Thursday, October 11, 2012

What is APP for and who should be in it

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

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

Have at it!

35 comments :

Anonymous said...

A discussion of the entrance bar usually includes a discussion of the private appeal process...before we go there, I still wonder what %age of currently enrolled APP kids gained entry on appeal. Maybe those numbers are even available for appeals of achievement scores vs cognitive scores vs both. Anyone gotten the AL office to share such data?

For example, if lately there have been many more appeals of cognitive scores alone, that would support the idea that artificially high MAP scores have widened the pool. If not, maybe that assertion could be put to rest.

hschinske said...

It's nearly impossible to know, given that it is possible to submit private testing results with the original application, resulting in no need for any formal appeal.

I heard once (and I admit this is frankly gossip-level info from an APP teacher, so don't put too much stress on it) that of the kids who were exited from the program for not being able to keep up with the work, it was almost always kids who'd gotten in on district testing rather than on private testing, not the other way around. Given the vagaries of group testing and that individual testing is acknowledged to be way more accurate anyway, that wouldn't surprise me.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

My daughter got into 1st grade APP on private appeal after missing the cutoff by one percentage point on one vector.

Here's an example of how private testing worked for us. The tester asked her "What do these two things have in common? Ice and steam. How are they alike?" My daughter thought for a long, long time on this, and the tester was about to move on, when she said, "OK, I have an answer. They can both be used to control the temperature of food. With ice, you can cool food down, and with steam you can heat it up." Now, this is not the prescribed "correct" answer :) But it is the sort of answer a highly gifted kid would give -- and it *is* correct (he gave her the point). When he said "What are they made of?" she said "Well, water, duh!"

I have to wonder if she got some questions wrong on the original test due to this kind of over-thinking. I believe private testing is needed with some kids for reasons like this.

hschinske said...

Anon@11:32, that's one of the reasons that it would be more appropriate for the district to use out-of-level testing, as the authors of the CogAT recommend. If you have a kindergartner taking the second-grade test, she doesn't need to get every possible point in order to get a high percentile score.

Since no one taking this test for Advanced Learning is likely to be way below average, there's no need to waste their time on the questions designed to make distinctions among kids functioning at a lower level, and every reason to focus on questions that could actually distinguish between pretty-good-at-grade-level and way-above-grade-level.

Helen Schinske

Prospective APP Parent said...

> What is APP for and who should be in it

I think it is generally accepted that a self-contained program provides advanced learners an opportunity for relatively normal social development, with isolation from a mainstream cohort beginning around an IQ of 130 and becoming crippling by 160. Academically, failing to challenge advanced learners in elementary school results in children who lose interest in education. The waste of individual potential is heartbreaking enough, even without the high opportunity cost to society as a whole.

But this is in the context of an education policy that has teachers devoting all their class time to drilling grade-standardized test material and curriculum designers asking "Is Algebra Necessary?" since eliminating the subject would raise high school graduation rates. It's no wonder that any parent planning for their child to attend college is looking for something more.

It seems to me that a revitalized Spectrum/ALO program would lower pressure to expand the APP, but that it is too easy for administrators to redline the additional funding required, particularly in the current economic environment.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting thread. I have a Kindergartener who I suspect *may* become APP eligible through public testing. And if he does, I believe he could do APP work. However, he does not have the social and emotional challenges that often go along with being academically highly gifted. So at this point, I do feel like he is part of the broader discussion of what exactly is the purpose of APP and the decline of Spectrum. If he can do APP work, but does not necessarily need the social support of a self contained classroom, I'm wondering where he should land if Spectrum is on the decline. Is APP only best and recommended for kids who truly need both the academic challenge AND the social support?

hschinske said...

I don't think you necessarily know in kindergarten what the social stressors will be like down the line. I got told stuff like "Your kids are smart enough for APP, but they're not weird enough to need it," and I think that advice was misguided. Anyway, you can have all the social skills in the world, and it won't necessarily make up for a lack of people to talk about things you are intensely interested in and who get your more complicated jokes.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I'm struggling with this now, too, w/ my 1st gr son who is in his neighborhood school this year. Your perspective is always helpful, Helen --thanks.

APP in ALO

NESeattleMom said...

