here it sounds to me like current APP families think that the optimal Delivery Model is a self contained cohort that works towards (say by 4th grade) teaching the standard district curriculum accelerated by two years. The cohort is chosen by a combination of MAP/Cogat (or similar private testing.) The model is provided at the most at two K-5 and two 6-8 schools in the city and entry before 8th grade ensures enrollment at one of two cohort based HS models. Correct?

People who didn't choose to enroll their kids in that current model (or withdrew them) think some version of differentiation, classroom by classroom (perhaps with a cluster model?) would be better. Correct?

Personally, I think some version of what I think of as IPP should be available for kids who are way out there. They would be transported to a single centrally located school (close to a HS and a college) K-8 and provided with teachers that serve as guides for self study in different subject areas. (Nova ish? or like home schooling?) Technology would be utilized to make sure they all advanced at their own rate. Age groupings would be irrelevant. The model would be so out there, that only the kids who really 'need it' would enroll. I'm not sure testing would even be necessary (except maybe to get state funding for transportation?)

I have to think harder about what I think the model should be for more run of the mill advanced learners. But I think there should be an opt in element and that it should be offered more widely than APP currently is. Students would be welcome to move back and forth between IPP and the other advanced learner centers at any time. IPP students could participate in activities and sports at those schools as well.

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

IPP served 75 children in it's early years. I think for those kids who are in the 99.9th percentile, this sounds like a lovely solution. APP is no more able to meet their needs than our neighborhood schools are prepared to meet the needs of the other 2,000 or so children in APP.

I don't think the current delivery method is perfect. There should be more differentiation in the classroom for the wide range of abilities. There should be an actual curriculum chosen to meet the particular needs of these kids.

I think the cohort sizes suggested by the district would be appropriate. If we had a curriculum and teachers and administrators who chose to work in the program - and supported it - and were encouraged to work together, we would be more comfortable with splitting up into three sites per level and eventually four.

I'm curious to hear what someone with kids in Spectrum would like to see for their progam.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

As I see it the number of posts defending the self contained program are really thinking that the other option is nothing. Which it is, so far. They/we think this because so far each time the district has made changes in recent memory it's been to the bad for advanced learners. So far, when my APP child has been in a "differentiated" classroom, zero thing have happened to differentiate. I see these Gen ed classrooms work very well for most kids in them(including one of mine who is solidly gen Ed, a little ahead in math, but within range for everything else) so I don't see being in gen Ed as the punishment so many other anti APP posters on here do. Self contained appears to be the only thing the district has to offer even moderately consistently for any acceleration at all right now. I think with much smaller class sizes and less emphasis on standards, in the past, the district has managed to offer more differentiation. big classes and heavy standards focus are here for the foreseeable future, though, so I have to think about how to offer acceleration in this world, not a hypothetical one.

I don't think APP should be just two years ahead. I think it should be 2-5 or more, start at 2(which is why I think there should be some achievement testing to get in) and be able to differentiate up. But this requires fewer sites for the program (so that my kid who needs more like 5 years acceleration has learning group peers), and a stronger set of Spectrum programs for kids up to 2 years ahead in neighborhood clusters. And hopefully standard walk to math and reading, and clusters for peer writing projects after second or third grade, while I'm dreaming.

I would also like to hear from Spectrum parents.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Nice words, Eldon. As Prudie points out, the distribution of students puts the APP kids in the skinny tail of the bell curve. Some APP kids are true geniuses, but most aren't. The scale doesn't go to 150%, but if it did, their would be some kids at the top end of that scale, too. Don't misunderstand what the "top 2%" actually means in context.

The social/emotional component of the program is required because many of the HC kids shoulder far more concern about the world around them than the average kids, leading to perfectionism, depression, anxiety, stress, and a host of other complicating factors that come with a kid who can read and understand the A and B sections of the newspaper, but not put in in perspective like adults can, due to the wisdom of experience that comes with years of living these kids haven't had yet.

Some HC kids can and will succeed anywhere, and don't go the APP route because they don't have to. Most APP kids have run out of options and its a god-send for parents who've had misdiagnosed and mislabeled "problem kids" in their regular classrooms.

Now, with the change of the Spectrum delivery models to apparent faux cluster grouping, APP has swelled far beyond where it would have been, I think, with essentially displaced, former self-contained Spectrum kids from other schools. I'd like to see if and how cluster grouping is working at Lawton and Wedgewood with the Spectrum kids, but the majority of the feedback I've gotten is resoundingly negative.

If you have two kids who are average or above average, their needs should be met in a regular classroom. For your 88% child, if the district was doing what it promised, he or she would have a Spectrum school in your area as an option, or ALO's within his or her own school to ensure your child is properly challenged and thriving.

As it appears that is not happening for your family, the fault is not on APP or self-containment, but with the offerings, or lack of appropriate "differentiation" in your classroom, which, ironically, is what your arguments depend upon.

If differentiation works so well, what's the problem?

I don't understand the animosity or charges of entitlement toward others who are happy in their schools or programs. Must everyone be displeased and miserable for public schools to be truly public? Or can we not just insist on better functioning schools district-wide?

