Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Open thread

Discuss what you like!


Fiona Cohen said...

I'm interested in what people have to say about the experience of girls in elementary APP. I know they're outnumbered by the boys, particularly in the younger grades, and I wonder how that affects their social experience. One of the reasons people cite for the gender imbalance is that parents are more reluctant to disturb the social lives of daughters. I know I am, when it comes to my own little girl. And I never worried about this when I moved my son to APP. Are these kinds of worries well founded? How long does it take girls to adjust to the new school? Do girls have an easier time socially when they move to APP, is it about the same?

peaches said...

Do people feel like the move to APP is worth it (versus Spectrum in a NE school)? Why or why not? Is it better to move in the younger grades, the older grades, or does it not matter? Thanks!

seattlemom said...

Regarding Peaches question re move to APP, I think many parents are thinking about establishing the child on the path to Middle School. Graduating to MS having spent the past few yrs learning at APP level, and then moving w/yr APP "cohort" to MS APP program was an important decision making factor for us. Not sure how the move to MS works w/Spectrum. NE APP location moves to Hamilton, havent heard much about how the HIMS APP program is going and would welcome any feedback from parents re their experience so far. THANKS!

hschinske said...

One of my daughters moved to APP in fourth grade, and had a pretty smooth transition socially. It helped a lot that I was able to take her on an informal tour, and when she ran into a former classmate from her neighborhood school, T., in the art room, the art teacher gave T. (whom she knew to be responsible and kind) permission to show my daughter all over the school. Little encounters like that can mean a lot.

I thought the move was definitely worth it. My daughter later said that she felt fourth grade was the first year she really learned something in school. While that was a bit of an exaggeration, she did seem to "wake up" as a student that year, and get much more involved in her own education. It happened to be a year that she made some huge leaps intellectually (e.g., starting to read adult nonfiction); don't know how much was her age and how much the new environment helped, but I think it was both.

She had previously been in the Whittier Spectrum program, which is self-contained and supposedly one of the stronger programs in the district. She had some excellent teachers, but it was definitely not challenging enough (especially in math -- that was when Whittier had the ridiculous policy that students were to be taught to math standards a year ahead USING GRADE-LEVEL TEXTS -- which in private the teachers admitted was not really possible).

Helen Schinske

Corina said...

For Fiona: I am the mom of a 4th-grade boy and 2nd-grade girl, both of whom started APP in 1st grade. My own feeling for why there are fewer girls in APP is that they often "pass" better in the mainstream classroom than do unchallenged boys.

Both kids have absolutely thrived in APP, despite being very different kids. It took my daughter less time (3 weeks) to settle in than my son (several months), though I do not know if that is the general case.

It is precisely the social adaptability of some girls that makes APP so important for them. My daughter was reading for 2 years before her preschool teachers knew about it; she did not engage in math in kindergarten because the girls said math was for boys.

In APP, all her friends (of both genders) love to geek out on math and science, invent elaborate stories, and discuss obscure animal facts, just like she does. She is just herself at school now, which I prize above all.

Anonymous said...

My daughter moved to APP in 2nd Grade, and is now in 5th. It took about 3-4 months for her to adjust to the new school,form friendships,and feel that this was "her school".
I find that the girls in the APP program are generally less socially competitive, and there are fewer "Queen Bees and Wannabes". A much healthier environment for pre-pubescent girls. A generalization, I know, but I think that socially APP girls are not as focused on clothing, boys, and cliques, and as a result there is far less bullying--which I hear is taking place at her old elementary school.

Anonymous said...

I have two daughters in APP and agree wholeheartedly with anonymous. Prior to beginning the program, I had a theory that there would be fewer social tyrants dictating dress, toys, and pop culture in APP. For us, this overwhelmingly has turned out to be true. I have heard that there is a fair amount of bullying and exclusion among the girls at our old school.

I am certain that Lowell has its share of dominant personalities who would like to run the show, but so far (and I have yet to witness a problem here) any competition seems to be over who can be the most competent and the most independent thinker. In the event that it is a problem, I'll take that any day over who has the most gadgets, is the prettiest or has the best clothes.

lendlees said...

Did anyone stay for the MAP discussion last night @ Lowell? Was anything interested covered?

CCM said...

I heard someone talking about a topic that came up at APP AC meeting re: middle schoolers SHOULD NOT take the high school credit for math, science and foreign language. I have been waiting for an update from the APP AC via email - but haven't seen anything yet.

Did anyone reading attend? If yes -- can you fill me in on the middle school credit info?

I have also been thinking about what happens if you do take the credit - then they tell your child that they need to graduate early? (maybe due to overcrowding in the high school - can't get the right classes etc.) Just wondering.

