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!

114 comments :

Lori said...

I'm looking forward to some clarification on the transportation changes.

What does it mean that TOPS and Lowell will share a route? I assume that the bus will have to drop off at one school first then go to the other all before the respective bells ring, then same thing in the afternoon. Doesn't it seem like that will lengthen the ride time rather than reduce it? (part of the goal of the plan is rides less than 25 minutes, at least for neighborhood schools).

I've also heard rumors that they will switch to community stops for the NE part of town for Lowell. Think I read that on the saveseattleschools blog. How did that work in the past? Some folks said they used to have to go to their nearest school to catch the bus to Lowell. Were those the only stops? Seems to me you could have a few more (eg, the NE library) without increasing travel time too much.

If anyone goes to any of the transportation meetings, I'd love to read a summary.

hschinske said...

TOPS and Lowell have had shared routes for many years -- did that change for a while? (Not being snarky: my son last rode the Lowell bus in 2008-2009, so it could have changed in the past couple of years.)

I liked the community stops, but my son lucked out and got one at a reasonable distance and not across any terrible streets.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

OH my they are back to sharing busses...me thinks that the new "transporation plan" started last year didn't save any money and they are taking a stab at it again. So tiring!

Anyway, question, related to transportation...does anybody know if yellow bus transporate to the IB program at IHS is still on the table.

Greg Linden said...

The new transportation plan (PDF) does seem vague on what happens with APP. Here's the parts that mention APP:

All TOPS routes from the Lowell APP service areas shall also be paired during school years 2011-2012 & 2012-2013.

Students living outside of their respective intermediary transportation zone may apply for space available transportation via option program transportation (ELL, EBOC, Spectrum, and APP) service to their individual schools when available. This transportation shall not be automatic during this transition period as many families may chose to attend their Attendance Area School as opportunities occur. Such opportunities may be new schools opening or space availability.


Doesn't the district receive additional funding for APP transportation from the state? And that funding is not changed in the recent state budget? Or do I have that wrong?

Fremont Mama said...

I just found out today that our daughter is eligible for APP and we will be sending her to Lowell next year for second grade. We also have a son who is starting kindergarten in the fall. I'm still a little unclear on what other programs beside APP are at Lowell. We plan on touring in February, but was hoping someone on here could answer a few questions. I know that some non-APP neighborhood kids attend Lowell. So, could my son attend kindergarten there - it would be nice to have both kids in the same school. I'm also wondering if he could possibly ride the same bus my daughter will (she will get transportation from our home in Fremont, right?).

Susanne

Pop said...

Our first grade daughter tested consistently 99th percentile for Math and Verbal on the MAP last year and this year, but the letter that came back had her CogAT in the mid-80's. It seems odd to us that a kid reading two grades ahead has such a low CogAT.

Shjould we get that restested and appeal?

Anonymous said...

We have the same issue as Pop. Our first-grader has MAP-tested in the high-90s consistently since kindergarten and was at 99 in both areas for the recent Winter 2011 testing. These numbers also track his classroom performance where he is currently at the highest reading level in his class (Level N). But the CogAT results we received today came in at 81.

Our question is whether it is worth having private testing done to support an appeal. Is it reasonably common for a thriving first-grader to have a low CogAT result like this from the district? It just strikes us as strange when the comparatively lower CogAT numbers don't match up with what we've seen in every other way.

Laura said...

Information about appeals is at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/appeal.htm

If you don't think your kid's CoGAT is correct, you should appeal. I don't think anything but private tests done by a properly credentialed provider would work. (I know SPS used to review portfolios of work instead of test scores, but don't think they do that now) Since you would need both IQ and achievement tests for APP admissions, it's going to cost around $600.

Pop and Anonymous, your kids had a group IQ test. They were herded into a crowded room by a stranger and, who knows, perhaps seated next to other children that provided a distraction or it was a bad time of day, or they were hungry.

Anonymous said...

Pop, Anonymous, etc.

At the lower grade levels (i.e. incoming first graders, etc) I think it is imperative to appeal the CoGAT. Anecdotally, our kid had an independent professional test (one on one) and got in on appeal when scores on the CoGAT were below the threshold. Another close friend appealed without independent testing and did not get in. Because the Spectrum offering at that child's school and grade-level was only 6 kids, the child ended up changing schools to at least get Spectrum.

Good luck.

Jessica said...

Our son is in kindergarten, reached 95+% on reading and math winter MAP tests, but scored in the mid-90s on the Cogat: not high enough for APP.

We anticipated this; our daughter tested not well in the public test but very well in the private test -- and now she is having an excellent year in APP. So we sent our son to a private tester for the WISC, and he is now eligible for APP. His current school has a close social environment and wonderful art, PE, and library, but the academic program is not inspiring.

The district advises people not to appeal, but we see it differently. If you feel confident based on your child's experience in the regular school program that the Cogat missed something and that APP is more likely the right environment -- and of course if you are willing to shell out approx $450 for a private WISC test and/or $300 for private reading and math testing -- it may be worth doing.

Having said this, there's no guarantee that private testing will deliver APP-required scores -- and you have to be prepared to accept that you've written a check without getting the desired result.

