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.

50 comments :

Anonymous said...

Entering MS provides a unique opportunity for most to grow socially, expand horizons, explore sports, extra curricular activities and clubs and try new course electives. Without a clearly articulated plan for APP 6th graders next year we are ready to move to our reference area MS in favor of the comprehensive MS experience.

It is Time.

Anonymous said...

As a family deciding between comprehensive middle school and Hamilton for our rising 5th grader, we'd appreciate any insight.

Our child is very interested in the hows and whys of the world, and in playing with ideas, and not interested in the things many of her peers are (e.g., pop culture and music). So sometimes she seems out of step with her schoolmates. She likes and gets along well with them, but is fairly introverted. We are deciding whether from a personal standpoint she will do better with a smattering of friends she knows in the neighborhood school (many of her friends are looking at private schools, so may not even be at the neighborhood middle school) or with kids that might take a good deal of time for her to get to know, but who may be more like her in terms of offbeat interests at HIMS.

We figure that at this stage, her development of her identity and self-concept are more important that raw academics, but also think that in a more academic environment she might feel more at home, and thus be more supported in being her true self.

Thanks in advance for weighing in!

5th grade Mom

Anonymous said...

Hamilton is a comprehensive middle school as well, so I'm guessing you meant between the neighborhood school and Hamilton APP? Aren't all reference area middle schools comprehensive middle schools?

We're torn. Our older child is currently at Hamilton and we have concerns with enough of the core APP classes that the prospect of another 3 years with the program for our younger child just doesn't bring warm fuzzy feelings.

For our older child, music and friends are what keeps school interesting, not the APP classes. Yet, we don't feel the neighborhood school would have been a good fit because there would have been a repeat of material going from elementary APP to Spectrum.

Overall, Hamilton is fine, it's the APP program that has been underwhelming. An ongoing concern is teachers assigned to APP classes that really don't have the training or the interest in gifted ed. The curriculum also seems to be too undefined and inconsistent since the split.

Would the neighborhood school be any better? I couldn't say. For us, academics are important, yet APP hasn't been what we expected academically.

-underwhelmed

Anonymous said...

We're in the same boat. This last round of uncertainty has put us over the edge. Fingers crossed for private.

-Disappointed in SPS

Anonymous said...

Is that possible that SPS wants to deal with the growing number of the North-end APP students in the middle school level by sending them away as far as possible (to private schools) after 5th grade on purpose? If there are less incoming APP students they wouldn't need to change anything at HIMS.
- This could be their short term solution?

Anonymous said...

"Never ascribe to malice that which can adequately be explained by incompetence."

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter that it is malice and / or incompetence when in January you don't know what is going to happen with your 5th grader in September?
After 2 splits of the program already?
Really?

Anonymous said...

Private or back to local NSAP MS can be good choices. Know of several parents who went private and kids are doing well and happy. You may pay up to $30K when all said and done, but get class size of 16, more personalized attention, better art/music/language programs, HW/tutorial support. You get the inquiry based teaching, less standardized testings, and usually high quality instructors. Kids may come from all over Puget Sound area, so less community cohesiveness. Also while teaching quality is high, it may not be consistent. Decision making may be more opaque than public school system.

The 3 APP kids I know of who are in local MS are doing well too. Their parents worked quietly (that's the key) with the 2 MS for certain accommodations. The kids have friends from elementary school days, neighborhoods, and sports/music programs so they are well established socially. Academically the kids seem to be just as engaging and capable as the Hamilton APP kids. Their parents provide the usual supplement, but tell me they would do so even if their kids went to HIMS.

Anonymous said...

Question:
What is going to happen with those APP students in high school who attend the local public MS? Can they continue the APP program in Garfield or Ingraham? Or do they have to continue in their local HS? And what if that is already overcrowded?
Curious

Anonymous said...

