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.

78 comments:

Greg Linden said...

One more thing, new APP parents, there are previous threads on this blog that might be useful.

For example, there is one discussion around "what tipped the scales for [current APP families] to move their child from a neighborhood school into APP." There are others around eligibility appeals (e.g. [1] and [2]). In general, there are many interesting nuggets buried in the past posts.

Anonymous said...

Repeating an earlier comment: We've been pretty happy with Hamilton over all -- science is the same teacher who taught 8th grade APP science at Washington for years, with the same issues (vagueness, inattention to mischief in class -- students have epic stories about this one! -- unclear instructions, etc.).

Added: Hamilton got two of the strongest math teachers from Washington, Pounder (LEGENDARY) and Buchanan.

For the 7th-grader: also consider whether it might make sense to skip 8th grade entirely and go straight to Garfield. Less upheaval and more appropriate math.

Limes said...

If you don't live near Garfield, you can't just skip 8th grade and end up there. The only "free" pass to Garfield comes via Hamilton and Washington APP.

Transitioning into Washington at 8th grade will be tough, both socially and academically.

Socially: This can go either way. For many, it's hard to break in. Most of the kids have been together since first grade, and they act as such, for the better and worse. There are many who are sick and tired of those people and are happy to embrace new kids. But it's a bit hit and miss, for sure. The most successful kids I've seen socially are those who have outside connections to the kids who have been there for years (on the same soccer team or attend the same church or something).

Academically: Almost all of the APP kids are taking Algebra I in 7th grade, so they'd be taking Algebra II in 8th grade. It's Algebra III that is no longer offered at Washington (from what I can remember).

The most difficult thing about transitioning academically is not the rigor of the work. Most kids can handle that just fine. The bigger issue is that these kids have all been learning the same things in the same way for years. And as such, the middle school teachers have tailored their instruction to meet those needs. (Whether intentionally or not, I do not know.)

Many new students struggle because there are gaps and duplications. In some areas, new students are bored while in others, they are behind. It takes a while to sort that all out.

If your goal is to get the "free" pass to Garfield, then it is a necessary evil. If you are looking for the best program, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

I've had two children go through Washington, and I've yet to be impressed by the instruction. There are a couple of rare exceptions, but on the whole, it's not worth it.

Anonymous said...

There is no Algebra III. The sequence is Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II.

I don't see why an APP-qualified student couldn't go straight to Garfield, if the grade skip was approved.

Mercermom said...

Our child joined APP in sixth grade. I expected that he might have an initial tough adjustment period with respect to academic demands, especially in language arts/social studies. I wasn't as concerned about math, as he had done a lot of math outside of school. He hasn't had any trouble adjusting to academically; he reports that some kids who came from Lowell are struggling, so it doesn't seem like having been at Lowell is the "golden ticket" to a successful transition. Socially, he did complain at first about the kids who describe themselves "the Lowell posse"; and he hasn't formed strong connections with his APP classmates. He does have lots of friends and acquaintances at WMS from school and sports, so that might make forming friendships with his APP classmates less crucial.

Anonymous said...

Our child, too, joined APP as a 6th grader, and we all knew there would be months of transition, without a feeling of belonging, socially. Going in with that expectation made the reality easier to take, and it took a couple of months for new friendships to form. That aspect seems fine, now.

Academically, he is doing very well. Though, even he agrees that in many ways he was more challenged in his previous regular 5th grade class, which is a disappointment for us. I think it really depends on the teacher. The top classes, in our opinion, with the most diligent, rigorous teachers, are science and band. We are happy with the math teacher, but that curriculum is terrible.

We are still glad to have made the transition because of the student group. Our son, too, is very glad to have moved schools. It is refreshing for him to be with classmates who also care about doing well, and who are not calling him names for being 'smart', and who have similar interests.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:19, is your child at Hamilton or Washington? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

HI. My son qualified for APP this year, he'd be assigned to TM. He's very well adjusted at his neighborhood school, popular, good athlete and known to be smart. There are a few girls who are very smart too and he's always competing with them, which is good. He's probably the best at math in his class. I really don't want to move him but I guess I need to hear the pro and cons of moving to app. If your kid is happy and still challenged, why move him, right? But will this change in the next few years? He'll be in 3rd grade next year. Also I want him in APP for middle school, and Washington is our reference school anyway so it makes sense to move him then.

Shannon said...

Hi,
We moved our son into 3rd Grade this year. Now, I can't speak to Thurgood Marshall but we are glad we chose to put him at Lowell.

