Latest on Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools

Update:  AL Supervisor Stephen Martin provided the grant application to me but I can't seem to create a link.  He said this:

As you may know, the final guidance from OSPI will not be available until Tuesday June 17, so the iGrant application is very much a work in progress and likely to change before submission. OSPI understands that districts may need to make revisions as local plans are finalized for this first year of implementation of the new WACs.

From the SPS webpage:

- Summer Testing: For students who moved to Seattle after October 2013 and were not able to test for Advanced Learning eligibility, a summer testing opportunity is available. Information and Application Form. Applications are due by August 1, 2014.

- For students found eligible for Advanced Learning programs, a School Choice Form must be completed in order to enroll. Forms are available from the Enrollment office ( or call 252-0760). You can still apply for a school or program assignment until September 30.

 - Responses to email are much faster than responses to phone messages. 

BUT, to note also at the SPS website:

The Enrollment Service center will be closed to the public from July 14 through Aug. 1, 2014, in order for the Department of Technology Services to make the necessary new school year transition updates. During this time, the Enrollment front counter will be closed, as well as the Enrollment service mailbox, the Customer service mailbox, faxes, and our Enrollment phone lines. Student and families will not be able to access or submit online choice or admission forms during this time. The Customer Service phone lines and Receptionist desk will remain open to the public to serve those who need to contact other internal personnel or departments. Enrollment will re-open its doors again on August 4 at 8:30 a.m. for start of school late enrollment. 

Charlie and I have heard from several parents around the district about how - without discussion or notification - it appears that the humanities at APP middle school seem to be changing.

There was some notice from Shauna Heath and Michael Tolley about some "acceleration" changes but it appears there is some district workgroup that is working to refine humanities for APP.  Apparently not even the AL office knew about this group.

Social studies and LA used to be intermixed but it appears that may change. That would seem to mean changing the curriculum that has been carefully created by teachers.  

Charlie looked at the May 22 Friday memo to the Board that had this: 

An Accelerated Progress Program (APP) Humanities Committee has convened for the first of a four-day series to develop a working draft of a grade 6-8 scope and sequence. The team, comprised of APP middle school humanities teachers and school leaders from Jane Adams, Hamilton and Washington Middle Schools, will meet through the end of June to create an alignment across the 3 buildings. 

May 21, 2014: The committee agreed to incorporate the APP guiding principles used by the last middle school teacher-teams when they met in 2012. They also agreed to begin with Social Studies curriculum maps previously written by SPS teachers as well as the English Language Arts (ELA) scope and sequence documents newly designed by the SPS literacy cadre. Finally, they made the preliminary content decisions about the Social Studies courses, including the time span each course would cover and the manner in which course would be organized (chronology, theme, or region). Prior to the next meeting, District curriculum leaders will request information from Garfield and Ingraham High School’s Language Arts and Social Studies Department Heads regarding the knowledge and skills need in order to be successful in advanced high school courses. The information received will inform the content of course design. 

Next Steps:

- Create a draft 6-8 grade humanities scope and sequence using the SPS history work done thus far and the ELA CCSS scope and sequence.

- Identify standards in all scope and sequence documents: common core and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Social Studies content standards, so that we can be common across all 3 buildings about what APP humanities students know and are able to do.

Charlie says,
It references a number of different committees that are making decisions without any transparency, without any community engagement, and, possibly, outside their authority.

asks some good questions like:
- Who is the APP Humanities Committee?   What is their charge and the extent of their authority? It appears that they are deciding the content of the middle school APP Language Arts and Social Studies classes - isn’t it up to the Board to determine the academic expectations for students? That’s what Policy 1005 says.
-  The Teaching and Learning Update references guiding principles set by another shadowy group in 2012 and the “SPS literacy cadre”, whoever they are. Who are these groups? Who assembled them? What was their charge and the extent of their authority? Why was there never any transparency about them?
- And, while we’re on the topic, if APP is supposed to be “two years ahead”, as Ms Heath so concisely defines it, why don’t 7th and 8th grade APP students just get the 9th and 10th grade Language Arts and Social Studies classes. That’s what is done in math. Why should LA or SS be any different? And why isn’t their work done in these grades - work that is ostensibly high school level work - eligible for high school credit? 
I have no problem with district staff doing their job of guiding schools on curriculum work.  But when things start changing - without notice to parents - the district needs to explain why.  
As well, the Board needs to explain (or have explained to them) why it appears staff is determining academic expectations for students when that is the Board's governance. 

I also attended the Curriculum and Teaching Committee meeting this week. AL was discussed. The discussion was deeply disappointing but confirmed what we already know. Again, changes are happening without any real transparency or discussion.
Both Shauna Heath and Stephen Martin (AL) were upbeat on how well the work is going.  (What would have been good is a brief review of WHAT work is being done.)

The AL Committee asked for two more meetings after their last May 29th meeting.  They noted that the C&I meeting in August might have the recs introduced then.  Heath and Martin thought this was "a positive" and the recs "are getting there" but did not note what was stated at the Board retreat.  Namely, both committees/taskforces are working together for a joint message to the Board on recommendations.

There were two AL Committee members present, Gail Herman and another woman whose name I did not catch.  Gail said she felt this group was focused and positive and looking for "evidence-based information."  She noted that the AL department at sent some members of the group to the Whitworth Institute for a "deep-dive."

They said something I didn't quite understand but it was about "talent development" and that it is a new piece that " we don't have an on-ramp system for yet."

There are a couple of pressing issues that will get attention before others.  There's a new provision in the WAC about serving kindergarteners, for one.  It was stated that they would be IDing kindergarteners in the first semester and then serving the ones they find in the second semester.  (It's unclear to me if that means they would change schools.)

Heath said they want to roll-out the new recs in 2014-2015 but the "teachers have a ton coming" and it's a shift for them so it is more likely to be 2015-2016.

Director Peters said she was worried about "uneven offerings" and "schools redefining delivery models."

Heath said Fairmont Park is going to be APP.  She did say that what happens at APP may impact "other services."

She said Spectrum is varied because of the number of students at each school and they cluster when there are not enough students to fill a class.  She said she thought there were just three self-contained programs left (she references Whittier, Lafayette and View Ridge - View Ridge has some self-contained). 

Martin then said that the history - as he understood it - was that the-then Spectrum (Horizon) was the second-tier IPP (APP) at the time.  He said that Spectrum had issues of students on waitlists while APP had no waitlists (because they can't).

He said they had heard from principals that felt like they had two schools and some communities felt there were "smart classes and slow classes."  Principals said it was "divisive" and having clustering in classrooms allows services to all identified students.  A cluster in a classroom is 5-8 students and it seemed "doable to most staffs."

He said it was "not a policy and did not come from the AL office" but that it had been "allowed."

I am trying to get the BAR and the Annual Report on Highly Capable and will post them when I do.

It was noted that there are 3,483 APP students.  Looking at the chart in the Annual Report, I see the largest number in 6th grade at 451.  Rough math looks like APP is about 6% of the district.  And that does not include Spectrum (and the numbers of Spectrum students who ALSO qualify for APP) or those who stay in their home school or those who are homeschooled.

The district gets about $471K from the state but, of course, this does cover nearly the costs for what should be happening in these programs.


First, it is fine to tweak, streamline, refine or otherwise change these programs.  BUT there has not been anywhere near the transparency (and dare I say, honesty) about what is happening.  Parents are not stupid; those who have been in these programs can see them changing. 

Next, this district does not even have a real policy on Advanced Learning so doesn't that just allow staff to do whatever they want?  This would seem to be the Board's work and yet, board after board, nothing happens.

As for the AL recommendations, well kids, they are only about APP.  Fine but one thing to note about the lack of diversity about where these students come from.

The district likes to say that they have done outreach but, it's only as good as the administrator at the school.  Meaning, would you like your strongest learners, especially at a school with high F/RL, to leave your building?  When test scores mean ever so much more?

You would not.  

Spectrum.  Well, now we know that some principals find it divisive.  No kidding, really?

From my experience that ANY program is only as good as the administrator who oversees it.  You did not have this much kvetching when my kids were in Spectrum (and I mean at other schools, not just the ones mine were in).  I have to think some kind of sea change in thinking came about from somewhere.

Again, that's okay BUT I find it remarkable that staff would admit they really didn't pay attention or give permission or even - who knows - care when principals took it upon themselves to dismantle an established program.  And, never telling incoming parents about those changes (sorry, an announcement on a tour doesn't count).

Again I say, Spectrum is dead.  AlOs - such that they were - are also dead.  

I know one thing for certain - the number of APP kids will soar.

 I'll have to ask for the numbers but I know from talking to parents, that many students who qualify for Spectrum, quality for APP.  If Spectrum disappears, a number of those Spectrum students will either go into APP or leave the district.  Many parents move their students into APP at 6th grade so you will see that surge then.

If you were a Spectrum parent who saw your child's program systematically put-down by your principal and then dismantled, why oh why would you have ANY faith that your child's academic needs would be served in a "cluster" classroom?  There was zero discussion on what changes need to happen for teachers to be clustering students and I find that troubling.  Almost as if nothing needed to be done.

So if you were a Spectrum parent, you'd be thinking, "I have a couple of not-so-great choices.  I fight for this program.  Or I test my kid into APP where he/she HAS to be legally served.  Or I take him/her out and go to an expensive private school."

What's your easiest choice?  APP.

Those Spectrum parents who choose to stay in their current schools shouldn't have much faith.  Why? Well, neither AL taskforce has even considered Spectrum.  The AL office and the head of C&I seem to be content with allowing principals to figure out how to serve these students.  Spectrum is changing before our eyes without any notice.  You may have a good school and believe that is enough and yet somewhere in the back of your mind, you're going to wonder if your child is missing out.

So why would the district, at this point, be changing anything the teachers do in the classroom just because there is now a "cohort" of identified highly capable kids?  With all the other work being thrown at teachers, we really believe serving these kids will be high on their list?  With the lack of oversight by the Board to the point of narcolepsy?

If I were a Spectrum parent, I'd be figuring out my next move.


Anonymous said…
I'm very concerned about what is happening at JAMS. Principal Montgomery intends to "blend" spectrum and APP students for LA/SS on the thinking that spectrum students can't just be sent back into general education, and that "their scores are high, it will be fine.". As a parent of app and gen ed students, I am pretty taken aback by that, and sort of ticked off for both groups. How, in a nearly thousand seat planned middle school program, can those be the only choices? APP or regular? Why are we 1)just changing the bar for APP and 2) treating gen ed as something everyone wants to and should get to avoid? I thought the district agreed with everybody here that self contained should just be for outliers, and beyond that there should be differentiation/a range/MTSS whatever.

Why are we not leaving app as what it is supposed to be- highly accelerated and self contained- and doing opt in honors at JAMS, which spectrum students would be automatically placed in. Surely there are plenty of high scoring single subject LA gen ed students who would benefit from honors style rigor, but would not benefit from the whole series of APP classes. My gen ed students' strengths is not language, but if it was, I would definitely be testing for APP. And that is a mistake in incentivizing on the part of the district- the kid I am thinking of is otherwise perfectly placed in gen ed. But I can see how this will definitely have enrollment and testing soaring.

Lynn said…
There are 202 APP-eligible students enrolled in Spectrum and 219 enrolled in AOL programs this year. Overwhelmingly, APP-eligible students are enrolled in APP.

Spectrum Enrollment

AOL Enrollment
Anonymous said…
If this work is being done without AL oversight, it's a problem, because, NO, you can't just accelerate LA two years and still have it age appropriate. You don't have 6th graders reading the same thing as 8th graders. Different maturity levels. That's why there is APP, so teachers and administrators that understand this can create an appropriate curriculum. This has been a significant issue at HIMS - not understanding what is appropriately challenging yet still age appropriate.

Math acceleration is different.

"SPS literacy cadre??"

Anonymous said…
The district working group committee is separate and apart from the task forces. There is no connection.

The task forces' meetings are open anyone can attend.

What the district committee is doing, not totally clear, fairly clear, but not totally.. But then again, it is internal.

Still, hard to imagine a internal sped committee getting going to develop SpEd alignment across sites or scope and sequence, or whatever work they are doing, without the knowledge of the sped department or the participation of SpEd department director and/or staff. Just because a program is at a site does not make the admin an expert necessarily, or, even a fan let alone supportive. Of course, the opposite could be true too. The admin may also be all those things! It depends. And yet, in the analogy, it does seem like SpEd has experienced numerous cases of fit issues between program and principal. Not saying its the same thing, it definetly is not. Just saying the charter and process for the most recent AL task force were transparent and distinguish hoping the significant distinction, as district's internal working groups are approached very differently, understandably. But, acknowledging that, still, curious that AL apparently is not part of this committee mechanism that will possibly create impacts (emphasis on possible!).

