Friday Open Thread

It's Friday and the our thoughts turn towards the weekend. Or do they?

What are your thoughts turning towards?


Uncle said…
This letter from McClure was posted on the APP (HCC) blog, but I thought it should get a wider audience:

"First, next year the McClure Language Arts Department will be joining the rest of our departments at McClure and mirroring the advanced learning policies within our feeder schools. We are establishing a "blended" or "clustered" model in which all of our students who have been Spectrum-identified and our General Education students will be blended into the same Language Arts classrooms. There will no longer be separate Spectrum and General Education classes. There are many reasons behind this modification, not the least of which is our commitment to the concept of growth mindset - the researched-validated principle that we can teach students that their success in school is not stagnantly based on their past but, with grit and perseverance (and a supportive, intentional school environment) all of our students can and will grow. We have looked at testing, classroom performance and discipline data and found that the array of skills, behaviors and challenges in both of these "tracks" are similar. All of our Language Arts teachers are currently teaching (or have taught in the recent past) both sets of students and our curriculum for both Spectrum and General Education courses have already been aligned. Finally, our teachers are spending this school year and this summer to collaboratively develop differentiated lessons, assessments, projects and activities to support and challenge all of our learners. For even more details on this, please see the McClure website for the informational document which includes more about the research, philosophy and mindset behind this shift in our Language Arts program.

McClure Mom"
Anonymous said…
Great news! App's own data shows that APP qualified students' test scores are actually higher for those students are not in segregated environments, despite all the parents who want that. Good for McClure.

Anonymous said…

Did you see something about highly capable students in that letter? Maybe my reading comprehension skills are slipping.

Anonymous said…
To Reader:

No idea what "APP Data" you're talking about. There is none. Just like there is no APP curriculum other than a math book that's 2 years ahead and no extra money. So don't buy into whatever the APP-haters say. There's no data. I can speak from ANECDOTE - my kid's work is light years better than the work I see kids not in APP doing. The actual math assignments are way harder. The science is the same, b/c they use the same kits. The books they have to read are harder in 5th grade than in gen ed 5th grade (although that was not true in 4th grade b/c they used a "textbook" of excerpts rather than readers' workshop). And thankfully b/c of the lack of resources to match the size of the program, there has been much less emphasis on typing their papers and the little APP kids are still writing by hand, which is much better for the brain, according to all the actual data I read in the NY Times Science section. But I challenge you to link to real data supporting your thesis - guess what - if it's MAP scores - those, it is long settled, are useless. And the APP kids know that.

Signed: not hater
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"There are many reasons behind this modification, not the least of which is our commitment to the concept of growth mindset - the researched-validated principle that we can teach students that their success in school is not stagnantly based on their past but, with grit and perseverance (and a supportive, intentional school environment) all of our students can and will grow."

What a wordy statement in order to justify something that, obviously, someone doesn't like.

Stagnantly based?

Yes, Reader, please do share that data.
Anonymous said…
I wonder what McClure families will think about the new grading plan?

Teachers will be teaching at an “honors” level with the assumption that all students can and will pursue this level of rigor. Students earning an “A” or a “B” in the Language Arts course will have an “H” next to the course title on their semester grade reports.… All students will be held to the same level of rigor to earn these grades.

So how do think this will play out? Will it be like a youth soccer team, where everyone gets a medal just for playing--meaning the class won't be any harder, it's just that those who do well get an H? Or will students who typically got Bs and Cs in gen ed level LA classes find the new "Honors" level courses to actually be harder and thus end up getting lower grades?

If they're going to do the optional honors designation thing, it seems like they should at least use a similar process to what high schools use, where you do something extra for that honor. My guess, however, is that the class won't change much, and parents will be happy when the school starts handing out "H"s to a bunch of kids.

Or are there district-wide criteria for what constitutes and honors-level course or honors-level performance?

TechyMom said…
They are talking about Mindset by Carol Dwek, most likely.
Honors in that way usually means a lot of extra busywork. Not buying it.
Anonymous said…
@ Melissa, you think honors in this way will be any better? The old "honors for everyone!" approach doesn't seem any better to me. It's just like the "8th grade Algebra for all!" approach, where it turns out to be "algebra-lite" and thus a disservice to all.

If they have a bunch of above average smart but not "highly academically gifted" kids at McClure, great. They should be able to have nice rigorous classes even when teaching to the middle (and doing all that differentiation they say they'll keep doing). But to say these are "honors" classes means what? Honors-level as determined how? In comparison to what?

It seems like schools all over this district are just making S#@% up.

Anonymous said…
Psychology professor Dan Willingham reviews the book, From the Ivory Tower to the Schoolhouse, which is about academia's influence on education - more specifically, “why do some ideas from academia gain influence among educators whereas others do not?”

The application of "mindset" theory to educational practice is a perfect example of embracing an idea that is compatible with existing educator philosophies while seemingly doable in the classroom (it's free!).

Anonymous said…
It seems like schools all over this district are just making S#@% up.

Well, I couldn't have said it better. The more things change the more they stay the same...

Anonymous said…
This is well worth a read, the grading of the annual Bill and Melinda Gates letter to the people where they solve all the worlds problems and cure all the ailments in society.

Thanks! I feel better already knowing that being rich and arrogant is not enough. Being patronizing, condescending and utter absurd is!!

From the Washington Post:


Anonymous said…
Interesting - my guess is this will be a polarizing decision.

I predict parents with students in the current spectrum "honors" classes at McClure will worry that their children won't be challenged. And parents with students in the Gen Ed classrooms will be optimistic that more challenge will be offered. As with all things, the devil is in the this case, implementation.

I predict many parents whose 4th/5th graders are APP or Spectrum qualified in neighborhood feeder schools will be taking a closer look at private schools if they feel their children will be somehow less challenged.

Language Arts isn't the only place this is happening. The letter also states a similar approach to math. Essentially, additional challenge will be provided only by depth in a grade level topics vs. accelerating past grade level. Several feeder elementary schools have taken this approach. It has been controversial there as Spectrum/APP qualified students in these schools are only given addition rigor by depth of topic, not in breadth of topics. I predict the math implementation proposed at McClure will create more concern vs. the Language arts implementation.

The full letter can be found here

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know whether this McClure strategy is already being informally implemented at Eckstein? I was there last year for the "prospective student" open house, and was told by the principal that Language Arts classes are all "blended" -- there are no stand alone "Spectrum" Language Arts classes. I have no idea if this is true. (One would think it's true if the principal said so, but I still leave room for there to have been a misunderstanding between us.) (We don't yet have a child at Eckstein.) Thanks.
NW parent said…
Yay for Mr. Muhs at Ballard High School. He has been one of my daughter's favorite teachers the past two years. He is hilarious in this video:
Spruiter said…
At least they are making the change at McClure public, prior to open enrollment.
Spruiter said…
...although after the deadline for advanced learning testing.
Anonymous said…
The Eckstein curriculum has a Humanities program that does have advanced classes over what is defined Gen Ed... in other words push in classes for SPED.

They are getting a new Principal next year and that could change but the school is solid with diverse programs for diverse needs

This is similar to Whitman who did this two years ago with 6th grade having a Spectrum class and then dissolving that as the kids moved up and they embraced the reading/writing workshop with push in for SPED and other needs. That may have changed as that originally was a grant.

The constant moving of Admins and the push towards grants and PTSA providing funding for some programs over others often obfuscates and confuses what is going on in the actual classrooms.

- Observer
"The constant moving of Admins and the push towards grants and PTSA providing funding for some programs over others often obfuscates and confuses what is going on in the actual classrooms."

Yes, that's another issue. The district loves grants but then seems to have no plan for when the money runs out.
cmj said…
The change of policy at McClure bothers me. The growth mindset is a real thing and I would love to see if applied in SPS, but I'm concerned that it will be used as an excuse to tear down HCC and claim that gifted children don't exist.

Ability is not entirely static, but there's a significant amount that is fairly set by the age of 6. Genetics, prenatal environment, and birth-to-5 environment all play a major part in that. What that child chooses to do with their abilities is up to them and the growth mindset can help them use their abilities to their fullest. We shouldn't pigeon-hole children based on what we think their potential is (consider the film Gattaca) but we should be mindful that not all children are the same.
Anonymous said…
THe APP Audit a few years back is the place that documented higher test scores for neighborhood APP qualified students than students segregated in an APP program. Of course, the confounding data point, the kids privately testing into the segregated APP program with lower test scores, that predominate the segregated program, may pull the test scores down in the program compared to the neighborhood cohort. Parents don't go to the mat to get their kids APP qualified with lower qualification scores and then keep them in neighborhood schools. The audit didn't investigate that. In any case, there certainly was no win for segregation supported by test data.

