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.

32 comments :

Anonymous said...

This is very troubling indeed. There are no advocates for the APP program or any advanced learning programs down at the district office. Families should be alarmed at what this might mean. Director Martin-Morris has said he'd like APP delivered at all schools, thus ending the current model. If no one steps up to defend it, we could be looking at the end of it. Though I don't know where we'd all go. In 2014, all the boundaries are being redrawn - will that be the major redistribution of APP too? I wish we had some answers, but parents should be worried.

-Not with a bang but a whimper

Anonymous said...

Who can we write or talk to to make our opinions known? The board? I am also extremely troubled by this discussion.

Anonymous said...

Kay Smith-Blum is a big advocate for APP. Her kids were in APP. She gets it.

Anonymous said...

I STRONGLY disagree about KSB. Yes, her twin boys went through APP, but she is a BIG proponent of APP in every geographical area. If she understood what APP is (or at least supposed to be), she would not be a proponent of this. If she saw how poorly run Spectrum is, already a program in every geographical area, she would see this is the wrong answer for a program like APP is supposed to be. If she saw the weak support from the district of all APP schools, she would never push to split the program again. That is exactly what she is doing.

I don't believe that there is a proponent of APP on the current school board. Both DeBall and Carr have kids who were APP qualified but didn't sent their kids to the program. If it was okay for their kids to stay in the neighborhood school, it's okay for everyone, right?

-not a fan

Anonymous said...

What's concerning is the state of AL district wide, not just APP. The explosion of APP enrollment is a symptom of problems elsewhere. Instead of dismantling APP, they need to work on strengthening programs in neighborhood schools. On top of that, you have the capacity issues that will overshadow program issues.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this information is very concerning. I've heard Sherry Carr say that when she chose not to send her child/ren to APP, she made this decision based on geography (not sure if it was lowell or washington, but either are far from where she lives). Also, her kids (or maybe just one of her daughters?) were in montessori in elementary and there are many APP qualified families who stay in montessori because classrooms are muti-grade and the 4th-5th grade M teachers are certified to teach 9-12 year olds. Some parents asked her if she'd send her own child to hamilton with the possible instability of APP there and said yes, she just didn't do it when it involved a long bus commute. I'm not saying she's our champion; I'm just saying where she sent her kids doesn't tell the whole story.
Analyzing

Anonymous said...

So, how did it work having 6th graders take Algebra I? And what about those who didn't qualify but homeschooled their kids and covered the Algebra I curriculum? Are APP students sufficiently prepared to tackle that Math level, or do kids placed in that class need tutoring?

Anonymous said...

I think they are going to base success in part on pass rates on the Algebra EOC, for which results won't be known until the end of August. If students don't pass the Algebra EOC, do they have to repeat Algebra?

Pm said...

I have no idea if they will need to repeat algebra, but if they do not pass the Algebra EOC, they SHOULD repeat algebra. The test has a reputation as not being particularly rigorous and these kids are good test takers by definition because they qualified for APP.

Anonymous said...

If they don't pass the biology or algebra EOC the first time they don't have to repeat the class. They can move on to the next class in math or science. BUT they will have to pass the algebra EOC to graduate high school and many repeat chances are given.

sidneyd

Anonymous said...

Sidney - Is that true for all students? If a student passes the course, but doesn't pass the EOC on the first try, even if they are in APP, do they move on to the next class?

Anonymous said...

To Sydney and Anon:
With the exception of the home schooled 6th grade students at HIMS. The principal said the students only could continue in Geometry next year if they pass the Algebra 1 EOC.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

It's a pretty easy test. If your student does not pass the Algebra EOC, it would probably be wise not to move on to Geometry, but spend the time to revisit Algebra 1. It's a journey, not a race, especially if you're not clearing the low hurdles.

suep. said...

Pm said...

(...) these kids are good test takers by definition because they qualified for APP.


I disagree. Even advanced thinkers may not be good test-takers. A test result may be the district's criteria for APP, but almost always there are other factors that indicate when a child needs an advanced curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon at 10:22PM. But it is still kind of odd that they have different requirements for the regular and the home schooled students.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

HIMS mom, where did you get the info about passing EOC algebra requirement and the exception for homeschool (algebra?) kids and general ed (algebra?) kids? Is there a site we can go to for math placement?