Anonymous said...

there's no guarantee that private testing will deliver APP-required scores

Repeated for emphasis. Way too many people out there think private testing is just a system where you slip someone some money to make it okay. It's not. It's really, really not. I had a child privately tested who didn't even quite qualify for Spectrum (who later got into Spectrum based on district testing).

Anonymous said...

we just learned that our son tested into app for next year (he would be in second grade next year). is there any information (anecdotal or otherwise) on how thurgood marshall is handling the addition of app? it sounded like last year was pretty rough, but i've heard that this year is improved. he's in a great school now, but he is not being challenged on a regular basis. any thoughts anyone could share as we try to sort this out would be appreciated. thanks

Anonymous said...

Can anyone answer this: My child's (current first grade) MAP scores are 99%ile (off the charts really) and his CogAt scores were 99th and 97th percentile. (Meaning he just missed the cutoff for APP). We plan to appeal the decision. He's in Spectrum this year and very bored and his teacher feels he'd do well in APP. I know we need to submit cognitive test scores showing 98%ile or above. We already have these. Someone just told me, though, that MAP does not count for achievement scores for K and 1, so he needs additional achievement testing, too. I have a call into the Advanced Learning office, but I'm really confused. Does anyone know if this is the case i.e do we need to do additional achievement testing?

hschinske said...

It's a little dicey, because the district provides additional achievement testing (Woodcock-Johnson) for students who hit the APP level on the CogAT in kindergarten and first grade. But the district website says pretty clearly "We do not administer additional tests based on test information submitted by parents or private providers." I read that as saying that 99th percentile MAP scores plus 99th percentile outside cognitive scores are not enough, that you'd have to do outside achievement testing as well, which really stinks if you're talking about a CogAT result that was so close to qualifying. But they don't have time or money to do a bunch more W-J tests this late in the game.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:53

Our son is in his second year at TM. He's having a great year. All APP teachers at TM came from Lowell and have years of experience teaching APP kids. I'd be happy to connect via phone or email with you if you want to provide contact info.
Thanks!

Anonymous said...

did anyone NOT get their child's placement letter yet?

Susan said...

I didn't get mine yet.
I figure it's just discrimination since I live in South Seattle.
(Kidding!)

Anonymous said...

I have not received a placement letter yet for either of my two children. Anyone else waiting?

Anonymous said...

I received 1 child's letter on Saturday, but haven't received the other child's letter.

Anonymous said...

I have only received the letter for one of my two children.

Anonymous said...

According to Stephen Martin, consulting teacher in the advanced learning office, K and 1st graders do not need Woodcock Johnson for APP if their MAP scores are high enough. Of course, I also found info on the website that says K and 1st graders do need the W-J. This is terribly confusing.

NW Mom said...

Has anyone put their APP eligible child in a Spectrum school closer to home and moved them to APP in middle school? If so, are they prepared for the curriculum in 6th grade at, say, Hamilton? On top of this question, does anyone in the NW area of Seattle have a preference on the various Spectrum programs, i.e. Whittier versus Broadview versus BF Day? Thanks!

Fremont Mama said...

My daughter scored 96 and 98 on the MAP tests and 99 on the CoGat. She still needed to take the W-J tests to qualify for APP. We got a letter right after the first of the year saying she did very well on the CoGat and they would be giving her acheivement tests in mid-Janaury. She is currently in first grade.

Anonymous said...

My son tested into APP last year and we kept him at his regular school which does not have any "advanced learning" programs. I'd like him to do APP in middle school and all the teachers said he'll be fine going from this school to APP in middle school. His school is very good at supplementing his education based on his ability. So I think spectrum to app should be fine.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the question of whether or not kindergartners and 1st graders need the Woodcock-Johnson III or rely upon their high MAP scores alone in an appeal,I sent an email to Bob Vaughan in November asking if an APP appeal for a kindergartner would need to include the Woodcock-Johnson (my daughter's MAP scores have been 99%) and received the following reply: "If your daughter were not to score high enough on the CoGAT to qualify for our inviting her for additional W-J III, then it would be important to obtain the W-J III tests at that time." I hope that answers your question. My daughter took the W-J III privately two weeks ago - it took less than 30 minutes and cost $150.

Anonymous said...

I now have the following email from one of the consulting teachers. "Thanks for the follow-up. I Checked with my colleagues after our conversation and can confirm that cognitive scores in the 98-99th percentile range will qualify ___ for APP. No further achievement testing will be required." I've printed out three copies and plan to include one in the appeal. But there is so much differing information!!!!

Mercermom said...

Our child was at TM for second grade and is now in third grade. He has has a very positive experience, both in his class and on the playground.

Mercermom said...

To the parent who is wondering about joining APP in sixth grade: Our child did after being at Stevens for 6 years, and the APP LA/SS teacher said she wouldn't have guessed he was new to APP. The one downside from his perspective is that he would rather be with his close friends in Spectrum, which perhaps could be avoided by joining APP earlier.

Anonymous said...

