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.


Anonymous said...

My daughter will be attending APP Middle School. I am concerned about the principal at Hamilton IMS and whether he has a commitment or interest in APP. I get the feeling he does not and is just juggling capacity. Anyone care to weigh in on this?
- North Beach Elementary Mom

Anonymous said...

My sense is that Chris Carter believes that all students can be taught in homogenous classroom settings, using differentiation to meet the various student abilities. I do not have any issue with philosophy and there are many schools in the using this approach. The problem is that he is tasked with overseeing a large APP cohort; and I believe this causes him great conflict.

I think he is a potentially good leader in the wrong school. Staff survey results reflect this belief.

NESeattleMom said...

My daughter is finishing her 3rd year in APP at Hamilton. She has had a fantastic three years. I know that some students have not had a totally fantastic time with some of the teachers, but all in all, her group of friends seems to love school, love HIMS, and be learning a lot. Most of them are into music. Mr. Carter is well-liked by teachers and students. The only thing I hear that is not good is some quiet undercurrent that he doesn't appreciate APP, but that is not proven by fact. Whether APP is a long-term resident there or not is not known. But I hope it is...

NESeattleMom said...

What I was trying to say is that the school seems to me to be well-administrated. It is a school that houses many programs, each with their own needs. I think Mr. Carter is well-respected for his administration.

Anonymous said...

NE Seattle mom-

What do you make of the climate survey done last May in which Carter's reviews were horrendous? There has been little teacher turnover, so the teachers who answered so negatively are still there.

From what I understand, the real problems at Hamilton started with this year's 7th graders.

Mr Carter should not be allowed to dislike APP. He is tasked with being the principal of all the kids in his school. It really irritates me that the district allows this to go on. Move him to another school, and get a principal there who wants to support all kids.


Anonymous said...

If your child is in 8th grade, they haven't had the same experiences as this year's 6th and 7th graders. I suppose ignorance is bliss.

Like clockwork, for every negative comment posted here, someone will post a positive experience. If you haven't experienced some of the problems people are having, and your child had the luck of the draw on class placement, perhaps it's hard to understand the frustrations being expressed.

Anonymous said...

'Ignorance is bliss', I like that. But if you go back and read the threads about the problems in Hamilton just on this site, you would realize that there is a problem with the leadership (even though you haven't experienced yourself so you are actually among the lucky ones).
I think the problems started actually last year with the 6th graders, and it continues this year with the 6th and 7th grade classrooms. I just hope it won't continue next year. I also hope that we will receive a strong teacher advocate for the APP students soon (like Ms Shadow was) because I feel without that we are not going to achieve any positive changes with the growing program and its teachers.
- Tired

Anonymous said...

In response to "like clockwork," I appreciate hearing from parents who have had different experiences. Parents with a negative opinion are more likely to post, and that can leave the impression that everyone is unhappy. As people read this blog when they are considering advanced learning options at various levels, I think it's helpful to hear from those who feel differently.

Mercer Mom

Anonymous said...

@irritated and @tired - can you give examples of problems with the 6th & 7th grades as Hamilton? Why do you think the problems are grade-wide?

another ne mom

Anonymous said...

I can give you some ideas. 6th grade APPstudents prepared to take Algebra I. Not allowed. 6th grade APP students given a math teacher who cannot/will not meet students where they are and makes learning mathematics pure drudgery. 6th grade APP LA/SS teacher who distributes readings without making sure they are appropriate, persists in having students read inappropriate materials, does not seem to understand the vocabulary words she is teaching. Collective decision to have 6th grade field trip be to go to a PG-13 movie that no one had seen (or even read reviews of). Principal who will not take responsibility for dealing directly with these problems. Principal who can't seem to find the time to meet with 6th grade parents.

Unhappy dad

Anonymous said...

To Another NE mom:
If you are really interested about the problems in HIMS (and have spare time) you would go back and read about this, there is a thread with this name earlier and it is in many other threads also (key word: Hamilton). There are many examples there, so I am not going to write down them again when it is easily available on this website earlier.

- Tired

Anonymous said...

Attention Hamilton parents: the KONY 2012- Part II youtube video is out so please be prepared that your (7th grade) student might need to watch it at school or at home without any guidance like it happened with the first part earlier.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone go to the Literacy Night at HIMS today? I couldn't make it because of the horrible traffic this afternoon but would like to know how was it?

Glad I was tracked said...

"My sense is that Chris Carter believes that all students can be taught in homogenous classroom settings, using differentiation to meet the various student abilities."

Yes, why not have the teacher essentially working to teach three different classes SIMULTANEOUSLY, all day, every day. How could this possibly not be the ideal learning environment?

-Glad I was tracked

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone for your candid thoughts on HIMS and the leadership there. Truth be told, we are excited to attend HIMS - but we have been in the Seattle Public School system and their (supposed) advanced learning programs for 6 years and we know better than to expect smooth sailing......

-North Beach Elementary Mom

Anonymous said...

My daughter is in 6th grade APP at Hamilton and has had a really good experience. Yes, her math teacher is mediocre but her other teachers have been very good. But we are lucky enough to have McClurg (who I really like) and not Chacon for language arts/social studies.

Re: the proposed field trip to see the Hunger Games. I agree that this wasn't a great idea - but I would give the administration credit for listening to parent feedback and canceling the trip. Everyone has ideas that aren't fully baked. The administration can either err on the side of being overly conservative and never coming up with creative ideas - or they can come up with some creative ideas and sometimes need to re-think them.

