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."

171 comments :

Anonymous said...

I think we all saw this coming. Notice how it refers to "services" and not the program.

Anonymous said...

This would be a good time to advocate for the curriculum that was promised with the last split. Or will there be program delivery/curriculum changes as well?

Anonymous said...

So which other over full building could take APP. Ah, back to 6th grade staying at Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

Elems will be dispersed too.

-WSE

Anonymous said...

Options for APP currently being considered are included in the presentation now linked to the agenda for tomorrow's C&I Committee meeting.

Lynn

Anonymous said...

The Jane Addams building will house a new middle school for the NE. I wouldn't be surprised if it is also a new APP "service" location.

Anonymous said...

this isn't a surprise, but it doesn't make it any less depressing. Spectrum has been dismantled. APP will be dismantled to fill the gap, and "manage" capacity.

Anonymous said...

Link to presentation:

Growth Boundaries Project

Anonymous said...

Can someone post a link to the presentation, please?

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain what the "wz" and "no wz" notations on the maps on pages 19-22 of the presentation stand for? I am sure it's obvious, but it's totally escaping me and I cannot find any "key" on the documents to enlighten me. Thanks!

Flummoxed

Anonymous said...

Walk zone

Anonymous said...

Gosh--that WAS obvious! Thanks!

Flummoxed

Anonymous said...

The "service" vs "program" is explained in the presentation. It seems they can call APP a service, since it is defined as part of basic education (even though it's not mandated that districts provide highly capable services), while Spectrum and ALO are now called programs because they are not mandated. Kind of a tenuous distinction on the part of the district.

Anonymous said...

When is the next APP-AC meeting?

Anonymous said...

The next (and the last) APP AC meeting is next Tuesday, the 4th of June, between 6 30 and 8 30pm @ Ingraham HS.

Anonymous said...

Seems like a reasonable proposal. I like the call out for preservation of Spectrum in every MS.
Wondering what the ES and HS proposal will be.

- Optimistic

Anonymous said...

How can you tell what the proposal actually entails?

Anonymous said...

Hard to understand the presentation without someone talking through it, but without an actual plan for implementing things like Spectrum and ALO, these just look like a lot of enrollment numbers. "Continue expansion of ALO" on one of the pages is laughable - there is no standard for ALO in the district; every principal (or teacher) seems to decide on their own what it means. And it is also laughable to talk about Spectrum given the past few years.

I fear that APP spread throughout multiple schools will become the same thing - no standards, no enforcement of standards or curriculum, and inequity everywhere. Again, "read, fire, aim" by the District.

(And I love how public engagement is during the Summer. Only if they plan to go camping with a lot of families).

- Not-Quite-June-Surprise

Anonymous said...

Interesting how this might all transpire without a Director of Advanced Learning in place. Any news how the search for a replacement for the retiring Bob Vaughn is going?

Anonymous said...

So it sounds like there are a variety of these letters that went out to different communities. The one linked to in this post that went to the HIMS community says "On Wednesday, district staff will present several options to the School Board for early consideration, including for Hamilton International Middle School." It's that "early consideration" part that raises my June surprise paranoia. I guess we'll see what comes out of tomorrow's board meeting (because I don't see anything in the presentation that answers it). Anyone in other school communities receive a letter with "early consideration" language?
analyzing

Anonymous said...

I understand just a bit of the history that is the root of so much ire and suspicion amongst many APP parents on this blog, but I am hopeful that this new plan (still to be seen how it develops) will be better implemented than some people seem to think. We have a new superintendent, who is laying out the foundation for an APP plan that has potential for positive change. A new Director of Advanced Learning will be brought on who I have no reason to believe will not have the best interests of AL at heart. I also have no reason to believe that anyone truly wants to dismantle APP – they just may have a different vision for it’s shape and priorities than many parents on this site. It may be dismantled as we know it, but it’s clearly not working as is, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It seems there are enough new key players here that the mistakes of the past may not be entirely indicative of how this will move forward.

I like what I’m hearing about prioritizing equitable access. I personally don’t need my child to go to a school that is prohibitively far from our neighborhood to receive services he could receive closer to home, just so he’s in a larger cohort. A smaller, local cohort would be fine by me, and probably will be more diverse. I suspect, or hope, we will have more elementaries than we currently do with APP programs but not so many as to lose the cohort effect. The numbers I see in this draft for middle school APP attendance generally number in the low hundreds (200-400) which is enough to maintain a cohort even if it’s a “service” located within a gen ed program. I would be happy with one school per MS attendance area with APP classrooms and professional development for those teachers to help maintain consistency from school to school. It’s vital to this plan that the district supports these teachers.

This is happening whether people think it will be a disaster or not, and the best thing to do is to get involved, voice your concerns, thoughts and ideas, to help guide this process so that the implementation will maximize the potential positive effect this plan can have on Advanced Learning. Embrace change!

-southend mom

suep. said...

suep. said...

One of the problems I have with this proposal is that it fails to acknowledge that APP has still not recovered from the previous splits and evictions.

Or that Spectrum is being dismantled.

There is still no APP curriculum. A number of experienced elementary APP teachers with valuable knowledge of the program and kids were hounded out by unscrupulous principals. Existing APP programs are still lacking in consistent academic focus and appropriately-trained teachers.

Until the district has established solid and meaningful advanced learning programs, and has proven it can replicate them well, sprinkling more, "advanced learning" programs around the district will be meaningless.

I would also like to know what research backs this proposed model.

Anonymous said...

This is happening whether ... it will be a disaster or not

And that is what is wrong with the administration of Seattle Public Schools. The short-sighted closing of schools happened whether it would be a disaster or not, and that is why we are where we are now with capacity.

If you think it is reasonable to sit back and trust the district staff to implement this well, for the last five years, you have not been paying attention.

Jon said...

Anyone know why this is the plan for APP?

What I expected was to restore functioning Spectrum everywhere (working 1-2 grade levels ahead) then shrink APP (tighten the entry criteria on APP, have Spectrum serve most kids' needs, make Spectrum about x5 bigger than APP).

Instead, they seem to be skipping Spectrum entirely and spreading APP everywhere. Why would they prefer that?

Anonymous said...

It has been 3+ years since the last split, and Hamilton is just now allowing the accelerated math that existed pre-split. The students are now in 6th grade and there's no telling what will happen as they reach 8th grade. Will they have an appropriate math class available? If the current cohorts split 2 or 3 ways, will they say there aren't enough students to offer the class?

As Suep said, there is no clearly defined APP curriculum. There is a math sequence, and a science sequence, and a general sequence for LA/SS, but the content varies widely depending on the teacher. There is also a need for teachers that have gifted training or experience. Parents can attest to the problems in letting individual teachers choose materials without a firm understanding of what is appropriate.

If more splits are a given, parents need to advocate for 1) a more defined curriculum, 2) gifted ed teacher training, and 3) a continuation of the 3 year ahead math pathway.

Anonymous said...

I actually like the look of this plan + the benefit of a shorter school commute time. The proposal offers several zonal breakdowns, even giving W. Seattle it's own zone. Wow! The presentation does say it's for 2014-15 school year. That's a full year to discuss, plan, and flush out the implementation part. We need to overhaul C&I in general ed too and I'm practical and would be happy to start there along with alignment.

Anonymous said...

When these changes are implemented will they be grandfathered in (thus allowing for existing students to remain at their present location) as was done for the school choice option or will they be imposed (possibly mid year) without warning forcing students to switch schools in their final year to pursue APP? This second scenario characterized the Spectrum program so I am not sanguine about remaining in a stable middle school situation.

-tired of chasing a moving target

Anonymous said...

I too wonder why the focus on APP. We have equitable access already - guaranteed seats from first to eighth grade for everyone who qualifies. Is it an issue of transportation costs? Doesn't the state cover those?

A two classroom per grade elementary cohort closer to home would be fine for my family. I don't think that will allow appropriate math, music or foreign language instruction at the middle school level though. And I worry that this will be the plan for high school too.
Thurgood, Washington and Garfield would suffer if they lose those PTA dollars.
What problem is this change solving for south end APP?

Lynn

Anonymous said...

Lynn it's not just APP. Take a look at the plan again. Besides we've been complaining of the lack of attention and seeing APP up there along with language immersion, spec Ed, ELL tells me they are thinking about us. That's good. We have a year to figure it out. They are in the prelim stage. The good thing is they are looking at this plan with opening up new schools and capacity in mind.

Optimistic 2

Anonymous said...

Looking at the presentation, it seems they are planning on splitting south end APP into 2 cohorts, with boundaries to be decided, and splitting the north end APP into either 2 or 3 cohorts, with boundaries to be decided. It's unclear which school will be assigned for each cohort.

If you have a middle school cohort of 250 students (which seems to be the range they're targeting), that is an average of around 85 students per grade. How does that compare to the cohort size of say, 5 years ago?

Anonymous said...

There is less than a year to plan - they won't finalize the vote until November.

Anonymous said...

The district is doing this purely as a way to manage capacity. It has nothing to do with what's best for APP as a program. If that were the case, teacher training and curriculum would be a priority within APP. They aren't, and any efforts to advocate for them bring out cries of elitism. Seems there's no way to win.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I think it is important not to scatter the APP 'services' too thin. One challenge is to make sure there are enough students to fill the classes with APP ability students so that others are not pushed into classes where they don't get much out of it because it is over their heads. Something I've noticed when APP classes are offered in a high school where there are not enough APP qualified students is that the school administration, in my situation, tried to fill up the class with higher performing non-APP students. According to my non-APP child in a class like that, many kids (including my student) were discouraged by their low scores in the class and not able to fully grasp the material. That's a shame! I believe my student would have walked away with a much greater grasp of the subject if it was a non-APP level class.

Anonymous said...

The district intends to split APP in two in the south and in 2 or 3 in the north, according to their presentation. While some of these scenarios might work, others are obviously broken.

