Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Long-time APP teacher is ill

By request:
Marcy Shadow, APP teacher and advocate of 33 years, is ill in the hospital.

To brighten her spirits and let her know how much she means to us, I'd like to collect email messages that can be printed and read aloud to her.

If you can write a message to Marcy -- a hello, funny story, something you remember about Marcy or her class that touched you, good wishes -- please send it by e-mail to Stephanie Bower (stephanieabower@gmail.com) by this Wednesday, December 21 at noon.

All messages will be kept confidential, printed and delivered to Marcy's family.

It would be great to hear from any current or past students, families, colleagues.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Open thread

A new open thread. Have at it!

MAP percentiles lower including past tests?

Multiple parents are reporting that past MAP test percentiles for their children have been lowered in The Source, sometimes by very large amounts.

One parent explains, "NWEA publishes new norms every three years, the last norms were done in 2008, so there are new norms for 2011." Another wrote, "If you look on The Source, the percentiles are already in effect for PAST MAP scores ... 2011 norms have been applied to past test scores ... I'm not really worried for our situation ... but what will this mean to the APP program overall? Would they change the cutoff to include lower percentages? OR, will there be FAR fewer students going to APP?"

Friday, December 2, 2011

APP school reports, no issues except at Hamilton?

The Nov 1 APP AC meeting minutes give the impression that most APP schools are going perfectly:
Garfield: ... no issues ... all is going well with enrollment ... a smooth start ...

Ingraham: ... all is going well thus far ... doing well ... all has gone well ...

Thurgood Marshall: ... all continues to go well ...

Lowell at Lincoln: ... things are going smoothly now ... things running smoothly ... all is going well ... everyone is working well together ...
At Hamilton, there was "concern about curriculum adherence and classroom management [while] ... Ms. Shadow is still out on medical leave" and "many are still concerned about capacity for APP at HIMS next year ... [and] professional development of staff and ability to teach APP students." As for Washington, very little was said.

Does this jibe with your impressions of the situation at your school? Please discuss.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Call for volunteers for Advanced Learning Advisory Committee

Over at Save Seattle Schools, there is a post with a call for volunteers for the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee, "Seattle Schools Seeks Volunteers for Advanced Learning Advisory Committee", and some discussion of what is involved.

Please see also the earlier post on this blog, "New committees on future of APP", which has a bit more information about two new committees forming around advanced learning and the future of advanced learning in Seattle Public Schools.

If you're interested in this topic, you might also want to take a look at Charlie Mas' recent post, "Advanced Learning Committees - History and Future", talking about his experience with some of these committees over the last decade.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New open thread

A new open thread. Discuss what you like!

Update: Very interesting post over at Save Seattle Schools, "Cluster Grouping Talk at Nathan Hale", about gifted education and how it is done in a school district outside of Phoenix, AZ.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Problems with math at Hamilton

Halloween coming up, school board elections soon after. What's on your mind?

This used to be an open thread, but there's an active discussion going on in the comments on problems with math at Hamilton, so I'm going to change it into a thread specific to that.

Trying to summarize, the issue seems to be that students are not allowed to work ahead two years (on algebra, in particular) and, due to this and other issues, some appear to be questioning the Hamilton principal's level of support for APP. Hamilton parents, do you know more?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Q&A with school board candidate Sharon Peaslee

Sharon Peaslee is running for school board in District 1 against incumbent Peter Maier. She offered to do a Q&A with APP parents here on this blog.

An introduction from Sharon Peaslee:
Dear APP parents,

I'm very interested in a Q&A that will give you some insight into my thoughts on APP issues, and that will also help me get up to speed on your concerns and where you would like to see changes and improvements. If I'm elected to School Board I'll work with you collaboratively. I don't pretend to have the best answers now, and will likely stand by that in the future. I believe the best answers come from working with others to thoroughly define the problems and a wide range of possible solutions – then in crafting a plan of action that can be executed given the constraints of time, money and other limiting factors.

That being said, I'm steadfastly committed to meeting the learning needs of all students and envision strengthening APP. It's clear that parents have been excluded from the decision making that has led to enormous changes in APP, and that needs to change. I will be sure you are included in the future, if I'm elected. But meanwhile, let the questions begin. Greg will moderate, and I'll let him describe how this process will work.

Best,
Sharon Peaslee
In deference to Sharon's limited time, I would like to do this Q&A differently. Please post questions in the comments. A couple days from now, I will look for common themes in all of the questions and then pick 5 - 10 of the questions for Sharon to answer. I hope that will work well for everyone.

Update: A couple days later, I collected questions from the comments, identified common themes, and, rephrasing a few, here are the questions for Sharon Peaslee:
  1. Goal and vision: What do you see as the goal of APP, advanced learning, and alternative programs in Seattle Public Schools? Why does the district offer advanced learning?