If the kids were two - three years older, I think a field trip to see the Hunger Games and then some discussions about it would have been a great idea. My daughter's class read an article on the Hunger Games and extractive societies that I thought was great.

I haven't had enough interaction with Mr. Carter to have a strong opinion one way or the other. But I think someone else pointed out that he hired McClurg who I think has been a strong addition to the APP teaching staff.


Maureen said...

Tired said: I also hope that we will receive a strong teacher advocate for the APP students soon (like Ms Shadow was) because I feel without that we are not going to achieve any positive changes with the growing program and its teachers.

Hamilton has two assistant principals. Has anyone ever brought up the possibility of them being given primary responsibility for some of the sub programs in the building? So one of them could be assigned to Spectrum/APP and the other to Language Immersion? That way families would have a point person who they know is up to date on their issues.

I don't have a kid there, so maybe this has already been considered, or makes no sense for other reasons?


Anonymous said...

I arrived late at world language/ literacy night (traffic), but part of the presentation talked about LA alignment to the Common Core State Standards, Readers/Writers Workshop, and between classrooms. It was very general, and it wasn't clear how that was being done for APP classes.

Anonymous said...

Half of the 6th grade APP kids did NOT get McClurg for the two classes (SS and LA). Glad it worked out for you, but for a lot of us, three out of six classes are inadequate.

Another unhappy dad

suep. said...

@ Jane

...but I would give the administration credit for listening to parent feedback and canceling the trip.

It likely had more to do with the fact that Brian Rosenthal at the Times was writing a story on the controversy.

Yes, McClurg has been a good hire. But CC has also tried to hire Teach for America, Inc. recruits, which have only 5 weeks of summer training and zero in-class student teaching experience. It's hard to believe that of the 100s of applicants the school gets, TFA novices would be the best qualified and most experienced choices. Carter is a former TFAer himself.

Also, what is being done about the current staff members who have shown seriously bad judgment, made inappropriate assignments (repeatedly) or have poor teaching skills?

Anonymous said...

FYI TM Parents:

TM PTA sent a survey today to get parent input on the work that is being done on the North APP site - so South APP parents voices are part of the process. Check with PTA leads if you did not receive, they want it returned by Monday 4/9.

Anonymous said...

Why do TM parents have a say in what happens to SNAPP? Not trying to be snarky here; I really don't understand.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that they are pretty happy with the way things are going at TM and they don't want changes with the North APP to negatively impact things at TM.


Anonymous said...

With the split - I think many have forgotten that APP is a program being delivered at separate sites and as a result, changes at one site can affect the WHOLE program.

Specifically it can change the district's perception of what is acceptable and further changes and adjustments can be made down the line.

It would be great if everyone could keep sight of that - instead of just focusing on their little piece of the pie....

Anonymous said...

I hope the TM families will think about the principal that they have had for the last three years. Lowell has NOT been so lucky. Think about how things would be going if you had a lesser principal than Julie. We were at Lowell before and after the split (so I do know Julie), and things were not pretty at Lowell after the split. A school should not be considered a success if it is only held together by the principal. I am not at TM, so I am not saying that's the case. I would just hope that TM families would think about that.

I look at Hamilton now with a principal who is not a fan of APP. APP really suffers under this scenario. I think it would be an ideal situation for APP to have a stand-alone program at every level. It would be one thing if the district provided oversite to the program, but that don't.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how moving the group of kids now at Lincoln to their own building north of the ship canal together as a group impacts TM.

Anonymous said...

SNAPP(Seattle North APP)is misleading because it doesn't include the word elementary and thus appears to be a body that represents the whole north end or is that the case? Is there a SSAPP (Seattle South APP) or rather a whole city group?

I'm just confused

Anonymous said...

I hope that TM families will also think about what is best for kids and that different situations might need different solutions.

There are 500+ elementary APP kids living north of the ship canal and enrolled at L@L. Things are going well with this model. Is it really in their best interests to be split up simply because the program at TM is currently co-housed? If so, why? Why would that model be better than what is happening at L@L right now?

And please keep in mind that unlike L@L, TM has a principal who has been with the APP program for many years; they also have experienced staff. The majority of teachers at L@L are new to gifted education, and our principal was only promoted to principal this past year. We are still trying to rebuild after the last split. Splitting up again just to mimic the model used at TM will set the northend program back even further.

I do think that our community could do a better job of uniting as APP families, regardless of location. And maybe the current turmoil will help highlight some of these issues and motivate families to pool resources to provide equal opportunities at both elementary programs. Let's have those conversations as we move forward.

To that end, if there were one standalone program with a dedicated PTA that paid for local professional development opportunities, they could be open to all APP staff. We could actually do a better job bringing community together with this model than if all APP sites were co-housed with their PTA's split among programs. Split PTAs probably wouldn't get support to offer city-wide PD on gifted education or to send a subset of teachers to national gifted ed conferences. But a dedicated PTA could offer things like this and help bring communities together. Sort of like what the Academic Booster Club does down in Puyallup - they are a PTA-like organization that supports highly capable education throughout their district.

Let's be creative and figure out a win:win for everyone.

TM doesn't have to change if SNAPP remains a stand-alone program. And SNAPP shouldn't have to split up simply because TM is co-housed.

Anonymous said...