Anonymous said…
Interesting theory, but I'd suggest there's more to it than that. Maybe SPS really isn't offering a challenging program in APP, but are resting on their laurels, so to speak. They identify and group the students, but do they offer an appropriately challenging program to stretch their abilities? Going back to the mindset theory, do they provide a program that offers opportunities for growth? The APP review also stressed the need for a defined curriculum, which has yet to materialize.

Back to McClure, I'm trying to reconcile the growth mindset justification for LA/SS changes with the seemingly rigid stance on math placement. The mindset theory pushes the idea of hard work and effort. What about students that want to accelerate in math and work independently to advance to a higher level - that's the mindset they are encouraging, yes? Taking risks, challenging yourself, etc.

Suppose they qualified for Spectrum in elementary but chose to stay at their neighborhood school. Come middle school, they have a goal of taking Algebra in 8th grade. They haven't advanced in math on paper, because they hadn't yet enrolled in Spectrum, but hope to advance one year in math starting in middle school. But wait, the school is now saying math placement has nothing to do with Spectrum status. Qualifying for Spectrum required math achievement scores, right??, yet they are essentially tracked by their elementary placement.

Well, confound it all. How can you say you embrace the growth mindset, but at the same time not allow a pathway for acceleration?

Anonymous said…
Reader, please site your sources of data for a.) the number of kids currently in HCC who pursued private testing, and b.) the number of privately tested HCC kids who had lower scores than those who didn't pursue private testing.

Anonymous said…
Yes, that's another issue. The district loves grants but then seems to have no plan for when the money runs out.

The grant at RBHS is a good example, great on paper lousy on function. In the quest to save that school the only "requirement" was longer days so they have this haphazard programs with little actual curriculum and some busy work to meet the requirement but the reality is not demonstrated on actual achievement.

That may change but I like to look at the first STEM program - Cleveland which was and may still be largely just allocation of laptops and curriculum online. But the original principal (now retired but still on the ongoing rotation list as "interim" "on call") had no idea how to implement said program. She was sent there after Meany closed.

The turnover at Cleveland seems to be around 30-40% staff which clearly means there is a problem. That may have leveled this year but who knows as we know nothing unless you are willing to ask questions, get few answers and then be swatted away.

- Observer
Anonymous said…
Of course, the confounding data point, the kids privately testing into the segregated APP program with lower test scores, that predominate the segregated program, may pull the test scores down in the program compared to the neighborhood cohort.

No one but AL knows what % of students qualified based on appeals. This claim of most students getting in on appeals comes up again and again...yet where are the facts to support it? To claim those gaining admittance on appeal perform lower than those not gaining admittance on appeal, you would have to compare performance of both groups of students within the program. Otherwise, there are too many confounding factors. Of course, only the AL office has that info - not teachers, not parents, and not school administration.

The actual wording from the original 2007 report:

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

Anonymous said…
Also, you need to keep in mind the review and analysis was done before the splits, when Lowell and Washington were the only APP options. Where were the students located that chose to remain in their neighborhood schools? That would have made the analysis more meaningful.

Anonymous said…
There are a number of other factors that could play into the 2007 APP evaluation results as well. It's hard to interpret the findings in the absence or more information. Here are some other considerations:

- It's likely that students whose needs were effectively being met in their neighborhood school (e.g., the teachers were great at differentiating, there were large numbers of APP kids, the program offered something unique and challenging) would not see the need to switch schools. Why move a kid if your current school is doing a good job of challenging them?

- Similarly, in cases where the parents had partially taken on the role of educational provider for their APP-qualified kid (e.g., providing instruction at home, or via ensuring outside tutoring, online courses, etc.), these parents may not have seen a need to mess with success.

- For kids who are exceptionally gifted, APP likely wouldn't fully solve the problem anyway, so if a kid was happy socially (or if there were transportation issues, etc. ) there might not be much incentive to move to APP. A kid working more than a couple years ahead in math, for example, would be more likely to be taking an online class via one of the gifted programs like EPGY or CTY. Those can be done via independent study. If you're P/T homeschooling, it may make more sense to stay where you are.

Just because some kids thrived at a non-APP school, it does not mean that kids who went to APP would have similarly thrived had they remained at a non-APP school. It's quite possible that there scores would have been significantly lower had they not made the change to APP. Families self-select whether they stay or go, and without understanding why they made their decisions it's not possible to understand those 2007 results.
cmj said…
The APP audit report findings are interesting, but I was disappointed to see that they used WASL scores. The WASL would be too easy for the APP/APP-eligible students to provide meaningful data. If they'd given 7th graders the SAT and used that data, I'd find it much more convincing. I was also never a huge fan of the WASL: it struck me as a rather poorly written test.

I glanced at the OSPI report card for Lowell and it looks like the school had >95% pass rates on math and reading WASL for the years when the APP program was housed there.

From the wording of the audit, I'm guessing that the ANOVA report compared the number of APP vs. non-APP APP-eligible students who received 4s (highest score) instead of 3s (passing score) on the WASL. I wasn't able to find the ANOVA report.

It's possible that the APP students didn't take the test as seriously as the non-APP APP-eligible ones.

2007 APP audit.
Anonymous said…
One year the district tested all first graders for APP. Many parents didn't know their student was being tested & were taken off guard to get a letter inviting them to register for APP. So the principal in our school met with all of us bringing both a family who stayed & family who moved to APP. Some of the families decided to move & some decided to stay. Years later when National Merit Semi-Finalists were named in the newspaper, none of the students from that group who moved into APP were semi-finalists. Several of those who stayed in neighborhood schools all the way through were on the list.

Both groups of families felt they made the right choice for their family & were happy with their experiences and outcomes. But some of the ones who stayed felt a little vindicated for all the times they were told that HC students can only really learn in APP classrooms.

-was there
Anonymous said…
All data points (and anecdotes) in this thread regarding APP students' success are from before the huge wave of capacity crisis.

Guess what goes first in a 30 kid class? Differentiation for the high learner. That's why spectrum is being dismantled - b/c with a self-contained class in a neighborhood school, you can't manage your numbers the most efficiently.

Many fewer high learners happy in neighborhood schools now - thus much larger APP.

And using the WASL to judge performance? Bogus. Even the study notes that.

And there's a heck of a lot more to APP than just what score you get - kids are happy there. It's okay to play football at recess but it's also okay to totally obsess over something rather esoteric like calculating odds on every football game, too. Not that they're making book, but they have the math chops if they wanted.

Signed: not hater
Anonymous said…
Right cmj, there's always an excuse for why an APP student didn't do well on whatever test - WASL, IQ, school given. Always a reason to segregate. That's the beauty of it. Melissa at one point even said in a post that APP kids were too smart to do well, because they were thinking about other things. Gee. I wonder if that applies to others too.

And one other thing. The more kids in the class - guess what goes first? NOT differentiation. That's what they provide MORE of, not less of.

Not a Hater Either
Anonymous said…
Was there, I understand the gist of your annecdote. But if you are going to go by that, others are going to tell you, take a look at Garfield's NM semi final list. Garfield historically has the highest number. Only Lakeside and that other school with the PRISM program across the pond are higher. Personally, I think school capacity issue will hit our highschoolers very hard and and will affect academic performance. Meanwhile, our SPS and city leaders aided and abetted by wealthy do gooders, will be focusing on early childhood ed. More unintended consequences of good intention and looking at things in a vacuum.

cmj said…
was there, my main objection to using the WASL isn't the WASL per se. It's the fact that they were giving kids the grade-level WASL and using those scores for the study. When everyone is scoring high on the test and there's a small distribution of scores, it's very hard to make any meaningful judgments.

If you want to properly evaluate a program, give the students a test that they're going to struggle with a little. Not something so hard that they're all going to fail, but something where they'll struggle a bit. That way, you'll have a much wider distribution of scores that will actually mean something.

Look, none have actually seen the original ANOVA that compared the WASL scores. (I don't even know what an ANOVA is.) We don't know what their methodology was (looking at passing rates vs. # of 3s vs. 4s). We don't know what the actual difference in reading scores that they referenced was.

