Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New York Times: "Young, Gifted and Neglected"

By request, a new thread to discuss the New York Times editorial today, "Young, Gifted and Neglected".

63 comments :

Steve said...

I think this is a great article, and I've just ordered the book these authors recently published (title/author below if you're interested). Seattle Public Schools doesn't seem to know what to do with advanced learners, and appear clueless about how to structure a program that meets the needs of these kids at all levels. One would think we would identify good models from other cities, pick the elements that will work best in Seattle, implement it and tweak as necessary. Not rocket science, I think, but the level of design effort around meeting this need is not apparent at all to me.

Steve

The book: "Exam Schools: Inside America’s Most Selective Public High Schools", by Chester E. Finn, Jr. & Jessica A. Hockett.

Lori said...

I posted this to the saveseattleschools.blog earlier today:

The title of the article is particularly apt this week in Seattle as we prepare for BEX IV community meetings: Young, Gifted, and Neglected

It's exactly how I feel about my child and her peers seeing that there is no clear plan for APP@Lincoln in the latest BEX IV project list. They are being neglected. Seriously, how can the district just pretend that a school of 530 children temporarily housed in an old high-school building simply does not exist when making major capital renovation and building plans?

There are concerning words in the plan, too, like "maximizing flexibility for programs" and expanding building core facilities (like lunch rooms) so that programs can be placed nearer to where students live. Sounds to me like their approach to capacity management will be splitting the Lincoln kids up into smaller cohorts and sprinkling them around the north end of the city. That might help with capacity, but it would dismantle an important program that represents a best practice in gifted education.

From the article, "...[T]he majority of very smart kids... depend on public education to prepare them for life. Yet that system is failing to create enough opportunities for hundreds of thousands of these high-potential girls and boys.

Mostly, the system ignores them... Here and there, however, entire public schools focus exclusively on high-ability, highly motivated students. Some are nationally famous, others known mainly in their own communities... Many more students could benefit from schools like these — and the numbers would multiply if our education system did right by such students in the early grades. But that will happen only when we acknowledge that leaving no child behind means paying as much attention to those who’ve mastered the basics — and have the capacity and motivation for much more — as we do to those who cannot yet read or subtract."


We need *more* schools like APP@Lincoln in this state, in this country. We have the demographics here in Seattle to support the recommended approach to gifted education; we could be the district others look to as a model for how its done. But instead, we fight year after year to keep the program from being dismantled. I have friends and family in other states who wish they had something like APP in their districts. Yet our district acts like APP is dispensable, obsolete, no longer needed.

I just don't understand it.

I hope we start getting some answers at the community meetings, starting this Thursday at Whitman.

Bronx Science grad said...

So great to see this op-ed. I hope the authors will be doing the media rounds too now and spread the word. I graduated from Bronx Science, which was a huge game changer in my life, but there were no NYC public schools (or really any programs) devoted to gifted kids before grade 9 at that time (maybe still?). I was thrilled to find that there are such programs here -- but clearly we haven't committed to them. Time to step up! We are arguably the most scientifically rich city in the US, let's bring our public schools up to the challenge.

Anonymous said...

"most scientifically rich city in the US"
Yes, and most INTERNATIONAL. Because the scientists who do work in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond mostly came from other countries. And didn't graduate from SPS for sure.
- Time to wake up

Marco said...

Luckily, all of us here are savvy AND pushy ;)

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry this comment isn't regarding the Times artice, but could the moderator please start a thread about the number of early dismissal days at Hamilton. I missed the PTA mtg and I'm not sure if this was discussed then.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

There is an ongoing discussion about the PTSA meeting at HIMS last night on the "saveseattleschools" blogsite (since the whole school is involved):
http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=5679908899950589227

Anonymous said...

Chester Finn is a charter school supporter, teacher union basher and corporate ed reform champion. He wants gifted ed parents to help foster his right wing agenda. Look it up. If you have to quote this guy to promote advanced learning, you're in trouble. As was said on the other blog, maybe the best delivery system in our district for AL is going to be at the neighborhood school. Blasphemy, I know, but APP is a hard to manage program and is possible detrimental to kids. I would like to see a breakdown of test scores from all middle schools in the next few years. My guess is that some very capable students will be coming out of the regular ones and those kids may also be a bit better socialized. The goal of AL should be to maximize student learning in academics and citizenship. Historically this has not been possible at local schools, but as this is year 1 of full implementation of the NSAP, we may be seeing a sea change. Self- contained does show the best results in most studies, but new studies are being done and SPS may be breaking new ground.
I know we all think we could do Bob Vaughan's job with our eyes closed, but the fact is he really knows the latest info. He sits on WA state boards and no doubt keeps up with all the research and trends. Now, it would be nice to get a newsletter about what's trending in AL these days across the US and other parts of the world...

open mind

suep. said...

"hard to manage program"? What do you mean by that, "open mind"?

Seems the program was quite manageable, effective and successful until the district starting dicing it into pieces in 2009. And even now, how is APP any less "manageable" than any other program?

You could say that special ed is "hard to manage" but I'm guessing you won't.

Sorry, Dr. V. has either been silent or ineffectual these past 5 years or so, since the district brought him back to head AL. In fact, they brought him in shortly before they split the program into pieces, so an argument could be made that he was put in place just in time to help sell this dubious plan (the splits) to the APP community (anyone remember the pathetic meeting in the Lowell cafeteria in Nov 2008 where all the supposed APP leaders told families there was nothing that could be done to stop the splits and parents should just roll over and accept it?)

Dr. V has also been a proponent of MAP testing, which people should by now see has been misused and done more harm than good. It arguably keeps more kids out of AL than identifies those that should be in, and has been used this year to keep 6th graders out of appropriate math classes in middle school. All in all, MAP has been a costly waste of time.

Sitting on boards does not make one a dynamic or informed leader, although it may pad one's resume nicely.

The research still supports a contained model for gifted ed. Even the district's audit of APP in 2007 showed this (which the district then ignored).

The program has gotten weaker with every split. APP at Lincoln, for example, is a shadow of what it once was; hardly recognizable in fact. I believe "The Lowell Way" is gone as well.

You may be right about Finn's politics. But gifted ed specialist Michael Clay Thompson spoke eloquently about the failures of our educational system to nurture highly gifted minds, at the WAETAG conference a two years ago. I wrote about it here: "Why Aren't our Schools Encouraging our Kids to Reach for the Stars Anymore?"

Anonymous said...

APP is hard to manage as it is the district's largest self-contained program by far and requires substantial building space and bus service. Sped is primarily based at local schools, as it should be, and yes it is very complicated to manage as well.
The point is that serving kids is the goal and self-contained may not be the best way in our district anymore. New ways of teaching to kids who can do harder work are being introduced at the elementary and middle school level. I say if students can be served appropriately at their local school, it's better for everyone. If self-contained APP is the best for a kid, it should be available.
Let's try to keep an

open mind

suep. said...

open -- your logic doesn't follow. You seem opposed to a dedicated contained program, but also say it should be available.

