Saturday, December 29, 2012

Open thread

Almost a new year. Thoughts on APP in Seattle Public Schools in 2013?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What will happen to Lincoln APP 5th grade?

A watchful parent points to slide 29 of a recent SPS capacity planning presentation (PDF) which says that the solution to overcapacity at Hamilton is to either keep current 5th graders at Lincoln APP for another year (so, 6th grade would be at Lincoln APP) or move them to John Marshall (instead of having them go to Hamilton).

Either way, looks like APP 5th graders in the north might be getting some disruption, and not sure this has been discussed much publicly yet.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?

Science in APP

Lots of discussion about problems at Hamilton middle school with how science is taught in APP.

We've talked a lot about math here on this blog, but not much about science. Let's broaden the discussion beyond Hamilton APP too.

How do you like how science is taught in APP? Are there grades in which it is done particularly well? Others where it is done poorly? Where it is done well or poorly, do you think what is responsible is the curriculum, principal, or teachers?

School start times and teenagers

By request, a thread to discuss whether school start times should be later, especially in high school. Not an APP-specific topic, but let's do a thread on it anyway.

To get the discussion started, let me point to an article, "Do Later School Start Times Really Help High School Students?". The article summarizes several studies that showed higher grades, better test scores, and fewer traffic accidents when teens had later start times, and also summarizes the negatives (impact on after school sports and work schedules).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Open thread

Looks like we might need a new open thread. Have at it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lincoln APP budget cut

By request, a thread to discuss a new development at elementary APP at Lincoln (Lowell@Lincoln), a letter from Principal Rina Geoghagan that says "enrollment was lower than ... projected" so "Lincoln will be losing a classroom teacher and reducing teachers Preparation, Conference, and Planning (PCP) by 0.5 FTE ... This will necessitate the reassignment of some students into different classrooms."

A letter from the PTA for Lincoln (SNAPP PTA) responds, "We intend to fight this decision ... We believe that this staffing cut is being driven by a budget shortfall, and it appears that schools across the district are not sharing in the burden equally. We currently have an average student:teacher ratio of nearly 25:1, equal to or higher than other elementary schools."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What is APP for and who should be in it

By request, and because an earlier thread was largely taken over by it, here is an opportunity to discuss the entry criteria to APP, whether it has been weakened, and what it should be.

As several parents have pointed out, this may need to be a broader discussion of the purpose of APP and the decline of Spectrum. It may need to get into whether there should be multiple programs for students working one, two, or more grade levels ahead, and what the purpose and entry criteria should be for each of the programs.

Have at it!

Open thread

About a month into school. How's it going?

Monday, October 1, 2012

APP at Lincoln for next five years?

According to a couple parents, Superintendent Banda sent out a letter indicating that APP elementary in the north will be staying at Lincoln for the next five years.

From one of the parents, quoting from the letter from Banda:
Specifically regarding the APP program, I want to provide the following updates:

-APP students will remain at Lincoln for the next five school years, including this year.
-If BEX IV is approved, staff recommend moving the current north end APP elementary students to a new Wilson-Pacific building (tentatively scheduled to open for the 2017-18 school year).
-Beyond the 2017-18 school year, in addition to Wilson-Pacific we might consider additional locations for APP if enrollment continues to increase or if recommendations to provide additional regional programs are made. That’s why it is important that we build flexibility into our BEX IV plan.
-I have also asked the capital planning staff to review options at the interim site to address concerns with the play area and lunchroom facilities.
Another parent read this and said:
We got a letter on Friday from Jose Banda saying:
1. Lincoln is it for the next five years
2. IF BEXIV passes, a single school at Wilson-Pacific is the plan, beginning 2017-18. Regional options are possible later.

1. the debate between the ALL APP Academy and regional schools is over.
2. there is no sibling co-attendance option for North.
3. No kindergarten at APP North.
4. We're talking 900-1000 students in a single elementary school at current course and speed.

Give credit for decisiveness, but this is a pretty profound decision with no process, and there are many, many unanswered questions.
Full text of the letter doesn't appear to be available easily but, if anyone finds it, please post it in the comments.

