Thursday, December 9, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind?

APP AC urges writing Board on Garfield

The APP AC sent e-mails to the APP AC Google Group urging parents to contact their school board members to advocate for not splitting APP at Garfield.

An excerpt:
School Board members ... support ... Ingraham as an *optional* path for APP ... [but they want] ... APP students [to] commit very soon to go to Ingraham -- otherwise they will want to impose a geographic north/south split for ease and predictability of student assignment. A GEOGRAPHIC SPLIT AT HIGH SCHOOL CANNOT HAPPEN!

We suggest you use whatever information we've sent that resonates with you and your family, together with your own personal experiences, to craft a *BRIEF* email to your School Board member. Be sure to cc all School Board Directors, the Superintendent, CAO, Advanced Learning Manager, and the APP AC.

It is most important to request ... [that] Ingraham is an OPTIONAL path for APP ... [and that] the Ingraham path remains ... [optional] even if APP numbers at Ingraham next year are lower than expected.

School Board Members:,,,,,,
Here is a quick way to e-mail all the school board members at once and Cc the superintendent, CAO, Advanced Learning Manager, and APP AC co-chairs.

Update: One month later, the APP AC sent out an e-mail pointing to a draft of the transition plan (PDF). If the draft holds, APP high school will continue to be at Garfield for all APP students by default. APP students that would be entering Garfield will have the option of joining the new program at Ingraham (and, if they choose that option, but the program is too small to be viable, they will retain their place at Garfield, so there is low cost to choosing that option). The APP AC did warn that "Garfield will be very crowded the next few years ... [and] there will not be a lot of funding available to create a new program at Ingraham," but mostly good news here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ingraham new path for Hamilton APP if Garfield overcrowded

Charlie Mas points to slide 24 from the slides (PDF) shown at last night's school board work session:
Program Placement
Advanced Learning - APP

Current Pathways

Lowell > Hamilton > Garfield
T Marshall > Washington > Garfield

Add for 2011-12
APP at Ingraham
Optional alternative if sufficient interest and other measures can address Garfield overcrowding
New pathway for incoming 9th graders (Lowell > Hamilton > Ingraham) if other solutions cannot address Garfield overcrowding (to be included in Transition Plan for 2011-12)
DW writes, "This may have been implied previously, but this is the first I've seen where it's spelled out in black and white as THE result if the APP/IB plan doesn't pan out."

For more discussion on this topic, you might also be interested in the earlier thread, "APP at Garfield threatened?"

Update: In a new post about a recent board work session, Melissa Westbrook writes:
They started talking about program placement and the new possible Accelerated IB program in response to the overcrowding at Garfield. It would be modeled after the program at Interlake over in Bellevue. (I'll just say here that I think it's done. The community would have to rise up, en masse, to prevent it. I just think there's way too much work already done for this to be just a "possibility." The question is whether it will be optional or mandatory.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Open thread

Seems to be a lot going on for APP lately. What would you like to talk about?

Gregoire cuts APP in 2011 budget

In a recent e-mail, the APP AC reports:
On ... November 23rd, Governor Gregoire ... [proposed cutting] all funding for highly capable [students in] ... Fiscal Year 2011, retroactive to September 1, 2010.

Her letter to Senate Majority Leader Brown can be viewed here ,
and her proposed cuts can be viewed here

*If you have not yet contacted your legislator, please do so immediately *! The Governor requested legislators have any potential responses to her recommendations ready by Monday, November 29th ... Please e-mail your [sitting] representatives or phone them directly.
It's easy to e-mail or phone your legislators. Go to Find Your Legislator, enter your address, then e-mail or call them. You can also contact Governor Gregoire.

This, by the way, happened last year too and was avoided. So phone calls and e-mails might help.

Update: The Governor's proposed budget is available. The section on education (PDF) contains the proposed cut to our funding.

Update: A group called "Parents and Friends Highly-Capable Education" sent out an e-mail urging people to write their legislators and the Governor and also sign a petition that will be delivered to the Governor.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ingraham Accelerated IB program

On request, a new thread to discuss the proposed Ingraham Accelerated IB program that was presented at a meeting last night.

PJ Manley attended and summarized the meeting:
It would be an Accelerated IB program at a high school that already has a well-established IB program. The principal & teachers seem to be good, supportive, and available. It was a very upbeat meeting, and I think Bob V deserves a fair amount of credit for this idea. It's not his own. He readily admits he's copying the Interlake model in Bellevue.

Based on what was presented, I'd choose an accelerated IB program over typical AP classes at a neighborhood school in a heartbeat. It would be the perfect fit for anyone on the fence between APP or IB. I have to believe it will appeal to a lot of people.
An anonymous parent also attended and added:
I am cautiously optimistic that it could become an excellent alternative for some kids.