There are a few reasons why the readings scores might have been different:
- APP students at Lowell didn't take the test as seriously because Lowell wasn't in danger of failing NCLB and so the teachers didn't make a deal about the test. This would make less sense for Washington students.
- non-APP APP eligible students are actually slightly better at reading because they have more free time to read.
- better differentiation in reading groups at neighborhood schools. If that's true, then great! Use that to improve APP.

I'm a fan of differential instruction and the growth mindset, but I'm concerned that they'll be implemented in name only and will be used as an excuse to kill a program. For example, some high school classes provide an honors-by-contract option instead of separate honors classes. In some cases, the honors students only do a few extra (and slightly more difficult) problems on the homework. Is it differentiation? Yes, but it's not providing much of an extra challenge.
Anonymous said…
Right. They couldn't use out of grade level WASLs (if you recall, I was there too) due to the boo boo hooing of APP parents who have always objected to any testing, or any measurement instrument, that could or would call into question their kid's entitlement to a lifetime of segregated education. They even lamented the basic requirement of performing at grade level on WASL. So, on the one hand they are totally convinced that test results are good and proper when they find one that provides evidence of their entitlement, but balk at any evidence necessary to show program efficacy or student need to continue.

And really good point, the drop in NM performance at Garfield and in the App program should be evidence that the program isn't efficacious as there isn't an increase in awards proportionate with vast app enrollment growth. Historically, app and Lakeside were neck and neck. Now, it isn't even close and eastside schools have also surpassed Garfield, and Ingraham totals.

Not Hater

Charlie Mas said…
The results of the McClure decision will soon be clear. All they have to do is compare the assessment of quality and efficacy of the program in the current model with the assessments of the quality and efficacy of the program in the new model.

Oh, wait. They don't assess the quality and efficacy of the programs. So there is really no data to support any belief about the change.
Anonymous said…
Believe it or not, there have been several NM semifinalists at Garfield who were never in APP. The ones I know went to TOPS. But it is kind of funny to see people assume that all NM semifinalists at Garfield are all APP. They're not. Sorry bout that.

Old Timer
Anonymous said…
Sure they have evidence of efficacy. Scads and scads of MAP tests, scads and scads of AMPLIFY tests, NM results, SBACs, EOCs, etc. The list goes on and on. Our students, and hence the programs they attend, are evaluated to death. If students in McClure's program are doing just as well on all these assessments (which seem to be oh so important) as they do in similarly Hc qualified students in other programs and schools - we would see the efficacy or not of various programs. I'm sure any parent who cared to, could get this information with a public records request. It would appear that parents care more about their segregation entitlement than anything else. In fact Charlie has repeatedly stated "it's the cohort stupid" as the justification for segregated programs. Meaning, the actual service isn't so important. But that desire isn't a reason for McClure staff, as professionals, to cave in.

(And, if the "cohort" really is a justification for having a segregated program - then it's a justification for all students to share in that effect. Which is to say, the "cohort" argument, paradoxically, is really an argument against segregation.)

Not Hater
Anonymous said…
HCC kids who stay in their neighborhood schools are in the small minority and moe often than not parents have taken on a significant, massive role in educating those kids. These are a small group of very well resourced and well supported kids. More so, I would dare to say, than Joe APP kid, 1 of 700. It would be no surprise that level of resource and privilege would produce high achieving kids. If they are passing on APP, they are pretty comfortable with their likelihood of doing just that.

Anonymous said…
It's like sweeps week on the blog.

The size of the HCC has for some time been too large to not have a negative impact on other students.If nothing else, it serves to deprive HC students who stay in the neighborhood a meaningful peer group.

It's a "run on the bank" as parents see the top students bailing out and see trouble ahead if their child stays behind.

It will handled similarly. A two-pronged approach of restoring confidence that neighborhood schools be fair to HC students, and limiting access to the cohort.

Fair needs to emphasized. If we want all students to use "grit" and get rewarded for effort, that means real challenges for students who want/need them. Ignoring HC or any motivated or hard-working student because their are more demanding students is not acceptable. It's not "equity".

The problem many staff have is giving gifted student any extra help. To understand the special needs of gifted students is harder than understanding the needs of students with cognitive difficulties. Is staff going to demand the same level of "grit" from high potential but under-performing HC students? Obviously parents do not have much confidence that will happen.


Lynn said…

I'd love to hear about the non-HCC schools making plans for serving their HCC students. Which principals are actively trying to keep these kids in their (overcrowded) buildings?

There are no plans to reduce the size of the cohort and teaching and learning will not convene another committee to discuss this when they've just completed the (seemingly endless) process of updating the highly capable plan to meet the new requirements of the law. There was an ideal opportunity last year to increase the scores required for qualification and they did not do it.

All HCC students have access to a meaningful peer group. Transferring students back to their neighborhood schools to provide companionship for families who do not value the cohort isn't a shining example of equity.

I do believe that the population at Lincoln will grow enough next fall that they won't all fit in the new school at Wilson Pacific when it opens. All that work on growth boundaries for the north end will have to be redone - at the same time that high school capacity will become a crisis. I would look to the old Thornton Creek building to be the placement for NE HCC elementary students.
Anonymous said…
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) is a collection of statistical models used in order to analyze the differences between group means and their associated procedures (such as "variation" among and between groups), developed by R. A. Fisher.

It is way to compare two groups and see if there is a statistical difference.

I am a product of a gifted program in St. Louis. The gifted program started in 5th grade and we took an Iowa basic skills test. Those who scored high enough were given an IQ test and those IQ scores were used to determine who went to the gifted school. There were some kids who did not do well on the Iowa basic skills test but also took the IQ test if they had a teacher recommendation and good grades.

I did poorly in school until I went to gifted school. I was bored and saw no reason to challenge myself. There were up to 40 kids in the class so the teacher paid little attention to me and let me drift along. That all changed when I went to the gifted school. Maybe it was the teachers. Maybe it was the curriculum. Maybe it was the fact I was with a cohort of kids who were on the same level. Gifted school saved me.

Not all kids need APP who qualify but it can be the difference between succeeding and failing for many APP qualified kids. Personally I think all kids should be tested for it.

Anonymous said…
Not Hater??? I think you should re-think your moniker. Or do you only "strongly dislike" highly academically gifted kids and their parents?

I hate to engage you, but many of your claims are complete nonsense. APP parents "balk at any evidence necessary to show program efficacy"??? I know Charlie and I have both been pushing for greater (meaning any) evaluation of APP/HCC, and I'm sure we're not alone. Are there problems with the current program? Absolutely. So let's do the evaluation and figure out how to improve things, SPS. But just because the program isn't working as well as it should doesn't mean those kids should all be in regular classrooms instead. Comparing outcomes for HCC students to those who qualified but didn't participate is meaningless unless you're also looking at the interventions they received--at home, at school, in the community. (My kids, for example, had sky-high scores that made their non-APP schools look great, but this was 100% due to the supplementation we provided, not anything they got at school.)

You said "our students, and hence the programs they attend, are evaluated to death." Wrong. Evaluation is about more than just collecting test score data--you have to actually do the relevant analyses. You also have to have good data! MAP scores aren't good data for APP/HCC kids, since they all have to score high to get into the program in the first place (and any variability in scores up at that level is meaningless). My kids have never taken an Amplify or SBAC test yet, so I don't think there are "scads of data" there... EOCs are a joke (way too easy for gifted kids)--and only apply to one HCC class in one grade anyway. National Merit results are similarly grade-specific, and I'm not even sure why they should be used as a measure of HCC program effectiveness anyway, since math scores are a big part of those and math is not part of middle school or high school APP/HCC.

You also have a bizarre argument re: the cohort: And, if the "cohort" really is a justification for having a segregated program - then it's a justification for all students to share in that effect. Which is to say, the "cohort" argument, paradoxically, is really an argument against segregation.
When people talk about the importance of the cohort, they're referring to the need for kids to be with kids who understand them, who can relate to them, who have similar learning styles/needs. It's nothing magical about the HCC cohort. If you want other kids to be able to "share in the effect" of being in a cohort of similar learners, that's actually an argument FOR continuation of the different cohorts.

I've been trying to understand where you're coming from, but I really can't. Assuming you agree that all students don't have the same intellectual capacity (there's a bell curve), and that those at the tail ends of the curve have different needs, I'm not sure what you'd propose. You seem to have this naive belief that in-class differentiation will do the trick, but it doesn't.

