Tuesday, June 25, 2013

More details on APP splits

A presentation for today's Board work session on capacity has some tentative plans for what will happen to APP over the next few years on pages 17-27.

Briefly, the tentative plan contemplates splitting south APP (putting new APP in West Seattle) and multiple splits in the north (2-3 elementary and middle school locations). It largely leaves Spectrum and ALO unchanged ("continue" Spectrum and ALO, slide 27), definitely not a strong push to attract people to Spectrum (as a way of restraining APP growth).

Please discuss.

Update: Some more details on the presentation and work session.


Greg Linden said...

HT, Melissa Westbrook, for pointing to the presentation and the information in it.

Zella917 said...

I read this over on the other blog. Since realistically, we can't continue to hold all of APP at Hamilton for middle school, the plan seems like it makes sense in a lot of ways. But how it will be implemented is always the big question. I'm still hoping my rising seventh grade APP middle schooler will be able to finish at Hamilton, but I'm not very confident that she won't be moved into a "roll-up" for Wilson-Pacific for eighth grade.

Jon said...

The problem with APP growth is more about lack of good and attractive Spectrum than about APP. Many people with APP qualified children would pick Spectrum in their nearby school given the chance. But, after many years of the district cutting back on Spectrum, many parents who would stay local are now picking APP, causing this rapid growth of APP.

They should open good and attractive Spectrum programs in multiple schools across the district working 1-2 years ahead in reading and/or math for anyone who can do the work.

That will take the pressure off APP. Parents will have a good option close to home and many will pick that. If we then tighten the entry criteria on APP slightly, APP should shrink a little, and APP should then fit in its existing locations.

The best part about this solution is that it serves all goals. 10-20% of children might be able to work in at least one of math or reading at at least one grade level ahead compared to a mere 2-3% able to be served by APP. Reviving Spectrum would help many more children than APP ever could.

Better access, more convenient, helps many more children, and helps manage capacity, what's not to like? The focus should be on opening good and attractive Spectrum programs everywhere, not on splitting APP everywhere.

Anonymous said...

My question is whether or not this presentation is consistent in any way with what's likely on the horizon for AL services/programs (e.g., switch to MTSS, with possible loss of Spectrum as it is now defined), or whether this growth boundaries work is so disconnected from work going on in other areas within the district to make it essentially meaningless??? It feels like we're being asked to review things and sign off on them based on our current understanding of programs and how they are treated here--"Yay, Spectrum saved!"--when they may just turn around and say, "Oops, well, we didn't realize Spectrum was actually going bye bye."

I can't tell whether it's incompetence, intentional deception, or if I'm just being paranoid...


Anonymous said...

Based on slide 17, I'd like to know what kind of changes they are considering to the delivery model and identification.

Risk to APP projections: Changes in identification process, sites, and/or service delivery could impact number of highly capable students.

If they tighten the criteria and eventually reduce the number of APP qualified students, but split the cohorts based on current projections, will the cohorts at each site get too small? Or will the criteria/service model change in a way that further increases APP enrollment? It's not clear what Spectrum means going forward. What is the Spectrum delivery model?

The presentation just leaves me with more questions than answers.

Anonymous said...

I've received several emails about a meeting tonight regarding potential shared space at Wilson Pacific. I noticed there is also a Growth Boundaries meeting tonight, where I'm assuming the information in these slides would be discussed. Wouldn't that be the more important meeting to attend, even for North APP elementary parents with?

I have to say that I am much more concerned about elementary APP North potentially splitting into 3 (dramatically reducing cohort size) than whether there is some mega-school with shared space at Wilson Pacific. (I don't support the idea of shared space either, by the way.)

Slide 19 clearly says No Stand-Alone sites. This has to mean a split.

-confused parent

Anonymous said...

The Growth Boundaries meeting is 4:30-6:30 and the WP meeting is at 7:30.

Lori said...

from slide 23, "We believe creating additional pathways (not a single, stand-alone APP school) benefits both APP students and general education students academically as well as for social/emotional growth."

I'm curious why they believe this. Given that many families move to APP *because* their child's social and emotional needs are not being met in a gen ed situation, even in the high-performing schools with a high percentage of advanced learners, it doesn't make sense to think that making the cohorts smaller and cohousing with gen ed will magically make the outlier APP kids relate to their age peers on a social, emotional, or academic level.

Same thing with academics. *How* does cohousing help APP kids with academics? Serious question, because I don't know what they mean with that statement.

I'm not saying that cohousing is wrong or bad; I'm just saying that its disingenuous to split up elementary APP based on these reasons. I have a child who thrived at Lowell and continues to thrive at Lincoln. I do not expect in any way, shape, or form that moving back to the cohousing model will *improve* her academic, social, or emotional experience. Things would probably stay the same, OR, be worse because if the APP cohort is too small in any one building, it could be harmful to the APP kids who don't find that soulmate friend or other person who "gets" them.