The IB diploma is a rigorous and coordinated curriculum that has high value with college admissions officers. Gifted students would be in self-contained classrooms in 9th grade -- so the 9th grade academics are potentially more rigorous than at Garfield. It appears than some of the 10th-12 grade classes might also be only highly gifted students. So the gifted group would feel more cohesive. So overall, this curriculum held more appeal to me than a mishmash of AP courses at Garfield.

And the Ingraham teachers are already teaching the curriculum, so it might require less start up time than I had originally thought. The also are proposing to make it possible for gifted kids not currently in APP to test in -- which should both bring in new students and reduce the complaints that kids can't enter a "gifted program" in Seattle after 7th grade.

It was also clear that Bob Vaughan was passionate about its potential, based on the outcomes in Bellevue. And the Ingraham principal and staff who attended the meeting seemed excited about the program and having our kids ... I think its the core of a very good idea.
Update: Meg Diaz points out that the presentation is available (PDF).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Open thread

A new open thread for everyone, discuss what you like!

Problems at Hamilton APP

There have been several requests for a new thread to discuss problems parents and students are seeing post-split with the new middle school APP at Hamilton.

It appears Hamilton APP was discussed at some length at a Nov 5 meeting with Kay Smith-Blum. Lendlees summarized:
Lots of discussion on how Hamilton and Washington were not equal, how Hamilton's teachers are not used to working with APP kids, how Hamilton's library isn't set up for APP, and how there isn't critical mass at either school to offer advanced math. In addition Hamilton is not offering very advanced math in 6th grade as they do not have an advanced enough course at 8th grade. And, finally, the music program at Hamilton is in jeopardy because they did not plan properly in the rebuild and there is no space for it.
Over on the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, Gavroche added:
Algebra class for APP 6th grade has been eliminated as a result of the split.

APP 8th graders at Hamilton have been told there is no math class for them anymore, so they are being used as free TAs to correct papers in 6th grade math classes, or told they can go do an online course, at their own expense.

There is not enough physical room at Hamilton for the music program, so the school had to give up a gym space for the music program and divide the main gym in half to accommodate multiple PE classes.

At least 3 teachers in Hamilton 6th grade APP this year have no prior APP experience and this has resulted in inappropriate assignments and expectations.

One of the APP math teachers at HIMS is only teaching gen ed math this year.
And, in other comments, two other parents offer some additional details ([1] [2] [3]) on what happened with math instruction for APP students at Hamilton.

Others have additional information? Or thoughts on what to do about it?

Update: In the comments, APP AC Chair Stephanie Bower disputes the accounts above, saying that they contain "information that is incorrect and/or exaggerated". Could others who might have knowledge of the situation at Hamilton APP clarify what is going on there?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Q&A with APP AC

Stephanie Bower, the Chair of the APP Advisory Committee, said she would be interested in doing a Q&A with APP parents here on this blog.

Please post any questions you have for the APP Advisory Committee in the comments!

Update: It looks like the Q&A is winding down. I wanted to summarize this long thread, but was struggling trying to do that. Fortunately, someone else already provided an insightful comment that may summarize the reason for much of the turmoil in this Q&A:
I think the APP AC should be recognized for what it is, and not expected to be something it is not. That's why I asked the very first question in this thread, in a (I hope) neutral tone. Stephanie has taken a bit of a beating in this thread and I hope everyone appreciates her willingness to do this, even if you disagree with her.

Stephanie is visibly walking a line so fine it almost doesn't exist, trying to balance the desire to be responsive to parental concerns with the fact that the APP AC is deeply embedded with the existing district process.

As is usual with all similar positions (ombudsman for the press, citizen review panels for the police, the CBO, presidential debate moderators), it is staffed with well-intentioned and capable people who work hard to balance everything they hear while appearing neutral, but they have no real power...and they develop long-lived relationships with the powerful institutions on one side of the process (the district) while the other side (the parents) comes and goes. It's almost inevitable that the conciliatory tone they strike sounds a lot like capitulation, because they are looking for a midpoint between the powerful and the powerless.
I want to thank the APP AC for its work on behalf of APP parents and students. And, I especially want to thank APP AC Chair Stephanie Bower for coming here for the unenviable task of enduring questioning from parents, many of which were quite upset about the past and planned disruptions to APP. Thank you, Stephanie, for being willing to do this.

Update: In addition to the summary by the parent above, Stephanie pointed to her answer to the very first question in this thread as a good summary of the work and role of the APP AC. She asked for it to be added here:
We are not elected officials so we don't really "represent" parent concerns in that way, but we use multiple methods to communicate to and get communication from the APP community.

