Thursday, November 21, 2013

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

New APP middle school at Jane Addams

Please use this thread to discuss the new APP middle school at Jane Addams that will be set up next year.

New APP elementary in West Seattle at Fairmount Park

Please use this thread to discuss the new APP program (blended with Spectrum) that will be set up next year at Fairmount Park in West Seattle.

APP moves and splits

With the board vote last night, APP will be seeing some changes. The APP AC sent out an excellent summary of what will be happening:
The final outcomes for APP from the Board Vote last night are as follows:

South APP
  • The current guaranteed pathway for all APP students will remain the same (Thurgood Marshall Elementary, Washington Middle School, Garfield High School).
  • There will be a new optional pathway for APP Elementary at Fairmount Park Elementary School (FPES) in West Seattle in 2014 (a "blended program" with Spectrum, details unknown at this time).
  • The optional Southeast pathway and the site at Madison will not happen until some date in the future.

North APP
  • APP Elementary will stay at Lincoln (until the 2017 move to Wilson Pacific)
  • APP Elementary will share the Lincoln building with AS#1 and the Indian Heritage program (AS#1/Indian Heritage will be housed in the South Wing)
  • APP Middle School will be split into 2 cohorts in 2014: the NE cohort going to Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS) and the NW cohort staying (for now) at Hamilton International Middle School (HIMS). Northeast APP students will not be grandfathered at Hamilton.
  • The NW cohort will either move to Wilson Pacific Middle School (WPMS), or be split between HIMS and WPMS, in 2016 or 2017 depending on the size of the cohort.
I'll be opening individual threads for parents to discuss the new programs at Fairmount Park Elementary (West Seattle) and Jane Addams Middle School (North). Please use this thread for general discussion of the changes and what it all means for the future of APP.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Final boundary assignment plan

Looks like it is here. There is no information in it about APP splits in the current plan. The document that apparently would cover that, Appendix B, is missing, but several amendments might change the plan. The best that can be said is that the future of where APP will be is unclear.

There are links, in Appendix C and D, to what feedback was provided from the community. For example, 24 responses said, "Oppose spilling APP north MS," 15 said, "Don't add additional APP paths in South/Southwest,", and 15 more asked to delay any action on major splits and moves. In general, community feedback was overwhelmingly against further splitting APP. It remains to be seen whether that makes any difference.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another open thread

The board is voting on the boundary plan soon (on Nov 20). What else is on your mind?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Open thread

Discuss whatever you like!

Update: This thread is now dominated by discussion of the SNAPP PTA. Feel free to keep discussing that here, we can make this thread about that, and I'll start another open thread.

Even newer assignment plan

Update: Kellie LaRue and Melissa Westbrook, among many others, are now asking board memebers to vote down the plan, saying it does more harm than good and that it needs to be replaced with much more limited and targeted changes.

Original post:

The Nov 6 plan is here.

From the page, quoting the part on APP:
North APP elementary (now at Lincoln) will stay at Lincoln until Wilson-Pacific Elementary opens in 2017. North APP elementary will be located at Wilson-Pacific Elementary as a free-standing APP school beginning in 2017.

Two sites (co-located with attendance area students) have been designated for north APP middle school: Eckstein and Whitman. APP at Eckstein will begin this coming fall. When APP at both Eckstein and Whitman are in place, enrollment data will be reviewed to determine if Hamilton would continue as an APP site. Depending on the number of students to be served, Hamilton APP may be phased out in the future.

Eckstein and Whitman were chosen as APP sites because by far the largest numbers of APP students live closest to those schools. Note that Eckstein, currently very overcrowded, has its current enrollment reduced significantly with the opening of Jane Addams Middle School. These changes will also provide some relief to over-enrollment at Hamilton.
The changes from the last version for APP appear to be in the north and mostly center around reducing splits of APP in the north. APP in the south is still getting split into a lot of little pieces, no change in that plan it appears despite lots of "public input" against it.

