Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Open thread

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

45 comments :

Greg Linden said...

One thing I wouldn't mind talking about, based on some of the comments in the thread about the first week of school, is the school bus situation.

From what I've seen, it's great at middle school, but, at elementary school, they've switched this year back to having a lot of stops (from whatever it was last year, less stops, some kind of idea around having kids form larger groups to board the bus).

That seems to be increasing transit times substantially. Sure, it's a little less walking, but it's a lot more time on the bus (and, I'd assume, a lot higher costs for the district).

Anyone else at the elementary level noticed this? What do you think about it? And anyone know if the district did switch to more stops this year and, if so, why they did?

Anonymous said...

Yes, big daily issue right now for many families at APP @ Lincoln. Of course, everyone expects the drivers to be figuring out the routes, checking lists, and running late at the beginning of the year. But this year it's beyond "normal" lateness, and it's particularly maddening because they abandoned community stops (which on balance worked great for many families last year). One bus didn't even show up yesterday.

Many busses are starting their afternoon routes late in the morning AND late in the afternoon, then -- having added 10-15 stops over last year -- are meandering around and getting ridiculously late, especially in the afternoon. For families later on the routes, it's even worse, as every stop and every delay compounds the lateness and unpredictability. And for families who experienced the simpler routes with community stops last year, it's baffling why they abandoned efficient routes and community stops in favor of -- THIS?

Anonymous said...

Last year at this time busses were ridiculously late! An hour or more from Lincoln. People complained much more last year than this -- remember all the coverage in the Times and elsewhere? Not as bad this year.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the AL department is making any changes in the testing/nominating process. For example, are they still sending letters to parents of high MAP scorers encouraging them to nominate their child?

hschinske said...

Out of curiosity (I can't remember whether I've asked this before, but for reasons which will become obvious I can't easily find out), is it on purpose that the search function on this blog is not enabled? Because it would come in handy sometimes (usually when I want to quote myself and be sure I'm being consistent).

Helen Schinske

Greg Linden said...

Search is in the upper left corner, isn't it? Search box is small, might have missed it?

I'm not sure the search goes over comments. You might have to do something clever with a Google search to do that. Make your search [site:discussapp.blogspot.com keyword keyword keyword] to do that (or use Google Advanced Search).

hschinske said...

I did see the search box, but not getting any hits on the various things I looked up I assumed it wasn't working. It does appear to search the posts. Also, it didn't use to be possible to subscribe to the comments on Google Reader, and now it is. That's probably why they're searchable on Google now and didn't use to be (at least I am pretty sure they weren't).

Thanks!

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Our bus this year to Lincoln has been on time each morning and at the most, 30 min late in the afternoons. This is a HUGE improvement over last year. In addition there have been 2 drivers on the bus each day (one checking kids on/off and another learning the route).

Anonymous said...

Change of subject - Can anyone advise on PTA waivers? My athletically disinclined 6th grade son has given the thumbs down to most suggestions. He has a mild interest in joining a bowling league. Will this pass muster to get the waiver?

I don't really want to drive to Shoreline all fall just to be denied the waiver. Also, I'd be happy to carpool with anyone in NW or N Seattle if bowling sounds up in any of your kids’ alley!

Contact me at Roflo814@gmail.com

Thanks, anonomom

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that you just need to meet the time requirement of 60 hours over over the course of the year, which is an average of 100 min. a week. It could be any combination of activities - I think you can even have a family plan that says you'll bike or hike or whatever, just as long as you have a plan that adds up to 60 hours.

Anonymous said...

Anonomom, is your son taking full-year music and language electives both? I was told they won't approve waivers if kids technically have room in their schedules.

ELB

Anonymous said...

The Draft of BEX IV Capital Projects is posted on the District website (dated 9-11-12):

Draft BEX IV projects

For Interim sites, it shows APP@Lincoln through 2016-17. The modernized Lincoln high school is shown as opening 2019-20 (a current 5th grader would be a HS senior). The interim site for Lincoln HS would be the John Marshall building, beginning in 2017-2018 (a current 5th grader would be a HS sophomore). Beginning in 2014-15, John Marshall is scheduled to be an interim site for the new middle school at Wilson Pacific (a current 5th grader would be in 7th grade). John Marshall is shown as an interim site beginning in the 2013-14 school year, but with no indication of who would be there.

In the N, new elementary capacity is planned for North Beach, Olympic Hills, Wilson Pacific and Thornton Creek.

Will APP@HIMS be split, and/or moved to John Marshall for next year, when JM becomes an interim site? Is the interim site for APP@Lincoln just for elementary?

Anonymous said...