  2. Measuring success: What would it mean for advanced learning in Seattle Public Schools to be successful?

  3. Stability: APP has been split at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the past two years. Parents are concerned about stability and the future of the program. How can the program be made stable?

  4. Yes/no questions: Are the splits and others recent changes to advanced learning consistent with your vision for advanced learning? Would you support a 1-8 APP? Would you support elementary APP in a building without a general education population? Would you support APP in many or all schools in the district instead of having dedicated, self-contained programs as we do now? Would you support increasing the entry criteria to limit the number of students in APP? All children in APP are guaranteed a spot; should all children who qualify for Spectrum be guaranteed a spot?
Update: Another couple days later, Sharon Peaslee answered all the questions:
Goal and vision: What do you see as the goal of APP, advanced learning, and alternative programs in Seattle Public Schools? Why does the district offer advanced learning?

The goal of APP, ALO (including Spectrum) and alternative programs is to offer educational pathways for students whose unique learning needs would cause them to be under-challenged or under-engaged in general ed classrooms. The district offers advanced learning to ensure that these students are provided with an education that is appropriate, challenging and engaging.

Public education must work for all students. We have an obligation to meet diverse and unique learning needs and styles. Success should be measured by the extent to which we inspire and prepare all students for the futures they want for themselves.

Due to the persistent involvement of APP parents your program is doing a better job of this than most. I realize there are problems with placement, splitting and other shifts. However, the extent to which your students are engaged and challenged is the envy of many parents in the district. I see this as an enormous plus. Your efforts will lead to ongoing improvements to the programs, and I look forward to working with you in a collaborative mode as a school board director.

Measuring success: What would it mean for advanced learning in Seattle Public Schools to be successful?

Well, for starters we need to clarify the intent and objectives of each program and resolve issues of placement and stability. Then we can further develop all the programs to meet the advanced learning needs of more students. It’s very important that we have a range of programs that are placed so that all students have access. It’s equally important that programs be clearly defined in their purpose and execution so that they are truly supporting the needs of the students in them.

ALO and Spectrum need much greater clarification and development. We need both of these to be working well in all schools, and currently some are being collapsed—pushing students into either APP or general ed, neither of which adequately support their learning needs.

APP needs to be stabilized, and we need to determine how it should be grouped and in what buildings. We also need to be sure the special needs of students within APP are met.

Success would mean that we identify all eligible students, place them in the appropriate program, and provide them with the level of engagement and challenge they need to get the most out of their education.

Stability: APP has been split at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the past two years. Parents are concerned about stability and the future of the program. How can the program be made stable?

We need a long range plan for APP that resolves the ongoing transience. It’s important that APP programs be permanently placed so that students from all parts of the city can access them. Although the recent moves and splits have been disruptive and painful for many, we are migrating toward two geographical clusters of programs that will provide easier access for students in all parts of Seattle. That being said, we need to determine whether it’s best to group 1-8 or to house elementary and middle separately. This needs to be explored in a manner that engages the APP community.

I realize that growth in the program is regarded by some parents as a problem and splitting is also regarded as a problem due to reduction in size and therefore certain resources. However, if our now divided groups continue to grow with assurance that new students are qualified it’s likely that we will be able to allocate resources to meet the special needs of some students within two complete APP programs.

We could also consider the possibility of having highly specialized resources available only in one APP program if the group is too small to support two. And right now I’m referring to the need for a math class above the APP level for 8th graders, although there may be other special needs, as well.

Yes/no questions: Are the splits and others recent changes to advanced learning consistent with your vision for advanced learning?

They are consistent with changes to the district assignment plan, poor capacity management and lack of long-range planning for APP. We need to resolve this with good long-range planning that takes into account the inevitable growth and inclusion of more students from all over the city.

Would you support a 1-8 APP?

Yes, most certainly. I would support two. But this needs to be examined to determine whether it would be an improvement over the current grade splits. My hunch is it would be, but we need to consider input from APP parents and also look at programs that are working well in other districts. If it’s a better structure for our students we should move in that direction.

Would you support elementary APP in a building without a general education population?

This currently exists at Lincoln as a temporary situation. I think we need to find a permanent building that includes other elementary programs, or a 1-8 APP. As stated above, this needs to be fully examined with the APP community.

Would you support APP in many or all schools in the district instead of having dedicated, self-contained programs as we do now?

APP is so unique it must be dedicated and self-contained. I would support stronger Spectrum and ALO in all schools. We need huge improvements in these programs.

Would you support increasing the entry criteria to limit the number of students in APP?

I think the entry criteria should be set so that the program admits students who will thrive in it. Criteria should not exclude students who will benefit, nor should it include students who will not. We really need to be sure other ALO programs are in place so that students end up in the program that is best for them.

All children in APP are guaranteed a spot; should all children who qualify for Spectrum be guaranteed a spot?

Yes.
Please use the comments to discuss further. And a big thank you to Sharon Peaslee for doing this Q&A with APP parents on this blog.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Open thread

A new open thread. What's on your mind?

