Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is there support from the CAO for high school APP?

There appears to be some uncertainty about the support from the Chief Academic Officer for Seattle Public Schools, Susan Enfield, for APP at Garfield. In the comments, Charlie Mas wrote:
[In the] November 3, 2009 Board work session on attendance area boundaries... Director [and former Garfield principal] Chow said that she didn't think that APP students should have their guaranteed access to Garfield because, in her words, "there's no program" for them there.

Susan Enfield responded to Director Chow by saying that they couldn't end the APP assignment to Garfield until all of the high schools offered a minimum set of AP (or IB) classes. She assured Director Chow that she was working hard to get those classes into the other schools. Her perspective was clear. She agreed that there was no program and she was working to get it dissolved by building up the advanced learning opportunities in the other attendance area schools.

Director Carr ended the conversation by cheerfully saying that as the other high schools developed more AP and IB classes, the APP students will just naturally choose their attendance area schools over the questionable program at Garfield. The sense here was that there was no need for the district to take any action to end the preferential enrollment to Garfield for APP students since it will soon melt away.

[Later] as Ms Enfield came by I asked her. "Why didn't you correct Director Chow when she said that there is no program for APP students at Garfield?" She responded "Really? Which classes are the APP classes?"

We had a VERY brief exchange in which she made it very clear that she did not believe that there is any such thing as high school APP.
The APP Update e-mail recently sent by the APP Advisory Committee promises more information on this soon, saying:
APP high school assignment to Garfield will remain! Despite recent comments by outgoing School Board member Cheryl Chow, yes, APP *is offered* in high school--at Garfield -- and the APP cohort will continue to be assigned there. Dr. Vaughan has addressed the erroneous public statements and, after conferring with CAO Enfield, will very soon provide a statement to clarify how the program is offered at Garfield.

Be reassured that the CAO supports the program, supports the model, supports the work of the Advanced Learning office, and supports the cohort at Garfield.
Parents obviously are concerned. pjmanley, for example, wrote:
What is this all about? Has anyone else heard this? Is this the brilliant plan for the future of APP? This would be a death sentence for the elementary and middle school programs. Who would send their children away from the neighborhood, severing and weakening all those relationships, to be in APP for a few years, then be tossed back to the same neighborhood? Can anyone tell me why any parent would do that?

If this is in any way true, we need a summit with the CAO and Superintendant right away. We bought in for the long haul and made all the difficult decisions and trade-offs in exchange for the guarantee of a Garfield diploma. If they are going to yank the rug out from under us, I will be furious.

Anyone else have anything to share on the subject?
And ArchStanton depressingly writes:
[This] reinforces my sense that the powers-that-be are willing to let/help the APP program die a slow death. At this point, we're hoping the program will cover us through middle school (or maybe even just elementary) when more private options might be available.

Between the split, Everyday Math, and an obvious lack of support from the district; we feel that this is not the same program we toured and were excited about two years ago. We feel dissatisfied.

Our lack of confidence is such that, once again, we are exploring (and applying to) different options - private schools, back to the neighborhood, homeschool - to see if there might be a solution that we can feel good about.

I'm not threatening to leave APP, 'cuz I don't believe anyone will care if we do - just sharing where we're at.
On a related note, PTSA VP Stephanie Barnett has a meeting with CAO Susan Enfield today. She has promised to report back on what she finds out.

Update: Stephanie Barnett reported back on her meeting with the CAO in the comments, saying, "There is support for the APP program and all of the advanced learning programs."

Update: In the comments, Charlie Mas disagrees:
She can SAY that she supports the programs but let's see her DO something in support of the programs.

Stephanie was lied to. We have all been lied to. They do NOT support the program. CAO Enfield in particular does NOT support the program. If she did, we would have the curriculum. If she did, the staffing in advanced learning would not have been cut. If she did, we would have a meaningful assurance of quality in Spectrum and ALO. If she did, we would have more than three ALO's south of downtown - there aren't any at all in West Seattle.

[CAO Enfield] can SAY that she supports advanced learning, but where is there any evidence of that support?


Robert said...

from the prior post: Charlie, the "GHS APP conversation" is foreboding... But don't you think that there is a chance that your bringing this to the forefront might have got her up to speed (based on the APP Update)? That said, I wonder why they couldn't have any cohort specific gatherings at GHS.

Limes said...

Um, there isn't any APP program at Garfield. There are Honors and AP classes that are open to everyone. The only thing I can see that APP students get is Yellow Bus service.

