Thursday, October 05, 2017

Lincoln Community Meeting on Tuesday

I attended the Tuesday night meeting for the Lincoln community at Hamilton MS.  There will be a second meeting on Thursday, Oct 12th, at Hamilton MS from 6:30-8:00 pm.

 There were about 150 people in attendance. By handcount, most were parents (although we were asked "how many parents," not "how many parents with current SPS students).  And, although it was asked how many community members were there, somehow they forgot about Lincoln alums (and there were at least six).   It was a largely white group, with a few Asians and Latinx.  I saw no black audience members.  All the tables had white butcher paper, markers and scattered quotes (see below).

Eden Mack was the only candidate running for School Board that I saw.  Director Rick Burke was in attendance.

Ruth Medsker, planning and future principal of Lincoln, led the meeting.  She was very upbeat and said that she "guarantees that Lincoln will be a smashing success."   (I asked her about that claim later and she said she stood by it.  Good for her.  She also told my table that the district needs "new assessments," not high stakes ones but the internal ones.  Interesting.)

When she asked about audience members from the community, she remarked, "Good schools make housing prices go up."

She said we were going to have a "block party"first, then have the architects speak, then table talk.  She said there would be an update on boundaries, but "we are not here to take input on them."  She also said there would be an "exit ticket" to get data info.

She told the audience that they were planning an "amazing" school for students for a range of learners and it would be "a ticket to the innovation era."

So the "block party" plan was confusing to me.  There were to be groups of threes to discuss a quote and then move to three other people and discuss it with them.  (She also stated that they were using Hamilton's budget for this Lincoln work.)

I found it all odd and certainly too short to get any real discussion.  Again, nothing like being facilitated.

But I did get the chance to hear a few comments and it was dismaying.

"I want a school for all kids and not just the cream who have a voice."

"I want a school where all the kids my kid went to kindergarten with will all be." 
 (This quote is one I saw in action at Roosevelt.  While I think it a sweet thought, I can only say that I find that insular thinking and that most of those kids don't make new friends when they get to high school.)

The architect, Loren from Bassetti Architects, did a crisp presentation with drawings.  He said they are about to begin demolition at Lincoln.  He noted that they are getting rid of a lot of drop ceilings which hid beautiful, tall windows and that it would add more natural light.

The entry will be moved as the old entry was not accessible to all.  The center of the school will have a courtyard "safe and secured" and an outdoor science classroom.

The building will be five (!) levels, made up mostly of "learning communities."  He also said there would be a "maker's lab."  I had not heard this term before but this is what I believe it is:
The Maker Lab is a place where people can learn and use new technologies and equipment they may otherwise not have access to. They can get help with a project they are currently working on or they can start a new project. People can also meet and collaborate with others on projects.
There will be security cameras, inside and outside the building.

The school colors will be red and black and their mascot is the same, the Lynx.

Then there was a video shown - not sure who made it or where it came from - of noted educators (and others like Thomas Friedman) talking about public education.

One guy said the old way of learning just from a teacher is gone; you can learn everything you need online (that one sent a chill down my spine).  Another said having a good work ethic is not enough anymore, you have to know what to do next and be motivated.  Interestingly, it was the former venture capitalist who said the ability to write creatively and have a perspective on a historical event are hard things to test but important.

One guy called students "the end product."  Not one of them mentioned learning to be a critically thinking citizen.

Then we veered off on the U.N.'s SDGs - sustainable development goals which apparently may be the new goals for this school.  It was hard to follow.  But Lincoln wants the four years to look like this:

9th grade - the Journey - who you are in this community
10th grade - the Traveler - where do I fit in locally and globally
11th grade - Rebel with a Cause - creating change in my community
12th grade - Leaving Home - extending your impact beyond local community for global change.

Ms. Medsker said every comprehensive high school should be "globally focused" with strong STEM/STEAM programs as well as having languages.