Just got this from the SNAPP PTA:

===============================

Dear Lincoln Families,

The SNAPP PTA Board would like to take this opportunity to voice our serious concern regarding the recently released Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy plan, which will be voted on by the School Board on October 12th and by Seattle voters in February 2013. If approved, the BEX IV levy will provide capital funding for 6 years (2014-2019) to help with building remodeling, replacement, and new facility projects district-wide.

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

We have 3 major concerns at this time:
1: APP@ Lincoln has no clearly designated building assignment in this latest iteration of BEX IV projects. Because the district considers APP@Lincoln to be a program, not a school, they can "slice and dice" us as they see fit to meet capacity needs rather than to meet advanced learners' needs.
2: As a program, our placement is decided by the Teaching and Learning department, which is currently lacking a director and interim director due to recent personnel changes within the district. Without decision-makers who understand the academic, social, and emotional needs of highly capable learners, our school remains an easy target for displacement and disbandment.
3: The district is not utilizing student roll-up data (ie, projecting which middle schools current elementary students will attend based on current elementary assignment patterns rather than home addresses) to assess needs for middle-school capacity. As a result, the district is not building sufficient middle-school seats in our region.

Our community demand has remained constant:
Give APP@Lincoln school status and an appropriate, permanent building north of the ship canal.

Community action is needed NOW:

Help coordinate the rally: contact seattlenorthapp@gmail.com
Attend the meeting on September 20th and be a voice. Click here to view recommended talking points.
Wear red to show your dragon support.
Send comments to capacity@seattleschools.org and email Superintendent Banda and the School Board.
Please copy seattlenorthapp@gmail.com so that we can track the number of messages sent in support of our cause.

Now is the time for our community to be heard, before the School Board votes on the final BEX IV plan on October 12th. Based on the last 5 years of disruption and upheaval, the SNAPP community deserves a plan for our children's futures. Without such a plan, we cannot in good faith support the levy as currently drafted.

We will discuss the levy in more detail at the Oct 2nd general PTA meeting and vote on whether SNAPP PTA, as a membership organization, should support the levy going forward.

Thank you in advance for speaking out and advocating on behalf of our children and community as we work to find an appropriate permanent location for our school.

SNAPP PTA Executive Board

=============================

APP Dad

Greg Linden said...

The BEX IV issue seems like a very big deal that will require a lot of discussion. I created a new thread for it, "BEX IV and APP". Please move discussion of this over there, thanks.

Anonymous said...

The latest from HIMS:
H.I.M.S. will have an additional fifteen (15) 2-hour early dismissal days this year. Plus the 5 district directed 2-hours early dismissals (=20 early dismissals).
Instead of the teaching time, HOST offers an afternoon program for a fee (for a limited number of students), for example to watch the Hunger Games movie.

Anonymous said...

15! Wow. Do you know when parents will find out the specific days?

Anonymous said...

An email was sent out today listing all the days.

-HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

HIMS early release days:
sept 26; oct 10, 17, 31; nov 7, 14, 28; dec 12, jan 23, 30; Feb 6, 20, 27; March 6, 20; Apr 3, 24; May 8, 15, 29.

Anonymous said...

Plus no school:
Oct 12
Nov 11
Nov 21 (conferences)

Meaning there is not one week in Oct or Nov where students go to school a full week.

The email said PTA was consulted as well as other stakeholders. I heard nothing of 15 early dismissal days being proposed for this year.

Any other middle schools releasing students this many times over the course of the year?

Anonymous said...

With the early releases, the only time they will go at least two full weeks is Jan.7-18. Can we expect improvements at HIMS with all that PD time?

Anonymous said...

Can someone please clarify which communication from HIMS listed the early release days? I know someone was kind enough to note them here, but I'd like to make sure I am receiving the materials from the school.

Also, question re: SNAPP PTA-- This is Lincoln, only, no? Is there anything similar for older students???

Thanks,
ELB

Anonymous said...

There was an e-mail letter with an attachment at 3 11pm today from HIMS saying this:
"Good Afternoon Hamilton Families,

Please see the attached document for communication from Principal Watters about the early dismissal dates for Hamilton for the 2012-2013 school year.

Lynn Hartung
Attendance Spec II
Hamilton International Middle School
206-252-5814"

Anonymous said...

ELB

There is a PTA at Hamilton, but it is not APP only. At Lincoln, APP is the only population. That is not true at HIMS.

I think talking points like this for the middle school would be a job for the APP-AC. But we have heard virtually nothing from them for months. Maybe we need to start something at HIMS because another split seems likely.

-HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Does anyone even know who the current HIMS APP AC reps are these days? Last year's teacher rep is no longer in this district, and the parent rep has moved on to high school.

ELB

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. I just double-checked my email, and I there is definitely no 3:11 (or anytime) message about the early release days. We are not new to the school this year, so it's odd to not be receiving messages. I hope it's just us and not more widespread!

ELB

Anonymous said...

