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?


Shannon said...

I am not sure there is much we can say to evaluate things at this point. My family is new to APP this year, at Lowell. Its a good program. My kid is happy. We have no complaints beside the large class (29) and difficulty connecting with the community of an all-city draw.

I know that the District has not supported the split with the resources and curriculum that was promised. However, being new and seeing through one child's eyes - that has not had a major impact on our experience.

Could it have been better? Of course.

I think that the issues are different at Thurgood Marshall with more problems on the playground and between the different school programs and any perceived inequity between the sites could cause problems over time.

Mercermom said...

We have a child at TM (coming from Lowell) and at WMS (coming from neighborhood program). We have had a smooth transition to TM, and our child has had a good year. Very small class with two great teachers. The librarian and p.e. teachers are great; I can't tell as much re art and music b/c our child isn't as interested. I think the school has taken steps to address perceived playground issues: (1) trained older kids who walk around with vests and clipboards looking for conflict and helping to resolve; (2) adults with yellow vests whom I have observed watching for problems, actively intervening, etc. (Our child hasn't experienced any behaviors that seem out of the norm of expected playground interations. I.e., not always appropriate, but nothing I wouldn't expect on an elementary school playground.)

Our older child is having a positive experience so far at WMS. I think the one negative impact of the split from our perspective is a smaller group of APP kids with whom to form friendships. Our child is pretty athletic, and hasn't found many kids with whom he identifies. I'm assuming that if there were 120 kids, the schedules wouldn't be set such that you have most of your classes with a very small group of APP kids, and he thus might find more kids with whom he identified common interests. That said, I think he is forming positive relationships in APP.

Anonymous said...

How many APP kids are now in WMS? Are they together for all the classes or mixed up with GE kids at some points?

Mercermom said...

I believe there are about 60 kids at WMS. This year one teacher teachers all the two LA/SS periods. So my child is with the same approx. 30 kids for those two periods. Math is tested individually for all WMS students, so it's entirely possible that there are non-APP students in a math class. My child's math class has only 17 kids, and I think they're all APP students. Science is APP only. Possibilities for multi-program classes are thus math, music, p.e., technology (if not doing music), and maybe reading. (My child's reading class was all APP students, but I'm not sure if that's a program requirement or just a result of scheduling.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks,Mercermom. When do they test the incoming kids for Math placement? Before school year starts or in September? We are going to join the 8th grade WMS APP in the fall. Are they going to use MAP test scores or is there a special test to take? If necessary, we could take math during the summer at the Robinson Center at UW to make sure that my child is not placed "behind" the rest of the AP group.

Mercermom said...

They scheduled tests for incoming sixth-graders during the spring (at schools for kids already in APP and on Saturday for kids entering the program).

Anonymous said...

We have had much the same experience as Mercermom at TM although our daughter's class is large-29 kids. However, the teacher has a good handle on what goes on there-he's a no nonsense kind of guy and all problems are dealt with quickly.

FWIW, she only had one problem on the playground but there were several behavioral things in her class (not involving her necessarily) at the beginning of the year. That seems to have stopped.

As for kids from the two programs becoming friends, that's happened for her to some extent. I'm hoping that it will help at WMS as the years go by, because the counselor we spoke to at open house made it clear that kids stick to their own program (there are 5 there). He said you can see the divisions in the cafeteria as clearly as if there were fences. That's a shame, really.

Central Cluster Mom said...

Our children are at WMS, and there are about 64 kids in 6th grade APP - but about 200-225 APP kids overall in the building, I believe.

The scheduling issues have been the worst part of the split, resulting in APP math classes of 17 and 37 (may include some Spectrum and general students that tested in). There are a few APP kids that were placed in Spectrum reading due to scheduling issues (Senior Band/Orchestra primarily), but it wasn't a big issue. One of our kids took Spectrum reading - which turned out to be much more challenging than some of the APP reading classes due to the teacher assigned (former APP block teacher - which was great).

Social issues, I believe may have actually improved with the split, as I know both of our kids sit and socialize with kids from Spectrum and general ed at lunch and walk around together in the halls. They can't even tell me which program they are in, in a lot of cases. Middle school sports have also gone a long way to meeting kids outside the program. Maybe that's because there is a smaller APP group, so it forces them to interact more.

Generally - things have been positive for us.

I have heard both sides of the issues with the elementary school split, and I can just say that we are thankful that we didn't have to experience it because the growing pains at that level seem to have definitely been worse for some families.

Anonymous said...

My daughter says she is having an excellent year. She dearly misses her TM friends though.

Anonymous said...

Our son is a fourth-grader at TM and seems to be having a good year as well. His teachers are great, and while he misses his friends at Lowell, there hasn't been trauma over that.

There was a lot of flap about some playground behavior issues early in the year, but my impression is that this concerned the lower elementary grades, and that it has settled down. Our son didn't feel threatened by it in any event.

We're now trying to decide whether to send our incoming Kindergartener to TM. If others are also wrestling with this issue, I'd like to know about it.