IMO, this is where APP parents can get into a bind if they feel the only thing good about APP is the cohort. In HS there is less need for cohort as there is more differential going on in terms of class offerings (AP/IB) and other programs where access to college classes are available. However, if you believe strongly in keeping your kids with the cohort no matter what, then it maybe best to stay with it, at least from a parent's perspective. Garfield is pretty crowded and by the time MS kids reach Ingraham, all of northend HS will have capacity issue...like the MS problem now. Be prepared.

Anonymous said...

I imagine private school is an ideal situation if you can afford it. Our family is in the position of not qualifying for aid and not being able to afford private. APP--in whatever location or form it takes--is the best free education we can give our two kids. Stability is important, but I believe adaptability is an important life skill for kids to learn.
--Grateful

Anonymous said...

An alternative our family has been flirting around with is homeschooling. One of the dads whose APP son goes to the neighborhood MS told me his story of growing up before schools had formal G & T programs some 40 years ago. He graduated HS at 16 and was able to do so because his teachers was able to place him in upper level and more advanced classes without a lot of administrative fuss. Like most parents of that time, his parents had little contact with school except for the annual P-T conference or the dreaded principal chat. Until he was in 7th grade, he was known as the "class clown" mainly because he had the unfortunate knack of correcting his teachers' mistakes in front of class and being funny about it. He did finally met his match with a brilliant English teacher who figured him out and got him into more challenging coursework and classes that year. That was a watershed point for him.

Now a days, it's hard to see teachers having enough power or time to make such input to affect changes. Everything runs on a centralized operational diagram by people who are not anywhere near the classrooms or kids. I think the burden to make changes rest upon parents more and more. This isn't an APP issue. When you see failure in schools to meet the needs of kids who are under federally protected status, you know programs like AP learning have very little traction.

Which brings our family back to the idea of homeschooling. While challenging logistically (we're still at the scratching the surface stage), there seems to be a vast support network in this area.

-something else to think about

Anonymous said...

Another option is part-time homeschooling. It's a huge commitment and requires working out the logistics of scheduling and transportation, but it's not as isolating as full-time homeschooling. If you outsource a class it's still less expensive than private school tuition. A student can still be enrolled in APP, yet homeschool in one or two subjects, while still taking language, music, etc, at school. It's not ideal, but it can work for a motivated student, especially when private school is not really an option.

-another anonymous parent

Anonymous said...

I was told last year that an APP student can not be home schooled in more than one subject otherwise the student would loose her or his APP seat. Couldn't find any rules about this. So we are doing one subject (math) home schooling and it's working out great. But it would be better in more subjects (science?).
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Re: homeschooling in a subject---how does the kid's schedule look? Do they schedule the "empty" math period at the beginning or end of the day; do you have any input into when the empty period is, or do you just take what they give you and attempt to get your kid off campus during the empty period?

The logistics seem challenging. But I'd agree, that for a fraction of the cost of private, you could come up with a pretty good solution. Especially if you arranged a private class with a super teacher with about 10 students. Maybe after school or at night. Like a shadow school, to make up for the program's deficiencies.

Anonymous said...

Single subject home schooling:
You have an option:
1. you can sign up for an extra class for the "empty" period (language, music, art or PE, or TA in 8th grade), in this case there is no problem with transportation
2. you can have an "empty" period when your student has to leave the school. In this case you could request that period for the beginning or end of the day but in many cases this request can not be granted because of a scheduling conflict. Then you will have an empty period in the middle of a day. This adds extra burden of the transportation for the families if you don't live close by.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the frustrations due to the District's lack of support for APP. I would just offer though as a counter-point that our 7th grader has had a very good experience at Hamilton. Apart from the 6th grade math teacher, all of her teachers ranged from good to great. I know others have had a different experience - I just wanted to share that our experience at Hamilton has been a good one.

Hamilton (and Lincoln) mom

Anonymous said...

Hamilton (and Lincoln) mom-

Yes, there are good teachers at HIMS. Unfortunately, there are also horrible teachers there. Last year lots of parents were really frustrated with one of the 6th grade APP LA/SS teachers. Parents who didn't have a child in that class were fairly happy (aside from math, of course).