Also, you don't appear to take into account that every kid that goes to an APP school that's not in her/his neighborhood, potentially opens up a space in her/his local school for others. Arguably non-APP kids require just as much space as APP kids -- or more, since there are more of them!

The problem is with the district over-enrolling buildings and filling them with too many programs at once, hence the overcrowding fiasco at Lowell (when a third program was added) and the looming problem at Hamilton, which is being asked to serve neighborhood kids, be a language immersion feeder school and a location for APP.

This is not a flaw in the APP model. It's not even a symptom of APP being hard to "manage" as you say. It is simply another example of poor planning and lack of vision by the district.

Also, I think the current obsession with sending kids to their "neighborhood school" is illogical and overstated. What makes that "better for everyone," as you say? I disagree. What's wrong with letting kids from various parts of town go to school together? That's what we had when we had just one location for elem, middle school and high school APP. It's what we have with our option schools. It allows kids to meet others from various neighborhoods and have friends and peers from all over town.

Centering one's entire universe on one's own neighborhood and limiting your kids' peers to those who live nearby is not very 'open-minded' either.

Each time Lowell got split apart these past four years, something was lost. We lost our south and central peers and the cohesion of the school. Then we lost our longtime special ed schoolmates, as well as our new gen ed schoolmates. In exchange, our kids are now (somewhat) closer to where they live. But has that really been a worthwhile trade-off?

The Seattle Public School District has a management problem across the board. The central office seems unable or unwilling to manage anything well. It also has a penchant for messing with things that do work well, such as APP and Spectrum.

The fact is, APP was managing quite well when it was a solid program located at three schools that drew kids from all over town. If it's complicated now, that's because the district has made it so.

Anonymous said...

open-
Distributing to neighborhood schools can sound like a good idea, but it's completely out of touch with the realities of our school system. I wanted to stay in our local community and just spent years trying to get my daughter adequately served by AL closer to home before "giving up" and sending her to TM this year. While there's a possibility that children in the highest achieving schools in the district can be accommodated, if you live in an area with a higher needs population, you may find that you're pretty much out of luck. If our schools were all blessed with unlimited resources and each school had both a sufficient cohort and a staff that was truly committed to meeting the needs of these learners, it might work. But when there are limited resources and competing priorities that many people will find much more pressing (many kids that need help reaching standards), programs and practices that sound good on paper (ALOs, differentiation), essentially get thrown out the window. Even really good-hearted teachers don't necessarily feel urgency for the needs of AL students in the face of the other challenges they face--we were essentially told that teaching our child was too much trouble, even though we were trying to stay committed to our local school out of a misplaced sense of obligation. Paying for long bus rides is much more efficient than trying to provide the extra resources for each and every outlier to be well served locally. Any move to get these learners distributed and served locally without a massive injection of resources would amount to empty promises, sort-changing these students completely, and those from lower resourced communities most of all.
--it just doesn't work

suep. said...

Regarding the cost of bus service, the district gets subsidized by the state for APP transportation -- something like $3,500 per kid per year, which more than covers the costs of transporting the kids. I have heard that this has helped the district defray bussing costs for other kids as well, especially when APP and other kids shared buses (i.e. as Lowell and TOPS used to do).

APP mama said...

Open mind -
I appreciate the due consideration of the minority opinion - and I might be inclined to agree with a neighborhood schools approach, except that I'm not seeing the changes in the neighborhood schools that you reference. Quite frankly, also don't think that we should ask them to take on more - many if not most of them are very good at what they are doing...why should we mess with it.

I have one bright child that attends our neighborhood school, a fantastic school with an active ALO program. This school services her needs well, and she is happy and making strong academic strides. When my second child started at this same school, the 30-min 2X per week pull-out with an instructional aide just did not provide enough challenge. This self-contained model is very appropriate for my younger child...it works.

Most of us have tried to make the neighborhood school work for our kids at APP, and we only went looking after we failed. Moreover, we've watched the Spectrum option slowly dissolve into the neighborhood schools - which does not inspire confidence in e neighborhood school approach. I just don't see what's different going forward.

I say, let's let neighborhood schools do what they do best, and not disrupt the progress they are making. Let's keep a self-contained program for the kids who need it. Having both models only increases the likelihood that we are able to meet each child at their level.

APP mama said...

Sorry - had an interruption while writing this and missed some punctuation...this is the sentence as intended.

Quite frankly, I also don't think that we should ask them to take on more - many, if not most, are very good at what they are doing...why should we mess with it.

Lori said...

Chester Finn is a charter school supporter, teacher union basher and corporate ed reform champion...

That may well be true, but it doesn't change the merits of what's written in the current OpEd. Indeed, he could have explicitly talked about charters being an answer to the problem, but he didn't. I don't see the word "charter" in the piece. Did I miss it?

It's easy to try to dispute something with ad hominems, but I don't discredit an argument simply based on who's making it.

...If you have to quote this guy to promote advanced learning, you're in trouble

We don't have to quote this one guy to make our argument. Practically every book written in the last decade on gifted education talks about how these students' needs are not being met nation-wide and about how ability grouping and acceleration work to solve not only academic needs but also social and emotional needs.

All Mr. Finn did with this OpEd is highlight the problem in a major US newspaper! That's a good thing because it might get people talking. And maybe Mr. Finn does think that charters are part of the solution. But we don't need them here in Seattle! We already have 2 robust options for elementary students within the public school system in Seattle.

That's the point. That's why the OpEd resonated with some of us. If the answer is self-contained programs and stand-alone schools, we already have that and shouldn't be splintering them up into smaller and smaller pieces.

The irony, actually, is that if SPS were to stop supporting APP at the elementary level, you might actually drive a lot of parents to suddenly supporting charter schools! I don't think that's what the distict wants but if they dismantle things that work, they may very well be putting the local public education system at risk.

suep. said...

Lori wrote: "The irony, actually, is that if SPS were to stop supporting APP at the elementary level, you might actually drive a lot of parents to suddenly supporting charter schools! I don't think that's what the distict wants but if they dismantle things that work, they may very well be putting the local public education system at risk.

Actually, Lori, this may indeed be what the district wants.

There's a whole theory that the business and political powers-that-be in this town which support corporate ed reform, and supported Goodloe-Johnson (and Enfield), purposely sought to weaken our schools and take away all our options and choices (New Student Assignment Plan, APP splintered, Spectrum weakened, alt schools weakened, transportation decreased) in order to make our district "ripe" (Broad Foundation's word) for "hostile takeovers" (LEV's words) and create a demand for charter schools and that particular "choice."

In fact, in one of the recent SPS Leaks documents, people from the League of Education Voters and the Alliance for Ed bemoan the fact that the Creative Approach Schools MOU satisfied the alternative schools community, making them less likely to join LEV and the Alliance in the push for charter school legislation.

So it naturally follows that the (legitimate) dissatisfaction of vocal APP community might also be used in a similar fashion to push the ed reformers' privatizing (charter) agenda.