Leaving only 212 APP kids at Washington MS (pg 20, their #1 proposal) is clearly unsustainable and would kill the program there. So much for providing equal access to advanced learning for the kids of Central Seattle.

Anonymous said...

When you say APP HS class, what do you mean? At Garfield even before Ingraham IBX, there were AP and honors classes and academic pathways. No special APP classes. I don't 't think that has changed. APP is self contained 1-8. I understand that some may want to extend self containment through HS, but personally given the many course offerings and variety of programs like running start, early admission to UW, etc., APP kids have many more options to choose from. My kids don't fel the need for cohorts in HS. The younger one wants to do running start and more independent study and is also torn over Ballard amazing film dept. and Garfield. I have to say despite the many frustrations with SPS, there are great offerings at good schools.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how big the APP cohort was at Washington Middle School 5 - 10 years ago? In other words, before middle school APP was split between two locations?

I'm also interested in hearing people's thoughts about what the minimum size cohorts should be for elementary and middle school APP.

Jane

Anonymous said...

This is not equitable. If you live in a 600,000 dollar house your boundaries look great, Your cohort looks great. Everyone else gets to go to "their" school. So take the "smart kids" at a school and culster them in one room and call it advanced learning. Then everyone else says its not fair that they get their own classroom so spectrum inclusion happens, then ALO then IB, then dillution. You have teachers trying to teach several ability levels in one class and it really serves no one.
The cohort of dedicated learners is what is important.

Anonymous said...

I'm not advocating for self-contained high school classes - but for a few (three?) schools where there is an APP cohort. That way there's a chance that all the math a student needs will be available and that at least some of their classes will move at an appropriate pace. If Ballard is your neighborhood school and Garfield has 400 APP students, you have some good choices. If they decide to end the APP preference at Garfield and keep kids in their neighborhoods, you'll still be OK. It won't be so great if West Seattle or Rainier Beach or Franklin is your only option.

I would keep my child in West Seattle for elementary, but if (as I anticipate) Aki is her middle school option, we'd be looking at private schools.

Also, if we're going to start guessing where the classes will be located, I think West Seattle North and South elementary and middle school could fit in the Hughes building. That will be available in a couple years and it doesn't sound like K-5 stem will be using it.

Anonymous said...

Garfield is a pathway for the APP cohort. There aren't self-contained APP classes as in APP 1-8, but there is a cohort working at the same level. Sure, Ballard could be a good option if that's your neighborhood school, but you don't have the same choices in other parts of the city. Having a dedicated pathway beyond 1-8 increases the chances that higher level classes will be available through 12th grade. Not everyone considers Running Start and early admission to UW as options.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should start checking out Cleveland and Franklin HS. You might be surprised. An ex-neighbor had her oldest child at one of these schools and she graduated top of her class, applied for and got a UW scholarship, an internship, and various other corporate merit scholarships to pay for her living and misc. expenditures the next 4 years. The counselors and teachers at these schools are very supportive especially when you do have a bright and motivated learner. They will help students with college internships while in HS, college selection, mentoring, accessing Lakeside LEEP program, etc. You may not hear all of the good things being done, but start at these schools and talk to the staff and families there. You may be surprised. Another friend got her oldest tested finally and the kid now qualifies for APP, but does not want to transfer to WMS in the last year. The school though has made some accommodations for these spectrum/APP eligible kids. The kid's NSAP HS is Rainier Beach. So I do get the disparity of choices. Garfield remains the choice. But even Rainier Beach HS is evolving in a positive direction even though the area is still pretty rough with certain corners we all avoid. Capacity issue isn't just going to be in the north end and parts of W. Seattle. I believe it affects all of Seattle, but maybe harder to notice because people don't talk about it as much in certain parts of Seattle.

There also some very good alt HS too such as NOVA and the Center school. I guess I'm not just as pessimistic. Also, given that we have had to moved a fair bit, my kids are probably more used to changes.

apparent said...

There's something that doesn't add up here. In the board presentation, the plan proposes increasing local access to APP services by adding new locations while *still* guaranteeing self-contained classrooms as they are now. From reading the draft maps, commenters suggest maybe two elementary APP locations south of the ship canal and another two or three elementary locations north of the ship canal.

What doesn't add up with this staff decentralization proposal is that if the self-contained pipeline will really be continued through elementary school, there can NEVER be more elementary APP locations than there are *1st grade* APP classrooms. In contrast to the current five 5th grade homerooms, because so many of those students arrive in the higher grades, typically there are only two 1st grade homerooms at APPatLincoln. This would thus cap the potential northend elementary APP cohorts at that very number -- UNLESS the unstated premise is that elementary APP students will in future be forced to switch schools over and over again in midstream so as to attend self-contained classrooms at higher grades in schools ever closer to their homes? Maybe in the very schools that they already left to attend APP? Or maybe in yet another service area school after already leaving the neighborhood school for APP in the early grades?

In other words, isn't it irrelevant that you could perhaps choose five or six self-contained locations for north-end 5th grade APP classrooms based on current numbers, unless the staff plan is to make APP elementary students hop back and forth from school to school as they go up each grade at a time, without ever staying in the same place from year to year?

That would not sound like a stable elementary educational experience for any APP student. What is really being proposed here?

Anonymous said...

Good point apparent...

Now I'm wondering if they might be looking at changing entry to a later grade. The entry for gifted education in the two other districts in which we have lived was 3rd grade.

The 3rd Grade APP cohort has historically been larger, as that is when a lot of APP qualified students make the switch. I know many parents that waited to switch due to social concerns and/or long bus rides for their very young child.

It is a more difficult decision to switch the longer you attend a certain school. However, It may alleviate some of the overcrowding in APP as well, as those that have found a way to make it work might stay at their neighborhood location.

-Wondering

Anonymous said...

Apparent --
Or they will just have split grade classes at these locations (such as a 1st/2nd grade class), which is what happens currently at TM every year since the kids don't come in packs of 25 for each grade (and for many gen ed students throughout the district.) This isn't an APP-only issue.

Anonymous said...

Apparent - Many schools in the district have split grade classes. Both my neighborhood school and my APP reference school have split grade classrooms. Lincoln has been immune to that. SPS does not guarantee single grade classes to any elementary school. Thurgood Marshall families have dealt with this every year without putting up a big fuss, although I imagine Lincoln families will cry foul that they are being treated like other schools.
-- Not at Lincoln

Anonymous said...

That's an unnecessary low blow Not at Lincoln. I guess all TM parents must be just like you based on your comment. What a sad reflection on your community. Some hidden insecurity or jealousy? Or do you think you're that perfect? Puhlease...get a grip and recognize that we all want what's best for our kids and all 500 families at Lincoln are not made from the same cloth. It's comments such as yours that creates division and not community.

K

Greg Linden said...

As the moderator, I try to take a light hand, but the last couple comments included off-topic, anonymous, personal attacks. I really don't want to have to start deleting comments. Please try to stay on topic, don't feed the trolls, and try to avoid using anonymity to slander others (if you use your real name, say whatever you like).

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Greg Linden said...

Please stay on topic. This is a discussion of the letter and presentation and how they impact APP.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Greg...the number of negative comments directed toward Lincoln parents got under my skin. Feel free to delete my earlier comment.

As for the topic at hand...I'm torn. I want to embrace change and feel that in the end, my kids are going to be OK. And for the record, I actually really like split level classrooms having experienced them personally. but, I am also fearful of what the overall change to how APP is delivered will bring. I think it's legitimate for most of us to be wary and if that uncertainty and/or fear brings out the mama bears and papa bears in us, then so be it. It might not be pretty but I do wish people would be much more understanding of why we are reacting the way we are instead of judging us to be elitist or what have you.

APP and SPS as a whole are going to be going through changes...it'd be nice if we could try to be a community and not create unnecessary divisions.

K

Anonymous said...

They had split-grade classrooms at Lowell APP (after the split sent some to TM) and we will have at least 1 split grade class at Lincoln next year. So, yes, we got lucky and have had 2 years since we moved to Lincoln without needing split-grade classrooms -However, I don't see how you can make the jump to attack Lincoln families on that basis.

The issue brought up is that in order to handle smaller cohorts of APP at multiple location, split grade classrooms might have to become the norm (rather than the exception they usually are). In this case, any downsides related to split grade classroom would disproportionally fall upon the APP population as a whole, and particularly APP students at sites that do not have a large neighborhood APP contingent. For instance a NE cluster site may have enough qualified kids in each grade to support multiple classes at each grade, this might not be the case in other parts of town.

This could then in turn create the impression of unfairness/inequity among the various APP sites, and claims of elitism and entitlement etc (sound familiar?) I mean look at the way people on the blogs talk about APP @ Lincoln.

The thing is, APP should be a unified program with a unified voice. It already seems to have devolved into factions that are not particularly supportive of one another, at least not on the blogs.

APP@ Lincoln did not choose to pursue a separate north end stand alone APP school. That is what the district sprung on us former Lowell families in June 2 years ago. It just happens there is a large APP population in north seattle that is happy to finally have a school that serves it on the north side of the ship canal (which, if you think about it, back in the days when they decided to split Lowell, wouldn't it have made sense to move the north seattle kids to a cohouse in north seattle school and leave the central/south ones at Lowell?)

Clearly, given the numbers there has to be some geographic split of APP populations unless you can find a gigantic centrally located school building to put everyone in. By not following through with an APP curriculum or ensuring any consistency or collaboration between sites the district has created this sort of competitiveness or disengagement that exists between the various APP locations (at elementary/middle/high school level).

Divide and conquer may be the district strategy and if so, it is the one thing SPS manages to do really well. This does not bode well for how further splits, and additional locations would be handled by the district - However, if they implement a universal APP curriculum and ensure consistent offerings and delivery between all the locations I will eat my words.

