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."