Limes said...

I'd add that I like the mixed environment at Garfield. It opens up the conversations and ideas a great deal. I also think that "rigor" changes from teacher to teacher, and that the label "APP" means less and less as time goes on. Maybe it shouldn't, but I'm ok with it as it is.

Robert said...

Yeah I guess that is the issue Limes as you say and then rebute... To what extent is there an APP program at GHS?

hschinske said...

The yellow-bus thing was only in the mornings anyway, and applies to many fewer students than it did, now that there are no north-end WMS buses to piggyback on.

Still, the fact that the district has done its level best to keep there from being any meaningful accommodation at the high school level is no reason to let them take away the tiny little bit that they *have* allowed hitherto.

Helen Schinske

lendlees said...

The way I view it while GHS doesn't have an official 'APP' curriculum , they have a critical mass of students to take a wide variety of AP classes.

If these students get dispersed to their neighborhood high schools, then GHS loses the numbers to offer the wide variety of classes AND the local high schools won't have sufficient numbers to offer all of the classes either.

Kind of a lose-lose for APP kids.

Central Cluster Mom said...

From what I understand, there isn't currently an official "program" at GHS - but with the curriculum changes taking place at WMS/Hamilton and the resultant adjustments to high-school curriculum that will only be available at Garfield (AP World History in 9th grade etc. - details of the curriculum path were handed out at the middle-school APP AC meeting) - then there will be more of a "program" in the next couple of years if the district allows Bob Vaughan to move forward with current plans.

Who knows if we'll get the time to put everything in place.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is the same as Limes'. No APP at Garfield. Just a golden ticket in for middle school APP cohort and priority into the AP classes offerred to all students.

wseadawg said...

The issue for me is trying to keep a child's school community intact, no different than in neighborhood schools that feed upward to high school. Without getting into the debate of what is a school versus a program, etc., the community around the programs is what makes them thrive, and I only want the same thing for my APP kids as they would have had they stayed in their neighborhood schools like kids will be expected to do under the new SAP. I think shot-gunning the APP cohort back to neighborhood high schools, or presuming kids will naturally blend back into their neighborhoods is unrealistic and destroys the community environment that is valuable to any neighborhood. Option school and programs don't have the neighborhood connections and friends, so their school community becomes that much more important. Having to pry your way back into neighborhood cliques that formed in one's absence would be rife with difficulty for most teenagers, not to mention being torn away from meaningful friendships formed for the last several years.

Community means a lot to kids, and APP folks just want the same continuity that others have for their kids.

Having said that, they need to address the overcrowding at Garfield and seriously explore another comprehensive North End High school to take some pressure off there.

Greg Linden said...

There are a lot of comments saying that Garfield has no APP program in this thread.

That does not appear to be true yet from the documents on the district website.

For example, the History of Garfield (PDF) says, "In 1979, the APP Program for highly gifted students was placed at Garfield." The APP page says, "A cohort-based model is available at the high school level" and later indicates that the location of this is at Garfield.

What is true is that there is not a self-contained APP program at the high school level. But to say that "there isn't any APP program at Garfield" is not correct.

It may be correct soon, however. There is a document (PDF) which calls for eliminating Garfield as the location for children coming out of APP in the new assignment plan, adding "the APP students must be returned to their neighborhood high schools."

Ellen said...

This document is from the 2004/2005 school year, and references planning for 2005/2006. The party line currently is that Garfield will continue to be the high school placement for APP. The science and history curriculums are being tailored at Garfield to accomodate "pushing down" 9th grade biology and world history to 8th grade APP at WMS and HIMS. I don't think there is any need to panic over this document. It is at least 4 years old and nothing is happening to substantiate this old memo. In fact, the opposite is true - planning to increase the unique offerings at Garfield for APP.

Greg Linden said...

My apologies, Ellen is correct, the document is from a 2005 plan. I did not realize that and should not have said it was part of the new assignment plan. In fact, the new assignment plan says the opposite, that Garfield will continue to be the destination for APP.

Let's not let this detract from the broader point I was making. There currently is an APP program at Garfield.

anne said...

My question about GHS is what do the APP kids do in ninth and 10th grade before they take APP courses? I've heard that the honors LA course is for all students that don't need remediation. How can that meet the needs of students that have been working at a higher level and middle school? In general how does GHS meet the needs of APP students? Is it definitely better than say RHS? Does it rival a private school?