Sniffy

Anonymous said...

Apparent had a good point. Does anyone know where to access APP participation #s by grade level? It would be interesting to see what these regional totals in the draft presentation really represent...

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I believe the Thurgood Marshall APP cohort is roughly 250 kids. That means 1 or 1.5 classes in first grade, rising to 4 or 5 classes per grade in the upper grades. It means split classes and sometimes large classes. I think 250 is a minimum for elementary.

Lori said...

Last year, the Lincoln and TM PTAs jointly drafted a set of guiding principles for elementary APP. Sorry the link is hideously long; I found it in an APP-AC email from April 2012 and it worked for me. I can't remember how to embed a link on Blogger.

I posted this because one of the guiding principles addresses cohort size and says that with the exception of 1st grade, there should be at least 2-3 classes per grade to ensure a robust program.

This version is marked draft, so it might be worthwhile to see if the APP-AC has a final version they can share. Might be a useful tool as families advocate for the program in the future.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/advanced%20learning/ALPTF/20120410/TM-Lowell%20at%20Lincoln%20Guiding%20Principles%20Document.pdf

Anonymous said...

The now defunct ALPTF (remember them?) voted on a final version, adopting the guidelines as a desirable baseline for APP programs. It included a minimum cohort size of around 250 at the elementary level.
-- APP follower

Anonymous said...

Apparently the District has seen fit to send the letter announcing future changes to APP pathways to HIMS, Lincoln, and Washington parents. Yes, you guessed it, Thurgood Marshall parents haven't been notified of the meeting or given an opportunity to provide input on the proposed changes.
-- APP Parent

juicygoofy said...

APP-qualified families that have remained at their neighborhood schools or in Spectrum didn't receive any letter either.

Anonymous said...

And APP qualified students who are enrolled in APP at HIMS next year didn't get thisletter, either.
:(

Anonymous said...

This year's 6th graders as well as incoming 6th graders will be subject to moving if they are affected by the new boundaries. What to do if you are in this spot? Which middle schools are going to offer APP in the new areas? And what about parents moving their kids to Lincoln or TM for 5th, will they be back at their closest middle school for 6th?
Very hard choices for thes parents to make and really a gamble.

Ernie

Anonymous said...

A number of people here have been referencing past promises for an APP curriculum to be developed by the district, which, I think they are suggesting, becomes even more critical if future splits are on the way. As someone new to this community, can someone explain the reasoning for a separate curriculum specific to APP? My impression is that the district does not want to give the appearance of special treatment for APP, therefore no dedicated funds apart from the identification process, no PD, etc. The program has to be of equal quality to Gen Ed or there will be an uproar (which is how we got Spectrum and ALO). So why would the district support the concept of an APP curriculum that differentiates the program? It seems that by having the only difference be acceleration and faster pace it becomes easier to justify the program. A separate curriculum really complicates that equation.

Clearly, APP kids have specific needs, but I’m hoping someone can explain how would a differentiated curriculum meet that need, what would it look like, and how does this happen without giving the appearance of special treatment?

-perplexed

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see this on slide 16 of the district's presentation? I think this is a huge bombshell. How much longer until Garfield is the same...

"APP/IB at Ingraham (optional – assignment not guaranteed)"

How to they decide who gets to go to Ingraham? Is it lottery? Is it only students in Ingrahams area? I think the district won't announce anything about it until they decide what it is they want.

-sheesh

Anonymous said...

Dear Ernie,

I too am concerned about having to move mid-way through middle school. I have already written to the boundary committee suggesting that these changes be grandfathered in. In other words, it would be least disruptive to families if students already enrolled at an APP middle school (including incoming 2013-2014 6th graders and this year's sixth graders) be allowed to stay at their existing middle school if they choose to do so. That is the only logical way to implement these changes. I urge you to write as well if you are concerned about this.

-tired of chasing a moving target

Mercermom said...

Note: I'm a TM parent, and I did get an email with the Banda letter, although at 5:21 p.m. last night. Re grandfathering: the District didn't grandfather APP students already at WMS when it did the split a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

Think twice about the request to grandfather. If all current sixth graders were to remain at Hamilton, while other students were split with the boundary changes, it can really limit offerings for those moving with the split. It would create a weird imbalance for those starting in a new school. Younger students would be limited in their math acceleration, and depending on the assigned school, the music options might be limited as well. Please think about the program as a whole and how it will affect other grades.

Do you remember the plan to move just 4th-5th grades out of Lowell, rather than move all grades together? Wouldn't grandfathering be similar to that proposal?

Anonymous said...

"Do you remember the plan to move just 4th-5th grades out of Lowell, rather than move all grades together? Wouldn't grandfathering be similar to that proposal?"

I totally agree. What would happen to an APP eligible student who moved to Seattle for eight grade in two years and who was not in HIMS area?

If the program is going to be spread, its feasibility and success will highly depend on the reassignment of the kids to the new APP MS locations.

Do I like it? No, but let's be honest. There is no space at HIMS, so something has to change, and we all knew a change was coming. Do you have a better proposal? Please put it forward!

--Anne Oyd

Anonymous said...

Grandfathering was handled vey well for school choice (when that was eliminated). This will allow the teachers at the new APP sites to standardize their curriculum with initially smaller classes and to offer more slots to capable kids (which I think is their plan anyway). I think it is a mistake to say that the success of APP will depend on the number of warm student bodies. It really depends on the individual teachers. We elected to avoid APP in elementary school because, frankly, our spectrum program in our school (which was inclusive) was run by extremely talented, invested teachers who knew how to teach kids at their individual levels. We also avoided elementary school APP because the location of the site was just too far away. In theory, split APP programs could be equally successful but it will depend (as everything in the district does) on the teachers. I don't think it is necessary to transfer the kids around any more than is necessary to realize this educational plan.

-tired of chasing a moving target

Anonymous said...

@mercermom - I called the district last night at about 4:15 notifying them that Thurgood Marshall parents had not received the letter. They apologized, said it was an oversight, and promised to send the letter to all of our staff and families. I have still not received the letter. I will follow up to figure out why some families are getting it and not others. Are you also a Washington parent?

Nan Robertson, Co-President, Thurgood Marshall PTA

Anonymous said...

@sheesh,

IBX has never been a guaranteed seat (and was never presented as such). Given that core classes are self contained (for 9th grade at least), IBX students have to be admitted in classroom size increments. To do otherwise would be unfair to the rest of the IHS students (or, alternatively, could result in huge IBX core classes). The first cohorts have been fortunate that all students who wanted a spot were admitted.

IBX Watcher

Mercermom said...

Nan, we're not WMS parents. The letter says it's to "The Thurgood Marshall Community."

Mercermom said...

Nan, we're not WMS parents. The letter says it's to "The Thurgood Marshall Community."

Anonymous said...

IBX Watcher

I stand by my statement that the district putting in writing in a prominent report that IBX is an "option" and "not guaranteed" is different from how the district has been presenting this pathway to APP families in the past.

Garfield does not have the space to accommodate all the APP kids coming up. I believe that the HS pathway for APP is in jeopardy.

-sheesh

Anonymous said...

Reading through the SaveSeattleSchools posts on the boundary work session, I'd have to say the biggest thing for which we need to advocate is clarity around AL program structure and delivery. Will APP continue to be self-contained in middle school? Will entry criteria change? Will there be consistency from site to site (which is not happening even now)?

apparent said...

Returning to the question whether the self-contained model of APP classroom instruction will survive these "growth boundaries" proposals, or fall by the wayside under the District's management as it did with Spectrum.

If you're looking for detail on this aspect of the undisclosed SPS plan to add APP "services" at additional sites, you won't find it in the staff presentation, which merely says on page 16 under "Highly Capable Services" that the new growth boundaries plan will: "Increase number of elementary and middle school pathways with guaranteed assignment to increase access and bring services closer to where
students live." Note that this language does not apply to Spectrum or ALO, which are described instead in a completely separate section devoted not to "services," but to "programs"

So FYI, here is cut and pasted the following extract from Melissa Westbrook's report of the boundaries work session in which the staff presented their advanced learning decentralization plan to the board directors:

"DeBell pointed out that any talk about splitting APP could be 'contentious.'"

"Martin-Morris asked if there was an assumption of self-contained classes in the model and Michael Tolley said yes but they were discussing the model and 'anticipated the Taskforce looking at this?'"

"This 'taskforce' comment - along with several others noting this group - prompted [Melissa Westbrook] to stop and e-mail the Board and Mr. Tolley and Ms. Heath to explain that there was NO taskforce. The 'taskforce' had not finished our work from last year, were asked to stay on this year but NO one contacted us - not once - the entire year. Oh, and not one word of thanks - from anyone in the district - for our months of work."

"Director Carr said she had spoken to families at Lincoln and they were 'okay' with the notion of splitting the middle school program as long as it was large enough (250-300) to have a cohort. She said - with a straight face - that they fear it will become like Spectrum and vary in quality. Several of the directors concurred with this idea of Spectrum quality and its unevenness from what they had heard from their regions."

So Mr. Tolley suddenly reveals that under the undisclosed staff proposal for adding more APP services sites, the staple self-contained classroom model is no longer a given!

Anonymous said...

IBX is the option APP high school pathway. As an 8th grade APP parent during enrollment if you do nothing your APP student will automatically be assigned to Garfield. If you want to opt-in to the Ingraham IBX program, you have to fill out enrollment form requesting this. This is how it was promoted when Bob Vaughan started the program, an opt-in. In the first two years IBX had room for 60 students and this year they are accepting 90 students. So far IBX has been able to accomodate all of the APP students who have wanted to enroll in that program. It will be curious how things shake out for 2013-2014. Here is what is on the district website:

"8th grade APP students enrolled at Hamilton or Washington are automatically assigned to Garfield High School. High school APP students take honors and Advanced Placement courses. 8th grade APP students may also choose the option of enrolling in the IBX Program at Ingraham which is a rigorous, accelerated IB Program."