If you are trying to find what is happening to APP in the documents, oddly APP mostly only is mentioned in the document titled "Reference materials for the Board".

Please discuss.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Update: First comment is on the school board candidates, and this is also a good thread to talk about that, but that can be an issue that generates conflict. Please try to keep it civil, especially if commenting anonymously. I suspect links to news articles and other objective information would be most useful to other parents.

Newest assignment plan for APP

The plan is here.

In brief, there are more splits now, four at the elementary level, six at the middle school level, and three at the high school level. The biggest change from the last proposal is that the north has standalone APP for grades 1-5 and the south is now split three ways for grades 1-5.

For elementary, the north gets a standalone APP 1-5 at Wilson-Pacific while the south is split three ways for grades 1-5 among Thurgood Marshall and two options, one in West Seattle at Fairmount Park, the other in the south at Wing Luke.

For middle school, the north is split three ways (Wilson-Pacific, Jane Addams, Hamilton) and the south is also split three ways (Washington and two options, Madison and Aki Kurose, in the west and south).

For high school, the north is at Garfield with an option of Ingraham. The south is at Garfield with an option of Rainier Beach.

Please discuss.

Update: An even newer presentation appears to seriously open the possibility of standalone 1-5 and 6-8 unified APP in the north. There is no mention of any change in the south, so it appears the plan is still to split the south three ways at both elementary and middle school.

Update: By request, convenient links to a reference document containing capacity projections for APP and showing where APP students live (starting about halfway into the document), which was in the appendix of a "school board action report".

Friday, September 27, 2013

Open thread

Rain, rain. And some rain. What else is on your mind, APP parents?

Change in state law

By request, let's open up a discussion on the changes to state law for highly capable students. Specifically, the Superintendent of Public Instruction wrote:
For highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.

Districts will have a plan for identifying and serving highly capable students Grades K–12 ... Districts must have clearly-defined written nomination, screening, assessment, and selection system procedures in place that use multiple objective criteria for identification of students who are among the most highly capable.

Districts must make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's HCP. Districts must provide a continuum of services to the students from K–12. Districts must review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.
Please discuss. Among other things, as the parent who requested this thread noted, the district's current highly capable grant application does not appear to have a plan for identifying students grades 9-12, but let's please also talk about broader questions and issues around the change.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Options for out of APP

By request, a thread to discuss what might work best if moving out of APP.

The request was from a parent with a 5th grader thinking of switching to Spectrum at Hamilton next year (Hamilton will no longer house APP in the latest district plan) and whether that is a good idea. But let's open this up more broadly for parents to discuss with each other what options other than Seattle Public Schools APP they are considering and pros and cons.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Open thread

Discuss what you like!

Growth boundaries and APP

A thread to discuss the latest growth boundaries proposal (slides and handout).

For convenience, here is an excerpt of a piece specific to APP from the handout:
APP middle school enrollment is already too large for one north pathway (large enough for two to three pathways). The recommendation is for two north APP pathways with guaranteed assignments:
• Wilson‐Pacific Elem > Wilson‐Pacific MS > Garfield (or optional APP/IB at Ingraham)
• Olympic Hills > Jane Addams MS > Garfield (or optional APP/IB at Ingraham)

Projected APP middle school enrollment is too large for one south pathway, but not large enough for two. The recommendation is to maintain the current pathway with guaranteed assignment:
• Thurgood Marshall > Washington > Garfield (or optional APP/IB at Ingraham)
• Add APP services in West Seattle as an option for APP‐eligible students in grades 1‐8. Fairmount Park > Madison > Garfield (or optional APP/IB at Ingraham)
Update: For a broader analysis (and some more comments on APP), don't miss Charlie Mas' post, "Growth Boundaries Plan".

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Start of school

Let's start a thread to talk about the start of school. Ideally, this would be APP parents helping APP parents with any questions or problems around the start of school.