TF/committee: they're different and not linked. Sorry if that's obvious, seemed like it might be worth a comment, though.

Also, not clear about impacts of whatever recommendations from any task force exactly has. Worth mentioning.


Lynn said…
I think the problem is that principals are free to redefine programs at the school level. The district Advanced Learning website says for APP Service delivery is through a self-contained program during grades 1-8. Is Ms. Montgomery aware of that?

I've asked the AL department to add a description of the actual programs to be offered at Fairmount Park and JAMS to the website. Shouldn't parents know what services each school will offer?

Fairmount Park is an option site for APP - so I think it's fine that something different will be going on there. They should just tell us what that something different will be. Because JAMS is the only APP site available to it's students Ms. Montgomery should be required to offer the same program as HIMS and Washington.

Ms. Heath's APP Humanities Committee has decided that APP students will cover the general ed topics in middle school. This of course means that they can be placed in general ed English and World History classes in ninth grade. I'm beginning to suspect there's a "de-tracking" plan for Garfield and that this change is laying the groundwork for that.
Anonymous said…
I'd suggest parents write to School Board members:
1) Ask that changes to AL curriculum be done only with direct involvement of the AL's S. Martin.
2) Question T&L's redefinition of the APP scope and sequence without taking into consideration Task Force recommendations (that have yet to be released).
3) Question principal's authority to make changes to program delivery

concerned parent
Anonymous said…
For those just catching up, the current, non-public workgroup is working to clarify the revised LA/SS scope and sequence for APP middle school.

Back in April, to the surprise of many APP parents, the district changed the APP SS scope and sequence, such that 8th graders no longer take the world history class that had allowed them to skip into AP World History in 9th grade. Instead, APP 9th graders will go into the same level class as non-APP. This was apparently done to align APP with OSPI's scope and sequence--for 8th grade, not accelerated.

To help with implementation of the above, the district apparently convened a small, internal workgroup of admin and teacher reps from the 3 APP middle schools. The Advanced Learning office was apparently not invited. The workgroup isn't sharing info, but it sounds like they are looking at not just SS, but also LA. Although the group is purportedly only working on scope and sequence and not curriculum, there are indications that the direction they are headed in effectively kills the old WMS "original" APP middle school curriculum. For example, it sounds like LA texts may no longer linked to the SS content, which then opens the door for unblocked classes. But if they are NOT creating a new curriculum, and are just eliminating the last bits of the old curriculum, the curriculum black hole will be even larger. Folks at HIMS know what a problem this has been--and now it sounds like the plan may be to spread more of the same to the other sites?

I've had a lot of communications with the C&I dept, AL dept, and our principal, but so far have not been able to get any sense that whatever comes out of these processes will result in classes that are designed to meet the needs of academically highly gifted kids. I know that several of the WMS teachers are very concerned about this as well. For whatever reasons, this seems to be an effort to align APP with Gen Ed--in terms of what's covered, when it's covered, and what kids know coming out.

I had been trying to remain optimistic, but the more I'm, seeing the more worried I get. We need some transparency on this issue, SPS. And parents, I know it's almost summer, but please don't tune out on this one. Let's make sure our kids have a reasonable chance at learning something in LA and SS during their three years of middle school.

And WMS APP families--this affects you! It seems most of the APP MS complaints on this blog have been from folks at HIMS, which never really adopted the original WMS APP curriculum. If you've been pleased with your curriculum, and don't want to see it become the "free for all" that HIMS has now, please speak up!

Anonymous said…
Next year's JAMS 8th grade class will have 12 students; 7th grade will have 9. Where should those students go--GenEd or APP? There is no money/budget to put them in their own classes, so wouldn't it make more sense to place them in a higher level class?

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

Do those numbers refer to Spectrum students? If so, I think JAMS should offer honors LA and SS classes. Spectrum students should be automatically enrolled in them, and they should be open to any other student with appropriate reading scores or a teacher recommendation.
Anonymous said…
Why should it just be gen ed or app? What if my gen ed kid is great at literature, but I don't WANT them in app? Shouldn't there be honors? Why does it make more sense to lower the bar for app level classes than to make more rigor available to single subject advanced kids? That would be cost neutral, just serve more kids.

Benjamin Leis said…
Its really difficult without more details to determine whether these shift are going to be positive or negative.

On the face of it, I don't see any issue with aligning the topics and sequence between all the humanity classes. There's plenty of space within the OSPI suggested MS curriculum to do advanced work.

Likewise, you don't need a blocked LA/SS unit. It can be nice for some topics but again you can do a rigorous english class without linking it to social studies and that actually provides some freedom to emphasize topics within a different framework than a set of time periods and regions. And I appreciate it allows alot more scheduling flexibility for a building.

The other potential upside is this represents the first serious attempt to create a standard curriculum that I've seen.

On the other hand, this is certainly fraught with potential to remove rigor. And as Melissa noted the closer the classes get to gen-ed the less reason to justify their existence at all versus de-tracked heterogeneous classrooms. Adding more transparency and public input would help a great deal here.

Finally, does anyone think the Spectrum kids are substantially different from the APP kids and unable to handle the same Middle School English or Social Studies classes?

Essentially these classes demand that you can keep up with the reading material, submit the essays and participate in the class discussions. I think by this level the key is more commitment than anything else.

Reading is eventually mastered no matter when you start and at what pace you do it esp for the 90+ percentile of our students. By MS all these kids should have attained functional literacy and be capable of handling the reading load.

Likewise, writing skills reach a point where further development is more about feedback from the teacher and is not an impact on the class as a whole.

I'm skeptical that there is a material difference in the discussion that can be had either.

For me it boils down to that I don't in principle see a sharp distinction that merits separating the populations or what differences in teaching are really necessary.


Anonymous said…
I believe LH was referring to the # of 7th and 8th grade Spectrum students at JAMS.

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but there are relatively-low spectrum numbers for 6th grade, too.

Part of the reason for the low Spectrum numbers is that Jane Addams/Hazel Wolf K-8 offers Spectrum (grades K-8), and Spectrum kids all ready at the K-8 may not want to leave that program.

The other issue at hand is the lack of a Spectrum feeder school for JAMS (Wedgwood and View Ridge both feed to Eckstein). There are identified and unidentified Spectrum-level learners at the local feeder/ALO schools, but not nearly as many as there are at Wedgwood and View Ridge.

Without a Spectrum feeder school for JAMS, there will probably never be a strong-enough cohort to support scheduling of separate Spectrum classes at JAMS.

If there was only one section of Spectrum/honors LA/SS, would it be possible to schedule everything else (math placement, electives, etc...) around that one section of LA/SS? Seems like a long shot to me.

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…

As I understand it, the CONTENT of the APP 8th grade curriculum (don't know about the other grades) is changing to reflect state standards for 8th grade -- currently 8th grade APP students at WMS don't get U.S. History like everyone else, but will next year, when my child is in 8th grade. The APP 7th grade LA/SS teacher I spoke with has said that they are working to design APP-style rigor and assignments (which, IMO, contain a lot of "make work" in the name of acceleration, but that's another topic).

The acceleration to put APP students in AP World History as 9th graders only started with the current class of 2014, when they were 8th graders 5 years ago. I was also told that one reason for the content change was that the 9th grade AP experiment was not wildly successful. If an APP 9th grader gets a "3" on the AP test, which is good, but doesn't convey college credit in lots of places, but might get a "4" or "5" as a sophomore, with the added context and maturity, then that's an outcome worth examining.

In any case, neither my class of 2013 graduate (Stanford) nor my current sophomore (Spectrum) had access to AP acceleration as freshman, but they have accessed plenty of rigor and advancement at Garfield. At a certain point, 12 AP classes, vs. 11 AP classes (or 9, or 10) doesn't mean that much to either colleges or to kids' educational experience.

As a WMS APP parent, I'm less concerned that we stick to some "original" curriculum design from years ago, than that we are providing appropriate content (US History is fine), along with rigorous instruction and attention to student learning in both LA and SS.

-wms parent

Also, FYI, the Garfield LA department has not, in my experience, ever offered any different curriculum to APP students. Freshmen and Sophomores take opt-in Honors LA classes along with anyone else up to the challenge; or they take regular LA
Lori said…
Given that the number of Spectrum kids at JAMS is relatively small, I hope that each family has some input into what the most appropriate option will be for their individual student.

If I had a child below the APP eligibility cutoff, I'm not sure I'd necessarily jump at the chance to be leveled up just because the numbers allow or require it. I say this because of the studies that have come out in the last year or two looking at the impact of gifted programs on students at the "border" of eligibility. Anyone else remember these?

Basically, kids who "just make it" into a gifted program don't do any better academically than those who "just miss" the cutoff, plus there may be some deleterious effects due to the relative drop in class rank that the child experiences. The student might now be working harder but getting lower grades than in the past and feeling less competent that his peers, and this impacts self-concept.

If it were me, and my child tested into Spectrum at the 87th or 90th percentile, I might worry a little about putting him or her into a class of 98th/99th+ percentile students. I'd want to make that decision with as much professional help and understanding of the curriculum as possible. There's more to it than simply whether you can "do the work."

Here's an interesting take on the studies:
Lynn said…

The problem with aligning the scope and sequence of material covered and doing more advanced work within that framework is that there are no appropriately rigorous classes available in the ninth grade. If SS is not accelerated for APP students in middle school, they can't skip the ninth grade history class and take AP World History instead.

If APP and Spectrum students are taught in blended middle school classes, the classes will be taught at a Spectrum-appropriate pace and level. There must be students at the JAMS feeder schools who are not Spectrum-identified and can handle honors level classes. I think that is a preferable solution.

"For me it boils down to that I don't in principle see a sharp distinction that merits separating the populations or what differences in teaching are really necessary."

Ben, I'm confused. Do you mean you don't care or believe differentiation is needed?

Anonymous said…

I found the studies you reference interesting - thanks! And here's my .02 in relation to APP middle school rigor --

My equally smart (but differently testing) APP daughter and Spectrum son experienced little difference in rigor, but significant difference in workload (yes, APP was more; lots more, which might have been part of my son's not making the cutoff, in hindsight) She definitely learned more in terms of academic content, such as facts, exposure to some materials, etc., but most of what she got as a middle schooler is easily picked up by an able, achieving high schooler who knows how to use reference materials and does the reading. In other words, by the time they're 20, I don't think they'll have much different learning. Because rigorous instruction with regard to critical thinking and other skill development can happen with a whole variety of content, accelerated or not. That's sort of the point of Common Core, whatever you think of them.

So basically, I would probably only advocate for a kid below the APP cutoff to opt up, at least in LA/SS, if they are a glutton for schoolwork or need the support of a whole class cohort (or if teacher quality differences are apparent). The self concept benefits, and the time to be a kid without the heavy workload sound pretty meaningful to me.

--wms parent
Anonymous said…
If your child has not experienced the last few years of APP LA/SS at HIMS (either your child went through WMS, or your child is still in elementary), then I'm not sure how to convey just how far it is from rigorous or appropriate. Several things are contributing to a lack of challenge and poor content coverage. The delinking of LA and SS, the lack of a defined curriculum and appropriate texts (or the refusal of HIMS teachers to follow the default APP curriculum), and the poor fit of some teachers are all contributing to limited learning for students.

It is a free for all in some classes. The 8th grade was supposed to cover US History through Industrialization (late 1800s), but can you believe they didn't even cover the Civil War? A US History course that doesn't even cover the Civil War? What the? It's that bad.

So when I hear there is a group of teachers planning the curriculum, yet teachers weren't able to create or deliver an appropriate curriculum for current students, it's very concerning.

Anonymous said…
@ wms parent, I'm with you 100% when you say you're "less concerned that we stick to some 'original' curriculum design from years ago, than that we are providing appropriate content along with rigorous instruction and attention to student learning in both LA and SS." It's just that at this point, we've seen that in absence of an established curriculum, the rigorous instruction just isn't there.

I ditto everything that "wary" just said. Are you willing to risk getting the HIMS model?

Anonymous said…
@ wms parent, I'm with you 100% when you say you're "less concerned that we stick to some 'original' curriculum design from years ago, than that we are providing appropriate content along with rigorous instruction and attention to student learning in both LA and SS." It's just that at this point, we've seen that in absence of an established curriculum, the rigorous instruction just isn't there.

