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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Are you freakin' kidding me? 12% of students in APP?!

Per Rachel Cassidy, the District demographer, 12% of Seattle Public School students in grades 6 to 8 living in the McClure, Whitman, Hamilton, and Eckstein attendance areas are enrolled in middle school APP.

You read that right. 12% of north-end middle school students are in APP.

How can this be possible? The program is intended for students in the top 2% nationally for cognitive ability and in the top 5% nationally for reading and math achievement. Sure there will be some local variations from 2%, but to be a full ten percentage points above the national mean seems a bit... much.



The south-end also has a stunning over-representation - 6% of all south-end middle school students are in APP.

Is it something in the water?

Let's check the math:

Total middle school enrollment at Hamilton 2013-14 (projected): 1101
Total middle school enrollment at Eckstein 2013-14 (projected): 1252
Total middle school enrollment at McClure 2013-14 (projected): 471
Total middle school enrollment at Whitman 2013-14 (projected): 983
Total middle school enrollment at Broadview-Thomson 2013-14 (projected): 192
Total middle school enrollment at Catherine Blaine 2013-14 (projected): 176
Total middle school enrollment at Jane Addams 2013-14 (projected): 310
Total middle school enrollment at Salmon Bay 2013-14 (projected): 365
Total middle school enrollment at Pinehurst 2013-14 (projected): 52

Total middle school enrollment in the North-end 2013-14 (projected): 4,902

Data source: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/enrollment%20planning/Enrollment%20Projections%202013-14.pdf


Middle school APP enrollment at Hamilton 2013-14 (projected): 549

549 / 4,902 = 11.2%

Okay. Not exactly 12%, but not far from it. Maybe I misquoted the statistic and the actual statistic is that 12% of north-end middle school students are APP-eligible, but not all of the eligible students will enroll in the program.

How in the world could 11.2% of the north-end middle school students be enrolled in APP?

Let's remember that to qualify for this program students have to score in the top 2% for verbal cognitive ability, in the top 2% for math cognitive ability, in the top 5% for reading achievement, and the top 5% for math achievement on a national scale.

Of course there will be local variations and some areas will have more or less children in these ranges. We would expect that. But can we legitimately expect a variation like this?

Just to be clear, in the south-end, the middle school APP rate is 6% - still way over anything we would presume.

So what's up with this? Do we live in some kind of Lake Woebegone where all of the children are above-average? Is this variation actually within the normal range for a locality of this size? Has the District relaxed the eligibility requirements for APP? Is there mass cheating going on? What's the story?

Also, what harm or good comes from this? I know that it has created some serious capacity management issues. I know that it has increased the concentration of students with special needs in general education classes since they are under-represented in APP classes. What else?

123 comments:

Anonymous said...

Charlie, You are exasperating! I was on the ALTF with you and when one member brought his concern that an Elem school had a class level of Spectrum kids at over 30% you said that well blah blah blah blah blah, "that is seemed ok". and now to read this. You kill me man!

-ALTF member

Benjamin Leis said...

I assume you're hinting that the APP cohorts are wider than their official definition. By implication that throws into question what is the rigor and content of their curriculum. Either much larger groups of kids can perform at hyper-elevated levels or that standard is not as high as advertised.

This reminds me of something about the AL math track that has been bothering me for a while. APP is supposedly 2 grade levels ahead in math starting at elementary.

Way back when, when I was in school, my district had no acceleration whatsoever until 7th grade where there was an honors track.

If you followed that honors track you ended up taking BC calculus in 12th grade which is exactly what the average APP student does today.

It seems like the accelerated classes in Seattle should end up there faster but they don't.

Ben

Anonymous said...

So by my quick calculations using the data Charlie linked to, it looks like APP middle school headcount is projected to be about 9.5% of students. Wow, indeed.

So what's up with the 4% figure thrown around in the past? Is that district-wide, at all levels? Or has someone been screwing up the math--either in the past, or with the current projections?

In terms of eligibility criteria, I'd bet that the ability to test and retest--every year until you finally get in--will result in a higher percentage of kids qualifying, wherever you set the level. I'm liking my son's idea of periodic "requalification periods" (e.g., test back in for middle school) more and more. He complains that not all the kids in the program seem to be a good fit, and these new data seem to support that impression.

HIMSmom

kellie said...

I am not surprised, nor am I alarmed by this. To me, the real comparison would be what was the percentage when APP was at Washington and folks needed to commit to a significantly greater distance from home.

The increase in the number of families selecting advanced learning has been the ONLY thing that has keep capacity in check in the Northeast. When you look at the heat maps for APP, you see nice bright spots right around some of the most over-crowded schools in the district.

Schools in the NE used to work hard to retain their advanced learners. Now a "benefit" of the identification via MAP testing is that schools are counseling the advanced learners to leave. It is sad but true. Eckstein would have imploded years ago were it not for about almost 300 students from the Eckstein service area that went to Hamilton for APP.



Charlie Mas said...

A Spectrum population of 30% in a school isn't out of bounds, particularly when the Spectrum students are selected from a whole middle school service area, a population several times the size of the school's attendance area.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm finding it difficult to believe that schools are identifying APP-eligible students as part of an effort to reduce their bloated enrollments.

Hamilton is just as crowded as any other school. No one is escaping to a less crowded school.

Anonymous said...

We were at a non-ALO school for years before opting for APP, and so had to test each time we thought about sending our child the following year, so, I think 3 times? The score never really changed, always qualified. I'm not sure it's retesting that does it; seemed to go the same for other people, though I guess I don't know for sure. I do think Seattle is going to have more than 2% of kids qualifying, but agree 12% is quite high.

What about eliminating appeals? People hate those; they engender a lot of resentment, and it's not clear how necessary they are if you can retest the following year. What about only allowing appeals for FRL kids (and for free, still)? In other districts, you get told if your kid is going to be tested for advanced learning, and then you get told if your kid qualifies, the end. I don't trust the district a whole lot right now, but if I did, I'd think a top down approach might be better.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Charlie- I do think schools, crowded to the max and overtaxed far, far beyond where they were say 6 years ago, are refusing to accommodate APP level students where they often did before with some advanced opportunities. So they tell families "if you want advanced, there's a program called APP for you." Not quite the same as helping identify them, but a push where there wasn't one before. The only schools I know NOT doing that in my area are the ones not currently crowded, because they have more flexibility.

-sleeper

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Charlie -

North end ES absolutely give a push to some of their APP eligible kids to move to APP - just not to all. If you're a compliant (good and well-behaved in class) APP eligible kid, perhaps with a PTA involved parent who is an asset to the school, they make sure you get the teachers best able to differentiate in the classroom and that you get walk-to-math or whatever to keep you happy.

If, however, you're an APP-qualified kid who has any social or emotional issues at all - fidgety when bored, refusing to stop reading when it's time to do something else, impatience or eye-rolling at the teacher who wants you do another worksheet of two-digit addition when you can do long division in your head -- well, THOSE kids' parents are counseled to go to APP.

I've seen and heard it - the "good" APP kids/parents were an asset and the principal made sure they got the best fit teachers - "we're so happy, we get all the differentiation we need, why would we leave? nobody needs APP b/c we're happy here, see?"

Others - almost purposefully given the worst fit teacher for a gifted kid, and strongly encouraged to move on. So it's not even so much a capacity management tool that even the high-performing north elem's use; it's a problem-management tool. Why should they have to figure out how to accommodate these extra challenges?

Trust me, Charlie, no one, but no one, can be as Machiavellian as a principal.

signed - never surprised

Anonymous said...

"The Cognitive Abilities Test measures developed abilities, not innate abilities. The development of these abilities begins at birth and continues through early adulthood. It is influenced by both in-school and out-of-school experiences."

From CogAT Form 6 Guide for teachers.

17% of 6th - 8th grade students residing in Hamilton's attendance area were enrolled in APP in the 2012/2013 school year. (Eckstein and Whitworth's #'s were just under 8%.).

The CoGat is not an IQ test. Can you think of an area where out-of school experiences are more likely to be educationally enriching than Hamilton's attendance area? People are moving there for the language immersion program.

I think this is what comes of not using an actual IQ test for admittance to APP. You're going to miss eligible children living in poverty and get more of the affluent ones than would qualify with an IQ test.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

We had a bad testing experience with our child - Saturday group testing with a proctor that didn't clearly explain the test. Our child had qualifying CogAT scores from the previous year's testing done at the school, so we knew how out of whack the scores were. We were able to appeal with the previous year's qualifying scores (the CogAT results were valid for 3 years according to district rules at the time).

