Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gregoire's budget cuts APP

Publicola reports that Governor Chris Gregoire's proposed budget suspends gifted education:
Here's what she says is gone even with the estimated $700 million in new taxes:
Suspend the state program for gifted education, which affects nearly 23,000 students. ($7.4 million)
If you want to see this more directly, Gov. Gregoire's budget page discusses the budget and links to the 2010 Budget Highlights. The APP cuts are described very briefly in the education (PDF) section.

Please use this thread to discuss, commiserate, organize, and despair.

Please see also the recent post, "Governor's Cutting Everywhere", on the Seattle Public Schools discussion blog (hat tip, ArchStanton).

Update: Good discussion of what the cuts are likely to impact in the comments.

Update: The APP Advisory Committee urges parents to write the Governor with a short message saying, "Do not suspend highly capable program funding in the Supplemental Budget."

Update: A week later, on the budget of Seattle Public Schools specifically, Melissa Westbrook writes, "We are headed for a huge budget crisis of proportions ... Entire programs may be cut ... You, yes YOU, must go to your PTA and your principal and have the school's budget on the agenda in January."


ArchStanton said...

I know we get some of that sate money for gifted education, but I don't have any idea how much, what percentage it constitutes, where it is directed, or what the real impact of losing it will be.

Can anyone fill in the details?

lendlees said...

I really thought the only money we got was for transportation--goodness knows it hasn't been for facilities or technology.

ArchStanton said...

If we lose transportation money, is there anything compelling them to provide buses for APP? Could they choose not to provide buses? Would they use that as a motivation to further split APP - APP in every school?

another mom said...

Without the state money (gifted grant)the Advanced Learning Office loses most if not all of its funding. The office receives few baseline dollars,and it is hard to imagine the District funding the office without the grant. If one of the casualties of the state budget is the Highly Capable Grant- and it is a small grant-, I believe that the AL office will cease to exist.Staff will be riffed or reassigned because their salaries are supported by the grant. It will create a limbo for Spectrum and APP. They might also be phased out.

another mom said...

The budget for APP at both elementaries and middle schools is derived from general fund monies. However, the process to determine a student's eligibility for the program, as well as Spectrum, comes out of the grant. To maintain the program without grant money would require a budget neutral way of determining who qualifies. I am not sure how that can be done without some kind of objective measure.

Anonymous said...

The gifted grant from the state (approximately 2% of the FTE enrollment allocation) is separate from the transportation funding. For transportation funding, the district classifies APP kids as special needs, which essentially triples the per student reimbursement. Since the reimbursement per APP student tends to exceed the cost per APP student, the district makes money from this arrangement.

The loss of the gifted grant should not affect transportation. Though the loss of the gifted program would affect the transportation budget.

Maureen said...

How can the District classify APP kids as special needs for transportation but not education?

Didn't the Advanced Learning office also used to cover special ed? (wasn't Colleen Stump in charge of both?) This is a vague memory so correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

The detailed operations reports for transportation are posted on the OSPI website:

There is a category labeled "S" for special.

"Special routes include special education routes, homeless, bilingual program routes, gifted education routes and other routes whose program time or location requires special transportation routing."

hschinske said...

I think the Highly Capable grant basically covers the testing and not much else. If that's really it, parents could pay for the CogAT without too much trouble (of course with subsidy for kids on FRL). It's not an expensive test.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

On the Seattle Public Schools website (

it says, "the grant budget is allocated to test materials and to salaries for one supervisor, one consulting teacher, one support analyst, one office specialist, and many temporary hourly workers, primarily retired teachers, who proctor tests for 6300 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In addition to identification and outcome testing, the supervisor and consulting teacher work with programs and schools to facilitate differentiation for high achievers and to align curriculum to enable accelerated academic outcomes."

hschinske said...

Thanks for finding that. After I posted, I looked around and realized that the grant does cover the regular staff -- I'd been thinking it was about a tenth of what it was. I ought to know after all these years.