Update: The full letter. (thanks, SNAPP PTA!)

Update: Charlie Mas posts about this too over on Save Seattle Schools.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Open thread

A lot of new topics on this blog lately. What else is on your mind?

Update: This thread appears to have mostly turned into a discussion of the APP AC. Let's go ahead and make it about that. I'll open a new open thread for other topics.

Boycott MSP/HSPE?

By request, a threat to discuss an APP boycott of MSP/HSPE tests (those scores are important in the state's measures of the performance of Seattle Public Schools, so an organized boycott would get attention). This topic has come up a number of times, but there has never been an organized effort to get a significant percentage of APP students to opt out of those tests. Should there be?

Too many early release days?

By request, a new thread to discuss the very high number of early release days at some schools this year (Hamilton apparently has 20).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Monday, September 17, 2012


A draft of the BEX IV plan came out recently, and it sounds like parents are getting concerned.

One parent wrote:
it shows APP@Lincoln through 2016-17. The modernized Lincoln high school is shown as opening 2019-20 (a current 5th grader would be a HS senior). The interim site for Lincoln HS would be the John Marshall building, beginning in 2017-2018 (a current 5th grader would be a HS sophomore). Beginning in 2014-15, John Marshall is scheduled to be an interim site for the new middle school at Wilson Pacific (a current 5th grader would be in 7th grade). John Marshall is shown as an interim site beginning in the 2013-14 school year, but with no indication of who would be there. Will APP@HIMS be split, and/or moved to John Marshall for next year, when JM becomes an interim site? Is the interim site for APP@Lincoln just for elementary?
Another quoted a SNAPP (the north-end PTA) e-mail saying:
If approved, the BEX IV levy will provide capital funding for 6 years (2014-2019) to help with building remodeling, replacement, and new facility projects district-wide.

We are very troubled by the lack of a clearly defined plan for APP@Lincoln and the uncertain future of north-end elementary APP. We are therefore asking families to attend the first BEX IV community meeting, this Thursday, September 20th from 6:30-8PM at Whitman Middle School (9201 15th Ave NW).

We have 3 major concerns at this time:
1: APP@ Lincoln has no clearly designated building assignment in this latest iteration of BEX IV projects. Because the district considers APP@Lincoln to be a program, not a school, they can "slice and dice" us as they see fit to meet capacity needs rather than to meet advanced learners' needs.
2: As a program, our placement is decided by the Teaching and Learning department, which is currently lacking a director and interim director due to recent personnel changes within the district. Without decision-makers who understand the academic, social, and emotional needs of highly capable learners, our school remains an easy target for displacement and disbandment.
3: The district is not utilizing student roll-up data (ie, projecting which middle schools current elementary students will attend based on current elementary assignment patterns rather than home addresses) to assess needs for middle-school capacity. As a result, the district is not building sufficient middle-school seats in our region.
BEX IV will determine capacity for the next several years. Certainly looks like it doesn't do much to address the poor temporary location of APP elementary in the north-end at Lincoln nor the severe overcrowding at Hamilton. And I'm not sure if the BEX IV plan has much in it to address likely overcrowding at Thurgood Marshall, Washington, and Garfield either.

Update: Charlie Mas just put up a post, "BEX IV Re-order", that has some thoughts on BEX IV.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Open thread

How are things going, APP parents? These first weeks of school are always hectic. What's on your mind?

Keeping north and south together

By request, and based on a lot of discussion in the last thread, let's talk about what parents can do to keep the north and south APP working together.

The core issue is that, with all the splits, we are getting close to having separate APP programs in Seattle for the north and for the south. The south/central APP would do Thurgood Marshall -> Washington -> Garfield. The north currently can do Lincoln -> Hamilton -> Ingraham (though capacity is an issue there, many come to Washington or Garfield at at the transitions, and north APP will probably have to move out of at least two of those schools -- and may even split NE and NW for elementary -- in the near future). We are heading down a path where parents and students in the north APP could never see students in the south APP and visa-versa. They almost would be separate programs in everything but name. Is that a good thing?