I mention this intentional "Chaos theory" here in Letter to a Friend.

But as you know, charters would not be a true solution.

Anonymous said...

my point is that new models are being developed to serve more gifted kids better. There should always be self-contained available for those who do best in that environment, such as the profoundly gifted. However, having local options that serve gifted students are cheaper and a lot of kids enjoy staying in the neighborhood. Dina Brulles has a new paper on Schoolwide Cluster grouping. Look it up if you're interested and read Mr Finn's interview with the Economist, if you have the time. Both are interesting IMHO.

open

was there said...

open said: my point is that new models are being developed to serve more gifted kids better. There should always be self-contained available for those who do best in that environment, such as the profoundly gifted. However, having local options that serve gifted students are cheaper and a lot of kids enjoy staying in the neighborhood. Dina Brulles has a new paper on Schoolwide Cluster grouping. Look it up if you're interested and read Mr Finn's interview with the Economist, if you have the time. Both are interesting IMHO.

Yes, SCGM is a relatively new model, but it's essentially a model that is recommended when there are not enough kids available to create self-contained classrooms. Why? Because self-contained, when possible, serves ALL kids from top to bottom better or at least equal to any other model. It seems like you read the SCGM title and perhaps the cliff notes, but failed to dig into the details. Other models sacrifice the gifted kids while providing no benefit to the rest, and in some cases making it worse for them as well.

The real issue at hand is that there are many, many people in Seattle that do not understand gifted students and gifted education, including many administrators and teachers. There are levels and layers of subtleties. People like Chris Cronas, who has single-handedly destroyed gifted ed at Wedgwood, haven't a clue. Their egalitarian ideals mean (to them) that everyone should be treated equally, rather than everyone should have equally appropriate opportunities to learn. There is a HUGE difference.

So we do not trust SPS administration to implement any gifted program properly, and when something is actually working well people will fight tooth and nail to keep it intact. Three years ago the district broke up APP, and there are serious problems. Cronas dismantled Spectrum at his school and it's happening in other buildings as well. There is a very scary and dangerous trend happening in Seattle.

In most fields of study, if you're not an expert you don't claim to be. But when it comes to kids and education, everyone thinks they understand everyone else's needs, and it's BS. I don't understand the needs of most special ed kids, so I make extra effort to listen to those families who are experiencing those needs firsthand. But everyone and their brother think they understand APP because they "know" their own kid is smart and special and why the hell does someone else deserve anything out of the ordinary.

Back to the self-contained/SCGM, the topic has been discussed at length, I recommend catching up here:

Cluster Grouping talk at Nathan Hale

Open Thread (search for Brulles and read from there)

Advanced Learning task force

Advanced Learning committees history

All of these threads have great background and information. Anyone remotely interested in the topic should read through them.

Open? Please let us know what you think after reading the above threads.

Anonymous said...

Our experience has been that classrooms teach to the middle, whether in APP or gen ed. If students were grouped by ability for some subjects (either in self-contained Spectrum or walk to math/reading), then there's a chance the neighborhood schools could serve more AL students. The problem is there is so much resistance to ability grouping.

My understanding of the Brulles model is that it groups the highest achieving kids in a single classroom, but our experience is that these kids are sprinkled across the classrooms. Brulles' research showed SCGM as improving student performance, but I also seem to recall that teachers of those classrooms had training in gifted ed and differentiation. Are all Seattle teachers going to get that training? Unlikely.

was there too

Anonymous said...

SPS has not articulated a comprehensive plan for AL. Do they have one are things as fluid as they seem? I'd guess things are fluid with some longer term goals, one of which is serving gifted in local schools. I understand, I think, parental angst at their kid's potential being wasted in an unchallenging school setting. I believe that the AL dept is trying to expand Offerings for kids who can do harder work.
Self-contained is always the sticky wicket. Yes, it works well for student learning, but creates problems, as we all know. It seems many parents would stay local if their kids could get the same level of work doing so as their kids get in a self- contained program. Walk tos seem to be the answer and they are being implemented.

Open

Anonymous said...

SPS has not articulated a comprehensive plan for AL

That's the overarching problem, isn't it?

dw said...

Open,

Your posts waffle back and forth like a politician (are you Chris Cronas?), and have a biting coyness to them. Like: APP is hard to manage and Self-contained is always the sticky wicket. Yes, it works well for student learning, but creates problems, as we all know.

WTF does this mean? Sticky wicket? Actually, the only problems self-contained classrooms create are with some parents and some staff. They create a different set of logistical/configuration issues for staff to work through, that's all. If the programs are well managed (like Wedgwood was when Ms. Gallardo was there), then the kids don't even know there are different types of classrooms until they get to the upper grades. Which is exactly as it should be! It's the parents and a few teachers that get their panties in a bunch because of adult issues and perceived inequities. It's mostly ignorance, but one can hardly excuse the poor behavior and results.

The other thing is self-contained has 2 different meanings, depending on context, and people are constantly forgetting this. Self-contained classrooms is (was) Spectrum. Self-contained building/program is more or less what Lowell was on capitol hill prior to the APP split, and what SNAPP is right now at Lincoln. The issues are completely different in these different configurations. Self-contained APP as it was at Lowell 4-5 years ago was the showcase and zenith of advanced learning in SPS. I don't expect to see that again in my lifetime.

I believe that the AL dept is trying to expand Offerings for kids who can do harder work.

This is fine except that the word "expand" is being used because it sounds "good". Expansion is always a good thing, right? What the district needs to do if they really, truly care about students is to create new opportunities without destroying the existing ones. Work to bring everyone UP, rather than compressing to the middle.

Anonymous said...

Responding to Open and other posters who suggest that self-contained somehow is hard to manage or fails to best serve AL students...

The idea that AL students will be best served by further splitting APP and placement closers to where students live is pure hogwash. Wake up and do some research. Most of the reputable studies regarding the best delivery model for gifted education affirm that self-contained is optimal. The primary negative -- perception that this model is exclusive or extreme. But ignorance and mis-perception are NOT reasons to dismantle successful programs.

I'm truly dis-heartened to read the comments on this blog that suggest APP as a self-contained model is somehow flawed. Central Office and school leadership are flawed and all to willing to ignore what is best for students. And families (especially those new to the program) just accept the reassuring words that are dished out by administrators and committee chairs without grasping the big picture. As a long time APP parent I share the perspective of suep, dw and others in this thread. These are voices that know the history of APP in Seattle and the negative trajectory of the past 5 years.

It's not complicated. What works are self contained programs, qualified experienced teachers who understand gifted ed, quality curriculum, administrators who actually advocate for the program and students, supportive and informed families, PTA and APP AC leaders that actually solicit input from families instead cozy-up to central office administrators.

Seriously, consider opting your kids out of MSP as has been suggested. Pulling a positive data point off the SPS books is likely the only way to get our voices heard.

-- Better Math Not Unicycles

Anonymous said...