She said some of the work is as follows:
  • they are in the process of hiring lead teachers (some of whom may come from current high schools), 
  • maybe having the students pick the furniture, 
  • building and leveraging community partnerships like with nearby UW
  • figuring out athletics.  Lincoln will be in Metro but probably no varsity football for a couple of years - she was adamant that no younger players in 9/10th will go up against larger 11/12 graders on other teams.  She did point out that there is no field at Lincoln and wistfully suggested that the nearby park become a playfield for both Hamilton and Lincoln.  
  • she said she would like the school to start at 9th/10th but that was not her decision
As for the exit info, there was a URL but I seem to have copied it down incorrectly.  Anyone. Medsker said she was looking for parents with "talents." 

I found the business of writing down "hopes and dreams" for students to be less than useful.  I think if they had asked - what do you value for your child's high school and name the top five things - it might have been more useful. 


Anonymous said...

Lincoln survey link:

What are your hopes for our learners?
what would you like to learn more about?
What could you bring to the table? What are you passionate about?

Anonymous said...

Eagle Staff middle school has a maker space. Sounds interesting, but I'm not sure what happens in there.

A raven

Communiy Member said...

As a community member and retired educator who attended, I found the presentation disjointed and not paricularly informative. It seems to me that the school boundary decision and grade level decision (9-10 or 9-11) should have been made prior to this meeting. At that point the parent participation will be much higher and the input will be more relevant.

Anonymous said...

A maker's lab sounds like... a library?

I'm less than impressed with the journey, traveler, etc. I mean, that stuff is nice to have as a background or driving force behind curriculum (like, "this is why you learn world history this year") but it seems a little thin for the focal point of a school.

-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

Ingraham's addition (same architect as Lincoln?) also has a maker space planned. The number of new science labs assumes only 3/4 of students are taking science at a given time. Is that typical? What's planned for Lincoln? Those on a college prep pathway would be taking science all 4 years (especially if there is a STEM focus).


Ebenezer said...

Instead of the Lynx, a more appropriate mascot would be the Buzzwords.

Anonymous said...

Northshore opened a new high school this year. The board approved the entire plan in 2014. The plan included boundaries, programming and grade levels of 9, 10 and 11.

This meant that all stakeholders knew the plan long in advance.

The plan was finalized three years before the school opened. Lincoln is scheduled to open in less than two years and there still isn't a plan and there haven't been any public meetings about making a plan for boundaries and pathways. Why is all of this a secret?

There is going to be a board vote that determines the pathways in November and that seems like a big part of the plan. Why wasn't that discussed at the meeting?

We live pretty close to Lincoln but closer to Roosevelt and about the same distance to Ballard. We have been paying attention to this and are completely baffled. My kid could wind up split to several schools. How is this any way to run a district? As far as I can tell, if it wasn't for Rick Burke, we wouldn't even have silly meetings with no content.

- baffled parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll have a write-up of the Ops Ctm meeting yesterday but frankly, staff is going to push hard for what THEY want and giving the Board little time to ponder it (which, from the Board members yesterday, seems to be okay).

And, staff wants to merge all the transitions and changes into what would be called a new SAP and all without any real public input.

kellie said...

Thanks Mel.

I suspected that was going to happen. I’m very grateful you attended the meeting and got direct information.

It took years to change the assignment plan last time. This will impact every family in the district. This needs to be done with community engagement, not as part of a generic vote.

kellie said...

The current assignment plan contains many protections for families. Items like

Make every effort to keep siblings together.
When there are changes, student may remain at their current school to the highest grade.

A “simplified” plan will most likely remove those protections. Additionally, the determination for a high school HCC pathway is the most critical component of high school boundaries. That one decision will determine just how extensive boundary changes and geosplits will be.

This will have widespread impact, particularly if one of the components is changing Cleveland from an option school to an attendance area school.

Anonymous said...

The decision on the HCC pathway issue should be made based on academic needs, not geography and capacity or simplicity or whatnot. What evidence have they presented that HC-identified student needs can be met if the pathway is eliminated? What evidence have they presented that there is funding to support a dispersed model, which will be more expensive if it means offering AP classes that are not full? What evidence have they presented that retaining the pathway approach is not the best option?

Nada. No evidence for any of these decisions. And yet...


Anonymous said...