Anonymous said…
The writing is on the wall and has been for some time. It won't be test scores that get a student into self-contained, it will be a committee that looks at the whole child to see if they actually need to be removed from the general student population in order to be served.

Anonymous said…

I have 2 APP qualified kids. One stayed in Gen Ed. One went to APP. Based on their learning types & personalities. The one in APP needed more supplementing & tested lower on standardized tests (like PSAT)because that kid just needed more direction & hand holding when it came to learning academics. The other kid was just self-directed & learned more when left to own devices.

I wish we could just say that we did what we thought was best for our own kid without generalizing our experience to all other kids in order to justify our decisions.

Anonymous said…
@Buzz, Huh? Are you suggesting subjective measures will take priority over more objective measures in AL placement? How does that play out in the actual curriculum and program delivery?

Anonymous said…
Please put away your rose colored glasses. Most of you commenting here really don't know what your writing about. I see mostly subjective comments on how smart you think your child is vs "the rest of them" please don't clone yourselves.

HCC myA$$
Anonymous said…
it's under procedures

A Multidisciplinary Selection Committee reviews each candidate's test scores and Teacher/Educator Rating Scales to determine eligibility. SPS’s established eligibility thresholds are not absolute qualifiers or disqualifiers; teacher input is also an important consideration. In order to provide equitable opportunities for all students and to uphold the intent of WAC language regarding protected classes [WAC 392-170-035], the MSC will give special consideration to and assess the impact of the following factors: cultural diversity, SES, linguistic background, and identified disability.

reader 2
Lynn said…
reader 2,

The first two sentences don't differ from the language that was on the advanced learning website last year. Why do you think the actual identification process will have changed?

They may identify more children now (based on the factors listed) but they haven't increased the threshold scores.

I agree with this policy change - if they're flexible on the achievement scores only. Those kids aren't going to be taught at an appropriate pace at most neighborhood schools even if they're not yet academically advanced.
Anonymous said…
"Feeling" more comfortable in "a cohort" is a a scary justification for separating students in a public school. It is also not educationally sound or justifiable. I have had many students over the years who were the only girl in the room wearing a hiqab or an immigrant without a "cohort" to make them feel more comfortable. No one, including their parents, entertained the idea for a separate program based on this alone.

Self-contained in sped. ed is at the furthest end of a continuum of services. This is the model that should, and eventually, will be used in HCC (once they have the space).

The current model is ridiculous, as even parents with "highly" advanced students continue to make clear on this blog. There may be mounds of data in the district, but none of it is used for placement beyond qualification for entrance. Once you are in the program, you are in until you graduate. No monitoring of placement or need to achieve. Just a huge group of students in a self-contained program with parents who call anyone who justifiably questions the lack of educational justification for this "haters".

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Enough already,

How many teachers have you known who were able to effectively teach 28+ students ranging from several grade levels below standard to several grades above standard, as well as ELL students and students with various 504 plans and IEPs. By successfully, I mean that all students were challenged academically and given the supports to make good progress.
What percentage of SPS teachers could do this successfully? Since it's almost an impossible task, I imagine there are only a few teachers who could accomplish it. My daughter did have one of these superhuman teachers - in 2nd grade. Besides that, it was very difficult. It's hard to have your child come home at the end of the year saying that they didn't learn anything that year.
Perhaps in more homogeneous schools with lots of PTSA and parent support, it can be done fairly often. The schools I'm thinking of having very few students below standard (and those students often have parents who can afford private tutors), which makes the task much easier.
Anonymous said…

Did you read what I wrote:

"Continuum of services"?

--enough already
Anonymous said…
"Continuum of services" is straight from the WAC (Washington Administrative Code) on "Special Service Program - Highly Capable Students":

WAC 392-170-078
Program services.

Districts shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's program for highly capable students. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.

Anonymous said…
EOCs are a joke (way too easy for gifted kids

Funny. That's what they said about WASLs too. And yet some APP students always failed them. The hue and cry could be heard all over town about the onerous SPS requirement - APP students simply PASS (with a 3) the WASL to maintain eligibility for the highly gifted program. Nope. They wouldn't/couldn't be expected to take the WASL 2 years above grade level. They were too smart for that. They wouldn't/couldn't be expected to pass the current year with a 4. They were too smart for that. And they couldn't/wouldn't be expected to even PASS at grade level. Too smart for that also. And finally, they never, EVER had to requalify for the program to see if the top 1% (or 2%) was still performing in the top 2% nationally. In short, they're too smart for ANY evaluation. Darn shame too. Seattle people are way, way smarter than average. That fact is good enough. No need to test the assumption. You are way smarter because you live in Seattle. Your kid is super smart, and should never have to sit next to someone who isn't. Right?

And now we hear, HF's kid is too smart for EOC, SBAC (new this year), Amplify (also new)... and every other test... except the entrance test of course. That one test proves her kid needs segregation. But no doubt, she also loves diversity and laments the lack of it.

Not Hater too
Anonymous said…
Enough already,

So what does the continuum of services look like, if not Spectrum or APP classes?
I've had a child in general ed who was first qualified for Spectrum then APP. Many teachers talk about differentiation, but only a very few can do it well and it often takes much of the year to find that out. After a number of years wasted, we moved her to a Spectrum class and it was great to see her finally being challenged.
I have also had a son who was in general ed for kindergarten, but got in trouble almost every day. Besides his other issues, including being an active, verbal boy who didn't transition easily, he was quite bored so couldn't keep his attention on the teacher. The next year he was in Spectrum and his behavior was so much better. Being challenged and pushed helped keep him focused on school. Then he got to the point where he always got perfect scores and fell apart when he got teased by classmates for missing some answers.
What I really wanted in APP - and found - was a group of students where my son would be in the middle of the pack and could learn to persevere on his work and not expect to do perfectly on his tests. That is such an important part of social/emotional development and he would not get that in a gen ed classroom.
Yes there are different ways of being gifted, including the arts and music, but kids don't get that when their main accomplishments and measures of success in school are academic.

If McClure can truly provide differentiation, great! But it's not easy to provide both challenge and support to students who may range from several years below standard to several years above standard, plus ELL students and those with learning disabilities. Remember that middle school classes often have 30+ students in them.

Anonymous said…
In class support, some pull-outs, clustering, self-contained, and so on and so on (like special education models)...which is why it's called a "continuum" and not an "either/or" (Spectrum or APP).

The ones are the far high end of the APP class that you are happy with are likely the students of parents on this blog who are complaining that middle of the road students like your own are pulling their child down and reducing rigor at APP.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Enough Already-

I believe you have said before you are a teacher (thank you).

I moved my kid from our neighborhood school in K to Lowell APP for 1st grade. The K teacher LITERALLY told me that because my kid was already reading at 3rd grade level and doing basic math (adding/subtracting), she couldn't do anything to help my child because she had no time to pull together additional materials. She told me that the kids who couldn't identify letters or numbers would be getting all of her time (obviously). She was very nice and I appreciated her honesty, but she told me at the kindergarten check up this school did prior to the school starting that my child already had met all the benchmarks for K and would not be taught anything that year. She told me she would get 3rd grade reading level books for my kid to read during free time. I am assuming this is fine with you? It wasn't fine with me. Is this differentiation? This was an ALO (whatever in god's name that means) school.

Differentiation is great in principle, but it doesn't happen in the real world. When teachers need to focus on those who are behind in order to meet classroom benchmarks (and the holy grail of high enough test scores), they are not going to focus on kids above level, whether they are marginally above level or way above level. I understand this, and I would love to see more support for teachers to help them get kids up to level so that they had time to do more for other kids. child is just as deserving of an education as any other kid.

-No Kool-aid
Anonymous said…
Position paper on grouping, from the National Association for Gifted Children:

Just copy and paste this link every time the same discussion arises.

you're welcome
Will said…
The trajectory is towards less self-contained classes and classrooms. Spectrum is becoming exclusively a clustering model with walk-to's replacing self-contained and if the new Whittier model is any indication, grouping by learning style, not only ability. Honors in middle is gone, although these classes were already blended, so more of a name change. High school opt-in honors seems to the trend all over the country and here as well.

The elephant continues to be APP and it's apparently unending supply of new highly gifted children.