I ditto everything that "wary" just said. Are you willing to risk getting the HIMS model?

Anonymous said…
Hopefully we seeing the beginning of the end of this program known APP. We can't have a separate system for 15%- 20% of the white SPs student population. It's ironic that this city which prides itself on its strong labor history and ideals, has always been so racially segregated. That's why It's really not the race part that fires up detractors as much as the class part. People can spin IQ if they want, but the majority of students in the program are merely well-prepared and the program just perpetuates that early advantage. That in itself is not problematic, ideally there would be gains for all students in a new plan, the problem is the excluded group suffers. Examples range from single subject gifted exclusions, "average" students who learn in classrooms without an academic floor, students who for whatever reasons do not receive learning support at home either at a basic level or at a more intensive level yet have equivalent IQ as prepared students, students who can't afford test prep for the required APP tests. Am I leaving anyone out? I don't know if there is any recruiting of SpEd students.
The program is certainly a godsend for some students but it really needs some work.
BTW is director Peters going to need to recuse herself from votes on APP since she has children in the program?

Walking key
"...15%- 20% of the white SPs student population."

Okay, well you are wrong there because it has never been that large (nor all white). It's about at the largest it's been now and that's a little over 6% of the entire SPS population. It's okay that you don't like it but please don't exaggerate.

To note, legally, the district is obligated to serve the top 2% so you'd have to take up some of your concerns with the legislature and leading gifted experts.
Anonymous said…
Walking key refers to "students who can't afford test prep for the required APP tests".

By APP test, do you mean CogAt administered by the advanced learning office to determine eligibility for APP? Are there APP tests? What is the prep for them?

--Seriously Want to Know

Charlie Mas said…
Spectrum is dead.

ALOs were never alive.
Pm said…
Seriously want to know--

Cogat requires no prep. However, I have seen an ad on my neighborhood mom's list seeking a tutor to help prep the kid for the test. I have no idea how you would even approach that and hope that nobody wanted the job. But if your kid needs prep to be admitted, they will struggle in the program. Do you want your 2nd grader working on long division if the student is not ready? APP has very little differentiation, so everybody does long division even if they are weak in math or learned it as a toddler.
Charlie Mas said…
All of the strange things that happen in Advanced Learning happen because it is an area with no rules. It is the absence of a governing policy that lies at the heart of many of these problems. No one knows who has what authority or charge - not just these secret committees, but the teachers, the principals, the Advanced Learning department, other district departments, and the Board. There simply aren't any rules so people just either do - or don't do - as they please.

The teachers teach what they want to teach because there is no rule on what they are supposed to teach and no one is checking what they teach.

The principals can create or dismantle programs as they wish because there is no rule on what the program is supposed to be and no one to enforce the rule if there were one.

Advanced Learning could try to exercise some authority but they have none to exercise and no powers of enforcement because there is no rule granting them that authority. They can't strip a school of its Spectrum or ALO designation. There's no rule on how those designations are granted or revoked. They can't mandate a curriculum. There's no rule on advanced curricula. They can't do anything.

Other departments in teaching and learning can choose to design a curriculum for advanced learners, as the SPS literacy cadre has done, or they can choose not to. There's no rule to guide them either way.

The District needs rules for advanced learning and that starts with the Board writing a policy. That policy needs to direct the superintendent to write procedures. We need some rules here.
Anonymous said…

You mention that APP is 6% of the total SPS population. What percentage of the white SPS population is APP? I think that was the other poster's point.

Thanks, RR
Tired of the B.S. said…
A number of these Commnents have unearthed the parallel reasons for the deconstruction of APP and the non-benign neglect of Spectrum at SPS middle schools. The bright lights calling the shots are dismantling these vital programs--and the curricular masterpieces that many teachers' have lovingly crafted--in the name of an opaque, shallow vision of "equity." But the real, parallel driver is SPS's staff attempt to "align" and "standardize" everything to minimize costs, workload, and any demands for creative administrative leadership. Far too often the bright lights at SPS wrongly define "equitable" as "identical." There is a curious fusion of bureaucratic impulse and PC thinking at work here--and the results can be soul crushing for all --students, parents, and teachers. If they dismantle our child's program we will look elsewhere for schools with soul.
Anonymous said…
More specifically, what % of the non-FRL white and Asian population in the district is in APP? Probably closer to 20%.
That's not to say these students don't need the challenge, it just makes it look more like a private academy than a gifted program.

Anonymous said…
Our experience with Spectrum as a Gen Ed family was a classroom that did not serve my child's needs partly because it was a split and she was with kids who had nothing in common with her so that the other kids could have a learning environment with kids who were like them. There were a number of kids in the classroom who had been on the Spectrum wait list for years. I imagine they were also quite unhappy with our classroom. There were third graders working at 4th grade level in other classrooms but our class was not supposed to be doing that (it was explicitly stated that our kids shouldn't) even though the class was mostly 4th graders. It was a situation that was set up to fail because no one seemed to care at all about our individual kids and what they were capable of. They were just "not Spectrum" and as such not served well. Perhaps the program
was smaller when your kids were in Spectrum Melissa, leaving a viable cohort of Gen Ed kids so that their needs could also be served? My kid is a high tester in one area and likely could have done 4th grade level work in that area but nobody cared what our kids could do. It felt almost like they were in a holding tank. I had no opinion about Spectrum before this experience.

Gen Ed Mom
Lynn said…
Yes - children who are living in poverty are generally less successful academically. Here's an interesting paper on the topic - for the two or three people out there who still doesn't understand this.

Poverty rates in Seattle by race and ethnicity
The words/phases being used here: private academy (laughable), nobody cared what our kids could do (nobody at all in the whole school? Hard to believe).

But to be clear,the classrooms after Spectrum are gone? You may be just as unhappy about.

Again, APP students are ones the district is legally obligated to provide services for.

What would be great - and apparently got skipped in my thread - is the understanding that there are principals in schools with F/RL students who I believe have and will work against finding APP students in their populations because they fear the loss of those students.

So when you complain about the lack of diversity in APP, you might look around and wonder what the real issues are.

Lori said…
Perhaps people forget, or did not know, the history of gifted programs in urban school districts. Many decades ago, these programs were designed as a way to retain families in public schools. In the 1970s, higher socioeconomic status families were leaving for the suburbs and going private in large numbers. Gifted and other magnet programs were a way to keep those families in the system, which not only increases the money available to the districts but also creates larger numbers of voters who are vested in our public schools.

We constantly hear complaints about the racial makeup of APP. And while I absolutely believe the distract can and must go more to increase diversity in APP, what I see is a program working to keep families in public schools, just as these programs were designed to do. The city of Seattle is about 70% white, and so is APP. It's actually the *district* that doesn't match the city's demographics.

Now, if I were the district and I had excess capacity, I might spend some time wondering how to draw back into the system the families who are "missing" from general education. But our district is overcapacity. So if the tinkering with advanced learning programs makes them less attractive and large numbers of families leave them, move to the suburbs, or go private as a result, in a perverse way, that's a good thing, given the capacity situation. No, I don't think they are intentionally messing with APP just to reduce enrollment, but if that's the logical consequence, I don't think the district will be upset about it given the runaway growth overall.
Anonymous said…
Dear walking key,
I personally don't think teachers who are needing to cover huge amounts of curriculum to keep their jobs are going to be able to differentiate in their classroom teaching to accommodate all levels of learning. I think students who are coming from a place of not being as advanced when they get to school should get extra help until they are reading and doing math. There should be a big focus on that since many are coming from homes where parents are unable to prepare them in advance for kindergarten. However I do not believe it would be good for Seattle to have advanced students twiddling their thumbs through school completely bored. I think teachers can be specialists in their fields so one may be great at helping ELL students get on track, and another may be good at motivating students from homes who are in poverty, and others may be specialists in the APP track. And hopefully with everyone working together, students will move to their highest potential.
Anonymous said…
The teacher certainly didn't care. The principal admitted she had too many other fires to put out to even think about our classroom until the second half of the school year. She had no idea what was going on in there. A parent leader from the school came on this blog and said she thought my kid probably learned about patience and that things don't always turn out how you want them to (how would you like to be told that's what you should expect for a whole school year for your kid and just shut up about it already?) And the way I heard the other teachers in the school talk to the class one day when they were locked out of their classroom because their teacher was 15 minutes late and they were left unsupervised and then chided by numerous adults who passed them - yeah the impression I got is nobody at the school cared about them at all.
Anonymous said…
Oops forgot to sign. Above is
Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
In response to Walking Key, Lori started to make the math point I frequently make when the "APP is 6% and all white" comes up. While yes, APP is too white, it must be remembered that APP is much closer to reflecting the numbers of ALL CHILDREN IN SEATTLE NOT MERELY THOSE ENROLLED IN SPS.

About 20% of Seattle's school age children attend private school. All numbers should consider that the school age population is about 65,000 kids, only 51,000 of whom are in SPS - so don't calculate APP out of 51,000.

Here's the Seattle Times on it: (Linda Shaw, May 28):

"Yet despite the rise in public school enrollment, Seattle continues to have a relatively high rate of private school enrollment compared to other cities in Washington — and nationally.

In 2012, the latest data available, the Census Bureau estimated that 22 percent of Seattle’s school-aged children attended private schools. The city of Bellevue had the second highest rate, with an estimated 16 percent. In other large Washington cities, including Federal Way, Kent, Renton and Tacoma, the private school rate was 12 percent or less.

Nationally, Seattle’s private-school attendance rate was lower than San Francisco’s, estimated at 28 percent in 2012, but higher than the rates in Portland and Minneapolis (12 percent), Boston (13 percent), and Denver (11 percent).

The total number of Seattle students attending private schools has remained about the same from 2007 to 2012, according to census estimates — roughly 14,000."

The private school kids are disproportionately - overwhelmingly - white, leaving the kids enrolled in SPS to be a much larger percent children of color than the actual mix of school age children in Seattle.

YOU CAN NOT CRITICIZE APP for being too many kids (that canard that a program for the 2% has 6% of the kids enrolled) unless you look at the REAL numbers of how many kids live in Seattle, not the 80% who are enrolled in SPS.

Likewise, the APP racial composition numbers - must be compared with total population, because you don't have to be enrolled in SPS to get a spot in APP. It is open to every single child in the city, including that 20% who go to private schools.

Please, so my blood doesn't boil when I see bad math, please base complaints about the % of whatever re APP on the numbers of children in SEATTLE b/c that's the relevant population, not the 80% of kids who attend SPS.

If I have an egg carton with only 9 eggs remaining, and 3 of the 9 are broken, I do not return to the grocer and complain about 1/3 of the box being broken. It is 1/4 of the dozen that are broken. Likewise do not compare APP % to the 80% of Seattle kids in SPS - compare the numbers to the 64/65,000 kids in Seattle.

Signed: Math Counts (original)
Anonymous said…
"Spectrum is dead.

ALOs were never alive."

People are leaving QAE, (reluctantly, because it is an awesome school with many great features), because the problems associated with the unwillingness to meet the needs of their advanced learner are outweighing the good parts of the school for them.

Others are staying because of the good aspects of the school, but picking up the slack at home. Their kids have times of boredom and frustration, but on the whole are benefitting from the good aspects of the school.

The pta bought an expensive computer math program that was sold to parents as a means to differentiate. It was implemented in January, and in March kids started to hit the end of their grade level material. The staff would not unlock the next grade level for these kids. This was discouraging and frustrating for the kids, who were hungry for more. Next year kids will start the program in September and many will hit the end of their grade-level work by Christmas. The principal's solution is to have them start over and redo their whole grade-level. (He admits to having been weak in math in school, so probably thinks it's no big deal to be bored in math and doesn't know what it's like to be hungry for more.)

The LA curriculum is marginal. 4 years into the school's existence and staff is still figuring out how to teach grammar and how to add phonics so that kids who start out reading well don't hit a wall and struggle with decoding a couple of years later.

Many parents have expressed frustration but many on staff have disdain for parents that would leave this fantastic school just because they want to challenge their kids. Like the school is better off without those parents and their kids.

Great school, but should not in any way have an ALO designation.

Truth in Advertising
Lynn said…
The update from AL is curious. The grant application will describe the services to be offered next year. What kind of guidance do they need from OSPI?
pm said…
Math counts-

Seattle is more than 0.2% African-American and has more than 0.8% of kids eligible for free and reduced price lunch.
Anonymous said…
Walking key and PM-

With your firm opinion that APP is the root of discrimination and inequity in Seattle, I realize that facts won't sway your perspective, not matter how true they are.