An appeal process is required by WAC 392-170-076, Process for appeal. Each district shall adopt a procedure for appealing the multidisciplinary selection committee's decision and disseminate this procedure to the public

The appeal procedure could change, but there is a requirement to have an appeal process. After our experience, I can't say I begrudge parents for taking full advantage of the appeal process.

2cents

kellie said...

Charlie,

Hamilton is crowded now. But for the last three years of the NSAP about 100 kids migrated from Eckstein area to much less crowded Hamilton at sixth grade.

I have been to too many meeting where they discussed we thought Eckstein was going to grow too much but post open enrollment everything is fine and we don't need to do anything because Eckstein isn't that crowded.

Well that stratetegy worked for three years and now it doesn't. And yes, just look at the heat maps. The density of growth in APP that centers around Bryant, View Ridge and Wedgwood just did not exist six years ago before all this over crowding.

dj said...

Anecdotes are not data, but I feel like at this point I have heard heard enough people say that either their child will go to public middle school if their child tests into APP and private middle school if they do not, and that I know enough people who have used public schools K-5 and 9-12 but have pulled their kids out for middle school to private school, that I'd be curious to know how much effect, if any, that is having on the APP population as a percentage of middle school students.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton has only 707 attendance area students and 1,013 seats.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

I should add that I don't begrudge them either. We would absolutely have done the same thing if we had an out of whack test score one year, and I don't begrudge anyone at all for playing by whatever crazy rules the district puts out to the best of their abilities. I know that weird scores happen, and that is part of why I even more firmly believe kids should be allowed to take the test again in a following year. They are little kids; they are weird and capricious, and the testing environment throws a lot of them off. But the appeals element of the system causes a lot of resentment and allows people to dismiss real needs because they believe placement is entirely "bought." Maybe with teacher input? Lottery for appeals spaces?

I don't know if changing it would actually help, or if people in Seattle just don't like the idea of advanced learning and so will criticize any part of it they can by putting it in the worst light. But it might slow enrollment growth (I actually don't really think it will much, but I know people who think otherwise).

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Sleeper,

If it slows enrollment growth by denying access to children who need the program, do you think that would be a good thing?

How about using out-of-level tests like the talent search programs do? That is supposed to be a more effective way of identifying gifted kids than the MAP/ITBS/CogAT type tests.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Obviously not! But I am not sure that our current appeals system works to solve that particular problem in a meaningful way, or the best way.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lynn, if we used an actual IQ test, we'd better identify the top 2%, but we'd still have way more than 2% in Seattle. Seattle is one of the most highly educated cities in the country, not because of our educational system (with its mediocre high school graduation rate) but because our industries attract the most highly intelligent/successful people in the country. Intelligent people are going to live in nice/safe/expensive neighborhoods, which in Seattle means the north end. Apples don't fall too far from the tree. I am amazed by the number of PhD parents in my kids' classes.
TS

Lori said...

I'll go out on a limb and say that 12% is not all that weird to me.

The reason why is because you are calculating a proportion for a highly selected geographic region that happens to feed into the middle school that houses what is perceived as a strong program. We don't randomly assign families to their houses, nor do we randomly assign who goes to public school versus private school. There are all sort of selection biases feeding into this statistic.

Maybe SPS does a great job retaining highly capable kids but loses other students to private schools by middle school, thus concentrating the highly capable, proportion-wise. Maybe families with qualified kids choose where to live based on proximity to certain schools. To really know what's going on, we need more data.

For example, I'd be curious what proportion of 6-8 graders would test into to the top 2% if we tested ALL students, including those in private school. Is the city as a whole an outlier relative to national norms? Is it just SPS that is outlier? Or is it just SPS students in the north end that are outliers? The more you slice and dice the population into smaller and smaller groups, the more skew you can get.

Before we all decide that there is cheating going on or that something is out of whack that needs to be fixed, I just caution folks that we might need more information and context to understand what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you are calculating 12% of kids enrolled in SPS, when what you want is what % of all kids of school age living in Seattle...

I bet a number of APP-qualified kids enroll into SPS specifically because it's free, which places a tremendous skew on the distribution numbers.

Not-A-Stats-Guy

Anonymous said...

12% tested in at some time (from K-8). It doesn't mean all APP students are in the top 2-5%.

Loving Statistics

Jon said...

12% is too high. It is a sign that, as Spectrum has been killed off, APP has grown to become Spectrum.

The solution is to revive Spectrum, make it so anyone working 1-2 years ahead in either math or reading can take some Spectrum classes in whatever school they go to, and then tighten the entry criteria for APP down to 2-4% of students.

That would address all the capacity problems of APP while giving many more children who need it convenient access to advanced learning.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Loving, no, that 12% stat is NOT K-8 - go back and read what Charlie wrote. It's 6-8.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, if you test in as a K, you are"in". My point was that not every student in APP 6-8 would qualify if tested again - one possible reason for such a high % of students in APP for grades 6-8.

Loving Statistics

seattle citizen said...

HIMSmom says that her son "complains that not all the kids in the program seem to be a good fit."
I'm curious about two things:
1) How does he know the aptitudes/skills of those he thinks "aren't" a good fit; and
2) What is the basis for his complaint?
If a student is slightly (or even significantly) "below level," what is the impact on others? For instance, EVERY gen-ed class has a range of skills from very low up to, what, the 95th percentile. Most of those students seem to accomodate this wide range and succeed. Of course, some students will be uncomfortable or discomfited or suffer distractions or suffer boredom as the class struggles to bring the below-level student(s) up to speed, but this is an unfortunate but unavoidable result of the impossibility of meeting every student's exact need at any given time (unless one wanted to fund one-to-one student/teacher ratio.)
Is there some aspect of APP that makes it any more onerous if a below-level student is in the program? Seems like this is just how it is in EVERY classroom.

Anonymous said...

Jon,

That would not serve the APP kids who don't meet your new arbitrary criteria. Top 2% by IQ is the most common definition of giftedness. If you want to decrease the percentage of kids enrolled in APP, you can do it by improving the quality of our public schools. Getting rid of bad principals we've just been moving around from school to school, buying a decent math curriculum and lobbying as a community for more money for our schools and using it to reduce class sizes will draw many students out of private schools. That will solve your problem of an unexpectedly high proportion of kids in APP.

Not-A-Stats-Guy is right. There are a lot of private schools in this city and most of them can't deal with an APP student. The statistic the district should be more concerned about is the 28.6% of students enrolled in private schools.

In Hamilton's attendance area, for every 100 kids enrolled in public school in 2011, 120 kids enrolled in 9th grade the next year.

Let's focus on the real problem.

Lynn


Anonymous said...

12% is ridiculous. One simple way to make APP for the truly deserving? Eliminate private testing.

- NW mom

Anonymous said...

FRL appeals are free, though (including the testing). And one on one testing is supposed to be more accurate, less biased than any group test.

I'm all for looking at the appeals system, if nothing else to abate some of the hostility it engenders, but it's not that simple.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

If you read the 1981 report by H. Robinson on the original IPP program, there is some discussion about the range of giftedness in the upper tail of the distribution.

The Uncommonly Bright Child
H. Robinson, In M. Lewis & L. A. Rosenblum (Eds.), The Uncommon Child (pp. 57-81). New York: Plenum Press
1981

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10022.aspx

A Stanford-Binet IQ range of 67-133 is expected to encompass 98% of the population, though the actual proportion is probably slightly smaller than this. In our sample, the range of scores above 133 is, however, greater than 66 points, for we have several children with IQs exceeding 200. Within the top 1% of the IQ distribution, then, there is at least as much spread of talent as there is in the entire range from the 1st to the 99th percentile. Moreover, those we might call the "supergifted," (those with IQs 4 or more standard deviations above the mean) tend to be as unlike the "garden-variety gifted" (with IQs 2 or 3 deviations above the mean) as the "garden-variety gifted" are unlike children with scores clustered within 1 standard deviation of the mean of the population.

This could explain a comment such as, "not all the kids in the program seem to be a good fit." There's just a large range of abilities, even within APP. Also, we have found a lot of variation in the delivery of the program, which can lead to some pretty bored, frustrated, underachieving students. The program does not serve all levels of giftedness.

Anonymous said...

NW Mom,

It's not a program for kids who are 'truly deserving' anymore than special ed is. Private IQ testing is more accurate than the CogAT for identifying gifted children.

Lynn

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

Frankly, when you are looking at IQ beyond 160, that's considered a genius. Above 200, an unmeasurable genius level, as in 1/10,888,0000. Not even good ol' Einstein or Hawking.. So at 160, you are entering the realm of prodigies who if you follow the local ones, their parents must cobble a very personalized education program because these prodigies quickly outgrow any public school gifted program and must access local universities at tender age of 12 or 13. Our public G&T program is not designed for such children. Their gifts and talent are often unique and certainly no school district can afford to offer a classroom for one child.