For us, it was a good idea not because he was and could not do well at a neighborhood school but because we wanted him to NOT be best in math / reading / whatever.

He had been in a smaller class where he had formed the idea he was very clever and was getting some attitudes about it.

At Lowell he is very normal and has to work hard at some things. We think that its good for him and he has a good time among classmates who are clever but are also just plain good fun.

Anonymous said...

Can we appeal APP based on or son having Dyslexia? 99% IQ but a low reading score?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 10:14, you should talk to Lynne Tucker, who gave a presentation at the APP board meeting last fall about "twice exceptional" kids.

If you can't track down Lynne (turns out she's hard to Google), try talking to Bob Vaughan at the Advanced Learning office, or Stephanie Bower on the APP Advisory Board (she seemed familiar with the 2E issue).

"2E" kids are not all that rare, and if you ask around, it shouldn't be hard to find someone to point you in the right direction. Good luck!

hschinske said...

www.seattleschools.org/schools/pathfinder/PTSANewsletterJan101.pdf (News from Seattle Special Education PTSA) has Lynne's contact info.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Looking for help on the appeal process.
Namely...is it worth it?
Here's our situation: Our student will be entering second grade.
The school testing: Cogat 93,98,97
Reading 99
Math 95

Private testing:
Cogat 97, 99, 98 (not sure how or if scores align as we received 5 Cogat scores...does SPS consider "working memory" and "processing speed"? What about "full scale IQ"?)
WJ III:
reading 99.9
math 98

So, it looks like Cogat might be a problem since 98 is the cut off?

We'd like to go for it but if it's a lost cause...

Any hints/insights would be most welcome!

Anonymous said...

Wow, and you did not get into APP with such scores? You should definitely appeal!

Lori said...

anon @257PM, it says on the schools website that they will accept the FSIQ (full scale IQ) or GAI (general ability index) for IQ, and that the score must be 98/99 percentile. So look closely at which score goes with which metric as your child might qualify on appeal.

Anonymous said...

Lori: thank you! I just looked at private scores and GAI is 99 and FSIQ is 98 so it sounds like it would make up for the 97 on the school's Cogat scores? PS. got into Spectrum not APP... but not sure our Spectrum option is ideal...

Anonymous said...

I would think that they thought the cogat was good enough to test reading/math scores which were then above 95%. There must be something out of sorts as I would think that should be good enough to be elligible.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 3:56
We actually thought the same thing! I didn't get why they bothered to test for reading/math if Cogat wasn't good enough? Is it a judgment call in the end? Hoping someone else will judge our appeal! ;)

Anonymous said...

Since there is more room at TM vs Lowell, do you think there will be more flexibility when appealing if you are South of the Ship Canal?

ArchStanton said...

Since there is more room at TM vs Lowell, do you think there will be more flexibility when appealing if you are South of the Ship Canal?

Interesting question.

The obvious answer is NO, because the program has always been considered as a single entity - either you meet the requirements or you don't. Following the split, I don't imagine the gatekeepers have taken to considering admissions to the separate schools as different processes. They simply have too much on their plates to change the way they're doing business.

Even if they were applying selection criteria differently (which I seriously doubt) between T.Marshall & Lowell or Hamilton & Washington, they wouldn't dare admit it - even to themselves, because of the uproar it would cause. Not to mention families trying to game the system by moving or claiming different addresses.

Anonymous said...

We have friends whose child was not admitted last year to TM -- even though she met a couple of the thresholds (I'm not exactly sure which one(s) were missed - but they were close) -- and her first language is not English. She is exactly the type of student that would flourish in the APP program and add the "diversity" they are supposedly seeking.
Sometimes none of it makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Did your friends appeal? Sounds like this whole appeal process skews the population that ends up in the school.

I had no idea that parents sometimes tested privately prior to receiving district testing results. That's got to help on getting an appeal through when the window for appeals is so tight.

Of course, anyone can appeal. But how many families can afford to pay for testing before they are sure they even need to? That's got to skew the demographics involved.

It sounds like the percentage of kids in thr program that came through appeals is surprisingly high. I wonder what the break down is in demographics for kids entering the program through appeal vs. those that got in through the regular district testing.

Shannon said...

The district has an earlier appeal date for kids who are F R/L and pay for and manage the appeal:

Q: If my student qualifies for free/reduced lunch, will the district assist me with in-house, district testing for an appeal?
A: Yes. You should provide our office with a signed statement that you want to appeal and are requesting our help. For our staff to support your appeal with additional testing, we need to receive your signed statement by the due date provided in this letter.