I got my son's scores and he got 95% V-Q composite, he has 99% for both MAP scores. First year of testing he didn't make cut, second year he made APP but we didn't move him, 3rd year Spectrum. Wow, that's consistant. We keep testing so he's use to the test for middle school, he's staying at his neighborhood school till 5th grade and then either Spectrum or APP at Washington. His buddies are all going to WA (probably regular program).

Interesting process for sure.

Anonymous said...

I thought that if a child qualified for APP in elementary, then chose Spectrum or AOL, they maintained their APP eligibility until entering middle school.

If a child qualified, but did not choose Spectrum or AOL, the qualifying CogAT scores should still be valid for 3 years. They could be used for an appeal with qualifying achievement scores (though you still have to go through the District testing).

It's good to keep copies of scores as I'm not sure the Advanced Learning Office maintains the records.

Anonymous said...

RE: the question of leaving your child at the spectrum elementary school and then moving to APP for middle school. Our daughter stayed at her local K-5 school which had an ALO program but will be going to APP for 6th grade in the Fall. I think she'll be fine for language arts/civics but we're having to do extra math work so she's prepared for 8th grade math in the fall.

Anonymous said...

According to the District math curriculum, the 6HH class assumes that students have completed the 6th grade CMP2 curriculum and the following 7th grade CMP2 books: Variables and Patterns, Filling and Wrapping, Accentuate the Negative, and Stretching and Shrinking.

The 6HH class then covers the following 7th grade and 8th grade CMP2 books: Comparing and Scaling (7th), What Do You Expect? (7th), Samples and Populations (7th), Data Distributions (8th), Moving Straight Ahead (7th), Looking for Pythagoras (8th), and Shapes of Algebra (8th).

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

Based on a phone discussion today with the district's consulting teacher, I can further confirm an earlier posting that if a kindergartner or first grader is appealing based on a low CogAT score only, taking private Woodcock-Johnson tests would not be required as well if the child has sufficiently high MAP scores.

Anonymous said...

So how do we choose between APP at Lowell and Spectrum at View Ridge? In general what are the advantages of Lowell?

Lori said...

anon @108, is your child already in Spectrum at View Ridge? If not, is there a waiting list at his/her grade level? Unlike APP, there is no guaranteed access to Spectrum, believe it or not.

NW Mom said...

Related to anonymous at 1:08's question, does anyone know how open enrollment works? I'll elaborate. If we decide on Spectrum for our APP eligible child, request a spectrum school during open enrollment but end-up without a spot due to lottery, can we then get a spot in APP since it's "guaranteed"?

Anonymous said...

What is the homework like in elementary APP versus other programs? How does the writing load compare?

Anonymous said...

NW Mom

I don't think you can get your APP spot at that point. I think it is only during on time open enrollment. Maybe you could put Spectrum as first choice and APP as second?

Anonymous said...

My two cents:

If you don't request APP during open enrollment, you may be put on a waitlist. Lowell is already 25% over capacity and you may not want to chance the waitlist. It's only a guaranteed placement if chosen during on-time open enrollment.

Check with enrollment about selecting Spectrum 1st and APP 2nd (it seems reasonable that you'd get an APP assignment if Spectrum was full, but...)

On a positive note - We love the current principal at Lowell. He truly cares about the kids and welcomes parent feedback.

Greg Linden said...

I'd second on the praise of the principal at Lowell. Greg King is remarkable, cheerful, and incredibly effective in what is a very difficult job. We're lucky to have him there.

Former Lowell mama said...

Does anyone have a kid in APP now who tested in on appeal, but was borderline from district testing? I have a son who was assigned to Spectrum with COGAT scores of 97/98 and achievement scores of 98/99. We're thinking of appealing because we have IQ testing that placed him in the 98th percentile. Is this a bad idea to send him there? Will he be overwhelmed? He is probably what Julie Briedenbach used to call a "double dipper" because he has some learning issues but is obviously bright enough to compensate for them.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what neighborhood schools parents are keeping their APP qualified kiddos at. My son tested in to APP but we are staying at our local school -- JSIS.

hschinske said...

While the cutoff for APP on the CogAT is 98th percentile, it used to be the case that outside testing results generally had to be at the 99th percentile. I don't know whether that's still true. But I think that was for kids with considerably lower CogAT scores -- since your child has a score that's probably just one or two questions away from qualifying, and the outside testing confirms that 98th percentile result, you have a reasonable case. (Many students who appeal have *way* lower CogAT scores -- I think the lowest I've heard of is 37th percentile.)

Whether he's really a borderline case or just had a test result or two at the borderline is a different matter, and you can't tell that from numbers alone.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Re: 6:18 pm - what neighborhood schools did people keep their APP eliglible kids at. We kept our daughter at John Hay. A big factor for us was the lack of before/after school care at Lowell (whereas John Hay has a great before/afterschool program). For middle school, we'll be sending our daughter to APP at Hamilton.

Quick question - do APP middle school kids get yellow bus transportation or do they ride Metro? Catherine

Anonymous said...

JSIS - We are keeping our APP kid at Stevens in Capitol Hill. It's a great school, the teachers have worked with me keeping my kid challenged. Also my kid happens to have a great group of friends, good smart kids who are not quite APP but bright. We feed to Washington no matter what, APP, Spectrum or Regular, so they are all going to Washington.

hschinske said...