The 6th grade APP science this year at HIMS is an absolute joke. It is a complete waste of time.

Until HIMS improves the teaching, many parents won't be happy. It is really frustrating to hear night after night from your kid stories about what they didn't learn that day. I was really hoping the new principal would come in and improve things, but I haven't seen it yet. Science has certainly not improved. Since only science and LA/SS are APP in middle school, it is really important those be strong classes.

-another at HIMS

Anonymous said...

Teachers can make all the difference, yes? Several well liked APP teachers (two of them were 6th grade teachers) are no longer at Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the previous poster. But in science, a good book and a better curriculum would help also.
-Dream

Anonymous said...

To Hamilton (and Lincoln) mom:
Good to hear from you. I hope that you could say this really positive impression next year also (since you were so lucky so far), which would mean a change of the current 8th grade science teacher or her teaching.
- Hope for more change in HIMS

Anonymous said...

On a somewhat related note - I would like to know if 8th grade parents feel that their students are on track to continue the science pathway in HS either at GHS or IB.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to know if 8th grade parents feel that their students are on track to continue the science pathway in HS either at GHS or IB."

How can you tell this for sure? If I look at the HS science classes and their descriptions, I think my student is ready. But then again, do the MS science grades (or even the Biology EOC) tell you if they are really ready for the next level?
I feel uncertain at this point (especially after having the 6th grade science teacher for the last 2 years) so I provide extra science tutoring for my 8th grader. Would love to hear more form HS students about this question...
- Hope for more change in HIMS

Anonymous said...

We toured private high schools this year and asked whether a high school biology class, taken in middle school, would be accepted. We were told our child would need to retake biology, though they had the option of taking AP biology.

Anonymous said...

@hopeformorechange

I just asked my GHS 10th grader (who had the same teacher for 7th & 8th science at HIMS)if she felt more or less prepared for Marine Bio last year, compared to APP kids coming from WMS or to the kids who took Bio in 9th grade at GHS. She felt they were all on pretty much the same footing. Marine Bio at Garfield is LEGENDARY - a rigorous course with amazing field trips and they get 5 UW credits. So, I guess just finish the Bio at HIMS because it's a prerequisite for something really special.

sidneyd

Greg Linden said...

I don't usually comment much, but I wanted to point out an alternative that hasn't been discussed.

If you're looking at your options of APP, neighborhood public school, private schools, home schooling, or moving, another option that might be worth knowing about is UW at the Robinson Center. Earliest entry is after 6th grade, though after 7th grade is recommended.

More information at:

http://depts.washington.edu/cscy/programs/early-entrance-program/

hschinske said...

So far chemistry at Ingraham has covered completely different material than I remember my son having before, and he's doing much better in the class (both in terms of grades and in lack of complaints) than he ever has in science previously. Knock wood.

Helen Schinske

APPIBXStudent said...

I can second the strong science view hschinske had of APP/IB@ Ingraham. I am currently a 10th Grader in the initial cohort and took advanced chemistry last year and am taking IB Biology SL this year and will take a follow up course next year, IB Biology HL. I went to Hamilton and endured the same 7th and 8th Grade science experience with the same teacher. While the endless videos and cell model projects may have seemed boring in 8th, they really help a lot in recalling basic biology concepts when you take IB Biology as an APP 10th Grader. I thought I had learned little, but ended up knowing a lot more than I expected. At least in my Biology class which consists of mostly APP/IB 10th Graders, we seem to actually be ahead of the few regular IB 11th Graders who took a supposedly similar bio course in their 10th Grade year (compared to our 8th Grade one).

Anonymous said...

When I was in high school, we took one biology class. One. It seemed pretty comprehensive. What's confusing to me is taking it in 8th grade, when it's supposed to be a high school level class, then taking it again in high school. Is the class in 8th grade not as comprehensive as a high school class? Is the high school class beyond a typical high scchool biology class? Taking a class in 8th grade and getting familiar with terminology could only help when taking another biology class, but I'm left wondering why it doesn't stand on its own. Is it that IB requires taking biology again, while the AP pathway at Garfield doesn't?

confused

Randy said...