However, I agree that appeals are probably biased to the more affluent / educated population and the group who are not comfortably off but are not FRL are most affected. Also, not everyone knows that if a child scores lower in one area they may still be eligible on appeal (with testing).

We did not appeal the first year because it seemed like a lot of effort and expense and only did it when we knew we had to switch schools for other reasons.

Lori said...

Forgive me if this has been discussed already elsewhere on this blog, but I'm wondering how the split between Lowell and Thurgood Marshall has affected families' feelings about APP and about whether it seems like "labeling" has increased.

I toured Lowell recently and felt like there was a lot of labeling going on ("this is an APP class... this is an ALO class"). Of course that is necessary on a tour to know what you're seeing, but I wonder if the children are starting to feel those labels now that APP and general ed are in the same building.

One thing that unnerved me about some of the Spectrum programs I saw back when touring for K choice was how some schools really seem to make a distinction between children based on Spectrum/general ed, and I've heard from some parents that the kids even talk about themselves that way ("I'm smarter than Jonny because he's not in Spectrum")

I really loved the idea of APP when all kids were at one school. But now that it's just a program in a building or two, it loses a little of its appeal. To me, when kids are labeled, there is even more pressure to perform and never make a mistake, and I don't want that for my little perfectionist.

thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I have a first-grader at Lowell this year and while he is aware that there are different 1st grade classes, I'm really impressed that there isn't the labeling that creates divisiveness. The principal has been great about building inclusiveness. And recently, the entire 1st grade went on a joint field trip that had the kids in different groups outside of their class to make additional friends. In short, it's been great.

Anonymous said...

I have a first-grader at Lowell this year and while he is aware that there are different 1st grade classes, I'm really impressed that there isn't the labeling that creates divisiveness. The principal has been great about building inclusiveness. And recently, the entire 1st grade went on a joint field trip that had the kids in different groups outside of their class to make additional friends. In short, it's been great.

Anonymous said...

I have a Kindergartener who qualified for APP next year.

I have mixed feelings about send my kid.

It seems like the program has advantages. The teachers have a lot of flexibility and the peer group would be great.

On the other hand, I'm not keen on the bus ride, the run down facilities at Lowell, and, most importantly, switching schools (the transtion into Kindergarten was fairly rough for my kid who is very focused on having friends).

I went to the open house, and a fair number of other parents I talked to seemed to see APP as a solution to a problem their kid is having. Maybe their kid is unmotivated, hyper-competitive or very bored in school.

At this point, I don't see my kid as having problems at school. They aren't complaining of boredom, they seem pretty well integrated into the classroom socially, and they don't really have any attitude problems.

I wonder if anyone has any perspective on what would be gained or lost by waiting to join APP.

I'd be more comfortable with the switch if I thought my kid could participate in the decision, but as a Kindergartener this isn't realistic.

I'd also me be interested in hearing how parents involve their kids in making the decision to switch. At what age can they reasonable participate in the decision making process?

Steve said...

I went to the Lowell Open House last night, interested in the APP program. It was similar to the one last year, but with less apparent angst (the open house last year was right after the APP split, the closing of TT Minor, and with Principal King working essentially at both schools).

Not that much new to report, except I think there were more APP-interested parents this year than last year. Basic teacher panel with Q&A, and a lot of the questions were about curriculum, socialization, how new kids are made welcome in the school, etc.

One question was about whether the APP program at Lowell will move to a location further north, to accommodate where the majority (?) of the kids who attend this program live. Principal King said "No." Pretty definitive. Of course, you never know what the future holds with the District.

For what it's worth, the location of the program is a little less important to me than the condition of the Lowell building. They've fixed the ceiling in the cafeteria and the new paint in the hallways is an improvement, but this building just seems waaaay past it's prime, and I'm not sure any amount of repair or updating will change that. I realize it's what happens in the class that's important, but...

Did anyone else attend the open house? Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

We asked our daughter to insure that she wouldn't object.

As early as 3rd grade they are accelerating quite a bit so don't wait too long.

We were happy at our local school but were uncertain that they could differentiate her learning enough to keep her interest long-term.

lendlees said...

Anon @ 11:42--

We moved our son to APP in 2nd grade, only because we missed the cut off for testing to get him there in 1st grade.

He had a fine experience in Kindergarten, great class, and a wonderful school community that we really liked.