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Greg that PDF must be 5 years old. I would trust what Bob V. has to say about the program's direction more than that.

Anne... Common pitfall AP classes not APP program... And they have honors classes that they take for the first year (please correct this if I'm wrong) and then they start AP classes with older non-accelerated. My understanding is that it is a good continuum.

Robert said...

Yeah I would echo Ellen ... Or I should say I just did!

Robert said...

Opps no more skimming... Yeah Greg... I think that is out dated.

anne said...

My mistake. I did mean AP classes, not APP.

But I don't understand how the honors classes would be advanced enough if APP kids are supposed to be capable of working two years ahead.

I know they haven't been ahead two years except in math, but I guess I'm asking whether the honors classes are comparable to the added challenge that they get in pullout APP classes at WMS? And if they are then how are the honors classes compared to WMS Spectrum classes? I guess my question is ...

where on the gen ed -> spectrum -> APP rigor level do the honors classes fall?

Stephanie said...

There is support for the APP program and all of the advanced learning programs. I met today with the CAO and Dr. Vaughan. My first question to CAO Enfield was do you support APP at all levels, elementary, middle school and high school. Her answer was yes. I asked her to communicate that to the parents. I pointed out that there are many parents who are unclear what the district plans are for APP. She wants to support and grow and create more rigor for APP. I said great, tell the parents. I told her if the APP parents felt that their program was supported that she could count on a lot more volunteers from the program to help. I stressed the need for open communication from the district about our program. I asked is the Garfield path for APP going away? No. All APP students will be assigned to Garfield and they are adding more rigor to their program. Dr. V and CAO would like to see more mention of APP on the Garfield website. It sounds like a rousing vote of support to me. I asked what is happening with the curriculum? There is a plan that is being implemented. I asked again, why not share it with the parents? Open communication with the parents. I actually saw the curriculum changes and they are coming but slowly over the next 2 years.I asked for this to be shared with all the parents in APP. I brought up some of the math issues. Not as successful on that front. But my recommendation is to email Dr. Vaughn and Stephanie Bower at the APP advisory board with all of your issues. Until they know what your specific problems are, nothing will happen at the district. Dr. Vaughn is thinking about how to communicate more effectively with the parents. I told him if he needs help, there are lots of parents who would be willing to help. I only got 20 minutes in this meeting. There were more questions that I left with the CAO and Dr.V. They are both on our side. I would also like to say how great it was to get an open and honest and informational communication from Stephanie Bower and the APP advisory board. Thank you for doing that, Stephanie . My biggest point was more open and honest and transparent communication from the district. I don't think it will happen tomorrow but I think it will happen soon. Again if you have problems, or specific issues please email Dr. Vaughan and Stephanie Bower. I would also advocate for parents to volunteer in their children's school and be part of the solution. Get involved with the teachers, ask questions and offer help.I will continue to be an advocate as needed but I have to move my energy on to the Reflections Program for all the children in Seattle public schools.The show will be at the Seattle Center.
Stephanie Barnett
VP of Enrichment Seattle Council PTSA

Robert said...

thanks Stephanie!

hschinske said...

We're starting to repeat points that were made in at least two threads over at saveseattleschools -- and

APP students do NOT currently get earlier access to AP courses in general. Some exceptions, usually in math, have been made for specific kids. The "two years ahead" thing was never more than a rough rule of thumb. There really isn't an obvious "two years ahead" point in high school anyway, except in math where there is an expected course sequence.

There are basically two LA courses available for 9th graders at Garfield: "honors" and remedial (the latter isn't called remedial, but states in the course description that it is specifically for those who read below an eighth-grade level). The honors LA course was a hard-won concession to years of parents' complaints about everyone having to take the *same* LA course in 9th grade.

I think the move to offer AP courses earlier and earlier, with the expectation that most students in APP will take that route, is misguided and developmentally inappropriate. I do feel that some students could benefit from early access to AP courses, and that the flexibility should be absolutely be there for such access, but the high pressure and increased homework load are not *generally* appropriate for younger students. I very much distrust ANY one-size-fits-all approach.

Helen Schinske

Skeptic said...

Stephanie, thanks for your report back from your meeting. But I, for one, have to wonder about your statement that Bob Vaughan is on our side.