We'll continue to argue this point over and over and over because no matter what the facts are, in some folks minds APP is inherently racist and all children should be grouped by age and only be taught the "grade level standards."

But at least represent the data correctly, please.

Math counts is correct. You can't just compare APP against SPS numbers because the vast majority of private school kids are white, upper class. Cherry picking data is bad analysis, and doesn't fly in most reputable professional settings too often, though I know that SPS seems to like to do it a lot.

PM--you can't simply look at APP at Lincoln's numbers by themselves. Those numbers would need to be compared against all of NORTH OF DOWNTOWN Seattle to be accurate, because that's the Lincoln boundary.

-confirmation bias

Lynn said…

That is true. Very few APP students are living in poverty. Poverty has a negative affect on a child's academic abilities. If you think there's something else behind this, I'd like to hear it.

SPS generally has disproportionate test results.
Third grade MSP pass rates for low income children: 61% reading and 54% math. For non-low income children those numbers are 91% and 87%.

Tenth grade HSPE pass rates for low income students: 73% reading and 22% math. For non-low income students those numbers are 91% and 61%.

Pointing out that a program doesn't mirror the district population is meaningless unless you also discuss what causes that. If there are highly capable children we are not identifying, we need to correct that. The advanced learning office has put quite a bit of thought into finding those kids and getting them nominated for testing. Do you have any new ideas for that?
Anonymous said…
QAE sounds much like our ALO school in the NE, an "awesome school with many great features" that breeds disdain for advanced learners and their parents. It's entrenched for us. Hopefully as a new school you can prevent the sentiment from running so deep. It's exhausting to fight for anything above "grade level" and for those of us just below the APP cutoff Spectrum is not really a meaningful option anymore.

Sympathetic in the NE
Anonymous said…
If all the white private school kids went back to public school in Seattle a third to half would be in APP further skewing white non-FRL representation.
Furthermore, no one said APP is the root of racism in Seattle, it is merely a reflection. Racism's been in Seattle long before APP showed up.
To Lori's point about keeping families in public schools by offering a segregated non-minority,non-poor environment. That doesn't sound like something we want to continue providing.
Lynn, I hope you aren't under the impression that the state of Washington mandates a self-contained program for the top 2%. The RCW requires services, but the delivery method is varied across the state's school districts and many have relatively tiny self-contained programs compared to their overall enrollment.
Anonymous said…
if the district has an affirmative action matrix for APP it's not well advertised. Other districts have a clear point system based on income, language ability, special ed status.
Check Houston Independent School district for example.

Fact checker
Anonymous said…
Sheila -- What is your 1/3 to 1/2 estimate based on? ("If all the white private school kids went back to public school in Seattle a third to half would be in APP...")

I'm curious if we there's any data on what that might look like. It could be that NOT testing in to APP is one factor contributing to white families going to private schools, in which case the return of those kids would actually even out the proportions.

Fact checker -- In my understanding (someone please correct me if I am wrong), this fall SPS is going to start cognitive testing ALL Southeast Region second-graders whose achievement scores would qualify for them APP. They are targeting the Southeast Region only for this extra testing in an effort to identify more children of color for APP.

--SE APP parent
Anonymous said…
Some commenters here are advocating that SPS ditch the self-contained model for providing RCW-mandated services to high-cog learners.

I'm curious if those commenters believe that SPS can effectively provide those services in a non-self-contained model, and if so, what evidence that belief is based on. (By the way, I'm a mixed-race child of immigrants who lives far away from the nearest non-Title 1 school.)

--SE APP parent
Anonymous said…
OK, just one more quick comment.

Last night I had dinner with a black friend of mine, let's call her Alicia. She grew up in Seattle, in a single-parent household, and luckily in grade school an astute SPS teacher suggested that she be tested for IPP. She tested into the program and loved it. She graduated from Garfield and then from an Ivy League school. She returned to Seattle and in her professional career has done award-winning work relating to race and poverty.

I want SPS to identify all the little Alicias in the district, and steer them toward a thriving APP program. I do not want SPS to dismantle the program that led Alicia to where she is now.

--SE APP Parent
Lynn said…
SE app parent - The district gave a CogAT screener to all SE region second graders this year in an effort to determine if eligible children were not being nominated. The screener identifies children who are Iikely to do well on the CogAT. (They can't give the full CogAT for highly capable identification to a student without parental permission.)

Fact checker - you're correct - there is no affirmative action matrix. The district is trying to identify those children whose needs are not likely to be met in a general education classroom. At this point, it's been determined that those are the children who meet the 98th percentile cognitive ability and 95th percentile academic achievement score thresholds.

Sheila - No need to worry - I'm pretty familiar with the state requirements. I hope you're not suggesting the appearance of the program is more important than its effectiveness at meeting children's needs.
seattle weird said…
Here is the link to the City of Seattle Demographics.

Seattle is very white. The State of Washington is very white. Guess what, there is a lot of white people in this state.

Is there an uncomfortable history of racism in Seattle that people don't want to talk about? Yes. Is north of ship canal, very white because of this? yes. Are the schools north of the ship canal, very white? yes.

Does that mean, you are not supposed to provide services if the school is too white? Seattle is just a weird town when it comes to race.

- seattle weird
Anonymous said…
A brief overview of Advanced Learning Task Force recommendations is included in the May 29 meeting minutes. For middle school, it suggests single subject qualification, an additional honors pathway at all middle schools (opt in as opposed to test in), along with highly capable sites.

Anonymous said…
do you or your freind favor affirmative action, i.e. giving prferential treaatment to students based on SES(socio-economic status), ELL(english language learner) and SpEd(special education)?
Testing kids is one thing, Giving extra weight to their application is another.
I looked at the Houston site referenced and the affirmative action part are called "obstacle points".
I don't think we have such a system. What do people think about such a system to increase diversity in APP?

Anonymous said…
j -- I can't speak for my friend, but would be interested in hearing her thoughts on the subject. I will try to remember to bring it up next time I see her.

Personally, yes, I think we should be actively exploring those sorts of ideas to increase diversity in APP classrooms. I didn't see that as a recommendation in the ALTF2 work -- does anyone know if it was discussed? (FYI, I'm new to SPS APP -- my K student was identified in the fall cognitive testing. I haven't really dove in deep on these issues yet.)

Another interesting idea would be to do mass cognitive screening as early as possible, like at the start of kindergarten, to identify high-cog learners before the educational effects of class and wealth really start to snowball. Second grade is too late.

That said, I am curious what the SE cognitive screening test revealed. Does anyone know?

--SE APP Parent
Lynn said…
APP exists to meet the needs of highly capable children. What is the point of placing other children in the program? I'm not a fan of making educational decisions based upon a child's race.
Lynn said…
The results of the SE screening were not made publiic.

I think the task force is likely to recommend universal screening at the beginning of K and in second grade. I believe they discussed dropping the achievement testing and using only cognitive scores to qualify. Apparently districts that do this see their gifted programs become more affluent and white.
Anonymous said…
The issue with advanced learning in SPS schools including APP programs is thus: Nobody loses a job when kids are achieving at standard but not achieving to their higher interest or potential. However, administration and staff are at risk if kids are not making standard.

Add a heavy dollop of interest by a whole lot of Seattle educators in facilitating socio-economic equity and where do you think the vast majority of school focus lands? Not on individual advanced learning. Not on individual accelerated learning. We're not even talking about the APP program - we're talking about the goals for individual kids which should NOT be that difficult to achieve in a classroom when a kid is a motivated student.

Nope, instead it's all about "how can we get these kids to a 3 on the MSP" (soon to be "how can we get kids to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment."

Want proof of this attitude? Try talking to your kid's teacher or school principal about wanting your standard-meeting kid to achieve "more" in the classroom - not because you want it but because they are asking for it. Here's the big bet: You'll get a blank look and a "why are you wasting our time" response.

I didn't used to believe it was as simple as standardized scores driving the system. Now I do.

SPS Done
Benjamin Leis said…
@Melissa - while yes I believe differentiation is necessary in some cases in this particular one MS LA/SS for spectrum vs. APP I'm much less certain. I'm also very uncertain how different in practice the actual classes are.

Lynn said…
I looked at the 2012 4th grade MSP scores for the elementary schools that feed into JAMS. (They represent the incoming 6th grade class.) There were a total of 32 students across three schools who exceeded standards in reading that year.

It looks like JAMS could have one full class for honors LA and SS. That seems preferable to me as it would provide appropriate humanities classes to Spectrum students and to students who are advanced in reading but not math.
Anonymous said…
Oh the beloved AL recommendations. Walking Key and Lori are right on the money. All the crying of self-containment doesn't care much about the APP audit findings. APP eligible kids remaining in neighborhood schools actually performed better on state tests than those going to an APP school. If we don't see a huge academic and measurable payoff for self-containment, then the taxpayers should not be funding self-contained private educations. On the one hand we have a community dedicated to their own superiority - as measured by test scores. Yet these same people want 0 accountability for results from test scores. They always cry that 1) their kids should NEVER have to requalify to remain in APP and 2) their kid should never have to demonstrate academic benefit in any measurable way. Too smart to be measured, they said. Remember the WASL? APP parents cried so loudly that *gasp*, their little dear had to "pass" the same year WASL to stay eligible for APP. Gee. What happened to 2 years advanced? They didn't want to have to even pass. Well, that's how it goes when you're too smart to test... except once.

The fact that WASL scores were better in neighborhood schoos for app APP qualified students than in APP schools - is most likely due to the huge amount of private testers, which lowers the caliber of student actually in the self-contained program.

Math Counts can't do math. Schools like Lakeside, Evergreen, Seattle Prep, UPrep, Holy Names have EVEN MORE gifted white students than in publics. Private schools aren't taking the poor performers, by and large. Lakeside certainly skims off most of the high school gifted students and blows Garfield and Ingraham out of the water in terms of national merit awards every year. Clearly, if all those white kids were returned to "public" school - the APP program would be even richer, and even whiter than it already is. Sure, some of the privates claim diversity - but lots of students with a distant minority relative... are counted as minority.

Can Do Math Too
Anonymous said…
@ CAn Do Math Too. Will you please provide the specific data for specific years showing APP-qualified students in general ed performed better than in self-contained? Thank you.

North of 85th
Anonymous said…
"Can Do Math Too" AKA "Reader"

Anonymous said…
North of 85, read the app audit.

Can do Math Too
Anonymous said…
Bottom line, self containment is fine... so long as students prove an academic performance benefit, significantly, objectively, and measurably above what highly qualified students in neighborhood achieve. Currently there is no standard, nor benchmark, nor proof of any benefit other than anecdote.

Lynn said…
Can Do Math Too your name is too long and your post may be deleted for that reason.

I'm not going to address all of your concerns. You do sound very invested in this issue. I prefer to have actual facts for these discussions so I looked up the schools you mentioned.

Students of color:
Evergreen 39%.
Lakeside 50%.
University Prep 30%.
Holy Names 33%

I wouldn't count Seattle Prep as a school for gifted students - they haven't had an NMSF in the last three years.

If your assumption that their students would qualify for APP is correct their enrollment in the program would increase APP's racial and ethnic (but not economic) diversity.

In my own experience, most Seattle families who enroll in private schools have children who are capable of working at a Spectrum-equivalent level. Either their local elementary school isn't willing to meet their needs, they don't want to put up with behavior problems in the classroom or they don't trust district staff to provide stability in leadership and program availability.
Anonymous said…
Right Lynn, you write a lot about things you have little experience with. At Lakeside, the school I know best, the diversity is greatly overstated as it counts ANY relative, no matter how distant. But, even if you reject that, SPS non-white is WAY HIGHER than any of those you list. Math still does count, as others have noted. It is:

SPS: 56% non-white by OSPI 2013 report card

That simply means the Private schools are indeed whiter, mostly WAY whiter than SPS. Returning students would indeed whiten up all programs they return to, especially APP. Did you know that Black students are more than 20% in special education? And Native Americans are more than 30%?

And your own experience doesn't jive with mine. Students at Lakeside outperform APP by significant margins. Perhaps you know a lot of private APP tester inner's. The thing about private school admissions - there's no "private" testing into them. Notes from the doctor don't gain you admission. And that means, higher test scores are actually in private schools. Higher National Merit test scores certainly are in privates at this point.