That being said, 1st grade was a disaster for us. They really started academics at that point and our son was in his own reading group (FYI, he was in a 1/2 split class too!) and actually asked his teacher for 'harder math', which she couldn't accommodate.

Also, as far as friends go, the majority of 1st graders will be new so they will all be in looking to make new friends. And the kids are great at connecting because they have so much in common.

Ben said...

I have not seen any evidence of a wonderful, unified community at Marshall. Yes, maybe this is because of my own bias. (I was adamantly opposed to the split.)

I don't know about an increase in labeling (well, there'd have to be an increase in it—there is none in an all-APP school), but I know that there was a sort of informal APO boycott of field trips that involved APP classrooms. I don't think there's much blending during recess.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to get from Seattle Schools a copy of the current Lowell walk-zone map.

We have a copy of last year's map (thanks Greg Linden!), but my wife spoke to the Lowell Principal and he said two things of interest:

1. Don't rely on last year's map
2. He doesn't know what this year's map boundaries will be for the walk-zone

Isn't it way too late in the process for this map to be either still a work-in-progress, or, worse, kept from the public?

Should the APP enrollment window be pushed back a month so this information can be made public in a still timely manner?

Gregg Miller

ArchStanton said...

Here's my perspective as a Lowell parent on some of the questions (YMMV):

I don't sense that "labeling" goes on much nor do I think that there is any real divisiveness between the APP and ALO communities. That said, I don't feel that the communities have exactly come together, either. To some degree it may be because it has only been a few months since they were put together. But I also see a lack of involvement by ALO families in school community events and committees. This may be for any number of reasons: the ALO population may feel like newcomers to Lowell, making it harder to get involved with established groups; in general ALO parents are of a lower SES than APP parents and may lack the time and resources to attend after-school activities and events; any new families may simply need time to get settled after transitioning to a new school. As far as labeling goes, it may be that because of their exposure to the Special Ed. population, many of the APP kids are a little more attuned to issues around differences and labels, but that's just a guess. Personally, I've never heard anyone at Lowell say "I'm smarter than..."

Yup, the Lowell building is old and it shows. I'm not particularly fond of it, myself. The school we left was old and rundown, but I liked its character a bit more. However, I'm not losing sleep worrying about it. Most of SPS' buildings are long in the tooth, so it's a lateral move for many. If you are leaving a shiny new building or a building you love, it could certainly be a step down. One thing it does have that many schools do not is a large field for the kids to play on at recess. It is also two blocks from Broadway, making it easy to grab a bite or some coffee if you are spending time at school.

The bus ride can be a mixed bag and seems to really vary from year-to-year. Obviously your distance from school is a factor. We're kind of at an in-between distance - Our bus experience last year was awful, this year I have few complaints.

Our kid got to where she was really dreading school in Kindergarten, but has had no such issues since we've been at Lowell. Some gifted kids might be fine in Gen. Ed. classes, but I suspect that their differences are more likely to become issues as they get older when kids do start labeling and forming cliques.

We didn't let our child participate in the decision, but we did arrange for her to visit the school one day. She got to see the building with all of the kids in it and got to visit two first grade classes briefly - one teacher had a girl show her around the room and tell her about what they were working on. I do think it helped her get on board with the decision. I don't know if you would receive similar accommodation today, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

As much as I don't expect them to move the program further north anytime soon, I can always hope. What I will say is "don't expect stability" - that goes for both APP and SPS in general. Don't buy a house anticipating which school or program your kid will be attending more than a few years down the road. It seems that every few years they're threatening to close schools and relocate programs. We went through three superintendents in less than a decade and the board seems to turn over every eight years. Who knows how long MGJ will stick around or what her successor will do?

First grade really is a good time to switch if you know your kid needs something that the APP program offers. Remember, it's about more than academics. Having a peer group that "gets you" can be really important for some gifted kids. Having a peer group of adults that "gets you" and your child can be important for some parents, too. It can really be challenging to be the only parent advocating for a Gen.Ed. teacher/school to meet your kid's needs. It can be challenging at Lowell, too, but you won't be alone.

ArchStanton said...

Isn't it way too late in the process for this map to be either still a work-in-progress, or, worse, kept from the public?

Unfortunately, putting the cart before the horse seems to be the current modus operandi of SPS.

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

Gregg,

Last years map is fine except they pulled out one block on the SE corner for being over a mile (not sure about that as Google maps has it at .8 miles). If you still need "this years" I can email it to you. Send me an email to robertnappac@gmail.com. It doesn't have the City's safe walk routes on it yet though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Robert, I'll take you up on it! Look for my e-mail.