If there are two different delivery models for grades 1-6 then families should get to choose between co-housed and stand alone rather than be assigned geographically

Anonymous said...

I agree re: assigning geographically.

The district split up APP elementary specifically because they didn't want it as a stand-alone site. If they now agree to make North APP only a stand-alone site - then yes, the South APP families have reason to be upset.

The agreement under the split was that the two programs would be similar in structure and delivery - changing that 2-3 years later is unfair and does affect the entire program.

No one wanted to split up the original APP cohort - the PTSA, parents etc. fought vigorously to avoid that. It happened anyway - and now North-end parents are saying that they have a right to a stand-alone school? What??

I know that its GREAT if you are a North-end parent -- not so GREAT if you are a South-end parent.

South-end parents experienced a horrific first year after the split - while North end parents got to stay at Lowell.

South-end has since adjusted and gotten better - but in my opinion, that doesn't mean that the school is better off than when it was a single cohort.

I do think it represents an attitude from North-end parents of "we deserve what's best for us - who cares what anyone else thinks".

Anonymous said...

TM parents have been given a questionnaire about how they would like to see the district's elementary APP delivery model in the future. APP north was also given a survey, and those parents have had their say. The Advanced Learning Task Force has asked for TM's input as well. The program as a whole is impacted by the planning process. Also, please stop assuming the satisfaction many of us have with TM is due solely to Julie. I was at the old Lowell under julie's leadership, and now I am at TM, also under her leadership. Our family much prefers the co-housing at TM to the big APP school we had at Lowell, both from a learning perspective and for social/emotional reasons. Same principal. yes, strong leadership is critical, but the TM model is stronger in my experience, and benefits more of seattle's kids. - TM parent

Anonymous said...

TM Parent-

Your post seems to forget that most Lowell families also have experience with co-housing. If you remember, we were kicked out of our school in July because the gen ed program grew so much. The Lowell families have seen co-housing under POOR leadership, and it ain't pretty.


Anonymous said...

I think it would be wonderful if the district allowed two elementary options from which to choose. Some families might prefer a co-housing option while others might prefer a stand-alone program.

Families currently have choice between Ingraham IB and Garfield, so why can't there be choice in the younger grades?

If you read the APP AC's recent list of Pro's and Con's for co-housing versus stand-alone, clearly there are some proponents of co-housing. Although their Pro's are dubious to me, if some people out there really believe in them, they should have that option without forcing it on everyone.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of families having the choice between two options- one cohoused and one stand-alone. I think that the TM people need to realize that the Lowell they remember is not the Lowell that exists now. The original Lowell program has been decimated. I could see a split happening in a few years after the program has had a chance to rebuild. Splitting now would be the final death of the program, I think.

Anonymous said...

The previous split was bitter. Parents were emotional and the perception was that the North end had it better because it stayed at Lowell. Well, how did that turn out?

By all reports (from APP-AC), after a rocky first year, things have been going well for TM, and there has been little teacher turnover in their program.

Compared to Lowell, TM seems to have some stability. Isn't the primary concern of the SNAPP PTA to provide some stability for the North APP?

As far as similar in structure and delivery - well, the delivery has been consistently inconsistent. This goes for Washington/Hamilton as well. L@L seems to finally be getting a hold on it, but there are just so many new teachers and too few mentors from past years.

Rather than focus on a single cohort, splits, co-housing, buildings, etc, there really needs to be a focus on what makes the program strong and best serves students - minimum number of classes per grade, principal selection, teacher training, curriculum, and AL support. Define the minimum requirements (based on input from all locations) and take these to Teaching and Learning.

Let's keep the focus on ensuring that whatever the configuration, the minimum requirements are being met to provide program delivery for enrolled students.

just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

The difference is that TM, Washington, Hamilton, Ingraham and Garfield are all co-housed delivery models. Lowell is the sole exception. The other APP schools are are, on the whole, socioeconomically and racially diverse. APP 1-8 is 6% free and reduced lunch. The district-wide figure is 44%. Creating a stand-alone north-end APP powerhouse with big PTA dollars just for APP further divides the district into haves and have-nots.

Anonymous said...

Realistically, the district cannot afford to bus kids all over the city. Getting from View Ridge to TM would be a nightmare as would getting from parts of South Seattle to Lincoln (and to wherever north ends up). Yes, they allow it for high school, but those kids ride metro.

Parents can already apply for either location. If kids get in, parents must provide transportation.


Anonymous said...

to anon at 403PM, so if I'm hearing you correctly, you are saying that you favor a stand-alone model for APP but because you can't have it, you don't want anyone else to have it either.

If you want to play the "who has had it worst since the split game," I'd offer that Lowell APP has had 2 principals in 3 years and 14 out of 18 teachers are new to the program. We got kicked out of Lowell on short notice and had 2 months to spiffy up a high-school building for our elementary kids. We didn't get to bring any library books with us, or gym equipment, or playground equipment. Yet, somehow, a lot of families are having a good experience this year and want to stay intact. The teachers have asked for that as well so that they can continue to learn and grow together.

But you want to deny us that because you're still angry about the split 3 years ago. Even though you know from first-hand experience how hard that was on the kids, you want our kids to suffer it again. How many moves and splits should the northend kids have to endure to keep things fair?

Anonymous said...