As far as accommodating APP at a local middle school, Algebra 1 is available to any 6 th grader who meets district criteria whether or not the student is APP. Surely 8th grade math would also be available. Language arts is grouped and reports are that honors classes can be very rigorous. Science is not available as honors but is being looked at in regards to making it more rigorous. Music may not have 10 different groups like at WMS, but there are some fantastic teachers in middle school music programs. I would encourage parents to tour their local middle school and talk to the principal about accommodations for advanced learners. Obviously some schools will be more friendly to the idea of challenging APP students than others, but it would be nice to think that any principal would like to see a broadening of their student body to included gifted learners.

Anonymous said...

"We toured private high schools this year and asked whether a high school biology class, taken in middle school, would be accepted. We were told our child would need to retake biology, though they had the option of taking AP biology."
What was their reasoning for the required retake? I thought if you have the Bio EOC you could take Bio AP class in ANY high school.
Another question

Anonymous said...

Can someone clarify the middle school math pathway? Our middle schooler has been doing independent study for math, so we're not up on all the changes--and it's hard to know what the course titles reflect anyway. But with another kid rising to MS soon, time for me to get up to speed.

As I understand it, incoming 6th graders have several options for math beyond the basic Math 6 class: Math 6H, Math 6HH, and new this year, Algebra 1. If you go the Alg 1 route, do you then take Geom and Alg 2 in 7-8th grades?

What if you start in Math 6HH? Do those kids take Alg 1 in 7th grade, or a Math 7HH class, whatever that may be??? My HIMS middle school 7th grader says kids in the High Honors class last year (when no Alg 1 option available) are now in Geom... So did they just skip Algebra? And skip the Alg 1 EOC exam? What is the true pathway for these kids?


Same for Math 6H--what's next? Where do you end up in 8th grade?

Thanks,
HUMSmom

Anonymous said...

Spectrum/Test In etc.
6th Grade: Math 6H
7th Grade: Math 6HH
8th Grade: Algebra 1
9th Grade: Geometry

Typical APP Pathway:
6th Grade: Math 6HH
7th Grade: Algebra 1
8th Grade: Geometry
9th Grade: Algebra II

Adapted APP Pathway:
6th Grade: Algebra 1
7th Grade: Geometry
8th Grade: Algebra II
9th Grade: Pre-Calculus (Garfield - not sure about Ingraham - but we have 9th graders in Pre-Calc this year)

-Math Mom 2

Anonymous said...

Math Mom 2-

Your list for "Adapted APP Pathway" is correct EXCEPT HIMS does not currently have an Algebra II class. My understanding is that they "hope" to by the time the 6th graders reach 8th grade. To be on the safe side, I won't be holding my breath.

-realist

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That all seems logical, but in experience it seems like maybe things aren't always so straightforward as they should be.

And so is it not true that there are HIMS 7th graders in Geometry this year? Or if it IS true, as my son insists, will those kids take Alg 2 next year--or will school not be prepared for that until the following year, when first cohort of Alg 1 6th graders rises to 8th? How well are these supposed seventh grade Geom students likely to do in Alg 2 next year, given they never got Alg 1? And would they have taken the district's Alg 1 end-of-course exam in their Math 6HH class?

HIMSmom


Anonymous said...

My guess is that *if* students skippped from 6HH to Geometry they were getting Algebra 1 instruction elsewhere. They may have been officially enrolled in 6HH only because they had no choice of taking Algebra 1 in 6th grade. They would have to take the Algebra EOC to enroll in Geometry the following school year.

Anonymous said...

There are 7th graders in geometry this year - I know personally of one, but I don't know how many are in there in total. It was not offered out in the open like Algebra 1 was for *6th graders, but there is at least one 7th grader in geometry this year. I have not heard what this kid will do next year.