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 3:44PM:
See sidneyd's comment on April 25th at 4:10PM.

Anonymous said...

OK, a little confused here. I read Sidney's comment to refer to SPS policy as a whole for HS graduation and meeting minimal math requirement (algebra II or its equivalence). HIMS mom's comments sound like it was about APP @ HIMS. Merely seeking confirmation about HIMS' policy: students who take algebra I in 6th grade and don't pass the EOC are not promoted to geometry in 7th. That seems fair and reasonable. Algebra I is basic foundation math and students need to get that down. Even if they repeat, they are still ahead of the curve.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:16 - EVERYONE USE A NAME!!!!!!!

You read HIMS Mom's comments incorrectly. She said HOMESCHOOLED Alg 1 students need to pass the Alg 1 EOC in order to move to geometry. If kids take Alg 1 at HIMS and don't pass the EOC, they can still move to geometry the next year. Although, as others have posted, parents would be insane to do this. The EOC is basic A;g 1, so if a kid can't pass it they have no business moving on.

It's crazy. Homeschooled kids will get far better curricula than the HIMS kids (I am assuming no parent would choose Discovery math). The Alg 1 SPS curricula is so poor that the math teachers at HIMS need to supplement in order for kids to get a good base in Alg 1.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

If kids take Alg 1 at HIMS and don't pass the EOC, they can still move to geometry the next year.

[homeschooled] students who take algebra I in 6th grade and don't pass the EOC are not promoted to geometry in 7th. That seems fair and reasonable.

This seems to be the crux of the issue: it seems fair and reasonable, yet it's applied to only one set of students, which makes it unfair.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pickle, that is exactly I wanted to say.
What I don't know if 6th grade parents could request that their students stay in Alg 1 for one more year if they don't pass the EOC...
I guess, we will see, since this is the first year with this problem.
One more thing for Anon: there is no such a thing that APP math.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Then how do you know if homeschool kids are meeting standards or are learning what they are supposed to be learning? Is there an algebra homeschooling standard? At least at schools, they are being taught by certified teachers, under scrutiny, with agreed upon curriculum & pedagogy (questionable as that may be).

Oh, according to pickle anon @ 5:16 PM didn't get it right, so wouldn't try to change that posting sentence structure and meaning to make it mean something else or whatever anon @ 7:12 meant. Otherwise, we are all FWs.

bold caps and more !!!! (sorry, that just tickled me)

Anonymous said...

I think all of this is ridiculous. First teachers (according to the district) aren't capable enough to veto a kid's placement in Alg 1 if they don't believe the kids are ready nor are they capable of deciding a kid is capable of Alg 1 even if they didn't score 250+ on a test which isn't designed to test for Algebra 1 readiness.

But, these teachers teach Alg 1 so well that even if a kid doesn't pass the Alg 1 EOC their kids get to move on to geometry, but a homeschooled kid can't move on because they didn't have Alg in school.

Anon (how hard is it to choose a name) at 7:40 posted this: "At least at schools, they are being taught by certified teachers..." The implication that the homeschooled kids aren't being taught by a certified teacher isn't correct. In order for a homeschooled kid to be eligible to take Geometry in 7th grade at HIMS, they need to take an accredited Algebra 1 class AND pass the Alg 1 EOC. By definition, a teacher teaching an accredited class is certified. So, again, why the difference? It is just to make it more difficult to homeschool even though parents are doing it due to arbitrary and non-sensical rules? I am not even going to bring up CMP or the various issues many have had with HIMS' HH math class.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

Parents have been told that homeschooled students need to take an accredited Algebra course, but that contradicts the state laws on homeschooling. According to the law, decisions of methods and materials are the responsibility of the parent. Also, the parent does not need to be certified, but the state doesn't require private school teachers to be certified either. If you have earned 45 college-level credit hours, the state considers you qualified to homeschool your child.

http://www.k12.wa.us/PrivateEd/HomeBasedEd/PinkBook/pinkbook.pdf

-clarifying

Anonymous said...

To make sure and get this right. IF I want to homeschool my kids in algebra, I can do so. And some of you are saying it shouldn't matter if my kid passes the EOC algebra test or not. My child should still be able to take geometry class next year at HIMS. Is that the what I'm hearing now? Sounds great. A great loophole to avoid the dreadful CMP.

bold caps and more !!!!