HIMS

Anonymous said...

An interesting fact if the enrollment projections per school are to be believed, APP students in the 9th Grade at Ingraham will account for about 25% of the class next year, if the program continues to grow, for 2014-2015, with a class of around 162 (next year's HIMS 8th Grade), it would be around 40-50%.But unlike Garfield, there seems to be more room to grow, and a strong desire by students and families for the partially self-contained gifted high school option.

HIMS7

Anonymous said...

So what happened last night at Lincoln.

-Mom O'Lincoln

Anonymous said...

"But unlike Garfield, there seems to be more room to grow, and a strong desire by students and families for the partially self-contained gifted high school option."

Flip side is that over 60 students did not get into IHS this year, making the regular IB program unavailable to these students.

This could create some tension in the school.


Anonymous said...

I wish that the regular IB (as opposed to IBX) option were a sanctioned pathway for APP students at Ingraham; standard IB is quite challenging already and our student sees no reason to rush through the IB diploma (and isn't so concerned about being in the cohort).

Future Ram

Anonymous said...

Highly Capable and Advanced Learning Families,

As many of you know Dr. Bob Vaughan, Program Manager of Advanced Learning, will be retiring in June. We want to thank Dr. Vaughan for his service to Seattle Public Schools.

The transition of a program manager provides us with an opportunity to gather input about characteristics families believe are needed to lead our Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs. As a result, we are asking families to take time to respond to a brief survey to identify characteristics that will be embedded in the program manager job description.

This survey should only take about 5-10 minutes of your time. It will be open until 5:00 p.m., Monday, June 10.

Link to survey

If you have any questions, contact Shauna Heath at (206) 252-0050.

Thank you.

Curriculum & Instruction
Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said...


Regarding the survey, my e-mail did not include a link. I have a call into SPS at the about this.

Meg said...

The survey questions are as follows:
1. What qualities do you think are the most important to have in a Program Manager of Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs?

2. What do you think has been working well in the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs this year under the current manager?

3. What would have improved the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs this year?

4. Is there anything the school district can do to better support the Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Department and staff?

5. Please let us know if you have additional comments.


I just... hardly know where to start.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2RGCRCR

--7th grade mom

Anonymous said...

Haven't received the survey yet, but I'd like to know the pool of people it was sent to. Just APP/Spectrum/ALO parents? Parents with kids qualified for those programs but not participating? People who haven't entered any of these programs because they think the leadership is so lame?

- Survey Says

Anonymous said...

We got the survey, and we have an APP-qualified student who goes to an ALO school.

So far, words fail.

APP in ALO

Anonymous said...

I wish that the regular IB (as opposed to IBX) option were a sanctioned pathway for APP students at Ingraham

Future Ram, by "sanctioned pathway" do you mean guaranteed seat? I would think that any student could apply for a spot at IHS and do the IB program at the standard rate. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if an IBX student could take their 9th grade seat and then just drop out of IBX for 10th grade and pick up the IB program in 11th. They might have to take an odd combination of classes in 10th grade. Have any IBX students tried this yet? If so, were they allowed to continue their enrollment at IHS or did they have to reapply?

IBX Watcher

Anonymous said...

"Have any IBX students tried this yet? If so, were they allowed to continue their enrollment at IHS or did they have to reapply?"

I have heard of a couple of students who are planning to switch from IBx to IB as incoming 9th graders. I have heard of a couple who will try out IBX and then switch if they need to for 10th grade.

Not sure how that will work, or if it is even allowed. Given the waitlist for IB I would assume there aren't any open seats to make that kind of move.

Anonymous said...

I have not received the letter, nor the survey, and I have a child enrolled at TM's APP for the fall.

Reconsidering

Anonymous said...

IBX Watcher,

By "sanctioned pathway" I guess I meant District approved APP option. As in APP kids would be eligible for IBX or IB programs in the District (could be at other IB schools also then-- Sealth and Rainier Beach too, which would be a way to offer an APP path at additional sites seamlessly). I bet you're right about applying through IBX and then switching to regular IB, which is a great thought; thanks. If there are a lot of APP kids that would prefer the IB to the IBX option, though, perhaps it could be made an alternate official option?

Anonymous at 7:37, I think the waitlist is for Ingraham rather than IB per se, so once in the school, switching might not be a problem? Just a thought. I think my student would prefer to start and stick with a path, rather than switch down the road, although that's an option too.

Future Ram

Anonymous said...

I would hope that APP students would not be allowed to have priority in the regular IB program. Students in APP are suppose to be working two years ahead in school, so to complete the IBX program one year ahead of schedule, even though it is demanding, should be appropriate for their skills and abilities. To give them a priority for the regular program would prevent other high school students the opportunity to get in. The APP privileges should be directly related to ensuring that they have access to the advance curriculum they need, not preferred access to programs that are open to all students.

APP students can attend Garfield if the IBX program is not appropriate for them.

- please remember the other 97%

Anonymous said...

please remember,

I definitely hear you and would not want APP students displacing others opting for the standard IB pathway.

I think that to complete the IB diploma a year early demands a maturity (for lack of better term) level as well as academic talent, which is why it may not be automatically the best fit for every APP-- you're absolutely right that Garfield is another option in that case. But I also think the level of academic rigor in the standard IB diploma program is strong enough that it is a good match for many APP students as well. I realize I wasn't very clear, but I'm thinking more along the lines of opening up new IB (non IBX) seats for APP students as an official pathway.

Since that is not now the case, though, and in order to not displace others, perhaps the best route at this time is to apply for Ingraham IB through the standard channels. In the future, though, as the IB program grows, perhaps it could be a non-cohorted option for APP students?

Future Ram

hschinske said...

I remember asking, back when IBX was just getting off the ground, if it would be possible for a student to switch from IBX to IB midstream, and the folks at that meeting said they didn't see why not. My understanding is that not all of the IBX students keep on with the full IB diploma program anyway, so why is that any different?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

As of my knowledge, of the first APP (IBX) class at Ingraham entering their Junior Year in the fall, 4 will have dropped out of IBX full diploma, 3 of them will do running start and one the traditional IB pathway. Also 1 late comer (transfer from Garfield), is switching to gen ed classes. That leaves 45 IBX in 11th, 46 IBX in 10th, and 90 so in 9th next year. The Ingraham cohort model in 9th grade works to avoid the repeat material by building off 8th grade APP work, this is why for somebody to test in, their scores must be higher than traditional APP entry at other grades. Of those who have come to Ingraham, they are all tracked for IBX as it would otherwise mean repeating some material. It can't be stressed enough how much more work there is than Garfield, at least what our 10th grader has heard from their friends, and the admin team helps keeping students on top of work and can help them decide if the program isn't the best choice for them. We have found the cohort helpful as the kids really push each other to succeed. Anyone coming into Ingraham APP next year should come to the school's open house this coming tuesday (interestingly the same night, time, and location as the APP AC meeting) to learn more and ask questions.

Ingraham APP Family

Anonymous said...

That's true. Some kids need cohorts to motivate each other to succeed. Others are more independent learners and self motivated regardless of peers. The cohort is nice from the parent's perspective as it gives comfort and security knowing your children's peers and their families in some cases, since grade schools.

TM Cap Hill parent said...

If SPS splits APP into smaller groups at more schools, where will they find enough qualified teachers to offer the same type/quality of education?

APP works not only because there's a large cohort of students working at the same level, but also because APP teachers are engaged and know how to work with these children.

Don't turn APP into a service at a whole bunch of schools - really bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that not all current APP teachers know how to work with these children. There is no requirement that APP classroom teachers have either gifted ed training or experience.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. At at least one site, there are MANY untenured teachers (many 1st-3rd year teachers) with no specific training for this population.

Anonymous said...

It takes about 5-7 years for someone new to a profession to achieve mastery. For elementary schools, you are dealing with teachers who are more generalists unless they have a background and passion in a particular subject. PD dollars are going to cover common core, new teacher eval, new text instruction, etc. first. Finally, if you want to keep or attract experienced, good teachers, you need to appreciate them publicly. Teachers know of this blog you know.

Finally WA did not legislate (and dollars) requirements for gifted training. A few states like VA do, but with budget cuts in recent years, well, you can guess the rest.....

seen it all said...

Sounds like you're talking about SNAPP. Yep, Rina Geoghagen is still on Greg King's path of pushing out experienced teachers. Or anyone that doesn't kowtow to her homogenized teaching plans.

Anyone who has been in the program for a few years should go take a look at the Staff page on the SNAPP web site. How many teachers do you see listed with more than 3-4 years teaching APP? I count two. How many complete newbies? A lot. I'd say most have only been there 1-2 years.

But rather than just bitch about it, which has been happening for the past few years, is there anything parents can do? There are so many newbie parents (yes, many of you reading here), that have no idea what this program is supposed to look like, how great it can be with experienced, creative teachers, allowed to ply their trade and skills. Right now, if you have a little experience and/or passion, you are forbidden from doing anything that strays from the "official" curricular path.

Worse yet, Rina is preventing any significant mentoring for the new teachers from the experienced teachers. WTF?!

Anonymous said...

Another experienced teacher at Lincoln has just announced that he's leaving. It's too bad. He was great for my son.

-sad

Anonymous said...

Let's acknowledge that some new teachers have been able to hit the ground running and have been pretty stellar. Meanwhile, some experienced teachers have been assigned to APP classrooms in recent years, and perhaps aren't a good fit for an APP classroom. Teaching an APP classroom doesn't just mean delivering content two years ahead, and expecting the students to have the maturity and know how of someone 2 years older. It requires some scaffolding on the part of teacher so despite their age, they can succeed with higher level material.