So let's just be honest. This has nothing to do with the kids and everything to do with capacity. I can handle change, I'm open to change. I just don't like being lied to.

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Lori said.

And yes, capacity reasons may be driving the supposed "rationale" for cohousing. Then again, it could be backlash at the perceived "elitism" of APP, and an overly simplistic--and ultimately misguided--approach to "equity."


Anonymous said...

@confused parent at 11:24 am

Both meetings, the late afternoon Board Work Session for Growth Boundaries at the JSCEE today AND the Wilson Pacific design discussion at Wilson Pacific at 7:30pm tonight are important, just for different reasons.

The Work Session will be where the District Staff tell the Board their version of what 'equity' looks like. Essentially, they will chip away at APP, pretending there is a 'plan' where there really isn't one. There is just the value-judgments of a precious few newbies in the District who are clearly on the "differentiation for everyone" bandwagon, because that is what is 'fair'. Never mind that evidence for teaching and learning point in the opposite direction... Their slides specifically say "We believe...". Really? "We believe"? That is how these two go with evidence-based best practices? More like "evidence free". Alas.

Let's be clear: there still won't be room at Hamilton for even half of APP in a few years, unless they remove an additional entire feeder school (that would put them down to 3). And, the District hasn't talked to the school communities where they would 'push in' APP, one presumes they would like to be consulted too. Arrogant, no? All this does is continue the facilities issues. Pairing APP with an option enrolled program (not an attendance assigned neighborhood guaranteed group) would avoid continuous crashes and would mean that it would NOT be a stand along school. The other things embedded in their slides are red herrings.

Think of the treatment of Spectrum, and, it is fairly straightforward to see the future of APP.

The Wilson Pacific meeting is important because we want avoid the building of a giant (and expensive) white elephant. Please, no tail wagging the dog: build schools, that will serve children and teachers. That should be obvious, no? And yet, in this District... Alas.

Perhaps to tip the balance as to which to attend, the fact that presumably you will be able to speak at the WP meeting may make that the one to attend. One cannot speak at Work Sessions, but, you can always buttonhole a Director or Staff person afterwards and express yourself. One could also pee in the wind...

So, you choose, and, thank you for coming out and caring.



Steve said...

I also agree with Lori. It is all about capacity, and I wait excitedly for the evidence that this is going to be a better thing for my kids. I don't believe it is forthcoming, so I'd rather they be honest.

I still don't understand where they are going to fit all these APP kids who will now be co-housed in schools that are beyond capacity already. And, between shipping your child to a diminished APP program (smaller cohort, possibly inept implementation, etc.) and moving back to your designated neighborhood school, isn't it likely that some/many parents may choose to go back to their neighborhood school and completely mess up the district capacity management plans? Capacity is like water...it flows, and you can't always count on it being where you want it to be.

Anonymous said...

Yes, fuzzy "we believe" trumps research and data on how to best serve students.

Anonymous said...

My nephews live in a small town in another state with only one public middle school and one public high school. Even there, they have gifted programming that includes gifted units from the College of William and Mary as well as Michael Clay Thompson materials. They offer Algebra 1 in 7th grade. I can't figure out why Seattle has such a resistance to providing appropriate challenges for all students. So far, Seattle's plan seems to be based on the premise that "they'll be fine."

-incredibly discouraged

Meg said...

actually, from a capacity standpoint, it would make a TON more sense to put north end middle school APP at Wilson-Pacific, possibly with an option school. It would do the very best job of load-balancing in the north end while trying to get adequate inventory - because BEX isn't going to fix the capacity problem.

However, Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath in Teaching and Learning both appear to be very, very, VERY attached to the idea that every attendance area middle school will be its own fully-realized little world, with services for kids of all academic abilities and needs, and that because they WANT that to work, it is the best idea.

Unfortunately, the decisions being made by Teaching & Learning do NOT even seem to be based on smart capacity management.

While enrollment grows and there is an inventory shortage, placing two programs with guaranteed enrollment in a building together will consistently result in capacity problems. It is probably better for APP middle school students to be in a building with other programs - but for capacity management, that's not what will work best.

Anonymous said...

I am just learning of all of this -- are the splits likely to affect kids in the early grades at Lincoln? Or will they stay but new locations will roll out? I will have a kindergartener this fall that we had already decided to send to Lincoln in 2014. Do you guys think that option will be gone?


Anonymous said...

