Monday, April 29, 2013

Open thread

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

A call to get active by Charlie Mas over on his blog about the new advanced learning policy.

We have an APP-qualified child in Spectrum that we do not want to move. I would like to advocate for more rigourous Spectrum and ALOs, but once again I find myself frustrated by the potential for ostracism over perceived elitism. It seems like many in the APP program agree that Spectrum and ALO must be shored up. How do we do this?

Wanting more

Anonymous said...

For the first time, I'm opting my oldest child out of MAP. When my daughter was in elementary school, I actually found it helpful. But I'm not finding it to be of any use now that my daughter is in 7th grade. Her MAP scores have remained unchanged since she started 6th grade (and I know she is learning a lot in her classes). Most 7th graders at Hamilton have a lot of tests this year - MSP (and 7th graders have to do the writing portion) as well as the End of Course exam for algebra. I just can’t see the point of the MAP test in middle schoool.


Anonymous said...

Wanting more - I would write the school board members and also start attending some of their monthly community meetings. And try to get other Spectrum parents at your school to do the same. Every child deserves to be challenged to to reach their highest possible level. I feel like the school district is so focused on eliminating the achievement gap, that the standards have become a ceiling rather than a floor.

Another parent on one of these blogs posted the Bellevue School District's goals which I wish the Seattle School District would adopt:

■All students will reach or exceed academic proficiency

■Eliminate the achievement gap

■All students, including those who already meet or exceed academic proficiency, will show measurable progress

It's not enough for Seattle schools to only care whether kids meet standards. Those kids who are already at or above standard need to make progress too. It's not elitist to want your child to learn, be challenged, and make academic progress.


Anonymous said...

There's a good post by Charlie Mas on the Seattle Schools blog, which catalogs how little SPS seems to care about Advanced Learning. It's a depressing read, but I'm afraid I can't find arguments against it. In my experience, the District has done nothing to support Advanced Learning, and in fact has done a lot of things to dismantle or weaken it. And I'm still waiting for a "June Surprise" that the district will probably try to inflict on (at least) the APP program for next year.

- Cynical

Anonymous said...

I, too, have concerns over a "June surprise." Paranoia or just experience?

Anonymous said...

Jane - Have you spoken to the school board about these issues? I can't do it anymore. I have spoken many times to the four longest serving members and I believe it is more to the point to just bang my head against the wall. It's much quicker than actually speaking to them and equally effective.

There is ZERO support for AL as a whole in the district, and I believe we are in triage now. All the signs appear to be pointing at the district dismantling the program as a whole and providing "services" (I don't believe they will really provide anything) at neighborhood schools.

It sounds like HIMS is likely to be able to squeeze everyone is for next year, but after that APP as a whole or a half is out.


Anonymous said...

We are a current TM 5th grade family who just was accepted after application to APP at HIMS. With all the "surprises" on the way, even next year with 225 APP 6th Graders, we are thinking of returning to our pathway school, WMS even though the advanced learning environment seems to have far less support there.

Any Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Wish they would make some announcement about this already.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts?

WMS APP is so solid! Why would you leave? Looping & blocking with seasoned APP teachers, good science and music and unlike at the "international school" you can take French. What??

HIMS has great things going on in music and in 7th grade (the one I know best) and they have Pounder - but not forever, and the future is uncertain with projected growth. Lots of staff turn over since the split and the loss of Ms. Shadow, so they are still building strength as a program.

Those are my thoughts, and I spend lots of time at both places.


Anonymous said...

Pessimist - I completely agree about head-banging being as (or more effective) than talking to the District/Board - but I think parents need to continue to do so.

Also, I can't see the District dismantling APP (elementary at least) and returning kids to their neighborhood schools because there isn't space at the neighborhood schools. I think the District is estimating 600 kids at Lincoln next year. If they disband elementary school APP, where are those kids going to go?

And we know Eckstein doesn't have room for APP kids to come back; I'm hearing Whitman is pretty full too.


Anonymous said...


The district keeps talking about re-drawing the lines around the schools as the few new schools come on line. They could easily dismantle APP at that time and re-draw the boundaries to account for that.