Other issues mentioned include the math curriculum differences (especially the different textbooks used at Thurgood Marshall this year compare to the older ones at Lincoln, but also the lack of algebra for 6th graders at Hamilton and the lack of AP classes at Ingraham). Lack of cooperation between the north and south PTAs has come up multiple times. And inequity in PTA funds (which tend to be much greater in the north) has been mentioned in previous threads.

The first question might be, what do parents want? Should APP be the north and south separate? Should it even be each school on its own? Do you want APP to be a city-wide program, region-specific program, or school-specific program?

The second question might be, what can APP parents do? Are there things we, as parents, can ask our PTAs to do? Can we work for specific things that might help? To take one example, parents could work for funding for teacher training city-wide across all schools, for math training or instruction on gifted education, that gets teachers in the north and south working together and sharing knowledge? In general, what can we do that might help?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First day of school

How was your first day of school?

What are you happy about? What problems are you hitting? And what questions do you have for other APP parents? Please discuss!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Open thread

School is just a couple weeks away! What's on your mind?

By the way, in the comments on the earlier posts, there's still some active discussion of the new principals at Hamilton and Lowell (Lowell, not at Lowell@Lincoln), algebra for 6th grade APP, and math curriculum for elementary APP. If you haven't looked at the comments on the previous posts in a while and you're interested in those topics, might take a peek at what is there.

Update: This is active thread (in the comments) with a lot of parents asking questions, especially about Hamilton APP. Please chime in if you have any advice.

PBS NewsHour on Rainer Scholars

On Tuesday, the PBS NewsHour aired a report, "Are Year-Round Enrichment Programs the Answer to Summer Learning Loss?", with extensive coverage of Seattle's Rainer Scholars program.

Well worth reading the article and watching the 8 minute segment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Open thread

Summer's back, nice and sunny out! Talk about whatever you like!

This might also be a good thread to share anything fun you found this summer that other APP parents might enjoy too for their kids. Starting it off, I really like DragonBox, which is the best game I've ever seen for teaching algebra, genuinely fun, the puzzles turn out to be the same operations you perform to solve algebra problems. If you like that, you might enjoy SquareLogic, which is a really excellent implementation of the Sudoku-like KenKen game, teaches logic and fast arithmetic operations, addictive and fun. If you have a middle or high school kid, I'd highly recommend Udacity's free Physics 100 class, surprisingly fun, challenging, excellent blend of physics and math, very well done. Oh, and Camp Orkila is great.

Math and math waivers

By request, a new thread to talk about math education in SPS, math waivers for our schools, what math should be available to APP students, and what parents could do to try to improve the math instruction that is available.

Wish list for new Hamilton principal

By popular demand, let's create a new thread to talk about "HIMS families' wish list for the new principal".

Sounds like there is a lot of concern at Hamilton about how APP fits in, what math is available to APP students at Hamilton, some of the teachers assigned to APP, and overcrowding, capacity, and whether overcrowding and capacity may force changes.

How do you think the new Hamilton principal should investigate these issues? What do you think the new principal should do?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Open thread

What's on your mind? Graduations and longing for the sunshine to start here in Seattle? Anything else?

Two year stability for north elementary APP

Melissa Westbrook reports:
For the 2012-13 school year, the District will:

Separate the two Lowell schools. The Lincoln site will now be “APP at Lincoln,” much like our other programs housed at interim sites, such as K-5 STEM at Boren. This means that Rina Geoghagan and Gregory King will no longer be co-principals, but instead serve as principals of their own buildings. The two schools will also have a separate budget structure.

Keep APP at Lincoln for the next two school years. Given our capacity issues in the north end of Seattle, we will house the program at Lincoln for the next two years. This gives District staff time to continue working on the larger picture of program placement and capacity.
Good news, I think. What do you think?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ALTF and its recommendations

The Advanced Learning Task Force came out with its recommendations (PDF) and Melissa Westbook has a post with her thoughts on meetings of the ALTF.  What do you think of the recommendations, the  Advanced Learning Task Force, and what might help improve the future of Advanced Learning programs in Seattle Public Schools?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Open thread

Summer is almost here!  What's on your mind, APP parents?