Single Child said...

I am also thinking that taking HS credit in MS can result in less access to the certain classes in HS if those classes are oversubscribed. Moreover, why to bother to ask for credit if it does not affect your child's placement: if your child takes Geometry in 8th grade and has a passing score then he will start HS with Algebra II, whether he takes a credit or not. Am I wrong? Also, many good universities want to see 4 years of math, foreign language and other subjects and they do not care about credits earned while in MS.

Maureen said...

I can see why math credit wouldn't matter, but what about science course credit for Hamilton and WMS APP students who don't go to Garfield? Right now all 9th graders have to take Physical Science at RHS. If your kids doesn't mind taking that and Bio all over again I guess it doesn't matter, but if they want to go straight to higher level science like they can at Garfield, I think they would need to show they had taken Physical Science and Bio for credit. Does anyone know differently? I don't know how it works at other schools. Does STEM or IB acknowledge that APP kids have already had Physical Sci and Bio?

Single Child said...

Somebody posted on this blog recently about their APP kid who went to Ballard HS instead of Garfield and was assigned to Chemistry class, no questions asked. Why should the criteria for math placement be different from those for science placement? Does not make any sense...

CCM said...

That's a good question -- why the difference between math and science placement?

I was able to talk to a friend regarding the APP meeting. She noted that at the meeting Ken Courtney mentioned something about a middle school credit being worth less point-wise than a high school credit in the same subject (only an A instead of an A+ etc). As a result, taking the middle school credit could affect class standing?

I don't quite get the positive of taking the credit. So I guess that we are leaning towards not taking the credit if our kids will still get appropriate placement when they move onto high school. (Our neighborhood school is Garfield - so assuming that is still available when we get there).

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else get a "please have your APP child ride the bus this week" letter?

It seems that an APP student is worth $3,500/year in state transportation funding vs $350/year for a non-APP student.

Where will this extra $3,150 go? Anyone knows?

Anonymous said...

We got the bus letter, too, and I also thought it was odd. We do take the bus to Lowell so won't vary our routine in that sense. We were eligible for busing to our neighborhood school last year but never took it. I must say I am grateful for the bus for our APP student--it has been pretty smooth, he likes the social aspects of it, and I for one am glad not to have to fight traffic heading into Capitol Hill.

Our son rides the bus back to after-school care at our former neighborhood school, which again is a tremendous help for our family where both parents work outside of the home.

It's a bit weird for the head of transportation to ask APP students who don't normally take the bus to take it during this census week. And you ask a good question--where is the "extra" money going now?

We're new to both busing and APP this year so perhaps others with more experience can shed some light.

hschinske said...

If I remember correctly, a couple of years ago, a new employee in the transportation department spotted that there was a federal program subsidizing transportation for specific types of programs, including gifted education (I think he knew about it from his previous position). He got Seattle signed up for it. As a result, SPS gets federal dollars for every APP student who is bused. Transportation is always hurting for money, and I think (but don't know for sure) that the money gets absorbed there.

I think it's a bit funky of them to suggest that a student ride the bus who normally never does. It's one thing to say something like "If you count on being able to ride the bus occasionally, please make a point of doing so that week," but if you would otherwise never use the service at all, it seems like cheating the feds to ride that week.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Wait, this is a state-funding program, not federal. (I used to know that, and in fact have corrected people about that issue in the past.) I found an old post from the Spectrum/APP Yahoo group about it (the post was specifically about allowing yellow bus transportation for Garfield students on WMS morning buses, and in that respect is largely outdated now):

"--The Seattle Public Schools Transportation Office initiated this change. The changes were
not in response to any lobbying on the part of APP families.

"--This change was made because the District and the State consider APP to be a Special Needs program for students who need the Advanced Learning services offered at Garfield. The State funds transportation for Advanced Learning students in other districts in Washington and reimburses special needs transportation at a higher rate than the general student population. The extra funds the District will receive by busing APP
students will serve to subsidize bus service for other students in the District. Transportation of APP
high school students to Garfield on WMS buses does not use or deplete existing transportation funds--the District is, in essence, gaining more funds by busing APP students.

"***State funding is contingent on ridership. On October 20, 21 and 22, 2008 a survey of
ridership will be taken and every effort should be made for all APP students to ride the yellow buses to school. 100% participation will be important and would affect
future service."

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

My daughter spontaneously mentioned last night that there were more kids than usual on the bus yesterday morning, so I guess the district's letter worked.

hschinske said...

Bleah. State-funded, not state-funding. I are a editor, yesssir.

Helen Schinske

lendlees said...

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.