We hold monthly meetings, email minutes and many emails out to now 1323 people, and some email us with their concerns and thoughts. People email us with all kinds of questions. In the past, we have done surveys, held special meetings (sometimes very large ones), had workshops. We constantly invite people to email us with their concerns. Many on the APP AC are involved in our school buildings, so we talk to parents, staff, and principals.

We are also parents with kids in the schools, so our experience of the program is first-hand. Even several of our staff reps have been or are APP parents. I have 2 in APP since first grade who are now at Garfield, one who also has an IEP/Special Ed for health issues.

The collective information, together with our history and experiences, inform what we say and do. When you are a committee of 16, you get quite a broad representation of the program. We usually send out emails to the list telling people what we are doing, what we are saying, and inviting anyone and everyone to contact us.

We are open to suggestions for better ways to do this!
I want to thank Stephanie again for doing this sometimes contentious Q&A. I hope APP parents, Stephanie, and the other members of the APP AC thought that the Q&A was useful and helped to clarify what the APP AC does for APP parents and what the APP AC probably should not be expected to do.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

APP at Garfield threatened?

Over at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, Charlie Mas reviews the slides (PDF) from the new NSAP Transition Plan and writes:
Some things are pretty clear:

The District staff don't really want to do anything about changing the Garfield attendance area. In fact, they don't appear to really want to change any attendance areas. Instead, a lot of the options for Garfield had to do with re-arranging APP.
Ruthie adds:
Several of the vaguely-described potential "options" for fixing the overcrowding problem at Garfield seem to involve APP.

My bet is that the District isn't going to tell us what this latest round of hosing will look like until January. This would be a GREAT time to get someone from the APP-AC to answer some questions on this blog, guys, chief among them being "Who, exactly, is advocating for our kids in this process?"

Sorry to be cranky. I still have PTSD from the elementary split.
And, Lendlees writes:
They are planning once again to move/split/whatever APP without any thought as to where the students will go. (or as Parent said, how many APP students live in the Garfield zone)
Update: Good discussion in the comments.

Update: An anonymous parent claims letters are going out from Robert Vaughan saying that APP at Garfield "likely" will be broken up soon. The parent made the full text of the letter available.

Update: Active discussion on Robert Vaughan's letter in the comments of a post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Update: Another post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, "Questions About if APP is Split Off From Garfield".

Update: In another post at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog, "Possible Outcome for Garfield", Charlie Mas writes:
The District is going to do something about Garfield and what they are going to do is limit APP access to the school. The full weight of reducing the overcrowding at Garfield will fall on APP.

This was their intent from the start and it is the reason that they drew the Garfield attendance area as they did. They want to break up APP because the District improves school test scores by re-arranging the distribution of high performing students.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?

Kay Smith-Blum at Lowell Nov 5

Lifting this from the comments, Lendlees writes:
Don't forget that Board member Kay Smith-Blum is coming to Lowell this Friday (11/5) for the "Coffee with Gregory" time (9:30 am). She's always a breath of sanity and is a big advocate of APP.
Kay Smith-Blum is the School Board Director for District 5 (Central Area, including Lowell). If you can't make this 9:30am Nov 5 meeting at Lowell Elementary but want to talk with Kay Smith-Blum, she has another meeting Nov 13 at 10am at the Douglas-Truth Library.

Also, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has her last coffee chats tonight 6-7pm at Mercer Middle School and tomorrow (Tue Nov 2) at North Beach Elementary from 8:10am-10am.

Update: Good summary of the Nov 5 Kay Smith-Blum meeting in the comments.

Friday, October 22, 2010

APP AC Oct 5 meeting minutes available

APP Advisory Committee had a meeting on Oct 5. A summary (PDF) of the meeting is available.

Worth reading. Most interesting tidbits for me were the enrollment numbers for elementary,
About 70% of the applications for advanced learning come for students in the Lowell/Hamilton assignment areas [and 63% of grade 1-5 APP is at Lowell] ... [perhaps because] schools in the NorthEast are very crowded which could provide an additional incentive for parents to look at other options (i.e. APP) for their students.
the response to a question on whether the new APP teachers are getting any training in gifted education,
Teachers new to APP do not get special training. But ... they are provided with curriculum and other in-service support ... Bob feels that the best way to influence the quality of instruction is to define expectations (students should be working at least 2 years above grade level) and to codify the curriculum
the new data that shows that the APP split had no impact on the diversity of the APP students, and the problems that are appearing due to overcrowding at Lowell, Hamilton, and Garfield.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Upcoming meetings with Superintendent and Board

In the comments to an earlier post, Lori asked:
Is anyone planning to attend one of the Superintendent's coffee chats?