There needs to be a balance between teacher autonomy and consistency among classrooms. Our child's teacher seems to be flying by the seat of her pants, and it makes for a Hellish year. There needs to be some baseline curriculum so there is both coherence and coverage of basic skills.

When I look at the AL survey, I don't know where to start. APP has changed so much from the time we first toured the program, that I wonder what will hold it together as it splits yet again. A defined grade-by-grade curriculum is still lacking, and there is less and less consistency between sites each year.

Anonymous said...

For kids who are not yet great, highly self-motivated students (and yes, these kids do exist in APP), the lack of staff tenure/experience and the overall lack of resource depth at Lincoln is particularly problematic. Exacerbating the problem, there is no counselor at Lincoln to help these kids work through the transition or to provide much needed insight and support to the less experienced teachers.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Some of these comments are depressing. All I can say is that my child has two GREAT teachers who are both NEW to APP and to Seattle. They have been amazing for his growth and confidence in both subjects that he likes and those less so. I think there is so much negativity posted on this blog but I think there are plenty of people who are happy with the teachers. Instead of constantly complaining, strive to help our teachers, not tear them down. Unless you've had every single teacher, I'm not sure you can generalize about new versus experienced. Lastly, some teachers just fit better with some kids (and/or the parents). It may have nothing to do with whether they are experienced or not. How are the teachers going to be experienced if they don't actually get experience?! If you see a particular issue based on your personal situation, please couch it that way as it seems some folks seem to come across as speaking for all of APP or Lincoln and that's just annoying.

Happy with New

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Happy's post above. I don't think the unhappiness with some teachers can be dismissed with a "it's just not a good fit." In my experience, good teachers seem to be almost universally well-loved, with little disagreement. Yes, there are those who wouldn't be happy with anyone, but that's not the majority of the situation here.

I will share my experience that no one can disagree with because it's fact-based, and I think quite telling. I have two kids, very close in age, who both started at Lowell in 1st grade. They are now in middle school.

1st grade teachers - both gone
2nd grade teachers - both gone
3rd grade teachers - one gone
4th grade teachers - both gone
5th grade teachers - both gone as of today

If I were to take my kids to Lincoln to see old teachers, they could only see one out of 10 (she is a great teacher, btw). That is a VERY LOW retention rate. Something started with Mr King, and it's still going on now. I have never heard of another school with this level of teacher loss. Remember that there are several other teachers who left who aren't counted here because neither of my kids had them.

-old-timer

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with the lack of retention. Clearly, there are a lot of new teachers. I disagree that somehow, just because we have new teachers, that they aren't as good. My hope is that these new teachers will stick around. Change is hard for some people and not everyone will stay in one place for years on end...is it really any different for schools? I can't speak to the past but currently, right now, my kids are happy with their teachers and so am I. That should count for something. If you don't currently have kids at Lincoln, how can you speak for the teachers there now? Not trying to be snarky...just honestly asking.

Happy With New

Anonymous said...

My question is not about the quality of the teachers at Lincoln now - they may all be young and amazing and wonderful.

The question remains of why the long-term APP teachers with the experience teaching this group of kids have all left. There is no question in my mind that this affects the quality of the program. Not all of them were stellar, but many of them were and had experience with the curriculum, project learning etc.- something that you cannot replicate in a couple of years.

The same thing has not happened at Thurgood Marshall. Yes, they have lost a couple - but no where near the cleaning house that has happened at Lincoln.

It is not a "normal" occurrence that happens at many other schools in my opinion.

I don't doubt that it is much easier to influence (or manipulate - whichever you prefer) younger employees to follow a certain path than to take pushback from older, more experienced teachers who may be questioning the direction of the program.

-Another old-timer

Anonymous said...

Happy said: "If you don't currently have kids at Lincoln, how can you speak for the teachers there now? "

I was at Lincoln last year. Are you saying there has been 100% teacher turnover since then? I was at Lowell/Lincoln for seven years, and very involved in the school.
I know lots of other parents, the principal and many of the teachers.

Obviously, the new parents can dismiss everything the old-timers are posting on this blog. That's exactly what the distict would like for you to do.

-old-timer

Anonymous said...

It's reported that the teacher at the center of the Center School controversy is being transferred to Hamilton next year.

Anonymous said...

The graduation of this year's fifth graders ushers out the last of those that were part of Lowell pre-split. There may be some families with younger siblings, but for the most part, there are few with memories of how it used to be.

It's great that so many families are happy. My child's favorite teachers have been long time teachers, first year teachers, and in between - I haven't found a correlation between time teaching and how much my child has liked or thrived with various teachers. For us, it's a matter of a teacher believing in gifted education and providing a supportive atmosphere, and then simply teaching.

We've had some lousy years, and it hasn't all been rainbows and unicorns, but I share the old-timers concern about a loss of what the experienced teachers bring to the program.

Anonymous said...

"It's reported that the teacher at the center of the Center School controversy is being transferred to Hamilton next year."

Yes, one of the best teachers in the district! He has stellar reviews.

But one parent complained about him and after an unjust process this teacher is being transferred is coming to HIMs - unless the massive parent group that has organized to keep him at Center has its say in the matter!


Anonymous said...

The teacher situation at APP@Lincoln can be viewed in many ways, and no matter the belief, the worst thing we can, as a community, do is patronize individuals who may have little APP@Lincoln experience but could be great gifted ed teachers. The most important thing is to keep bringing up the discussion about all elementary and core class middle and high school (at Ingraham APP/IB) being trained or receive some knowledge concerning the nature of gifted kids in the classroom. Our experience at Ingraham has been relatively great considering the new nature of the program, but some faculty are eager to treat the APP sophomores the exact same way as the juniors and get upset with simple behaviors that are common among gifted children (such as talking about the topic when the discussion is over, constantly offering new suggestions for presentation styles in the classroom etc.) While if done in an obnoxious way, this would certainly be questionable, for many APP students this kind of behavior comes naturally and seems second nature. After witnessing at both Washington and HIMS, situations where certain teachers are simply unaware or refuse to work with these types of students or get angry as a result, I feel like these intelligent and in many cases, talented teachers, if they were more aware about the dynamics of the student population they were dealing with, would be more supportive and less criticized on the blog for little fault of their own.

Ingraham APP Family

Anonymous said...

Credible source says that some or all of APP will be out of HIMS next year (yes, 2013-14 school year). Options are all of HIMS 6th graders at Lincoln, 6th and 7th at John Marshall, or all of APP at Jane Addams (have they grown a new wing of classrooms?!). Reason: "so many more students enrolled at HIMS than they expected!" I mean, really -- how many times can the district say that about enrollment and capacity? There's a pivotal meeting tomorrow.
June Surprise

Anonymous said...

Anon@6:54pm,

This pivotal meeting tomorrow, that you are referencing, is it the APP AC meeting at Ingraham or is there another meeting. Personally, for just a little bit of north end APP middle school stability, all of middle school APP should move to John Marshall ('13-'14), then we only have to move once, and have a stronger chance of not being split due to "capacity" constraints. If what anon says is true, many of our community's speculations have come true. As my child would say...#junesurprise

HIMS Family

Anonymous said...

It's not the APP AC meeting. What I've heard is that it's a meeting of district staff and Cindy Watters. And Sherry Carr said just last week at a Lincoln meeting that it would not happen next year, though she had no promises for the next. I hear what you're saying HIMS Family, but it seems like whatever happens will be temporary until they split all of APP among 3 sites. Curses - we did know it was coming, but I was hoping it wouldn't be yet another 11th hour change. I shouldn't be surprised about another
June Surprise

Anonymous said...

JuneSurprise, I am correct in assuming this meeting will not be announced or made open to the community. I guess we can go to the APP AC meeting instead, but we were hoping to prevent another split which, especially with the combined APP experience of staff at Hamilton and APP@Lincoln could be the final warning bell.

HIMS Family

Anonymous said...

Ok Ingraham APP family, by the time kids are in 10th grade and want to be treated respectfully, then they need to do the same to others, especially their teachers, regardless of their giftedness. Teachers at all levels deal with behavioral issues every day. Some kids come with an IEP or behavorial modification plan and teachers should follow it. In 2 or 3 years time, professors are not going to give a flying crap when you email them this post about your kid.

You know, growth and success isn't just about the academics, but how you get along with people. There is such thing as developing one's emotional and social "intelligence" too ( I call it maturity). And yes some people may be a bit short in that area, but all that means is YOU have to work that much harder to better yourself.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no, to John Marshall. And splitting across grade bands should not even be a consideration.

Zella917 said...

Could we get a new thread started about the "June surprise" possibly coming for Hamilton next school year? This is big news, but hidden at the end of this long thread, so easy to miss. As the parent of a current HIMS APP sixth grader, I will be waiting anxiously to hear the outcome of this meeting tomorrow between Ms. Watters and the district staff.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous at 7:43pm, I completely agree but for a teacher in front of an entire class, to go on a small lecture about how the child believes themselves to be special and superior to others in the classroom beacuse they are APP when all the child was doing was asking a lot of questions and contributing frequently to the discussion. Every child, APP or not, has unique learning needs but to specfically call out a student because of it, seems a little unjust to me. This the reason I suggested some exposure for all teachers to the normal behaviors of gifted students, so a simple situation isn't turned into an uncomfortable one for those involved. The teacher in question is an amazing educator, but, to my knowledge has never been exposed to these classroom dyanmics before. I am not trying to jump the gun, but provide a perspective on the ensuing debate concerning teacher experience in the APP community.

Ingraham APP Family

Anonymous said...

Is it not possible that the meeting between Cindy Watters and the district involves obtaining appropriate staff to handle the incoming 2013 students? Because she just announced to the PTSA that there would be ~100 new students at HMIS next year and they were going to be able to handle it for this academic year. I, for one, would like to think that she is not a cynical liar.

-HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

I also heard Ms Watters talking about the additional 100 students for next year in the last couple of months. But I haven't heard anything lately. Maybe HIMS just received the exact numbers for next year and they have to make a decision tomorrow.
But why do we have to rely on an anonymous blog poster to receive any information in this district? Why can't they send out important information the same way they send out any survey?
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Cindy W. reiterated the exact number of new students to the PTSA on May 21. She was still working on finalizing the number of new faculty that would be hired to accommodate the students. Furthermore, this issue with Greenberg probably also requires some district coordination. I think she knows that shifting students after firm and repeated reassurances that HIMS could handle the 2013-2014 school year would be extremely upsetting to the HIMS families. I commend the faculty of HIMS (in advance) because I know it is going to be an exciting and crowded upcoming year.

I agree that it would be nice not to have to rely on the rumor mill for critical info but in this case, the principal HAS repeatedly communicated with HIMS families regarding next year.

-HIMS parent (hoping not to have to eat my words)

Anonymous said...

Despite assurances from the principal, she's not ultimately in charge of enrollment or student placement, so it's hard to know what to think until more information is released.

I don't know how splitting off individual grades can even be considered. What happens to the offerings at Hamilton for those not in APP? Will they continue to have access to higher level math? Will new families opt out of APP and return to their assigned middle school, rather than enter into some half-baked interim situation?

So many questions.

Anonymous said...

Well, I wish it were a rumor, but it isn't. I'm not really sure why it’s not public and only a few people know -- perhaps because, on the hopeful side, it really is not a done deal. What I heard is that once they actually worked on students’ schedules, they realized that they cannot fit in the building. Meaning, it’s not about the number over capacity (which Cindy Wattes and others have known and quoted at meetings) divided by a class size of say 30, but the actual configuration of classes that do not fit in the building. Although, I’m really sick of all the “surprise!” about the numbers, perhaps this not fitting piece because of course selections that we just did really is a surprise. I’m impressed by Cindy Watters and from what I hear she is advocating to keep all enrolled for next eyar in the building, but like the last commenter said, she has constraints out of her control. It is true that no one should be happy about this splitting off – it’s going to be disruptive (to varying degrees, of course) to all of HIMS because some teachers are shared.
Going to HIMS Next Year?

Anonymous said...

If this is about scheduling, aren't there creative ways to address it? Many school districts have "zero" period before school (I guess it could be after school as well) that allow kids to take electives that otherwise wouldn't fit into their schedule.

Yes, it would cost money, but so will moving kids out of the building, particularly at this late date.

-Not Again

Maureen said...

Note that in the introduction of this "June surprise" one option is ALL HIMS 6th GRADERS (not just APP) to be housed at Lincoln another is ALL HIMS 6th and 7th at Marshall. I don't see these being discussed here. People seem to be saying that APP is being targeted. Personally, I think it would be best to move some HIMS classes (not necessarily all 6th grade classes, maybe all LA/SS block classes) to Lincoln and have the kids walk back and forth at lunch time (extend the school day by 10 minutes if necessary.)

Anonymous said...
Credible source says that some or all of APP will be out of HIMS next year (yes, 2013-14 school year). Options are all of HIMS 6th graders at Lincoln, 6th and 7th at John Marshall, or all of APP at Jane Addams (have they grown a new wing of classrooms?!). Reason: "so many more students enrolled at HIMS than they expected!" I mean, really -- how many times can the district say that about enrollment and capacity? There's a pivotal meeting tomorrow.
June Surprise

June 3, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Anonymous said...

Not sure i understand the source of this info - has there been any kind of confirmation that there is a new problem that was unforeseen a week ago when Ms Watters noted the new total amount of students at HIMS and assured parents that it would be very crowded, but admin is working on scheduling and all would/could be accomodated? I can't see where this concern about a "June surprise" is coming from, can someone provide some background here - why is this more than a rumor at this stage?
- weary HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

The rumored scenarios just don't make sense - didn't we put to rest the whole 6th grade academy idea? And why would they move Hamilton students out of Hamilton (as opposed to APP)? They would still want to maximize space at Hamilton, which would mean at least 800 students, yes? Going by rough numbers, moving half of APP is what's needed to bring the numbers back down. Let's admit that the district's wishful plan to wait one more year to open a middle school at JA was just that - wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

To June Surprise:
Is there any word on how did the meeting go earlier today between Ms Watters and the district staff?
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:24PM said "And why would they move Hamilton students out of Hamilton (as opposed to APP)?"

APP students in the North End ARE Hamilton students. Moving them out is not any easier or fairer than moving others. If the move is further than Lincoln, it's probably actually more of a hassle to move the APP kids, since they are more likely to receive SPS transportation than those in the Hamilton service area.

HIMSmom

Maureen said...



HIMSmom, aah, there you go. That's actually why is it makes sense to move the APP kids: Wallingford kids have a guaranteed seat at their (nearby) assignment school and no one has to transport them to HIMS. APP kids are being bussed from where ever already and their transportation is paid by the state. It would be irresponsible for SPS to bus several hundred Wallingford kids to Marshall or Addams while bussing APP kids there (actually, I can't imagine the NSAP would allow them to be sent to Addams since it will be a neighborhood school). SO, if they aren't using Lincoln, it makes much more sense to peal off the APP kids than the neighborhood kids. (Not sure what point you were making about it being a hassle to move the APP kids?)

Anonymous said...

On another note, Hamilton's assistant principal is listed as retiring at the end of this school year.

Anonymous said...

You mean Jo Shapiro is retiring? Boo-hoo.

Anonymous said...

Maureen, you're probably right. I was just thinking that since the HIMS neighborhood kids are in a more concentrated area it might be easier to work out a transportation fix, whereas the APP kids will be coming from a much wider area and it would impact transportation throughout the north end. The APP transportation dollars are probably huge factor as well, and I'd forgotten about that. The oh-so-portable APP... Sigh.

HIMSmom

suep. said...

Maureen said ..."Personally, I think it would be best to move some HIMS classes (not necessarily all 6th grade classes, maybe all LA/SS block classes) to Lincoln and have the kids walk back and forth at lunch time (extend the school day by 10 minutes if necessary.)

"...HIMSmom, aah, there you go. That's actually why is it makes sense to move the APP kids..."

"...it makes much more sense to peal off the APP kids than the neighborhood kids."

Maureen, do you have kids at Hamilton or in APP? I believe you have said that you don't. So I am troubled by your eagerness to repeatedly make suggestions that would negatively impact other people's children. Specifically, APP kids.

Anonymous said...

Easy, Sue. I don't think she's suggesting, just observing. Chill out a bit, will you? We all need to find out more information before panicking.

-tired of the drama, stop the infighting

ben said...

@Suep

Over time I've read repeated suggestions in this blog about moving/changing other programs outside of APP. I don't think there's any standard here left to uphold on that regard. As long as everyone is respectful (I see nothing egregious in Maureen's posts) and offers up some logical reasons for their viewpoint I don't think its appropriate to try to shutdown a debate like above or cast various aspersions about another parent.

Anonymous said...

Parents make suggestions and advocate for their kids education all the time and we often clash with each other in the process. I don't take Maureen's POV personally as I can see how district planners would factor in APP transportation outlay in their board game, errr.... I mean planning. Having that benefit does make us easier to move around.

Anonymous said...

Co housing with NSAP schools seems to be a bad idea. We keep running out of classroom space with our program growth and neighborhood's growth. You can't turn away neighborhood students. Option schools can cap enrollment right? If so and APP is an opt in program, why not put us all together. We have busing to get the kids there.

-What do you think?

Anonymous said...

As SueP is running for school board, should she win, she will need to advocate for ALL children. Her apparent allegiance to APP over other schools/programs troubles ME.

Maureen has always been respectful and from what I gather has tried to look at the bigger picture, both here and on SOS blog. I'm not sure Sue does.

In my high school days elsewhere, the incoming classes got so large that for about 5 years the freshmen had their own building and walked some *10 blocks* DAILY to the other buildings if they had upper-level classes. After the Baby Boom slowed down, the school was reconfigured. Now that building is a middle school, for awhile it was an elementary. Other districts move kids around-this isn't a new solution to a booming student population.

Sue, this is as good a place as any to ask if you think you can advocate for ALL SPS students without favoring APP. My kids are not all in that program.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I'm an APP parent of 2 kids, but I think that a school board member needs to advocate for all students. What we don't need is someone who will make us even more hated within the district by ONLY advocating for APP. There are political realities to deal with. Sue, you just lost my vote.

-tired of the drama

Anonymous said...

Well, she still has mine. I completely trust her to advocate for my general education children, as well as the rest of the kids in the district.

I do think it is somewhat unusual, the number of pretty anti-app posters on the lblog. Maureen has every right to be here, as do the other posters without children in the program, and I agree she's respectful, but she's quite clear that she doesn't like the program and frequently discourages efforts to advocate for it. Sort of like if there were a bunch of anti-public education posters on the sss blog. Fine, nothing theoretically wrong with dissenting opinions, and probably in the nature of a gifted program to get lots of outside comments(not to mention looky loos), but it does make it hard for the community to work together and hash out ideas. Oh well, I suppose, it's a public blog, but I don't think it's out of line to notice that.

suep. said...

@ Anonymous at 9:04

Actually, I have a fairly long and consistent history of advocating for all public school kids, so your statement is not true.

Please see: My Writing on Education

Here's what it comes down to for me: I do not support zero-sum games in which one group of kids is sacrificed to benefit others. Unfortunately the district sets up these scenarios all too often. We need to come up with solutions that do the least harm, preferably no harm at all.

That is why I opposed forcing JAMS to open immediately, and opposed the treatment of all the kids who were evicted from their school buildings in the closures/splits of 2009 so that other kids could have better buildings or so the district could claim a cost savings. This infamously happened to the kids of Cooper Elementary and TT Minor and AAA, the kids of Meany and Summit too (to name just a few). I protested the treatment of those kids back then, and still object to such poor treatment of any kids now.