L@L is the exception because of the District's awful capacity planning. Even though it's currently stand-alone (and co-located with McDonald), budget wise, it's still co-housed. What other program/school is in this bizarre limbo?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some in the north want their cake and eat it too with stand alone 1-6 and access to Garfield too. Let's remember why we ALL asked for choice at high school, because it was important for BOTH north and south. That will also be true if the 1-6 options are different north and south, and don't worry lots of parents will gladly drive kids.

Anonymous said...

First of all, it's 1-5, not 6.

If families in the south would like a stand-alone program, they should ask for it. That is all the north is doing. I don't know why the TM families are taking it like a personal attack.

Lowell was co-housed for two years, and there were lots of problems. Unfortunately, we didn't have a strong principal at Lowell.

-ask for stand-alone, too.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point-there are families in the north that want something other than you are asking for as a group-if there are 2 different options they need to be open to all.

If you threaten the stability of another school by asking for a change in the current rules it is a personal attach for some.

The only reason L@L is currently standalone is by a horrible set of misplannings not because it was intended.

Anonymous said...

"The only reason L@L is currently standalone is by a horrible set of misplannings not because it was intended."
Yes, indeed, and the same will happen with the North end middle school (Hamilton) also if the district does not prevent it somehow this year. So by next year we could have elementary and middle school stand alone APP programs to the North of the ship canal. It is just too bad that this only means the building because there is no "extra" principal, teaching and supporting staff, etc. It is going to be the end of the program I think...
- I really hope I am wrong

Anonymous said...

Pegi McEvoy sure made it sound like she wanted to split the north end into 3 or 4 programs this past Tuesday night. If she wants this for the north, she may want it for the south. We all need to work together to ensure the program continues. If they split north into 3 or 4 pieces, that's the end of elementary APP. Look what they've done to Spectrum. Divide and conquer. I hope TM will help the north stay together. I will help TM get a stand-alone building, if that's what they decide they want. If the north is broken up, it will harm the entire program city-wide.

-don't divide

Anonymous said...

Don't divide--

I agree with you. If South Enders want a stand alone building, they should help the North Enders get one, and use that as ammunition to get those own building. North enders should then fight just as hard to get the South Enders their building. If the North is split, I can easily see the district splitting TM into at least central and south. Maybe even central, southeast, and southwest. We have to be fair, right?

Anonymous said...

If people honestly think that they district is going to approve moving APP into a stand-alone building with 550-600 kids - I think they are crazy.

My money is on a NE/NW split - as they will site the 200-250 cohort size that has always been used to define a "successful" program.

If the North continues to grow - then yes, it will be split again down the line.

An yes - the program will then be a former shadow of itself as each location will only be as successful as the principle/teachers that go with it.

And we will all continue to send our kids anyway - as it will still be the best option for many of us.

Anonymous said...

"And we will all continue to send our kids anyway - as it will still be the best option for many of us."

I agree with an addition: ... and supplement our kids at home with even more learning material (possible with an online course). But then how about homeschooling? Sometimes it seems a better option...

Anonymous said...

I doubt that the southend will be split anymore- their cohort is "right-sized" right now - and is not growing at near the same rate.

Anonymous said...

RE North APP

I think we only need to look at Lake Washington or Bellevue's programs to see what co-housing does. Both have waitlists to get into the programs. Bellevue is not accepting any kids transferring in from another district. We need a single, permanent home, be it a 1-5, or a 1-8.

An APP Dad

Anonymous said...

Aren't we an APP COMMUNITY, as opposed to "south" vs."north"? We should all be advocating for what we believe the critical components of APP are to make it a successful program, throughout the District, elementary, middle and high school. That's why whatever happens in one part of the city or in one group (elementary or middle), impacts the entire program implementation, like it or not.

South end parent

Anonymous said...

The North-end proposal for a stand-alone APP site sounds vaguely familiar...Seattle Country Day perhaps? A private school dedicated to gifted education. We are a public system where every aspect of diversity should be considered. An exclusive community doesn't sound "public" to me.

Central Momma

Anonymous said...

I am a southend APP parent, and I first want to make clear that I do sympathize with the current plight of the North end families, they have had a tough couple of years.

That said, I am very concerned by the "North VS South" dialog that is emerging in this thread. It was just 3 years ago that we were all fighting for the same cause, now we are arguing about whose experience was worse? The truth is, the initial split, 3 years ago, had a significant impact on the quality of the entire APP experience - regardless of geography.

There is a ripple effect to decisions in isolation. One of the "cons" that the APP AC email called out to a stand-alone North school is funding and therefore program inequities between sites. This is a very real issue, as it directly effects teachers, students and learning. Just the things that are being considered as primary factors in this decision.

I agree that we are one APP community - regardless of geography and school level. This decision needs to be made with the lens of what is right for the entire program - not just what will solve the concerns of one segment of the entire APP community.

Anonymous said...

To central momma

The APP program is public school program for kids who meet certain criteria on IQ and achievement tests. Any children who meet these criteria who live in the geographical zone set by SPS are eligible for the program. It is potentially as diverse as the population it services, it is not exclusive or costly. Yes, there are issues about whether certain socioeconomic or racial factors mean certain groups are underrepresented in gifted programs (everywhere, not just Seattle) but this is a societal issue. SPS sets the (widely used) criteria and it is open to all who meet them if they choose to join the program.
The elitism claim is the same old canard. The one makes APP parents afraid to forcefully advocate for our kids because we are all so afraid of appearing 'elitist'. APP parents are not saying our kids deserve more or better. But these kids have different educational needs and why are they less deserving of having these met, and having a stable, physical location to attend school.