Currently middle school APP students get yellow buses to Hamilton and WMS. There is state funding for that -- it doesn't come out of the regular transportation budget.

Helen Schinske

NW Mom said...

Does anyone have a general idea of how many qualified kids apply to Whittier Spectrum, but can't get in due to not enough seats? I just called enrollment, and I was told they have no idea since the lists were dissolved at the end of September. I commented that someone somewhere needs to know so they can determine how many spots they "should" add, but quickly realized I was barking up the wrong tree.

Anyway, if someone has a general idea of how many kids are turned away, I'd be interested in hearing that. It seems tough to make an APP versus Spectrum decision for open enrollment with so much TBD after open enrollment ends.

David said...

We're trying to decide on whether or not to switch our APP-eligible 2nd grader to TM or stay at Stevens. We've been quite happy with Stevens and have heard that many folks keep their APP-eligible kids there through 5th grade, but the main concern is getting into APP at WMS. What's the likelihood of NOT qualifying when tested in 5th grade? Does it get increasingly hard to qualify as you get older? I wish Stevens was an ALO school, and then we wouldn't need to worry about it. I've asked our principal about it and she says the staff has been having discussions about it. Does anybody have experience with helping to get their school registered as an ALO school? Any advice?

Fremont Mama said...

NW Mom -

We applied to get into first grade Spectrum at Whittier last year. There were 5 families on the waitlist (we were #5!) at the end of open enrollment - I don't know if the number got higher or not. We were called the Friday before school started to say they had a spot for our daughter (the waiting all summer really sucks!). By that time, we had already planned for our daughter to stay at B.F. Day and try out the new Spectrum program there. Whittier is not in our reference zone or whatever it is called, so we were part of the lottery. If you live in the reference zone, then you get priority.

NW Mom said...

Thanks, Fremont Mama. We'll probably try for Whittier so my kid won't be so far from home in 1st grade. I'll put Lowell as a 2nd choice, but the enrollment office thought that might put me on Lowell's wait list. I suppose there will be more clarity in March.

Anonymous said...

What if Whittier is not your attendance school, but you're in the walk zone and the attendance school doesn't have Spectrum? Is there any priority given to students who live close to Whittier but do not live within it's attendance area?

Thanks for any help. I've looked on the website and can't figure it out.

-Phinney Mom

NW Mom said...

Phinney Mom, Someone more experienced than me might know for sure, but my understanding is all qualified Spectrum/APP kids in Whittier's service area are put into the same lottery. There's no benefit to being closer or having a sibling at Whittier. I understand this as even kids in Whittier's attendance area don't have a better shot of getting a Spectrum seat at Whittier than a kid from, say, Adams.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, NW Mom. Where do I find Whittier's service area for Spectrum? I've searched the website and can't find it. I may just be looking in the wrong places, but I find SPS's website to be entirely unhelpful.

-Phinney Mom

Anonymous said...

The middle school service area is the first tie breaker for elementary Spectrum seats for 2011-2012. This rule is new for 2011-2012. 2010-2011 had different tie breaker rules for elementary Spectrum seats.

hschinske said...

There is no benefit even to being ALREADY ASSIGNED to Whittier, last I heard. They can take someone at Adams or wherever ahead of someone who's already at Whittier.

Helen Schinske

Mercermom said...

David,

Given that the tests have a margin of error (reported at 4% in audit), even if your child was extremely consistent with testing, it's easy to see how you could get scores that do not meet the requirements on a given day. We were at Stevens, had such concerns. We ended up doing private testing as a back-up, just to relieve the anxiety caused by uncertainty as to what our child'd middle-school options would be.

On the ALO subject, I know that Montlake recently joined, and I know of parents whose child tested into APP, and they were relieved to be able to stay and preserve the m.s. option. I've never heard the Stevens leadership articulate why they don't want to adopt it (Is there a fear that striving parents will all demand that their kids be ALO? If so, that's supposed to be the beauty of the program.); but I do recall the community bemoaning from time to time how many kids peel off for APP.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for data online about Thurgood Marshall APP but haven't been successful. I'm looking for pretty basic info, such as number of kids in each grade/class, single grade or mixed grade classes, which classes do they mix with gen ed, etc. Is this info anywhere online or do we have to wait for the tour/app open house?

Jessica said...

Re: class sizes @ TM APP.

Both of the 3rd grade classes are 23 students. At least one 2nd grade class is 28 students. The other 2nd grade is mixed with 1st graders.

My daughter has told me that APP students and regular ed students are together by grade during lunch and recess on typical days, and that's all.

Just to add: We're really happy with APP at TM. This year has gone very smoothly and we were newcomers. The principal is great and is very focused on improving academic quality across the entire school. 3rd grade involves lots of writing, encouragement to read new genres, more interesting math, and apparently an upcoming Egypt project where the students make a "mummy."