Update: Charlie Mas started a thread on the School Board's policy on "Highly Capable Student Programs", which has been suspended since 2009.  Very worthwhile topic, please comment on it over there.

Update: Two major topics in the comments, one on MAP test scores being used to determine when APP 5th graders can take Algebra in 6th grade, another on an incident at Hamilton where a teacher videotapes one class misbehaving and then showed it to another class.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Open APP program placement questions

Lifting from the comments, Charlie Mas writes:
[It] is inevitable [that] ... SNAPP is going to Wilson ... [but] there are other program placement decisions which are not yet settled. Among them are:
  • The APP pathway for students in the McClure Service Area. Will they be part of the north-end program or the south-end program?

  • Will SNAPP be co-housed or co-located with any other programs at Wilson?

  • The eventual placement of the south-end elementary program. Will the program remain at Thurgood Marshall? Will it continue to co-house with an attendance area program? Will the PEACE Academy remain there?

  • The eventual placement of the middle school programs. Will the north-end program remain at Hamilton or it will move to Pacific? The south-end program will probably remain at Washington, especially with the relief that school will get from the restoration of a middle school at Meany, but should it move?

  • Even the high school program may see some program placement action. There are a number of possibilities here, ranging from the relocation of all or part of the program to Lincoln to recognition of additional APP options (like Ingraham) at the two other IB schools, STEM, and NOVA.
Thoughts on that?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Open thread

Start times, overcrowding, and BEX IV, oh my! What's on your mind, APP parents?

What will happen to Hamilton APP?

By multiple requests from parents, a thread to discuss the future of Hamilton APP, which appears to be in danger from overcrowding and loss of qualified teachers, and how parents might be able to make sure Hamilton APP has a good future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Future of Lowell @ Lincoln

Lifting this from the comments so more people see it, Lori writes:
The latest proposal is that L@L would stay at Lincoln thru 2017 and move into the new Wilson-Pacific building when it's built. Of course, this depends on the BEXIV levy passing. And, on enrollment sort of stabilizing because if current growth rates were to continue, by 2017, I supposed it's possible that we wouldn't fit into that building and would need to be split again. The latest number for next year is 530 kids (versus 430 this year).

The school has been piloting project-based learning in several classes. Not sure if that's what the writer meant by "experiential learning" or not. My child's teacher piloted a science unit that went over really well this year. My child came home several days bursting with excitement, sharing with me what was going on, and saying things like, "I can't wait to go back to school Monday and work on my project." Seriously, that is so *not* her typical banter at home about school! So I have been really excited about it.

The goal is to integrate more PBL into the curriculum moving forward. Notably, when this was presented by the teachers at the last PTA general membership meeting, one long-time parent spoke up about how wonderful this is because it seems that elementary APP is getting back to its roots. After the split, the eviction, growth, etc, it feels like we are finally getting some of the stability we need. We have a group of really enthusiastic teachers who work well together and want to try new (or should I say "old"!) teaching methods that work for our population.

There's a lot of doom and gloom on this blog sometimes. But I don't see it or feel it. I'm really enthused about the program, and I see it only getting better in the years ahead if we stay on this path.
Update: Charlie Mas writes:
North-end elementary APP will remain at Lincoln until it is moved to its permanent location at the new Wilson Elementary School ... That program placement is inevitable .... There is nowhere else it can go.

As soon as it is official, then SNAPP can become independent of Lowell and the program can be upgraded to a school and be called Wilson at Lincoln.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Open thread

A new open thread. How's things, APP parents?

Update: Active discussion in the comments about transportation and (very early) start times at some schools. Let's turn this thread into a discussion about that. I'll open a new open thread for other topics.

Superintendent Banda and APP

It appears Jose Banda will be the new Seattle Public Schools superintendent. Here's a new thread to discuss how that might impact APP.

Excessive standardized testing?