Anonymous said…
Most private schools only offer Spectrum-level classes these days, particularly in the middle school. There is also a whole lot less animosity ifrom staff and the parent community for offering advanced work, and smaller class sizes make differentiated instruction a lot easier for everyone.

But I think it is about size. I wish we had funding at the public schools to reduce class sizes, because I think this contributes to the part of the problem. Larger class sizes mean fewer classes, and more jockeying around to offer enough of the right classes to meet everyone's needs. Being about to break up students into units of 15-17, rather than 28-32, means a school can offer twice as many sections, and thus offer more advanced classes without the slice-n-dice issues we see playing out now. I know that is unlikely to happen in my lifetime, but if the schools could get class sizes down enough to offer even 1'or 2 more sections, then some of this problems might evaporate.

Wishful Thinker
Anonymous said…
Lynn, Seattle Prep is a choice for several APP families (they accepted several APP 8th graders this year). I would include it in the private schools considered by high performing students.

just sayin'
Anonymous said…
CDMT - Thank you for telling me about the audit. Is that the one from a few years ago or a new one? In either case, can you provide a link or a place to search for a link? I am truly interested especially around the statement that self-contained showed no WASL gain.

North of 85th
Anonymous said…
Ok Lynn,
Cold Hard Facts.

Seattle Private Schools
29% of the population

Number of National Merit Semifinalists:

Holy Names:4
University Prep:3

Total: 56

SPS. 71% of the population
Ballard HS: 1
Garfield: 19
Nathan Hale: 4
Roosevelt: 7
Others: 0

Total: 31

Notably - Garfield only gets about 1/2 the awards - despite being home to APP. Other IB schools have 0 awards - including Ingraham. Private schools outscore publics despite much smaller numbers.

Anonymous said…
You are completely wrong about Lakeside. There have been huge efforts to bring real diversity to the campus, and not just by skin tone, but by cultural, SES, and gender identification measures as well. The diversity coordinator and admissions have worked very hard to make that happen over the last few years. Those numbers are real, and I challenge you to stop by and look around the campus in its current state. What Lakeside is able to do, that public schools cannot, is fund a lot of individualized support for both students and families who need it, no matter their SES. Lakeside is rather well known in the private school community for their efforts on this front, actually.

--Staff friend

Anonymous said…
The only private school with entry criteria as high as app is seattle country day, and when we looked at private schools for our app child, none of them were willing to offer more than one year advanced. They told us either that that would be "fine," or to try app, that they (One of the "gifted" privates) were not set up for such "outliers" who actually were performing significantly more than a year ahead. I think that changes somewhat at the high school level, as kids are learning to write analytically, and need intensive instruction and feedback to learn, which private schools(well, small class size) provide much better than any public school. They recruit minority students very heavily from app programs, especially at the middle school school level. Every year scads of families in elementary private school test for app, and if their child gets in, they leave and come to app, and if they don't, they stay private. I don't know how study-able these factors are, but it is certainly what happens. I think it is absolutely accurate to say private schools are now spectrum, only the program only exists for families with means. I don't think app students are especially over represented at the elementary level(and for reasons I'm not going to share I am fairly familiar with a few private school classes). But probably spectrum students are.

Of course private schools do better on national merit scholarship recipients. The SAT is far more class biased than any test sps uses for advanced learning entry.

Anonymous said…
I think MCT's comment about pvt schools being for APP eligible white kids is ... bad math.

The vast majority of private school students in Seattle are NOT in the schools listed in the list with Natl Merit Scholar finalists, UPrep, Lakeside, etc.

Add up the number of kids in those schools if you doubt me, and subtract from 14,000. (For a lot of parents the point of private school is that it's small!)

The rest of the kids are in the average Montessoris, Waldorfs, Catholic schools, other Christian schools, the schools for special needs kids, etc. Few of the 14,000 private school children attend the 'big name' schools listed. The big name schools have the endowments and financial resources to reach out to non-affluent students and to conduct recruiting, which is great. The average Montessori or Catholic school? Not so much.

So: 14,000 kids in private school. I stand by: most are white. Most are middle to upper middle class, depending on school (I think the Catholic ones are cheaper by and large). Most are not/would not be APP eligible, although they may very well be Spectrum eligible b/c that's highly correlated w/being affluent enough to go to private school, even the less expensive ones, and doesn't requiring testing into the top 2%.

I firmly believe APP needs diversity. I think that identification of eligible students need to be strengthened, and I think that ELL and FRL students should be admitted with slightly lower achievement scores (but the same requirement for IQ). I think APP and SPS AL need to do much better outreach - I have long advocated for tours for FRL or ELL parents that are small, on days when the open huge tours are not being held (madhouse! I know well off white people turned off APP b/c of the craziness of the tour crowds, and can't imagine a person who felt disenfranchised coming in to it would even stay), include district-provided van transportation to get the family to the tour of the school, include the student shadowing a class for a half-day (again, with transportation to and from APP school), with interpreters for parents if necessary, etc. The parents as much as the kids need to be wooed by APP - middle class parents make decisions from a very different place than parents who don't have reliable transportation, single parents with multiple jobs, etc - getting them to understand that going farther to school is a good tradeoff, that their kid will fit in with the other kids b/c the thing they most have in common is their thirst to learn, etc - that's a huge SPS problem.

But just b/c SPS hasn't figured out how to increase diversity (and they really should try my suggestions) shouldn't mean closing the APP program. It should just be better, personal, well-planned and targeted identification and outreach.

Signed: Math Counts
Anonymous said…
@MCT - You are wrong about there being no "private" testing into private schools. Admission is entirely based on private testing - individual schools do not administer IQ tests - if they have IQ or achievement criteria for admission, or if they consider this in as part of their admission process, then it is all on the basis of private testing, which, incidentally, is a hell of a lot more reliable and accurate than the group testing SPS administers. Schools like Evergreen and SCD require IQ of >95th or 97th percentile (I think it is higher for SCD). The secondary schools may not require IQ tests per-se, but they definitely require excellent scores on independently administered achievement tests.
"Notes from the doctor don't gain you admission" to private schools. That is correct - unlike APP, private schools are under no obligation to actually admit EVERY student who meets their admission criteria ( i.e. who has a letter from the psychologist confirming they meet the IQ criteria). They will admit those that are the 'best fit' for their school according to whatever other admission criteria they have. Public schools, on the other hand are required to provide educational service to students residing in their district, and APP guarantees service to EVERY district student who meets the eligibility criteria.

Private i
Anonymous said…
MCT said "Notes from the doctor don't gain you admission"

Do you have proof that APP kids who tested in privately are less able than those who test in with the Cogat? I assume that is your implication here? This "fact" is regularly thrown out out with any and every discussion of APP, but I have yet to see any proof that those kids are less able. Until someone has proof that psychologists are being paid off to fake scores, this "fact" needs to disappear. It reminds me of Fox News always using the phrase "people say" in order to spout some fake "fact" that they are trying to get out in the world.

Anonymous said…
BFG, the "proof" that privately tested students are less capable is inferred from the audit. APP eligible students attending neighborhood (these are ALL publicly tested in) test higher than those in APP schools (these contain MANY private testers). The implication here is that private testing lowered the bar, which is obvious, AND that self containment offers no measurable academic benefit. At a minimum, and at a systemic level, APP eligibility should demonstrate measurable academic benefit for continuation of self contained service delivery. The district is not obligated to provide self contained services. Benefits to this should be proven regularly, and it can't just be, oh look, they beat the neighborhood school. I think most people would agree with this.

Anonymous said…
MCT is referencing the 2007 APP Review, see last bullet point on page 16.

The data was from pre-2007, and the difference was seen in reading scores, not math scores. The report states, "the reasons for this discrepancy are unknown," so attributing it to private testing appeals is a bit tenuous.

No, you can't "infer" it's a result of private testing, nor can you assume that APP eligible students remaining in neighborhood school didn't go through private testing. Also, since that report, a policy change was made in that APP eligible students can remain in their neighborhood schools through elementary and still retain APP eligibility for middle school.

The curriculum has also undergone some changes since that time, and the program has split, so comparing newer data would be more meaningful at this point.

Anonymous said…
I see the "APP audit" mentioned again and again, but I can't find it online. Does anyone have a working link to it?

MCT -- I haven't read the audit, but it's interesting that you would attribute the fact (?) that APP-qualifying students in neighborhood schools score higher than their peers within the APP program to the two groups' relative IQ.

Because I would assume that families who chose to have their children tested at school but then chose to keep them in their neighborhood schools would be doing so because their particular neighborhoods were affluent, and therefore their neighborhood schools were affluent, North End, high-scoring, well taught, well led, highly PTSA funded, etc. Also, were many of these children put into Spectrum classes at these highly affluent schools? (If not, why would their parents be getting them tested for gated AL opportunities?)

So when you say that APP-qualifying students at their neighborhood schools outperform APP students, I'd like to understand if you're talking about a citywide apples-to-apples comparison. Thanks for any additional insight you can provide.

--SE APP Parent
Anonymous said…
The audit is linked in the 8:31am post (and puts into question MCT's conclusions and assumptions).
Anonymous said…
MCT - so are you also inferring that the kids who go to Seattle Country Day or Evergreen (albeit has lower threshold than APP) are also less capable than the APP- qualified students who stayed at their neighborhood school - because, you know, they got in on private testing with the same bunch of psychologists that you imply are either are faking, fudging or providing less reliable results than the districts group CogAT.

You are wrong on 3 counts;

1. You have no evidence that APP qualified students who elect to stay at their original school are not identified that same way as those who leave for APP (i,e some proportion also having private testing), although I can see your reasoning.

2. It is widely known that the CogAt is unreliable in the group administration setting, especially for younger grades. There are too many other variables at play - distraction, other kids, having to listen to the tester and follow along in a classroom group etc. The fact that kids may just miss the threshold in the CogAT but score 99th percentile on individual testing reflects this. So it is wrong to say kids are being incorrectly identified on basis of private testing. When actually many eligible kids are not being identified at district testing.

4. Regarding the specific report you cite. Correlation does not imply causation!

private i

Correction said…
I like Lakeside and have friends there, but I cannot let this comment about 51% "people of color" go past. That wildly distorts the actual data, which says it is 8% black, 2% latino, and 0% American Indian.

Lakeside School is a great school, but let's not lie about what it is. It's an expensive private school in the north of Seattle. It's population reflects the wealthier, northern demographics of Seattle. That should not be surprising.
"APP eligible kids remaining in neighborhood schools actually performed better on state tests than those going to an APP school."

I'm sure you have data to back this up. Where did you see this (in one place?)

The state is now requiring testing in K so yes, that is coming. But I don't think it is universal but by who applies.

Can do Math Too, to address some of your points (that seem to drip with distain for APP):

- "self-contained private educations." It's okay to not like self-contained but to say kids in APP are getting private education is ridiculous. Do they have the best buildings (have you seen Lincoln)? Are their teachers specially trained? No. Different curriculum and materials? No. Smaller classes? No.

- "They always cry that 1) their kids should NEVER have to requalify to remain in APP and 2) their kid should never have to demonstrate academic benefit in any measurable way."

Unless you know every APP parent, I probably should not speak for them. I cannot speak for APP but when my kids were in Spectrum, yes, kids were quietly exited. The district used to care about proper placement as did the teachers.

MCT is right; if the district wanted to do this right, they would have stats that tell them how every part of the program is doing.

I am amused that anyone here thinks they know what the scores are at any private school. I think that's generally a guarded secret (except "our average SAT is...").

Can Do Math Too - you need a new name. As our Comment policy states, two word names, please.

I am sorry that - once again - this discussion has disintegrated. Frankly, I wrote this thread for people in the program, not so others can come in and decry it.

But it is an open forum.
Anonymous said…
I find private schools vary greatly and hard to generalize. To say the academic offerings is at spectrum level is a bit simplistic (bear in mind how APP varies site to site). For the rigorous ones, they draw students from all over the Seattle-Bellevue metro area. Lakeside is no different in that aspect and draw students from far away places such as Tacoma, Yakima, and Bainbridge.

As for "advanced offering", you won't get much of a response by saying your child is an APP student. Not even if you tell them your child has already taken algebra in 6th grade. Found that out the hard way. In fact, it's best not to push the whole IQ thing at all if you are serious about these places. These schools will do their own assessment beyond the usual entrance requirement and make placement suggestion (i.e. math). With small class size, agile staff and continual curriculum review, they tailor their offerings accordingly. That's what the high price tag gets you.

Lynn said…

Sorry - I was responding to complaints that APP is a program for "15 to 20% of the white student population" and that gifted students in private schools are also almost all white. I didn't realize that the phrase people of color only includes the colors you care about.