Anonymous said...

thanks, jessica, for the info. glad to hear that you've had such a positive experience. i had read online that there were only 12 first graders in TM APP this year, but that seemed way too small. are the classes somewhat evenly split gender-wise? i had also heard anecdotally that it's boy-heavy, but it sounds like your daughter is thriving regardless.

Anonymous said...

Chiming back in here...I posted early on in this thread. Our first-grade son had scored an 81 on the CogAT, but had scored 99s on his MAP tests. We just had the private test completed this weekend, and he scored a 98 on the CogAT-equivalent. This seems to be confirmation for others that a somewhat lower CogAT score can be a faulty data point.

So does this mean our appeal is almost certain to succeed? If so, now we'll need to consider whether we're up for the slight inconveniences a switch to Lowell would mean. We like our current ES, but the math program in particular isn't very rigorous. And his teacher seems completely unmotivated to do more...I suspect because other kids have more pressing needs. My assumption/hope is that our son might learn more and be more interested at Lowell since his ability level would be pretty much the same as his classmates. Am I wrong to assume this?

Anonymous said...

The appeal process is so mysterious!

Does a 98/99 on an approved private exam result in an automatic yes? If it does, then is the "supporting material" (cover letter, teacher recs, classroom work examples, etc) even looked at? Or if the appeal decision is based on all of the above, how are the various inputs weighted? Who's responsible for the decision? How detailed and transparent would a denial be if a child is denied despite 98/99 on a private exam?

P said...

The district has their enrollment report available on their website. Here is a link to APP portion of the data: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/implementation/enrollreport/section9.pdf

Look at Table 9-B to get a close estimation of the class sizes by counting the # of kids in each grade from the south middle schools areas(Aki, Mercer, Denny, Madison, Washington) Some kids in the Washington area go to Lowell as they are in the walkzone.

There are 14 1st graders at TM this year in the 1/2 split class. The report shows 19 total from the south end...so I assume the 5 unaccounted kids are in the Lowell walkzone and went to Lowell.

The 1/2 split is the only split APP class at TM, and I have only heard good things about that class (from both the 1st and 2rd grade parents). The rest of the APP grades have 2 full classrooms per grade.

P said...

I can't figure out how to create a link... but here is the address:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
implementation/enrollreport/
section9.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thanks, P., for the link. It appears that there is a big increase in enrollment between the 1st and 2nd years of APP.

Anonymous said...

We like our current ES, but the math program in particular isn't very rigorous. And his teacher seems completely unmotivated to do more...I suspect because other kids have more pressing needs.

The math program in elementary APP is simply an accelerated program. EDM is condensed and taught in grades 1-3, while grades 4-5 use CMP2. When they start middle school, they have completed about 1 1/2 years of the CMP2 curriculum.

I would hesitate to call it more rigorous. For some students, the pace is just right, but it still fails to challenge some students.

hschinske said...

My kids did encounter some Lowell teachers who taught math in a fashion that was more rigorous than they found in Spectrum or regular classes -- but that wasn't universal, by any means.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

We too found we needed to supplement math at Lowell a bit. Everyday Math, which is the curriculum the entire district uses, is just awful.

I don't see having to supplement a little as such a bad thing. We're in APP more because of the culture and peers than anything. It's like a geeky alternative school, basically, but it doesn't have any more resources than any other public schools and suffers from all the same problems and shortages. Even so, we think it is the best option in Seattle for our kids, public or private.

Anonymous said...

Is it common wisdom that a teacher letter/recommendation is not really necessary for a successful appeal? That seems to be what I'm seeing after reading through past blog threads here. With private testing, our son now meets the criteria, but we're not sure how helpful his teacher would be in providing a recommendation letter. I think we'd rather just skip that effort altogether.

also_anon said...

I am also curious what supporting documents (beside private test scores) that people have used for succesful appeals. I want to be thorough, but not over the top!

Lori said...

We transferred our child to Lowell this year, so I know where a lot of you are coming from with questions and concerns while trying to decide what to do.

With respect to appeals, I know families who successfully appealed both with and without letters of recommendation from teachers. I also know of kids who just missed the threshold and got in on appeal as well as kids who were completely distracted during the CogAT, scored in the 80s, and got in on appeal with private results.

Last year, our former school's principal told families to include a copy of the MAP results if the child hadn't been called back for the Woodcock-Johnson test (assuming, I suppose, that MAP showed above 95% for both reading and math). At that time, she said that the Advanced Learning office did not have access to individual MAP scores, hence the need to send a copy showing the scores. Now that the AL office is using MAP to screen, sounds like they'd have access. However, if it were me, I'd still include a copy figuring the reviewer isn't going to go to the effort to look at MAP on your behalf. May as well make it easy for them and include it.

Anonymous said...

We did an appeal for our daughter a couple of years ago for middle school for APP. She had the required scores for the acheivement tests but scored just under the threshodld on the cogAT.

We sent teacher letters but did not send private test scores. She was admitted to Spectrum but not APP. The letter in response to our appeal noted that she did not meet the needed cognitive abilities scores (98% or above).

I hear anecdotal stores about kids who did not meet testing thresholds but got in on appeals anyhow, but am hestitant to believe they are accurate. Anyone have any concrete or firsthand information?