I hope to go to the one at Jane Addams on October 12th. Given that it's at 9AM and many local families will be taking their elementary students to school at that very time, I suspect that meeting will have middle and highschool parents, along with APP parents residing in the NE whose kids take the bus to Lowell. Perhaps it will be a good opportunity to discuss APP-specific concerns.

I may ask if the split last year achieved its desired outcomes and how they are planning for capacity in the future ... I suspect there are going to be capacity issues at Lowell in the very near future.
Seems like a good idea. If APP parents might want to attend any of the Superintendent's coffee chats, here are the dates and places:
Superintendent Coffee Chat Dates
  • Central: Thursday, October 7 at SBOC from 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.
  • Northeast: Tuesday, October 12 at Jane Adams (K-8) from 9:00 a.m. -10:00 a.m.
  • West Seattle:Monday, October 25 at West Seattle Elementary from 6:00 p.m. –7:00 p.m.
  • South East: Wednesday, October 27 from 6:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m. at Mercer Middle
  • Northwest: Tuesday, November 2 at North Beach from 9:00 a.m. -10:00a.m.
Also, Director Kay Smith-Blum announced community meetings:
Kay Smith-Blum, School Board Director for District 5 (Central Area, including Lowell) is having community meetings on Saturday September 25th and November 13th from 10:00 am until 11:30 am at the Douglas-Truth Library (2300 East Yesler Way). These meetings are a good chance to meet with her and voice your concerns about our school district. She would like to connect with as many parents as possible.
APP parents, are there other events with other school board members that you plan on attending to ask questions?

Update: Melissa Westbrook mentions an upcoming meeting with Director Maier:
Director Maier is having a morning meeting on Wednesday the 22nd from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Lake City Public Library, 12501 28th NE.
She also notes that these meetings appear sparsely attended, only three parents at Harium's recent one. APP parents that attend future meetings almost certainly would have a chance to ask questions.

Update: Charlie Mas posted a list of many upcoming meetings, including these with Directors Patu and Sunquist:
Saturday, September 25 at 10:00-noon
Director Patu Community Meeting at Tully's Coffee @ Rainier / Genesee

Wednesday, September 29 at 11:30am-12:30pm
Director Sundquist Community Meeting at Delridge Library
Update: Steve notes in the comments that Director Kay Smith-Blum "encouraged everyone to come to the Community Meeting she is hosting at Douglas Truth Library on Sat. Sept 25 from 10:00 to 11:30 Capacity issues at both Lowell and Garfield will be topics for discussion."

Update: Melissa reports that superintendent is taking questions at the regional meetings. Here is a list of the next regional meetings
Central: September 22 at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School
Northwest: September 23 at Hamilton Middle School
Southeast: September 28 at Aki MS
West: September 30 at Chief Sealth High School
if you might want to attend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

APP discussion on Seattle Public Schools Community blog

Charlie Mas posted an "APP Thread" over at the Seattle Public Schools Community blog.

Update: There is also a lot of discussion of the future of APP at the high school level at Garfield in the comments for another recent post on that blog, which I have summarized for convenience.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First day of school and topics for this blog

The first day of school is today! It is a good time to gather topics for this blog for the new school year. What would you like to talk about here on this blog in the next few months?

Perhaps another Q&A for new parents to ask questions of existing parents?

Anyone still interested in discussing the APP split (Lowell/Thurgood Marshall and Hamilton/Washington) and its aftermath?

More discussion of any additional splits that should or should not happen? Perhaps more discussion of the future of APP at the high school level as well?

Maybe compare Seattle APP to the expanding PRISM and GHSP programs in Bellevue? What is good and not so good?

Whether we need an advocacy group for APP? What parents are doing to supplement math (and whether we should be supplementing math)? Transportation issues? Other topics?

Please chime in on the comments to this post with what topics you might like. I will do my best to start threads on them over the coming months as well as covering any APP-related news that comes up over the year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another open thread

The new school year is coming up fast! New APP parents, do you have questions for old APP parents? And, old APP parents, what's on your mind?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Open thread

Summertime! What are you and your APP kids doing this summer? And what is on your mind going into September?

Monday, June 21, 2010

End of another school year

It is the last day of school tomorrow. Another school year done, a summer ahead of us, and planning for the year to follow.

If you have thoughts on this year and the year to come, please discuss!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Board work session on Advanced Learning June 16

The Seattle Public Schools Community Blog reports that "on Wednesday, June 16, from 4:00pm to 5:30pm, will be a Board Work Session on Advanced Learning." The School Board calendar is here.

Opening a new thread to discuss that if anyone wants to organize people who want to attend, talk about what should be addressed in that meeting, or follow up afterward with a summary of what happened.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

APP broken promises

Lifting this from the comments, Charlie Mas writes:
This year was the first year of the split elementary and middle school programs.