The procedure is in place to change the program to the special needs model of a continuum and it seems inevitable. A district with 15% of of it's kids in certain reference areas in self-contained classrooms in middle school? Is there any precedence, anything comparable in the entire country? When we wil lsoon have 1000 elementary students segregated into 'honors' in the northend, going to their own school, bused in every morning; is this tenable?
Show me district anywhere with these numbers.

The writing is indeed on the wall, it's also in the procedures.

Anonymous said…
@your welcome

Not sure your point about grouping. the dreaded "cluster grouping" model is on the list, plus that paper is 6 years old, 6 years ago APP was tiny compared to today.

If I was in HCC, I'd look private if it was to avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students, or homeschool for any level of rigor you want, or just suck it up and learn to play with others (the rest of the Seattle Public School district).

Anonymous said…
Thank you you're welcome! This is exactly why grouping worked so well for me. I was floundering in gen ed as a kid. It showed in my grades because I was bored beyond belief. I raced through my work so that I could read what I wanted giving little care to what I was graded on. I sincerely believe that I would not be where I am today if I hadn't gone to a gifted program in 5th grade. All kids should be tested for APP and others should be recommended by teachers. There is no way I would have gotten a teacher recommendation.

Anonymous said…
The use of grit in education.

Grit. I used to like the word. That stopped after the remake of "True Grit" came out around the onset of the great grit movement. Total coincidence of course. But coincide with the $ucessful character education marketing aimed at parenting and education devotees.

Alfie Kohn wrote this for WAPO:

" It’s a deeply conservative notion, part of a larger focus on self-control. The idea that there’s more to success than academic aptitude has been around for awhile. But people who pointed this out used to list altruism, empathy, and curiosity as examples of important characteristics, whereas today the claim that IQ isn’t sufficient focuses on features that basically define the Protestant work ethic. More than smarts, we’re told, what kids need to succeed is old-fashioned self-discipline and will power, persistence and the ability to defer gratification. They have to be able to resist temptation, put off doing what they enjoy in order to grind through whatever they’ve been told to do — and keep at it for as long as it takes."

It's also part of the KIPP's character education model aimed at poor kids because you know they need to develop that boot strapped, can do, compliant character which is the answer to poverty, homelessness, violence, etc. Character education doesn't acknowledge why kids who live such desperate lives might feel justifiably angry, rebellious, or betrayed. You are supposed to turn the other cheek, follow order, work hard, and submit. It's a simplistic, cheap answer, not to mention full of condescension and refuses to acknowledge the real unjust world these kids live in. It's these kids who must change. Not the world.

Grit is marketed successfully to middle class parents and educators as another tool to build the successful child. Now, it's so overused and exploited, grit is more like what happens when you get one in your eye.

Anonymous said…
Who here is for getting rid of varsity sports teams? Those of you with kids participating on those teams are only having your kids participate to "avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students" (Thanks Noel!!!!).

Kids shouldn't get varsity sports, they should "just suck it up and learn to play with others (the rest of the Seattle Public School district)." (Thanks again Noel!!!!).

Anonymous said…
The explosive enrollment of APP/HCC is related to the lowered rigor in Spectrum (the promise of differentiation is different from the reality), an overall increase in district enrollment, and the placement of APP cohorts closer to where families live. At this point, there is no room to return HCC students to their neighborhood schools. The grouping of HCC students has actually helped SPS deal with capacity issues.

SPS has decided to maintain a self-contained model for core HCC classes in middle school, and move toward a clustered model for Spectrum (though it's debatable whether SPS' version of cluster grouping is actually cluster grouping). Parents choose what they think is the best academic program based on what SPS offers, as imperfect as it may be.

I know of an out of state school district that has moved to a 7-12 model for all high schools. Middle school students can access high school level classes (and receive HS credit). 7th and 8th graders are taught at the high school level by teachers who are content specialists. Something to think about.

you're welcome
Anonymous said…

Oh, I would get rid of varsity school sports teams in a minute. I have no idea why that activity is associated with public school instead of separate sports leagues. I don't know why they leave school early, why they have special classes for athletes & why they dictate school start times.

I don't think it is up to school districts to organize some kind of farm system for the NCAA.

I can see having some after school athletic clubs that anyone can participate in like intramurals, but even that could be attached to the community centers or parks dept. instead of the school.

Same for public colleges...

test prep? said…
On a new topic, what kind of CCSS test prep is happening at your child's school? My child said they spent homeroom time going over strategies for multiple choice tests. Bleck.

Perhaps all core classes should simply have some occasional multiple choice tests and know, the old fashioned teach content and test it. While "authentic" assessments can be valuable, they shouldn't be the only means of assessing students throughout the year.

New York is part of the PARCC testing consortium, not SBAC which will be used in WA, but I found this interesting:

It links to a NY educator guide with sample questions.
Anonymous said…
No Kool aid, I didn't say "differentiation" but I did say continuum of services. At no time have I used "differentiation" as an example of a model. Please be sure to understand my point before you try to rebut it.

The teacher at the school you referenced did not have the option of a continuum of services or there would have been HC services in place.

This model has not been used in SPS before, but it will be--as soon as there is space in neighborhood schools.

The "explosive" enrollment of APP has to do with a self-contained program that has been based almost exclusively on entrance test scores (and the test creator himself proposes different scores for different socio-economic levels--another but related point) and little else--no monitoring, no testing for continued placement, and a lack of space and planning by SPS when neighborhood schools became the model. It also has to do with the overdue dismantling of an exclusively self-contained Spectrum. Typical for SPS, they had nothing set up to replace it.

This will be changing. Writing is on the wall and in the state law.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
This model has not been used in SPS before, but it will be--as soon as there is space in neighborhood schools.

Space in neighborhood schools? When? In maybe 20 years?

good laugh
Lynn said…

Two years ago, 27% of Fairfax County VA's 3rd through 8th grade students were enrolled in Advanced Academic Programs (self-contained programs for gifted and talented students.)

Lynn said…
If you believe there are too many students currently enrolled in the HCC, can you explain what harm you think the program is doing - and who is harmed?

Do you believe the program complicates capacity management? Are you concerned that students who are left behind (and are now at the top of their classes) are harmed? Are you concerned that kids not who are performing below grade level are harmed when the achievement range in their classrooms is compressed?

None of your comments indicates your concerns are for the needs of the students in the program. Whose needs are you advocating for - and what benefit do you feel they would receive if HCC enrollment was reduced?
Lynn said…
The idea of OSPI showing an interest in enforcing this law is laughable.

It's obvious that you're horrified by the explosive growth of HCC enrollment. What exactly is the negative affect of increased enrollment?
Anonymous said…
That is a complete lie, Lynn, and you know it.

Give us a link.

Anonymous said…
@ Not Hater too, nice try. Never once did I say my kid is too smart to have to take, or pass, any of the required tests, whether they're meaningful tests or not. But obviously I touched a nerve with you by calling you out on your "scads of data" statement, so you decided to completely twist my comment to fit your own perspective. If you'd like to enlighten me as to how any of those tests I mentioned are actually great sources of data for comparing the overall effectiveness of HCC, I'd love to hear it. LIke I said, HCC kids' MAP scores are high by definition; SBAC and Amplify data aren't yet available; and yes, EOC exams are pretty easy for HCC kids.

Re; EOCs, according to WA state data, of the 994 "gifted" kids who took the EOC Biology exam last year, 0% scored at Basic level, 13.6% at Level 3, and a whopping 83.6% at Level 4, the highest level. Compare that to only 37.6% of the gen ed population scoring level 4--and remember, HCC kids take this exam when still in middle school. Only 1.9% of the gifted kids scored at Level 1 or Level 2, not meeting standard. Those are statewide data, so I don't know how many, if any, of those not meeting standard were in SPS. But obviously the numbers are very small regardless. So yes, if you're talking about using exams to evaluate the effectiveness of the HCC program, EOC exams don't seem like a good data point. And that's without even getting into other issues with the EOC, such as the fact that the intervention itself may be different (HS vs. middle school biology teachers); the fact that these data are only available for the past couple years (since this test started in 2012); and the fact that this exam only concerns one course and one grade level of HCC, so doesn't say anything about HCC science or students overall.