By request, a thread to talk about the piles of standardized testing for some APP students, in particular that 7th graders at Hamilton apparently are taking MSP, EOC, and MAPS, causing a couple parents to ask, "Why both 7th grade math and the EOC Algebra exam?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Open thread

A home for Lowell@Lincoln, overcapacity at Hamilton, and the BEX IV levy appear to be dominating people's attention lately. What else is going on, APP parents? Here is a new open thread for discussion.

Update: This is looking to be a very active open thread. Worth highlighting is a debate about to what extent APP parents at Thurgood Marshall, Washington, and Garfield should be included in the discussion of what happens with the APP elementary at Lowell@Lincoln. Go to the comments if you want to join in.

Excessive homework in APP?

By request, a new thread to discuss excessive homework in some APP classrooms. What is your experience with the amount of time your child spends on homework in your classroom (and please mention grade level and which school)? Do parents have any suggestions for APP parents who might feel their children have too much homework?

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Let's do a new thread to discuss the BEX IV levy draft (see [1] [2]) and how it impacts APP. The BEX IV levy contains most of the district's new funding for construction, will be used to deal with overcapacity, and almost certainly will have a big impact on APP, especially where APP is overcrowded or does not have a permanent home.

Let's start the discussion with this excerpt of a comment from Charlie Mas:
The greatest failures in this BEX IV plan is how it treats the nomads .... There is no clear home for north-end elementary APP. None at all, they totally forgot about it. That's because the enrollment planning people only think about geographic communities and never think about non-geographic communities. The capacity for these students is distributed across their attendance area schools. It's an epic fail.

There are three likely explanations:

1) They forgot all about APP. Oops.

2) They presume the dissolution of APP.

3) They think that north-end elementary APP will split and go into spaces available at newly expanded or newly built elementary schools at Magnolia, Bagley, Thornton Creek, North Beach, or John Rogers.

None of these are good for north-end elementary APP.

It certainly appears that they don't want the program to go to John Marshall, and it certainly appears that they don't want it to stay at Lincoln.
Update: Melissa Westbrook summarizes a recent BEX IV meeting and, on APP specifically, writes:
Any decision on APP elementary north? No, but the AL committee is working on it (and indeed we are). As well, we are aware there are capacity issues for Hamilton/Washington's APP 6-8.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gregory King, Rina Geoghagan, and APP

There is a general discussion of "The Lowell Investigation" over at Seattle Schools Community Blog. Let's add an APP-specific thread here.

So, please use this to talk about the investigation, any thoughts you might have more generally about the history and impact of Greg King and Rina Geoghagan at Lowell when APP was there, what all this might mean for Lowell@Lincoln APP, and whether this is likely to have any broader impact on the APP program.

Update: The Seattle Schools Community Blog added three more posts ([1] [2] [3]) about this issue.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Open thread

What's on your mind?

Update: In the comments, Melissa Westbrook writes:
BEX IV ... is our capital building program levy that will be on the Feb. 2013 ballot ... [usually] it is about the oldest/worst condition buildings. But capacity management has thrown that whole scenario off ... One of my goals is to find a permanent homes for APP 1-5, SBOC and Nova. That really does have to be goal #1 for BEX IV.

First, it is unlikely that Lowell at Lincoln could stay there more than another year or two. Why? Because the district needs interim schools for BEX IV projects. Our district moves entire populations out of their current building to Lincoln (or Boren). It is faster this way than building on-site.

I have two ideas for APP 1-5 (or maybe 1-8).

One is John Marshall ... Air condition as an important issue ... Marshall does need fixing up ... [but] it is worth the district's while to do so. ... It could be just 1-5 or maybe 1-8.

Wilson-Pacific will be rebuilt ... [and] could be a middle school containing an APP-North program. That would take some of the pressure off Hamlton and Eckstein (as well as Whitman).


the district could split APP 1-5 (and possibly 1-8)and send half the program to Jane Addams and half to Salmon Bay ... Jane Addams is on a large site ... Advantages include buses already going to Jane Addams, near-by community center pool, a horticulture program at Jane Addams and, if it were 1-8, classes for 6-8 at Hale across the street.