The program splits came with risks. The District made specific promises about how they would address some of those risks.

They promised an aligned, written, taught and tested curriculum that would be fully implemented on the first day of school in fall 2009. They did not fulfill that promise.

They promised that the elementary programs would be comparable in size. The program at Lowell is nearly 50% bigger than the program at Thurgood Marshall. They did not fulfill that promise.

They promised that they would take steps to avoid a repeat of the problems experienced at Madrona when APP was co-housed with a general education program population that was academically and demographically different from APP's population. It's unclear if any of those steps were taken or if they were successful.

It is worth noting that co-housing part of elementary APP with general education students at Thurgood Marshall was specifically recommended AGAINST by the APP Review. The District did it anyway. At one time a response to the APP Review was a project of the Strategic Plan. It appears to have been dropped from the Strategic Plan and there has been no response to the APP Review. That's another promise that wasn't kept.

So where's the accountability?

If the district isn't going to apply any accountability, then what is the appropriate response from the community?
APP parents? What do you think?

Update: Charlie adds more in the comments, ending with, "We are a smart, effective, creative group of well-respected people with deep networks throughout the city ... When the APP AC stops acting like a doormat they will realize their power."

Update: Charlie writes again with specific ideas on what actions the APP AC and APP parents could take. Well worth reading.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

APP Advisory Committee asks for feedback

The APP Advisory Committee is asking for feedback on the year. Feel free to put comments on this post about your feedback, but they are asking for your feedback to be sent directly to them by e-mail.

A copy of their message is below (slightly edited for formatting and clarity):
As we get close to the end of this school year and start to think about writing our committee's final report to the district, we would like to hear your thoughts about how things are going.

Please drop us an email and consider the following:
  • Are things different now than they were at the beginning of the year?
  • What's working, what's good?
  • What's not working, what needs addressing?
  • What are your concerns for next year?
  • How can our committee do what we do better?
  • What was most helpful/important to you that the APP AC did this year?
    (e.g. hold monthly meetings, send monthly meeting minutes, send email updates, host middle school transition meeting, send out school announcements like tour dates/etc., forward emails from other groups/gifted ed/legislative info, support 2E meetings, respond to individual email questions, advocate behind the scenes on issues, work with district/building staff, generally keep the community informed?)
All communications will be kept confidential within the committee [and] will inform the issues we write about this year and address for next year. Thanks for your time and support.

Send your email to all or your school rep listed below [and] mention [which schools] your kids attend:

Chair, Stephanie Bower,
Secretary, Ann Owens,
Diversity Rep, Roberto Jourdan,
At-large Rep, Val Morris-Lent,
Communications Rep, Robert Njegovan,
Lowell Parent Rep, Geeta Teredesai,
Lowell Staff Rep, Theresa Roth,
Thurgood Marshall Parent Rep, Rachel Miller,
Thurgood Marshall Staff Rep, Cathy Villanueva,
Washington Parent Rep, Shannon Wheeler,
Washington Staff Rep, Amy Hallet Noji,
Hamilton Parent Rep, Kathy Tanaka,
Hamilton Staff Rep, Marcelyn Shadow,
Garfield Parent Rep, Hildy Ko,
Garfield Staff Rep, Ken Courtney,

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

APP enrollment next year

The district has posted an update to the projected enrollment next year, "Initial Analysis of Open Enrollment Data - Draft".

On APP specifically, Charlie Mas notes:
I'm having trouble reading the numbers for Washington because they appear to report that some APP students are waitlisted. I don't get that.

There are 223 APP students assigned to Thurgood Marshall and 371 assigned to Lowell. That is NOT an equitable split.
Shannon asks if "the waitlisted APP kids at Washington [are] those assigned to Hamilton who hope to go to Washington instead." Later, Lori looks at the Lowell/TM numbers and writes:
They budgeted for 40 kids in 2nd grade APP at Lowell and assigned 75. That's almost twice as many! Grade 3 is somewhat similar (budgeted 58; assigned 83).

Did the district forget about the large cohort of kids born in 2002-2003 who required the creation of multiple new K classes in North Seattle 2 years ago? Since 2nd and 3rd grade are common entry points for APP, it seems that they should have been able to anticipate somewhat larger enrollment to APP for the upcoming year.
Another problem is the first grade APP enrollment. Estimated APP 1st graders at Lowell is 38; at Thurgood Marshall it is just 12.

The numbers may suggest that the newly split APP schools -- Hamilton and Thurgood Marshall -- are having trouble attracting and retaining APP families. Is that the case? Why? Do you know families who moved just to switch APP schools or who left APP rather than attend those schools? What were their reasons? And what could be done to improve the situation?