NYT debate on advanced learning

A parent forwarded a New York Times debate, "Are Top Students Getting Short Shrift?" to me. Seems like it might be of interest to many APP parents.

The article points that putting advanced students in the same class with remedial and average students "benefits average and lagging students, but ... at a cost to top students." There are six opinion articles attached to the main article and active discussions in the comments on each of them.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New committees on future of APP

In a recent newsletter, the APP Advisory Committee wrote:
The District is in the process of creating TWO committees that will look at capacity issues involving APP.

The first committee being formed is a district-wide, long-term (2 year membership commitment) effort called the Seattle Public Schools Integrated Facilities and Capacity Management Advisory Committee. ... The committee will be charged with assessing data (facilities, enrollment, program needs, etc.) and integrating requests and recommendations into the overall district-wide capacity management plan.

Interested individuals should submit background information and reasons for your interest via email to emgraefinghoff@seattleschools.org no later than Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The second committee is tentatively being called the Advanced Learning Programs and Facilities Advisory Committee. It will be an advanced learning-focused group charged with developing ALO/Spectrum/APP programmatic and facility recommendations to be used by the district-wide capacity management advisory committee.

The process for appointing members to this committee has not yet been finalized.
What do you think about these new committees? About capacity planning for advanced learning? Please discuss in the comments.

Update: A few weeks later, over at the Save Seattle Schools blog, Charlie Mas put up a very relevant post, "Advanced Learning Committees - History and Future".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Advanced learning and the school board elections

By request, a thread to discuss what is known about the school board candidates' positions on advanced learning programs. Also feel free to talk about who you support for school board and why.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Open thread

It's a few weeks into the new school year. How's it going, APP parents?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Q&A with school board candidate Kate Martin

Kate Martin is running for school board in District 2 against incumbent Sherry Carr. She asked if she could do a Q&A with APP parents here on this blog to learn more about the needs of APP students.

Please post your questions for Kate Martin in the comments. Kate said she will come by and try to answer as many as she can.

Update: Kate Martin is asking for any questions in the comments to be posted using your real full name, which seems quite reasonable. If you already asked a question without using your real name, please ask it again using your name, thanks.

Update: I did my best to moderate this, but it appears the Q&A is over before it started. This is now open for comments in general, no need to ask a question or use your real full name anymore.

Update: Kate later answered several of the questions asked by a few of the people in the thread.

Discussion on advanced learning

In a post "Advanced Learning", over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Melissa Westbook has a useful (but depressing) summary of meetings she had with Dr. Enfield and Dr. Vaughn.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two years for Lowell@Lincoln?

In some notes from the Operations Committee meeting, Melissa Westbrook writes:
There was a slight discussion about capacity management and it came up that Lowell at Lincoln will stay there two years. There was agreement around the table that there was nowhere else for them to go. So there's an "answer" to a question in a lot of parents' minds. Is it official? Somewhat.

Problem is, that they were scheduled to discuss SBOC and Nova leaving Meany so as to fix up Meany (for SBOC's new World School) and Mann (to put Nova back where it was previously). THEY, too, are scheduled to go to Lincoln next fall. BUT there was no mention of this during the discussion and I have to wonder how SBOC/Nova/Lowell at Lincoln will work. (I'll just say that if I had to have any high school group(s) in with an elementary, it would be these two. I'm just talking logistics.)
Anyone know more?

Update: It appears there has been an official announcement from Deputy Superintendent Noel Treat, Lowell APP will be at Lincoln for two years, through the 2012-2013 school year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Open thread

School starts tomorrow! What's on your mind, APP parents?

By the way, for you Lowell@Lincoln APP parents, I made a new dedicated thread for you for talking about how the first day of school and the transition to the temporary location is going if you might prefer to use that other thread, your choice.

Lowell@Lincoln thread

In the previous open thread, a big part of the discussion is about problems with this school year getting started with the new temporarily location of Lowell APP at Lincoln.

School starts tomorrow, so here is a dedicated thread to talk about Lowell@Lincoln and how it is going.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Open thread

Summer is almost over already, only one month left. What's on your mind, APP parents?

Race to Nowhere and APP

By request, a thread to discuss the film "Race to Nowhere" and the concern of pushing children too hard too fast. Useful reviews and summaries of the film are available from Slate, Wikipedia, and the New York Times, among other places.

Principals at split Lowell

Suep asked for a thread to talk about leadership at Lowell and Lowell APP @ Lincoln next year. Specifically, she said:
Basically, the district is asking Gregory King to be principal of two geographically and academically separate schools, is also assigning last year's Lowell Asst Principal Rina Geoghagan to APP @ Lincoln, and is also assigning a third person, Marella Francois, to APP@Lincoln. (Francois has not been the principal of a regular school in 14 years and left her last job at Meany Middle School in a climate of controversy.) This will effectively give APP@Lincoln 2.5 principals and Lowell half a principal.

