Monday, May 6, 2013

Major changes for APP coming?

Over at Seattle Schools Community Forum, Charlie Mas has a post, "In Which Michael Tolley Reveals The Plan to Dismantle Advanced Learning".

The post is long with a lot of discussion of the plan. But let me highlight this piece Charlie left in a comment on this blog:
The District staff - Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath - intend to fold Advanced Learning into Multi-Tier Systems of Support (MTSS).
Charlie then describes three tiers of MTSS, tier 1 (which is now called general education), tier 2 (working a year ahead in the classroom), and tier 3 (which would similar to APP).

As far as APP, the difference, Charlie writes, is that:
Instead of being in just two elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools, it will be in at least one elementary school in every middles school service area and possibly in two or more in some of them. It will be in every middle school and every comprehensive high school.
It sounds like this plan may fracture APP across many more schools. And, as discussed over on Seattle Schools Community Forum, the APP entry criteria also may change, in particular no longer being CogAT-based, being tested every year, and possibly being harsher.

I don't want to duplicate the discussion over on Seattle Schools Community Forum, so please go over there to read about and discuss the policy in general. But let's open an APP-specific thread here to talk about what to do about this.


Anonymous said...

I wish the APP-AC were still active!

Anonymous said...

APP-AC (the one still exists today) indeed will meet tomorrow, Tuesday at 6 30pm @ HIMS.

Anonymous said...

Besides sending announcements of meetings, there has been no news sent from the APP-AC. If they are working on something, I'd love to know what it is. They are the ones with best access to Bob Vaughan. Have they heard of this plan or other news of restructuring? If they haven't, there really isn't much point to them, is there? I'm not disparaging them, I just honestly don't know what they do. They don't communicate any goals or progress to the larger community. I get the feeling they just meet and report to each other about what's new in their schools. Seems like big changes coming for APP - who will let us know about them? I get all my info here. Would love some more official news.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to APP but did find this link for the APP-AC google group:

With a kid starting at Lincoln in 1st grade next year, this talk of big changes coming makes me wonder if we made the right decision and makes me wish we'd had all the info about future plans BEFORE open enrollment. I'm interested to hear what the APP community can do to get more information BEFORE these changes are decided on by the board. So far it's mostly speculation - how do we get more concrete information? The APP-AC? Dr Vaughan?


suep. said...

Just saw Tolley at Lincoln this morning, talking with Principal Geoghagan. Wonder if that is related.

I have many thoughts on all of this, but one that comes to mind is, more testing costs more money, and repeated, extra testing of the same kids year after year is abusive.

Also, such an approach to APP could result in a yo-yo effect in which kids are bounced in and out of the program based on a test every year.

That would be crazy.

When will the AL Dept. and the APP-AC give those of us in the AL community the actual details of all this, and take community input?

Where's Bob V. in all this?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is the 'June surprise' -roll it out while everyones on vacation and no one is paying attention.
My concerns:
Could result a lot more regular testing for AL kids (and I thought folk already felt there is too much testing).
The type of tests/metric used are very important - they would need to be appropriate for the specific purpose (i.e. not just using MAP or something)
It doesn't make sense to check kids IQ every year to see if still eligible (its not realistically going to decline in absence of head trauma/lead poisoning etc). So that makes me think they would have to use tests that measure growth, or meeting certain standards (i.e. 2 grade levels ahead). However, isn't this highly dependent on the quality of the teaching/differentiation received? For instance if a kid is tier 2 but not given adequate differentiation to ensure they are actually being taught material that is at least a grade level ahead how on earth can they be expected to maintain the designation (or even progress to tier 3). Wait a minute! That's a great way to reduce the number of tier 2 or 3 kids requiring service - just provide MTSS in an inconsistent, unquantified way and they'll miraculous become ineligible for ongoing interventions!
The goal of MTSS at the other end of the ability spectrum is clear: get struggling kids up to tier 1, where they will no longer need or qualify for the MTSS interventions. How will this work at the advanced end of the range? What will the goals be for tier 2 and 3 kids, how/how often will they be measured, and how will they meet them and therefore retaining eligibility or moving to next tier?
The success of MTSS interventions is easily monitored at the other end - they are successful if the kid is able to be assigned to tier 1 (general education) and not require additional support. If the intervention is not successful, and they are still not doing well they continue to receive the interventions (or more/different kinds).
So how will the success of MTSS for AL be measured? If the MTSS intervention or differentiation is not done well this could account for the kid not reaching the standard (rather than the kid getting dumber) but then instead of getting better differentiation/interventions the kid would no longer be eligible for the intervention.
Given the secrecy with which this is being ushered in (if indeed it is) I really worry about what sort of transparency in terms of goals, interventions etc there will be. It seems like it will potentially be managed the same way as 'ALO" designation is and that is a total farce. Any school can claim all these great ALO opportunities and practices but there is no consistency and no accountability. I could see a great deal of parent battling taking place to ensure kids get appropriate kids intervention/instruction - look to the way the parents of special ed kids have had to for years.
If the MTSS approach is to be used for AL then transparency, consistency between schools, appropriate goals setting, and accountability is essential.