Open thread

Please discuss whatever you like!

Update: In the comments, Squeagle gives a useful summary of a Thurgood Marshall meeting today with Principal Julie Breidenbach. Worth reading.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Goodloe-Johnson at Thurgood Marshall PTSA meeting on April 29

Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson will be at the Thurgood Marshall April PTSA General Meeting tomorrow. From the announcement:
Superintendent of Seattle Schools to address next PTSA General Meeting
Thursday, April 29 6:30–8pm in the cafeteria

Join us for our April PTSA General Meeting and a chance to hear from the Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Superintendent, and Robert Vaughan, Director of Advanced Learning, as they speak and answer questions about the school district's plans for our APP and ALO programs. Here is our opportunity to ask the tough questions about their vision for the future success of our school.
If you attend, please comment on this post to let others know your thoughts on the meeting and if there is any new information about the school district's plans for APP.

Update: Ben writes:
Here's what I got out of the meeting:

* Budget crisis? What budget crisis? Besides money isn't everything. Besides, ALO kids will benefit from being in a "less-dense poverty" situation. (So...just by being near "rich" kids, they'll do better?)

* The curriculum? Science instruction is already the same in Lowell and TM. Math instruction is already the same. Teachers are meeting to work on Language Arts stuff.
Other thoughts on the meeting? Was any new information given about the "district's plans for our APP and ALO programs"?

Update: Two more comments ([1] [2]) with details on the meeting. Worth reading.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Kay Smith-Blum at Lowell and TM

Seattle School Board member Kay Smith-Blum met with parents at Lowell on April 5 and Thurgood Marshall on April 6. By request, here is a thread to discuss those meetings.

Lendlees offered a summary of the Lowell meeting in an early thread:
I was there this morning. KSB is a breath of fresh air. She was very forthright and blunt about the issues that are going on and the extent of her influence with the existing board.

She took copious notes about the issues we raised and is planning to bring them to her one on one with the Superintendent this week.

The issues we raised were:
  1. Lowell and TM should not be treated like other schools. We have unique programs that require special staffing not accounted for in the existing WSS formula. (example: you can't have .4 of a teacher)
  2. There is no curriculum for APP yet.
  3. We have very large class sizes (29 in 3rd/5th grade)
  4. We have a large number of split grades.
  5. Everyday Math is a terrible curriculum for APP and cannot be taught in a split class setting.
  6. Why are we getting penalized about lack of stimulus money this year when we didn't benefit from it last year.
  7. Just because Lowell looks 'successful' on the outside doesn't mean there aren't inherent issues that need extra support.
Kay is very much an advocate since her sons went through APP as well.
Can others who were there please comment on and summarize the meetings?

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Advisory Committee warns of threat to APP

An announcement of a recent APP Advisory Committee meeting on April 6 included this warning:
Seattle Public Schools is facing significant cuts in funding for all its schools ... We hope to discuss the status of proposed changes and how they might impact ... schools where APP is offered, and the program itself.
Stu commented ([1] [2]):
I've gotten more paranoid over this past year but I found the above sentence ... kind of disturbing. It almost implies that they're planning on moving/changing the APP schools . . . and the program.

Unfortunately, I believe the commitment to advanced learning really ends with ALO. This administration wants ALO in every school, possibly some Spectrum programs in each "cluster," but will look to end APP in the near future. Based on everything they've been doing, I don't see how APP fits in their plans. It takes the "smart" kids out of the neighborhood schools, where their scores would help curve things up a bit, and adds to the overall transportation costs. With APP gone, they get to cut transportation, staffing, buildings . . a whole lot of things.

Splitting the program, and ignoring the history of divided buildings, was the first step . . . I'd love to see it last but, on a personal level, don't believe our current 5th grader will ever get to Garfield.
SoundEndScribe later summarized the meeting, including saying this:
It wasn't long ... [until] the question of continued commitment to the APP program in particular was raised ... Bob Vaughn tried to reassure the parents that indeed there was a long-standing (30+yrs) and long-term commitment to advanced learning. He stopped short of saying that there was a long-term commitment to APP in its current form. He didn't say that change was imminent or inevitable but he also didn't say that it wasn't.
It sounds like this AC meeting was not discussing advocating for APP, so let's open a thread on that here. Is there anything parents can do?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Open thread

Please use this thread not only to discuss APP-related issues on your mind, but also to suggest ideas for new posts you might like to see put up for discussion here on this blog.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Funding issues hitting home

On request, here is a new thread for discussing the funding shortfalls for next year.