On the HIMS website:

http://hamiltonms.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1708841/File/2012_13_H%20I%20M%20S%20%20Early%20Release%20Schedule.pdf?sessionid=0d18a4cd6d710baea5fe21701878dd84


and in the newsletter.

Sorry to highjack the thread..

Anonymous said...

Just a question: What could be the reason for a professional development in the end of May, 2-3 week prior school ends?
Why can't they do all of the end of the year professional development at the summer time, after school is out?
I am all for prof development for all the (new) teachers, but twenty 2-hour early dismissal seems way to many, especially cutting from the teaching time.
Maybe someone in the know could help me: can any school decide to have 4 times more PD time cut from the school time than the district recommend legally?

Anonymous said...

I think McClure has a schedule similar to this early dismissal schedule. Maybe other middle schools do this as well?

-Long Gone

Anonymous said...

It really does seem excessive once you put the dates on the calendar and see them with all the other days off. 15 days of early releases is like shortening the school year by 3 weeks. Not much gets done on those days.

Anonymous said...

Here are some FAQs on attendance, from OSPI:

OSPI Education Laws

How many days are in a school year?

WAC 180-16-215
Each school district shall conduct a school year of no less than 180 school days in such grades as are conducted by the school district, and 180 half-days of instruction, or the equivalent, in kindergarten.

How many instructional hours per year is the school district required to offer?

RCW 28A.150.220
Each school district shall make available to students enrolled in grades one through twelve, at least a district-wide annual average total instructional hour offering of 1,000 hours.


==

RCW 28A.150.220 states:

(2) Each school district shall make available to students the following minimum instructional offering each school year:

(a) For students enrolled in grades one through twelve, at least a district-wide annual average of one thousand hours, which shall be increased to at least one thousand eighty instructional hours for students enrolled in each of grades seven through twelve and at least one thousand instructional hours for students in each of grades one through six according to an implementation schedule adopted by the legislature, but not before the 2014-15 school year; and

==

...at least a district wide average of...1080 hrs in grades 7-12.

180 days x 6 hrs/day = 1080 hrs

Hmm, how do they even have the 5 district early release days? Is the key phrase but not before the 2014-15 school year?

Anonymous said...

And we all know that those early release days means 20 minute classes where nothing get accomplished.

So for me; it is 20 days wasted.



Anonymous said...

WMS has additional early release dates as well, the first one is tomorrow. The total number is 13 including the already scheduled district early dismissal dates.

Hamilton Mom said...

Yes the other MS have added anywhere from 5 - 10 additional early release days, but so far the 15 that HIMS is adding (for a total of 20 in the year) is the most I've heard, although I haven't checked on all the MS. Parents concerned about this should definitely come to the PTA general meeting on Wed and ask the Principal about it directly. Despite being involved in school activities and the PTA, this is a shock to me, so I am skeptical of the letter citing that PTA and "stakeholders" were consulted on this. Maybe in private teacher/admin meetings, but not that I know of in any public way. If there is a lot of concern at the upcoming meeting, perhaps the Principal will reconsider, or find a more efficient way to allocate the time needed.

Anonymous said...

For 7th and 8th grade APP I quesiton the value or resulting benefit of this PD, especially since most of the APP classes are aligned to high school.

Anonymous said...

Young, Gifted and Neglected

www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/opinion/gifted-students-deserve-more-opportunities.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&ref=opinion

Greg Linden said...

A couple people have mentioned that NYT article. I created a new thread for it, "New York Times: 'Young, Gifted, and Neglected'. Please move discussion of that topic over there, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Is your kid out of luck for getting tested for advanced learning if both MAP scores weren't above 85 on the spring test? One of my daughter's scores on the spring MAP was in upper 90's, other one didn't quite make the cut off. Can I still fill out the paperwork to get her tested or are we out of luck? The wording on the paperwork makes it sound as if the only kids they will be testing for AL are the ones who met both minimum numbers.
If we skipped the district testing and did private for IQ, and achievement test for math would the district accept that if she met the minimum score requirements?
Thanks for any info.
-LH

Anonymous said...

LH, you can appeal for district testing even if you didn't make the cut-offs.

I think you need to have at least one district cognitive test to be able to appeal with private test so you need to appeal.

-Robert

suep. said...

Speaking of testing, does anyone know what this is about?

From Principal G's Thursday Note (APP/Lincoln):

"This year, grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 have volunteered to participate in a pilot assessment program. Seattle Schools will be partnering with OSPI in creating benchmark assessments related to the new Common Core State Standards in reading and math. Teachers will receive release time to analyze assessment data and use the data to inform their instruction. We have decided to do MAP testing in the fall and spring as a whole school. Additionally, third and fifth grade will also be MAP testing in the winter."