Fact. Research shows self contained works best for gifted kids

Two questions:

Does it work best for society, the public who foots the bill?

Is it not possible that other delivery systems, maybe some currently being implemented and studied, could prove more effective?

O

Anonymous said...

Better Math NU said:
"The idea that AL students will be best served by further splitting APP and placement closers to where students live is pure hogwash. Wake up and do some research. Most of the reputable studies regarding the best delivery model for gifted education affirm that self-contained is optimal"

Exactly. And you can do research in your own back yard. Why did we move our kids to self contained in the first place? Because the neighborhood school wasn't working!I am sure that most of us, from a logistics point, would much rather sleep in and walk to school! But we get up early and put them on buses across town because that was better for them academically.

--Dragons forever

suep. said...

@ O Anonymous --

What "bill" are you referring to? The taxes we all pay for public education? How would it 'help society' to not educate its children appropriately?

Anonymous said...

Does society want kids who are in the top 1 or 2 per cent going to separate schools? Or should we, the citizens through our elected officials, strive to meet their needs academically in a more homogeneous setting as we do for special needs students on the other end of the ability bell-curve? It's a fair question.

o

Anonymous said...

Does it work best for society, the public who foots the bill?

The students still need the same number of teachers and staff as any other student, generally without the added costs of tutoring or other interventions. On the whole, they are probably the lowest cost students to support. So, what "bill?"

Look at school budgets and compare.

Anonymous said...

All kids should get the chance to work to their potential. If self-contained is the only way then I agree that parents should demand the program work as well as they can get the district to do so. All kids deserve the best and we shouldn't rob one ngroup for another, especially if it's only to placate feelings and noy improve the other group.
I want APP kids in public school and I want them to work hard because they will benefit society e when they grow up. I just think their education would be better if along with rigorous academics they had more exposure to kids who arent in the same ability level. Can it happen? I Agree it hasn't, but I think if that is the goal, and I think it is, then while we demand and utilize the APP school option we also try to at least listen to other ideas and criticize inn a constructive way to try and make it happen.

O

suep. said...

O said... "...I just think their education would be better if along with rigorous academics they had more exposure to kids who arent in the same ability level. Can it happen? I Agree it hasn't,"

O, are you speaking from experience as an APP parent, or hypothesizing as outside observer?

I'm curious because I find this an odd (though recurring) assumption -- that kids who go to an APP school do not interact with any other non-APP kids anywhere else in their lives.

It's obviously not true.

What about all of their activities outside of school? Soccer, theater, other sports and interests? What about their interactions with the kids on their street or neighborhood? What about with other family members who are not in APP -- siblings, cousins?

Even within APP schools, there is a range of abilities.

And you make a false comparison between the needs of special needs kids and highly capable kids. Integrating special needs kids into typically developing classrooms is seen as a benefit to the special needs children. The thinking, as I understand it, is these kids can then be exposed to curriculum and content that is appropriate for their age, and benefit and grow from interacting with kids their own age, but who, nevertheless will most likely be more capable than they are, in some way. (Special ed parents -- please correct me if I've misunderstood this. Apologies in advance.)

But how would it benefit a highly capable -- or any -- kid to be put in a class where the curriculum and content is below their ability level? That makes no sense.

It may satisfy some politician's notions about "homogeneity" but it would not serve the best interests of the child.





Anonymous said...

Yes I am an APP parent and very reluctant to id myself as my views are considered heresy by more than a few parents to whom I've broached my feelings. I am referring to interactions in the classroom. Gifted is special needs by definition, by the way. In elementary there are many projects that kids of all abilities could work on in groups. In middle school many non-core classes could be mixed. Lets also remember that ELL kids no matter how good they are at math can't get into APP because they lack the language skills. I want all these kids around mine as long as academics don't suffer. I will ask you directly suep, is that not an ideal we should attempt to reach?

Anonymous said...

anyways, I am not trying to stir a hornets nest. APP is great, it has problems, but there are problems throughout the district. I just don't feel that with all the crap we have to deal with to get our kids a decent education, that I can step back and try to see the bigger picture. if nothing else public school is dynamic and change can be good, At least we don't have men spanking 14 year old girls in our district like i just read about happening in the Lone Star State!
I'll agree to disagree and we'll see what happens. Peace out.

O

Lori said...

I often wonder where this idea comes from, that APP kids are somehow missing out socially by being in a self-contained program, that for some reason we need to minimize the number of like-minded peers they should be able to interact with rather than maximize it.

I went to a conference last year in which the keynote speaker spoke at length about myths and truths about gifted kids. One of her points was that kids with asynchronous development (ie, social, emotional, and/or mental development that is out of synch with other children their age) often do not have a large pool of potential playmates in their neighborhood schools. Psychologists believe that we all choose friends from our "intellectual peers" and if you are an outlier on the bell-shaped curve, it's harder to find those like-minded peers in a traditional program. So by concentrating gifted kids into self-contained programs, we increase the likelihood that they'll find someone to play with, someone who shares their interests, someone who "gets" them. And that's a good thing for them, socially and emotionally.

I think a lot of parents take this for granted. Most kids don't have trouble relating to their peers and making friends. Even in APP, there are a lot of outgoing, social kids who fit in in their neighborhood school but just needed more academic challenge. But there are also a lot of kids who did not "blossom" until in the APP environment. Kids who were not only bored but isolated and lonely in their neighborhood school.

No matter how great that school is, if you can't make friends, you miss out on developing critical social skills that you'll need your entire life. You can't learn how to take turns if no one plays with you at recess. You can't learn how to have your ideas heard and implemented if no one understands them or is interested in them. You don't build self-confidence by constantly being rejected by your classmates. You start to think maybe you *are* weird and different when you're the only kid in the class not invited to the birthday party. I could go on and on.

The point is that these kids need to practice their social skills in an appropriate environment, which is what APP provides. But we if keep chopping it up, we reduce the cohort size and reduce the potential for positive social interactions for some of these kids. Putting some of these kids into neighborhood schools and clustering them with the same 5-6 other kids for their academic lessons has the potential to deprive them of an optimal social environment. Lacking social skills is not something that is innate to gifted children, but it is something that we foster by depriving them of access to their peers.

Since we have a large population of families who opt for APP, as demonstrated by numbers at Lincoln and TM, why would we artificially break these cohorts up against the advice of experts just because some people think there might be social benefits? Some kids might do fine, but others will be hurt. This I truly believe. So if we are going to make systematic changes to how we provide Advanced Learning in this district, we need to do things that are evidence-based and do not have the potential to harm our kids. Dismantling elementary APP does not meet these criteria.

(sorry this is so long - I didn't have time to write less!)

Anonymous said...

I fully agree with Lori's post (aka George Bernard Shaw).