This is not what APP (or even IPP) is designed for.

real world

Anonymous said...

See a profile of one such child who at 13 was taking UW graduate level math class in applied linear algebra.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2016447952_gabriel09m.html

real world

Anonymous said...

No Charlie. 30% of the students in my kids NON-SPECTRUM school were "spectrum eligible". And no, it's not reasonable. It's not what "gifted", "highly capable", or any of that, actually means. When "gifted" becomes the new average, we've got to define terms.

12% APP qualified - is the sure road to putting it back in local schools. Looks like the APP folks have loved themselves to death.

-parent

Charlie Mas said...

Is it really necessary for me to remind folks that APP was not designed by APP families. APP families do not set the eligibility criteria, administer the tests, place the program, hire the teachers, or exercise any other kind of control over the program.

Whatever your beef with APP, the APP families and the APP students are not the correct targets for your bile.

Anonymous said...

Fat tail? You bet! Super fat tail!

Seattle, beyond the "Lake Woebegone" above averageness? You bet! Super beyond above averageness!!

US 2010 census:
Seattle, percentage white: 69%
Seattle's white population percentage bachelor degrees or higher: 62%
US national percent adults with bachelor degrees or higher: 30%

North Seattle has an institution known as the University of Washington. It's also home to Paul Allen's brain Institute, and in Southlake there's more UW plus the Hutch. It's a rather remarkable cluster for extremely well educated adults. Just saying, when they reproduce… Apple's don't fall that far from the tree typically. And then there are all of those knowledge workers in industries driven by intellectual capital, Microsoft, Amazon, Amgen, Novo Nordisk, etc.

-Seattle Overachievers Anonymous

Anonymous said...

For reference purposes, Mississippi's percentage of adults with a Bachelor's degree or higher: 19.7%

Also, remember the cognitive testing relates to the 98th percentile and above, which is not the same as 2% of the population. Surely, given the nature of Seattle, it's multiplicity of illustrious academic institutions and high technology industries, it is not unexpected to have an "over representation" of cognitively gifted children, compared the state of Mississippi, where I wonder if 2% of their population would be able to test in the 98th percentile range or higher for IQ. Is it hard to conceive that "over educated "adults are going to be fiercely invested in their children's education, and put emphasis on educational attainment?

Percentile obviously is not the same thing as percentage.

-Seattle overachievers anonymous

(*Absolutely no dis meant for the wonderful state of Mississippi, just using examples to highlight differential demographic concentrations with respect to educational attainment)

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

the numbers for that elem school ere broken done. and all spec qual kids were from it's assigned school. These kids ere not from an attendance area middle, they were from one assigned school.

The numbers are way too high. 30% is silly.

You still kill me!

ALTF Member

Anonymous said...

APP families do not set the eligibility criteria, administer the tests, place the

APP families do the private testing to get themselves in, no matter the stated criteria, enroll in the test-prep programs, and they demand, and demand, and demand special placement of their program and kids, no matter the costs to anyone else. Oh. And none of them ever think that periodic retesting or requalification should be applied to their kids. (Imagine the business for at-large ed-psychs if retesting were necessary?) Remember the hue and cry when simply passing the WASL was a requisite to stay in? (that definitely was the APP families) The kids working SOOOO far beyond standards were simply too smart for WASLs, according to the parents. Even now, many do not even get 4's on MSPs, even though "ahead of standard" is part of the reason for the program. Working 2 years ahead of standard should mean you aced your own grade's state tests. Otherwise, the criteria isn't worth a hill of beans. Special education students must requalify, and be retested at least every 3 years. You'd probably have about 50% special education participation if retesting weren't part of it.

-parent

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

Well, parent, you're about to get your wish.

Anonymous said...

Well, parent, you're about to get your wish

My wish? I don't have a wish. I was just making a comment on the old refrain, "We're such victims here, and we have nothing to do with it" commentary Charlie made. I'm not sure what "wish" you believe I've articulated.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Retesting would end up being a misuse of resources, as most students would still meet the cutoffs.

Uh. How about requalification by simply passing the MSP? Better yet, how about demonstrating more than basic proficiency on the MSP, by getting a 4 on all parts of the MSP? The reason for the program is that the students are totally "bored", and have already "learned it all". Ok then. Demonstrate this special need by the 4s. By the way, that is free. (Oh yeah. You'd hear the crying then. The little dears are just too smart for state standards - even though that was the reason for the program in the first place. Yes, we have heard it before.)

-parent

Charlie Mas said...

Pass rates on the MSP for APP and Spectrum students is 97% for the reading test and 99% for the math test. A portion of those who do not pass are students who were opted out of the test - as is their right under state law.

Since the students are entering the programs working in the top 10% nationally, a drop in their relative performance would reflect more on the school than the student. That's what the MSP is supposed to measure: school performance, not student performance. The test, like the WASL before it, is not the appropriate tool for the purpose you proposed.

And, yes, parent, you're the one who is trying to make this personal and about APP families instead of the District. You're the one putting words into other people's mouths. You're the one using loaded language like "victim". No one claimed to be a victim.

Anonymous said...

I’m guessing Not-A-Stats-Guy’s point is right on about students who would otherwise go to private school going to SPS for APP. I live in an area not close to APP service, but I have known multiple parents with entering K students who plan to go to private school or home school unless they get into the local Option School(s). They are also willing to try again every year until they do. At one Option School open house this year multiple parents said that their elementary aged children were currently in private school, but would switch to SPS if they got into this school through the lottery. Purely anecdotal I know, but I think this factor could also explain these high APP percentages. A quick Google search shows just how many private schools are in the north and central areas of Seattle close to where many of these APP families live and or work (not to mention the families that commute north or east of Seattle for private). In other areas of town there are not as many private school seats within reasonable driving distances and a smaller number of families can afford the tuition and/or handle the cost and time of the commute. How many MS kids come from private school before entering Spectrum or APP? I would bluntly say that some families want to segregate their children from the general ed population no matter what for various reasons including that they think/know that their academic needs will not be met. Many likely never attend gen ed or flee by MS UNLESS they get into self-contained Spectrum, APP, or certain Option Schools. This surely affects the stats. –Was There

Anonymous said...

No one claimed to be a victim.

Oh geez. Read this blog! You'll see post after post on the victimhood of APP families. Yes, lots of people are claiming it. Makes you wonder what people would do if they had a real problem.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Since the MSP is not used for placement, and students know it, they are also less inclined to give it their all. The EOC, on the otherhand? It counts for something. It's a low bar, but it counts for something, nonetheless. At Hamilton, pass rates were 100% on all EOCs - Year 1 and 2 math, and Biology. At Washington, the pass rates were 99%, 100%, and 100%, respectively. The pass rates for all 7th graders (Algebra 1, most likely APP) were 100%. So, above grade level standards - pass rate 100%.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Folks,

The 11.2 percent cannot be reasonably explained by the "fat tail" hypothesis or the private-school/APP-or-bust speculation or the MAP-based entry infiltrating the system with unworthies approach.

This APP/Spectrum ruse has allowed de facto segregation in SPS to thrive under the guise that it was in the best interest of the students who would suffer in a general education environment. This blog has had a large part in perpetuating myths. My favorite was always: We will pack up our ball (leave SPS and go private) and deprive you of our child's brainpower and our family resources if you question our right to APP and Spectrum.

I will reiterate strongly: True giftedness is like needing special education--a continuum of services must exist to address the needs of the child. What has occurred in Seattle--letting the well prepared children of well connected parents be self segregated--is not about giftedness.

By allowing appeals to flourish, not retesting or having a renewed eligibility process, and treating detractors (like me) as if we were anti-child rather than upholding the values of public education, this monstrosity was allowed to metasticize to the point where the gig is up.

No one can justify these numbers.
Ethically, this whole progam has been unjustifiable for about ten years.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Ok, parent, sure there are some who may throw out victimhood and lay it on thick on this blog, but most I argue don't go there, even more don't know, don't care, don't read enough to post here. Just like the majority of SPS parents. The anonymity of blogs and comment sections seem to provide good cover (exceptions: google & NSA contractors getting richer by every byte) for vitriol spewers and pot stirrers. I'm beginning to see inherent health of hand to hand fight club.

I think you are trying too hard to paint all APP with this victimhood enterprise. It'll backfire as your post will be held up as evidence of the crime.

paper street

Anonymous said...