To be clear, I agree with you wholeheartedly re: the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the current HCC program. However, to pretend that all these great data are out there doesn't do any good. First of all, to conduct a meaningful evaluation of HCC you'd need to be able to describe the intervention--which nobody can seem to do in a meaningful way. You also need to be able to understand the comparison group--and as myself and many others have noted, many kids who are HCC-qualified but not participating are getting MORE interventions than those in HCC (sometimes via a neighborhood school, but more likely via parents). Without that information, the type of comparison you suggested is meaningless.

Finally, it's unclear which you hate more--the program or the kids. You talk a lot about wanting proof of the program's effectiveness, but your real beef seems to be with the individual kids who you think don't jump through enough hoops to maintain their spots. You act as if their teachers don't assess them all year, every year. They get report cards, and they can get counseled out of HCC if they aren't cutting it. Does there potentially need to be stricter attention to that? I don't honestly know. But most parents don't want their kids to struggle, and if HCC is too hard and their kids aren't doing well, most would likely drop out. It's important to understand, however, that if HCC is working a couple grades ahead, it's not that easy for kids to bounce back and forth between HCC and non-HCC. You want to be pretty sure about any changes, and you certainly don't want kids testing and retesting and switching around every year.


PS - You said the eligibility test is that one test that proves my kid needs segregation. Huh? Nothing proves my kids need segregation, but I have test after test that demonstrates my kids need access to a rigorous, challenging program. Private school tests, talent search tests, college aptitude tests, etc. Not to mention each annual state test, every MAP test, etc. So yes, I'm pretty sure my kid needs something beyond what your typical gen ed teacher can provide.
George said…
Lynn, Fairfax county has an excellent program but I'm unable to find the 27% self-contained number you site. I do see the word "continuum" many times and full-time self-contained being at the extreme end of that continuum and apparently used quite sparingly, in contrast to SPS.

Could you tell me where to find your 27& figure?

Great site, I wish we had our act together like they do. I do, however, think Faifax County School District is substantially wealthier that ours.

I'm not against self-contained for kids who need it, and if Fairfax finds 27% need a full-time self-contained program like our HCC, then perhaps we are doing a disservice to many, many kids by not making the program even larger.

Anonymous said…
Also, I believe I read that Fairfax went to local instead of national norms for testing into their program. They also use a pool rather than hard cutoffs to accept kids.

Anonymous said…
I know an APP student who repeated 7th grade math due to struggling with the subject. Kept APP designation and access to Garfield. Although technically dropped down to Spectrum level. I imagine it is not common at all to be counseled out of APP track as it is currently administered.

Honest Story
Anonymous said…
The student was on the typical APP "2 year ahead" track, not advanced beyond the "2 year ahead track" - just to clarify. I'm waiting for someone to chime in that math is not part of APP middle school curriculum, that placement is based on testing in. But if a student is working below APP minimum level, retaking 7th grade math in 8th grade and starting Garfield taking Geometry with the Spectrum and more advanced gen ed students, does that student still "need" APP designation?

Honest Story
Anonymous said…
@ Honest Story, your anecdote doesn't make sense. You acknowledge that math is not part of APP middle school, then in the next sentence refer to the student "working below APP minimum level." There might be a typical APP level, but I've never heard of an APP minimum level math.

Math placement has changed over the past few years, and since courses are consecutive, an early placement mistake can be perpetuated. It's possible the student was accelerated in middle school based on test scores, although they may have missed out on two years' worth of material if they came from a non-APP program. Or there may be a host of other reasons for the challenge. Does this student still need APP/HCC? It's not for us to decide. Just because they are only working one yr ahead and math, that doesn't say anything. (Except, perhaps, that our middle school math curriculum is awful!)

Half Full
Anonymous said…
Are you saying that it is normal for an APP student to be working at a gen ed level in math - taking either Alg 1 or Geometry at a freshman at Garfield? Garfield APP students typically take Alg 2 as freshman, and the atypical APP students are taking precalc or even Calc as freshman. What is the point of being in APP since second grade if you are not accelerated? I'm confused.

Honest story
Anonymous said…
Just shrink the HCC to 100 kids who really really need it and let the rest go private or move to Fairfax County.

This program is against all best practice from id of gifted to isolation in a cohort. The kids are not getting a good education and will not do well in life as they don't know how to work with kids who are different.

The district is not serving the hc students and its criminal

I don't care whAt parents think, they can't see past the prestige
Just read the discussapp blog
OMG it's enough to make you want to cry for the poor kids

When is the district going to act?

And director peters with HCC kids,
Will she make a stink like with math?

At least DeBell had a meeting every week she's every four maybe

Anonymous said…
@ Honest story, until very recently the most advanced math track allowed students to take as Alg 1 in 7th grade, so Geometry in 8th and Alg 2 as freshman. Taking Geometry as a freshman, as you said was the case in your anecdote, is only one year behind what you said typical APP students at GHS take, and still ahead of what typical GenEd students take.

What is the point of being in APP since second grade if you're not accelerated, you asked? Well, most kids aren't in APP from second grade on. Many join after that. A large number join at middle school. When my very mathy kid joined in 6th grade, they wanted to place him only one year ahead--although his MAP scores were about as high as possible, he had not been at an APP or Spectrum school and they didn't want him to skip too much material. So this placement would have meant Alg I in 8th grade, which was still considered a year ahead. That placement had no bearing on his overall need for APP, however--it was just bureaucracy in action.

Acceleration is not the main purpose of APP--and in fact, for better or worse, the district is moving away from acceleration in most areas.

Half Full
Anonymous said…
There are lots of poor kids and ELL kids and Sped kids on all sports team. You probably don't know this because you only know kids who play on those private teams whose parents shell out several thousands per year for their kids to play. Go to Garfield's, Cleveland' s, Rainier Beach's games sometimes. You know, the defending STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS!
There is a girl who spends 5 out of 6 hours in Sped only classes who is the best swimmer at my kid's school. And I'd guess you've never heard of Special Olympics, yes? I lettered in 3 sports and was on 2 championship teams and they are way better athletes than I was at my best. I'm willing to bet they're better than you too. Tell you what, go ski on one ski this weekend the come back & tell us how you did.

Your kind of posts is why people can't stand us!

Anonymous said…
If you believe there are too many students currently enrolled in the HCC, can you explain what harm you think the program is doing - and who is harmed?

Well, at McClure, students in special ed are harmed because they sit in very large classes full of disabled students if they are not in a gifted program, because so many of the students are gifted. And that is real harm. That is not a "LRE" for them. When my kid was there, some of these gifted classes had 17 students.... the regular ones up to 40. One class had 5 students with autism, about 12 with LD, and every 'nair do well in the school. If your kid wasn't in the gifted program, would you want them in that zoo? I think not. In other words, general ed was a dump. Classrooms should be proportional to their communities, and that is just common sense. I am ecstatic to hear they are rectifying that problem.

McClure Grad
Lynn said…
Last year, only 132 of McClure's 518 students were enrolled in Spectrum.

If the principal is incapable of managing the school's master schedule, it makes more sense to find a new leader rather than to disassemble a program.

I'd guess that Spectrum enrollment at McClure is representative of Magnolia and Queen Anne.
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the reference to Fairfax County. At least "on paper", they are light years ahead of Seattle--the use a research based, continuum model with self-contained reserved for Tier IV.

Here's the website for any people at JSCEE who can use some information:

They also use a non-verbal test in order to better assess potential in a diverse range of students. It's always interesting when schools in "the south" are more global in their thinking than "highly educated, liberal" Seattle.

It has been especially galling for me over the years to read this blog and have poster after poster excuse the demographics in APP and Spectrum by attributing it to "the highly educated parents" and genetics. That is pretty uncoded language, indeed.

By the way, Lynn, 27% of 3-8 in self contained. Like other people here, I'm still waiting for Godot for your source.

"The identification of gifted and talented potential must be grounded in an expanded understanding of intelligence that embraces diverse cultural, ethnic, and linguistic manifestations. A narrow definition of intelligence that is measured by how well children perform on assessments that require a knowledge of words and numbers learned in school precludes from participation in gifted programs certain populations of students who have not had the opportunity to attain this knowledge before coming to school. As we move from an understanding of intelligence as innate ability grounded in a cultural and social context tied to Western, affluent populations to an understanding of intelligence as a student’s evolving potential that is contextually-based and is nurtured through experience, we provide numerous possibilities for understanding giftedness as developing potential in a much broader range of students."

--enough already
Anonymous said…

I hope you had a nice cup of chamomile tea to settle down after your post.