Please ask questions of other parents in the comments and, parents, please take a look and see if there is anything you can answer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More details on APP splits

A presentation for today's Board work session on capacity has some tentative plans for what will happen to APP over the next few years on pages 17-27.

Briefly, the tentative plan contemplates splitting south APP (putting new APP in West Seattle) and multiple splits in the north (2-3 elementary and middle school locations). It largely leaves Spectrum and ALO unchanged ("continue" Spectrum and ALO, slide 27), definitely not a strong push to attract people to Spectrum (as a way of restraining APP growth).

Please discuss.

Update: Some more details on the presentation and work session.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Open thread

School's out for summer. What's on your mind?

Advocating for APP

The APP AC sent out an an e-mail asking parents to "e-mail the Superintendent, District staff, and School Board Directors as well as the feedback email for the Growth Boundaries", adding "now is the time to let the District staff and Board Directors know how you feel about the current model of APP and the future of the program."

The e-mail goes on to request that your letters say "why the current APP delivery model is appropriate for highly capable students by explaining how and why it works for your student and family" as well as mention that "90% APP families responded [in a recent survey] that they are highly satisfied or satisfied with the current model." They also ask parents to request that any changes maintain a self-contained program at least in elementary and a minimum cohort size of 2-3 classrooms per grade in all locations.

The full e-mail is here. You can view the Google Group for the APP AC and sign up for e-mails from the APP AC here.

Please see also the earlier thread, "APP services will be offered at additional sites", and the discussion there of the possible changes coming to APP.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Open thread

School is almost over, summer is here, the time is right. What's on your mind?

School board candidates

By popular demand, a new thread to discuss the candidates for school board, especially the impact they might have, if any, on advanced learning in Seattle Public Schools. To get us starting, quoting from KUOW:
Six candidates are vying for two Seattle School Board seats in the August 6 primary election.

In Director District 5, which includes Capitol Hill, the Central Area, Beacon Hill and downtown, Kay Smith-Blum is stepping down from her board seat after one term.

The candidates for her seat are Stephan Blanford, an educational policy consultant; LaCrese Green, a retired state worker who also ran for the board eight years ago; and Olu Thomas, an unemployed social worker.

In District 4, which spans Phinney Ridge, Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne, Michael DeBell is leaving his seat after eight years on the board.

The contenders in that district are Suzanne Dale Estey, an economic development consultant; Dean McColgan, a former Federal Way mayor and city council member; and Sue Peters, a writer and education activist.
Update: Seattle Schools Community Forum has interviews and thoughts on the candidates.

June Surprise at Hamilton

Still no firm information, but there is a rumor that APP may get partially or fully moved out of Hamilton starting this year (as in at the end of summer). By request, starting a new thread to discuss.

Please see also the April 2013 thread, "Capacity at Hamilton", and the discussion there.

Update: In the comments, a letter apparently just sent to Hamilton parents from Superintendent Banda saying, "We are not planning to relocate any 6-8th grade students to other schools for the upcoming school year."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

APP services will be offered at additional sites

On the last open thread, a parent quotes a letter just sent out by Superintendent Jose Banda which says:
We recommend increasing the number of highly capable (APP) elementary and middle school pathways, with guaranteed assignment, to increase access and bring services closer to where students live. If approved, this means APP services will be offered at additional sites – beyond Hamilton and Washington Middle School.
Full letter is here. Please discuss.

Update: Here is the presentation for the May 29 meeting mentioned in the letter.

Update: There is a post, "Preliminary Boundary Presentation", about this over on the Seattle Schools Community Blog that discusses the broader changes.

Update: Melissa Westbrook writes, "AL is being revamped, without input or information." Another parent writes, "The cohorts are likely to be awfully small at some of the locations, and I think the words 'self-contained' will quietly disappear for APP classes. APP will be treated like Spectrum has lately and classes will be filled with school-chosen kids. As a veteran of the last two splits, I don't have hope that the district will make this work, or that they even care to."

Update: Melissa Westbrook live blogs the meeting where the presentation was given. Later, she posted a summary of the meeting.