There is just too much talk about serving kids in their own neighborhoods and I can't discount the possibility.


Anonymous said...

I'm tired of speculating, and just wish we'd get some hint of future plans for the program.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts @9:16-I don't know where you got the idea that WMS doesn't support advanced learning! Even though the school is the home of several programs, APP is long-established and every staff member we spoke to seemed solid, knowledgeable and supportive of APP kids. The parents seemed happy, and the kids welcoming.

We had tested our child in for middle school and that was our assignment school, but we ended up going private because of child's anxiety issues and we needed a smaller environment. But we didn't for a minute think WMS wouldn't have been a bad choice for any other reason.


Mercermom said...

I agree re strong support for APP at WMS. Our child in 9th grade had a very good experience. We are very confident about sending our current 5th grader.

Anonymous said...

Did everyone get this from the APP-AC? I worked at WMS last week on the day that students got their registration materials and told them about signing up for LA 9H. I don't know if there is a mechanism/email list for getting the information to Spectrum kids, but anyone who wants the challenge is able to sign up for the course.


Dear 8th Grade APP Parents,

For students who will be attending Garfield as 9th Graders next year:

Next year's 9th Grade Language Arts offering is incorrectly identified on the Garfield enrollment materials as only Language Arts LA9 (code 103) and the Honors version LA9Honors (code 104) was not included on the printed material as an available choice. For APP students who have done well and are interested in continuing challenging work in Language Arts, LA9Honors has been the usual course choice in 9th grade but it was inadvertently left off when printing the forms. Garfield counselors have been visiting schools with current 8th grade students who may be enrolling in Garfield next year to explain in person the two classes available and how to make this selection on the forms.

For anyone who missed those sessions, please note that although the traditional APP 9th Grade English offering (LA9Honors code 104) is not included on the form, it is still available as a choice and APP Students may elect it. Please write this in on your form if that is the course you would prefer. Teacher signatures are not necessary to write in this choice and Garfield counselors will be helping check that eligible students have included this selection.

There have been numerous emails on this topic circulating in the APP community, which has contributed to the confusion. The Garfield 9th Grade English offering are not changing next year and there are no current proposals to change them in future years. We have been assured that if such a change were to be contemplated in the future there will be ample opportunity to discuss and review any proposal before it is implemented. Sorry for any confusion or concerns this problem with the forms has generated.

If you have any concerns about what 9th Grade English class to select, please see the Garfield counselors.

Thank you


Curious said...

My 8th grade student would like to take geometry in the summer for credit. Do any readers have any experience or recommendations as to programs?


Anonymous said...

If you take Geometry over the summer, can your student access Alg 2 in 9th grade when they haven't yet taken the Geometry EOC? Could a student take Algebra over the summer and then take Geometry in the Fall, not having taken the Algebra EOC?

Curious said...

Good questions. Honestly, I am not sure at all. I thought the purpose of the EOC exam was to meet graduation requirements, not for placement in the next course. But, reading the info earlier in the comments re: different standards for homeschooled students, I'm even more confused as to the purpose.

Anonymous said...

This is from thr Robinson Center Summer Institute (bold added):

Fast-Paced Mathematics
There are four fast-paced mathematics classes:

Algebra 1
Algebra 2

Classes offer one year of work in an appropriate course: Algebra 1 or 2, Geometry, or Precalculus. In order to best complete one academic year over the 4-week period, most of the fast-paced mathematics classes are structured differently from the primarily lecture-based system to which most students are accustomed. Instead, a large part of each day will be spent doing small group work, individual study and test taking. Self-motivation, strong independent learning and strong study habits are essential for success in this highly accelerated and individually paced program.

Qualification: 50th percentile in Math. Placement depends on a student’s math background and school district requirements. These classes are not recommended if your school cannot offer appropriate placement for Autumn 2013. A teacher recommendation form and review of math background are required.

Note: enrollment of 6th graders in Algebra 1 is at the Summer Programs Principal’s discretion. 6th grade students will only be allowed to take Algebra 1.

Any summer course is going to be compacted - you may want to talk with the school about placement before committing to anything.

Anonymous said...