Salmon Bay needs rebuilding and could support a larger capacity. Again, there is a nearby community center pool and, if it included 6-8, Ballard High school is nearby for classes.

I know you are tired of being buffeted around and, most of all, living with uncertainty. My personal feeling is that the district has never had a champion for Advanced Learning in any senior leadership and it has allowed it to operate in an underwhelming manner ... The AL Taskforce is interested in any and all comments and ideas.
Let's make this thread about that now. Please comment here to respond to Melissa, and I'll create a new open thread for more general discussion.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Advanced Learning survey results out

About a month and a half ago, the Advanced Learning Task Force, a group set up by the district, put out a survey to parents. Via School Board Director Kay Smith-Blum, the results (PDF) of that survey are now available.

What do you think of the results? Of the survey? Is there anything you think the survey did not cover well or missed?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another open thread

The last open thread is mostly new parents asking existing parents about APP. Let's do a new open thread to cover any other topics (APP survey, a home for L@L, situation at Hamilton, capacity, upcoming meetings, PTAs, school board, and anything else) that parents might want to talk about?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Open thread

A new open thread, have at it!

Update: In the comments, lots of new parents asking about whether they should choose APP and existing parents offering frank details of their experience in and why they chose APP.

Low limit on APP students at Ingraham

Suep asked Bob Vaughan about "whether there is or will be a cap on APP seats at Ingraham". Excerpts from his response:
Full implementation for APP at Ingraham for 9th grade for next year is two full classrooms of APP students. This means there is room for 64 APP students ... When originally conceived, the APP/IB option for Ingraham envisioned as many as 60 students per grade level over four years.

As to why there might ever be any limit on enrollment in this program, remember that capacity needs to be available for nearby resident students. Also ... Ingraham is the guaranteed pathway school for rising language immersion students coming from John Stanford and MacDonald International Schools through Hamilton International Middle School. Space needs to be planned for these students, as well.
Bob Vaughan's full letter is available.

As other parents pointed out, this means that only about 60% of students in elementary APP in the north-end of Seattle will be able to go to an APP high school in the north-end, and it will get worse if APP in the north continues to grow as expected.

APP parents north of the canal, were you expecting to be able to go to APP in the north through high school? Anyone see any good options for adding capacity for APP in the north at the high school level?

Update: In the comments, Suep adds a new clarification from Bob Vaughan.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Update: In the comments, lots of discussion of appealing APP admissions, with current parents helping new parents through the process, and of Principal Gregory King leaving Lowell.

How should Seattle's schools handle advanced learning?

Charlie Mas has a post up at the Seattle Schools Community Forum, "Towards a Shared Vision for Advanced Learning", where he asks:
If we were to re-design Advanced Learning in Seattle Public Schools from a blank slate, how would we do it?
Thought-provoking discussion there already from Charlie. Go take a look. Melissa has also chimed in in the comments to Charlie's post.

Charlie Mas, by the way, is on the Seattle Public Schools Advanced Learning Task Force, which is supposed to "advise district staff as they develop facility recommendations that will support the delivery of services to advanced learners throughout the district."

Update: Charlie is asking for "any constructive feedback that you all can offer" in the comments to this post, saying that his current thinking is that APP should shift to "addressing the special educational needs of children with very high cognitive ability" but "no academic achievement requirement for eligibility" and "no specific effort or goal to accelerate." He also suggests a new second program for "those who are working significantly ahead of their classroom peers" with "eligibility ... [based] strictly [on] academic achievement without regard to cognitive ability." Quite a change, potentially, please discuss further in the comments.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Discuss advanced learning survey

The advanced learning task force put out a survey recently. By request, here is a new thread to discuss the survey.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Open thread

It's a new year! What's on your mind, APP parents?

A few ideas for topics for discussion:

An article in The Atlantic on Finland's schools success and how that example might be relevant to SPS and APP.

The new Seattle Public Schools student assignment plan and proposed waiver policy and how it might impact APP, Spectrum, and related alternative programs.

2011 in review, what happened to APP in 2011, and what Charlie Mas called the death of Spectrum in 2011.