Saturday, June 01, 2013

Advanced Learning Survey

Shauna Heath, the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction, has posted a survey about the character traits we look for in our next Manager of the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs.

Please do let her know.

The survey is one page with these five rather open-ended questions:

  1. What qualities do you think are the most important to have in a Program Manager of Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs?
  2. What do you think has been working well in the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs this year under the current Program Manager?
  3. What would have improved the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs this year?
  4. Is there anything the school district can do to better support the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Department and staff?
  5. Please let us know if you have additional comments:


Charlie Mas said...

I answered the questions by saying that the next program manager should advocate for the programs, engage the community and unite the community which has been scattered.

I wrote that the testing went smoothly, but that the tests were the wrong ones.

I told her that the programs needed enforcement and measures of efficacy.

Anything the district did to support advanced learning would be better than the zero support the programs now get. I suggested the long-promised curriculum for APP, a curriculum for Spectrum and ALOs, enforcement of the delivery model for Spectrum, enforcement of the actual existence of ALOs, and measures of efficacy for all of the programs.

In my additional comments I wrote that the district needs to set a Vision, then write a policy to realize that Vision, then enforce the policy. Today we have no Vision, no policy, and no enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Charlie - isn't this the edu-crat who wants to delay getting rid of CMP for middle school because ...

the more time she spends puttering around making solvable problems look like some kind of Star Trek let's-invent-a-warp-drive problem, the longer she gets paychecks?

If the LEVs and SFCs and Rodney Toms and sordid deformers REALLY wanted to change education, they'd make sure people like her are fired. Unsurprisingly, the deformers want to replace people like her with their cronies - and the kids will get


Zella917 said...

I said a lot of the same things as Charlie. I asked for a new program manager who would be an advocate, and for an APP curriculum, especially if the program is to be split several more times. I asked for guaranteed Spectrum placement, ALOs in every elementary, and a real standard for what an ALO should be. And while I was in fantasy land, I said they should try to get back some of the wonderful, experienced APP teachers that have been forced into retirement in the last few years. I don't think most of these things will happen, especially my last request, but I figured I might as well ask!

Charlie Mas said...

I have to wonder why they are doing this.

I would like to maintain the belief that Ms Heath is sincerely interested in getting input from the community on the decision.

I would like to believe that, but it wouldn't be consistent with the intensely political culture of Seattle Public Schools. I use a working definition of "political" which refers to people saying and doing things primarily for the impression it will make on others rather than for any intrinsic or natural reason. If you believe this is a political move rather than a sincere move, then Ms Heath is conducting the survey to create the illusion of engagement or to provide cover for some future act.

I think it unusually bad timing that the District is changing the leadership for Advanced Learning at the same time that they are looking to set a Vision for Advanced Learning, write an Advanced Learning policy, revise the delivery models for APP and Spectrum, and re-arrange the program placement.

They did the same with Special Education, but in that case they held off on the program reform until AFTER they hired the new leadership.

I don't think they are going to delay the reform of Advanced Learning until after the new program manager is settled in place.

I think it's very likely, however, that they will hire the candidate who is willing to subscribe to the reforms that they already have planned.

Charlie Mas said...

What if a lot of people answer the survey by saying that they mostly want someone who will stand up against the district leadership?

Jon said...

Given the vague and open-ended questions, the survey almost certainly is just a cover for a claim they did community engagement. In the past, with things like this, anything people say is ignored, and they do what they were going to do anyway.

Anonymous said...

I received a couple of emails re this survey, but no working link! Can someone post the direct link to it, please.


Anonymous said...

Survey for Advanced Learning Families


HIMS mom

Meg said...

Any AL program manager will have a tough row to hoe - Teaching & Learning staff is quite hostile to all advanced learning programs.

The future AL manager would have to be a tenacious, persuasive believer that highly capable students deserve to learn at school, just like every other student. And having those qualities STILL might not be enough to keep JSCEE staff from sallying forth to use scarce resources to attempt to further divide an adequately functioning, cost-neutral program instead of using those resources to help struggling programs and students.

But really, who thinks there's a good chance that JSCEE staff wants someone who will do a bang-up job of advocating for the nerds? Please, write me if you do. I have a bridge project to sell you.

Anonymous said...