The timeline is terrible. Boundaries, grades, programming should have been determined years ago. If Northshore can do it, why can't Seattle? This seems to be a pattern in SPS.
However, now that we are in this situation, these things have to be determined ASAP to give families time to plan etc. I do hope these decisions are not delayed as it will make matters even worse. But all these decisions will be a big undertaking, with controversy and debate.
-no time

Anonymous said...

If the plan is a 9-10 roll-up at Lincoln, how will students be served if they need more advanced coursework? This was the same issue with a roll-up for middle school - students are at different levels in world language, math and science, and losing grade bands means losing access to advanced course options. The budget and scheduling would be so restrictive with 9-10 only that most students would be forced into taking the same classes (sounds like they'd be happy with that...). I would NOT believe any promises SPS makes to have advanced classes available for small groups of students.

not hopeful

Anonymous said...

They can call it a new SAP or not but what needs to happen is everything except high school boundaries needs to roll over to the newest iteration, given the lack of engagement around changes to SAP rules other than establishing new high school boundaries. (Changing high school boundaries and the opening of Lincoln has in fact has been broadcast for years and is going to cause pain no matter how it's rolled out.) This means:

No changes to tiebreakers
No changes to the commitment to keeping sibs together
No changes to elementary and middle school pathways
No changes to K-8 option school enrollment
No changes to commitment to allowing 10% choice in High School, despite the fact that it is not practiced now. (The board needs to get on staff to bring back this equity tool.)
No changes to special education 'predictability' such as it is. It isn't perfect and by no means should this latest SAP make it worse. Comprehensive high schools need to offer comprehensive SPED services.
No changes to K-8 HCC pathways. Those pathways just went through a review.

The document does need to make clear the continuing high school pathways for K-8 immersion.
The document does need to make clear the IB program locations.
The document does need to make clear the enrollment pattern for the HCC cohort in high school.
The document does need to make clear the enrollment pattern for ESL services.
The document does need to make clear whether Cleveland is going to be an option or neighborhood school. I say this with gritted teeth. This should have merited a much, much more engaged community discussion as it touches on a myriad of equity questions, and lack of outreach is going to cause upheaval and bad feelings. Once again failure of SPS to get its act together. And yet, new enrollment patterns cannot happen without understanding Cleveland's status.

No doubt staff will argue that enrollment and programming should be separated, and that's fine. There can be a different "program" document defining the eligibilty and definition of specialized and standard academic programs. But a new high school enrollment pattern cannot be implemented without accounting for the potentially significant swings in enrollment caused by ESL, HCC, IB, language immersion students. SPS needs to come to a definitive 5 year statement (because let's be real: the area keeps growing and another high school is on the horizon) as to placement of these programs at the same time as the new SAP doc. To do otherwise is madness.

If this means non-approval of the SAP before the next board starts, so be it. The important thing is that before open enrollment families will understand their neighborhood high school assignment as well as the location and accessibility (lottery v guarantee) of major programs that may be in a location other than a student's neighborhood high school.

I predict that staff far underestimates the wrath of the community and the horrid local press that will result if it does not handle the SAP updates with more comprehensive thought and outreach than I have seen demonstrated. We're talking weeks until sweeping changes may be implemented and the fact that disjointed downtown staff committees and a couple of citizen committees have looked at some (not all) of these issues is not going to cut it.


Cookie Monster said...

Amen, CapacityWonk, amen. I feel like someone should explain this in easy-to-understand terms in some forum that will reach people at a bunch of different schools. Because I don't think it's clear AT ALL to people who are not in an IB program/HCC/ESL/language immersion/etc. that what happens to those programs' placement will affect the capacities of everyone's local assignment schools. And that their boundaries may change due to capacity issues of a group that they're not part of and don't follow.

Anonymous said...

Can someone with board ties send CapacityWonk's comment to them? I get that this is complicated. I don't get why academic and enrollment planners do not seem to be in sync. This isn't about Lincoln. Or boundaries. It's about the citywide 9-12 gameplan. Sort it out people. Don't bring up a vote until there's something cogent. Which there isn't at the moment.


Anonymous said...

"She also told my table that the district needs "new assessments," not high stakes ones but the internal ones."