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

Sure, it pays for salaries, but over the years, I've heard that the majority of the time is spent dealing with testing. Certainly when other things don't get done, that's what we've been told. That everyone is so busy with all the aspects of testing, there's no time or money for anything else.

Like the following:

"the supervisor and consulting teacher work with programs and schools to facilitate differentiation for high achievers and to align curriculum to enable accelerated academic outcomes"

Don't we always hear year after year that this really doesn't happen because so much time and energy goes into testing?

hschinske said... says the grant money is about $400,000. There are four full-time employees (well, I'm assuming they're all full-time), plus the hourly employees, plus the office budget, plus the cost of the tests. So the grant can't possibly cover the whole thing, but it does cover quite a chunk.

Helen Schinske

Shannon said...

Applicants from outside SPS already pay for the test. I think it was about $92 the year we did it.

Dorothy said...

Wow, it was $30 in 1999ish for kid outside SPS.

And remember when they made eligibility for two years, partly to reduce cost of testing? And for some reason that didn't stick? I don't recall the details.

Maureen said...

If eligibility lasted two years (or more), they could save money AND allow access to High School APP for kids who don't move to WMS or HIMS for 8th grade.

Kids who do enroll in APP are not retested, why do the ones who don't have to be retested? (I'm talking about the Cognitive Aptitude test, not reading and math levels--they just use the WASL/MAP for those)

another mom said...

The processing fee for private school students is $90. It has been $90 for a number of years. I think that I recall the fee being increased from $30 to $90 by Dr. Stump.

another mom said...

Maureen, a student made eligible for APP or Spectrum does not need to retest as long as the student is enrolled in an ALO, or Spectrum and receiving a special report card or progress report. I vaguely recall that two years of eligibility did nothing to deter families from testing their already eligible students. The numbers of students tested by Advanced Learning has increased markedly since the 90's. I contacted the office a couple of weeks ago and they are testing in excess of 4500 students this year. I no longer have kids in SPS, but what is up with people testing their kids??

A2Z said...

Wow 90 for cogat we paid 400 for a private test.

That said this is all a great concern.

Shannon said...

Well, you HAVE to pay the $90 if you are outside the system and considering entering AL. In addition, many families do the private tests AS WELL either for appeal purposes, for private school options or to know what school choices to consider before the results come out in the new year.

I am worried about the impact of funding on the program. Did you receive the email from the APP AC?

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

Sorry, I posted it twice. Here is an excerpt from the email:

1. Supplemental Budget -- write the Governor today!

In her initial Supplemental Budget for 2010-2011, Governor Gregoire proposes to suspend $7.4 million
of 2010-11 highly capable funding.*

The Legislature will also propose a version of the Supplemental Budget after January 11. Gifted education has
strong supporters in the Legislature, and we will work closely with them on the issue of highly capable funding.

To make known your support of highly capable funding, send the Governor a message through her
web site or the hot line 1.800.562.6000.

In a situation like this, it is the sheer number of messages, not the weight of your arguments, that will count.
Make your message simple: "I want you to fully fund highly capable programs in the Supplemental Budget,"
or "Do not suspend highly capable program funding in the Supplemental Budget."

After the Legislature convenes, we will be requesting you to contact legislators about both the budget and
the implementation of the provisions of ESHB 2261.

*To see the actual budget proposal, go to and
select operating 2010 supplemental. Highly capable is on page 168.

ArchStanton said...

re: Helen & Dorothy, I read the pdf and I'm still trying to understand.

Is the state gifted funding in question mostly used for testing?

Are the supervisor and employees called out specific to testing (i.e. we aren't talking about Bob Vaughan and his staff)?

Apart from that; it looks like the under-represented populations that SPS would ostensibly like to get into APP are those most likely to be negatively impacted by the loss of this funding - unless they divert money from somewhere else.

Dorothy said...

I've often heard that the HC grant pays for HC office, and that Bob and his staff spend the majority of their time dealing with testing. Which also includes determining acceptances, dealing with appeals...