I simply don't support evicting kids from their schools, especially the same group of kids over and over. Just as it was unjust for the district to close MLK Elem and send those kids to TT Minor, only to evict them again from TTM to Lowell a few years later, or threaten to evict the SPED kids from Lowell, or evict the Indian Heritage students from Wilson-Pacific, it's unjust for the district to keep evicting and splitting APP kids. The list is unfortunately long.

I will continue to advocate for all SPS students whether I am on the board or not, and that includes advanced learners. They are no less deserving than any other children.

The district has clearly not planned for capacity well and many kids are bearing the brunt of this.

What I object to with Maureen's comments is her repeated criticisms of APP and suggestions to evict APP kids as the solution to the district's poor planning. I respect her own choice not to send her kids to the program. But that also means she does not have firsthand experience of it, and perhaps does not understand the ramifications for AL families of splits, evictions and the elimination of their programs (this includes Spectrum families whose programs are being dismantled at their schools).

I find it sad and unseemly to advocate for evicting other people's children.

Maureen, maybe you and I should talk about this one of these days. I'm hoping you can agree that the district simply has to engage in better planning so that no kids are regularly uprooted.

For the record, I advocated on behalf of your kids' former school, TOPS, when the district cut transportation funding and when the school was given an inappropriate principal. The difference was, I respected and supported what TOPS families supported. I did not advocate for something that contradicted what the families of that school wanted themselves.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon above about non APP parents commenting on how it's fine and dandy to move APP. There is another poster who comes on sometimes talking about what changes they would like to see with APP when they don't have kids at the schools. I doubt Maureen would like me to post about changes that should be made at TOPS as someone who has never had kids there. The view is different from the inside than the outside. This is not to say that anyone outside the program can't have an opinion, but this is an APP blog.

As far as this proposed rumor, it looks like it may not be happening. The meeting was supposedly yesterday, and there was a HIMS PTA meeting last night. I am sure if Ms W had confirmed the rumors, there would be posts here about it. I wasn't able to attend, so I have no idea.

I do not support another split because the program is already really week, especially in the north (I have kids in the north, so I can't comment on the south). I would hope that before the district even suggests another split that they would come out with a multi-year plan for APP so that parents can see that APP will not continue in this game of musical chairs. I can dream, can't I?

-pickle

Anonymous said...

I agree with Pickle (as usual) and Sue has my vote (and my family's) because I know she is advocating for all the students at SPS and ALSO for the AL program. She has been with the district for a long time, knows exactly what happened when and where and I am sure she won't let forget the lessons we learned from our past in SPS.
I don't think that there is anybody else who will advocate for the AL population loud and clear like her because it seems to me that most people think it is not political correct these days.
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Why should I as an APP parent have to be considered anti-APP if I chose to discuss problems about APP? Good grief, we go back and forth about TM and Lincoln, Ingraham and Garfield, math texts, AL testing, school location, etc. all the time.

I believe in advanced learning, but because it has to be done in consideration with some other 48,000 students, I better be aware of their needs too! Hello! To me, that's being politically minded and realistic with my expectations and the realties this program operates under. I am also reminded as I type here by another parent, she has kids in general ed and spectrum as well as APP.

I didn't take a fidelity oath when my child tested into APP. So I respectfully disagree with your post anon @ 10:32. I may disagree with SueP's post on Maureen's
opinion, but that's rare because I agree more with Sue's views than not.

As far as the June surprise rumor goes, the rumor got a lot of us in a tizzy.

1st Amender

Anonymous said...

As far as this proposed rumor, it looks like it may not be happening. The meeting was supposedly yesterday, and there was a HIMS PTA meeting last night. I am sure if Ms W had confirmed the rumors, there would be posts here about it. I wasn't able to attend, so I have no idea.

I wouldn't be sure that changes aren't still coming for next year. Sure, they can say they are just rumors at this point, but the district can still look at the numbers and decide they need to shuffle some kids around.

-been through June Suprise before

Anonymous said...

I have kids in both, too. Respectfully, I think you might have been reading more into my post than was there. I said there are an unusual number of anti-app posts generally on this blog (not that any app critical posts are anti-app, and not that there should be zero dissenting opinions), particularly by people without kids in the program. I see why, because of the label, and because people thought about enrolling, but I thought about enroll ing my kids in all kinds of programs, which having not done so I typically do not go to their blogs and tell them what to advocate for, which is different for app. In some ways it's great that app has such a diverse, engaged group of stakeholders, and in other ways it's ...,not. :)

Anonymous said...

@Ingraham APP family - Currently, the definition of an APP student is a student who can score above a certain level on a few tests. The typical behaviors you describe used to be mentioned on the Advanced Learning application, but I haven't seen that on SPS AL forms recently.

You write, "all the child was doing was asking a lot of questions and contributing frequently to the discussion."My APP student might describe that same behavior as that of a classmate who cuts other students off, prevents the teacher from completing the lesson, is insensitive to classmates and generally is so focused on him/herself as to be unaware of classroom dynamics. My student hasn't met very many students who display these behaviors, but even one such student can negatively affect the classroom experience.

I agree that a teacher reacting in the way you describe is not ideal. However, I also think that students need to learn how to collaborate in a classroom. I'd love it if teachers had more time and training to work on that.

Another APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Sue P and anonimous,
This is how I understood Maureen's post:
1) There is not enough room at Hamilton for all the kids who intend to go there.
2)Some of the kids will have to be sent somewhere else. They will require transportation.
3)The district does NOT have money to pay for
the buses. To provide transportation, the district
will have to get the money from somewhere
else, most likely from cutting costs in schools; fire counselors, lay off teachers, lower WSS staffing, cut out art and music, not buying new
textbooks. They cannot print money.
4)APP students have transportation paid for by the state. Other students don't.
I ask you all, if you do not agree with Maureen that the least costly choice is to move APP kids, which programs and services you are willing to go without at Hamilton to pay for transporting the non APP kids somewhere else? Who should be laid off, the band teacher? the orchestra teacher? the visual arts and ceramics teacher? the Japanese and Spanish teachers? Actually, since the buses cost so much more than teachers's salaries, I think your choice will have to be all of the above, to get the neighborhood kids who would not need transportation to Hamilton bused away. I hear that APP will be around 500 kids, so there are around 600
neighborhood kids needing buses. Are you willing to give up the band and orchestra?
Yes, the district has made many miscalculations
and bad decisions. Yes, APP, along with MANY other populations and programs have suffered. We are facing decisions NOW, should we try for the least harmful choice, or demand that someone else get moved because our kids were moved last time? My child will be in 6th grade APP next fall, I have to decide whether to keep her there and move or to remove her from APP, those are the only two real choices. Firing teachers to ship the neighborhood kids out is not a realistic choice for me.
And we are in real danger of an echo chamber here on this blog. Everytime someone says perhaps we should not act so much like victims,a whole bunch of posters jump on with insults. Very soon, no one will try. Perhaps that is the reason we never hear from anyone else, not
even the APP parents in the south end.

Would really like for us not to turn into the TEA PARTY kooks

Anonymous said...

So you're saying we need to consider the education of our children last? Never ask for anything that costs money? Every program everywhere needs things that cost money, which could instead be used for other students. That's the nature of things, and not app or anyone else's fault. And app does, sometimes, need things that cost money. Maybe including now, maybe not.

We have a famously bloated central admin, from which some bus-providing-fat could be cut, and I believe those app buses can take other kids in them, too, and still get state money. False choice-would be nice if we could work out what is most important to the community, then come up with creative solutions to help the district find it. Instead, people get worried about something, posts to get information/ ideas. and somebody else comes in here and says believing X is a basic part of public education and worrying about it for their school = being a tea party kook.

10:32

Maureen said...

Maureen....'s quite clear that she doesn't like the program and frequently discourages efforts to advocate for it.

If that is what people think, I'm afraid I'm not being clear at all. I'm on record (repeatedly) as believing that something like APP needs to exist and deserves our support. In my posts I do try to present the perspective of families who have Advanced Learners who are not (for whatever reason) enrolled in APP. I also try to keep the needs of the entire District (and particularly those of kids whose parents aren't advocating for them) in mind. There is no Advanced Learner blog (just the APP one) and I was told by the former APPAC chair that they only advocate for enrolled students, not for all Advanced Learners.

Right now, suep has my vote, and I am looking forward to hearing more emphasis on a broader perspective from her as the campaign progresses.

Also, if you reread my post above, you'll see that I am suggesting that, if all classes can't fit at HIMs this year, they consider locating a group of classes (not just APP) at Lincoln and have the kids walk back and forth.

BTW, I'm quite open to hearing constructive suggestions about the schools my kids have attended. I think sometimes outsiders have a clearer perspective on issues.

I do appreciate the kind comments some have made above. I try to be respectful and open minded in my posts, but recognize that I don't always succeed.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand why people both in and out of APP think that it's selfish to fight for our own kid's school. I don't hear this type of thing with other schools. When Montlake was threatened with closure a few years ago, they rose up and fought. I don't remember anyone calling them selfish. What about other schools fighting now? I don't think that's selfish. Why is it selfish for APP? I guess I am extremely selfish because I don't believe it's fair to hit my kid for the THIRD time in five years. People were rightly upset when this happened to TT Minor kids, but for APP apparently it's fine and if you complain you're selfish. I adamantly do not accept that.

Wanting the best for all the kids in the district cannot and should not mean one group of kids gets hit every time. Maybe if I believed that the district was taking a long-term view of the program and trying to plan for the future, I might be more open to it. But I have a working memory, and I don't believe the district has the skills or inclination to do that.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

Pickle who are you arguing selfish with? Splits happen when you keep growing out of spaces and classrooms. What's the alternative, busing neighborhood kids to different schools or the district capping off APP seats? If we moved other programs or services except APP from Lowell, do you think we could have housed all elementary APP under Lowell's roof? Was there one school out there ready to absorb that many kids? I trust Ms. W and if she can't squeeze us all in next year or the year after and we have to move, so be it. We aren't alone. Go talk to parents in W. Seattle, and speial ed as they will understand how you feel.