Back to speculating about numbers...Private middle school options are still limited for families in Seattle. For each spot at Lakeside, there might be 5-10 students that have applied. The acceptance rate is pretty low. More to the point, not all private schools are within a family's budget and not all schools can accommodate APP students. Come high school, students can opt into AP courses, APP or not, so there is a greater opportunity for students to find appropriate challenges.

And, hey SPS, maybe you need to step up your game with the basic educational program. Fix the math and beef up the science, offer true honors level classes in middle school, and get a real reading/writing program. It's not just APP/AL that needs evaluation, it's the entire academic program of SPS.

speculatin'

Anonymous said...

I kinda agree with you there enough already. For me it wasn't about wanting segregation from gen ed, but finding such low academics expectation at the elementary school level. We let our ES when spectrum was changed. We would have stayed if we got the sense there was good planing involved so the education part was still intact, but the planning only came after the dismantle and public outcry. In any case, it turned out the planning and implementation of Brulles's framework weren't well done. Not even sure why the school staff went through all the motions.

The parents that left for private schools went for myriad of reasons instead of APP. Two minority families went private (one to Lakeside) because their children were recruited and they wanted more diversity and didn't have to worry if they might be considered the "right fit" in what they saw in APP or local MS social milieu. They went through that already at the elementary school.

another parent

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why it seems to be a crime to want to make sure your child is challenged and working to their highest ability. All testing aside, if a student can do the work, why does it matter how they got into the class they are in. And to take it a step further, if 30% or more of the students in Seattle Public Schools are eligible for Advanced Learning, that should be an indication that we should be teaching a more advanced curriculum in the regular classroom? Could that be the problem? There are state standards for what the kids should learning at each grade level, but I can't imagine there are rules against teaching them more.

These kids are going to be doing my taxes, discovering the treatment for my cancer and running our country. I am all for the most advanced learning any child can handle. We have Elite Soccer, Elite Gymnastics, students get out of school to play sports and everyone cheers for the winning team, but for some reason, so many people take issue with the idea that some kids excel in academics.

If kids are ending up in the AL programs that shouldn't be there, that is an issue with the staff and that family. I'm sure it happens the other way as well, that there are kids that for a variety of reasons are not is AL that could be.

Why does it matter if 2% or 4% or 12% or 20% of our students are scoring 98% or above on a test. Shouldn't we be cheering for them?

- kitty

Charlie Mas said...

I don't have the expertise to say whether 11.2% is within the expected range or not. I would be delighted to hear from someone who does.

The number surprises me. It strikes me as suspicious. It strikes me as an outlier in need of explanation.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about that. It could be well within the expected range and just very surprising. Or it could be an outlier but one which can be readily explained.

I don't know. I just know that this is the number and it surprises the heck out of me.

Patrick said...

I agree with Lori. 12% isn't that high for the neighborhoods you're looking at. Being gifted is a combination of nature and nurture, and educated parents are more likely to nurture educated kids.

Maybe it would be more fair if there was a retesting requirement, but I don't think it would change the results much.

I say this without a dog in the fight, my child is not in APP.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that Gen ed becomes a place where there's no access to advanced learning (because that's left for app/al alone). It also becomes predominantly sped and/or ELL. Already in high schools (and some middle schools) we see "Gen ed" of 50% sped in some classes. That isn't an LRE. Sped students have a federal entitlement to lre, which means not being stuck in self-contained or highly disproportionate disabled classrooms. It isn't equitable for sped students or the gen ed students who are stuck in something that really amounts to a sped class. We also see advanced learning classes also enjoy preferred class sizes... sometimes less than 20 just because of this segregation mandate. That reality negatively impacts other classes which wind up much larger as a result.

speddite

Melissa Westbrook said...

An appeals process is required...by law. Don't like the law - go get it changed. That's just the plain and simple fact.

Is SPS' appeal process more lax/lenient than other districts? I haven't done that research but unless someone here has, you don't know.

"We will pack up our ball (leave SPS and go private) and deprive you of our child's brainpower and our family resources if you question our right to APP and Spectrum."

I haven't actually seen this but (1) the district (and teachers) actually don't like to lose these kids. That's why many teachers don't like Spectrum; it takes bright learners - who apparently help spark the classroom - out. and (2) it's a bit of a hollow threat given how full private schools are, no?

And actually no one has the right to challenge how anyone spends their family resources. And, if the district has a program that people - gasp! - want to access, again, change the system if you don't like it. But don't blame parents for accessing programs they believe will help their children academically.

Charlie's right, I think people are pointing the finger at the wrong people. Go tell your legislator and/or Board member and/or Superintendent - but getting impatient with parents isn't going to change anything.

Anonymous said...

kitty, 2 concerns I have. One, lowered academic expectations in general ed. Two, APP becoming a catch all for AL. This might be great if all students came from a level home field. But they don't, so the CogAT plays to the advantage of those children who are not just bright, but well prepared (not necessarily test prep) and have the support of educated, involved parents and enrichments. That leaves those who don't have APP designation a gamble of getting good teachers who hopefully can identify these kids and have the resources and time meet their academic needs. For me, that's wrong.

AP

Anonymous said...

@ speddite
Are saying that students who can work at an advanced level shouldn't have access to advanced classes because it makes the percent of SPED to high? So students should work below their level and be in regular classrooms so that the mix is correct?

And my experience with AL classes is that they are packed to the brim! Beyond a few classes of grade 1 or 2, I would be interested to compare the classes sizes. To me, the large class sizes has be a negative (my experience being Spectrum) having see 30 kids in ES and close to 40 at Middle School.

I'm not trying to argue, and I see that can be a problem for Gen Ed and Sped students, but I'm not sure what you are suggesting should happen?

-kitty

Anonymous said...

@AP
We are sort of saying the same thing. Knowing that Seattle's population has a well educated demographic, they should raise the level of instruction in the general classroom to meet the needs of the population they are dealing with. I'm not saying all of those kids should need to be in APP at Hamilton or Washington. But, we shouldn't slam the fact that we have so many bright kids, instead we should look at how we are educating them.
-kitty

Anonymous said...

And how exactly will it work better to have SpEd, gen Ed, Spectrum and APP students all in the same classroom? Will each teacher be required to teach at four or more different grade levels simultaneously? I assume there are always a few kids working below grade level, then some at, some a little above, a lot above, etc. seems to me that creates a MORE restrictive environment for all kids, as the teacher has less time to devote to their own level.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Kity, I'm saying - self-containment, as an educational delivery system, needs to be reserved for a very small minority on either side for those who can NOT learn inclusively, and I'm saying that absolutely everybody should have access to advanced learning in their regular classrooms - topics, curricula, enrichment, etc. You never know what people will learn, so advanced learning shouldn't be denied to anybody - including sped students, and dull normal ones. Advanced learning shouldn't be something reserved for those who "test in". On the special ed side, it's about 1/3 of the 12% that are getting self-containment now, or around 4% of the district. That is too high and should probably be reduced if possible. A similar thing on the AL side would also be appropriate. But, when the the number of students in segregated classrooms, - just for segregation sake, or parental preference - starts broadly impacting other people, we know we have a problem. Incidently, at McClure (one middle school I'm familiar with) AL classes were routinely under 20, (gen ed classes got to be around 40 to balance it out) and Center school and BHS have special advanced courses which are also far less than 32. I'm saying, at a minimum, these "AL" classes need to be full, possibly with sped kids who can be taught with differentiation. (like everybody else is doing). We're all in this together, so we've got to balance out needs.

-speddite

Anonymous said...

@AP,

It sounds like your problem is with the level of challenge available in your general education classroom. What do you think your teacher, your principal and the district could do to improve the situation? If you have suggestions that don't include moving other people's children to improve your children's classroom environment, I would do what I can to support you. I imagine most people would.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

HIMmom, has your kid been in a "general ed" middle school class of 40 students, 13 with learning disabilities, 5 with autism, and probably several kids who don't speak English? My kid has been in that classroom. Teaching a few different years is a cakewalk compared to that. And it's really unfair to dump all that in one classroom just so 17 other kids down the hall get their segregation and best possible peers. We have curricula that spiral now, and already it covers many "grade levels". Furthermore, maybe you could make the case for this segregation for math which is sequential - but really, there's no arguement for something like US History, or LA. People can access that at any level, indeed that is the skill we'd like people to develop. Independence. Notably, places like Nathan Hale have a fully inclusive model that works well.

-speddite

dw said...