Both APP@Lincoln and Lowell have a challenging year ahead of them, arguably especially APP@Lincoln which almost has to reinvent itself and is basically in limbo until the district figures out where to place these kids permanently. How are these leadership arrangements sensible or equitable?
Seems like an important topic. Thoughts? And please also use this thread to discuss other issues around the challenging year ahead for APP@Lincoln and Lowell.

Friday, July 29, 2011

School board primary

The school board primary election is on August 16.

APP parents, who are you voting for in the school board primary and why?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Open thread

Summer in Seattle, rainy and cold. What's on your mind, APP parents?

You can use this thread to talk about whatever you like but, for the Lowell split and setting up APP at Lincoln, I might suggest you use the recent thread "No more APP at Lowell" instead since it is already specific to that topic. And, for broader issues of possible further splits at all levels due to the capacity problems in APP and Seattle Public Schools, I might suggest you use one of the other very recent threads, "What would make APP stable?" Both of those threads are still active.

Friday, July 8, 2011

No more APP at Lowell

An excerpt from an e-mail from the district:
We have decided to move APP students in Grades 1-5 to Lincoln for the fall.

I want to apologize to our students, families and staff for the timing of this decision. I know this has been frustrating for many of you. We are putting proper systems in place to ensure this will not happen again.

Moving APP to Lincoln for the 2011-12 school year not only provides a short-term solution while we look long term at our growing APP program, but it also ... [fixes] capacity at Lowell.
So, Lowell APP is temporarily moved to Lincoln for one year, resolving the severe overcrowding at Lowell, but also putting most elementary APP students (except those at Thurgood Marshall) in a temporary home.

Discuss away.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What would make APP stable?

The APP program has had little stability in the last two years. It was split at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

Due to capacity constraints and increased demand, further splits in the next two years look likely for all grades. Unless something can be done, much more uncertainty and change are in our future.

But there appears to be no plan, no thought of what APP should look like two years out, no path to make APP a stable and thriving program again. Instead, it is crisis after crisis, each time yielding a sub-optimal outcome in a wild scramble.

What would make the APP program stable again?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Capacity management ignores Lowell

For the work session on capacity management with the school board tomorrow, the presentation (PDF) not only does not mention that Lowell will be over 145% of capacity next year, it does not mention Lowell at all.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What will happen to elementary APP?

After a major meeting on June 27, a parent summaries the district's new plan for Lowell APP:
Here's the short version:
There is no plan.

July 8 was given as the date for releasing the short-term plan for next year. There was no presentation of plans beyond next year.

The short-term options were given as:

1) Keep everyone at Lowell (not an option due to safety)

2) Move 4-5 APP (there was clear and repeated parent testimony against this plan)

3) Expand APP to 3 sites (the few supporting this option most likely hadn't gone through the first split)

4) Move all APP to Lincoln (this seemed the clear preference of APP families, though several expressed concern about the viability of Lowell if all of APP were to move)

Under cons for moving all of APP to Lincoln (as presented by the District), there were suggestions about reductions in PCP options (there would be music/PE or art/PE, but not music/art/PE) and another note that some may not get transportation to Lincoln (no details on who would lose transportation or why).

If the cohort would be split - again - it would be North, Central and South, with Central and South feeding to Washington. North was defined as North of the ship canal.
Earlier, over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Charlie Mas wrote:
I think the District would like to have four elementary APP sites: Thurgood Marshall for South Seattle, Lowell for Central Seattle, a location in the north-end, and a location in West Seattle.

I think they would like to open the north-end location next. If each school needs about 250 students to form the critical mass necessary to support a viable program, then they could almost form two from the current program at Lowell. That would take 250 students out of the building and fix the overcrowding there.
Another parent added:
We are all caught up in the current crisis, but I urge everyone to think a bit ahead and look at where this all is going.

As Charlie said, we are headed toward elementary APP split across three or four locations.

Many APP parents are fine with further splits of elementary APP as long as at least one of the locations is in the north. Some parents might be fine with splitting into 3-4 elementary locations, including one in the north, but only if Lowell continues to be one of the locations. And, some APP parents might be wary of further splits and the shift to regional programs, preferring we move back toward one city-wide elementary APP program.

But the path we are on now is 3-4 regional elementary APP programs: one at Thurgood Marshall, probably two in the north, maybe one more in central or south, and nothing at Lowell.

Whichever of these options you might prefer, it would be a really good idea to be thinking about it now rather than just letting whatever happens to APP happen.
Please see also the new thread on the Save Seattle Schools blog, "Lowell: What to do?", and the comments there.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lowell overcrowding even worse than expected

In a recent e-mail, the APP AC writes, "Lowell is looking at over 700 students in the building."