*I am saying this not as someone who agrees as to how kids were placed in Alg 1. Using the MAP test for entrance is not only stupid but ineffective. There are 6th graders in Alg 1 this year who are really struggling. MAP is NOT an Alg 1 readiness test.

-realist

Anonymous said...

The 7th grade students in Geometry this year could have been home schooled for Algebra 1 in 6th grade. And I guess they will be home schooled again in 8th grade for Algebra 2.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Sorry, HIMS mom at 2 26pm was in fact another HIMS mom.
The 7th grade students (there are more than 1) in Geometry this year had the Algebra 1 EOC at the end of last year (in 6th grade), and that is how they could be ended up at Geo this year.
For 8th grade they could be either home schooled again in Algebra 2 or they could take a break and be a TA in a class.
Another HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

So when does the curriculum change from CMP to something else, and what is the HS curriculum? Is it any good?

Can my kid get into Algebra 1 at McClure? Her MAP has been over 150 since 4th grade, and she is doing some Algebra at home and loving it.

Considering HIMS

Anonymous said...

Make that over 250, twice as a 4th grader and in her first test this year.

Considering HIMS/APP

Anonymous said...

McClure has a few 6th graders in Algebra 1 this year. How many I don't know but I'm sure the principal would answer your questions.

Maverick mom

Anonymous said...

My 7th grader, who is in Algebra 1, has been complaining that they are repeating material from last year, because some kids in the class are really struggling. He's a little bored (worrisome). And I really like the teacher- think that he's great. But some 6th graders were clearly not prepared for Algebra so he's having to slow down the pace and repeat material.
-Hamilton Mom

Anonymous said...

To take it back to the original thread, will there be a larger than usual number of 5th grade APP families leaving the program? There is always some attrition, with some deciding to make the move to private middle school, but I wonder about how many of us are privately dealing with school tours and applications right now (down to the wire)? And seriously, this city could support one more private school that focuses on highly capable kids. If I didn't already have a full time job...

Anonymous said...

To take it back to the original thread, will there be a larger than usual number of 5th grade APP families leaving the program? There is always some attrition, with some deciding to make the move to private middle school, but I wonder about how many of us are privately dealing with school tours and applications right now (down to the wire)? And seriously, this city could support one more private school that focuses on highly capable kids. If I didn't already have a full time job...
-wishing for options

Anonymous said...

wishing for options
That was exactly I thought also, some people, I am sure, will come up with a new (private) middle school very soon, because it is time. I hope it is not only a dream...
Idea (free)

Anonymous said...

We are homeschooling for 6th, pre-algebra, and 7th, Algebra 1, using pretty traditional books. There is a fair amount of repetition built in, but the coverage of topics gets more comprehensive in Algebra 1. For example, adding/subtracting/multiplying and dividing of fractions is covered both years, but in Algebra 1 the coverage includes fractions with algebraic expressions. Operations with exponents, the Pythagorean Theorem, linear equations and inequalities are covered in pre-algebra, and they are covered again in Algebra 1.

I find my child needs the review to solidify concepts. There should be some overlap year to year, so my question is whether the review is limiting the concepts that will be covered this year in Algebra 1, or whether the review is just part of a typical Algebra 1 class.

Anonymous said...

What is the curriculum used for Algebra 1?

Thanks,

Mathy mom

Greg Linden said...

I started a new thread to talk about this idea of a new private school for APP, "Demand for an APP private school?" Not saying it's a good idea or bad idea, but it's clearly a ripe topic for discussion, so please continue talking about it over there.

Also, it please move the discussion about the math curriculum to the latest open thread. Might be good to keep this thread on its original topic, keeping it mostly for parents talking about leaving APP, why they are leaving, and where they are going.

Anonymous said...

The district book provided for Algebra 1 is "Discovering Algebra" by Key Curriculum Press.

Discovering Algebra: An Investigative Approach