I was not talking about getting rid of all sports (I actually didn't suggest getting rid of any), I was talking about VARSITY sports and how they separate certain types of kids from others. Kids, and adults, are separated into groups for all sorts of things. Have you noticed that all kids who try out for plays don't get the lead? Have you noticed that all kids who try out for a school jazz band aren't given a spot? Have you noticed that everyone who enters doesn't win the writing competition? Have you noticed that all kids who try out don't get to be first string quarterback, or even make the team at all?

Your post exactly backs up what the point of my post was - all kids have certain talents that other kids don't.

And no, my kid couldn't care less about team sports and is not on any sports teams, elite or not. As for skiing, I am a Seattle native who doesn't ski, so you're wrong on all counts. I guess you're right that virtually anyone is a better skier than I am, and I am fine with that. I am good at other things.

Anonymous said…
Lynne, guess what? there are families with disabilities, minorities, and poor people living on QA/Mag. We don't wish to be excluded from opportunities. When you divide classes so that those features are the only thing your kid sees, then my kid is excluded. 512 super smart kids in the neighborhood? Awesome. I want some of them in my kids classes. And, boring, I want all kids to play jazz band and sports, if that's what they like. We all pay tax don't we?

And no, it isn't about the administration. It's about the parents of entitlement.

McClure Grad
Anonymous said…
What happens to people when the subject of differences between people comes up? People get mad and can't read well and post based on things that aren't there.

McClure Grad - did I say kids shouldn't be allowed to be in jazz band or play sports? NO NO NO. There are different levels of band and sports, and many schools separate these out. Like VARSITY sports there are things like VARSITY style band (jazz bands in some schools) that are try out only and everyone can't be in that specific band. It doesn't mean that they can't participate in another way, but they can't be in that particular band. HIMS used to have an after school jazz band anyone could do, but not everyone could be in the Sr Jazz band. That should be fine because people have different sorts of talent. It is not entitled to believe that people are different. I can't sing, does that mean that no one is a better singer than I am? Ridiculous. Do you really want things like the Husky marching band filled with just anyone who shows up? How about some random kid on tuba who has never played before? Well, gee, they'd like to be in the band. Tequila would sound awesome with a bunch of people who don't know how to play.

Is what people want a Harrison Bergeron society where everyone is the same? I don't. I think that sounds awful.

'The problem many staff have is giving gifted student any extra help."

What "extra help" do highly capable kids get except a cohort? Not better teachers, classrooms or curriculum.

"This program is against all best practice from id of gifted to isolation in a cohort."

Nope, there's research for both cohort group and inclusion.

"It is also not educationally sound or justifiable." I hate to break it to you but yes, it is educationally sound for some kids and it is done throughout the country.

Bo, I have put up the dates for director community meetings for years and the only one who has multiple meetings in a month is McLaren, not DeBell.

I love that "removed from the general population." Only APP elementary is by itself. All other APP kids are in a regular school with the "general population."

No Kool-Aid, your kindergarten story mirrors mine. He was reading and doing math and they said they could do nothing to support that.

"The explosive enrollment of APP/HCC is related to the lowered rigor in Spectrum (the promise of differentiation is different from the reality), an overall increase in district enrollment, and the placement of APP cohorts closer to where families live."

I would agree. If Spectrum was a real program, APP would not be expanding at the rate it is.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, you and Charlie have perpetuated the either/or myth for years on this blog. Using your now (I believe you've stated) adult child's experience at SPS to maintain and, yes, "justify" a program that is not research-based is par for the course.

You took quotations out of context and responded without substance. Yes, it is an unjustifiable program in a public school. Separating scores and scores of children of similar demographics based on an entrance test, no follow-up, or no continuum of services is against all best practices for Highly Capable and gifted, as well as any other educational program.

SPS needs to join the 21st Century.
Your justifiable complaints about the manifestions of Charters seem to mean nothing when you continue to defend this outdated, one size fits all, either/or HCC model's same manifestations and effects. Your hero, Diane Ravitch, would certainly be horrified by the Seattle approach to this issue. Sort of sound like a Cafeteria Catholic when you can ignore what you condemn in another context.

By the way, Spectrum shouldn't be a "real program" any more that APP should be a real program. HCC should be a delivery model, not a place. Self-contained locations should be included when needed.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
I saw 2 big changes in the schools my kids were in.

One was standardized curriculum, which included teacher-proofing, pacing guides, & removing of other materials from teachers' supplies closets. I saw ed directors & principals popping into classrooms to make sure that every child was doing the same page at the same time. I saw teachers apologize to parents & slip different materials to kids surreptitiously. That was a huge change in our school that affected HCC kids & kids who were struggling. Before that teachers had to be able to demonstrate to the principal that they had a plan & materials for differently-abled students in their classroom. So it was expected that students would be doing different things at the same time. At that time more & more families began to move into APP.

After that, the capacity issues started. Then I began to hear school administrators recommend that every child move to a program they were qualified for, just to get kids out of the building. Before that, recommendations had been much more individual.

Those were the 2 things that I saw early on affect decisions to leave Gen ed.

-Old parent
Busy Beaver said…

Your argument about Spectrum is popular but flawed. Replacing a centralized segregated environment with segregated classrooms spread over many schools would only damage more kids than we do now.
The trend is less self-contained. First at the elementary level. Almost all self-contained classrooms are gone now.
Middle school is losing it's self-contained classrooms as we see with Whitman and McClure.

Obviously the next step is to begin to reduce the cohorted HC students. The procedure is in place to reduce the size of the HCC and the policy is in place to meet their needs at neighborhood schools.

As noted in your latest district news, a public relations firm has been retained for growth boundary changes. It would not be unreasonable to deduce that the district is going to move on reducing HHC and redrawing maps to put students back into the neighborhood.

Brace yourself.
"Melissa, you and Charlie have perpetuated the either/or myth for years on this blog. Using your now (I believe you've stated) adult child's experience at SPS to maintain and, yes, "justify" a program that is not research-based is par for the course."

Don't understand what you are saying and I don't have to justify a district program that was offered to my child. Again, for the record, neither of my kids were in APP.

"Replacing a centralized segregated environment with segregated classrooms spread over many schools would only damage more kids than we do now."

I never said this never. I supported Spectrum as such BUT I have consistently said that (1) kids who test well in one subject SHOULD get more advanced work and (2) if teachers can differentiate within the class, we don't need Spectrum. I have absolutely said both things several times.

And fyi, you'd have to prove the "damage" to me.

To "reduce" HCC, you'd have to change the test or the percentile to get in. You can't just kick kids out for some number.

This is an issue to get to the district, not to me.
Anonymous said…
I wish everyone would read Old Timer's comment and take note of his/her first point. That is THE major reason neighborhood classrooms have ceased even coming close to meeting the needs of significant fractions of their students -- anyone outside the middle. For HCC kids, who will never see access to tutors or pullout groups, it is almost reckless not to leave that environment.

Brace Yourselves, please enlighten us on the "procedures in place" to reduce the size of HCC. Are you talking about the multidisciplinary committee? This (using test scores in conjunction with other factors)is designed to be more inclusive, not exclusive. Everyone who meets the minimum score requirements will still be admitted. Students just shy of the test scores can be admitted in the context of their larger portfolio and demographics.

Also Oldtime

Anonymous said…
Wasn't your child in Spectrum? I didn't say your child was in APP.

Haven't you justified these either/or programs for years, even when people like me have continually proposed a model like SpEd? Aren't you still justifying these exclusively self-contained program by telling the poster to "prove" the damage of them?

The proof is in the archives. It's not about "what the meaning of 'is' is."

--enough already
Anonymous said…
@ Busy Beaver, policies don't meet kids' needs. Please clarify what exactly you think will happen now that "the policy is in place to meet their needs at neighborhood schools." Just saying that something should happen doesn't make it so. (And like OldTimer, I also don't see what you're talking about re: procedures in place to reduce the size of HCC. Do tell!)

@ enough already, you think we should serve AHG kids via a model like SpEd? Is this because our SpEd program is working so well??? I'm not a fan of the district's current AL programs/services, but any major changes should be based on solid evidence and a likelihood of success. What exactly do you envision, and how well do you really think this district could implement it? The track record is awful.

Anonymous said…
McClure Grad. I don’t think it’s about either – admin or parent entitlement. It’s about specific facts re: classroom assignments, not broad generalities. Details matter.