I would also add that "O" is naive if s/he believes that the district will meet the needs of APP kids in their neighborhood school - I wonder why you chose it for your child if the neighborhood was meeting their needs so well.... My child came from an elementary school in the district which said that all children should "reach for the stars" and the school will meet them where they are. This was before NSAP, so we could choose elementary schools. We chose the one we did partly because we were told our kid's needs would be met. Later, the principal apologized and said they couldn't do it after all. He recommended that we send our child to APP. Neighborhood schools can work for some APP kids, but it doesn't work for many. If a school has few resources (and which don't), where are they going to put those resources? Certainly not towards the kids who exceed the grade level requirements. APP is the sole choice for many families, mine included.

I am also assuming that you are an elementary parent? This quote: "In middle school many non-core classes could be mixed." shows ignorance about how the program is run in middle school. Only LA/SS and Science are APP only in middle schools. All your dreams will be met there already without working to try and dismantle the little that remains of the elementary program.

-long time APP parent

Anonymous said...

to this question:
"Does it work best for society, the public who foots the bill?"

I ask this one:
If you have brain cancer, do you want a doctor to treat you who has been asked to drudge through school working 2 or 3 years below what she is capable of in the interest of serving the-so called-greater good by just going to the local school because it makes non-APP families feel better?

signed: Educated, don't Placate

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying and completely agree that these kids shouldn't be held back to placate others. However, it's painful to see becoming a slightly less accomplished neuro-oncologist presented as a cautionary tale. Given the raw cognitive ability and the drive to do that kind of work, what or how quickly the person was taught in elementary school wouldn't make the slightest difference. Presenting that kind of narrative unfortunately reinforces the notion that high cognitive ability children will do "well" no matter what. What frequently gets lost is that gifted children who do not have the educational fit that they need can become genuinely high risk--drugs, dropping out, and/or not even remotely living up to their potential--which is tragic for both the person and for society. The stakes are high, and they need to be treated that way.
--it just doesn't work.

Anonymous said...

DW -- I find it odd that you say self contained APP as it was at Lowell 4-5 years ago was the "showcase and zenith" of advanced learning in SPS. The current size of L&L is about the same as Lowell back then, and the model is exactly the same (excluding the very small SPED population at Lowell). Yet you seem unhappy with L&L even though it's the same model. Is it because all of elementary APP isn't at one school? Would you really want an elementary school approaching 800-900 students? Your wistfulness for a big 1-school stand-alone APP elementary isn't productive because that ship has sailed and the numbers are way too big. I also disagree that the old APP at Lowell was the "zenith" of APP. I was there 5 years ago, and I have kids at TM now. Our family much prefers the TM model for many reasons. TM is closer to home for most south-central families. It is more diverse. There is a greater sense of community. In my opinion there is less of a sense of entitlement among both the parents and kids. I don't hear TM APP parents talking a lot about the unique needs of their kids at TM. There is much less whining frankly. There is a sense that the community at TM is building something bigger and more important than just serving kids who are relatively privileged. All of these benefits come without families feeling that the academics of the APP program are compromised in any way. As evidenced by the recent changes in math, we see that collaboration among teachers and focusing on academics lifts the boat for all kids at our school -- ELL students, kids testing below grade level, and APP kids. TM's survey showed that if West Seattle families could have a co-housed APP program closer to home, many would favor such a move. North-end families, by contrast, argue for one huge stand-alone APP elementary school by arguing that they might otherwise lose self-contained classrooms. I see that fear is real, but I haven't heard the district trying to eliminate self-contained classrooms. Rather, there have been discussions about moving APP programs closer to neighborhoods where kids live. This would most likely be a co-housing situation like TM, with APP in self-contained classrooms. People on this blog talk frequently about the imminent demise of APP. Yet the problems we are facing with advanced learning stem not from APP's imminent demise, but from its huge popularity and growth in recent years. APP is alive and well -- and suffering from some major growth pains. "Open" is correct to suggest that we may want to have an open mind in looking at different ways we might be able to serve advanced learners. The old Lowell was not the end all & be all, nor can it ever be recaptured.
-- been there too

dw said...

I want all these kids around mine as long as academics don't suffer. I will ask you directly suep, is that not an ideal we should attempt to reach?

I'll step back in on this one.

No, I don't believe that's an ideal we should be striving for. If for no other reason, your statement is kind of pointless because the academics would most definitely suffer!

But more importantly than that, the reason many of us choose APP in the beginning, as Lori has already written about at length, is that our kids need an environment where they can be themselves without harassment or having their special characteristics beaten down and lost for good. It's easy for these kids to create psychological barricades between themselves and their classmates (and teachers). In elementary school, they NEED a safe place where they can blossom as children, citizens and intellectually curious students. From practical experience, the best (really, the only) way to do this is in self-contained classrooms. Once they hit middle school, they'll have an opportunity to mix things up a bit, where 2-3 of their classes are likely to be with at least some non-APP kids. They still have the safety net of their cohort, but it's not completely encompassing.

Then in high school it's much more mixed up. Some classes will still be primarily APP kids, but most are quite mixed, not only between programs, but grades as well. There are classes with freshmen and seniors learning together. The only exception I'm aware of is that at Ingraham the 9th grade APP/IBX is still together for most of the day as a cohort, and in a practical sense many of them will continue taking classes together in 10th and 11th.

But back to elementary, for some families, having a more diverse/normal set of classmates is more important. In that case they have the option of staying in their neighborhood school, and that's great. I will definitely say that in most of those cases, their kids are not the ones that need APP, otherwise they would see how uncomfortable and out of place their kids were and make the move to APP. It's kind of a self-selection process. If your kid is way, way out of place in their neighborhood school, then APP is literally a life-saving program. If not, and if the local school has a decent program, then just stick around. That's the sad thing about losing quality Spectrum programs around the city. It leads more and more families to push for APP when they could be perfectly well served in their neighborhood school (which is what the district prefers!). But now, more of the parents push for APP, which only makes it more over-crowded and filled with a lot more kids that don't truly need those services.

dw said...

People on this blog talk frequently about the imminent demise of APP. Yet the problems we are facing with advanced learning stem not from APP's imminent demise, but from its huge popularity and growth in recent years. APP is alive and well -- and suffering from some major growth pains.

APP's "popularity" is complete BS, a district red herring. APP is not, and should never, ever be a program where it growth is considered a good thing because it's popular. APP was designed as a program for kids with special needs, it's really that simple.

Do we applaud when an ELL program is "popular" and more kids enroll in it?

Do we applaud when a Special Ed program is "popular" and more kids enroll in it?

Do we applaud when an Autism program is "popular" and more kids enroll in it?

No, we do NOT! These programs, just like APP (and to a lesser degree, Spectrum) are designed to serve a certain portion of the student population because they cannot readily be served in their neighborhood buildings or classrooms. If enrollment in our Special Ed programs was growing at the same rate as APP has the past few years, there would be red flags raised everywhere and district staff would be under a microscope. And yet, when APP is growing at an insane rate, somehow people think this is a good thing? WTF?!

