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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Work out of sequence will create problems

The attendance area boundary work is scheduled out and will end in a motion before the Board introduced in October and approved in November.

There is also work scheduled out for discussion and decision about the re-vision of Advanced Learning and Special Education. The timetable for that work should have it finish up some time around January of 2014.

There is no current timetable set for the Equitable Access Framework. It was supposed to be done by April, but it has hardly been started.

This represents work getting done out of sequence.

In September of 2011 the Board directed the superintendent and staff to deliver the program placement procedure so it would be available for BEX IV planning. That deadline was missed and the BEX IV planning had to be done without the benefit of that valuable information.

In September of 2012 the Board re-set the deadline for the work, now re-named Equitable Access Framework, for April 2013. That deadline was also missed. The staff made a presentation in April, but it was a long way from an end product. They described it as "starting the conversation". No new deadline has been set, and the conversation has not advanced from that starting point. It appears that the Board has given up on the priority in the face of staff refusal. The Board evaluated the superintendent as “exceeds expectations” in the category that included the delivery of this work despite his failure/refusal to do the work.

Now we move forward with re-drawing attendance area boundaries without the Equitable Access Framework or any legitimate program placement procedure. There is talk about radical changes to Special Education and Advanced Learning programs - including program placement decisions - but the decisions for those changes will come AFTER the attendance area boundaries have been drawn.

Any reasonable person can see that the program placement work should come before the re-drawing of the boundaries. That’s the proper sequence. But the superintendent and the staff will be over a year late with this work (work that really should have been done back in 2010 when Dr. Enfield promised it) and the work will have be done out of sequence.

So what will happen? Will the boundaries be drawn without consideration of program placements? This will cause schools selected as sites for Special Education and Advanced Learning programs to be overcrowded. A school with a capacity of 1,000 will get an attendance area that captures 950 students, but when a program placement takes 180 seats in the building the school will become overcrowded.

Will the boundaries be drawn based on presumptions about what program placements are likely be? Wouldn't that pre-determine the placements and cause the placement decisions to be made based on the wrong set of criteria? Wouldn't it limit the options when the program placement decisions are finally made? Let's face it, if we were to put Elementary APP where the students live, the program would be sited at Sand Point and Stevens.

How, exactly, can the boundary work move forward in advance of the program placement work without guaranteeing the creation of program placement problems down the road?

How, exactly, can we talk about accountability as the superintendent and the staff continue to fail (or refuse) to deliver a cogent program placement procedure?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems it would make sense to build WP so that it could accommodate the APP program - except that when you look at the heat maps (long ugly link below) you see few of the APP eligible or APP enrolled students live near WP. Maybe that is a rationale for splitting a program into NE and NW? But then boundaries for these schools would need to be drawn to accommodate the program.

It'll be important to get to the sessions to try to bring this up. But how can SPS account for these enrollment needs. I agree it is unwise to rush ahead out of sequence, without putting programs together before creating boundaries & designing buildings

-sixwrens

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=ae68540353ec7fec34de70e2cedd32f2&pageid=296812&sessionid=ae68540353ec7fec34de70e2cedd32f2

Charlie Mas said...

Of course, there would be no need for program placement and programs would not complicate capacity management if there were no programs - or at least no big ones.

The unduly paranoid may think that is the solution they are reaching for, but the thinking for this effort does include four or five elementary and middle school APP sites and a number of Special Education sites, so there don't really seem to be reaching for NO programs, but they are reaching for no BIG programs and programs with only very few students from outside the attendance area.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see the APP/Spectrum eligible vs APP/Spectrum enrolled data on a school by school basis. My question would be for which schools are families more likely to choose APP/Spectrum over staying in the neighborhood school. Additionally, 1) do those neighborhood schools have a strong Spectrum or ALO program?, and 2) does distance seem to be a factor? At Broadview-T K-8, for example, it looks like 100% of elementary APP eligible students are enrolled in APP, even though they are far north.

Other data (taken from numbers on linked maps): District wide, 71% of APP eligible 1-5 students enroll in APP and 11% of APP eligible 1-5 students enroll in Spectrum. For middle school, 89% of APP eligible students enroll in APP and 9% of them choose Spectrum. Only around 2% of APP eligible 6-8 students choose not to enroll in either APP or Spectrum.

It indicates that wherever APP gets placed for middle school, families are still likely to choose APP. They are kind of at the mercy of the district.

-numbers

Zella917 said...