That puts the incoming 2011-12 population at Lowell at the high end of previous estimates and at what would appear to be 145% of capacity. The district considers "severely over capacity" to be 125% of capacity. The highest over capacity building currently is Gatewood at 116% of capacity.

This is in an old building that does not have a fire sprinkler system and houses fragile and difficult-to-evacuate special education children.

Please see also the earlier post, "Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year", and the lengthy discussion in the comments on that thread.

Update: Save Seattle Schools reports that Lowell Principal Greg King "announced [to teachers] that ... this fall's [Lowell APP] 4th and 5th graders were going to be going to Lincoln." It is unclear what is going on. Where Lowell Elementary's APP children will be next year appears to be in flux.

Update: Nancy Coogan, an executive director of Seattle Public Schools, has set up a community meeting to discuss what will happen to Lowell APP next year. The meeting is at 7pm Mon June 27 at the Lincoln school auditorium.

Update: From the comments after the big June 27 meeting, leading solutions to overcrowding at Lowell appear to be either the entire APP moves to Lincoln for a year or APP splits now into three sites (regional APP elementary schools for north/central/south, meaning half of Lowell APP moves to Lincoln temporarily until a permanent home or two can be found in the north). The district will decide on July 8.

Update: The Lowell PTA has set up a "Lowell Capacity Update" page.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another open thread

The previous open thread is filled with weird goo, so here is another open thread. Discuss what you like!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Open thread

A new open thread, discuss what you like!

APP AC meeting and the future of APP

Lifting from the comments, a Lowell parent summarized his or her impression of the APP AC meeting last night, saying:
The biggest surprise to me last night is that Washington APP is looking to allow non APP kids into APP science next year. They say they have to because of "scheduling issues." If this really happens, it is the beginning of the end. We were told at the time of the split that APP is a "self-contained" program. I guess it is only if it's convenient. I really appreciated the WA. middle school teacher bringing this up. If they are going to start dismantling the program, parents should be aware.

Lowell is going to be over 700 next year and it's going to be unbelievably crowded. I got the distinct impression that next year is the final year for APP at Lowell. Bob Vaughn only said APP #s for Lowell next year. I didn't write down the number, but it was about 450 - just about 2x as many as TM. The split is sure working to bring south end kids into the program!!!!

The "school district" doesn't come to these meetings. I have no idea what they think about all this. Those of us involved in the split a few years ago knew that this was coming. Bob Vaughn seems to believe that APP is growing because of map testing highlighting additional kids who should be given the Cogat test. While that may be true, he didn't talk about overcrowding in the NE or the dismantling of Spectrum. I think these are both huge factors in more kids choosing to come to APP north.
Anyone else attend that meeting? Impressions from the meeting?

Update: Good discussion and additional information in the comments.

Update: Lifting from a comment over on the Save Seattle Schools blog, Kay Smith-Blum was at the APP AC meeting. An excerpt from the comment summarizing what she said:
At the APP-AC meeting on Tuesday, Kay Smith-Blum showed up, which was great.

Lowell will be incredibly overcrowded this fall ... Honestly, I don't know how the numbers we're hearing (easily over 700) can be safely accommodated.

KSB made one suggestion that got a round of applause: an APP 1-8! ... A mushroom 1-8 APP at John Marshall, with 6-8 filling in from the area. One could imagine a Spectrum program in the building that could pull (not push!) kids from Eckstein. And she mentioned using Lincoln at the temporary building for the north APP kids for 1 year while getting Marshall up to code. NOTE: this was not an official proposal by her, just something to discuss and consider.

On the downside, she also brought up something that many of us feel would be the final stake in the heart of APP: more splits. As in further splitting the Lowell cohort into a central and north APP (as if ThM is south!), and she mentioned even splitting again for West Seattle.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stop taking MAP tests?

Lifting a good topic for discussion from the comments, Charlie Mas advocates for APP and Spectrum no longer taking standardized tests:
I have advocated test boycotts to the advanced learning community a few times before.

Seven years ago my threat of a WASL boycott by Spectrum students drove then-superintendent Raj Manhas to make six specific promises to the Spectrum community. The boycott was broken, but so were all of the promises.

About five years ago I proposed opting out of the WASL as a tactic for Spectrum and APP families to evade proposed re-qualification requirements. The District pushed back by threatening to exit any student who didn't test. It got ugly for a little while, but the District blinked first and the re-qualification requirement was dropped.

Two years ago I recommended a WASL boycott to APP families that would end only when the District fulfilled the promises they made when splitting the program. The APP Advisory Committee didn't want to take or endorse any direct action and the result has been that the District hasn't done anything to fulfill their promises to APP students and families.

Now we see the beginning of the end. One Spectrum program, Lawton, has been killed. Another, Wedgwood, is climbing the steps to the guillotine. There are dead programs littering the field already: North Beach and Wing Luke to name just two. APP has been cut in half and it doesn't take the Amazing Kreskin to figure out that the District is going to split it again. There will be two north-end elementary locations.