Anonymous said...

No, Bold, you are NOT reading the posts correctly.

Pickle has it right: "In order for a homeschooled kid to be eligible to take Geometry in 7th grade at HIMS, they need to take an accredited Algebra 1 class AND pass the Alg 1 EOC."

Whether this follows state law or not, I don't know. These are the rules currently being enforced by Ms W.

-sheesh

Anonymous said...

Well it's difficult to follow as there are lots of "buts" and things about "nonsensical rules", and contrary to state laws among the many comments. A poster reported what the principal said, but another also stated a concern that it's unfair. Is it because the homeschooled kid has to pass an EOC algebra test and classmates who didn't passed it, but took the algebra in school can move on to geometry? My question is how do you know if the kid learned the material well enough at home if s/he cannot pass the test? Even if it's accredited. At school, you have a teacher, tests, quizzes, fellow classmates to gauge learning from. It doesn't seem an unreasonable request by the principal to say, homeschooled kids need to pass the algebra EOC first to move into classroom geometry next year. I like the idea of homeschooling and I don't have a problem of needing to pass an EOC test requirement. At least that tells me my child learned enough of the material to satisfy the graduation requirement and at par with classmates.

bold caps and more !!!!

Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem an unreasonable request by the principal to say, homeschooled kids need to pass the algebra EOC first to move into classroom geometry next year.

You are right, it doesn't seem unreasonable. In order to pass the EOC, you need something like a 60%. If your student is already accelerated in math, and has covered the Algebra 1 material, it is likely that they will pass. According to the OSPI results from last year's Algebra EOC at HIMS, 100% of students passed. The year before that, it was just under 100%. Did those students that didn't pass repeat Algebra? I don't know. BUT, the policy needs to be consistent and not place restrictions on homeschooled students that don't apply to other students such as those transferring to public school from a private school, or those moving from another state. Those students would not have taken the EOC. How do they get placed?

Pickle has it right: "In order for a homeschooled kid to be eligible to take Geometry in 7th grade at HIMS, they need to take an accredited Algebra 1 class AND pass the Alg 1 EOC."...These are the rules currently being enforced by Ms W.

Yes, parents have been informed this is HIMS' rule. It is not consistent with state law. If a parent has filed a Declaration of Intent to provide home-based instruction (this includes those homeschooling part-time for math), they have the right to choose the curriculum, materials, etc. They can choose to use an accredited course, but the school can't tell them to. The rules are different if you are going to request high school credit, but I'm assuming this is not the case for those asking. Some parents homeschool for math, but the student stays enrolled full-time at HIMS, in which case you're in some nebulous category - you can't be both a full-time student and an HBI (home-based instruction) student. Those part-time homeschooling for math are considered 0.8FTE.

I don't know what the school rules are for those homeschooling in 6th, perhaps to avoid CMP, then re-enrolling for Algebra in 7th. Do they have to meet the 250 MAP score (other 7th grade Algebra students don't), or is that only for those requesting Algebra 1 in 6th grade?

-clarifying

Anonymous said...

If the Alg 1 EOC is a worthwhile indicator of Alg 1 competence (and that's a big if), why would this only be true for one group students and not another?

It is solely a roadblock meant to be a deterrent to homeschooling, and the school shouldn't be doing that.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the additional info clarifying. Going through EDM and CMP at the elementary school has not been an encouraging experience. Homeschooling may provide an alternative pathway.

bold caps and more!!!!

Cap Hill Mom said...

Director Martin-Morris should not be surprised that fewer children in south Seattle are qualifying for APP. North Seattle has higher median family incomes, and studies over many years have found that children from higher-income families are better prepared when they enter kindergarten and do better in school over the long term. MAP tests, which are used to screen for APP, are obviously tied to academic preparation, and I believe the Cogat, like the SAT, is not preparation-blind.

This new NY Times piece, "No Rich Child Left Behind," explores this issue extensively and argues that the most effective solution to school inequality is to advocate for greater income equality among America's families.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

Charlie Mas said...

If Director Martin-Morris was actually surprised by the heat maps showing the distribution of K-5 Highly Capable students, then he should be impeached for his utter failure to pay attention for the past six years.

What did he think the opportunity gap looks like? This is what it looks like.