I've got it now. Do you have a moment to tell us where the gifted children of color you are concerned about are attending school? Why are we not identifying them - and if we are, why aren't they enrolling in APP or rigorous private schools?
Anonymous said…
Here is the entire chart that Correction was referring to, as listed on Zillow (of all places). Source for this data, and when it was gathered, is unknown.

Ethnicity School
Black, non-Hispanic 8%
White, non-Hispanic 54%
Asian/Pacific Islander 24%
Hispanic. 2%
Asian 19%
Multiracial 16%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.1%
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0%

The multiracial category, of course, will cover a great of diversity and should not have been left out,

- Data Matters
kellie said…
Thanks details for posting the audit the MCT is referencing.

I can't speak to any current program details. However, I can speak to 2007 and capacity issues with some authority and MCTs assertion and conclusions have no foundation in actual relevant facts.

In 2007, the district was still fixated on closing school and there was already significant enrollment growth in the north end. I would not be surprised in any way if in 2007, that APP identified students outperformed, APP students at either Lowell or Washington, if for no other reason than APP qualified students, outnumbered APP enrolled students and self contained Spectrum classes were full of APP qualified.

So that little bit of data alone calls this whole theory into question as so many of the non-Lowell / Washington APP students were simply in a more geographically convenient but also self-contained program. So you are not comparing self-contained to general education.

2007 was the height of the choice system and families of APP identified students had a very strong DIS-incentive to enroll in APP. Most schools had reasonable class sizes. Many schools had an incredible commitment to advanced learners and differentiated instruction. In some cases, this was simply because they wanted to hold on to enough advanced learners to keep their test scores high and therefore, keep full enrollment with a waiting list.

There were many issues with the choice system. However, schools with a very nice waiting list could be assured of class size stability, teacher stability, predictable funding and hiring and a nice learning environment for advanced learners, no matter what you called them.

The bottom line is that 2007 bit of isolated data is completely irrelevant to our current situation where almost every school is completely packed and the only "capacity management" solution for crowded schools is to identify advanced learners and encourage them to move to APP.

In 2007, families had to really want Lowell and Washington to make it work and there were lots of trade offs. The choice system made this a completely different district and the advanced learning programs reflected that time.

Anonymous said…
It's odd to say that Lakeside has more National Merit Scholars than APP, when MANY of the kids on that list were recruited away from APP! Lakeside also does a good job of recruiting kids of color from APP and Rainier Scholars for middle school and high school.

As to the 2007 report that says that APP identified kids in neighborhood schools do better on the WASL? Neighborhood schools spend the entire two weeks before the tests practicing and drilling. Guess what APP elementaries are doing during that time? Curriculum! Imagine! Because we know it matters not a whit if we get a 95 or a 99 on those tests. No one cares about being validated by the standardized tests, so we don't obsess about them. Also, the 2007 study compared the scores of kids in APP elementary (there was just the one then) to kids in self contained Spectrum at View Ridge, Wedgwood, etc. We'll see how well those neighborhood kids do now that their self-contained programs are dismantled and they no longer get much instruction at their appropriate level in the "pseudo-cluster" model.

open ears
Anonymous said…
Choice in '07 also meant sibling preference.... Or holding a seat for your younger children at the good/close school (a premium then) was a common strategy. We were tempted especially since our K teacher was pushing hard to stay. But it was obvious even at 5, she needed more and that Lowell could provide it. It was a huge risk for our other kids.

Melissa thank you for all you do! I was the one who asked for the info from the C&I meeting regarding AL. As to all the trolls - lie to yourself as you must but post on the topic at hand. If you feel so strongly and you have evidence of the programs errors ask MW to start such a thread. IMHO APP yeah/ nay has been over debated and any post unless under that heading should be deleted as off topic.

-Troll ignorer
(Previously AL dad)
Charlie and I have repeatedly said we would take guest threads so to add onto TI's comment.

The caveat is that you have to use your real name (unless you can show us that you are a teacher).
Anonymous said…
I think everyone agrees there needs to be a self-contained gifted program, it's just how many kids need self-contained. Does the CogAT measure their need for a self-contained classroom or their need for in-depth material or accelerated material?
It's fantastic there are so many gifted children in SPS. As exemplified by the PSAT semfinalists,we have about the usual smattering of really bright kids. 31 out of 45,000, about .07%.
Now there's 31 kids who benefit from a more rigorous pace, but do even those kids need to be at a self-contained site?
I'm not convinced they do.
Here's the real red meat of my argument; the advantage to having kids of this type(top .07%) served at local schools is that every child with less ability, meaning 99.9993% of the district, would have access to that same high level of rigor.
That sounds more flexible and therefore able to serve more students better.Of course, more equitable as well.
I would reserve self-contained for students who cannot remain in local schools due to other issues, not their giftedness. I guess since that makes me a free thinker who bucks the status quo, I must sign as:

Anonymous said…
@ Trollster,

I'd call it wishful thinking, not free thinking.

The idea that all kids, regardless of cognitive ability, need the same level curriculum, instructional pacing, etc. is ridiculous. Sure, it sounds nice to suggest that all kids are equally academically capable, but it's not true. What's appropriate for those at the upper end of cognitive abilities would be a huge educational disservice to the bulk of students.

So perhaps what you're really saying is that since these highly gifted kids are a small group, we shouldn't bother worrying about their needs?

Anonymous said…
Whoa himmom,
I meant that the 31 Merit Scholars would have their obvious and substantial academic needs met at their local schools thereby making available rigor up to that very high level for all other students.
Sorry I wasn't more clear.

Anonymous said…
trollster, did you read the post by SPS Done? Our local school doesn't give one whit about kids above standard. There is a major problem nationally with education and if you think SPS is going to be the ones to take it on and fix it, ha.

SPS Done says:
"The issue with advanced learning in SPS schools including APP programs is thus: Nobody loses a job when kids are achieving at standard but not achieving to their higher interest or potential. However, administration and staff are at risk if kids are not making standard.

Add a heavy dollop of interest by a whole lot of Seattle educators in facilitating socio-economic equity and where do you think the vast majority of school focus lands? Not on individual advanced learning. Not on individual accelerated learning. We're not even talking about the APP program - we're talking about the goals for individual kids which should NOT be that difficult to achieve in a classroom when a kid is a motivated student.

Nope, instead it's all about "how can we get these kids to a 3 on the MSP" (soon to be "how can we get kids to pass the Smarter Balanced Assessment."

Want proof of this attitude? Try talking to your kid's teacher or school principal about wanting your standard-meeting kid to achieve "more" in the classroom - not because you want it but because they are asking for it. Here's the big bet: You'll get a blank look and a "why are you wasting our time" response.

I didn't used to believe it was as simple as standardized scores driving the system. Now I do."

Anonymous said…
Trollster and all other trolls:

Free thinking isn't making repeated false arguments and disrupting the original post:

"Latest on Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools"

As you seem to only be creative when it comes to the truth here are a few suggestions for you to suggest for future post to MW:

-Rigor in APP decreases rigor in other classrooms.

-APP purposely denys black students access to APP.

-APP makes no effort toward increasing diversity.

-APP parents only support kids in the program - not the entire district or even those in their building.

-APP kids don't need self contained classes.

-Gen ed kids would do much better with 1.8 app kids in each of their classes (.06x30)

-APP cost the district more than other special needs programs.

-APP class rooms cost more than the average gen ed program.

-APP is not compliant with State law towards meeting the needs of Highly Capable students.

-APP students benefit from long bus rides and being torn from friends/schools.

-APP parents have tons of disposable income - so turning a high school campus, with no library - into an elementary school is no big deal.

-Psychologist who test kids for APP can be bought.

-To provide appropriate learning for those kids that score 98% or above in IQ and 95% or above in reading and math would be best to teach them in gen ed classroom with a .8 peer.

-Having access to a private test betters your chance at getting into APP (Agreed! Especially for 2E kids and the district should provide it for all families)

-Repeated broken promises by the district regarding supporting the program is a myth...Oh wait that is relevant to this thread! and it is no myth.

-AL dad
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt can somehow support 7 merit scholars without the cohort, hale 4, and ballard 1.As trollster stated these students are the top 99.9993 in our very gifted district. If those kids made it without the cohort at Garfield or Ingraham, logic indicates kids with less ability would be able to have their needs met at at least those schools.
Commander Spock
Anonymous said…
very bad math trollster
it's 31 kids out of the senior class not the district,. how many seniors, maybe 4000. so the math is 31/4000= about .8 % are Merit Scholars. But the logic is reasonable. If at least 12 of these kids in the top 0.8% of our district, and it does run about 30% gifted in some areas, can thrive, of course maybe they aren't thriving, but then you would think they'd move to the cohort, why can't others?
Lynn said…
Oh good! So Roosevelt, Nathan Hale and Ballard each have room for 100 more freshman than they're expecting next year?
I meant that the 31 Merit Scholars would have their obvious and substantial academic needs met at their local schools thereby making available rigor up to that very high level for all other students.

And how to do that? That's the crux of the problem. I do not believe it can be done at every local school (especially given attitudes out there).

And high school is a different animal from elementary or middle so, of course, high-level kids can be supported. They have access to UW classes, Running Start, etc.
Anonymous said…
trolls including you spock,

APP students end up all over the place and hence their enrollment decreases starting at MS. Where: running start, neighborhood HS i.e. Roosevelt, alternative HS and of course private.

For Garfield to have 19 of 400(?) seniors even after this migration is a testament to our public school system over the last 12 years which included the GHS - APP pathway throughout that time. Of course, we don't know if all were in APP but IF they were my math has that at a high 4%. Wow! Good work SPS/kids!!!! Especially well done as the test in question is more of a test of affluence.

As for the need for APP this all means... squat. Just like ALL of you trollish arguments but I thought at least a tad bit of reality / context would be helpful.

-GFY trolls
Anonymous said…
The seniors this year are the class that the district tested every first grader, district-wide, for advanced learning. So every qualified student got a letter inviting them to enroll in AL.

-HS parent
Anonymous said…
two points,
One would assume that if a student chose to not be in an APP cohort in HS that the student was not inn the cohort in MS or elementary. so, these students have had their needs met enough to stay local and still remain in the top 0.8 % of all seniors.

I would agree that not every school could support students of the capability of these 31, but whatever schools they attended were good enough to stay.

Another mom
Lynn said…
One might assume that - but one wouldn't know without some kind of data. Maybe they were really interested in a program that's available at their neighborhood high school - but not at Garfield. Maybe they prefer walking to school after busing to APP for eight years. Maybe they're new in town and moved here too late to access the program. I know that the 35 or 40 students who graduate from Seattle Country Day every year did not get their needs met by their attendance area school.
Tara said…
How does Country Day compare to APP? I know the class sizes are small but APP seems to have a more cosmopolitan feel, much bigger, more varied, yet still maintaining the cohort of high ability students. In fact, SCD with its siblng policy, has kids of less giftedness than at APP.
Anonymous said…
scd vs app - seriously? hum seems like a trick question and certainly not on topic. private you pay for ignorance public you pay with your involvement and through advocating vigilantly for your kids. We have an iep for one child and I think that a private school that would not be necessary. They want your check next year too right? APP makes it so a high iq kid will stay engaged in school through rigor and cohort. SCD i would say has the same formula but with far fewer barriers that a public school would encounter like: a teacher or two who are notoriously bad, hostile or incompetent principals and the constant distraction of dealing with the entire gamut of student types, district politics and a lot more kids in the district, buildings and more importantly in the class room. I would say you get what you pay for at SCD and I would say that for SPS we all gain from APP

app has met the needs of hundreds of kids that may very well have been so smart they would have had a terrible time until they were truly engaged in classes that offered enough challenge... But that won't happen until HS if at all.

Anonymous said…
Well you know it's bad when people are comparing which system has smarter kids/IQ. Education has just been turned into a sport. At this rate some clever marketer will be putting out the best Seattle school list just like US News college rankings. Signs of our time.