Update: Charlie Mas also summarizes the meeting where the presentation was given. On APP, he says, "There will be a new delivery model for APP. The District isn't saying what it will be or how it will work ... The determination of a delivery model for APP - including program size - will come after the decision of how many sites to have and how big the programs will be ... They won't even offer the pretense of engagement on it until next year - after they make all of the decisions." On Spectrum, he says, "There will be a new delivery model for Spectrum. It appears to be nothing. For many families this will be nothing new."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Open thread

School ends in a few weeks. What's on your mind?

Bob Vaughan leaving

The APP AC (which, for those of you who don't know, is a volunteer group that works with Bob Vaughan) writes:
Advanced Learning Manager Dr. Bob Vaughan ... announced that he will be retiring from SPS next month. He has been a tremendous advocate for all advanced learners over the years, and has spent decades working tirelessly on behalf of our students. His role included managing not only APP, but also Spectrum, ALO, IB and AP (Advanced Placement) courses and exams, and identification and testing for all potentially eligible advanced learning students.

The APP-AC would like to thank Dr. Vaughan for all of his efforts and wish him the very best in his retirement.
Since Bob Vaughan presided over the dismantling of Spectrum and the chaotic splits of APP, I suspect others feel his track record is a little more mixed, but I will leave that for discussion. What do you think of Bob Vaughan leaving and what are your hopes for the future?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Major changes for APP coming?

Over at Seattle Schools Community Forum, Charlie Mas has a post, "In Which Michael Tolley Reveals The Plan to Dismantle Advanced Learning".

The post is long with a lot of discussion of the plan. But let me highlight this piece Charlie left in a comment on this blog:
The District staff - Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath - intend to fold Advanced Learning into Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS).
Charlie then describes three tiers of MTSS, tier 1 (which is now called general education), tier 2 (working a year ahead in the classroom), and tier 3 (which would similar to APP).

As far as APP, the difference, Charlie writes, is that:
Instead of being in just two elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools, it will be in at least one elementary school in every middles school service area and possibly in two or more in some of them. It will be in every middle school and every comprehensive high school.
It sounds like this plan may fracture APP across many more schools. And, as discussed over on Seattle Schools Community Forum, the APP entry criteria also may change, in particular no longer being CogAT-based, being tested every year, and possibly being harsher.

I don't want to duplicate the discussion over on Seattle Schools Community Forum, so please go over there to read about and discuss the policy in general. But let's open an APP-specific thread here to talk about what to do about this.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Board discussion of APP

Posting for more discussion on APP-specific issues here, Melissa Westbrook offered a summary of a board work session that included some statements from the staff and board about advanced learning and APP. Here are extended excepts of Melissa's notes focusing on the APP-specific bits:
Unlike Sped and ELL, there is no "gaps" page for AL. There is only next steps. Those are:
- evaluate the student identification process
- evalute the current service delivery model (current model requires additional funding)
- revise Board policy
- ALO supported by PD for differentiated instruction

I didn't hear any discussion around these items even though what it appears to say is "change the whole thing." And, no, I don't know what "current model requires additional funding" means.

Director Martin-Morris was very unhappy about the map on page 43. He said it showed almost no students in the southern end of the city. He said, "Who can explain this to me?" and got dead silence ... Martin-Morris ... said "How did this happen and what are we going to do about it?" ... He's been on the Board for six years and nothing is any different from when he started (except for larger numbers in APP and the disintegration of Spectrum). I don't know how this is some big surprise to him.

[Director Martin-Morris] claims that families don't know if their child is capable. Well, that really isn't so since they started using MAP. Tolley said something I need to get clarified which was that MAP wasn't a "qualifier" for AL but a "screener." Head of AL, Bob Vaughan, said that the distribution in the city mirrors nationwide and that there aren't that many southend students scoring that high. He said that those who do, their families do get contacted (and they use interpreters if necessary). Martin-Morris seemed, well, to nearly blow a gasket and said his blood pressure had now gone up. He said he couldn't accept that there were so many "smart" kids in the northend and that there are not "bunches" of smart kids in the south end.