There were freshman that took Geometry between 8th and 9th grade and were placed in Algebra II for the Fall on 9th grade year.

So - I'm not sure but I'm thinking they likely had to take the Geometry EOC that was just given this spring, or will need to take it prior to graduation.

Pretty sure they did not take it before being enrolled in Algebra II because they were still waiting for their Geometry scores during the first couple weeks of school, so they were switched after they had started the semester.

-GHS Parent

Single Child said...

My D took Algebra 1 over the summer after 7th grade at the Robinson Center, UW and also took Algebra 2 over the summer after 8th grade at the same place. She took Geometry at 8th grade and passed the EOC exam in middle school. She took her Algebra EOC exam at 9th grade while taking Pre-Cal. So, it is entirely possible to take those EOC exams much later.

Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting, since HIMS is saying students homeschooled for math cannot enroll in the next class without passing the EOC. If it is true that students can enroll in the next class after taking a class elsewhere, whether it be through the Robinson Center or wherever, then they have to treat the homeschooled students similarly.

Yes, it's possible to take the exams later, since that's what a student would do if they were transferring from a private school or from out of state. The EOCs are meant to be a baseline graduation requirement, not a placement test. So HIMS is using the EOCs as placement tests for homeschoolers, and homeschoolers only?

A question for @Single Child - was this years ago before the EOCs began, or was it recently?

Anonymous said...

To be more clear, did she take summer Algebra before there was an Algebra EOC?

Single Child said...

To Anon at 4:23 pm,

My D is now a sophomore at GHS. So, she took her Algebra EOC exam last spring.

Anonymous said...

So, the answer is yes - EOCs began in Spring 2011. I'm curious how students get placed now if taking a summer course.

Curious said...

It seems even without taking Geometry in the summer we could still have her go into Algebra 2. We could do the "opt up" form from the district. Of course, she would still need to pass the EOC to graduate.

Anonymous said...

I can understand opting up in middle school, since it's possible to cover the content over the summer if needed, but I don't know how one skips or accelerates a comprehensive high school class, without compromising math skills or losing the depth. My high school (long, long ago) let me double up on math and I took Geometry and Alg 2/Trig concurrently. Does the IBX pathway at Ingraham require students be at the Alg 2 level in 9th grade?

ben said...

On a related note, what are kids who are 3+ years ahead in math doing by twelfth grade? Are there options to keep going or are they just finishing early and taking more of other subjects?

SIngle Child said...

To Ben:

At GHS if you start with Pre-Cal (i.e. 3 years ahead of "normal" math path), you continue with AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC and AP Statistics. =4 years of math

Anonymous said...

My child has been placed into the CMP3 math class at Hamilton in the fall when she will be in 6th grade. Could someone tell me what this means? Her MAP score for math was >250 this last winter, we do not have the spring scores yet. She has always thought math boring but has always found it easy, I've never had to help her with homework; she's doing 7th grade math this year at her ALO elementary school.
Also, what is INTERNATIONAL ART? Is it a normal art class (drawing, painting, sculpting), or something else?
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

HIMS math is changing next year a bit. You child is in 8th grade CMP. The spring scores don't matter because placement is based on winter scores only and the district couldn't care less about what the 5th grade teacher has to say about placement.

Int'l Arts is a semester class that covers art and music of various cultures. The teacher is a big hit with kids. The second semester will likely be PE.

-HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

The teacher is a big hit with kids.

Beg to differ. Teacher is lackluster and negligent in class oversight. Was known last year for showing irrelevant commercial movies instead of teaching, and letting others run the class.

-- another hims parent

Anonymous said...

I'm still confused by the CMP3 placement instead of 6HH. I understand they are now saying the math pathway is not part of APP, even though the majority of APP students follow the same math pathway, with Algebra in 7th. I'm not clear on the actual content. The APP math pathway uses some 6th grade CMP books in 4th grade, then a mixture of 6th and 7th grade books in 5th grade, and a mixture of 7th and 8th grade books in 6th grade. I don't know how "CMP3" can be the same at "6HH." Does "CMP3" use only 8th grade CMP books, or is it similar to "6HH," and use a mixture of 7th and 8th? What specific CMP units were covered this year in 6HH? And what specific units were covered this year in 5th grade?