I live near Wilson-Pacific and have a child in APP middle school, and a Spectrum eligible child in our neighborhood school. So delivering services near our home sounds good to me, but I have a hard time envisioning how all those packed NE schools, like most of the elementaries and Eckstein, will fit the APP kids back in to deliver "services" in their area. Wouldn't it make more sense to put APP at all levels at Wilson Pacific instead? Capacity would be immediately relieved at Hamilton with fewer boundary changes than would be required to fill the new school with neighborhood kids. Maybe have APP and Spectrum at the middle school level?

Charlie Mas said...

Setting attendance area boundaries would be easy if every student enrolled at their attendance area school. Everything variation from that straight flow complicates the calculation and introduces opportunity for error.

To manage that, the District will entirely eliminate programs that move students out of their attendance area. Spectrum will be replaced with a Tier II MTSS intervention done in the school. There is some of this in the Special Education restructuring as well.

The programs that cannot be eliminated entirely will be made smaller and more local to reduce the amount of flow across attendance area boundaries. APP will go from two elementary, two middle school and two high school sites to four or five elementary and middle school sites and a Tier III MTSS intervention at every comprehensive high school. Special Education programs will also be made smaller and more local to reduce the impact of program placement on capacity management.

No more situations like we saw at Lowell a few years ago with all city draw elementary APP and a big low incidence medically fragile program. No more situations like we saw at Washington and Garfield with 400 students coming in for APP. No more situations like we see at Hamilton now in which hundreds of APP students come in from outside the area.

Instead, the elementary APP programs will be less than half their current size and the middle school programs less than a third of their current size with very little flow across boundaries so they don't completely blow the capacity management model.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the writing is on the wall. The district plans to change the programs and reduce their size. This will mean inconsistency in program offerings across schools. For APP, how will these smaller programs be able to maintain a critical mass, especially in middle school? I thought there was concern about the ability to offer higher level math as the number of APP students in any program shrinks.
-sixwrens

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

If APP students were assigned to their neighborhood school this year, there would be 53 at West Seattle. What kind of Tier III interventions could the district provide to them?

Lynn

Anonymous said...

@Lynn, I'm curious too. Are the 53 kids in West Seattle the number that are APP enrolled this year, or APP elligble? I'm interested to know more about the numbers of kids in West Seattle who are APP elligible but not APP enrolled. We're one of those WS families, and I know more WS families whose kids are APP eligible but not choosing to enroll in APP as well. Having an APP elligible child not enrolled at TM we don't seem to be included in district APP surveys for input, and from the looks of enrollment projections I don't know if APP elligible but not enrolled kids are included in the numbers. Is this the case or is that data is available?

I suppose families like mine are often a more silent minority. But I would personally appreciate a district expansion of APP services and support to West Seattle so that kids like mine could have the opportunity to have their academic needs met in, or at least closer to, our local neighborhood. For me, having my kids in our neighborhood school for the aspect of local community, social happiness, diversity, and my availability to readily volunteer is very important. In my family's situation, I'd love to have access to APP level curriculum and support assurances from the district in our neighborhood school.

-Elligble But Not Enrolled

Charlie Mas said...

The Tier III advanced interventions will vary from high school to high school. At Ingraham it is IBX. That is likely to be duplicated at Sealth and Rainier Beach. At Garfield it is AP classes. That is likely to be duplicated at most of the other schools.

I wouldn't expect anything very dramatic. All they are likely to do is allow APP students early access to AP classes or allow them to take the class usually reserved for the next year ahead in core subjects. For years the District has claimed that the program at Garfield isn't about the classes or the instruction but about the cohort. That gave them an excuse to offer little in the way of classes. You can now expect them to switch and say it's about the classes and not the cohort so they can offer little in the way of a cohort.

Anonymous said...

Cohort will be their fellow classmates in their calculus, marine biology, or physics class. It doesn't have to be the sane group of kids who were together since 2nd grade. It'll be ok.

APitteschand

Anonymous said...

There were 53 high school students who live in West Seattle High's attendance zone enrolled at Garfield or in IBX last year.

AP - that's about 13 per grade. They would all have to have the same schedule every year to have a hope of getting instruction at the correct pace. Honestly, unless you live in a small one-high school town, you shouldn't have to deal with this. There may be other APP-eligible high school students in the neighborhood now, but I don't believe many of them are attending West Seattle High School. So to get any kind of a good fit in high school, you'd have to go private. It's not just West Seattle HS either, Rainier Beach has only 18 and Denny has 25.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you should visit these high schools and talk with the students. The quality of their work in AP class isn't based on APP status. Some of these kids do quite well simply because they are very smart, hard workers who took tough classes because of their interest and their desire to go to good universities. Two of these kids from W. Seattle graduated and one went to UW and has been acing college classes. The other is at U of Wisconsin and doing very well. These two remained in their neighborhood schools and to this day neither they nor their parents know if they were ever designated or tested as advanced learners.