Gregg Miller

Anonymous said...

And, Robert, perhaps you could post the current walk-zone map somewhere?

It's not on the Seattle Schools website, and I'm sure I'm not the only interested party.

Robert Njegovan said...

Great idea!

http://tinyurl.com/yblb5v9

wseadawg said...

I second Ben's comments. Having spent many hours in TM this year helping out, I am actually impressed at how well the kids have adjusted to the changes, but I also sense a deep awareness of class divisions and haves vs. have-nots, that really bothers me. And the kids are absolutely aware of it too.

Years ago John Stanford wisely moved APP out of Madrona after astutely recognizing that the gulf between the two cohorts was simply too great, and jeopardized the self esteem of both cohorts.

That the "kids are resilient," "Can take it" and/or "will be fine" is not the issue. It's that the kids are well aware of the divisions and it has to hurt.

Everyone is doing their best, but the difference of level of parental involvement between the cohorts is dramatic.

I know of several APP families who are leaving at the end of the year to go elsewhere, and I'm aware of non-APP families who are considering leaving as well. I have no idea what the impact will be on the program, and it could be that next year's incoming classes and parents will do better given they all start school together, versus half the APP cohort invading TM, dramatically changing the culture and environment almost overnight.

Perhaps the worst aspect of all is that when an APP parent confronted Steve Sundquist about the broken promises and lack of resources SPS promised to support the move and ensure it succeeded, all he could say was "yeah, I know." Nice.

Anonymous said...

Wseadawg, when you talk about the division between the haves and have-nots, are you referring to academic ability of the children or to the economic status of their families? Are the children not mixing because they perceive others as not being as smart or because the other children are on FRL? Or is it the parents that are causing this division and passing it on to the children?
My 7 yo just qualified for APP, and I am trying to decide if I should move her from her current school next year or wait until Hamilton. How long will the APP eligibility last if I do not enroll her in the program next year? Thank you

Anonymous said...

People keep asking about mixing between ALO and APP. My kid was only at their neighborhood school in K, but they hardly mixed with kindergartners who weren't in their class. Kids play with who they know. APP and ALO kids aren't in class together. This is not a problem in my eyes. My kid says nothing negative about ALO kids (and I would immediately stop any talk about being "smarter"). I asked today if they even knew all the APP kids in their grade and the answer was "no." I really don't see why this is a surprise or a problem. Also remember that Lowell APP kids will not go to middle school with the Lowell ALO kids. APP goes to Hamilton and ALO goes to Washington.

I believe APP eligibility exists year after year if you are in an ALO school. If you're not, you lose it the next school year. This is how is used to be, but you should really check with the Adv. placement office.

Anonymous said...

wseadawg, Are you leaving TM/APP? Why or why not? And, can you quantify 'several'? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I agree that kids tend to be friends with the kids in their class. My daughter (APP at TM) did not know until very recently (when I inadvertently mentioned it) that some of the classes are APP and some are ALO. I guess we'd never mentioned it before. And/or she doesn't care, so it didn't stand out to her. So, not everyone is necessarily labeling. She's having a good experience there so far.

Skeptic said...

I'm wondering if other APP parents could weigh in on a recent incident at Thurgood Marshall that really bothered me:

My son is a first-grader in the APP class there, and one day last week, I happened to be in his classroom. One of the first things that caught my eye was a large notepad resting on an easel. The teacher had printed out a series of writing tips on it in large letters, and I noticed immediately that the word "definition" was misspelled as "defination."

When I mentioned it to the principal later that day, she was dismissive of my concerns. And since my son considers himself to be a good speller, I assumed that he had probably just looked at his teacher's sign and decided to ignore it.

But later, when I was looking through a stack of his recent schoolwork, I came upon a writing exercise where he had dutifully copied down the word from the notepad as "defination." So I asked him to spell the word for me. He quickly rattled through the letters in the first half of the word, then stopped abruptly and said, "I thought I knew how to spell that word, but I guess I don't."

Now, I know it's one thing to be a proponent of whole-language learning and not correct children's misspellings as they practice their writing. But is it really no big deal if a teacher of gifted 6-year-olds is displaying misspelled words in the classroom, and as a result, at least one child is "unlearning" how to spell words?

I think it's completely unacceptable. But what do other people think?

Shannon said...

I know its jarring to see a simple word mis-spelled but some very bright people spell poorly. Some very dumb people spell well.