That had better not be code for "personalized learning" which means constant testing all the time via computer programs. This is *the* next big battle we will have to wage, and few people see it coming.

Bill Seward

Anonymous said...

@Cookie Monster-- " And that their boundaries may change due to capacity issues of a group that they're not part of and don't follow."

Roosevelt and Ballard are far far over enrolled without HCC kids. They need to open Lincoln and change boundaries no matter what due to growth of Seattle. If you were suggesting they (HCC program) are responsible for boundary changes and over enrollment that is not accurate. They don't make up that much of the overall SPS population...3000 out of 53,000 I had heard. They also use this group to move them around to balance capacity at schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

CapacityWonk, bravo. I'll have a separate thread on this but I am truly worried.

Anonymous said...

UW has a Maker Lab that my family toured during Engineering Days. It had a bank of 3D printers and computers with CAD/design software, space and equipment for Virtual Reality set-ups, laser cutters, power tools (in a sound proofed area), a fabrics workshop with sewing machines, etc... It is a space where students can design and make things, including robotics. It is a very cool idea. I just hope that the budget covers the equipment, tools, etc... and not just the space.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

If there is going to be organized wrath making, sign me up.

Right on Capacity Wonk. If only we could clone you.

These people in SPS enrollment are trying to manipulate the process yet again to mess with programs and services approved in the SAP and under policy, and they are treating students like wigits. Not okay!

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Fix AL, I read your comment right after the one with description of the Maker's Lab and I kid you not, I thought you said organized wreath making. Winter is coming, after all... ;)
-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

@capacity wonk-- Yes, agree. We need to know boundaries and lottery or guarantee of program pathways prior to open enrollment. I understand they are dealing with balancing schools & a new school opening. But I don't like that enrollment staff are assuming maps that make assumptions and decisions about programs. That is not their domain.
- a parent

Anonymous said...

@PX--might be just as effective.


Anonymous said...

If we are going to create a different NSAP, then there had better be a process for it that takes into account historic compromises and community priorities. The waitlist mess this spring was heart wrenching for many families because staff decided not to consider the hard fought compromise policy of 'choice where capacity allows'. Since they didn't institute that policy they decided they didn't need to abide by it. We, as a community, must hold staff accountable on this. I like the list from capacity wonk.

The primary goal of the NSAP was to give families predictability. That was the only goal for which people were willing to trade choice. It may be inevitable that boundaries change but the honoring SAP priorities concerning siblings, grandfathering, choice seats, option schools, etc, can help maintain that predictability. And a predictable plan for decision making about new schools would help too.

I miss Tracy Libros.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

As a West Seattle parent with a kid at WSHS, I can say that Ruth Medsker was a very strong principal who was well-liked by parents, kids and teachers. During her tenure, the advanced learning options at WSHS increased significantly, and the culture of the school was very positive, inclusive and dedicated to excellence. I found her to be hard-working and completely committed to the success of the kids, school and community.

With this said, my observation is that she had concerns about the insatiable quest for more and more AP classes, and even as the parent of two HCC kids, I can understand this concern. Yes, I want the kids to have the challenge they need/want, but I also feel that the AP system is a bit of a racket perpetrated on high school students by the college board (with HUGE profits to the College Board- a very iffy non-profit).

Also, since AP classes have to teach to the AP test, teachers and kids can miss out on enormous learning opportunities. When one of my kids was choosing between AP US history and regular US history last year, the "smart" choice would have been for him to take the AP version, especially since he's in the top 10% of students in his class, so the weighted class would have been advantageous to him. However, he told me he wanted to take the regular US history because it was being taught by his favorite teacher, and instead of just memorizing facts for an AP test, the teacher would have the flexibility to talk about current events and incorporate lots of teachable moments occurring in our country this year. I agreed with his choice, and am proud that he was willing to jump off the AP-train and sacrifice a weighted grade for an opportunity for greater learning and discussion.

I can understand parent concerns about an anti-advanced learning principal, but I don't believe that Ruth Medsker is anti-advanced learning. I think she's truly committed to a strong learning community that will help prepare her students for what lies ahead, and I believe she's committed to helping all levels of learners succeed. I hope that means that she'll incorporate the maximum number of AP classes that may be possible, as well as a rich variety of other classes at all levels.