@speddite: HIMmom, has your kid been in a "general ed" middle school class of 40 students, 13 with learning disabilities, 5 with autism, and probably several kids who don't speak English? My kid has been in that classroom. Teaching a few different years is a cakewalk compared to that. And it's really unfair to dump all that in one classroom

So you're saying it would be better for that class to have that same mix of kids AND 2 or 3 advanced learners, just to make it even more difficult for the teacher?? You do understand what you're advocating for, right?

just so 17 other kids down the hall get their segregation and best possible peers.

And you wonder why parents get so pissed off! There is nothing but loaded words and antagonism in your comment. Truly pathetic.

When a classroom has an unmanageable range of learners, you have two choices to make it easier. 1) Smaller classrooms, or 2) You can carve off some groups of those kids.

1) Smaller classrooms: Unfortunately, this takes lots of money to implement, so it's just not going to happen on a large scale in our lifetimes.

2) Carving off some kids: In the past, SpEd kids got carved off, and SpEd families and advocates were justifiably upset, and changes were made to work toward more inclusion where it makes sense.

Who else can you carve out? ELL? Doesn't really make sense, they need inclusion to make important gains. Advanced learners? Guess what, that actually makes sense for everyone. Except the pea-brained complainers that lie about other parents' motivations, and want everyone to "suffer equally". What BS. ALL kids benefit by not having crazy wide ranges of kids to teach, this is born out by research, while your notions are not.

We have curricula that spiral now, and already it covers many "grade levels".

And the faster we can get rid of our spiraling curricula, the better, especially in math.

Anonymous said...

You never know what people will learn, so advanced learning shouldn't be denied to anybody - including sped students, and dull normal ones. Advanced learning shouldn't be something reserved for those who "test in".

No, you never do know what people will learn. Fortunately, testing is a demonstrably reliable predictor.

Let's erase car lanes and eliminate stop signs and traffic lights while we're at it. And SAT's? Who needs them.

Let's be rational.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
My older kids attended a mediocre private school that wasn't too expensive. No fancy extras and class sizes that were as large as those in public schools and usually larger. What we got there was well-behaved classmates and really involved and supportive parents.
The only families leaving that school are the ones whose kids need APP.
Enrollment is dropping though. Fewer new families feel the need to flee the public schools - neighborhood school assignments are working in the north end of West Seattle.
If self-contained elementary APP is dissolved, I don't know what we'll do with our youngest.. Probably we'll look for a private school that is a better fit. There are certainly other things I'd rather spend that money on.

I'm sure it's fair though. Wouldn't want her needs being met in a classroom if she could improve the situation for someone else closer to home.

Lynn

apparent said...

Please do not falsely assert that SpEd and APP are mutually exclusive populations, a statement that is untrue both under federal law and as a matter of fact. Any highly capable student with a disability has a right to be included in APP if it is their least restrictive environment provided he or she meets the same eligibility requirements as all classmates. Depending on the nature of the disability, accommodations or supports may be required either in the testing process or in the classroom, or both, as identified in the student's IEP or Section 504 Plan. I write this as the parent of an APP kid with a Section 504 Plan, and in another currently open thread the same point is being made by the parent of an APP kid with an IEP.

So again, please do not repeat this silly shibboleth that APP and SpEd are mutually exclusive student populations. Not only does this misrepresent the diversity of APP students, it sends a false and discouraging message to other SpEd parents not to attempt testing in, requesting any necessary accommodations in the testing process or the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Teaching a few different years is a cakewalk compared to that. And it's really unfair to dump all that in one classroom just so 17 other kids down the hall get their segregation and best possible peers.

So let me get this straight, again: One working classroom; one broken classroom. And the preferred option is to break the working APP classroom, too, creating two broken classrooms, instead of fixing the one broken one? In the name of equity and fairness?

It's unfair, elitist, and privileged to have a thriving, working classroom? Only in Seattle.

WSDWG

dw said...

Jon said: 12% is too high. It is a sign that, as Spectrum has been killed off, APP has grown to become Spectrum.

The solution is to revive Spectrum, make it so anyone working 1-2 years ahead in either math or reading can take some Spectrum classes in whatever school they go to, and then tighten the entry criteria for APP down to 2-4% of students.

That would address all the capacity problems of APP while giving many more children who need it convenient access to advanced learning.


Jon has it almost right.

APP is on the road to becoming what Spectrum was, and APP essentially disappears. Some misguided folks have wanted this for many years.

Solution: revive and support Spectrum around the city. Jon, you can't get Spectrum in every school (esp elementary), but you can get it in multiple schools in every region. Along with that, yes, APP criteria must be tightened back up. It has gotten ridiculous. It could easily be capped to the top 2-4% of SPS population or WA state population; there's no requirement that it's attached to national statistics.

Also, having had kids in Spectrum, GenEd and APP, I have no problem whatsoever with a retesting requirement, however it cannot be a single test on a single day. Everyone knows that anyone can have a bad day for a variety of reasons, including kids. That's part of the reason why appeals are allowed for AL entry. Failing an MSP or EOC could (and should) be reason to examine a given student more closely, and repeated failings would indicate that the program is likely a poor fit. But no auto-ejections based on one test score.

Also, what happens to students who opt out of those tests? It's their right to opt out.

Bottom line, Spectrum needs to be shored up -- around the entire city, and APP qualifications need to be tightened back up. I've been preaching this for years, glad to hear that at least some people understand.

dw said...

So let me get this straight, again: One working classroom; one broken classroom. And the preferred option is to break the working APP classroom, too, creating two broken classrooms, instead of fixing the one broken one? In the name of equity and fairness?

Thanks WSDWG, you made my point much more succinctly. That's exactly the attitude of many people in Seattle, and it's pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, my kids are no longer in ES. And I didn't propose moving other kids in my posts. My kids have moved from school to school as they move up in grades and as we have moved. I'm with some of the posters who see the need to beef up curricula, set high standards not on paper, but in the classrooms (that's for all learning levels), propose better AL testing to catch kids who are missed. Equity so programs are accessible and effective from the distance corners.

Here is where I'm confused with the district's intent. Spectrum/ALO is pretty much dead. You my find it where there's interest by the staff/ principal. The district appears to want to keep APP, but deliver it to many more sites. Some think that will dilute its effect or destroy it. Others are open as long as there are sufficient peers to make it effective. In some ways, I think we already have a dilution, but I don't think that's all bad. Less tier ----less paperwork, more APP students --more state $ attached (even if it's small), more flexibility (from the district's POV) in dealing with capacity and answer its equity problem at the same time. It isn't an elegant solution, but a quick fix in time of constant churn, limited budget, and an unholy confederacy of pressure groups bearing down on district's leadership to meet varying and conflicting expectations.

It's a mess and Charlie and Melissa (and Beth through those school closure years) have chronicled it on this blog. What makes it worse is what we do to each other in trying to cope in a district in constant crisis.

AP

Anonymous said...

My (motivated, bright, but not "gifted") kid has also been in the classroom Speddite describes. It made me feel that smaller classes are THE ONLY ANSWER. All the kids in that class deserved better teaching than what that teacher was able to deliver under those circumstances.

Anonymous said...

"I don't have the expertise to say whether 11.2% is within the expected range or not. I would be delighted to hear from someone who does."

I have found a statistic on the proportion of children likely to test the highest percentiles on IQ tests as a function of parental education (which I'm not uncovering now on my computer -- but will post if I do). The statistic shows that well of 5% of children of parents with professional degrees test into the top 5% (I remember it as being somewhere near 15%). If I could find the right numbers, it does not seem out of line that >10% children in NE would test into the top 2%(both because of self selection) and because of the high proportion of parents in NE with work at the university and children's hospital. If true, though (and if we add those likely to test into the the top 5 and top 10%), there's a good argument in favor of providing more rigorous education in the kids' home schools (without segregating them). If 15% of the children are performing in the top 2% then the range in the classroom can be shifted. Ah, but then, we have the problem of children who are performing at the lower end of the range, one could ask (making the range in the general ed NE classroom broader). But, if the goal is to exclude those children, we have a whole different argument for why the top performance should be offered a non-inclusive classroom.

Although the cogat is imperfect, so are all other IQ tests. There is no gold standard of IQ testing that is perfect, especially at detecting the truly unusual children.

zb

Anonymous said...

Self-containment, whatever the name, needs to be reduced. We really can't believe that 30+% of students are just beyond what general education does. I agree with WSDWG. Only in Seattle would there be a group of people who claimed that the rights, self-declared, of 17 students outweigh the rest of the school and that creating challenges for whole groups of students wasn't a consideration. IN public school nobody gets the best possible arrangement. That's the sort of thinking that will get your program scrapped - eventually. But, maybe that's a good thing.

-speddite

Anonymous said...