Anonymous said...

You would think the math curriculum would be detailed on the district web page, but this is all they state:

Generally, red books are for 6th grade, blue books for 7th grade, and green books for 8th grade, although some books have been moved to address specific state standards for each grade.

Anonymous said...

I said "The teacher is a big hit with kids." I didn't say my kid was learning a lot, but they have enjoyed some of the videos (especially the one about the sushi chef). My child is in the class now, and they have not been shown anything inappropriate so far. My child prefers it to PE because they aren't the sporty type.

Anon- USE A NAME. There is no such thing as "APP math" and there hasn't been as far back as I know about. All kids test into a math level for 6th grade and there they will stay until graduation unless a family homeschools.

You are free to ask Ms Watters your questions. This is going to be new for next year, so no one here has kids who have experienced it. I imagine that it will be the same as this year because the entrance pathway is the same and the class after is still the same.

-HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

There is a document, "APP/Highest Level Math Curriculum, Grades 4-8, 2009-10," from the Advanced Learning office. It specifies which CMP books are used each year, with a description of topics, in addition to Algebra and Geometry pacing guidelines for the Discovering texts. It specifies a more comprehensive, enriched coverage than those taking the course at a higher grade level. Quote: "The strategy will require a faster pace through review material than in a standard course...We will monitor how it goes and determine whether this curriculum and pacing is manageable for students." That's from the Algebra 2 pacing, which of course we have yet to see.

a name

Anonymous said...

Greg, can you comment on Charlie Mas's thread? I hear rumors that APP is no longer officially a program, but a service, so we're gearing up to be sent back to our home schools. True? What are your thoughts?

Greg Linden said...

Wondering, I'm just a moderator here. I don't have any inside information. Charlie Mas, Melissa Westbrook, and others track these things much more closely than I and know a lot more about these things than I do. Sorry I cannot be more helpful.

Anonymous said...

Without more info from the district, it's only speculation. A board member pressed for more information at the most recent meeting, and perhaps parents need to write in support of that request. Would others agree that a new policy for highly capable should not be approved without more clarification and description of services (especially since "program" language has been removed and replaced with "services")?

Greg Linden said...

By the way, I'll probably post a new thread for discussion on this soon.

I try to avoid duplicating and fracturing discussions over on Seattle Schools Community Forum so, when they post something first, I usually wait until the discussion there slows down, then post something here on some subtopic of the topic that might be worth exploring further.

Hope that's most useful to everyone. And, if you have ideas for new threads, including on this topic, please suggest them in any recent open thread.

Charlie Mas said...

It's pretty clear to me that the District staff - Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath - intend to fold Advanced Learning into Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS). That's their Vision for it: as a strand of MTSS.

In MTSS, all students get the Tier 1 grade level instruction. That instruction won't be right for some students. We are mostly familiar with how MTSS works when students struggle and are working below grade level, but it pretty much works the same for students working beyond grade level.

The students who don't find a fit with the Tier 1 curriculum are found with a universal screening tool and confirmed with further diagnostics. Then they are moved to Tier 2.

In Tier 2 the student gets alternative instruction. It could be alternative instructional materials, alternative instructional strategies, but whatever they get, they get it in their general education classroom. It could be a pull-out, a push-in, or small group instruction, but they remain part of their general education class.

The District will have a menu of options but they will not dictate the delivery model for the intervention. If this sounds familiar, that's because it is essentially an ALO.

The District will reach out to every teacher with PD on meeting the needs of advanced learners because just about every teacher will have to provide those services in their classroom.

An integral part of MTSS is frequent monitoring. If the monitoring shows that this accelerated curriculum still isn't what the student needs, then the student is moved to Tier 3.

Tier 3 is not delivered in the general education classroom. This delivery method will also look familiar - it looks like APP. The difference, of course, 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.

That's the plan for Highly Capable Services that the District leadership has in mind. They will address it in accordance with the protocols of MTSS.

Greg Linden said...

Okay, a new thread up on this, "Major changes for APP coming?"