I'm very happy that you like your building (truly), but if you think it would survive another split then you really don't understand the realities of SPS. The "growth" has been managed by the district, and was done so to ensure there were too many kids to fit in one building. You have the only principal in the district that could make that building work as well as it is working right now. Julie is that special. Not only that, but there are factions within the administration that would love to see APP and Spectrum dissolved into an every-building-serves-every-student model, and anyone that values the program at all should be fighting tooth and nail to keep things together as much as possible. A one-size-fits-all model really only fits the center of the bell curve. We know how that turns out for our kids.

Anonymous said...

@ been there too

I had kids at the old Lowell as well and would agree that is wasn't perfect. Referring to it as the zenith of advanced learning is a bit over the top. BUT I think you are missing the point in a big way by pointing fingers at north end families as the source of the problem. It's easy to make snide comments about the situation in the north from the sidelines of TM. Yes, the split was disruptive for all families. But you retained a seasoned principal with long history working with advanced learners, while the old Lowell was left to deal with toxic after-effects brought by GK who systematically drove out the most experienced staff and fostered an environment of fear. There are virtually no mentors left at the school. And what can you say about our current principal who wants to "study" the math situation before taking any action? TM and school community obviously rallied around getting better math. Our PTA sent out a survey that offered THREE whole choices of how to focus funds in the coming year...and math wasn't one of them.

I venture to say if you found your child @ Lincoln, you'd see things differently and would NOT be so quick to condemn parents that are genuinely concerned about the direction of the program in the North. I'm glad TM is thriving. But make no mistake the environment you enjoy is reflection of leadership and vision that is absent at Lincoln.

If you have some constructive suggestions on how to move things in a positive direction, please share. But talking up TM and calling north end families a bunch of whiners is distasteful at best. And concerns about keeping the program self-contained and together is one simple way to ensure that a critical mass is maintained while the program awaits a home. Let's not forget, you have a building.

-- Better Math Not Unicycles

suep. said...

@O/Anonymous re: " ...as long as academics don't suffer."

There's the rub. Is this district capable of creating such a learning environment without sacrificing academic rigor? What you describe, though it may be an ideal, is more likely in practice to be a model in which APP kids are sprinkled throughout neighborhood schools. And once you lose the critical mass, the academic standards do tend to suffer.

It's true, as long-time APP parent pointed out, that in middle school, non-core classes are gen ed, so your kids may then get the experience you describe.

Regarding the growth of APP north, I think people are mistaking quantity for quality. Just because the school is big doesn't necessarily mean the program there is strong. APP north has lost many solid, experienced teachers these last two years so there's hardly any 'tribal wisdom' or memory left. Without an actual APP curriculum, our experienced teachers basically defined the program. And as has been pointed out before on this blog, it's bitterly ironic that APP/Lincoln is rediscovering "project based learning" after its principals helped drive away the very teachers who taught that way for years. Yet it can't find the will to seek a math waiver like Thurgood, and rescue APP north kids from mediocre Everyday Math and CMP. It many ways, Thurgood seems the stronger school at the moment.

I understand what "been there too" is referring to about attitudes at APP when it is isolated. Values get a little screwy, as Better Math Not Unicycles has intimated.

I thought the old Lowell, pre-split, was a unique and strong school in part because of the inspired cohousing between the special ed and gifted programs. You're right, O, both are special needs groups, and that was one of the reasons that made that combination work. Being at that school taught my kids an empathy, understanding and insight they might not have gotten otherwise. So maybe, O, you and I agree more than we realize on all of this.

Anonymous said...

Better math not unicycles -- THe APP populations at TM and Lincoln are both growing and have to face the reality of future planning. TM has portables this year due to growth, so this is not just an academic exercise for us either. I am simply saying that splitting into 2 north-end APP schools (east and west) does not necessarily signal the demise of APP. Having one enormous north end stand alone APP population at Wilson pacific is not the only possible solution short of the complete demise of APP. Since TM parents rarely post here, it is helpful to know there are co-housed solutions closer to home that can and do work. This is a good thing to hear for those who have not observed TM firsthand.

The split was not a walk in the park for TM either. As you may recall the history, many thought at the time of the split that TM was going to be the "worse" school. My kid had to move to his third school in as many years and lost his best friend due to the split, so I really do get how disrupted many north end families feel. But APP north will have move to in a few years regardless. The question is what is the best location, size, and delivery model for that split.

Many at TM who were also at the old Lowell prefer the TM model (with Julie B.) to the Lowell model (also with Julie B.). You and DW rightly point out that Julie B. has been important to TM's success, but fail to acknowledge that, keeping leadership as a constant (Julie B. in the Lowell/TM case), the co-housed model for APP has many advantages that often seem overlooked or dismissed in this blog. Julie B. won't be at the new building at WP, so it's not productive to wax nostalgic about the good old days at Lowell. Likewise, if south end APP splits again, one school will necessarily lose Julie. We all (north and south) need to look forward and plan realistically for the growth we are all experiencing.
-- Been there too

Anonymous said...

TM families need to realize the schools are very different. We were at Lowell under Julie, so I KNOW what it was like there. She had high standards for teachers and did a pretty good job of getting rid of poor teachers. Look at all the teachers at TM who have years of experience in APP and compare that to Lincoln. No comparison, is there?

Lincoln seems like it is finally starting to stabilize, but it has been a very different experience. PBL, which was one of the best things about Lowell, was lost for north families for several years.

TM families should be very careful about thinking about what a split will be like. After a rough start, they have had a much more stable few years than the north has. So much is dependent upon the principal, and you never know what you are going to get. North got a sucky principal and it really hurt the school.

-long time APP

Anonymous said...

We are at Thurgood Marshall. Plenty of parents I talk to at Thurgood Marshall prefer a self-contained model. It is not an option for us, but many of us would prefer that it was. I think "Been There Too" is mistaking most parents' desire to not have the district touch Thurgood Marshall with a lack of interest in the idea of self-contained APP programs.

dw said...

I am simply saying that splitting into 2 north-end APP schools (east and west) does not necessarily signal the demise of APP

I disagree with your statement 100%. In fact, it appears that most, if not all of us who are actually in the north-half program disagree with you. The problem is that for those in the north it's ALREADY a very serious downgrade from when the program was intact. Everything that has been weakened over the past few years would be weakened further if north (or south) splits again. Having to replicate staff from scratch and stuffing more Spectrum kids into APP to shore up the numbers does not make for a successful program.

Before you continue to post speculative comments about how you think another building/program can run, think about how you'd feel if we started spouting off about how bad your model at TM is, and how everything would be just fine if you went to standalone again. Not so appropriate, huh? Because we're not in your building every day seeing how it's working for you. On the other hand, for the most part we are willing to accept that you have a good thing going right now, even if it is precarious.

The other thing I've noticed is that the discussion around how good south APP seems to be working right now is always about TM, not about WMS. Do you parents who love TM right now have older kids? WMS may be sort of managing to hold on, but the split caused them to lose a bunch of their APP teachers, and HIMS has been a mess. Yes, it's closer to home, so there are many more kids there, and most of those families don't have a clue about what the program and population was like before the split.