As for inequity with TM co-housing and north APP possibly having a standalone site. Is there currently equity in the program? TM APP class sizes seem to run around 20 students. L@L class sizes are in the high 20's. Inequity? TM currently has an APP experienced principal and teaching staff - inequity? TM has no uncertainty regarding relocation or reconformation of the program allowing all the efforts of staff/parents/admin to focus on actual teaching and learning - inequity? TM students currently attend an actual elementary school with a playground - not rundown 100 yr high school where they play soccer in the parking lot- inequity?
Maybe some thought should be given into how the program is delivered in the future - but for several smaller locations to be equitable and to deliver high quality instruction there needs to be planning and foresight, a unified, district-led approach to curriculum, professional development, ensuring teachers have similar qualifications etc for teaching these cohorts. This does not appear likely to happen with the current AL department.

Save APP

Anonymous said...

Save APP,

Again, I really sympathize with the current North Elementary situation and I think you did a good job in your "inequities" paragraph of outlining the short term issues that need to be addressed.

A couple of tactical comments: I do think your TM class size numbers are inaccurate. I cannot find actual numbers online but I believe TM currently has about 250 APP kids in 9 classrooms. Doing the math that says well over 20 kids per class. Example - both
4th grade classrooms have 31 kids this year. I believe TM is adding a portable next year...which to me says there are looming capacity issues as well.

I also have a question - how much did the Lowell PTA raise last year? I bet it was more than TM.

With a strategic lens, I would argue that this is public school, and this program is supposed to serve all children who qualify. I believe the delivery model and resources should be equitable across all schools/geographies.

You are also right that ther needs to be long term planning and forsight to deliver and equitable model. Dividing ourselves into "North and South" factions won't drive towards that goal.

Anonymous said...

I have also heard that TM is getting quite full. With capacity issues potentially looming there, do you want to be split? If we get a north split now, and then TM is full, guess what's going to happen to you? If the north gets its own school, that puts you in a much better position to ask for your own school. Again, think about what's best for the program.

I had heard the TM PTA raised a lot of money this year. I have heard it's over 100k. Let's also be realistic about this. Even if the north is split into two, it is likely that both north APP programs would raise more money than TM. The average incomes are higher in northern Seattle and breaking APP up into tiny pieces is not going to change that.

I would like to fight for a program that is strong as a whole. Four or five APPs scattered around this north isn't strong. I would argue that two programs in the north isn't strong, either. How would we split up the three experienced APP teachers we have? We'd have one lone experienced APP teacher who is supposed to mentor five or six other teachers? Impossible.

-don't divide

Anonymous said...

Save APP - please be aware that you have misinformation about class size at TM. APP classes there are generally very large, as is true throughout the district. Last year my 5th grader was in a class of 32 kids at TM. My other APP child at TM has 28 kids this year, 27 kids last year. Your misinformation is likely based on a lack of familiarity with our Co-housed PEACE academy for severely autistic children, which has very small classes (often 6-7 kids) with a couple of teachers/aides. Our average class size is comparable when the PEACE academy is taken into account.

Also, several posts incorrectly assume that south APP is not growing. In fact, both North & South Elementary APP are growing at similar RATES. The sheer numbers in the North are greater because North APP is starting with a larger cohort. TM APP grew this year, and the projection is that we will add 2 new APP classrooms next year. We too are in the position of needing to plan for likely continued growth. Like you, we need to decide what model best serves the children in our community when we outgrow our home. Decisions made now about the APP delivery model affect all children in our program and in the district at large.
TM parent

Anonymous said...

Don't Divide -

Your points answer the previous questions - "Why do South APP parents need to be involved in this process and decision", and get to what the TM parent survey was trying to gauge.

I think this is a very complex issue and that the outcome will impact the entire APP program. I'm glad that we're having this online debate and hope there is a forum for further live discussion.

South APP Parent

Anonymous said...

I apologize if I've mistakenly suggested class sizes are currently smaller at TM. I had heard 1st grade classes had approx 20 students but sounds like that may not be correct.
It would be great if APP as a whole (elementary through high school) had leadership, direction, professional development as a whole (not just as provided by the separate administrations/PTAs), and worked toward appropriate gifted certification of APP teachers. Curriculum should be standardized between sites and appropriate for the population (i.e may need some tweaking of district curriculum). Where/if the programs are co-housed they would be co-housed with complementary programs, ones that wasn't going to cause a capacity crunch and squeeze out APP, and managed by administrators who are equally supportive of each program.
Much of this could be said for the spectrum program too. It would be great if the district had a vision for APP (and spectrum), planned accordingly, and supported it. Maybe then it we wouldn't end up pitting parents against parents, south against north, the supposed 'have's' against the 'have-not's and so forth. We all really want the same thing after all - for our kids educational needs to be met in a stable, supportive environment.

Save APP

Anonymous said...

Downtown Seattle could be in line for 1st elementary school in years

Do you all think we have a say as to what will happen with the school situation, including the APP program in Seattle?
-Think twice

Steve said...

The downtown elementary school will consume $32 million of the BEX IV levy, and is included in all three proposed plans. I like the thought that the District is actually thinking about building capacity before we actually need it, but in the meantime, there is a huge capacity problem right now that has been in the making for many years, and we can't afford to build a school downtown. There are too many immediate needs elsewhere in the city.