The time has come for the advanced learning community to step up and take some action to save itself. There is only one action that we can take: boycott the standardized tests. Opt your children out of the MSP and opt them out of the MAP. The kids should not intentionally fail the tests, they just shouldn't take the tests at all.

You are entirely within your rights to preclude the testing of your children. It does your child no harm. It does their teacher no harm. It does their school no harm. The only people who are hurt by it are the District administrators who get hit in their pride. These people live on test scores. It is all they care about. It is their currency.

And we control it.

It is time for us to exercise our power. It is time for us to demand that they fulfill their commitments.

Spectrum families at Lawton and Wedgwood should opt their children out of the MAP and the MSP to protest the changes in their programs to to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the Lawton and Wedgwood communities.

All other Spectrum families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Lawton and Wedgwood communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to other Spectrum communities.

APP families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities, to save their own program, and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to the APP community.

ALO families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to save their own programs and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to ALO communities.

All families should opt their children out of the MAP and MSP in solidarity with the Spectrum communities and to compel the District to fulfill their commitments to all communities.

Stop taking the tests. This is your path to recognition and power.
Thoughts? What would APP parents and kids gain from a boycott? What would they risk?

Update: Charlie also started a thread on this over at the Save Seattle Schools blog.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Open thread

Talk about whatever you like!

Update: Joyce asked me to mention that an old thread on what to do about Lowell overcrowding still has a pretty active discussion. Might want to skim it over if you haven't read it recently or join in if you want to add something.

Friday, May 27, 2011

APP middle schools overcrowded too?

By request, a new thread to discuss the overcrowding at Hamilton and Washington. From a parent:
Principal Chris Carter reported that there would be five sections of APP for 6th grade next year .... There were projected to have 3 classrooms for 6th grade (similar to this year) but were quite surprised to have 2 additional classrooms added ... I understand that Washington is also expecting to have 5 classrooms for 6th grade APP.

In order to make the master schedule work, they are removing all prep periods from the classrooms ... It is very likely that even more students will be added during summer enrollment.

Principal Carter did not report this but it sure seems that APP at Lincoln might become a necessity as there just isn't any room at the main Hamilton building. It was also mentioned last night that Washington was as or more crowded. So that means that BOTH APP middle schools are severely overcrowded.

APP is growing. The entire district is growing. Closing schools was a huge disaster for the district and really for APP.
Another middle school parent added and asked, "The 5 classes is a surprise, does anyone have feedback on avge class size? how will this affect language sign-up(of which there are limited availability)?"

Does anyone know more about the situation? What is the capacity and expected enrollment for Washington and Hamilton next year? If the 6th grade class is this large and future 6th grade classes will be equally large, what does that mean for projected enrollment? Is there any ability to handle the growing APP population in the two current locations, Washington and Hamilton, or will a new site or third site become necessary soon?

It appears almost all the schools APP are full and have no room for growth. Some will be so badly overcrowded that there are no spaces that all the students can assemble, bathrooms may be overloaded, and parents are concerned about fire danger and evacuation times. And the entire school system is projected to grow over the next few years by by 15%.

APP has had three splits in the last few years designed to deal with overcrowding, but most of the schools APP is now in appear to be at least full and, in some cases, bursting far over capacity. What is the solution?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Open thread and Lowell open house

A new open thread. What's on your mind, APP parents?

Also, by request, an announcement about an upcoming open house event at Lowell on June 9 at 6pm:
FOR NEW FAMILIES WHO WILL BE ATTENDING LOWELL IN SEPTEMBER

Enrollment has informed us that student assignment letters will be mailed on May 31. As a result, we are not able to send you an invitation to our Open House for returning and new students on May 25 from 6:30-7:30 pm, however we hope that you will see this notice and plan to attend with your student. You will have the opportunity to visit classrooms and meet the teachers with your student.

In addition the PTA is sponsoring a New Family Ice Cream Social on June 9 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. Classrooms will not be open and teachers will not be present, however this will be an opportunity for families to meet and explore the halls and playground.
Update: There is an interesting and very active discussion still going on at an older thread, "Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year". Don't miss it.

School Board elections

Several challengers have announced for the upcoming school board elections. I thought I'd start a new thread to discuss the elections, to talk about specific candidates, and to ponder the impact of these school board elections on APP.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Severe overcrowding at Lowell next year

Lifting from the comments over at the Save Seattle Schools Community blog, it appears that Lowell will be badly overcrowded next year.

Quoting one parent:
Lowell has announced that 5 new classrooms are to be added for next year. They currently have 575 enrolled, and by my estimate, 5 new classes would bring enrollment close to 700. The building capacity is 485 and no portables are permitted.