And what about Garfield? In 2-3 years will 1/2 of APP still support all the higher level AP classes? Unlikely. During all the split discussions it was always the case that high school APP would stay together. No way would they split the sacred GHS APP cohort. Look what happened. As the next 2 year of roll-up comes into high school some of those AP sections (and maybe entire classes) just aren't going to be there. And that's probably the best "split" of the lot, at least so far, because IHS looks like it's coming out of the gate strong.

The result of splitting APP a couple more times would not be that we have APP in more buildings, it would be that APP has been reduced into a Spectrum-like program, serving lots of kids in various buildings around the city rather than a smaller number of kids that truly need a program like APP. In other words, APP would be gone. I call that a demise.

Lori said...

I'm delighted that things are going well at TM. I really mean it.

But, I do think it bears pointing out that just because co-housing at TM is going well doesn't mean that co-housing is the best option throughout the district. Clearly, the gen ed co-housing experiment at Lowell did not go well! So in our sample size of 2, we have a 50% success rate for co-housing with a neighborhood school so far. :)

I also wonder how the parents of the general ed kids at TM feel. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that there was only 1 class per grade level in the gen ed program. If so, that means those kids are with the same peers in class year after year. Do they like that or would their preference be for a larger gen ed program for their kids?

I get that different families are going to have different opinions about what works best based on their own experiences and assessments of the literature. In the end, I just wish the district would be open and transparent about their plans. If they want to make Wilson-Pacific an elementary APP "anchor" program (whatever that means) and create satellite programs all around town, let's discuss it. But don't just drop it on us a few years from now, having made the decision based on capacity rather than what's determined to be best for the all the kids, in APP and those potentially co-housed with us.

Anonymous said...

APP in HS? I thought AP classes are open to non APP students too. To me that's a good thing and allows for more AP class offerings. Same for IB program. Once kids are out of ES, there should be more intake options for kids. I like the idea that a non qualified APP student can take algebra in 6th or 7th without being in APP. It seems a shame you have kids sitting in MS bored just because their verbal cutoff fall slightly under (or vice versa for math). It is about opportunity, and we should aim to open that up to kids who can and are willing to do the work. The saddest thing is to see kids not getting into programs and classes because of seating limits.

Strength in number.

-another APP parent



Anonymous said...

"And what about Garfield? In 2-3 years will 1/2 of APP still support all the higher level AP classes?"

At the rate APP is growing, 1/2 of APP plus all the other students capable of taking AP classes at Garfield will more than support the AP classes offered this year, with more being added to the schedule. Before the split, APP accounted for about 125 students per grade at Garfield (abut 1/4 of the class). Post split, that number remains constant and growing. Not to worry! The sky is not falling.

Anonymous said...

Long time APP:
FYI: it appears that one of the things you tout about being great at Lowell -- project based learning -- is not in place at all at TM and is not promoted by Julie Breidenbach. Had Lowell remained intact with Julie at its helm, my guess is you would have seen PBL go away for good. The split did not drive the loss of project based learning. Rather, the district seeks adherence to the curriculum, common core standards, etc. This is true no matter what school your child is assigned to -- except, maybe, Lincoln.

While it was rough that many of L&L's experienced teachers left by choice apparently due to conflicts with the leadership at Lowell, many of your new teachers at L&L were added due to programmatic growth. This year, 2 longstanding, experienced APP teachers left TM and were replaced by 2 teachers brand new to the district and advanced learning. A third brand new teacher was added to meet growth in one of the APP grades, and a new kindergarten teacher was added. Like the kids at Lincoln, my child at TM has had her share of teachers who are brand new. That is what happens when a program is growing at the rate of APP.
-- APP parent

Anonymous said...

There is a comment above from a thurgood parent saying many parents at thurgood Marshall would prefer a self-contained model. For clarification, I'd like to point out that Thurgood Marshall is a self contained model. All academic classes at Thurgood Marshall are in self-contained APP classrooms.

I did not intend to speak for every TM family in saying that I personally prefer the TM co-housed model over the old Lowell model. I was trying to say that many parents at TM see benefits to its delivery model for APP. In a school of nearly 500 students, there are of course many differing opinions. Last spring, the APP AC made a specific request to TM to poll its APP families to see what the felt about the APP program delivery model as the district looks at where to house the growing program in the future. When questioned last spring about whether they would like to be in an APP-only school, 28% of TM parents said they would prefer an APP-only school over a co-housed model. Approximately 62% preferred the TM co-housed model as it is. The remaining 10% or so expressed a preference for a co-housed model split even closer to home. So, approximately 72% of TM parents expressed a preference for some type of co-housing. It is fair to say that much of this is due to a desire not to disrupt what many TM parents believe is working.
-- Been there too.

Anonymous said...

I have a couple concerns about the concept of splitting North APP into 2 (or more) cohorts. The first is space. Are there any elementary schools in N. Seattle with 250 - 300 empty seats? Because if we split the 500+ kids at Lincoln into 2 groups of 250, those 250 kids still need a seat somewhere. It's my understanding that there is enough room at the Wilson Pacific site to build an elementary school big enough to house the north-end APP kids. Unless someone can identify which other north-end elementary schools have space to hold 250+APP kids, it’s ridiculous to float this as an option.

Second, we’re having to reinvent the wheel of how to teach APP at Lincoln. I think the principal is doing a good job. But if they split APP yet again, the wheel will once again have to be reinvented.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Jane -- While many Lincoln parents don't like it, the district's curriculum for APP is the same as the curriculum for gened -- just 2 year's accelerated. All SPS schools and teachers have to learn how to teach the curriculum, whether their students are gened or APP or Spectrum. Lincoln is only having to reinvent the wheel because it is implementing its own one-off project based learning curriculum without any district involvement. This approach doesn't seem scalable, hence Lincoln's reliance on a couple of experienced teachers to instruct others in their approach, and the resulting fear of a split and loss of a knowledge base residing with one or 2 teachers. There is a risk of relying on highly individualized knowledge of the teaching approach used by a couple of teachers who may not be around in a couple of years. This is not the best model for designing an elementary curriculum for what will soon approach 900 Elementary APP students district-wide. Your real concern seems to be more about curriculum & teacher training, which will be an issue in whatever building our kids are ultimately housed in. I frequently see Lincoln parents raising this concern about teacher training in support of one giant APP only school. But all new teachers can benefit from collaboration with experienced teachers, whatever school they are in. Some teachers find collaboration easier in a smaller school. And yes, APP teachers can and do collaborate with experienced gened teachers using the same curriculum.

APP parent

Anonymous said...

APP Parent - yes, one concern is about training. But you didn't respond to my other concern. If people would like to split North APP into two schools and co-house them , where exactly are the schools that have room for 250+ kids? And I think new assignment plan makes co-housing more difficult in that it's much more problematic to have two programs that both guarantee a spot (one based on where you live and one based on if you qualify for APP) share the same building.