If I was in the classroom I would have simply mentioned to the teacher that she had misspelled definition. Smiled. Left it at that. Sent an email if she wasn't there. Not gone to the principal.

If you have issues that are more extensive then detail those to the Principal. Sure you can make a case that your 6 year old has been exposed to a wrong word. Or you can make the case to your 6 year old that sometimes grownups make mistakes.

That might give rise to a lesson that has more dimensions than spelling.

Lori said...

I have another weird question as a potential new parent. My child has a late August birthday but went to school in time just after turning 5. When the district testing provides the result as a percentile, is that relative to children of the same age or the same school year? In some parts of Seattle, children with a summer birthday do not go to school on time, so they are already 6 at the start of Kindergarten. I'm curious if the testing somehow takes into account that two first-graders can be 12-14 months different in age!

At our current school, most summer birthday children have not been red-shirted, which obviously we like. What do you see in the APP program? Are some kids testing in specifically because they have been red-shirted and their scores are higher in part because they are a year older than the other kids? Will my "young" 2nd grader be a full year or more younger than some of her classmates, or do you find that a lot of APP kids started school on time even with a late birthday?

thanks!! all the posts are so very helpful.

hschinske said...

I have summer-born kids as well, and haven't noticed a lot of red-shirting. There are a few kids who've taken early entry, even (a long time ago they used to make those kids repeat a year on entry to APP, but that's stopped -- certainly they never said a word about my son, who also has an August birthday), and a very few who've been grade-skipped.

The achievement tests are certainly by grade level. I think the CogAT goes by age, not sure (I know it *can* be scored either way). Certainly IQ tests are normed by age.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Lori - anecdotally, my child (at TM) has a June birthday and there are a few younger kids (summer birthdays) in his class.

Shannon said...

My son was born in the latter part of July and I asked about the test scoring. I was told that the achievement tests administered by the district are normed to the grade. I don't know about the cogat. However, the tests conducted by private psychologists are normed to age based on increments of 3 months.

My son does not stand out in his APP class. There are plenty of younger and older kids. I was told that kids tend to be on the older side but haven't noticed that. It may vary year to year.

Of course, there are differences in development between older and younger kids in the class and between boys and girls. I think its easier to have a child on the older side but that's not particular to Lowell.

ArchStanton said...

I was told that the achievement tests administered by the district are normed to the grade.

I was never told much of anything about the district test.

However, the tests conducted by private psychologists are normed to age based on increments of 3 months.

That's my experience, as well. In fact, we tested a week or so before the next three month increment and they gave us numbers that would reflect where she stood on either side.

Dorothy said...

Again, FERPA is your friend. You can get much more detailed report on the district administered tests, including subscores and norming by age and grade (for assessments where that is appropriate). Woodcock Johnson can be normed both ways. CogAt? I sort of thought it could be normed both ways, but would have to dig up the results to see for sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lori -

My son is an early september birthday and we had him tested to enter kindergarten early. He's now at Lowell/APP and is fine. I would say his kindergarten year was very bumpy socially, but I'm not sure this was because he was young for the class.

When he started at Lowell in first grade, it was like he met his people -- he loves it there -- and his best friend is one of the oldest ones in the class. The kids tend to vary socially (and it seems that this is not age-dependant); the teachers we have had so far have been good with dealing with different types of kids.

Anonymous said...

Our older son tested into APP and we are strongly considering it for next year, when he would be a 2nd grader.

We also have an incoming K student. He's a bright and happy guy, but a totally different kid. I don’t know if he would test into APP eventually or not.

We didn't test our now-1st grader when he was a K student because he was the youngest kid in his class and didn't go into K reading. We just wanted him to settle in to kindergarten socially and emotionally and go from there.

Knowing that they will both take their lead from us, we haven't made a big deal about APP at home. We've said that we're checking out another school for our older son so that he can be challenged differently.

For those of you with incoming K students, or who have had younger siblings enter SPS last year when the ALO model first started at Lowell, how have you handled having one child in the APP program and another not?

I get the sense from this blog that most kids don’t have an us vs. them feeling regarding APP/ALO and that the ALO K teachers at Lowell are really great. Part of me thinks maybe we should start our K student at our new neighborhood school and let him do his own thing and see if he ends up testing in, but I am curious how others have or would approach this.

I realize there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer, I’m just interested in different perspectives from families who are already at Lowell if anyone feels like sharing. Thanks!

Anjali said...