I do not know if this true, but it's what I have heard repeatedly through the years. And that's back when we are talking 3000 applicants to test which seemed like a high number. Someone in these comments said 4500 nowadays.

And remember, they also schedule and staff (along with a few volunteers) all the AP tests for the district. That takes a lot of time. Overseeing and implementing curriculum and accountability in both APP and Spectrum? Never happens because of all the administrative tasks needed for eligibility testing and then when that settles in the Spring, AP testing.

Mercermom said...

In response to "what is up with all these people testing their kids": parents want an education that will challenge their kids at the appropriate level. It might seem silly to test your child if it should be apparent that the child isn't on the extremely advanced end of the spectrum. But Spectrum is for kids who are at the 87th percentile, so 4500 kids testing a year out of a school population of 50,000 doesn't seem totally out of whack. Also, no teacher ever suggested to us that our kids should do Advanced Learning testing. Our younger child tested into APP for first grade, and it seems like a good fit for him. We had our older child do the test early. He tested very high in math (not surprisingly to us), but not at the cut-off level in reading. That was useful information that we could use to discuss appropriate math rigor with his teacher. We tested him again in 5th grade, and he qualified for APP. He is doing well, so it seems like it was an appropriate route for us to take. My point is that if the alternative is that only kids who are recommended for testing by teachers test, then our two APP kids would not be in the program.

Anonymous said...

Unless I'm mistaken, the deadlines for testing may to some extent compel people to test every year.

Say your kid was happy with the local elementary last year, but this year a lack of rigor means your kid is unhappy.

If you don't figure this out prior to October, you have to wait two years to get your kid into APP. You've missed the deadline for testing this year and then moving in the following academic year. You'll have to wait till the next academic year for testing and then an additional year to start in the program.

Does that jive with people's experiences? You can't move into the program in the middle of a school year, correct?

dj said...

Anothermom, we couldn't rely on my daughter's teacher's recommendation about APP testing because both she and the school my daughter was attending were "skeptical" (if I might understate) about the APP program (and I liked her teacher quite a bit). In fact, the teacher and the school talked the other student in my daughter's class who tested into APP out of attending the program. I wouldn't want to rely on teacher identification, based on our experience.

another mom said...

dj- My comment probably sounded flip and I understand that teachers and others do not always support the idea of gifted programs. But kids need the programs and that requires an assessment and parent permission to do so. What I should have said...

Parents test their children for a variety of reasons. It would be interesting to examine why -over time- so many more parents test their children for gifted programs. In a relatively short time the number of applications has gone way up but at the same time district enrollment remained stable. Which schools have the most applications and why? My guess is that it skews heavily to the N.End and no I don't have the data. It just seems to me that something is out of whack.

TechyMom said...

There is one easy thing the district could do to reduce the number of tests taken. Parents would love it too. Let students who test into app or spectrum retain their stays whether or not they enroll.

The plan to expand ALO sort of does this for elementary. Kids at ALO schools who test into app or spectrum, they can opt for the advanced learning report card and keep their status. The goal to have ALO at every elementary will make this option available to a lot mire kids. Spectrum at every middle school could do the sam, if placement is guarenteed for every kid who tests in, rather than held to an artificial limit.

TechyMom said...

Make that "status" not "stays"... Silly spell-checker...

Maureen said...

Techymom, but that wouldn't help kids at K-8s. I have heard that all Elementaries will eventually have ALOs, but no word on K-8s, Option/Alt or not.

Stu said...

Let students who test into app or spectrum retain their stays whether or not they enroll

The problem with this is that, as the years go by, theoretically the non-enrolled student is getting further behind on what's being learned. If a kid tests in at second grade but doesn't come 'til 6th, he's lost 4 years of accelerated learning and, therefore, doesn't necessarily meet the requirements.


TechyMom said...

But, isn't that also true for the kid who doesn't take the test until 4th or 6th grade? Maybe it's true, but do we know that? Do we have data (say, historical test results) showing that this really is a significant problem? How many kids qualify in K and don't when they retest in 5th or 7th grade?