Anonymous said…
The reason you're not getting enough outrage about Spectrum is parents see how it divides a school to have self-contained classes and they want their kids to have a more inclusive social experience at school. Many, many parenta do not like the self-contained model for their advanced earners. They want the rigor but not the segregation and are happy to see cluster grouping and walk to's. To blame principals "badmouthing" segregated classrooms in their schools misses the fact that parents are the ones who see the harm done to their kids who are either in a self-contained class, in a gen-ed class or wait listed. These programs of self contined Spectrum are going away because they are unpopular with parents and staff. Families want rigor AND community.
If self-contained is what parents feel they need, they have to get into APP.
On Topic
Anonymous said…
There really isn't the need for self contained spectrum anymore. The main reason for these self contained classrooms was to resegregate the schools after they had been desegregated by the school choice plan. White parents were leaving in droves and only by offering self contained options was the district able to keep a lot of these parents from leaving.Now all the schools are segregated again and Spectrum is separating us from us not us from them. Spectrum's death is by natural causes and we will see a slow shrinking of APP as more parents see the benefits to staying in the neighborhood and their fears of "lower standards" diminish.
Anonymous said…
I know 4 of 7 the National Merit semi-finalists at Roosevelt. They all stayed in their neighborhood elementaries & never participated in APP. 2 of them were in schools that offered spectrum & participated in that program. The other 2 were in elementaries that did not have spectrum, so they were gen ed.

I do think that since all these seniors were tested in 1st grade, there is the opportunity for some data crunching.

-HS parent
Po said…
Perhaps that is the plan. Make APP aligned with gened and honors, encourage schools to accommodate students working ahead and in depth, create communities of learning at local schools that are more attractive than APP, and see what parents choose.
Despite capacity issues, if parents want to stay at their neighborhood school, they have that right and the district will have to find a way to make it happen. Capacity issues may be a factor in APP, but the district cannot force students to go to the APP sites. If one hundred students in the Ballard service area decide to change from APP as freshpeople, the district will do what they are going to do anyways, bring the northern boundary south, closer to the school, and then Ingraham will have a problem , etc. but eventually all kids will be in school.
Anonymous said…
I have to believe that these 4 of 7 merit scholars had a very different elementary experience than mine is having in our current climate. Surely you recognize the reasons why the "good" schools that still retain APP eligible kids no longer have any incentive to meet the needs of kids above standard.

APP eligible kids do stay in the "good" neighborhood schools and sure, they might do better on tests than kids in APP. But make no mistake, it is because their parents are taking on their education. Those are the kids that have the luxury of staying. I would bet my small house that their school is not meeting their needs.

Lynn said…
On Topic,

I have heard parents of children in general ed say they don't like self-contained Spectrum classrooms - but not families of Spectrum students. I'm curious which school you're hearing this from. I've also never heard APP or Spectrum parents describe the programs as segregated. In the last survey of parents they were overwhelming (APP at 84% and Spectrum at 69%) in favor of self-contained classrooms.
On Topic, don't say that all parents don't like Spectrum in any given school because Spectrum is liked by parents in it (for better or worse).

I would ask ALL readers/commenters to NOT make blanket statements like that because you cannot prove it.

Troll, you said this:

"The main reason for these self contained classrooms was to resegregate the schools after they had been desegregated by the school choice plan."

That's simply not true. Spectrum used to be Horizon and existed long before the period you speak of.

And you believe APP will shrink (even as it is growing now)? No, APP will only get bigger as Spectrum goes away. There is very little evidence that the majority of advanced learners can currently be served in GenEd classes.
Anonymous said…
I also think the majority of Gen Ed students are not being served in Gen Ed classrooms. Most of the Gen Ed parents I know are supplementing. You can go private or you can supplement and tutor in those areas the Gen Ed classroom in SPS misses the mark. That's reality. My kids are happy but not as challenged as they could be.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
Can't speak for anyone else, but my experience with self contained was that it was a double edged sword. The kids did better academically but the loss of contact with former friends at elementary school was problematic. With increased clustering, differentiation and more walk to's, things are much better for the whole school and the tempore groupings throughout the day seem to provide the same or even more rigor.
For middle school we opted to not go with APP, despite passing the district administered test. We have found our neighborhood school to be very challenging, with good class groupings by the staff. It's not all the gifted kids together, it's a mix of abilities and motivation levels as well as behavioral factors. It works very well for us. I don't know why we can't have two solid pathways for increased rigor, local schools and APP. They need not be exclusive.
Anonymous said…
I love our Gen Ed school but I'd like more rigor. There are those who resist the idea inside the school but most of the parents I know want more rigor in Gen Ed.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
Yes, the test is not supposed to be magic, showing exactly who needs self contained to survive, and who does not. It is supposed to be a very, very helpful data point. This goes back to my very first point on this thread- it shouldn't be just app, super turbo accelerated, or regular, at the new middle school (JAMS). There needs to be an honors option, and if there are too few spectrum kids for a whole class, we should offer single subject advanced gen ed kids the option for more rigor, instead of moving down the entry bar for app for one subject. Kids are different and need a range. I have never thought that it should be a goal to have every single app qualified kid go to an app self contained school. Just like it is not a goal for a child with sensory processing disorder to have every single accommodation available to kids with SPD. We just know those accommodations are typically best for most kids to learn. But some kids won't need them, and that's fine. That doesn't in any way mean we should stop offering them.

I have been very happy with the gen ed curriculum for my kids in gen ed so far. One of them could use some more in one subject, but it's generally closer to the mark than app is for my app kid. The only parents I personally know there who are supplementing have app qualified kids they are trying to keep with siblings at one school. People are leaving in droves next year, though, and I do think there is less and less differentiation as the climate becomes more and more anti advanced learning (ironically right as differentiation is touted as the panacea). I think this pipe dream of total inclusivity, every child in one classroom all kid day working on the same projects at the same time, is terrible for most kids, and especially single subject or a little ahead kids. If we would just do walk tos and real (not what Wedgwood or view ridge is about to do) clustering, and make plans for kids who are ahead at the start of the year, I think we could make so much headway with those kids, and shrink app to a size that might actually fit in Wilson pacific in 2017.

Ragweed said…
I think we need to correct some facts upthread about Seattle's demographics.

Seattle is 70% white when only counting racial makeup, which excludes Hispanic/Latino. White, not-Histpanic is 66.7%.

However, Seattle residents under 18 have a considerably different racial/ethnic makup.
White 60.50% +/-1.3
Black or African American 12.80 +/-1.1
American Indian and Alaska Native 1.00% +/-0.3
Asian 12.30% +/-0.9
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.40% +/-0.2
Some other race 1.80% +/-0.5
Two or more races 11.20% +/-0.8

Hispanic or Latino origin (of any race) 9.60% +/-0.8
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino 54.30% +/-1.2

(all from 2012 ACS survey, US Census Bureau)

So only 54.3% of Seattle Students are actually white.

Racial/Etnic makup of schools north of Ship Canal (Oct 2013 OSPI data, my subtotals):

White, not hispanic*: 63.0%
Amer. Indian / Alaska Nat.* 0.6%
Asian* 9.6%
African American* 6.6%
Mixed race, not Hispanic 9.4%
Hispanic, all races 10.4%

(*Hispanic excluded from other racial categories.)

Private school demographics are also available from OSPI (2013-2014 year, OSPI data, SPS only, my subtotals):
Total Private School Enrollment: 17250

White: 64.3%
Amer. Indian / Alaska Nat. 0.6%
Asian 12.0%
African American 6.6%
Hispanic 4.7%
"Other" 11.3%

(not sure what "Other" includes - presumably some mixed-race, but it is not clearly defined).
Anonymous said…
sleeper, do you think a school like Bryant Elementary will ever implement walk-to's?

Ragweed said…
BTW - OSPI actually has very granular data in spreadsheet form, broken down by school and grade. Here, for example, is a selection of a few private schools, grade 8.

Total 80
American Indian Percentage 1.25
Asian Percentage 33.75
Black Percentage 8.75
Hispanic Percentage 6.25
White Percentage 40
Other Percentage 10

Anonymous said…
No. Bryant used to have a lot more walk tos, clustering, and in class differentiation, but if it is coming back, it will be too late for all the kids currently in the system. Too crowded. I know the current principal came from a school with a lot of walk tos (JA k-8), and parents were hopeful he would implement something similar. So far no, though. It is just so much more crowded than his last school.

Private school demographics are self reported, and as mentioned above, tend to be heavily massaged. They do recruit minority students heavily from app, though, Lakeside especially. The only way I can think to counter that effect is to improve class sizes and rigor at app, but that has got to be about number 1,356,755 on the district's to-do list.

Anonymous said…
Just a bit of perspective on National Merit Semi-finalists. Interlake High School -public hs in Belleve- had more National Merit Semi-finalists (34) than the combined total of all SPS high schools. While National Merit status is not the be all/ end all and may not be the best measure of rigor,but this statistic certainly raised my eyebrows a bit. If nothing else it raises the point that SPS needs to be increasing rigor and its expectations for all including and perhaps especially highly capable students.

Anonymous said…
I'm not surprised, Mary. Interlake houses Bellevue's Gifted High School program--a cohort model with special classes for gifted kids (!).

The gifted HS program at Interlake also seems to be way more responsive to individual needs. When we looked into it they said: "Your kid will max out on our math offerings in year 2? Ok, I'll guess we'll just have figure out how to provide what's next." I was speechless.

Seattle has a lot of kids out there who could be performing at much higher levels, but it looks like that's not likely to change anytime soon...

Anonymous said…
If you read through the preliminary ALTF recommendations (May meeting minutes), suggestions include opt-in honors level classes at all middle schools (like Spectrum, but no testing process required?), along with single subject qualification for math/science and LA/SS. These changes, along with a suggestion to make the cutoff 98% (I'm assuming for both achievement and CogAT, but the summary is not that specific) could lower the numbers of students opting into APP for middle school, while serving more students in their neighborhood schools.

In the meantime, and back to the original point of discussion, changes to the curriculum are being made before we even know what services and identification procedures will be in place for highly capable students.

ALTF recommendations are supposed to be finalized by the end of June.

Anonymous said…
Back to the point of this thread, here are a few items from an FAQ on the new APP middle school LA/SS curriculum, as presented in the Friday Memo for June 13, 2014.

How accelerated will the content be in middle school?
"District educators will aim for teaching accelerated skills within grade-level content. For example, sixth-graders may be expected to write essays at an eighth-grade level, meeting accelerated language arts benchmarks. While the content itself may not be accelerated, it will be studied on a much deeper level. For instance, in a unit on the U.S. Constitution, APP students may engage in a rigorous examination of the Federalist Papers, Spectrum students may delve deep into Federalist Paper No. 12 with guided questions, while general education students may read a more structured expert with study guide and a supported summary of Federalist Paper No. 12."

Then again, our principal told us teachers can't be held to any such guidelines, so they may not do those things in reality. It's apparently all up to the teachers. Sounds good, though.

How will the district ensure this alignment is implemented with appropriate care and rigor for our highly capable students?
"Not only will the district provide professional development and resources for the APP alignment at all three middle schools, but the district is initiating a “resource review” through an outside non-profit. Education Northwest’s consultants will look at the texts and other resources used by APP teachers at the middle level in both language arts and social studies, interview teachers and principals, and report on how the curricular materials align to the 2010 Pre-K-Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards from the National Association of Gifted Children. This report will be used to inform curricular discussions."

I'm not too familiar with those standards, but I don't really see what they'd be looking for in terms of how curricular materials align to them. The standards are very general, and apply to grades K-12, and it seems like you could argue that any resource aligns. For example, standard 3.6 in Curriculum Planning and Instruction deals with Resources. It reads: "Students with gifts and talents benefit from gifted education programming that provides a variety of high quality resources and materials." Not that useful.

Oh, and I contacted Education Northwest to learn more about their work as it pertains to gifted programming, since they will apparently be the ones assessing the APP materials and resources for alignment with these gifted standards. They told me "Developing programming for gifted students is not one of the services we provide." Huh?

The memo also mentions there is also a new sixth- to eighth-grade ELA scope and sequence.
It "provides opportunities for social studies integration. This allows middle schools to offer humanities blocks or offer the courses as independent but complementary courses, depending on scheduling and teaching availability."

Does anyone have a copy of this new ELA scope and sequence?

Anonymous said…
Sounds like a way to eliminate self contained while meeting the legal requirement for service.
Anonymous said…
I am only speculating now, but one reason for the AL optimism is the new WAC that requires identification of and services for highly capable students in EVERY school. I trust that once word comes down that worksheets aren't going to cut it anymore that differentiation will truly happen. Rigor for all? Let's hope. But there could be a return to neighborhood schools and less pressure to get into APP especially for single domain and 2E kids who could do much more than what is expected now
Anonymous said…

I have seen differentiated instruction like you describe work very well in the integrated classrooms at Eckstein. Where kids are all studying the same subject but using different materials & have different goals/learning objectives for each assignment. These classrooms serve sped, gen ed & AL. I think they work really well. Of course the teachers are very committed to the model because they choose to teach in those classrooms.