Just wanted everyone to know that SPS has posted the Lowell walk zone on their website ("for families/getting to school. We sent out a zillion emails to various folks and they were very responsive after an initial slow start.
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/transportation/walk/lowell.pdf

Anjali said...

Any experiences with social development / support for behavioral issues that parents would like to share? We are singing up our son at Lowell for 1st grade. Thanks.

Adam said...

2 questions:

1: Our daughter is in K this year. She didn't quite make the district cutoff in the district testing (92, 94)

We had her tested independently and she scored 98th or 99th in all of the WPPSI domains (98th req'd), 96th in WJ Reading and 97th in WJ Math (95th req'd for both). She is also bilingual. We have a nice letter from the psychologist, but may not be able to get much of anything from her teacher (her report card rated her at 3 out of 4 in ALL areas, and the only narrative accompaniment was "Thanks for attending her conference.")

Can anyone give us tips on how to go about drafting our appeal letter? How much should we grovel and brag? How much should we let the independent testing speak for itself?

2:
Since APP kids should pretty much all be able to handle grade level WASL's without devoting a lot of class time to prepping - how do teachers take advantage of the time that becomes available? Is APP just like regular tracks, but a year or two faster, or do they actually spend time exploring and learning about things that don't show up on the Grade-Level+2 WASL? How does the approach to classroom pace and curriculum compare to that of a private school like Bertschi or Bush?

Thanks for any thoughts/suggestions in response to either question,

-AP

hschinske said...

The testing should speak for itself pretty much. You might mention that she's bilingual, especially if she reads in both languages, and mention her MAP results if they look pretty good. I don't know how it works with the lower achievement cutoffs these days -- 96th on the W-J for a kindergartner is probably not a full two years ahead, but I don't think they pay attention to the grade equivalent scores any longer (which is probably a good thing, GE scores being as unreliable as they are).

There's a fair amount of enrichment as well as acceleration. I liked the social studies program (which is something of a homegrown product) quite a bit (apart from some of the fiddly projects, but apparently many families like those).

There isn't much WASL prep, but in my experience there wasn't much at my kids' home elementary (Whittier) either. Is it looming larger these days, or only at some schools? I certainly didn't get the impression that APP elementary had vast tracts of time in its schedule that other schools did not.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

anyone know where we can hand-deliver appeals? I'll call the office on Monday to inquire, but thought I'd check here in case someone as already made that call.

given the short appeals deadline, which includes mid-winter break, we still need some documents from our school. we hope to get them Monday but I don't trust the mail to get the appeal there by 2/24! I'd rather drive it there myself on Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon -

You can hand-deliver the APP appeal to 2445 3rd Avenue South (the Seattle Public Schools Stanford Center) There is a cardboard box on the desk labeled "Advanced Placement". You can check with the receptionist to make sure.

S said...

My son (1st grader) tested into Spectrum but not APP (98% cogat, 98% math but 92% reading). Private testing did not improve his score enough. I figure an appeal would be unsuccessful, though we would plan retesting next year.

He is at Broadview Thomson now (the school he was assigned when we moved here over the summer). I've not been impressed with the gen ed program. We are currently debating keeping him at BT for Spectrum, versus switching him to Hay (ALO) which is my neighborhood school or Bagley (Montessori) which is his dad's neighborhood school.

Any thoughts on any of these? I wish he could go to Lowell next year, but I just don't think he's ready (his reading is improving massively every day, but he just wasn't ready this year. 3rd grade, possibly.)

Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear S: I would keep him at his current school (in Spectrum) and definitely retest next year. This way he does not have to lose his friends and will join the APP when he is ready. My daughter always had APP qualifying scores for math but had a long "battle" with reading. She finally qualified for APP this year.

Anonymous said...

As a former student, I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Pounder. That he is teaching at Hamilton would be reason enough for me to pick it over a neighborhood school. Math seems to be a weak spot in the district, so having a solid teacher makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

To the person who wondered "I went to the open house, and a fair number of other parents I talked to seemed to see APP as a solution to a problem their kid is having. Maybe their kid is unmotivated, hyper-competitive or very bored in school."

We have a second-grader in APP (she started in first grade). Most of the kids we know, including our daughter, did NOT really have any serious problems. She and most of her friends are socially well-adjusted. At the same time, of course, there are kids who would be truly miserable anywhere else. APP does a great job of working on social skills. In first grade, the kids are taught how to meet friends on the playground. In other words, there are a fair number of kids who would be fine socially (but eventually bored academically) in conventional classrooms.