My two kids have loved APP. We did not need to appeal or private test, and they had no particular social challenges. However they have thrived in the APP program, have enjoyed making friends, enjoyed everything. So, don't think a child has to be a social misfit to be in APP. It is an academic test-in, not a social test-in.

Prospective APP Parent said...

While reading through the APP posts at Seattle Schools Community Forum, I found some posts relevant to this topic like

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/02/towards-shared-vision-for-advanced.html

and

http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/06/advanced-learning-policy-revision.html

One thing that struck me is that separate Spectrum classes seem to generate resentment at the neighborhood level and have active enemies in administration. As a practical matter, revitalization doesn't seem to be on the cards any time soon.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason our neighborhood ALO school supposedly doesn't have walk to reading or math/ability groups. I find it so frustrating, and don't know where to begin.

Anonymous said...

An inordinate amount of time on this blog is spent debating who should get in, how, and what the criteria should be, used to be, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Perspective APP Parent-thank you so much for your very wise *and accurate* discription of what APP is. Having been a longterm parent in the program it is easy to lose sight of the refreshing clarity you lend.

I am particarly touched by your mention that "The waste of individual potential is heartbreaking enough, even without the high opportunity cost to society as a whole."

I deeply feel what you are saying because I was the kid required to sit in a standard class room and I disengaged at some point in my elementary years. As a square peg I couldn't fit in the round hole. Now as an adult, I am painfully aware that I could be contributing so much more to others in the world today if I had been in a classroom with a few other 0.01 learners.

signed, Humanitarian

dw said...

An inordinate amount of time on this blog is spent debating who should get in, how, and what the criteria should be, used to be, and so on.

And your point is??

This one issue has been one of, if not the main factor contributing to the "bad stuff" that's been happening to APP over the past several years. If the entry criteria was managed well (or even if hard limits were put in place on the total number of seats, which some people wouldn't like), and if the other advanced learning programs were even reasonably well supported, then the insane growth in APP wouldn't have happened.

The lack of even semi-stable numbers is killing the program, it's not surprising that the root causes are going to be discussed regularly. It's because we care.

Anonymous said...

The real question in my mind is at the middle and high school level. Art those levels, I believe we should offer classes two years or more beyond grade level to all students who are willing to step up and do the work. To do otherwise tracks kids into irreversible pathways by 10th grade, if not before. Many of us in fact have had the experience of being in class with a kid who perhaps was not the smartest kid in the room but was bright and worked twice as hard. That child should not have access simply to rigor, but the highest rigor that is offered in the district. Especially because recent research demonstrates that IQ is extremely changeable during middle school and early high school. Surprise, extremely high rigor actually grows brain connections. Let's stop looking at whether or not the student has been beknighted by some standardized test (that is racially disporportionate and has a high standard deviation). Let's look instead at what a student is willing to believe about his or her own future. I'm fine letting in the high IQ kids, some of whom can't seem to get the work done (and believe me, my own APP kids report this in classmates). I'd also like to open the door to anyone willing to roll up their sleeves. If everyone has to maintain a minimum level of performance it seems to me like no-one's kids will "suffer" having to sit by not just the over-150 IQ kids, but the extremely dedicated workers.

Ready for APP to Reflect Current Research

Anonymous said...

When I was going to transfer our 2 boys into APP (both qualified)...I was told they were "too socially adapted" and don't send them there because they would become less so. It is now our 2nd year in APP. My very social, very personable child, is still like that. His conversations he has with his peers are more advanced than they were at his old school (their conversations blow me away, the level that these kids just have casual conversations at is amazing). The thing that is different is I don't hear "I am bored" "this is too easy" "this is stupid why do I have to learn this". They are challenged in APP. They read more than I have ever seen, but they also play MORE soccer than they ever did at their neighborhood school. Amazing. I didn't expect that change. I was worried about them loosing friends at their old school, but we stayed on those soccer and baseball teams. They just have broader and many more friends now then they did before. My kids are more tolerant of kids learning at different levels, and they have learned acceptance for where everyone is in the class. There was much more judgement at their neighborhood school. I really had to fight with my oldest to get homework done before, but since he is enjoying learning more in APP I don't have to fight with him anymore. It is sweet. The younger one...yes he is engage and motivated to do homework but we still have to stay on him to do it. I was really hesitant to make the change to APP but I am so glad we did.