"So let me get this straight, again: One working classroom; one broken classroom. And the preferred option is to break the working APP classroom, too, creating two broken classrooms, instead of fixing the one broken one? In the name of equity and fairness? "

And, would it be OK if we assigned students to those two classrooms based on their family income? So, one functioning classroom consisting of children from families who make above the city average income and a non-functioning one with the other set of kids?

Of course not.

No one wants to make two broken classrooms, but sometimes to fix the broken one might require changing the one that seems like it's working OK (as, in the example above, where there are certainly arguments that separating children along those criteria has increased the probability that one classroom will function well while the other won't).

In order for me to support self-contained tracked classrooms in a public system, the selection criterion would have to be flexible enough to deal with the imperfections of testing, the group selected would have to be small enough that there is a legitimate argument that the non-inclusive environment is necessary and extraordinary for this group of children, and there would need to be periodic evaluation that the kids continued to need that environment. Otherwise I would be worried that the separation of the children was causing more harm than good to the educational system, denying inclusive education to a subgroup of children (for example the poor ones) because one subgroup was being separated.

zb

Anonymous said...

zb,

The CogAT is not an imperfect IQ test. It's not an IQ test at all.

"Breaking" the APP classroom isn't going to fix the general ed classrooms you disperse those students into. Some of the APP kids will be pretty disruptive while they are waiting and waiting and waiting to learn.

You know how you solve the problem you've identified of too few average kids without special needs at either end of the spectrum in general education classrooms? Convince families to leave private schools. Most of their kids are exactly that - right in the middle of the curve. Their parents donate time and money to their schools and their kids aren't expensive to educate.

The more we talk about this, the more I'm convinced that the real source of our problems is the fact that parents in Seattle don't trust the district administration. We don't trust them to sustain a program that functions well. We don't trust them to choose a math curriculum that allows most students to succeed. We don't trust them to assign a reasonable, professional principal to every school.

It's no wonder that so many people who can afford it choose private schools. UNLESS their kids have special needs that private schools can't meet. At some point (and in the north end it looks not too far off)our public schools will only enroll gifted kids, kids with disabilities and poor kids.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

I think Lynn has hit upon it. It seems SPS schools are becoming a place for those who can't be served elsewhere--either due to special needs (e.g., special ed, ELL, highly gifted) or insufficient income to afford private. The instability, low-quality curriculum, and general lack of confidence in the district overall cause those who reasonably can to flee...

HIMSmom

kellie said...

What is missing in this analysis so far is the part where almost 30% of Seattle Students are in private school, when the national average is 13%.

If you want to talk about how poverty and sped gets concentrated, the statistically extremely high private school enrollment does more to skew the concentration than anything else. If anyone actually cares to look at this systemically, advanced learning options are the thing that keeps SPS more balanced, by retaining more students.

As a whole, Seattle is about 20% FRL but SPS is about 40%. When the middle leaves, you get substantially greater concentrations at the top and the bottom. FRL percentages are twice as high as Seattle because of the large missing middle.

So I am not even a little surprised by these numbers. The top is equally as concentrated as the other more niche groups, because the middle does not participant in a substantially way.

Sped is higher than expected.
FRL is higher than expected
Advanced learning is higher than expected.

Also as we covered before, as advanced learning has grown, FRL has dropped by almost two percentage points. To me, this says that more families are enrolling in public rather than moving to the burbs or going private, not that there is some massive abuse.

Anonymous said...

True, I shouldn't have referred to the CogAT as an IQ test. But, I am unaware of any evidence that any other test is more appropriate for identifying children for a specialized program.

Lohman, the author and developer of the CogAT test has extensive writing on the use of the test for identifying gifted children for academic programs: https://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/david-lohman/home.

A good article talking about "ability and accomplishment" is (Lohman, D. F. (2006). Beliefs about differences between ability and accomplishment: From folk theories to cognitive science. Roeper Review, 29, 32-40). The bottom line is that there is no valid way of measuring "innate" intelligence completely separated by achievement:
"Most novices believe that ability is innate and achievement acquired , whereas experts see the two a different aspects o f the same thing. A better understanding of the unique and common aspects of measures of achievement and ability can improve both h o w students are identified for inclusion in programs for the academically gifted and the objectives of such programs "

https://faculty.education.uiowa.edu/docs/default-source/dlohman/beliefs-about-differences-between-ability-and-accomplishment-from-folk-theories-to-cognitive-science.pdf?sfvrsn=0)

This is technical discussion about identification, but it is relevant because it gets at the heart of the matter about what need we are trying to address with the advanced learning programs.

zb

Anonymous said...

It may be that APP is helping to keep more families in the district, but that lack of consistent ALO opportunities for most of the district schools may also be driving out many easier to teach kids.

Given the opportunity to pay for full day to be in an SPS kindergarten class of 28 with thrice MAP testing, tons of worksheets, tons of rules, and little hands-on-learning -or- a private school class of 18 with a teacher and an aide, more flexible teaching/learning opportunities, and leadership that is accountable to the parents -- which would you choose if it was not a financial burden to your family?

CHM

Anonymous said...

@ speddite,

You asked me "has your kid been in a "general ed" middle school class of 40 students, 13 with learning disabilities, 5 with autism, and probably several kids who don't speak English? My kid has been in that classroom. Teaching a few different years is a cakewalk compared to that. And it's really unfair to dump all that in one classroom just so 17 other kids down the hall get their segregation and best possible peers."

I completely get your frustration. No, my child has not been in such a class...and I honestly don't think I could get him to go. Given the situation you describe, there would be absolutely no time for the teacher to work with him, providing instruction 2-5 years above grade level, depending on the subject. If I somehow did manage to get him there, how would it help the rest of the class to have him acting out in frustration and boredom? Or answering all the questions before others had a chance? Or sitting there politely, giving others a chance to answer, and just biding time? It's already hard enough for my son to have sufficiently in-depth conversations within some of his APP classes, so I'm failing to see what good he would bring to your child's classroom, aside from making some parents feel better that some kid isn't perhaps better-served than their own.

The way I see it, my child has special needs. A regular classroom will not work, trust me. This is not me being "elitist" or thinking my "little dear"--to quote the obnoxious words of a frequent poster--somehow deserves more than everyone else. It's just me being a realist. If we don't have APP, or something similar, we may need to go the homeschooling route. That would be a real challenge for us as parents, and a huge loss on the social development front, but it's hard to see an alternative.

HIMSmom

NW Parent said...

I think DW's approach of reviving and expanding Spectrum while tightening standards for entry to APP sounds reasonable and healthy.Unfortunately, that's not the direction the District seems to be headed in.

Kellie -- thanks for contributing to the discussion. The stat of 30% of middle school students in Seattle going to private school vs. a national average of 13% does indeed seem to be a huge factor in all of this.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

This is the same tired old arguments, from the same old APP haters. I really strongly object to your sensationalist headline, which begged for outrage. I assume you wanted lots of hits for the blog today. Thanks to those who came out with rational arguments as to why it's so high. Agreed it is probably too high, but there are really good reasons, from demographics to SPS mismanagement of just about everything. Wish you didn't fuel the fire.
-rarely comment

Anonymous said...

I disagree w Kellies analysis, as well as that of app defenders. Evidence points to private school participation as primarily coming from the gifted range. Lakeside has about 3X the end achievement of Garfield as measured by national merit testing. And thats one school. The rate of giftedness NOT in Sps is way higher than the averages IN SPS. Therefore, counting All students the net highly gifted rate would be even MORE than the 12%, maybe even up towards 20%. SPS hasn't lost its "middle". It's simply that the average parent doesn't want average kids.

-average parent

Anonymous said...

I would argue that there are more "average" kids in private school: for every one in Lakeside and other schools with competitive admissions there are at least 2-3 in "second tier" private schools and parochial schools. Plus homeschoolers.

My own experience with an inexpensive, no-frills parochial school was that the middle schoolers completed what would be a Spectrum curriculum at SPS. With no apparent difficulty.

All the kids came from "involved" families, which is natural given the fact that the reasonable tuition still amounted to a good bit of money PLUS involvement was mandated at time of admission. But I'd say the intelligence of the kids was no better than average.

Anonymous said...

Just as an FYI -- a good many of those "gifted" Lakesiders were APP students in elementary and middle school prior to going to Lakeside.

In the Freshman class we know of at least 12 APP kids that made the switch - and we don't come anywhere close to knowing all of the qualified APP kids in the city.

I actually don't know a single APP kid that applied to Lakeside and didn't get in - it seems that they accept a vast majority of them.