I am really grateful to the comments about the "Lowell posse" because I will keep this in mind with my daughter and her friends over the next few years-- to remind them to include new friends who move into the program.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how many kids are in the Lowell walk-zone this year? Also, how do people feel about the fact that APP kids in the Lowell walk-zone will attend with northend kids in grades 1-5, but southend kids 6-8? Seems that this makes it hard for the whole APP community to maintain the importance of keeping cohorts together. Thoughts?

Greg Linden said...

On the second issue, the pathway is supposed to be Lowell -> Hamilton -> Garfield. See

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/faq_advancelearn.html#al9

So, if you go to Lowell, through the walk zone or otherwise, according to this policy, it appears you should go to Hamilton.

But, since this is the first year post elementary APP split, we don't know for sure, and I have heard some concern from parents that something different might happen.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a tie breaker for for walk zone kids to go to Hamilton (and without transportation) but they would be initially assigned to WMS.

Anonymous said...

I'd be a lot more comfortable thinking that kids that live in the Lowell APP walk zone, and who opted to go to Lowell, will be automatically assigned to Hamilton, but I don't see that clearly layed out. Is that specified on the district site?

I believe we are talking about 20 or more kids, that live south of the ship canal but attend Lowell. Can someone comfirm the number?

It has been enought to significantly skew the APP numbers at both locations, too high at Lowell, and too low at Thurgood Marshall.

Initial distict planning projections had a fairly equal split between Lowell and TM. At the last minute, Capitol Hill families pushed for assignment to Lowell and the walk zone was allowed, giving TM not much of a chance at getting enough APP kids to be successful in a new location.

bell.curve said...

It is the APP "dirty little secret" that these "switch hitters" plan to have the "best of both worlds," first over-filling Lowell then over-filling Washington. Creating an "under the radar" feeder pattern that will make staffing at all levels, 1st through 8th grades impossible.

Anonymous said...

bell.curve and anonymous, are you really trying to blame the problems at TM and with the APP split on the Lowell walk zone? If only we had forced children who live blocks away from Lowell to endure long bus rides to TM, that would have fixed the problems at TM and with the execution of this APP split?

My understanding is that the reason that numbers are too low at Thurgood Marshall APP is because people decided not to go there or are dropping out since going there, preferring local public schools, private schools, or home school to the new TM APP program. That seems to indicate more of a problem with the TM APP program, the execution of the APP split, and the wisdom of this APP split than anything else.

Anonymous said...

As for me, just illuminating one of the factors. As well as expressing concerns about how this impacts APP as a whole.

APP is supposed to be assigned in two big chunks, north and south, to create some sense of equity.

The Lowell walk zone of 16 x 16 city blocks, covers more than just kids who live a few blocks away and there were exceptions made for kids who live even futher away.

That amounts to a lot of kids who would have gone to Thurgood Marshall.

Anonymous said...

APP was never meant to be any of what you just described; It should be a single program. The split was just a way to get out of paying for tutoring for kids that probably could have really used it.

Several families chose to go to Lowell that were outside of the walk zone and asigned to TM. If they had room they were allowed in. Many were denied.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the numbers?

How many Capitol Hill students were admitted to Lowell this year from inside the Lowell walk zone?

How many south-of-the-ship-canal students were admitted to Lowell from outside the Lowell walk zone?

How many south-of-the-ship-canal students tried and were denied entry into Lowell this year?

What are the numbers at Lowell: how many APP students this year? How many AOL students?

What are the numbers at Thurgood Marshall:how many APP students this year? How many AOL students?

Parent said...

"bell.curve" I think it is unfair to deride parents/students who attend Lowell > Washington as switch hitters who are doing something underhanded. These parents are trying to enroll their students in the school closest to home. If you want to blame someone, blame SPS for putting the "north end" APP elementary program in a school below the ship canal.

Anonymous said...

Anybody know when we can expect to hear back on appeals? Are we supposed to do enrollment forms expecting to "win" or are students that get into APP on appeal automatically enrolled in either TM or Lowell per SAP boundaries?
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A friend emailed the AL office earlier this week and they said that appeal letters would be going out today (3/10) or tomorrow (3/11). I assume the letter will say how to proceed, and my best guess is that you will have to enroll during open enrollment, just as people who qualified back in January have to do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for info! Much appreciated. I did talk to enrollment and they advised to enroll to TM or Lowell even if you don't know yet if appeal is successful. Given that letters should arrive this week, I think we'll hold off for results.

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