Mother to APP 3rd and 2nd graders.

Anonymous said...

@Mother to APP 3rd & 2nds: who told you they were too "socially adapted"? I hope it wasn't an SPS employee...
I heard the same things when my 5th grader tested in 5 years ago. "He's not one of 'those' kids. He's normal!" "you don't want him turning in to one of those kids with a book under his arm everywhere he goes"; "the spectrum kids are bright, but the APP kids are weird." et cetera.
We heard this from school staff and other parents. Just ignorant hogwash, and teachers who offer such guidance need schooling.
Our son went from bored/unhappy to successful and right at home in APP. A good fit, a rich social life.
APP kids are just kids, after all.

Just Mom

Anonymous said...

Same experience here as the above two (I was Anon on 10/12 11:32 whose daughter just entered 1st grade APP). As a gifted HS grad myself it makes no sense to me that anyone would think a child needs to be gifted AND have social problems to go to a gifted program. Never heard that before. The kids in my daughter's class all seem fine socially, and the conversation level is a whole lot better (more on her level) than at her neighborhood school. She is still a little bored in class but much less so than before APP, and it's first grade, so I expect that will ramp up.

1st Grade APP Mom

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the APP/Spectrum scene and trying to understand the differences between the two programs in relation to my child and his needs, but also our values as a family. I have to say I hear a lot of talk about the outliers of the outliers as though they are more worthy of APP education than the middle or bottom end of the AHG range (which are "diluting" the program). We are still talking about the top 2%, are we not - at least for Kindergartners taking the CogAT?

It's a little intimidating to hear this divisiveness in such a small group. Is there more to this than the little that I currently know? I'm open to being enlightened, but currently, it does push me a bit towards Spectrum as a potentially more inclusive environment, even if it's not as rigorous.

Anyone have experience with Hawthorne Spectrum vs. APP at Thurgood Marshall? I fully understand the intentional difference (AG vs. AHG, test scores, 1 yr vs. 2 yrs acceleration). What I'm getting at is the experiential and cultural difference of being a family involved in one or the other. My nightmare is that the APP program would be a homogenous group of competitive, privileged white parents with a sense of entitlement. Please tell me my worst fears are completely unfounded.

Another option I'm investigating is keeping my son in Spectrum at our neighborhood school for elementary school and then transitioning to APP for middle-school. Does anyone have any experience with that? Would my son fall too far behind his potential APP cohort? Wondering if this is a decision that is best made at the beginning so he can grow with his cohort, or if we can hedge our bets and see how Spectrum serves his needs?

Thanks!
South End Mom

Anonymous said...

"My nightmare is that the APP program would be a homogeneous group of competitive, privileged white parents with a sense of entitlement. Please tell me my worst fears are completely unfounded."

South end Mom, this isn't anything close to the case. Classes are not as ethnically diverse as as your neighborhood school perhaps but TM is a very diverse school and the parents come from all spectrum's.

The entitlement vibe is only as a spec-ed parent who is trying to find the best placement for their kids to thrive.

app parent

Anonymous said...

South end Mom --
I just want to second what app parent said at 2:48. I have found the TM parent community to have a much more mellow, less-entitled vibe than our neighborhood school. There is definitely socio-economic diversity within APP at TM. I have also found the new math curriculum allows more differentiation within the class, so more kids are being challenged at their level. It still may not be the right situation for your family, but it's been great for ours. I think visiting TM and meeting the principal will also help allay some of your fears.
TM Mom

Anonymous said...

RE: the less-entitled vibe, is SNAPP also similarly mellow? The anecdote at the top of this thread, in which the child replies, "Well, water, duh!" may have been hyperbole, but it's exactly the type of attitude I worry about being pervasive in the culture at SNAPP and is why we hesitate to make the move to APP from Spectrum. This seems a bit over the top from a kindergartner.

word said...

Frankly the kids in the regular program and also in APP will always be at a disadvantage until the math curriculum is improved.

We went from a spectrum math elementary school into middle school APP. The spectrum educated kids appear to have a huge edge over the Discovery math educated kids as far as I can tell. Now they all have to do CMP which is a travesty.

Instead of worrying over who gets into APP we should really focus on the abysmal math curriculum in the district.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous/October 24, 2012 8:48 PM,

I think you miss the point of the comment about Water, duh. As someone who is highly gifted myself, it makes perfect sense and helps to illustrate how highly gifted learners think, and yes we are actually different in how we cognate.