Anonymous said...

Our student missed the math threshold by 2-points and we knew it going into the school testing. So we had his math and CogAT tested privately. We were denied APP due to the low math score, so on appeal we submitted the private math score as well as the CogAT and write-up from the tester.

No teacher recommendation, but did offer up some math work.

The appeal was successful. I think showing that the CogAT scores were consistant in both cases helped.

hschinske said...

I wouldn't have thought they'd take an outside CogAT score -- especially if the test was taken soon after the first one.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Regarding supplementing Math at home: our child is in 3rd grade APP, he's interested in doing more math than is offered. Can anyone share resources and ideas for supplementing at home? I don't want to go as intense as EPGY during the school year...and workbooks a few grades above just aren't cutting it anymore. Anyone know of online resources, games, platform specific ideas (ipad apps...DSI games - sorta kidding about DSI Games, but I'm sure it would be met with enthusiasm...)

Greg Linden said...

We really enjoyed SquareLogic. It's basically an implementation of KenKen (similar to Sodoku, but with equations) and great way to speed basic math calculations and learn logical reasoning, all in a fun game. Highly recommend it.

Anonymous said...

They didn't need to "take" the additional CogAT, it was just given to them as part of the appeal "materials."

Anonymous said...

A series of math books my children have enjoyed is "Life of Fred." They are somewhat off-beat and make my kids laugh. My child's review consisted of, "how can you not like a math book that talks about sea shanties?"

The first book is "Fractions," followed by "Decimals and Percents." The titles go all the way through Calculus.

Jon Sloan said...

Our kindergartener has the opportunity to go to Lowell for 1st grade...seeking some insight about the curriculum. A friend suggested that while APP may offer an accelerated academic path, it may provide less emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving skills, which we feel are very important. We'd be grateful for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Jon, my children are both at lowell and I can just tell you that there is plenty of critical thinking/problem solving being taught (and frankly, with that peer group, being discussed at recess, lunch etc.). My son in second grade was involved in a project where the class had to debate the pros and cons of developing some of a rainforest from the environmentalists', the development company's and the indigenous people's point of view (and then rebut the other arguments). It was incredibly sophisticated for 7 and 8 year olds (made me think that our city counsel could learn something). Anyway, have no fear about critical thinking and problem solving. It's happening all over the place.
--Jen

Jon Sloan said...

Thanks so much Jen, that's really helpful! We're getting very excited about joining the Lowell community. -Jon

Jessica said...

Anonymous asked about the gender ratio at TM APP: In my daughter's 3rd grade class, there are 16 boys and 7 girls, which really surprised me. At first glance, this seemed like a negative, not as many friend choices, etc.

But I give the teacher great credit: she's actively emphasized a girls-together approach and since the holidays, they are all getting along very well. I think the other 3rd grade is more evenly balanced but still has more boys. I'm not sure about other grades.

Anecdotally, friends say that many families are more willing to put "restless" boys in APP while keeping girls in the local school "for social reasons" even when they qualify. Curiously, the girls in my daughter's class are more confident and ask more questions, while the boys are quieter. That seems like a confidence-builder for the girls for the future.

Lori said...

There's a lot going on in Transportation to save money in future years. Unfortunately, I don't think they will have details available for Open Enrollment, so we may not see final information about busing until summer. I don't envy parents having to decide between a neighborhood school and APP right now, not knowing start times at either location.

Here's the current proposals: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/10-11agendas/020811agenda/transportationpres.pdf

According to these slides, the district's preferred option for Lowell next year is to have buses arrive at 915AM and leave at 345PM. The 2nd choice option is arrive at 925AM and leave at 355PM! (According to our route, current arrival time is 9AM, so both options represent later starts to the school day; this is sort of rough on working families to say the least).

Some elementaries are in the 2nd tier, with 840AM bus arrival times (View Ridge) and others are in the 3rd tier with Lowell (Bryant, Sand Point, Wedgwood). Of course, all this is still developing and not final. Just thought it might be important for people to know about moving forward.

Anonymous said...

I think the proposed later start times will be just as hard on the kids as the parents. Our kids are flat out tired by the end of the school day.

Won't varying start/end times wreak havoc on shared before and after school activities for elementary students?

What other districts start elementary students this late?

Anonymous said...

Not to mention impact on working families, if they push arrival to 9:25, I imagine the bus won't arrive until 8:40AM...putting me at work at 9:15?

Anonymous said...

If busses depart at 3:55 does that mean kids don't get home/ to their aftercare place until 5:00?

Lori said...

I don't know what it means for commute times yet. The district has said its goal for neighborhood schools is commutes no longer than 25 minutes. Whether/how they could do that for city-wide programs like APP is unknown.

However, there are rumors about moving to community stops at local schools for NE APP next year (don't know if this applies to other areas or not though). So with fewer total stops, the bus ride itself would probably be shorter. The issue then becomes where/how to get to that community stop in time each day. For us, back-tracking to the nearest school, which is 0.5 miles away in the opposite direction of Lowell, would add to the commute time considerably. So I'm just trying to stay informed as this develops.

Anonymous said...