-GHS Parent

Anonymous said...

average parent, Lakeside is the most prestigious, competitive school in the Puget Sound area. Probably the state. Hardly an average representative! And I actually once tried to figure out apples to apples what percentage of Lakeside kids vs. what percentage of Garfield APP program kids were merit scholars and could not find actual numbers, either of the Lakeside graduating class or corresponding merit scholar numbers to APP (or how many of those merit scholars were APP).

There are also vanishingly few private schools serving gifted students in the area, and those that do did not appear to us to be more than Spectrum, at the elementary level, and were not interested in offering more- "APP offers that if you qualify." So I would disagree pretty strongly with the assertion that there is a much higher level of giftedness in all the private schools (and especially a typical private school) in Seattle. Maybe a little, for some, because of the average ability to prepare a kid academically for school going with security and stability to income. There are plenty of good reasons that a person might want to send their kids to typical private schools here, but rigor/acceleration doesn't really seem to be one.

I do think that with smaller class sizes almost all our kids could handle a more rigorous curriculum which more kids could be taught in a general ed classroom. But instead of putting dollars there, the district puts them toward consultants, middle managers, and too pretty buildings(I realize they don't have a choice about construction funding, but it chaps my hide to see all these 70 million dollar buildings housing 40 kid classrooms for lack of 37k for a new teacher).

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Just as an FYI -- a good many of those "gifted" Lakesiders were APP students in elementary and middle school prior to going to Lakeside.

Exactly right GHS parent. Which makes the point that private schools aren't really "just the average joe" students as has been the rationale here for the large APP segment in public school. There are definitely APP students that have not gotten into Lakeside. I know them. Lakeside can't take 12% of SPS! Lakeside isn't the only private school either. They aren't looking for "average", though they might get some Spectrum types. The conglomerate of private school students would be much more skewed in the AL range than SPS as a whole. And, most private schools look at a range of traits beyond test scores.

-Lakesider

Anonymous said...

Our son was in private school through 2nd grade before switching to APP. It was fine the first couple of years with really small class sizes but administration was very clear that they would not be able to accommodate him or be able to provide the differentiation he required. Our experience with this private school was that they were great with the middle group (as others have alluded to) but not so much with the low and high ends of the range. What was frustrating is that this is a school that had only 20 kids in a classroom and they could only provide additional worksheets. Lack of sufficient number of peers at his level also made it difficult for them to justify differentiation. I frankly, would not be surprised if this was true for other private schools and would have to agree that SPS is losing a key group of kids in the middle range.

KP

Anonymous said...

What I found from looking enrollment trend of Bellevue school district and SPS is about 25% of kids in Seattle go private and 20% of Bellevue kids go private. There was a link I hit on recently that gave a breakdown of all districts in WA. Interestingly, the wealthier school districts had larger percentage attending private schools. It's not a big surprise as Seattle metro area do have very wealthy people who can well afford private schools and provide endowments for scholarships. I'll try to it to post the link once I find it again.

Interesting historical note about option schools, gifted program, and magnet programs. They were attempts by school district in the late 60's to early 80's to deal with white flight to suburbs and private schools with integration talk and busing onset. About 25% of school age children were placed in private schools and in some neighborhood, more than half. I have heard similar story from my elderly neighbor. Her personal recollection about Seattle history during this time period is quite poignant. She moved her 3 kids from public schools to parochial ones. Yet she marched for civil rights, voted for Kennedy and Johnson, and is quite angy over the recent SCOTUS vote on VRA.

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=3939

AP

Charlie Mas said...

speddite wrote:

"We really can't believe that 30+% of students are just beyond what general education does."

You should believe it. In a general education classroom, the standards, intended as a floor function as a ceiling. Strictly speaking over 90% of the students should be beyond what the general education classroom does because that's how many should be working beyond the Standard.

Take away the term "gifted" - that clearly irks you (and a lot of others). Replace it with "high performing" if that would be less antagonistic.

How many of our kids should be high performing? Nearly all of them. The Standards are not all that ambitious. Even among students with IEPs, only about 12% of them have cognitive disabilities, so the bulk of them should be high performing as well.

Someone once complained to me that any kid who has been well prepared and well supported at home seems to qualify for Spectrum. Yeah. That's about right. And if their school will not teach them at the frontier of their knowledge and skills, then the student should probably be in Spectrum.

There are three real problems.

1. A number of students are not well prepared and well supported at home. We, as a society, should provide those students with the needed preparation and support.

2. Our schools are focused on bringing students up to the Standards to the exclusion of supporting students working beyond the Standards. We need to adopt a new focus that supports the learning of all students.

3. Our teaching model is stuck in an industrial era that makes differentiation extraordinarily difficult. We need to adopt different teaching models that allow for differentiated instruction.

Anonymous said...

After looking through 90 postings, I see this weird argument brewing about SPS turning into a district for the poor, the very gifted, SPED, and ELL students. We are talking about a district soon to hit 50,000 students right? I'm just having a hard time crunching that out. Then there is this whole public vs. private schools--which system has the smarter kids?? Oh boy!

- paper street

kellie said...

Charlie's question was "how can this be possible."

My response is simple. 12% doesn't surprise me. It is unlikely that any ONE factor causes that. It is a variety of factors that have been listed.

- Distorted curve from much larger than typical private school enrollment. There are about 15,000 students in private school. I would think it is safe to say that number covers a lot of ground.

- Higher than typical academic preparation that comes from having college educated parents as Seattle has more than double the national average of college degrees.

- Higher than typical enrollment in areas that that have the socio-economic advantage of being well fed and having a stable home address and access to multiple forms of personal and academic enrichment. As it is a whole lot easier to focus on academics if you are not cold, wet or hungry.

- My wild card argument. The NSAP and capacity issues indirectly create additional demand for advanced learning options as a capacity relief for wildly over-crowded schools that historically did not generate as many advanced learners.

So you can pick apart my argument based on the number of APP students at Lakeside. However, that number is unlikely to be statistically significant.

Jon said...

I agree with Charlie. Differential instruction should be at the core.

What makes the most sense to me is for every school to have general education (working near grade level), remedial (rapidly bringing kids below grade level to grade level, should be temporary and have very low teacher-student ratios), and Spectrum (working 1-2 grades above grade level, subject-specific, so you could be in Spectrum in math and not in reading).

Then you should have special programs at a few schools for kids only for kids way outside the norm. Special education and APP should be for children way off on the ends of the curve with unusual needs, just 2-4% of children each.

Anonymous said...

The 2007 review of the AL program should be a starting point for the District. The report was given a lot of press around racial and diversity issues, but there is more in the report about lack of vision and defined curriculum, "one-size-fits-all" instruction, underserving 2E students, lack of gifted ed training for teachers, teachers that should not be teaching APP, etc. The same issues are with us today.

In terms of increasing diversity, one suggestion was to invest in a "talent development" program for K-2 students in low income schools. As far as testing, it provided caution about using the nonverbal CogAT to identify underrepresented students from low SES environments, since the test authors do not mention that as a beneficial use of the test.

The report also advises against an all gifted 1-8 school, and suggests more than one site for middle school (which has come to pass). In a prescient comment, "Because the program is now housed in one place, the APP curriculum is entirely dependent upon one teacher. When that teacher leaves, the curriculum leaves with them."

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/ABPub/2007/12/03/2004051224.pdf

a reader

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Jon,

How are you going to limit special education services to just 2% to 4% of students? The district is legally required by law to provide services to all children who need them.

Lynn

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

Oops. You are right. Special education is 14% right now. I thought it was smaller.

Jon said...

I did not realize special education is 14% of students, but now that has me wondering three things. First, is that unusually high (Bellevue, for example, has only 9%)? Second, why is it that high in Seattle? Third, does the reason special education is that high in Seattle say anything about why APP is also high?

Charlie Mas said...

I have been told that Special Education is high in Seattle because we are a city and it's an urban thing.

One is that cities have resources needed by people with disabilities so people with disabilities cluster in cities.

Another is that there is a correlation between poverty and Special Education and, again, poverty is clustered in cities.

Finally, there is the correlation between racial minorities and Special Education and the higher concentration of racial minorities in cities.

I have no data to either confirm or refute these explanations. I would remind folks that only about 12% of Special Education students have a cognitive disability, so we should expect the other 88% of them to be working at grade level.

Anonymous said...

I say, hang tough, APP parents. Fight for self contained but realize cluster grouping is what is probably on the horizon for 80% of kids currently receiving self contained. We may be able to get guaranteed walk to two grade level above for math and walk to advanced read/write in elementary and even more advanced classes in MS.
It could actually turn out for the better.

Optimistic

Anonymous said...