How is this possible? An all-school assembly wouldn't even fit in the lunchroom. What is it like at other schools?
Another parent writes:
Lowell is so full now that I can't even begin to comprehend where five new classrooms are going to go. To remind people who aren't at Lowell, the APP program was split two years ago partially because Lowell was "too crowded." The number of students there at that time? 531. Apparently not only is Lowell no longer overcrowded with 570, we have room for 130 more. Insane.
According to the Seattle Public Schools Facilities Department, in a Jan 2011 report, "Capacity and Planning Management" (PDF), Lowell has a "functional capacity" of 490, current enrollment of 545, and is already 111% of capacity. If Lowell went to 650-700 students, it would appear that it would be at 133% - 144% of capacity.

133% - 144% of capacity would appear to be far outside of the norm and puts it in the district's category of "severely over capacity" (over 125% of capacity). According to the document, the most overcrowded school in the district right now appears to be Gatewood at 116% of capacity.

Back over to the comments on the Save Seattle Schools blog, a third parent adds:
The thing that makes me mad is how predictable all of this was. The only time I ever talked one-on-one to Dr. GLJ was well over a year ago at one of those public meetings and I asked what their plans were for capacity at Lowell (eg, move APP to another building? change boundaries?) and all she would say is that each school will deal with capacity issues in their own unique ways and they would just make things work. There was no plan to prevent overcrowding; only a promise to react. How is that acceptable? And yes, she may be gone, but the entire enrollment department should have been working on solutions here and other crowded schools rather than standing idly by waiting to try to put out fires.

How is it that I, a busy working mom with no background in demography, could see that the capacity issues in the NE would eventually affect Lowell, sooner rather than later? Year after year of adding new K classes at the feeder schools means not only more kids who may qualify for APP but also more interest in transferring out of overcrowded schools. Add in promised spots to neighborhood kids, and your hands are literally tied. So while the news isn't entirely surprising, it is entirely frustrating.
Update: According to a post at the Save Seattle Schools blog, "Capacity Management Briefing", Lowell is not alone in this problem, and part of the problem may be how the district counts students in APP and other option programs. From the post:
The District will be seriously deficient in capacity for 2012-2013 all over the place:
Elementary schools in every part of the city except the Hamilton and McClure service areas will be at or over capacity.
Elementary schools in the Denny service area will be critically over capacity.
Four middle schools will be critically over capacity: Aki Kurose, Eckstein, Mercer and Whitman.

The numbers for 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 just get worse.

Here's the worst news of all: the District does a perfectly terrible job of counting students and counting seats. The numbers shown to the Board are "adjusted" numbers. They are adjusted to discount students in option schools, students in APP, and students in K-8s. So, although the District reduced the student count for these populations, they didn't discount the school capacities for these populations.
Update: There is a meeting to discuss overcrowding at Lowell in the library at Lowell Tue, June 7 at 6:30 pm.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Loss of some AP classes at Garfield

In an e-mail newsletter, the APP AC wrote:
At Garfield, budget cuts are being translated to cuts in AP courses and other classes, including the cancellation of AP Calculus BC, reductions in sections of AP Chemistry, and AP Spanish.
APP students at Garfield are disproportionately heavy users of these classes -- I suppose you could go as far as to say that the APP curriculum at Garfield in large part is the available AP classes -- so this seems like a fairly big deal for students in APP at Garfield and APP parents considering Garfield High School for their children.

Thoughts? Ways to deal with this?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ingraham, APP, and the firing of Principal Martin Floe

By request, a new thread to discuss the firing of the Principal Martin Floe at Ingraham (more info at [1] [2]) and how it might impact APP.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

APP kids this summer

It's a beautiful spring day here in May, warm and sunny. I thought might be a good time to start a discussion on sharing what you are doing with your APP kids this summer. Classes or camps you like? Games you might recommend? Resources online or offline that other APP parents might want to know about? Other ideas? Please share!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaching changes at Lowell and Garfield next year

Lifting from the comments, an anonymous parent asks if anyone knows details behind expected teaching staff changes at Lowell and Garfield:
In the minutes for the April 5 APP Advisory Council meeting, it says the following:

"There will be many teaching staff changes in the APP program at Lowell next year. Tamra Hauge, currently teaching 2nd grade, is leaving. Kristen Anderson and Allison Fenzl, both currently teaching 3rd grade, are also leaving. Emily Betz will move from teaching 1st grade to 3rd grade and Gary Bass will move from Kindergarten to 1st grade. And Margaret Saunders, who taught 5th grade, retired in December. So there will be open positions in both 2nd and 5th grades and a .5 position open for 3rd grade."

Lots of changes. Anyone have any background on whether these are retirements, moves to other schools, or something else?

Also from the minutes, Garfield is getting ready to RIF 5-6 teachers due to decrease in enrollment next year. I think they are getting ready underfund/staff the school and we will see a encore performance of what happened last September. Wondering what the committee's response was to this information?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Middle and high school APP

By request, a new thread to discuss academic, teachers. or social issues specific to middle and high school APP, especially the new Ingraham IB program (which now is an option for APP students in high school instead of going to Garfield) and the relatively new middle school APP program at Hamilton.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Questions from parents considering APP

From the look of the last open thread, a lot of new parents are considering APP and have questions. Let's create a new thread for Q&A for those thinking about joining the APP Program. Please post your questions in the comments.