From the community meeting at Hamilton:

Lowell APP will have community stops at neighborhood schools and share the buses with TOPS. Some extra stops may be added on arterials for students too far away from the neighborhood school stops. Commutes are not guaranteed to be under 25 min and could be up to an hour per the Transportation Plan.

P said...

How will Lowell share a bus with TOPS? TOPS used to have a later start time closer to Lowell's, but now TOPS has a 8:20am start time. Would they move the Lowell start time earlier or the TOPS time later?

Laura said...

P-- I believe the document Lori links to above lists a new start time for TOPS that will closely mirror Lowell. The bad news for Lowell is our bus routes will end up at least five to ten minutes longer to drop off/pick up kids at TOPS. The TOPS parents have been very organized about getting this transportation (even going as far as staging a simulation to illustrate traffic congestion on I-5 if all north end TOPS students were to drive in private cars to TOPS each day). The Lowell/APP community (except Lori....) has been totally asleep about this coming change.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jessica, for your thoughts on the gender balance at TM. The social scene at TM is definitely a concern for us as we think about moving from a neighborhood school to one with 2 distinct populations. Do the APP kids interact with the non-APP kids at recess or is it pretty segregated? Do the APP kids play soccer, tag, etc. or are they more apt to do less active games at recess?

dj said...

My daughter is a third-grader at TM. She is having a positive social experience. She was part of the move from Lowell to TM, and that move was hard on her because she lost friends; I don't think the move in any way benefitted her, so the split was a negative. But she is having a good experience there now both academically and socially, and I recommend the program.

On a side note, when she was at Lowell, she shared a bus with TOPS student, and the commute was horrendous. We live a 10-15 minute drive from Lowell, but the bus ride was over an hour each way (it went to TOPS first and that added to the ride significantly). We ended up driving her because 2+ hours on a bus every day for a six-year-old was too much, particularly if it could be substituted with 20 minutes of car ride. There is a point at which transportation is configured in ways that are not sensible.

Jessica said...

I would not say TM is segregated, but the children play on the playground mainly with the children they know from their classes.

It's important to be direct about this issue: My sense is that the social aspect of creating "one school" is an ongoing challenge for TM, which has three different academic programs (TM is also home to the PEACE Academy for autistic children). I don't know if this is true of other schools with APP programs -- others can weigh in.

But I also think that the TM principal, Julie Breidenbach, is doing her best to bring the school together -- and she and her staff are seriously engaged in raising the academic level of the entire school. Also, TM's all-school events, like a Harvest Dance and the recent choir concert, do bring together families from across the school, and I think there's a healthy sense of community that is growing over time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jessica and dj, for your comments on the social scene at TM. It will be interesting to observe the whole school during the tour. From yours and other comments I've heard, it seems the principal has made real progress since last year (partially due to the new boundaries for TM). Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A question regarding the appeals process: Should a teacher recommendation be submitted with the rest of the materials, or is that submitted directly by the teacher to the district? Our child's teacher suggested the latter, but wasn't entirely sure.

hschinske said...

We never saw the teacher recommendations; they went in separately.

Helen Schinske

also_anon said...

I know the teacher recommendations go in separately in the initial round of testing but is that true for appeals as well? The advanced learning website makes it appear that teacher letters would be appropriate to send with the appeal. Anyone else have experience with this?

Anonymous said...

I included my teacher's recommendation letter in our appeal package, but it was in a sealed envelope so we didn't know what it said.

Anonymous said...

The appeal info reads as if you should include it in the appeal but in reality the teachers will send them in separately. That said anyone ever successfully appeal without the needed scores?

Lori said...

I don't have any helpful anecdotes about teacher appeal letters, but my gut reaction says to include it in the appeal packet simply to make it easier on the Advanced Learning office staff who have to pore thru a large number of appeals.

Seems to me that having all the information in one place for the staff to review is better than expecting them to sort thru giant stacks of paper looking for a letter that was mailed in separately. Plus, if you include it, you know it got there in time.

Jana Gezon said...

Just found this blog and thankful for all the info! My kindergartener just qualified for APP so we have to make the decision to send him to Lowell or keep him at his school in the Spectrum program (if they even have one next year). His scores are quite high (99th percentile in every test) and he's older (sept birthday) and socially mature. We really want to stay at our neighborhood school for many reasons, including I have a younger son and I want them to be at the same school. I'm anxious to tour Lowell and I'm wondering if there are any other sources of information or people I could talk to. Would anyone be willing to sit down with me and discuss their experience? Can I sit in on a classroom at Lowell?
So basically, I want to make the best decision and wondering if Spectrum would be challenging enough and if it's worth it to truck him over to Lowell.
I'd love any input,
thanks so much,
Jana Gezon

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great info. I'm confused about the proposed Transportation plan. Are APP students guaranteed bus transport to Thurgood Marshall? It seems like they are not guaranteeing as much bus transportation next year, but I didn't find a specific reference to APP.
Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

We went the Spectrum route this year- wanted to stay at the neighborhood school, have younger children, etc. It hasn't been horrid, but it hasn't been inspiring or challenging or.... We are almost certainly moving our son to Lowell next year (just have to do the tour).