1. Special education is funded in the state of Washington at 2X general education for up to 12.7% of the total K-8. It behooves any district to identify 12.7% of its population as "disabled" to get the most money available from the state. There's little accountability for how the money is actually spent, so why not get it?

2. Special education is funded at 100% for birth-K by the state of Washington.

3. 14% "disabled" is published by OSPI. It includes birth-K, which is 100% disabled (there is no mandated public preschool other than disabilities, at least that I know of) and K-12.

4. The disability rate for K-12 is less than 13%. You can submit a public records request. When you hear about the HUGE number of students with disabilities served but not funded, it is the small number of students between 12.7% and 13.0%. This claim is made by the district to make special look expensive, unreasonable, and cuttable.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

Optimistic,
How would that be better? Let's ask some Spectrun parents at Wedgwood how they're enjoying "cluster grouping" Chris Cronas style.

I've asked Shauna Heath some questions about APP's future and she told me that they are gathering questions (and answers) and will post them on the Growth Boundaries page sometime next week.

Lynn

mirmac1 said...

Your numbers are correct sped parent. Seems our message may be starting to get through to the board that Harmon doth protest too much.

Anonymous said...

I would remind folks that only about 12% of Special Education students have a cognitive disability, so we should expect the other 88% of them to be working at grade level.

That is very misleading. I'm not sure where you get the 88%, but let's say it is true. Most students are "learning disabled", and another big chunk are "communication disordered." There are other categories as well. The definition of most disabilities (LD) and the way these students qualify is through a discrepancy model. Eg. Performance significantly lags intelligence. That lag is due to disability, and is the discrepancy model. If the lag weren't there, the students wouldn't be disabled. While we can certainly do better in SPS, have better expectations, there's no evidence or indication that all students with disabilities can achieve at grade level just because of adequate "intelligence". (There's no evidence one way or the other, btw.) The actual definition of disability says otherwise. EG. If students could perform at grade level, then they wouldn't have a learning disability, and they would't be in special ed in the first place. Of course we still want to have high expectations, and give students meaningful educations, and give them inclusion with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible.

-sped parent

hschinske said...

"If the lag weren't there, the students wouldn't be disabled."

But don't available support systems sometimes make up the difference? I mean, I didn't become non-nearsighted just because my vision is correctable to 20/20, nor does a student with dyslexia suddenly become non-dyslexic because appropriate use of computers and such make them able to write good history papers.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

If a person can be corrected to "normal" performance with an accommodation, then they require a 504 plan. Sure, sometimes accommodations can bring a student up to standard. Sometimes instruction can do that. Often it can't. Some students with dyslexia, don't learn to read ever. Some do. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't receive content or instruction. That is why there's an I for individual, in IEP. The point though, IQ doesn't say anything about expected performance.

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

I would ask parents at Wedgwood why they don't demand walk to math and walk to reading.

O

dw said...

O said: I would ask parents at Wedgwood why they don't demand walk to math and walk to reading.

You're joking, right?

I would ask parents at Wedgwood why they didn't demand their program not be destroyed out from under them, when (at the time) it was not in compliance with the written definition of Spectrum, not to mention the intent to kill the program after open enrollment was closed!

Just so you know, parents were up in arms about the changes at Wedgwood, and they did make demands, but Cronas pitted the parents against each other. Spectrum parents were out numbered by non-Spectrum parents and a few AL-antagonistic teachers, and at the end of the day they lost by "majority/mob rules".

The bottom line is that parents don't run schools. And apparently neither does downtown in this case, because the definition of Spectrum was re-written after the fact to allow the changes they made at Wedgwood.

With the current "model" of advanced learning in Seattle, parents don't get to demand anything, including compliance with district policies. You're completely at the mercy of whatever the principal wants to do. This really belongs in Charlie's Advanced Learning Service Delivery Model thread, but your question was here.

parent said...

Here it is. Seattle is the nations 39th smartest city.

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/blog/techflash/2013/06/seattle-is-nations-39th-smartest-city.html?ana=e_sea_rdup&s=newsletter&ed=2013-06-27&u=qGaEpdqnYIHAy8xFnR97zvVf1r8&t=1372542921

Maureen said...

That's 39 out of 50. Whoops, not very Woebegoneish.

Last year, Lumosity published its first Smartest Cities rankings based on our own database of users’ performance on cognitive training exercises. Our 2012 rankings measured the cognitive performance of over a million people around the country.

Best performers are relatively small cities that are the home to large universities. Maybe we should see what LaFayette, Charlottesville, and Madison offer in terms of advanced learning (though chances are the evaluation is based more on childless students than on older and fewer faculty members.)

numbers said...

From a 2006 Seattle Times article, Seattle is the "best-educated big city."

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2002923946_cities11m.html

And then,...he questioned how many young, educated city-dwellers will flee to the suburbs once they become parents. Just 62 percent of the number of children born in Seattle enroll in Seattle public schools, according to school-district research. An additional 18 percent attend private schools in the city.

What do the other 10% do? Homeschool? Attend a public school outside of Seattle?

kellie said...

@ Maureen,

That is 39 of the 50 places that they decided were Designated Market Areas. In other words of the 50 places they had designated as worth their time to invest more money.

If you look at the full list, it is very comprehensive.

Luminosity's Smartest Cities

Anonymous said...

dw, some of the Lawton parents who were against the old spectrum system now have kids in APP program. I doubt their educational value has change just because their kids are now in APP given how passionate they were against self contained spectrum or ability grouping (the reasons against are ones you have heard: elitism, socially isolating/stunting from real world, fewer kids with behavioral issues or have high needs, more supportive and involved spectrum parents than in general ed). Also changing the rhetoric now would be hypocritical given what happened and the way it happened fractured the school community. Thank goodness, time has mend the school, especially as those involved and affected have moved on to different schools.

I've come to realize people have very strong and different ideas what advanced learning should be and look like.

watching

Anonymous said...

I had to look up Luminosity since this is all new stuff. It's a company that makes brain training games to improve your brilliance. If you want to improve your IQ by a few points or maybe a SD and have bucks, then there's an app. Who knew! Of course as I googled luminosity, a second link appears from the Smart Planet's site with an article titled: "New evidence shows brain traning games don't work."

Whew! Maybe it's ok to be on the bottom end like the San Jose-Bay Area or even better yet off the luminosity's "smartest cities" marketing list. Back to googling DIY on how to change out my car's headlight.

frugal

Anonymous said...

Also, being the X smartest city still does not tell you where we should be on the distribution of those "top 2% IQ scores in children," since very high IQ clusters occur in cities more than rural and suburban areas. So maybe in the Bay their most tech family filled neighborhoods should have 14% of middle schoolers in a similar program, and it is all counter balanced by many many areas of the country where 1.2% of the kids qualify (including the one I grew up in- the rural south).


-sleeper

Charlie Mas said...

"If students could perform at grade level, then they wouldn't have a learning disability, and they would't be in special ed in the first place."

They can perform at grade level with the proper supports and accommodations.

Anonymous said...

They can perform at grade level with ...

Again, not true. If supports and/or accommodations are the only necessity, the student will qualify for a Section 504 plan, not an IEP. It's possible that some students with disabilities can be remediated to that level, but there's no assurance or even likelihood that it is possible.

-sped parent

hschinske said...

"Many in the special education community argue that the majority of special education students can be expected to perform just as well as their general education classmates. For example, the National Center for Learning Disabilities argues that approximately 8 out of 10 students who receive services under IDEA could be expected to perform just as well as their non-disabled counterparts. “Simply put, the vast majority of students receiving special education in our nation’s schools…are found eligible under a disability category that in no way precludes them from—with appropriate services and supports—functioning at or above grade level or from achieving proficiency on a state’s academic content standards in reading and math,” the report concluded (Cortiella 2007). Other analysts such as Education Sector’s Erin Dillon have come to very similar conclusions (Dillon 2007)." - See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Evaluating-performance/Special-education-At-a-glance/Special-education-A-better-perspective-full-report.html#sthash.WymvQnjr.dpuf

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

According to anecdotal evidence (i.e., talking to parents about how their kids got into APP), many kids don't test in via the test given by the school district, so they go to outside testing. At outside testing, the parents are asked, "where do you want your kid placed?" And then when the parents say "APP," that's the designation that their kids get. So, this system discriminates against kids whose parents can't afford outside testing.

Also, I have found that many of the kids who are in APP aren't gifted, per se, but have been put on an accelerated schedule by their parents. So, these kids aren't naturally doing math (or whatever) several grades ahead of their peers, but are doing worksheets and tutoring sessions. These are paid for by parents, in order to make sure the kids are working above grade.

It's distressing to watch this type of thing.

HIMS mom

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