To take one example, the PTA at Lowell Elementary just sent out a message saying that the school needs to choose between only one of a half-time counselor, increasing the librarian from half to full-time, and a half-time math coach. Class sizes also will increase, a reading coach will be lost, and there are no funds to pay for playground monitors. Most of this is due to district funding cuts, but part is also due to donations from parents being lower than the PTA expected.

I have heard that Thurgood Marshall faces similar funding issues, though perhaps even more severe due to loss of Title I funds and even lower PTA donations. Does anyone know the details?

Update: On the situation at Thurgood Marshall, in the comments, Meg Diaz writes:
Thurgood Marshall is getting eviscerated. The ALO program will take the worst of it.

The ALO program is somewhere over 85% FRL. The influx of the APP program has reduced the "school" FRL to 44% ... A school needs to be above 55% FRL to receive Title money ... Thurgood Marshall will lose nearly $200K in Title money ... Pull-outs for math and reading? Over. FRL population receiving tutoring from tutoring companies that are paid with title money? Over. Bussing for before-school programs for kids qualified for FRL? Gone. A classroom teacher? Buh-bye.

Last year during the closure process, multiple APP parents posited to the board that moving APP into the Thurgood Marshall building would put the kids already in the building at risk, because it would very likely cause the school to lose massive amounts of funding and resources that those children really, really needed, simply because the FRL % for the building would be changed. The board insisted that this would not be the case, that they would look after these kids and that, in fact, having APP in the building could benefit them. Diversity! Enrichment! Access and equity! Unicorns and rainbows!

Just as predicted, the neediest kids in the building have lost huge amounts of resources because of the influx of a program with very different demographics into the building.
Update: There is now a discussion of the situation at Thurgood Marshall over on Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Update: Meg adds:
[This] is entirely due to a decision the board made, which was actively questioned by parents (and the change in FRL and its effects on the ALO program was an issue that was raised). The board and staffers insisted that the kids in the ALO program would not suffer as a result of placing APP in the building. And it's just not the case.
Update: There is now a second discussion on this over at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The APP split: Six months later

It is now six months into the first year of the APP split.

It is now six months into first year Lowell elementary APP has been split into two smaller programs at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall. It is now six months into the first year Washington middle school APP has been split into two smaller programs at Washington and Hamilton.

How is it going? Are things going as you expected? Are there things that you did not expect? What do you think of our first year of the APP split?

Update: Not a lot of comments on this topic so far. Summarizing what we have, comments are that the APP split is going well, people and kids are happy, and everything is mostly as expected. That differs from comments in earlier threads (e.g. [1] [2] [3]). Is this because different people commented in this thread or because parents who were concerned earlier have, in the last few months, changed their mind?

Monday, February 22, 2010

No response to the APP Review?

Over on the Seattle Public Schools community blog, Charlie Mas writes:
There has been no response [from the District] to the APP Review [PDF], done about two years ago.

When will we see a response? When will we even see any news about the efforts to make a response?

An aligned, written, taught and tested APP curriculum was supposed to have been implemented concurrent with the splits in the program. The legitimacy of the splits was predicated on the implementation of this curriculum, but there is none.

Where is the APP curriculum? When will it be implemented? How will it be enforced? Who will enforce it?

Update: In the comments, Charlie Mas adds that because "the curriculum, which was promised and promised and promised, has yet to appear" that "it is time for APP families to advise the District that their children will not be participating in the WASL this year - nor any year until the APP curriculum has been implemented." That seems sure to generate a lively discussion. What do APP parents think of that?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Open thread

Discuss whatever you like!

Update: There are a bunch of topics in this thread, but this recent comment by ArchStation seems particularly likely to generate sparks. Let me highlight the key bit:
We know of other families leaving APP because they are dissatisfied with the math curriculum and perceived instability of APP and SPS ... [I] think that there might be room for another gifted private or co-op school in Seattle.

Who would really be interested in leaving the APP program for an alternative gifted school? Is there enough of a critical mass to make this a viable option? What model would appeal to you: a small homeschool co-op, a new private school for gifted kids, something in between, or some other model I haven't mentioned?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Q&A for new APP parents

With the APP eligibility e-mails out, parents new to APP are full of questions. For example, in the earlier open thread, one parent asked:
We got our letter on Friday with good news (qualified for APP). My daughter is a 7th grader right now, so if we chose to join the program, she will move to WMS in the fall for her last year of MS. I would appreciate any comments/suggestions how to handle such a "late" transition to the program. She is very strong at math (homeschooled after school using Singapore math books) and theoretically she would be ready for Algebra II in the fall. However, I heard that they do not offer it anymore in WMS. How do they place the newly coming kids into the appropriate math level: testing in September? Also, what languages are they offering in WMS?
Another wrote:
I am new to this site as my daughter just qualified for middle school APP (Hamilton). We didn't expect it, really, but want to explore this option fully.