I have to wonder if this would have been included if the business community wasn't asking for it. Parents, it seems, don't have the same kind of leverage.

Anonymous said...

I read today that only 8th graders are taking EOC exams at HIMs, not 7th grader for Algebra I. Is WMS doing the same? And is this correct, shouldn't any student taking Algebra I take the EOC and not the MSP math test?

Anonymous said...

There are only 20 kids in 1st grade APP at TM, so they get their own small class. After 1st grade when the number of kids in the grade goes up, they get big classes and split grade classes just like everyone else.

I think one of the points of the TM survey was simply to say to the district that TM is working well and please don't make any changes to it.

Took the Survey

CCM said...

My 7th grader took the EOC last year (WMS) after Algebra I - we received the results in the mail.

Did HIMS 7th graders take the EOC last year and the change is just for this year?

Haven't heard if WMS 7th graders are not taking the EOC this year - I thought it was required if you were going to apply for the high-school credit - or regardless for all kids taking Algebra...?

Anonymous said...

Check with the office/ doesn't make sense that 7th graders taking Algebra I wouldn't take the EOC.

suep. said...

I find it interesting that anyone should think that north-end elementary APP has any kind of exclusive status.

We have no building.

The district has made no plans to give us a permanent location.

We are in limbo.

Most of our experienced gifted teachers were harassed out of the school by the principals last year (and this). (Thurgood still has a nice core of experienced APP teachers.)

Our current principal was recently officially reprimanded by the district for misconduct.

Last year the climate at the school was plagued with fear and intimidation by the administration.

Our kids are given weak Everyday Math, science in a box and repetitive Reader's and Writer's Workshop year after year. (This is no private school, believe me.)

Our kids have already been through one split (arguably two) and an eviction. The same is not true for the TM cohort.

Lowell was cohoused before the split -- we shared the school with the medically fragile special ed program in what was an inspired cohousing arrangement that should never have been messed with.

And then an ALO program was introduced as well. The problem there was capacity -- the building got too full again -- and destructive leadership.

None of us asked for the district to split us in 2008-09.

None of us asked for the district to plan to jam the Lowell building full of kids in 2011-12, which would have been unsafe.

There simply is no available north-end space big enough to hold all of north-end APP and another school community without capacity problems arising again.

So the easy answer for the district is to splinter us into bits again.

But if the district splits our kids again, it will further weaken the school community and is simply unfair to these kids.

North-end APP desperately needs a chance to stabilize, regain its footing. I would argue it needs the district to simply leave it alone.

It also needs new leadership.

So anyone who is envious of this situation clearly does not understand what's going on.

This is my family's 7th year at Lowell and it's extremely sad to see how fragmented and weakened the school and APP program has become over that time.

My youngest child is not getting the same caliber of education that my oldest child got at Lowell. Because it's not the same school anymore.

Right now, Thurgood Marshall seems the APP elementary stronghold by comparison.

Anonymous said...

From OSPI:

The end-of-course exams, based on the revised K-12 Mathematics Learning Standards, are available in algebra 1/integrated math 1 and geometry/integrated math 2. The EOC exams will be given to students in grades 7-12 who are taking those respective classes.

Anonymous said...

all capacity problems can be regulated by raising the bar for qualification, something that arguably should have been done years ago

Anonymous said...

I just moved into the district and my son qualifies for the app program. After having read through the discussion thread, I am quite concerned as to whether or not Lowell is capable of doing any better than other schools with their gifted group of students.

I am with the last person who posted that the qualification bar needs to be raised. The purpose of app is to provide an opportunity to those students who would otherwise be lost in classrooms with no differentiation.

If there is such a huge growth in the population of the app qualified, doesn't that mean that the bell curve has changed? I know this becomes a bigger issue, as standardized testing is a nightmare in and of itself. But if a 98 on the CogAt tests and 95th percentile on the remaining tests is still causing a flood of students into the program, then requirements need to change.

It used to be you could get into a good college with a 3.2 gpa and a few sports, but then the bar was raised to needing near perfect gpa and sports, music, proven leadership skills etc. etc..

Seems elitist I know, but isn't that what this program is? An educational subset of gifted students?

Anonymous said...

More than changing the entrance requirements, they could use tests that actually test for giftedness. I think using the MAP test for entrance has been a fiasco.

Dump MAP

Anonymous said...

ummm-MAP is an entrance requirement.
It is supposed to help to identify in a color-blind way.
Regardless, the program was designed to serve a small group, if the group is now to big-fix that problem.

suep. said...

I need to clarify something I said above.

TM APP have indeed been through a split and an eviction, and that certainly was a difficult situation for those kids and families.

But, thankfully, it seems that is behind them, and they are relatively stable at this point -- unlike north-end APP, which is in an interim site with no set location after 2013 and another possible split looming over it.

That's the distinction I was trying to make.

It would be nice if the district would let both groups of kids take root somewhere without further disruption.

I think the reason a number (majority?) of north-end APP families are asking for a stand-alone option at this point is we simply don't want our kids and school to suffer through another debilitating split.