Not sure when you graduated but in the 4 years we have been there we have not remotely experienced what you represent to be the norm. One or two instances does not make the norm and I wouldn’t want people to think what you described routinely happens. You may have graduated longer ago, but you should know huge improvements have been made in the scheduling/ master schedule and elective management arena – which was the cause of much of what you described (and not a Spectrum v Gen Ed issue).

First, Math placement has -for many years (certainly the past 4) - been ability without regard to Spectrum designation. Meaning, any student capable (as determined by teacher recommendation and (I think) test scores [originally a placement test taken at the end of 5th grade to determine placement in 6th grade, and later by other test scores]) would be placed in the correct level of math. So that has nothing to do with Spectrum designation.

Science, electives and Social studies have been blended classrooms, at least in the years we’ve been there.

LA had Honors (Spectrum classes) but they have not consisted of purely Spectrum students. If the Spectrum group was under the regular classroom size (30-32) then other students were put in that class. The determination made by schedule availability and teacher recommendation.

I know this because I have spoken with administration, BLT members (staff and parent) and teachers. The example you gave of 17 v 40 student classes has other factors which created it – and Spectrum v. nonSpectrum wasn’t really a part of it. At least the time it happened 3 years ago. There were instances of smaller classes and bigger classes, but to my knowledge the very small class was a Spanish class (and one other elective, I forget which) (again, placement in electives has nothing to do w/ Spectrum designation) and it was caused by master schedule issues. And some classes (in a few subjects) were affected and made bigger as a result. Last year we had a bigger jump in enrollment than anticipated which resulted in several very large classes until the “October counts” came in and they could hire more staff, which resulted in some classroom shifts and normalizing class sizes.

I think you were using hyperbole to make your point but representing one or two instances as the norm isn’t fair, nor does it accurately portray the situation.

Another McClureGrad
Anonymous said…
Read the Fairfax website to see how a SpEd model is applied to HC.

--enough already

Anonymous said…
enough already, have you ever read a message board for parents trying to get into AAP in Fairfax county?

The appeals business in Seattle is dwarfed by test prep in Farifax county.

Also oldtimer
Enough Already, we get it. You don't like these programs. That does not in itself make a case.

I "justify" it because I have done the research. I have also said there are multiple ways to serve highly capable kids and I wish the district would land on one that is clear to parents. I am not stuck on one way.

I find it always odd how these discussion devolve to some circular argument.

You should be arguing to the district, not me, if you don't like these programs.
Anonymous said…
Reading through these posts reminds me of why my kids went to private school for K-8.

Anonymous said…
That's a form of the "hater" response that is used when these programs are questioned for good cause: "You don't like these programs." It's actually about research and best practices, and SPS has certainly been missing the mark on HC for a long time.

I was responding to your record and comments. You injected yourself into this conversation, and have for many years.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
The Fairfax G&T program seems to be having similar issues as SPS. According to a June 2013 Washington Post article, 17% of 3rd through 8th graders qualified for their AAP program. Perhaps the previous 27% figure was misquoted.

Comments on a DCUrbanMoms forum suggest the increased numbers were the result of changing the identification procedure:

...The expansion of the GT/AAP began with the class of 2011 and FCPS re-tested 3rd graders for GT/AAP using naglieri for the first time....Prior to naglieri GT admissions had already been expanded from the original IQ cut-off of 140...Note base schools rarely had any regrouping for reading or math and sparse science.

...I've heard that Fairfax county's gifted and talented education is full of "bright" kids who just barely make the cut-off and that the programs are just a better quality education at grade level, rather than true gifted and talented education.

...Best to homeschool until TJ [Thomas Jefferson High School]. You'll never be satisfied otherwise.

Sound similar to SPS?

Enough already, sincerely and for the last time:

- I know the research and I know there are other ways. I'd be fine with some of them but I'm NOT fine with just gen ed classes with differentiation. (Especially without teacher supports/materials.)

- I have had my issues for HC for years and call them out frequently.

As for that "hater" thing, as I've said before, very middle school.
Lynn said…
Thank you googler for the assumption of good intent. I read that 27% figure on the website of the Fairfax County Association for the Gifted. They were quoting a FCPS Assistant Superintendent. (Possibly misquoting as the number seems to be incorrect.)

I posted in response to will who said A district with 15% of of it's kids in certain reference areas in self-contained classrooms in middle school? Is there any precedence, anything comparable in the entire country? When we wil lsoon have 1000 elementary students segregated into 'honors' in the northend, going to their own school, bused in every morning; is this tenable? Show me district anywhere with these numbers.

It does appear that there are districts with self contained gifted programs that are as large as ours (and possibly larger.)
Anonymous said…

What are these large self-contained programs you just referenced? What is your source for this statement? The 17% in Fairfax includes all four tiers and is not the self contained percentage.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
No, enough already, if you read the article carefully you'll see that the 17% actually refers to the center-based (aka segregated) program. According to the recent evaluation of the overall program, the combined level1-4 program serves something like 42% of the student population.

Also, their SpEd model, continuum of services that you seem to like so much sounds an awful lot like what we have here (aside from the fact they have an actual curriculum). Level 1 isn't much, Level 2 is in-class differentiation (but maybe they actually do it?), Level 3 is limited pull-outs (weekly--so less frequent than something like regular walk-to-math, but more available for multiple subjects so maybe it balances out?), and Level 4 is the center-based component, where kids are segregated for the 4 core subjects. Actually that Level 3 approach sounds a lot like the ALO program my kid had, with "special" English and math classes weekly. (I say special because they may have been more interesting, but they were primarily discussion-based and never had actual homework or anything. I'm not sure the kids learned much, though it may have made school a little less boring.)

Anonymous said…

No clue what you're talking about in your post addressed to me. I was responding to your : "Those of you with kids participating on those (varsity) teams are only having your kids participate to "avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students" (Thanks Noel!!!!)." Since you missed the meaning of my post, I will explain: NO ONE can "avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students" (whatever "weak students
" mean) by joining varsity sports, because there are lots of poor, Sped and others who you obviously considered inferior in ALL sports. Yep, your unwashed, huddled masses can be absolutely AWESOME at athletics, and shockingly, many of them are ALSO gifted in intelligence.

I don't drink herb teas. A social skill tip: people who are extremely riled up and angry don't use sarcasm, they yell and say nasty things. The reference to your athletic abilities was sarcasm. If you had any familiarity with varsity sports you wouldn't have thought there were no poor kids in varsity teams. Exceptional natural athletic abilities, like exceptional musical or artistic abilities, are innate skills/traits that money can't buy. I figured that you had no interest/high aptitude in athletics from your very strange belief that the poor can't be in varsity sports. Clearly I was not wrong.

Lynn said…

On the 27th at 8:14 am, Noel wrote If I was in HCC, I'd look private if it was to avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students, or homeschool for any level of rigor you want, or just suck it up and learn to play with others (the rest of the Seattle Public School district)..

Noel believes some families choose HCC to enable their children to escape poor kids and special ed and weak students..

Boring responded Who here is for getting rid of varsity sports teams? Those of you with kids participating on those teams are only having your kids participate to "avoid poor kids and special ed and weak students" (Thanks Noel!!!!).

Kids shouldn't get varsity sports, they should "just suck it up and learn to play with others (the rest of the Seattle Public School district)." (Thanks again Noel!!!!).

Clearly Boring was pointing out that we group children by ability for sports - and we don't find many people complaining about this horrible practice. We don't call into question the motives of the parents of varsity athletes.

You are (over)reacting due to a misreading of Boring's post. It's hard to convey tone in a blog comment. Yours is coming across as loudly outraged and angry.
Anonymous said…
Students with disabilities participate in sports and extracurricular activities at vastly reduced rates. OCR has given guidance on this issue.

Yes. I call that practice of providing close to 0 opportunities, like music and sports, for disabled students and students who might simply lack skills or talent. Also missing trips, field study, and other extras are even more examples of discriminatory practice. Sure, there are sometimes multiple levels of participating, like JV. or lab piano, but rarely are they high quality. And like the APP example for academics, lab piano or C band doesn't provide the same access to education, travel, intensity in instruction that the premier jazz band provides. Why not? Some students are just not worthy of education in the eyes of others. Most schools will produce not a single professional athlete. Yet people would still advocate for exclusive athletics. Surely there is a middle ground. Competition and inclusivity coexisting. That's part of the life lesson of sports.

Sped Parent

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