What do other people think? If Bob Vaughan is on my kids' side, why am I still waiting to hear back from him after contacting him 14 months ago about the problems my son was facing in school? Why doesn't he return parents' phone calls or e-mails? (For that matter, why have I gotten a "voicemail full" response on several different occasions when trying to leave a message for him?) And why, to offer one more example, does he allow his office to run the APP testing process in such an unresponsive and frustrating manner?

I know that the APP AC members like to run their meetings as "We love Bob Vaughan" pep rallies, and I have heard some parents argue that no one should expect much from a person expected to do so many jobs at once. But I'm curious. I see a well-meaning but overworked and timid bureaucrat who seems afraid to make waves with district colleagues, school boards members, administrators, and even teachers. So while he's busy avoiding conflict (and parents), APP suffers. Do other parents feel like he's doing a good job running APP? Is he an effective advocate for our kids?

Dorothy said...

A consequence of the 11 point grading scale is that shams like the GHS 9th grade LA Honors will have to change. Honors will actually have to have, you know, honor. Otherwise, you have all non-remedial 9th graders at one high school automatically getting more GPA credit for their LA class than at other schools, where regular 9th grade LA is more honestly called 9th grade LA. (note, I am liking this because it ought to also mean the sham "honors" LA at Roosevelt has got to shape up as well.)

I agree with Helen with her misgivings of the state of APP curriculum development. One original concept from IPP that has been stressed in APP is that these kids are academically ahead and fast, but not necessarily emotionally or otherwise accelerated. Saying that the district will provide for their needs by pushing AP classes earlier is not in that same philosophy and may have unintended consequences.

Dorothy said...

"But I'm curious. I see a well-meaning but overworked and timid bureaucrat who seems afraid to make waves with district colleagues, school boards members, administrators, and even teachers."

SHHH! You are never supposed to mention the emperor wears no clothes!

I agree and have agreed for years. He doesn't have the staff to do what needs to get done and therefore chooses to do what seems fun, more like pet projects, like spending all this time on middle school app science, when what was promised (and needed, has been needed for eons) is a comprehensive elementary school APP curriculum.

Plus, if he had done his job years ago with Spectrum, insisting on quality Spectrum programming throughout the district, there might never have been the change in entrance requirements for APP, there would not have been overcrowding at Lowell and never talk of a split.

A lot of people just cut him slack for no good reason. Especially they feel bad because his department is so underfunded. Why? Given all the bloat and growth in central administration, why didn't the HC office get any of the pie?

anne said...

"I think the move to offer AP courses earlier and earlier, with the expectation that most students in APP will take that route, is misguided and developmentally inappropriate."

That's the basis for my question. I have an eighth grader in Spectrum at WMS, but he is ahead two years in math. I'm trying to figure out whether GHS is a good program if you don't necessarily want your kid taking AP courses as the only means of getting challenging classes.

hschinske said...

I think a lot of the point of going to GHS is to be in classes with students who can keep discussion going at a high level and bring a lot of outside knowledge to bear. Of course that can happen anywhere, but the probability is higher with the concentration of APP-qualified students. There are a number of non-AP courses that are generally regarded as particularly interesting -- marine science, for instance (the first science course that my daughter has ever really enjoyed -- I thought biology last year looked like quite a good course, but she found it a bit of a slog).

The outside activities, of course, are a draw for lots of students as well. My Garfield daughter's main interest is orchestra and other musical opportunities (Mr. Tsutakawa recently asked her to be in a string quartet, she's just joined the choir and is working hard to raise money for the choir trip to New York, and she's part of a student group that is trying to put a glee club together).

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

The CAO says that she supports APP and other advanced learning programs. Really? What has been the expression of that support? She can SAY that she supports the programs but let's see her DO something in support of the programs.

Why didn't she correct Director Chow when Director Chow said that there is no APP at Garfield?

Stephanie was lied to. We have all been lied to. They do NOT support the program. CAO Enfield in particular does NOT support the program. If she did, we would have the curriculum. If she did, the staffing in advanced learning would not have been cut. If she did, we would have a meaningful assurance of quality in Spectrum and ALO. If she did, we would have more than three ALO's south of downtown - there aren't any at all in West Seattle.

She can SAY that she supports advanced learning, but where is there any evidence of that support?

Charlie Mas said...

I have recently heard that Eckstein may dissolve their Spectrum program and move to an inclusive model. Let's see if Susan Enfield steps in and tells them that they must retain Spectrum as a self-contained program.

That will be a good measure of her support for advanced learning.

Anonymous said...

I have heard that McClure is trying to get rid of Spectrum also.