The point is highly gifted learners think past the obvious. I wasn't there but it could well have been me saying that. It is unfortunately part of what gives members of the APP community a bad name. I guess we sound snotty based on your characterization.

So, it isn't an attitude it is how we are built and what you are suggesting is like poking fun at people who sound stupid. These are things that can't be helped, they are a part of how people are built differently, which is exactly why APP is needed for the highly gifted.

Weirdo

hschinske said...

Okay, even granting the "Water, duh" comment was snotty at all (which is not how I read it), if a five-year-old can't be forgiven for accidental or intended snottiness, who the heck can? I mean, we call it immaturity for a reason -- because it's typical of the very young.

Also, if a kid does have any tendency toward being snotty, correcting everyone, etc., that's exactly when they DO benefit from more appropriate work and being with more intellectual peers. Such a kid will typically be much less bratty in APP than elsewhere.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Hey, did anybody watch PBS Nova Science Now: "How Smart Can We Get?" Pretty fascinating stuff. It shows brains at work under CT imaging. And you know what, everybody's brain is unique and works differently. (Should I say duh!) Musicians depending whether they play strings vs. piano have different brain structures. People who trained themselves to be good at memorizing things are strengthening their brain to use different structures and parts of the brain to work together (parietal-frontal integration) and become smarter in the process.

The most interesting thing about intelligence is that it's fluid and even though one may be "gifted" - it doesn't mean the other parts of the brain that are responsible for emotion, organization, empathy, or execution are equally "gifted" hence foot-in -mouth when one is no longer a 5 yo.

Anonymous said...

That's the interesting part of APP. The entrance is based on cognitive test scores. Now, there is an achievement component that screens you first. Yet that label gets you on a guaranteed path (for now anyway) at a very young age. There are real rewards to having such a label in this district even if you are not in self contained APP and are in local schools where there are finite program/honors seats.

Cognitive intelligence is fluid and is just one small cog that in itself cannot determine how successful or "smart" a child can be. APP kids do not have a monopoly on quirkiness, intense focus, brilliance, in-depth thinking. There are many kids out there who shine in math, even quite brilliant and are completely teachable to do greater things given the oppt. So why not get rid of APP in HS or even MS? Let's have differentiated honors classes (since at SPS, it's only 2 grades ahead in practice anyway) and open it up to all kids who has the ability and will to achieve.

spsmom said...

Has anyone received their test date letter for your first grader? We haven't received it yet. My son is 99% MAP, so I know he qualified but I wonder if they lost his paperwork.

Anonymous said...

We're still waiting for ours as well. The AL website says to contact them if you haven't gotten a letter by mid Nov. We did get an email stating that the paperwork was received.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it seem like MAP scores are high for many, many kids - esp in early grades? I wonder what would happen to APP numbers if the threshold was raised to 99%. Maybe you could even lower the cognitive threshold to 95% in that case...?
--Just thinking out "loud"

Anonymous said...

Literally there are K parents on the playground lamenting their child's inability to read a single word while in the same breath excited about their score of 96%ile on the reading MAP. Not sure how that works! (Not the parents' or kids' faults of course and not saying those kids don't belong in APP!)

Anonymous said...

15 Reasons Why SSD Should Shelve MAP

See Reason 8. MAP is inappropriate and unreliable for K-2

Anonymous said...

There is always someone advocating for putting all learners in APP status, of course then there is no program.

Shall we also put all kids in remedial status because that works for some learners, therefore it must be good for all learners?

Weirdo

Anonymous said...

Actually, from the updated AL website, kindergartners don't need MAP scores at any particular level anymore to qualify for Spectrum. Last yr they needed 87% on both winter MAP and Cogat. Now they need 90% on Cogat and no requirement on MAP. For 1st graders, the threshold remains 87% across the board.

Why they're bothering with the criteria for a defunct program I don't know.

Mom of Water, Duh? said...

Totally late here, but my daughter didn't actually say "Water, duh!" she just said "Water" -- I paraphrased so you'd get the gist of how she was saying it. Her tone suggested (as another poster guessed) that that answer was so obvious she didn't think that could be what they were asking about, she thought it must be more complicated.