It sounds like APP at Lincoln is going to be some kind of guinea pig for the controversial "Common Core Standards" and subject to more testing. How is it fair for some kids in a school to have to take the MAP test three times a year, others only twice?

I don't recall parents being any part of this discussion, so it's hard to accept the implication that entire grades "volunteered" for this experiment.

suep. said...

p.s. I agree with those who say we should all opt out of this ridiculous testing. It's become excessive and abusive, nationally and locally.

So families at Lincoln (and all SPS schools) should be reminded that they can opt out of MAP (and other tests too), especially those 3rd and 5th grade kids who are going to be administered MAP three times while the rest of the school get to sit out the winter test.

Utter madness.

Anonymous said...

While opting out of MAP tests sounds great in theory, parents should keep in mind that there can be consequences--especially for APP kids. For example, crazy as it is, the district is now using MAP test results for decisions on access to Algebra I in 6th grade. Since decisions like these are often announced after the fact, it's not always a safe bet to opt out.

ELB

suep. said...

ELB, it's precisely that kind of fear-driven rationale that has allowed this pile-on of tests on our kids to continue and get worse.

If parents don't speak up for their kids and stand up against this, then how will it stop?

By the time they reach fourth grade or so, Seattle Public School kids are tested four or more times a year -- MAP x3, plus MSP. And in middle school, you add EOC to that for some kids and it's become an excessive, obsessive amount of standardized testing. When exactly will the actual learning happen?

Over at APP Lincoln, Principal Geoghagan has just announced that the school has unilaterally (no parent input) decided it is going to pilot some kind of new evaluation/testing system tied to Common Core Standards, and two grades are going to have to take the MAP test 3 times a year while the other grades will only be given it twice. This is ridiculous. More and inequitable testing in one school? And why is the school making some kids take MAP 3 times when the district announced last year that a third test is optional?

Parents should have a say as to whether they want their kids to be guinea pigs in such experiments.

It's also revealing that both APP elementary schools are choosing to try something new this year. But while Thurgood Marshall has decided to switch to solid math, APP Lincoln has decided to "pilot" new and more testing. I wonder what Lincoln parents would choose if they were given the choice? It appears the Thurgood community realizes it's more important to teach the kids well than come up with new ways to test them.

When some middle schools announced this year that they were going to use winter MAP test scores -- not the more current spring scores, which are generally higher -- to help determine math placement, parents were justifiably angry. Winter MAP scores are notoriously unreliable. Just like after summer, there is a post-break slump in January when the test is given and scores drop. (And since when was MAP bought for this purpose?) Why not ask the student's teacher to recommend the next math class for the student? Despite this arbitrary decision, I know of parents who have fought to get their kids the math class they need at middle school, and they have succeeded, because they have spoken up and not accepted this irrational barrier.

Parents have a choice. They can remained cowed or they can speak up and rescue their kids from this testing (and other 'ed reform') madness.

The bigger issue with MAP is how it is being misused in so many ways. It's been a costly boondoggle that has wasted weeks of our kids' time, as well as teacher energy, and lost library access.

And don't forget how we got MAP in the first place: Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson was on the board of directors of the the MAP test vendor, Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) at the time the district negotiated a no-bid deal to buy MAP. Goodloe-Johnson failed to disclose this conflict of interest to the school board, and she was eventually cited by the state ethics commission for it and forced to step down from the NWEA board.

(continued)

suep. said...

(continued)

If you want to get really troubled by all this obsession with testing and student-"data" tracking, Google "Wireless Generation," the massive database warehouse full of our kids' testing, academic and personal information that Rupert Murdoch is compiling, in conjunction with the new "Common Core Standards" and with help from Bill Gates. That's where all this testing data is going. Sure you want your kid to be a part of that?

See:
Murdoch-Owned Wireless Generation's Contract Should Be Scratched, Teachers' Union Leaders Write

And here's something I wrote about MAP for the Seattle Ed blog, which I need to update:

15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP

And remember, parents and guardians have the right to opt our kids out of these tests.

Opting out of the MAP test and a MAP opt out letter template just in time for Spring testing

wondering said...

Suep, that's a great article on Wireless Generation, and shows how corrupt the system is. I know there is a nationwide movement to capture personal and test data for ALL kids in this country, from K-College, and I'm trying to figure out how they are able to get all this data.

Don't we, as parents, have the right to opt out of sending our kids' personal information to outside commercial organizations? I've never signed anything that would allow the district to pass this data to ANY other organization, in fact I've never seen any kind of document that would remotely suggest they can do that.

What's up? Any legal beagles care to share thoughts?

Anonymous said...

In case no one has figured it out yet, the current administration in the elementary app north is used to dictating terms, and replacing people who disagree. They have no intention of getting parental input about the amount of testing being done.
Testing for data points is not education.