In contrast, the principal at Hale has been vocally and adamantly opposed to advanced learning for many years. She was the principal at Madison Middle School when Lafayette had a flourishing Spectrum program, but she steadfastly refused to have advanced learning at Madison, even though Lafayette fed into Madison. For year, Lafayette kids had to travel to Denny or WMS for middle school, because Hudson blocked any appropriate classes for these kids at Madison. It was only when Marie Goodlow Johnson moved Hudson to Hale that Spectrum was able to be added at Madison.

My understanding is that Hudson is now serving as a block to adding advanced learning options at Hale, just as she did at Madison Middle School. If SPS moves to a reference school model, with no HCC high school pathway, kids at Hale will be ill-served by having Hudson at the helm. In fact, it will create an inequitable situation for kids at Hale, HCC-qualified or not, who want access to advanced classes. A single person should not be able to block access to advanced classes for an entire community of kids. The Hale situation epitomizes the current challenge for SPS in removing the HCC high school pathway. It's just not fair for some kids to get a principal who's opposed to the classes that they want/need to take, and other kids to get a principal who makes those classes available to them/supports advanced learning, especially if they're HCC qualified.

-Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the explanation, SP. as a parent to a northend elementary HCC student I am just watching and wondering, not sure what to wish for. I am thankful we live in the Roosevelt neighborhood and feel sorry for our friends a few blocks north who might be at the mercy of a Hale Principal who could give a flying duck about the scope and sequence needs of their children. Not sure yet whatvto think of the Lincoln Principal and the notion of a pathway there, but I do worry about the obsession with AP classes, almost as much as I worry about the quality of instruction of the running start "profs" at the local community college. We may need to move close to Ingraham so our student can take IB and get the variety of challenge, culture and community we are looking for. Time will tell.

Different Needs

Anonymous said...

IB is no safeguard against teachers who are against AL/AP/HC. Individual teachers assigned to IB classes can simply not fully teach to the IB curriculum. Tough luck for the kids sitting for the exams whose best chance of receiving high marks is additional outside study (and they wonder why kids are stressed). Some teachers fully embrace the curriculum while others seem out of their league or almost against it. It's a mix, just like every other SPS school.

Do your homework before moving, @DN. Unlike AP, where students can pick and choose which classes to take AP, those doing the IB diploma need to take 6 IB subjects, 3 of them as 2 year classes, and diploma students can't just opt for a non-IB core class (like WS student above). To top it off, some colleges give no placement or credit for the 1 year IB classes, even if they are more challenging than an equivalent AP or Running Start course. With Running Start, however, passing the class can get the student college credit - no AP or IB score needed.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Parent and you know what would solve that AP versus Gen Ed problem? Honors classes.

Then teachers could teach at the pace they want, delving into the subject matter fully, and move at a pace that students that want more rigor need/want. Somehow that word "honors" got to be a dirty word and it's not.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about this statement by Seattle Parent:

"...since AP classes have to teach to the AP test, teachers and kids can miss out on enormous learning opportunities. When one of my kids was choosing between AP US history and regular US history last year...he told me he wanted to take the regular US history because...instead of just memorizing facts for an AP test, the teacher would have the flexibility to talk about current events and incorporate lots of teachable moments occurring in our country this year."

To what extent is that characterization of AP classes--that they are just "teaching to the test", while regular classes allow for more in-depth discussion of current events--accurate? Not being familiar with these classes, my assumption would be that since the students taking them are supposed to me more accomplished or more capable students, the curriculum and level of instruction simply shift upward to better fit. In other words, you have Curriculum A that's used in GE history and is the right level for them, and you have Curriculum B that's used in AP history and is the right level for those kids. If that's the case, both should have similar amount of free time to discuss current events or go on little tangents, shouldn't they? Or is it that AP classes have a list of things they NEED to cover, whereas GE classes may have a list of things they are theoretically supposed to cover but nobody really cares if they do or not and so if something interesting comes up that takes them away from actually learning all that boring old history nobody minds? My HCC middle school student, for example, had a pair of LA and SS teachers one year who were particularly interested in social justice issues, and I know that very little history actually got covered.