I rather focus on the next best step. If we have a year to plan, even better.

1st Amender

Anonymous said...

I would add to the facts also that this is not even targeting the same population for the third time, but these are the exact same students who were first split with TM in 2-3rd grade and then moved out from Lowell in 4-5th grade and now they are in 6-7th grade when they have to move again?

Anonymous said...

Not sure why people here think there will be another split at this point; or if there is, does anything we discuss here have an impact on what the district decides to do or when? Reality is they do what they do, and we spend a lot of time on blogs throwing ideas and plans around that go nowhere. We have no real power, at least that's how I feel. Thoughts?
- HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

So what do you propose? I ask that in all seriousness. I just convinced a good friend to send her 6th grader to Hamilton and to this blog. I was pretty honest about life as a gypsy student.

Anonymous said...

Yes, switching schools every year or so just seems normal to my child now...the funny thing is we thought at least in middle school our child would be in the same place for three whole years! Oh well. At least in high school our child will be in the same school for four whole years...

Anonymous said...

Actually Sue, I didn't SAY you did not advocate for all kids. I asked if you COULD. There was no statement in my post (anon at 9:04), other than my story about my own HS experience of having to walk 10 blocks to classes in the "upper school" building. Your answer seems a bit defensive.

You certainly seem very dedicated and even Maureen is a fan, while you assumed she was attacking, as you assumed I was making the statement that you could not support all students.

In the end, I will not have to vote for you unless you make it to the general election, so I'll have plenty of time to make up my mind. Thanks for your reply.

Greg Linden said...

I'm going to have to ask that you all please keep this thread on topic. If you would like a new thread to discuss school board candidates, please ask for that in the open thread. The topic of this thread is splitting APP into multiple sites.

Anonymous said...

Greg, I think we need a thread on the possibility of a June Surprise.

-Unfortunately

Greg Linden said...

Seattle Schools Community Forum already has a post on the June Surprise, though, and I try not to duplicate their posts becuase it might split the conversation. I was planning on doing a thread on that here a little later, hoping for new information before I do so. Sound good?

Anonymous said...

1st-

You asked who I am responding to when I said people call you selfish for wanting the district to leave your school and child alone. Ironically, you essentially said it in your post: "Go talk to parents in W. Seattle, and speial (sic) ed as they will understand how you feel."

I wrote in my post many examples of other Seattle populations who have also suffered because I knew I would be called out AGAIN as selfish for not wanting my child to go through a major change for the 3rd time in five years.

It's not my job to come up with good decisions for the district to make. That is supposed to be their job. Ms Watters is not a magician and she can't make more classroom space if too many kids are coming, her good intentions notwithstanding. If the district would plan more than 40 seconds into the future, we wouldn't be on fire all the time.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

Pickle, I suggested talking with others who may share similar frustration akin to group therapy, which for me works because talking to others provides fresh perspective. What I was trying to convey to you is selfish is a label you chose or maybe it's to posit the feeling you think people might have of you. I don't know. I am not reading comments and thinking about selfish on this thread. People argued and discussed lots. The only selfish I'm reading about recently is "the Selfish Gene" by Richard Dawkins.

1st Amender

word said...

There is a real chance to improve math education for the district and for APP. My daughter, for one, is disgusted with CMP math. Furthermore, she entered APP middle school better prepared in math than the APP kids from Lowell that are in her class. I suspect it is because her elementary school had a math program that did not rely on comic books.

I mention this because there is a lot of concern about APP curriculum voiced here. Here is a concrete opportunity to make a meaningful curriculum change IMHO.

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=28765366&postID=7827477702555933390

word said...

A link to the petition:

http://seattlemathcoalition.org/k-8-textbook-adoption-petition/

Anonymous said...

At tonight's ice cream social for incoming HIMS 6th graders, Ms. Watters said that she knows that there are many who are concerned about capcity at HIMS, that she doesn't know any more than we do (interesting choice of words), that she will communicate info when she does, and that she hopes to welcome all of our students next year (or something like that -- anyone else hear it differently?). I've been very impressed by her in my limited contact. I believe that she would like to make it work to keep everyone assigned there going there. Of course, I also know some things are beyond her ability to change.
incoming HIMS?

Hopefully incoming HIMS (but didn't get a t-shirt) said...

That was also how I heard what Ms. Watters said last night and have been similarly impressed by her. I think she used clear, non-specific yet also non-alarming language so our kids aren't worried which I greatly appreciate.



Anonymous said...

Whoa. People on this thread are making a lot of assumptions, attacking each other, and being overly defensive. Sorry, but it already sounds a little Tea Party kook-ish...

Yes, APP kids have been shafted by the split, subsequent moves, and a stunning lack of leadership. However, some APP parents actually take it a step further and act as APP is being TARGETED when we are simply one of many populations suffering from inept district leadership. If you want to talk to some real "victims" listen to what the special ed families go through. Perspective, please...this is what gives APP parents a bad name. Great to advocate, but keep your eyes on the overall view.

Also, it does seem odd that there are so many non-APP parents who are active on this blog.

Anonymous said...

To incoming Hamilton families - I think your sense of Ms. Watters is right on. We have a sixth grader this year and have been really pleased by the principal's attention to detail and her energy and forthcoming nature. I trust she has the best interests of all Hamilton students in mind and is doing what she can to advocate accordingly with the district. I hope it ends with my 6th grader continuing to attend her school!

Thankful for good leadership

Anonymous said...

SueP's voluminous record of public school advocacy speaks for itself. I'm not going to knock her for slipping from "candidate" to "mom" every once in awhile.

Many parents like myself, wouldn't have kids in APP if we didn't prefer public education over private for our kids. Every time I defend public education from a doubter or cynic, I'm doing so on behalf of all who support public education of any kind, which, by the way, is constantly under attack by those seeking to kill it, shrink it, or exploit it for profit.

There is no question SueP sees and understands the bigger picture of public education, and how the trickle-down of "Ed Reform" finds it's destructive way into our schools at the local level. Take the '08 closures and the Discovery Math adoptions as 2 shining Ed-Reform-driven examples SueP and I fought against, and were right, both times.

As a former Montessori, Gen-Ed, Spectrum, and now APP parent, it infuriates me that parents and children still languish in schools in this city of embarrassing riches and resources. We spend a staggering amount of money on education that never finds its way to the classrooms of students who need it. But look around the palace that is JSCEE, and especially it's parking lot someday, to see where far too much of that money is going. And these are the same folks who drop "June Surprises" on us, operating under a board that votes to cut public speakers from 3 minutes to 2.

Do we need a person like SueP on the board? Like a drought-stricken farmer needs rain.

pjmanley

Samantha Moscheck said...

It sounds like the district wants to put APP into neighborhood schools. I don't know if we can stop or how I feel about it, but if the APP program is shaped by our neighborhood/Spectrum school's principal, it will be a disaster. I say this after long discussions with principals and dozens of hours of research into gifted education. 

The school district has (at least) 2 problems related to APP:
1. School capacities and budgets, how to cram kids into schools
2. What should be the delivery model for APP (and spectrum/ALO)

The second should drive decisions, but they are in crisis mode so they can't tackle this at the same time. There may be some unsavory issues around budgets, funding sources, etc. and we need to learn to use this to our advantage. I hear that APP has its own federal funding. If it didn't, I bet things would be worse.

Some observations about Spectrum and thoughts about how we might be able to solve these problems, get some traction with the city, and help APP students:

Problem:
Principals have authority to shape how Spectrum is delivered at their school because there is no districtwide guidance. A Spectrum principal told me this.

Solution:
Districtwide APP leadership needs to be charged with the vision, curriculum, and delivery model for all APP "services" regardless of how many schools are/have APP. They need authority to manage this so that all schools can have the same quality and style of APP programming. This means holding the purse strings, too.

Problem:
School principals at Spectrum schools have no training, background, or experience with gifted education. In fact, the city put new principals with special ed backgrounds into at least 3 Spectrum schools in the past few years.

Solution:
APP leaders districtwide and principals in schools that house APP need to have experience, training, and demonstrated passion for gifted education to qualify for their positions. Same for special ed. Schools with both should have principals with both.

Problem:
APP lacks a clearly articulated program model with supporting data and data about the special needs of gifted children that people can quickly read to understand the need for the program. I don't know if there is an evaluation model or how we perform.

Solution:
Every government mandated "service" should have its curriculum and delivery model be ***research-based learning based on mandated goals*** (whether that is APP or Special Ed or whatever). Maybe we can hold the district's feet to the fire in this regard, as these dedicated funds need to be managed responsibly. By research-based, I mean based on the research that has been done regarding how gifted / special Ed / etc children learn best. The importance of a cohort is a common theme with this research.

If a cohort doesn't impact quality of education, then all state funded colleges should immediately stop requiring admissions applications or test scores. Course pre-requisites would then be suspect, as well. Why shouldn't a 5th grader have the same opportunity for a peer environment that a college student has? Sounds like ageism to me.

Problem: 
The public perception is that APP kids are good at school and shouldn't need extra help with anything at any point. A Spectrum school principal said can not justify assigning a tutor to a struggling Spectrum child because they should be in general Ed. Yet she also opposes Walk to Math (?!).

Solution:
Giftedness does not just mean excelling in school, although in a good program these kids should. Most gifted children need extra social and emotional support in several areas. There is a reason for the high rates of depression, addiction and suicide with adults who have high iq's. Gifted programs should address this as well as the twice-gifted learners.


Thoughts????