NW Kindermom said...

I echo Newbie's comment. What's a parent new to the first grade class supposed to expect next year? Have I made a mistake in leaving my neighborhood school??


kellie said...

To address the ongoing concern about stability and choosing APP at Lincoln, etc. IMHO, I think APP is going to be about as stable as most of the rest of the district.

Of course, situations depends on which school you are leaving to make a relative comparison. However, that said, there will be new boundaries introduced in Oct 13 for implementation for the Sept 14 school year. So that means Fall 2013 will be boundary debates and Fall 2014 will have all of the reality of boundary adjustment "surprises" including split siblings, feeder pattern changes, "new schools" in interim housing, etc.

So if you are leaving a nice stable, slightly under-enrolled school, maybe you have some thinking to do. However, I don't know of any nice stable under-enrolled schools, so chances are APP will be the right choice for all the reasons that you made that choice during open enrollment.

And the changes don't end with the Sept 2014 implementation. The boundary process is supposed to address the transition plan for all the "new" capacity that is coming on-line with BEX. So that also means the process will include multiple-year changes. For example, in the last boundary process, Viewlands was scheduled to open two years post the implementation of the boundaries. For those two years, the Viewlands attendance area was "interim" at Broadview Thompson school and there were fully blended into the school, there were not a distinct community. Families would have the option to remain at BT or transfer to Viewlands when Viewlands opened.

Because of the ongoing lack of interim capacity, it is very possible that there could be scenarios like that for several schools, especially middle schools. I would not be surprised to see things like School X goes to Eckstein as interim location and then goes to School Y when the building is ready.

The bottom line is that there are lots of changes of coming. You need to make the best decision you can for your student based on what is happening today, not based on speculation about tomorrow. There are just too many changes and many of them are competing for the same limited resources.

Hope that helps! FWIW, I can say that my students have gotten an excellent education, despite all the drama. What really matters in the long run is you teachers and I have had excellent teachers over the years.

Newbie said...

Just saw a comment on the SNAPP facebook page from a representative on the APP-AC. At the APP-AC meeting last ngiht, Bob Vaughan announced that he is retiring at the end of this year. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
- Newbie

Anonymous said...

To Newbie:
There was a whole discussion about this topic on the blog in March:

I have to agree with one of the commenters there: I am happy to see Dr Vaughan go because I think he burned out over the years but I am afraid who will be his follower.
So answering your question: the change could be good, or bad. Maybe this decision is part of the major change Charlie predicted for the AL.
We will see...
HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

Dr. Vaughan said that although he isn't in all the meetings he hasn't heard of full scale changes. And for those who never saw him in action... Those are really big shoes to fill. In fact, I think he really was doing the work of at least 3 departments and all the while dealing with the tremdous growth of AL and AP testing and some truly terrible Sups. 20 years is a longtime... Just wish he was able to do a few more as we figure out if our current Sup is a knight or knave...

3 in APP

Anonymous said...

That idea about APP families asking for IEPs is sounding better and better all the time...

Anonymous said...

SNAPP Facebook page??? What is the link for that? I'd love more immediate news...

Anonymous said...

I am concluding that these changes Charlie speaks of are speculation/opinion based on a meeting between Shauna Heath, Michael Tolley and the board.

Am I correct in understanding that the district has not made any official announcement yet about changes to AL?

I'm not saying Charlie is wrong in predicting that changes are coming, but I am trying to sort out what is fact and what is opinion.


Greg Linden said...

It appears the APP AC (which, for those who don't know, is a group of volunteers that works with Bob Vaughan) says the Advanced Learning office of the district denies any knowledge of any changes:

Advanced Learning Manager Dr. Bob Vaughan said that he is unaware of any plan from District officials at this time to make changes to the Accelerated Progress Program or the way that highly capable students are served in Seattle schools.

I'll leave discussion on what this means, if anything, to others.