I am mostly for a single north APP site at Wilson Pacific because I want APP to have a permanent home with some stability. If there are two elementary schools in North Seattle that each have room for 250+ kids and could provide the same sort of stability, I'd love to hear about them.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Jane -- You are absolutely right about the pressing need for APP programs to have permanent homes with some stability. This is true city-wide. The district has done a horrible job providing guidance, offering possible choices, and working with north-end APP to provide real choices for workable solutions. When every existing school in the north is overcrowded, it doesn't help that the district threw the problem back to the ALPTF and said, you find a solution. But this is a capacity issue, and future APP program placement was supposed to be based on "teaching and learning." I see the L@L PTA encouraging their parents to demand a huge one school APP only site at WP as shortsighted. By the time WP is built, APP elementary north will likely be over 600 kids. They would start at WP with no room for inevitable growth. The district will then impose a split with no planning and little input from families, as it has done twice before. This is much more disruptive than planning for the inevitable split now and forcing the district, as it heads into BEX IV, to present some real options for viable east/west APP locations. With BEX IV, lines will be re-drawn by 2017 anyway and school assignments will be reconfigured. The 2 new north end APP locations (one of which would be WP) may include co-housing with a spectrum program drawing from surrounding neighborhoods, an option program like STEM, or a neighborhood school with a small geographic area (as in the case of TM). This would lend some stability to control for numbers, as APP guarantees a spot, which exacerbates growth/capacity problems at any APP-only school. APP-only is actual the least stable configuration. Planning for a split by 2017 would minimize disruption, not increase it as the demographics point toward a split happening anyway. Rather than putting its head in the sand, I think L@L should be part of the dialogue. Demanding WP all to ourselves and declaring that any other arrangement is unacceptable is shortsighted and does a disservice to APP families who are less familiar with the issues and naturally see staying together in a new school as the most appealing option. While appealing, it's not realistic. We all know that slotting APP north at WP in 2017 as a place holder does not guarantee APP will get exclusive rights to that space.
-APP parent

dw said...

APP Parent said: By the time WP is built, APP elementary north will likely be over 600 kids.

I just can't let this comment go uncontested.

What on earth makes you say this? Why not 700? Or 800? At this rate by 2020 there will be at least 1,000 kids in north elementary APP alone! That should support at least 4-5 programs in the north end alone, and another 2-3 in the south!

Oh wait, that's what Spectrum was supposed to look like. :-(

APP growth is dependent on 4 things:
1) entry criteria (many changes over the years)
2) proximity/logistics (changed once, 3 years ago)
3) alternatives (being systematically killed around the city)
4) overall population/SPS growth

The only one of these that is NOT within the control of the district administration is #4. The first 3 items can be tweaked by the district at any time to slow down the ridiculous growth in this program.

It wasn't that many years ago that the entire population of APP elementary across the city was 375-400 kids. It didn't serve every last eligible child, but it served the vast majority and did a darn good job of it.

DO NOT ASSUME CONSTANT GROWTH!

Anonymous said...

To "Do not assume constant growth" - Absent a crystal ball, the best measure of projected APP growth in the next 5 years is looking at growth rates over the last five years, and looking at the size of 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade classes compared to earlier years. It is safe to assume that the promise of a permanent home closer to home will also lead to more growth, not less. Even assuming a growth rate of HALF of the rates for each of the last 4 years since the split, APP elementary north will be significantly over 600 students by 2017. If you assume the current growth rate trend, housing APP north in a school with a capacity of 625 will become a physical impossibility. Let's be clear -- APP north elementary faces a capacity problem at Wilson pacific even assuming a significant downward trend in growth rates. If nothing changes and growth rates continue anywhere close to current trends, that capacity problem will be a crisis if it isn't planned for now.
-- do the math

apparent said...

John Marshall. 760 seats.

dw said...

do the math says: Absent a crystal ball, the best measure of projected APP growth in the next 5 years is looking at growth rates over the last five years, and looking at the size of 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade classes compared to earlier years

I suggest re-reading the post above. We're all perfectly capable of doing the math, but the math is worthless without understanding the underlying reasons and mechanisms for the changes.

Assuming future growth based on past growth is like betting on the stock market to rocket upward next year just because it did this year. I hope you don't do that!

Bottom line: There is not an infinite supply of highly gifted kids in Seattle!

Frankly, there are already way more kids enrolled in APP than would have been identified as highly gifted just a few years ago. Unless you think the trend of categorizing more and more kids as highly gifted will increase, that aspect of the "growth" must end.

The biggest worry is that the district continues to kill off Spectrum. That could lead to continued frustration and even more parents pushing their kids into APP when a strong Spectrum program would suit them well and keep them closer to home.

The only aspect of APP growth that isn't manageable by the district is #4, the overall growth in SPS population. We have a new Superintendent, and I don't think there's any way to predict, yet, what kind of AL policies he will put forth. However, roll-up of the existing grades 1-3 is a potential problem that needs to be looked at carefully. It could (should) be a temporary bulge, but it will indeed move up through the system for several years.

Anonymous said...

dw says "Frankly, there are already way more kids enrolled in APP than would have been identified as highly gifted just a few years ago. "

To be clear, are you attributing this to MAP?

--APP in ALO

dw said...

To be clear, are you attributing this to MAP?

That's certainly part of it (and not in a good way), but it's a combination of things. The entry criteria has changed several times over the past decade, and each time it has changed, more kids qualified.

The lack of support for Spectrum (and outright abandonment in some cases) has led to many more "on the fence" families choosing to apply to and/or push for APP because it's natural to advocate for your kids. If more families apply, then more kids will qualify. Due to both an increase in overall applications and a stronger desire by the families to make sure the kids qualify. It's difficult, if not impossible, to train your kid to "beat" an IQ test, but you can help prepare them in advance so they know what to expect. And if they're borderline as far as achievement level, you can easily boost that by learning and practicing material at home.

The MAP is a terrible instrument to be using for this purpose, but it's only one piece of the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

This is hardly the profoundly gifted population APP was supposed to serve when it was created. Thank you for being honest. Dealing with the enormous numbers we are left with due to the changing metrics of entry to APP is what may well be the end of APP. What is the district supposed to do with possibly 900 kids in SNAPP 1-5, all supposedly profoundly gifted and in need of special services, as they move through the system? It's a new world, and new ideas will have to be accepted. It might not be self contained.

dw said...

You're right, anon. But I have a slightly different (more optimistic) take.

It's possible to right this ship, although the momentum is still heading the wrong direction. All it would take is to get control of the entry criteria again. Stop using the stupid MAP, for example. Get back to strict 98th percentile cutoffs across the board.

That, and Spectrum/ALO need some love and attention. Unfortunately those programs are in such shambles that it will take time to heal and gain the trust of the families again. It will take a steadfast and earnest effort to make it happen, but it's possible.

However, it will need to happen very soon. If not, the large populations in the young grades will age-up and start overflowing the older grades. It truly is a mess.