He's right, of course. What he is failing to understand is that there are many factors to not finding those "bunches." One is MAP. It's a computer-directed test. It might be possible that more students in the south-end, particularly kindergarteners, might not have as high use of computers as do some north-end students. Two, it may be the wrong test. Shauna Health said that they need to look at a "nonverbal" test. She also said that some districts don't evaluate until second grade and use the COGAT test for all second graders (rather than the district using MAP). Patu said that parents don't know how to access the testing. I'm not sure that's entirely true but maybe better outreach could help.

DeBell said "well we are only talking about 2% of our students and the other 98% are still waiting." That would seem to imply that he believes that AL students are getting their needs met and the majority of students are not ... Martin-Morris said that "we need to go back to basics." He said the focus should be on basic education - how we define and compliance. He said the foundational pieces should be in place before we do other things. He said, "we may have to say no to some things until the foundation is solid." ... Carr said the past is an influence. She said they can't be afford of change and that they need to ensure money that is allocated for certain things doesn't get changed because of site-based management. She also said they may have to look at another model for APP ... President Smith-Blum said there are concerns around popular and successful programs ... DeBell said ... they never got all the basics into place.

Pegi McEvoy said that in terms of replicating successful programs and with new boundaries coming, they may have to consider some schools as option schools, not neighborhood schools. Bob Boesche called for an "Assurances 2020" plan. He said that people ask him where they should move in Seattle for good schools and he wants to say "anywhere" because we can provide the academic assurances.

Frankly, very worrying. I'm not sure this is the best framework and it certainly doesn't seem clear which priorities are the most important (to either staff or the Board) ... There seems to be a divide on the Board about how to direct the Superintendent on what staff should concentrate on given needs and resources.
A lot there. Please discuss.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Open thread

Guess I spoke too soon about it starting to feel like summer in Seattle. As usual, please use this open thread to talk about whatever you like.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Capacity at Hamilton

By request, a thread to talk about the rather severe capacity issues at Hamilton and the current status of doing something about it. According to one parent, "There is no space for portables. [Hamilton's] functional capacity is listed at 973 and it's projected to be over that by 73 students next year, 169 in 2014-15, and 316 in 2015-16. APP is at 49% of Hamilton population next year."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Transportation changes coming

Over on the Seattle Schools Community blog, Melissa Westbrook writes that many changes may be coming to transportation.

Let's open a thread here just to discuss the APP-specific changes. As Melissa wrote, one of the proposals is to "End busing and ORCA cards for APP and IB programs" to save $700K. School Board President Kay Smith-Blum objected to that, pointing out that APP and IB students don't really have a choice of where to go to access their programs and that the district gets specific funding from the state for APP transportation, but apparently the proposal is still on the list.

Open thread

Starting to feel like summer here in Seattle. What's on your mind?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vision and leadership for Advanced Learning

Over at the Seattle Schools Community Forum, there are two posts, "Advanced Learning - It's Time for Change" and "Advanced Learning Policy", that APP parents probably want to see.

Please comment over there to discuss those specific topics -- Bob Vaughan's leadership of the Advanced Learning office and Charlie Mas' vision for advanced learning -- but let's open up a thread here to talk about the broader issues raised. What are the highest priority problems with Advanced Learning in Seattle? Why are those problems persisting? How can APP parents effectively advocate for change, for something better?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Open thread

A new open thread. Have at it!

Input on strategic plan?

APP parents, what would you like to see in the district's new strategic plan? Sue Peters is on the strategic plan community task force and asked for a thread on what should be included. Please discuss in the comments.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Picking between Ingraham and Garfield

By request, since tours are starting, a thread for APP parents to discuss the choice between Ingraham and Garfield for high school.

Update: Let's broaden this thread beyond Garfield and Ingraham to talk about high school choices in general.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Open thread

A new open thread. Discuss what you like!