Is AL cost neutral? I don't think so. There's no funding for spectrum or ALO. There's growth in APP which in turn leads to consequences as that growth runs into overall capacity issue across the whole district. When you have continual restructuring and many moving parts, there's going to be more cost. We have budget gaps and what I see is triage. We nerds have to get in line next to SPED parents, overcrowded school, gen ed parents, language immersion parents, Native American parents, etc. I can't blame all teachers and building staff for not focusing on AL with the same degree of concerns. Their jobs are to meet the different needs of all those children AND their parents. The strategy for my children is to adapt.

Meg said...

newt, I should have been clearer.

An APP student who is eligible for transportation is less expensive for SPS than a gen ed student who is eligible for transportation. Is the student less expensive, total? No. But for SPS, APP students draw less out from the general fund.

Why? SPS gets earmarked transportation money from the state for transporting highly capable students to a suitable program (there's not additional transportation money for Spectrum or ALO students).

Highly capable transportation money has been allocated on a per-nerd bussed basis, so APP's growth doesn't make educating APP students more expensive for SPS.

And if one assumes that any student currently in APP would be somewhere in SPS, anyway, the earmarked transportation money means that a student's participation in APP would make them cost the same or less than a gen ed student (a gen ed student who qualifies for transportation would be more expensive for SPS than any APP student).

Side note: SPS has traditionally gotten a net positive from APP transportation by piggybacking transportation for other programs onto APP transportation.

You would be mistaken if you're under the impression that APP or any other advanced learning program, is causing SPS's capacity woes.

Capacity issues are being caused by total growth, not APP growth, particularly in the north end.

Since 2000, Eckstein's assignment area kindergarten enrollment has gone up by about 250 students. In the same time frame, Whitman's assignment area K enrollment has grown by 300 students. Those are both assignment areas without APP.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the only costs to AL involve the screening tests, central office staffing, and busing to the elementary school, which is paid for from a grant, I think. The teachers receive no extra pay nor any extra training or PD, and the facilities, books, supplies, etc are no different for AL programs than they are for any other students. Not sure how to do it any cheaper than this, other than stopping any screening.


Anonymous said...

Any data on the amount of movement between private schools and SPS in the last few years? The PI reported a couple of days ago that a whopping 28.6% of Seattle kids attend private school (presumably that includes parochial), and we are number 1 on the state. A small amount of movement out of private and into public would account for significant growth in capacity at those rates.

According to the PI, there are a lot of places in Washington where the private school rate is in the 10-15% range, so Seattle clearly tops the list by a significant amount. I rarely hear about this huge disparity affects funding, AL programs, and other issues that frequently pop up here. Such a huge private school rate must affect all these things.


Anonymous said...

It's not that APP is causing capacity issue in the sense that APP is adding more students to the district. It's the management of multiple programs and services that add to capacity woes. That is the trade off with any self contained program like AL or language immersion. In some ways this affect SPED delivery too even though its delivery mode is supposed to be least restrictive. It would be one thing if our schools exist on vast parcels of land and SPS has the funds to keep expanding on the same site to meet growth. As to cost, I like to see that breakdown from transportation, AL admin staff, testing, PD, etc. I value spectrum and ALO and would like to include that in AL because there are kids who are highly capable in STEM or LAs, but fail to meet APP criteria and are out in gen ed classes (or if they are lucky are receiving meaningful spectrum, ALO, or differentiation instruction).

SPS isn't alone in this. Bellevue is facing similar problems with overall growth and the district is creating more AL sites as they have a tier and self contained system similar to SPS.


Anonymous said...

I try to follow AL news at the state level. Here's an interesting legislation aimed toward AL in HS. Good capture of opinions from supporters and opposers. From Kent Reporter:


The bill 1642 passed with some modifications with Gov.'s signature. Money comes in one time competitive grant to districts that seek funding.


Anonymous said...

Offhand language by Meg, but it sparked a thought for my survey. The nerd thing, well, APP isn't for nerds anymore. If you're doing stereotypes and nerds is the opposite of bully, well, there are plenty of those and nerds are certainly outnumbered these days, not necessarily just by bullies but there's no obvious majority of nerds anymore.

Last year

Charlie Mas said...

newt, APP actually eases the district's capacity problems by creating a non-geographic community. APP is a program that transfers students out of crowded areas, such as the elementary schools in the northeast, north capitol hill, and the north end of West Seattle, and moves them into less crowded areas.

Heidi b said...

The private school % for seattle has been around 25% for many years, so growth is not hugely impscted by that number
But seattle is in the top cities for private school attendance and the opting out of so many families doesn't help the support for public school funding at the state levels or with local policies.