Anonymous said...

To clarify... Spectrum has been boring in many ways. Not totally mind numbing, but boring.

Anonymous said...

Greg,

there seem to be two very separate strands in this thread:

1. Advice for new parents who have just received their late January APP eligibility letter -- based purely on District testing (Cogat, MAP, maybe additional Woodcock-Johnson). And,

2. Advice for prospective new parents who are now in the throes of the byzantine APP appeal process -- which allows them to introduce by the MARCH 1 deadline additional standardized nationally-normed independent assessments (e.g., WPPSI, WISC, Stanford-Binet, January 2008 or later, ERB, March 2010 or later, for cognitive; MAP, Woodcock-Johnson, WIAT, KTEA,ERB, March 2010 or later, for reading or math achievement).

It would be helpful now to separate out these two vital strands so that each becomes easier to follow.

For example, in the latter APP appeal process strand, 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.

Thanks everybody for this very helpful resource.

Anonymous said...

To Jena re: question of whether to switch to Lowell or not - our daughter tested into Lowell but we decided to stay at our neighborhood school which has an ALO program. We feel like she's been challenged at her neighborhood school and that was the right choice for us. I think however that the right answer really varies depending on the school and your child.

Lori said...

Jana, I believe that at the Lowell school tours they have a list of current families that have volunteered to be contacted to answer questions. If I remember correctly, the list might break down by geography so there's a chance you could find someone familiar with your current school. (that's how it was last year; I assume it will be the same this year).

Are you a member of any of the local moms' groups, such as NESeattleMoms, Greenlake Moms, or BallardMoms? Those are also good places to pose these types of questions.

Last year, we started a yahoo group for families in the NE part of town with kids in APP or APP-qualified kids (it was an off-shoot of the NESeattleMoms list). Although initially set up to serve NE, we do now also have list members from N and NW Seattle. I think sometimes people are more comfortable talking about their unique experiences in a private forum like that as opposed to a public blog (and the forum also facilitates off-list discussions too for those who want even more privacy). Here is the link if you (or others!) want to join: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/APP_NE/

lendlees said...

Jana- Lori is correct. There is a list being compiled in time for Lowell tours (starting tomorrow!). It will have our neighborhoods as well as other pertinent info (aka: twins, PTA board member, kids in two different schools etc...).

We are all happy to chat with any prospective parents as we know how hard the decision can be for many parents.

Anonymous said...

As I shared earlier in the thread, I've been explicitly told by the advanced learning folks that, for the purposes of appeal, MAP scores are fine to rely on if all you are trying to improve through private testing is the CogAT.

David said...

I'm also wondering about the impact of the new Transportation Plan on APP. From what I can tell, they're going to treat it just like any other elementary school, so you'll only get a bus if you're more than 1 mile away and less than 1.25 miles away from the school. They'll also have "intermediary" zones that extend further out, and if you live in that zone, then you'd walk to a community bus stop, but it sounds like this will only apply for the next couple of years. Can anyone confirm that?

lendlees said...

David-

The Lowell transportation map is only for the ALO students who have Lowell as their attendance area school. APP kids still get bus transportation to and from.

The only changes being discussed are using 'community stops' rather than getting picked up/dropped off nearer to students' houses. In addition, some buses will be shared with TOPS which could tack on an extra 10 minutes or so to the bus ride.

David said...

lendlees,

I'm actually wondering about TM, not Lowell, but I assume the same would apply to both. However, I can't find anything on the SPS website that indicates that APP will be treated any differently from the regular elementary schools in terms of the new transportation plan (which did get approved by the board last night). My concerns are: if we live more than 1.25 mi away from TM, will we be eligible for busing (the transportation plan doesn't say anything about APP), and, if so, are the community stops going to be permanent or only temporary for the next couple of years? Can anyone find written confirmation of this on the SPS site? I can't.

Anonymous said...

According to the proposed Transportation Standards:

Programs with a large geographical draw area outside of their transportation zone or related service areas shall use Neighborhood Attendance Area School stops.

The above is the reference to the APP program.

All neighborhood...routes will be designed to operate 25 minutes or less when feasible.

The “Neighborhood Attendance Area School stops” are not neighborhood routes and will not be designed to operate within the 25 min. timeframe.

All other routes will be designed to operate 60 minutes or less when feasible.

The “Neighborhood Attendance Area School stops” would fall under the category of “other” routes. It's likely that Lowell will use the community School stops, but it's not clear whether TM will also have community School stops. Lowell will be sharing the routes/buses with TOPS students. This will add to the transportation time.

“When feasible” is defined as 90% of the route being within the given timeframe. So technically, some students could have routes exceeding 60 min.

Anonymous said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/faq_transportation.html#A1

What transportation is available for APP students?
School bus transportation is provided to for elementary and middle school students enrolled in APP in their pathways. Transportation for high school students is provided via Metro pass.

David said...

Thanks Anonymous! I guess I shouldn't worry so much, but right now we have a 15 min walk to Stevens, and it'll be a bummer if my daughter ends up spending an hour on the bus to TM.