Anonymous said...

Dear Unclear,

AP classes teach to the test - period. Deeper rigor is not necessarily part of the equation, but scoring a 4 or 5 is. Another problem is that (for example) this year the AP Calc test is May 15th so my kid's teacher must cover all of the material by May 15th, leaving the last six weeks of school a waste and leading to an accelerated learning timeline. Of course, the teacher could schedule an extra project for the last six weeks, but that usually doesn't happen.

- AP Parent

Anonymous said...

If they have six weeks at the end of the year, that seems like an awesome opportunity to really dig into some interesting issues. If teachers don't do that, that seems like a failing in their part, not necessarily the AP system. I'm not trying to defend the AP system, but it sure seems like teachers could be doing more. I have a hard time believing that the AP curriculum makes it impossible to cover anything else. There must be some AP teachers out there who manage to cover the required material plus additional, no? How do they do it? Maybe it can't be done throughout the year with our condensed timeline, but those las six weeks are ripe for the picking.


Anonymous said...

@ Unclear,

In my experience, many AP curricula are mind numbingly dull and don't teach critical thinking skills to students. It's rote memorization, for the most part, and a financial boon to the college board. And yes, depending on the class and teacher you could do a project at the end of the year, but most kids are working really hard on the short timeline and are happy to devote their attention to other courses and activities. Remember, in other parts of the U.S. kids are out in early June and the AP testing schedule aligns with those school districts' schedules.

-AP Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

AP is considered "a mile wide and an inch deep." For the test, there is a lot that students need to know and so it's quite the jam-packed curriculum and generally doesn't leave much time for discussion.

"Of course, the teacher could schedule an extra project for the last six weeks, but that usually doesn't happen."

Good point.

Anonymous said...

Is AP for humanities different than for math and the sciences? It would seem that for the maths and sciences you couldn't do the mile wide and inch deep. I can see how that might happen in the humanities.


Anonymous said...

My student took online AP math classes and learned to great depth, but these were billed as "Honors AP" classes so maybe they went above and beyond what typical high school AP classes do...

warped perspective

Melissa Westbrook said...

asdf, yes, I believe you are correct in that assessment. Probably foreign language as well.

Anonymous said...

My HCC kid is in middle school so we have not yet dealt with AP classes. If APP classes are as "mile wide and inch deep" as you all are conveying, it seems like Principal Medsker's vision for Lincoln's approach is one we all might want to embrace. Am I missing something?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, yes, you are.

AP and IB, for better or worse, are the gold standard for upper level classes in high school (at least for public). What appears on your public school transcript matters to college admissions officers. They look for students who took the highest level of classes available. If a school doesn't have AP, then they look for honors.

And, if you are talking about a high school that has not been on their radar before, it may be really important until Lincoln establishes itself.

Anonymous said...

I am a middle school parent so am researching. Except the issue of comparing IB college credit to AP, running start, my understanding is that IB courses go deeper. They are known by college admission officers as an excellent college prep curriculum. I am more concerned with my child being challenged in the classroom and prepared for college than college credit. Some private schools (such as Lakeside) don't even offer AP courses.
-researching parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Researching Parent, it's good to do your homework. Each college/universities may see these things differently.

I will say that college admission officers know privates schools and Lakeside is a known quantity. They don't need AP or IB because they have a carefully selected group of students, small class sizes and built-in rigor.

Anonymous said...

If you have good, rigorous classes, you don't need AP or IB. If you have traditional SPS gen ed classes and want any challenge whatsoever, you do.

It's not necessarily about getting college credit. For HC students, it's often more about wanting to be challenged, wanting to not feel like school is a waste of time.

Bored Gourd

Anonymous said...

I can absolutely see how AP classes can be broad and not deep. I was lucky enough to have fabulous teachers for my history and English AP classes, so it wasn't an issue, but I can see how it'd be quite different under another teacher (and granted that wasmany moons ago too).