Helping parents applying to APP

Looks like test scores are coming in the mail and parents new to APP are wondering what the scores mean, whether they should apply, and, in some cases, about the appeals process. Let's open a new thread, and please chime in if you have any questions or can answer any questions.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Latest on capacity and APP

By request, a new thread to discuss last night's board meeting ([1] [2] [3] [4]), the vote not to immediately add a Jane Addams middle school and instead to move Laurelhurst to Eckstein (instead of Hamilton), and the implications for APP.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Opting out of MAP?

By request, a new thread to talk about "the MAP opt out forms that Freshman are bring home from Garfield in support of the teachers boycott."

Please feel free also to use this for a broader discussion of the reasons APP students, in an organized way or just individually, might or might not want to opt out of MAP testing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Open thread

What's on your mind, APP parents?

Please use the dedicated thread below for discussion of capacity in the north, the possible reopening of Jane Addams, and how that impacts APP. I know that's on everyone's mind, there's a lot of comments on that thread already, so let's keep that discussion together over there.

How to partially home school in APP

In another thread, a few parents were asking about home schooling just for a subject or two, especially math and science. Another parent offered this:
Let the registrar know in the Spring that you intend to part time homeschool for the upcoming school year. It makes it easier to schedule a late start or early realease. Note your intention on the class choice sheet. Prior to the beginning of the school year, get a "Declaration of Intent to Provide Home Based Instruction" form from the homeschool center (now called Cascade Parent Partnership Program). Submit the completed form to CPPP and a copy to the registrar at your school. You can also do it right before the semester.

That's about the extent of it. Your child will need to be dropped off late or picked up early. Another alternative is taking more electives to maintain a full 6 period schedule and transportation.

I'd contact the CPPP for the paperwork details and the school for scheduling details and other info.
I thought that was useful information and worth a new thread. So, here you go, a thread to discuss partially home schooling, how to make that happen with the district and teachers, how to make it work well for the kids and parents, and whether it's a good idea.

Friday, January 18, 2013

APP in the NE and capacity planning

Big changes in the works to deal with capacity issues in the NE. Seattle Schools Community Forum just put up a good post on it, "No Clear Answer for the NE".

By request, let's open a thread to discuss APP specific issues with the plans for the NE. In particular, as a couple parents point out, some of the plans would start a new middle school in the NE and likely lead to a split at the middle school level for APP, but let's also open this up broadly to discussion of all the capacity plans in the NE and what they may mean for APP.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Open thread

A new open thread. Talk about whatever you like!

This also is a good spot for parents new to APP or considering APP to ask questions of other parents.

Demand for an APP private school?

In an earlier thread, a parent wrote:
This city could support one more private school that focuses on highly capable kids. If I didn't already have a full time job...
Another parent added, "It is time. I hope it is not only a dream."

That seems like a nicely controversial topic likely to generate some good discussion, so here's a new thread for it. Go to it!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plan for Hamilton?

An e-mail to Hamilton students from the Hamilton PTSA said:
Last night Seattle Public Schools introduced its short-term capacity management ... The specifics of the plan can be found in the District's presentation.

All incoming sixth graders and new students from the Laurelhurst Attendance Area would be shifted to Eckstein Middle School ... Current fifth grade APP students at Lincoln would continue on to Hamilton.
Please discuss.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Leaving APP?

A parent writes:
This is our 5th year in APP with our two kids. Like many of you we lived through the Lowell/TM split and closure scare, last year's move to Lincoln, this year's emergency fund-drive at Lincoln, and now the question of where the 5th graders will go. I have to say, the district has finally worn us down. Uncle! We're hoping that our older one can finish at Hamilton without any drama, and we're working furiously on private school apps for our 5th grader. It's really unfortunate- we love our APP teachers and community... but we are at the point where the obscene price of private for 3 years actually seems worth it for some stability (that is, IF we get in & get some aid).
Please discuss.