So can any Hamilton parents tell us what they think? We are especially concerned about math and science as we have a girl who is good in both. I heard science is a weak link. Thanks!
In addition to those questions, let's do a general Q&A here. New APP parents, please post questions as comments on this thread. Existing APP parents, please chime in to help answer them.

Update: Please also use this thread for questions about appealing APP eligibility. There are already a few questions about that in the comments.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Court cases on state funding and Discovery Math

Charlie Mas writes in the comments to an earlier thread:
Two important court cases decided today.

1. Court rules that the state is NOT fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully fund education.

2. Court finds that Seattle Public schools choice of high school math textbooks was capricious and arbitrary and directs to Board to reconsider the adoption.
More details and good discussions going on the posts ([1] [2]) over at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog.

Please see also our earlier thread, "Gregoire's budget cuts APP".

Update: Five weeks later, Cliff Mass -- UW professor, well-known weather blogger, and a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the math textbooks -- writes, "Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah: School Districts Versus Good Math Education".

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?

Update: There appear to be two main topics in the comments. The first is MAP test scores, when we will see them, and what they mean. The second is new parents wanting to know if people are getting their APP eligibility results and asking for advice on appealing.

Monday, January 25, 2010

APP class size

Going back to the original list of topics APP parents wanted to discuss, I would like to open a thread on class sizes in APP.

Class sizes at some APP schools appear to be quite high. For example, one parent noted:
My son is at Lowell, 3rd grade. There are 29 children in his class which is a big group for one teacher at that level.
More generally, please comment with your experience and thoughts on whether class sizes in APP are unusually large, whether class sizes are a serious issue for attracting potential APP students, the impact you see of class size on learning in the classrooms, and what might be able to be done to improve the situation both immediately and for next year.

Update: Six months later, it sounds like the APP class size problem is expected to be even more severe in our next school year. In the APP Advisory Committee notes from June 1, 2010, the committee wrote:
Classroom sizes are expected to increase and teachers still have to work with new APP students who often have gaps that need to be addressed. With larger classes and a wider range of student abilities and academic backgrounds, it is very hard for teachers to meet all individual student needs. Families can help by volunteering in the classroom and by working with their own students to address specific issues/gaps.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Open thread

Discuss whatever you like!

Update: Some good discussion already in the comments, including one parent who is considering APP who wants "to hear from current families in the APP program about what tipped the scales for them to move their child from a neighborhood school into APP." Please chime in.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Only 2-3 weeks for APP eligibility appeals?

A parent alerted me of an issue for new children wanting to enter APP of very tight deadlines for APP eligibility appeals.

According to the "Appeal Process for 2009 - 2010 Testing Cycle", the "test scores and eligibility results will be mailed on or around January 29, 2010". But, according to that same page, if you want to re-test and appeal the eligibility decision, you must do that by "mid- to late- February."

This means parents have an extremely short window, only 2-3 weeks, to have a child re-tested and prepare their appeal. This window is so short that most places that can do that kind of testing (Woodcock-Johnson and WISC-IV) in Seattle may have no appointments available in the time parents have before the February appeal deadline.

The advice going around seems to be that, if you were not invited to the second round of district testing, then you can be sure you will get a negative result in the eligibility letter when it arrives. If you might want to appeal, do not wait for the letter to arrive, but book your appointment for private testing now.

Apparently, a similar situation happened in past years. This very tight APP appeal deadline seems inherently unfair if a mistake in testing has been made, likely to exclude otherwise eligible children, and particularly likely to exclude children of parents with limited resources and time. Please discuss it further here in this thread.

Update: A good discussion in the comments, not only on APP eligibility appeals, but also on other topics that might be helpful to people considering elementary APP next year.

Update: One parent, going through the APP eligibility process this year, writes:
We are still waiting on our letter! It just occurred to me that appeals are due 2/24, and as of Friday 2/5, we still don't have information. If we want to appeal and get a letter from our current teacher, we will have to get that from her ASAP because of mid-winter break coming up. This process is ridiculous!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Another open thread

Happy New Year! Discuss whatever you like!

A couple recent events that might be particularly good to talk about are reactions to last night's APP AC meeting (which covered "Governor's proposed budget cuts and impact on Advanced Learning, MAP testing, APP curriculum") from anyone who attended and Cliff Mass' recent rant on math education in Seattle Public Schools ("The Seattle Public Schools, has poor discovery math books at all levels; the Seattle School Board voted in the Discovering Math series last spring (4-3 vote), even though the State Board of Education found it 'unsound.' ... If your child is in this district you have a real problem").

Update: People have been sharing links to resources that might be useful to APP parents in the comments.