Current APP parents, please help by answering anything you can. I'm sure parents trying to decide whether to join APP would appreciate hearing what you have to say.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

A new superintendent and APP

Let's start a new thread on the impact of having a new superintendent on APP. Expectations? Hopes? Wild speculation?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Q&A on APP eligibility appeals

An anonymous parent requested a new thread for help for those going through the APP appeal process. There is some urgency to this since the appeal deadline is in just a couple weeks.

In particular, the parent had questions about whether anyone knows of appeals that have succeeded without scores that meet the required thresholds? From the parent:
Two different questioners have asked for examples of successful APP appeals based on scores below the stated thresholds, without any reply. Do no such instances actually exist, or have those parents simply not responded? If the former, what then is the purpose of the teacher recommendations? On testing, do MAP scores suffice for achievement, or are additional tests required? And what does it mean that that this year, without any explanation, Advanced Learning Services has deleted from its opening Frequently Asked Question "What are the scores needed to be found eligible for an Advanced Learning program?" its earlier standard boilerplate answer "Scores are not absolute qualifiers or disqualifiers"?

For all those parents submitting APP appeals based on independent assessments in the next two weeks, your answers to these important and confusing questions will be deeply appreciated.
If you know the answer, please chime in. And please also use this thread for other questions and answers about APP appeals.

Those interested in this topic might also want to look at the comments in the previous thread, where there are a lot of questions from parents looking at APP and answers from parents currently in APP.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Open thread

What's on your mind?

Update: A lot of parents interested in APP and new to APP asking questions in the comments. Please chime in if you might have answers for them!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Last minute changes to APP in transition plan?

Lifting from the comments, Sue P writes:
The district's agenda for today's school board meeting has a number of last-minute changes, some of which affect APP.

It looks like they are proposing to eliminate the Lowell APP walk-zone option. I'm guessing they want to direct more kids to Thurgood and fewer to the already crowded Lowell.

Someone ... says the district is NOT proposing to allow incoming 9th graders to test into the APP/IB program at Ingraham. If that is true, this contradicts what many of us were told about a month ago when they first pitched the Ingraham idea to us all.

Details here: Many Changes in Tonight's Board Agenda

Tonight's school board meeting agenda (PDF).
The Transition Plan Revision 2 document (PDF) is what people are talking about here. That version is marked up with edits.

A quick note on the Lowell walk zone, it appears that two of three references to the Lowell walk zone were eliminated, but one remains. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but Robert interprets it as just eliminating redundancy.

Update: The APP AC sent out a summary of the finalized changes. In brief, seems reasonable, the default path from both Hamilton and Washington middle schools is Garfield with Ingraham IB as optional. Not sure about 9th graders not in APP trying to get into Ingraham APP/IB; The APP AC says, "Students newly eligible for APP must apply during the Open Enrollment period to guarantee placement in APP", but that may not specifically address the question. The walk zone at Lowell is unchanged. To deal with overcrowding at Garfield, the district is using a combination of a smaller assignment boundary, reducing open choice seats, and relying on movement to the new IB program at Ingraham. More details here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How loss of state funds will impact Seattle APP

Specifics on how the loss of Highly Capable funding in Washington state will impact Seattle (from the APP AC):
The $400,000 annual categorical funding (the Highly Capable Grant) that our District receives from the State is used for:

a) identification and testing of all students who apply for advanced learning programs (ALO, Spectrum, APP)

b) salary for some staff in the Advanced Learning office who develop and oversee programs

c) a small amount of curriculum and professional development

These funds do not go directly to classrooms, students, or teacher/principal salaries in any of the advanced learning programs. Because our district sees implementation of these programs as basic education for gifted students, students/teachers/principals are funded through the District's general, "baseline" budget, not the state grant, with advanced learning students funded at same rate as most general education students.

[The cut] will be retroactive to September 2010 .... With advanced learning testing done in the fall/winter, and now nearly halfway through the academic year, most of the $400,000 is likely to be spent [and] the District will have a $400,000 hole in their budget which they will need to make up in some other way.

It appears that the APP transportation budget, which comes from a separate funding pot, is not impacted for the rest of this fiscal year.
The budget is not yet finalized. You can write your state legislators to let them know how important APP is to you and that you oppose eliminating state funding for highly capable education.

Update: Rumor has it that funding for highly capable students may have been restored in the state budget?

Update: Lori has more details.

Update: And the funds are cut again.

Update: And back again. Wheeee!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another open thread

It's a new year! Discuss what you like!

Update: There is a good discussion starting in the comments of the impact of losing Highly Capable state funding.