The one class that had the most value in my school was AP English Lang & Comp. If you get a really good teacher, and really learn to write an essay, it makes everything else far easier. I had a sub-par English Lit teacher but I could basically compensate with my Lang skills. The essay portions of the history classes were easier. The English subject test on the SAT II's was easy, with zero test prep. My college didn't generally give credit for AP but I got out of having to take English 101. And college papers weren't a struggle either.

AP classes absolutely made the last two years of high school worthwhile, in terms of sheer interest and laying the groundwork for success in college. I'd have happily taken them without college credit.

-Pragmatic Xennial

Anonymous said...

A friend's child applied to a private college and the college did not accept AP courses at all, so I guess it really does vary.
- researching parent

Anonymous said...

What @Bored Gourd said. AP/IB offer some level of assurance of increased challenge within SPS, as well as a base level standard for curriculum. Some teachers may still proudly dismiss the standards, to the detriment of their students, because they don't believe in "teaching to the test," even though adhering to standards means students should be prepared for the test (why is that bad??). Private colleges may not count AP/IB courses for placement or credit, but they certainly get factored in to admission decisions.

SPS @#$%shoot

Melissa Westbrook said...

Researching parent, yes, some schools do not "accept AP courses" for credit - that's up to the institution. But do they look at the transcript and see AP and give an applicant a bump up? I'll bet they do.

Anonymous said...

Some students don't even want to take AP credits in college. Sometimes the goal is just to be able to skip some of the boring, low-level, hugely populated undergraduate intro classes that you'd otherwise have to take. AP credits can often serve as prerequisites, allowing you to skip ahead. That means more rigor, sooner, and you can take more upper division classes than you otherwise could. A stronger high school program can allow you to take a stronger college program.

Bored Gourd

Anonymous said...

I sent one kid through AP classes, 12 of them.

Our experience was that AP is about learning facts, practicing, memorizing, to get the right answer& score well on the exam. The humanities & social science classes are like survey courses in college & math is ‘practice problems until you recognize the patterns’, no proofs, definitions or rules, just practice. All very shallow, but lots of required work, mostly summarizing & making note cards for memorizing and doing practice exams.

Got very little out of the classes for the time investment. Aced all the exams. Only used the college credit to get an advantage in course registration priority, as it was easy enough to take placement tests for any unwanted prereqs. My kid appreciated the skill building, but felt like very little learning or thinking happened and curiosity had no place at all.

Think about what a scam the college board has going when you pay them again a few weeks later, to take SAT subject tests on the the same subjects & twice again to send both sets of scores separately. Then add the SAT tests & scores.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

@ HS Parent, but do you think your student would have gotten more out of GE classes instead of AP versions? My own child also gets frustrated by courses that offer only shallow glimpses of the material, but he uses these courses as introductions to the material and then digs deeper on his own. If AP classes give him that "mile wide" view, he can go many inches deeper where inspired. I have a hard time believing that gen ed versions of these classes go a lot deeper.


Anonymous said...

That is a good question BG,

Our experience was that gen ed classes gave more learning for less time commitment. The AP classes took so many hours a week of hoop jumping that there was no time to go deeper. In gen ed classes the homework load was both many hours less and the longer assignments allowed students more flexibility to take it to the next level if they chose to. So my kid's feeling was that the AP classes were 'soul-sucking' because of the time required for so little learning.

To be fair, most of the AP material was not new to my student and could have been mastered with 15% of the effort required. The gen ed classes in that HS depended on the teacher, some were a complete waste of time, others were more rigorous than the AP classes. The gen ed classes that were a waste of time though were only a waste of a few hours a week, not 10 or 20 hours a week.

My other kid did IB & we were much happier with that.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should go to a primarily IB type approach, with modifications. Have regular IB classes for those who want the challenge (regardless of IB diploma intent), have supported study sessions for those who want to use those IB classes as the foundation for taking AP exams, and also maybe offer a few AP classes in areas that don't get good coverage in IB. For students who think IB is too much work, maybe GE classes could. E more like "IB Lite" versions? Maybe this would increase rigor for all. It's probably silly, I know. But we sure need to do SOMEthing!