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Sage words WSDWG
The bottom line is this IMO,
Does the APP program currently have any adverse affect on students in SDS whether in or out of the program?

I think the deal breaker is the increased concentration of hard goo teach kids, and the range of abilities in the schools after APP kids leave. 12% leave northend middle schools for APP, leaving remaining 88% with increased percentage of kids below grade level, sped, ell, etc.
as far as Charlie's analogy, yes something effective should be in place before shrinking APP and I believe that is what some of talk about here a lot. Walk to math, walk to reading and writing, cluster grouping. It is being tried, but how can it be tried out if there are no kids left to try it?
As far as Lawton and Wedgwood, my info is different. Walk tos in math and reading are in fact happening and they are quite popular with many parents. Whereas self contained Spectrum at Whittier continues to be a nightmare for those who can't get in a classroom. There are no walk tos so qualified kids get no advanced classes and non qualified but capable in one or two subjects also get nothing advanced. By your analogy, Charlie, we would never send anything into space or initiate a science experiment, because we haven't done it before. Sometimes a need creates a solution, I'm sure you would agree. The old adage that things have to get worse to get better may apply here. I hope not, and if folks were more solution oriented and proactive instead of wagon-circling, it might be better for all the kids.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

You ask: How can it be tried if there are no kids left to try it?

The flip side of that argument is the exploitation of other children to be used as pawns to increase demand and services at your school so your kids can benefit, is it not? And that's okay and ethical? I don't think so.

Most want what's best for their kids, granted, and are willing to adapt and bend over backwards to get the best they can. Fine. No problem.

But disrupting a solid program that works incredibly well for many families in order to feather one's own nest is pretty unseemly, and that appears to be the crux of your arguments.

If the only way you think we can increase educational opportunities for more kids is to distribute the student-body (literally) "talent pool" (for lack of a better term) across the district in clusters, then I think we've surrendered the notion that any kid anywhere in the district can still get a good education in SPS. Seems you're qualifying that by saying, "only if you go to school with the 'right' people."

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but when we start advocating using others' kids as pawns to get what we want or need for our own, it looks a lot like "who you know" vs. "what you know" matters a little too much, which to me is surrendering to aristocratic notions and ideas about success that I hoped, by now, we'd gotten past. Yes, I know many people still think and operate that way, but I'd hoped we were more progressive than that around here.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

WSDWG, I want to see the study that shows HC kids shoulder far more concern about the world than the average kid? You must understand how that statement irks my HC kid to no end. Why? It's such an assumption that leaves the "average kid" as what... Less caring, less concern?? Is that true? That an average kid can't become anxious and concern when they volunteer at food bank or distribute toiletries at shelters. That a average kid can't become concern when they see their friend coming to school without a coat and often wearing the same clothes day after day. These kids were concerned enough to finally ask their parent to see if they can bring a spare coat and some new clothes for their classmate and to do it quietly so not to embarass the child (this happened in 3rd grade). My HC kid and her not so HC friends care a gret deal and I would be hard press to see if being HC edges out on the caring scale!

I like to think you misspoke here. If not, I want a lot of proof to back that up. I work with kids who care a great deal. They may never be national merit scholars, but they take on such life's responsibilities at such a young age while living in constant state of anxiety and turmoil and still they remain caring, loving, and giving. They give back to their community through volunteering at their church, temple, and mosque. They volunteer their summer as math/reading tutors, translators, at local food bank (which some of them at the end of their shift take a bag of food home), and by making hot meals for elders in their community. None of this is an extraordinary act of kindness by these kids' standard. This is what you are supposed to do! They worry about their cousins in refugee camps and are far more aware of life's fickleness and misfortunes of war than my HC kid will ever understand.

mud

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that taking a proven effective program without at minimum a plan for equal or better outcomes is unreasonable. That is apparently what happened at Wedgwood and Lawton. It is However, impossible to know if an untried, in our district anyway, replacement will work. So what to do? If everybody was happy and there were absolutely no side effects of expanding or continuing the size of APP, it might be OK. But there are side effects as mentioned ad nauseum. That is why many districts are scaling back self contained gifted. AL is a great way to get certain families invested in public schools and retain them. So nobody wants to throw out the proverbial baby, but also nobody wants a tiered system or the appearance of one. It seems change is coming and it could help all kids, in and out of AL. But in the words of Ronald Reagan, trust and verify. As far as digging in your heels, I say good strategic move but don't get carried away.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Oh ya, differentiation is doable. Cluster grouping is research proven effective. I personally know an elementary teacher who teaches math at several levels in one classroom. It is not quite rocket science, although admittedly it takes skill and training.do you really think our teachers are incapable? I don't.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

A certain kind of cluster grouping is proven effective. And is used in a district with a much, much more robust advanced learning program than we have, and is considered by the researchers to be inferior to self contained. The kind sps has been using is research proven ineffective.

The middle school service area with the highest percentage of app students also has the lowest percentage of sped students, so even with the app students taken out has disproportionately few hard to teach students. In order to even it out, what you'll need to do is bus in some "hard to teach" students from other parts of town, in addition to getting rid of the the "easy to teach" app students (which, by the way, I'm not sure of. They are easy to get to standard, because they are already there. That's not the same as being easy to have in a classroom or make progress with). This is not an issue with the advanced learning program, but with inequality and urban living generally. Getting rid of advanced learning will not help those problems and will just educate fewer students.