This sentiment is not elitist, but survivalist.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:28 - Use some sort of name

I don't really understand your post. I know MAP is an entrance requirement - I posted about that very fact. MAP is NOT designed to be an achievement test, which is what the district is using it for. All the MAP scores were adjusted in the fall because the company who wrote the test decided they weren't accurate. All of this is happening while APP is exploding. This growth is all new as is using the untested, unproven map test. I believe APP growth is a combination of allowing MAP to be used for entrance AND the dismantling of the spectrum program around the city.

-dump map

Anonymous said...

My kid scored way higher on an achievement test than on MAP. Do people think MAP scores are artificially high?

Also, how would you raise the entrance requirements? The percentages can swing from 95 to 99 on an IQ test just based on whether a kid tested the day before or the day after their birthday. Do you have something other than one high-stakes test in mind? Or are you thinking 99's across the board? That could miss a lot of kids that DO actually need the program.

If enrollment is up is it because families with bright kids with normal social & academic motivations are now choosing it over neighborhood school because it is "the BEST", a status symbol and the place to be? Despite the splits, at least at my school, the rep of Lowell is stellar. Look at how parents pursue even the best preschools these days. There are $700/month preschools popping up & thriving with long waitlists because things are so competitive.

Anonymous said...

I think things would change dramatically if they just went back to the Woodcock Johnson - an actual achievement test. In the good ole days, kids who scored highly on the Cogat would get an in-person visit from a district employee who would administer the WJ to kids individually. I think the district decided that was too expensive and that Maria Goodloe Johnson should get a good return on her NWEA options (the ones who do the MAP test), so they dropped the WJ and here we are.

-drop MAP

Anonymous said...

My child got a 98 on the WJ and an 82 on the MAP for math.

Anonymous said...

Looks like school assignments for 2012-13 can be found by using last year's link at

Anonymous said...

I just called the enrollment office, and the information you see by using the link posted here will not be fully updated until the 16th.

Anonymous said...

"all capacity problems can be regulated by raising the bar for qualification": Why is that a valid way to determine the scope of an academic program? In Spectrum, they have eligibility criteria, but for years participation was determined based on space available at your school. You are capable of working one year ahead; but, sorry, we only have 60 spots. What is the basis for the contention that kids which a 99/97 have a special need, but a kid who has a 98/95 score doesn't? Last, people who advocate for absolute cut-offs based on test scores need to explain how that is defensible when even the CogAt has a standard margin of error of at least several percentage points. It can't be that my kid got a 99, so I contend that is a valid cutoff; but your kid got a 96, which could be the equivalent given the standard margin of error, but your kid isn't sufficiently "gifted."

Wary of "Objective" Cutoffs

Thanks for the link said...

It's at least somewhat updated. My kid is listed as at L@L and doesn't go there yet.

Fremont Mama said...

Does anyone else have an incorrect listing on that link? My current kindergartner qualified for Spectrum (I have the letter from AL stating it) but on that link it says general education for 1st grade. I may call enrollment tomorrow unless other people are seeing mistakes too...


Anonymous said...

My understanding is that isn't a guaranteed assignment (unlike APP). Enrollment is on a space-available basis. It depends on where you applied during open enrollment and whether there was space for your kid (hence the need to provide a 2nd choice). Also, spectrum isn't an automatic assignment. You need to select a spectrum option and enroll during open enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Oops - I meant to say Spectrum isn't a guaranteed assignment if the spectrum spots in the school you applied for are full. Is your child an elementary student?

Methyl said...

@FremontMama, Spectrum also might be in name only if there are not enough kids to fill a classroom, as it was when my son was eligible at Broadview Thomson for 1st grade ... there were only 6 Spectrum kids enrolled. At least they were grouped together, and assigned to the Spectrum teacher but ... ? So *do* ask the principal of the school you applied at, to make sure there is some sort of guarantee of expected program.


Anonymous said...

Are you at an ALO school? At ALO schools you are enrolled in "gen ed" even if you have Spectrun or APP eligibility/designation.

Anonymous said...

Many parents with years of APP experience report a decline in rigor. I myself felt that most of my child's APP classes have been watered down. Curriculum and materials decisions and lack of gifted-ed teachers contribute to this decline. I feel that lowering the bar also contributed and I would like to see a more open discusion about the possible benefits to APP of raising the entrance bar. Another thought is to also start APP at 2nd or 3rd grade to help ascertain that the kids in the program are appropriate to a highly gifted program. I fully support high expectations and quality instruction for all students which in my mind would serve advanced students who in this scernario would be in a enriched and challenging Spectrum/ALO program for Elementary.
Raise the Bar

Anonymous said...

Totally agree about raising the bar, but have to respectfully disagree about changing the entry grade-unless we move it down to K.

Happen to have a child who was identified by the preschool teacher and this kid needed APP in K. My observation is that the earlier kids enter APP the more appropriate the fit is. So, kids who entered in 1st grade are now bored because every year new kids enter and everything has to slow down to accommodate.

Anyone else support 2 tracks, one for kids who enter in say 1st and 2nd grade so they can keep up the pace they are used to, while a second brings kids who start in 3rd and 4th up to speed?

Maybe those tracks could merge at middle school. Crazy or beneficial?

Anonymous said...

What are the specific recommendations from those that want to "raise the bar?"--other than the two tracks?

apparent said...

Raise the Bar says "I feel that lowering the bar also contributed ..." to watered down APP classes.

When was the bar lowered. Hasn't it always stayed the same -- top 2% cognitive scores, plus top 5% achievement scores in both reading and math? What's different?