-Eckstein tutor
Anonymous said…
-oops AL dad above
Lynn said…
To be clear, the requirement is to provide services to every highly capable child - wherever they are. That may or may not affect the rigor available to other students in that school.

I hope that providing more challenging work for every student who is ready for it is addressed in the advanced learning policy when it is updated.
Anonymous said…
Really confused about Education Northwest as a reviewer for gifted materials...based on their website, it does not seem to be an area of expertise for them. Of course, some new-to-APP teachers have not been able to select appropriate materials, so perhaps they have good intentions in seeking an outside review...just not sure about the choice of outside reviewer.

There is also the Oregon Leadership Network at Education Northwest, which is focused on "culturally competent leadership," and seems to base their work on Courageous Conversations.

Equity Leaders presentation the curriculum review really about gifted programming standards??

Anonymous said…

you are correct that it appears that those are the recs coming from the AL TF but they are not. That was a compilation of individual TF recs. What i understand is that very little is changing in regards to elementary APP (other than K services) but as MW said there will be an emphasis at the local school to identify and support the needs of the academically highly gifted. They are proposing working with those students whose achievement is below a high IQ/teacher identification through "talent development" to "on-ramp" students who in past would not test in to APP.

AL dad
Anonymous said…
Under "Areas of Work," Education Northwest lists: Leadership and System Improvement; Family and Community Engagement; English Language Learners; Literacy, Mathematics, and Science; Equity; Youth Programs and Nonprofit Support; Rural and Native Education; and College and Career Readiness.

I can find nothing specifically related to gifted or advanced learners. The literacy, math, and science links seem focused on bringing students up to standards, not working with students working beyond standard.

curious choice
Anonymous said…
@HIMSmom, can you provide a link for the FAQs you have quoted? The Friday memos are only posted through June 6.

Anonymous said…
I don't have a link to the FAQ, just an electronic copy. Is there a way to post attachments here? Or I can copy and paste the text from all three pages...

Anonymous said…
Thanks, Lynn, but I don't have a link--just a doc file that I received via email. Is there a way to easily upload files to blogger?
Lynn said…
Could you save it on and then create a link?
Charlie Mas said…
I knew that if I dug through my emails I could find it, and here it is, the response from Shauna Heath on why the "one year and two years advanced" work that Spectrum and APP students do in middle school is not worthy of high school credit:

"You are correct that that sequence of APP is two years advance and Spectrum is one year. That being said, students that are taking two or one year(s) advanced curriculum in middle school currently do not receive high school credit in Language Arts and Social Studies. At this time we do not offer high school credit for Language Arts or Social Studies courses taken in Middle School for a number of reasons:

"* middle school course standards addressed are two years advanced, but the advanced middle school content is not the same as high school course content

"* offering 7th and 8th graders 9th and 10th grade content, for example, subject matter books, is not always developmentally appropriate

"While we do not currently offer high school ELA and Social Studies credit at middle school, we will be convening a task force to address the topic of APP service delivery models. It is conceivable that the recommendations from this task force will change the current practice.

This response is, of course, non-responsive. The CONTENT doesn't have to be at the ninth grade level for the students to earn the credit, only the Standards have to be. And Ms Heath has confirmed that they are.

So, in short, the District doesn't offer credit for this work because they don't want to.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Lynn.

Here's a link to that
Friday memo.

Anonymous said…

In my opinion, given the quality of these courses in middle school, they shouldn't give high school credit for them. I'm not convinced they are very advanced at all.

Charlie Mas said…
The presumption that all middle school APP students continue to Garfield, made by Another Mom, is faulty. For example, neither of my daughters went from Washington APP to Garfield APP. One went to NOVA and the other went to Chief Sealth.

The presumption was baseless from the start.

As for this perrennial discussion about the merit of Spectrum or APP as self-contained programs, I will only say what I have always said:

When you can show me how these students will be served as reliably without the programs then we'll have something to talk about. Right now, however, there is no more reliable way to serve them well and no sign of any such method on the horizon.

Please remember that every single child in Spectrum and APP were once in a general education classroom and they are no longer there because it did not work for them.
Anonymous said…
And a General Education classroom in a school with self contained Spectrum did not work for my Gen Ed student. The district has a mission to serve both advanced learners and general education students and the programs have to be run in a way that serves all the kids at the school.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
@ Gen Ed Mom,

I imagine the gap between the level of instruction in your child's gen ed class and your child's potential was probably similar to the gap that many APP students face in APP. The APP floor may be a little higher than the gen ed floor for that grade, but the kids start out needing a higher level. Unfortunately there are gaps all around.

I would love to know what percentage of the SPS population thinks their child receives instruction at the right level!

Anonymous said…
what part of spectrum made the gen ed classes fail? each had the same resources right?

Anonymous said…
The part where there were so many girls in Spectrum and so few in Gen Ed that my kid was tossed into a "split" where she was used pretty much only to balance gender with kids who were not her peers. I suspect once the number of Spectrum kids gets over a certain number the program becomes unpopular with the families of the kids who are displaced from their peer group to accommodate the weird demographics. Also with the families of the kids who are on the waiting list and can't get into the program.

Gen Ed Mom

Well, that is weird that they were concerned about the gender mix. My son (and 5 boys) sat in a Spectrum class filled with girls for 5 years.

What happened to Gen Ed Mom is not the norm.

Actually, people on the waiting list are there because they DO want to be in the program. It's the logistics they don't like.
Anonymous said…
And the GIRLS in Gen Ed were in a class filled with boys. Funny how that works, huh? It was the logistics I didn't like as well. If they could have figured out a way to put my kid in a class with her peers and still served the Spectrum kids in their self contained setting, I would have been fine with it.

Gen Ed Mom
Lynn said…

Thanks for providing the Friday Memo. I wonder if Garfield's history department is aware they'll be dropping AP World and adding AP European History.
Anonymous said…
While only the AL dept really has the data on student movement in and out of self contained and they don't release any data about student performance so it seems, you do provide an example of two more students of APP qualifying whose needs we're met sufficiently(presumably, as they had another respectable option in Garfield).

Anonymous said…
Melissa says what happened to me was " not the norm" but way back when her kids were in Spectrum her son was in an elementary class with 5 boys. Teachers probably enjoyed teaching that class. You know what teachers don't like ? Teaching a class with 5 girls. My daughter was one of 6 girls in a her class and that was AFTER she was moved in order to balance demographics into a classroom full of kids a year older than her. And then she was expected to be the calm, feminine voice of reason in groups of boys a year older than her. Common sense should tell you that wasn't going to work. And someone from that school came on this blog and said well that's because the Spectrum girls came from out of the reference area of the school and there were no girls born in this part of Seattle that year. But that's not true. I live in the school's reference area, I have 2 girls and there are a normal amount of girls living in this neighborhood. The demographics are out of whack at that school and it sounds like that's been a problem with the self contained Spectrum since Melissa was there.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
Dred, are you responding to Charlie's post about his daughters going to a HS other than GHS?

I think you are inferring that he meant more than he did. I'm Just speculating: but I think they were in APP through MS for a reason and that they found a good fit at a different HS then the normal pathway. That's the trend for a long time. Kids peel off after 7th/8th grade APP.

Many folks have argued that AP and acceleration didn't really mean that APP continued to HS at GHS as all the kids are added to the general milieu. I believe the revised WAC will mean that high schools across the board will need to beef up acceleration and AP offerings and that a HS, perhaps GHS, will need to improve to support the academic as well as emotional needs of those that are "highly capable." I also think more can be done at the MS level to bolster APP academics/cohort and not to divide it - which has really been done to accommodate master schedules and not the needs of the kids.

So back to the thread we go - change is coming! I only hope it is directed to meet highly capable student's needs (currently 98% iq - 95/95 achievement) k-12 as the WAC dictates... But with bldg based mgmt, politics and competing priorities who the heck knows.

-AL dad

Anonymous said…
I agree GenEd Mom that is a dumb way to do things. Everyone of my kids has experienced that kind of goofy demographics with split classes, 3-1 boys to girls and whole groups of friends being diverted to another side of town (now twice). At least I hope her academic needs were met. Were they?

-AL dad
Anonymous said…
No. It was a terrible year. The class was set up to fail. She learned nothing and was depressed. She cried every day. We ended up homeschooling for part of the year. She is now in a class with her peers and its not perfect. She could be more challenged. But she is learning and age is happy. We moved schools.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
Sorry for the typos - phone

Anonymous said…
I believe the revised WAC will mean that high schools across the board will need to beef up acceleration and AP offerings and that a HS, perhaps GHS, will need to improve to support the academic as well as emotional needs of those that are "highly capable.

I know a couple others have expressed a similar optimism that the new WAC means services will somehow be improved, but I'm not sure I agree. I don't think things will be all that different for most kids. While SPS may need to add a few AP courses at a few high schools, for the most part SPS can just say "AP classes are available at all high schools." I don't think there's any effort going into beefing up acceleration, or increasing the number of AP offerings at APP pathway high schools. I also don't expect a lot to go into meeting the emotional needs of these kids--most likely it'll mean something like periodic meetings with the counselor to make sure kids at non-APP pathway schools are getting the classes they need. For pathway schools, the cohort will address emotional needs.

Anonymous said…
GenEd Mom, here is to hoping that the next years will go better!


I meant to convey more rigor (AP) at all schools and more cohort/emotional needs at the pathway schools.

The big WAC piece IMHO is the HS requirement which SPS has left to the neighborhood schools to sort out... which of course they didn't. Now perhaps they will.

AL dad
Anonymous said…
Today's Board agenda (with an updated Tuesday post) is still missing the OSPI grant application, so who knows what is planned...

Anonymous said…
AL dad,

SPS has always said their highly capable program already existed in high school (AP classes), so aren't the only change that the HS piece now needs to also include opps for gifted identification, as well as SPS will be required to track/report numbers thru grade 12. What sort of other changes do you anticipate? I suspect SPS will do the minimum required.

Lynn said…
We should ask Ms. Heath what she has planned for high school students. (She must have come to some decision - as she has prepared the grant application and it requires inclusion of the description of identification measures and services to be provided.) Interestingly, the task force hasn't begun to discuss this issue - so she created her plan without their input.
Anonymous said…

Stephen Martin acknowledge the poor timing and the ability to tweak it if need be... Also, the Board (true audience) has yet to see any of the recommendations either. All I can say is that at least SPS is trying to comply to the WAC when it comes to AL.

-AL dad
Anonymous said…
Based on what's been mentioned at recent APP AC meetings, I'd say the high school plan is (1) AP classes at APP pathway schools, and (2) AP classes plus periodic check-in at non APP pathway schools. They will have to track and report on kids all the way through. And they will have to allow kids to test in--or otherwise gain access?--during high school. But I wouldn't expect many substantive changes to support greater acceleration or rigor.

And based on the the vague language of past Highly Capable Program grant applications, I don't anticipate a whole lot of detail on service delivery in the draft application. Sure would be nice to see the language though!

Lynn said…
AL dad,

The WAC changed in September of 2011. The plan has to be reported to OSPI by July 1, 2014. As of today, we do not have a plan. I don't think staff is trying hard enough.
Anonymous said…

With the new WAC that will also mean that more kids will qualify for "services" as they won't have to show high achievement in math and reading (like the current model) and ALL of the schools will have to provide those services so yeah more rigor/acceleration.

For "APP" I see it as a funnel the more you put in the more you get out in the end and if only 10% scaffold up to an APP pathway then you will see added pressure on current HSs and a need for more rigorous facilities (i.e. North APP HS or other IBxs and the such).

This becomes even more imperative when you add in HS identification allowing in transfers to receive highly capable services. You know at least one kid in IBx came from a private MS or their family were at least thinking of private school vs GHS. Not every kid can be a bulldog.
Anonymous said…

Lynn I didn't know that this went back that far... Shessh! But let's give AL a break as they really have had their challenges this year with testing issues, the SE pilot and FP coming on line out of the blue. Stephen and his team are putting out fires left and right. Letting this one smolder until the Board has its say is completely understood.

-AL dad above and here
Lynn said…
AL dad,

I don't think Stephen Martin is at fault for the delay. Let's be clear though that Curriculum and Instruction staff are not waiting for board input before writing up a plan. There's no scheduled time for the board or the C&I Committee to work on Advanced Learning issues. Feedback will be given after staff create the plan. I guess that happens tonight?

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