I have children in general Ed classrooms, and they are not noisier or harder to learn in than the app classrooms I have been in. There are more adults per child, and they are usually smaller. They are just two years behind, where the kids in them are. I didn't want my app kid out of them because they were "bad." I wanted the kid out because I wanted the kid to learn math and reading at school.

Sleeper

Charlie Mas said...

Isolated incidences of differentiation are not evidence that the district can take it to scale.

The overwhelming absence of differentiation is, however, evidence that the District cannot take it to scale without making some kind of radical change. I don't see any radical change coming, do you?

pm said...

I think a bigger issue than the existence of APP is the existence of segregated schools within the district. A student will have a very different experience at View Ridge (71% white, 4% FRL, student mobility of 3%, high test scores) than at Hawthorne Elementary (80% FRL, 32% student mobility, 21-44% pass rates on the MSP). At Hawthorne, even the APP/Spectrum identified kids aren't doing well (69% reading pass rate on the MSP). Why aren't people up in arms about this sort of injustice?

Anonymous said...

Eldon, I actually DO think some teachers are incapable of effective differentiation--particularly in the higher level elementary grades. For example, we've had elementary teachers who are very weak in math. If you have a 5th graders doing algebra or geometry, do you really think most elementary teachers are in a position to help with that? I know that my child was pretty much on his own, and imagine others have found the same. I've also seen the same with science, with gifted students having a much better handle on the concepts than their elementary teachers--because many of these kids read textbooks for "fun", whereas their teachers never liked math and science and only ever did the minimum, many years ago.

I agree there are many great teachers out there, and many who could be teaching at a higher level. But there are also some elementary teachers who don't have the background to be effective at the middle school level--whether via actually teaching middle school, or via "differentiating" up to that level.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

pm,

The schools are economically segregated because we live in segregated neighborhoods. Barring bussing kids between regions, I don't know how the district can change this. Kids living in poverty are generally not as prepared for school in kindergarten and they rarely catch up.

We need to improve the environments around these schools if we want to improve educational outcomes in them.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

PM, you know why. You think you are gonna find many Hawthorne parents posting on this blog? (If you know of motivated 5th graders PM, nudge them to Rainier Scholars for consideration, will you?)

Besides you'll get all the usual push back with such comparison like the school getting more $ per student than View Ridge, SIG grant, and full day K paid for too! And of course the usual inequity issues like affordable housing, lack of better paying jobs, etc. which leads to economic segregation (in this post racial society of course) and all these inherent problems appear insurmountable (so why even try?) and voila, hands are tied, nothing can be done, move along.....

Cue back to buzz filled discussions like which system has smarter kids: private or public, which city is smarter and the app that can get you there, APP critics, W-P for APP, APP splits, etc.

hornet

Anonymous said...

PM, if you are Hawthorne parent, you know this already. The school is turning around with STEAM and energetic leaders. It takes time for numbers to catch up :)

hornet

Charlie Mas said...

The early data on the turnaround effort at Hawthorne is promising. Even more promising are the reports of community culture there.

Hawthorne had the very worst outcomes in the District just a few years ago. The issue HAS been noticed and it has been addressed. The school has seen a lot of effort and investment and we need to give that time to work.

Anonymous said...

One question about the ANOVA done on APP vs. APP not in APP cohort, what were the samples sizes? If they aren't of comparable size, then the ANOVA must be adjusted for unequal sample size.

HP

Anonymous said...

So I looked through the report and saw a report on an ANOVA but no data. I don't believe their ANOVA was done correctly unless I can see the data results from MiniTAB or JMP or a comparable software showing all the criteria. Saying you did an ANOVA without any of the background is useless. There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

HP

Anonymous said...

Also re: the 2007 report and absence of better outcomes for APP in comparison to eligibles but not attending, there are probably a number of other factors they did not consider but that may impact the findings. There is likely selection bias, for one. Families at schools that do differentiate well may be more likely to stay at their current school, with those at schools that don't provide good supports for advanced learners may opt to leave. Had those kids stayed, would their scores have been just as high? Another factor is outside supplementation. Just because a kid stays at the neighborhood school, it does not mean that school is necessarily the cause for their high scores. Parents often provide additional learning opps for their kids--themselves, via tutoring centers, or through online programs for gifted youth-- and these likely factor into schools. A parent who is more able to ensure a kid gets this extra opportunity may be more willing to opt out of APP. Personally, I know both of my kids have contributed high scores to the APP-eligible-but-not-enrolled groups, and these scores had little if anything to do with the in-class instruction or curriculum. Unless the evaluation is controlling for things like this, the comparison is meaningless.

HIMSmom

Pm said...

Another potential confounding variable is the appeals process. My guess is that most of the people who appeal with outside test scores enroll in APP. In contrast, the kids who qualify through district testing may be more likely thean kids in the appeal group to stay at the local school, especially if it offers spectrum or ALO.