Probably why a colleague who does these private cognitive testings told me once, her one big advice to parents is don't tell your kids they have high IQ, are geniuses or super smart,etc. Better to work on their motivation and foster strong work ethics and curiosity to learn. That's the stuff that carry you through life beyond HS ranking and acceptance to a good university.
AP

Anonymous said...

AP,

I was not suggesting that students who are not tested for APP can't do high quality work or do well in college. Honestly, in that environment I'd assume the kids you're discussing would be both happier and more successful than mine. My kids were tested because they were not happy, motivated hard-working kids. I agree that focusing on motivation, work ethic and the joy of learning is important - and I hope the school district continues to provide opportunities for them where this is possible.

There are gifted kids who still need the cohort for social reasons in high school. They need to be around people who appreciate their sense of humor, share some of their less-common interests and help them to feel normal. Sometimes they have ADHD and find it difficult to learn in a class that moves at the wrong pace. If my middle child is put in this situation, we will either look at private schools (which we can't afford without compromising college funds) or do some kind of homeschooling.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I highly recommend this book to you. It's called "Escaping the Endless Adolescence" by Joseph Allen and Claudia Allen, out of UVa. It takes the bandaid off the complex world of adolescence and it's an easy to read, insightful, real world assessment about this age group. Good to read before your kid hits this stage or for anyone who works with teens.

AP

Charlie Mas said...

Lynn, I understand and appreciate your concern.

It has been both my observation and my experience - yes, this means I have no data to support the hypothesis - that when children reach high school they don't need to be friends with everyone in their class, but prefer to be close friends with one to four other young adults.

Even within a small cohort of intellectual peers (a group which is not limited to APP-eligible students), kids can find that one best friend who shares their sense of humor and some of their less-common interests. I'm not sure that they have any interest in feeling normal at that age. "Normal" is not a compliment.

Anonymous said...

You need the cohort for numbers. Without a critical mass of students needing access to higher level classes, those classes won't be offered. As part the highly capable service plan, districts must provide a continuum of services K-12.

OSPI Highly Capable Program Requirements

2012 Highly Capable Grant Application

parent

Anonymous said...

On a related note, it's interesting to compare Seattle's gifted advisory committee to Bellevue's. In Seattle, the APP Advisory Committee (APP-AC) comes together monthly and talks about what's going on in each school. In Bellevue, the committee is broken into smaller subcommittees that focus on programmming, curriculum,and identification. They actually look into best practices and compare procedures of neighboring districts. The subcommittees then report back to the larger GAC with their findings before making recommendations.

Bellevue Gifted Advisory Committee

parent

Anonymous said...

Parent, in HS, there are AP/IB classes, calculus, physics classes offered. There's Running Start as well. Some kids have found internships. That's the beauty of comprehensive HS and alternative ones like Center and NOVA. I rather the High schools strengthen their course offerings and curricula not just in STEM, but in the humanities and arts and vocational classes. That is the beauty of secondary education. I see value in my kids taking AP chemistry along side design or small engine class.

People talk about cohort in AL in academics term, but also bridge that into social term. This is where I get confused. I don't know how many ways to say it to reassure parents that you will find similar social angst among parents transcending learning abilities, class, race about their kids. Parents want their kids to have good friends, one that won't lead them astray, ones that understand their shyness, OCD, ADD, depression, goofy or supremely annoying bathroom humor, perfectionist tendency, writing codes and apps, Bieber mania at 17 vs. Macklemore, etc.

The best I can offer is that I make my klutzy self go outside my introvert space and encourage my kids to be open to people and situation. There's always a risk to step beyond the familiar, but taking risk, lerning your limits, trusting your decision making, gaining self confidence, self advocacy are such key parts of growing up and by HS, that's an important coming of age point.

AP

Anonymous said...

AP,

I'll take a look at the book. (I have teens already.) I agree with its premise that shielding kids from every challenge and hardship does them no favors. I try to keep that in mind as we make our way through these years.

Charlie,

I'm not at all saying there should be self-contained APP classes in high school - just that we should avoid stranding kids in a place where they stand out too much as not like everyone else. This is a sensitive subject for me both from my childhood and early experiences one of my kids had in school.

I think a couple more APP options in high school would be good, but there are high schools that are not (currently at least) good fits for these kids. More options should make testing in for high school possible - and I think that would definitely be an improvement.

Lynn