If APP classes are watered down, your other explanations -- curriculum and materials decisions, and lack of gifted-ed teachers -- sound more convincing.

Anonymous said...

- out-o-the-box
I don't agree with you at all. And the reason?
My kids entered Lowell at grade 5th and 3rd. And since I volunteered in both classrooms I found that most of the kids who entered in 1st, 2nd grade were in the lower end of the class in both grades. It was more prominent in 5th grade. My students worked so hard and were in the top of their class even though they were in Spectrum before because they were afraid that the "Lowell" kids are more advanced. But for some unknown reason the kids who entered earlier were not advanced at all, they seemed more relaxed, and even lazy sometimes. It seemed it was given already that they are in the program and no matter of what they will stay. It was a HUGE disappointment for all of us.
- Disagree with the 2 tracks

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your generalizations...and it's completely inappropriate to discuss kids performance as a volunteer parent. Is the "laziness" you see actually boredom, which manifests itself as underachievement? Hard to say isn't it? Some of those that started in 1st grade have since gone on to Lakeside, SCDS, and elsewhere to get more challenge.

Anonymous said...

To connect two dots here:
"disagree with 2 tracks" your impression, which is very different than mine, might be colored by which year, not grade, your kids entered APP.

Mine did when it was just 2%, only 2%, and not dip down to 5% in some cases. This also answers the question of "appparent."

Yes the bar was specifically lowered from across the board 2% to the current 2%/2%/5% measurement. That happened for entry in 2004 in an effort to diversify APP, which didn't happen but it was the beginning of the watering down of APP today.


Anonymous said...

-Anon 5 20pm
"it's completely inappropriate to discuss kids performance as a volunteer parent."

Why do you think this? I didn't mention names or specific classrooms or years or any details. It is great that in your previous sentence you stated the exactly opposite: I shouldn't generalize. My opinion is still the same:
- Disagree with the 2 tracks

Anonymous said...

Testing testing 123....

Heard back from HIMS on testing.
7th grade APP taking the following tests:

MSP: Math, Reading, Writing
EOC: Algebra I
MAPS: Math, Reading

Assume that 8th grade also taking same tests (except their EOC is Geometry)

Anonymous said...

To: Anon 5 20 pm
"Some of those that started in 1st grade have since gone on to Lakeside, SCDS, and elsewhere to get more challenge."

Is it really appropriate for you to state generalized facts like this on a public school blogsite? How do you know those students "Disagree with the 2 tracks" were talking about?

- I also disagree (with the possibility of 2 different tracks in 1 program)

Anonymous said...

When the APP population hits high school, it's a whole new ballgame. I know APP kids who are continuing on their "gifted" track and getting into the small LACs and Ivies, and kids who have been in APP since early elementary and are not getting into the schools they expected at all. I know kids who were not in APP and are getting into the small LACs and Ivies. I know kids in APP since 1st grade who have 1800 SAT scores and going to WSU. I know kids in APP who are National Merit Scholars. I know kids who were not in APP who are National Merit Scholars. I know kids in APP who were not even Commended National Merit Scholars, but kids who were not in APP who are. I am the parent of 2011 and 2013 SPS students. You can guess which high school. All the testing in the world in 1st grade does not determine the future. Or 2nd or 3rd. If your kid is bright, but not a hard worker, or gets burned out along the way, you may struggle. If your kid is bright and a hard worker but has not been in APP, and does not get burned out and has passion, they may get everything and more that they strive to achieve. Or perhaps your kid is very bright, in APP, does not get burned out, and is very involved and works hard, they still may not end up at the college of their dreams. Some will, some won't. But they will all be okay, as long as we let them be okay. Childhood is a journey, not a race. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the post about high school. Enjoy. Exactly. Enjoy acquiring knowledge and experience and flexing the brain muscle and taking risks. I hope that society continues the process of working to encourage more great teachers who inspire a love of learning to stay in the field. I hope that all high school students are encouraged to challenge themselves and to enjoy school. I'm not sure what I advocate for with respect to APP and High School specifically, but I do agree with "Enjoy."s post above.

Raise the Bar

Spectrum Mom said...

Mr. Carter is a middle manager. He is not a leader. He has some very strong teachers, which is mostly good. In our experience, the kids like their classes and the teachers but the parents are not that happy with the administration. So, my husband and I just monitor that our kid is doing well and live with our dislike of the ineffectual administration.

That said, no one can have perfect classes every single time. My kid is in Spectrum, which is mostly amazing. But, it turns out that the science teachers for General Ed and Spectrum are the same--and are awful. Truly awful. As in, retreating to the back office while the 8th grader TA microwaves popcorn and flirts with the girls and all of the kids text each other on their cell phones. This is not even teaching. Science is a complete waste of time for these kids--it doesn't matter what level they tested into. It's so sad for kids like our kid who loves science. And it's totally unfair.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Carter, like Mr. King at Lowell, is a former Teach for America teacher, and TFA has its own way of training teachers and future leaders. (And good news, Gates Foundation is probably going to fund a version of TFA for principals. Five week trained principals - what could go wrong there?)

Word is that Mr. King was shadowing Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson to learn how to be a superintendent.

It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me what does it exactly mean: TFA principal these days. Does it mean that Mr K and Mr C was in a training to become teachers for 5 weeks with TFA and then they were teachers for a year or two and then they went to have a special education to be a principal?
Does it mean they were not a "real" teacher ever in their life?