I read it like this: If the two SNAPP elementary sites are goiNg to be W-P and Thornton Creek, all APP kids will stay at Lincoln until those two new buildings open. TC is supposed to open in 2016, W-P in 2017. So the split could happen in 2016 with the W-P kids at Lincoln for the extra year. Not sure if they would start calling us APP@TC and APP@W-P right away though. They could.

Make sense?

Anonymous said...

At the W-P presentation tonight, APP 1-5 was in the plans, but middle school APP was not mentioned. The District responded something to the effect that programs were still under consideration and more information would be known in October. The building scenarios presented (4 in all) had both the elementary school and the middle school clustered on the West side of the site, with an elementary play space between, and the existing sports fields remaining in the same site. Many parents voiced a preference for having the buildings on opposite sides of the campus, rather than clustered together. As far as timing, both schools are supposed to open in 2017, but the middle school may be at an interim site before then.

Anonymous said...

Meg is right about capacity. Middle school capacity crunch is helped the most by putting ALL of APP Mid School together at Wilson Pacific. That should be the APP parents' single focus: Housing ALL APP middle school at Wilson Pacific helps EVERY middle school solve capacity problems and minimizes boundary disruptions/pathways.

Also, that populates Wilson Pacific Middle school with a group that has busing paid for with $ from OUT of district - state $. No kids have a mile and a half walk around Aurora to middle school; APP gets bused. Much safer.

So it's a win-win. There is NO middle school in the N end that can take 270 or more APP kids; in a few years Hamilton won't really have the space for out of zone APP kids either, and will actually want the Hamilton zone APP kids to go away. Remember, the McDonald kids and the new bulges at BF Day are still in the younger grades/haven't hid Hamilton yet.

APP, if kept together, will basically fill WP Middle School.

PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT that Michael Tolley and Shauna Heath say it is "best" to divide it into local schools. It neither helps the kids get the education they need and are legally entitled too, nor solves any capacity problems, to divide APP.

Advocate with the Board and the Superintendent - he's Tolley's boss after all -- to keep the group together rather than exacerbate capacity. Send the emails. Please!

Anonymous said...

From a southside perspective, I like the plan. This may be a capacity issue on the north side, but it IS an equitable access issue on the south/west side. A new APP location (sounds like probably in West Seattle) will encourage more parents to test their kids and consider APP as a viable option who otherwise would stick it out at their neighborhood school. I only wish there were a large enough potential cohort to justify locating a program in both West and South Seattle - that would go furthest in serving an underserved population. If there were a cohoused program with the minimum acceptable cohort, I wouldn't quibble and say it's worth nothing unless there's a stand alone school.

Of course, all this is meaningless if the district doesn't also work on their identification process to ensure a more representative student body, not to mention more extensive early learning to help close the education gap. Otherwise, the APP cohort will remain small and homogenous.

-Southside Mom

Anonymous said...

The state does not pay to bus APP students. It pays to test them.

Anonymous said...

Lori posted: from slide 23, "We believe creating additional pathways (not a single, stand-alone APP school) benefits both APP students and general education students academically as well as for social/emotional growth."

Not only do district employees appear to think that APP kids are misfits who need to be "normalized" by hanging around with "regular" kids, there seems to also be some odd notion that "regular" kids get some benefit of being around APP kids through osmosis. I would like to see the research on that. I am not necessarily saying that co-housing is inherently bad, just that I don't believe that believing it's good makes it so.

This thinking assumes that APP kids are not involved in anything in their neighborhoods (sports, scouts, classes, etc) or play/hang out with any neighborhood kids and, therefore, the schools must push it because it isn't happening.

I think APP is doomed because the district is making decisions about it based on magical thinking without care to either research or even what has already happened in their own district. Where is the critical thinking of the grown ups charged with these decisions? So frustrating.


Anonymous said...

Pickle -

Then wouldn't the converse apply.....that SpecEd kids shouldn't hang around Gen Ed. Can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

If the plan is to split the north end APP middle school cohort...

What about making the WP Middle School an Option School with an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program? It could be available as an option for some APP students (who would move on to IBX at Ingraham) and some academically motivated, but perhaps not tested, students who would go on to pre IB at IHS.

It will offer APP families a choice of cohort and program and assure that the WP building is 100% utilized.

IBX Watcher

Anonymous said...

Spot on SS mom. I don't have a problem with co-ho using and see benefits. The one BIG benefit would be to buffer my kids from APP parents who believe SPS employees label APP kids as "misfits" and general ed kids as "regular" kids. Was there a survey done? I have yet to hear this generalization from a staff member or see it on a slide. If that is how some of you see the world, that's fine, own it! But I wouldn't stretch to pin that view on others.

I welcome spectrum parents and their children into APP. These kids are sitting in classes with mine and are great peers socially and academically.


Anonymous said...

I have yet to hear this generalization from a staff member or see it on a slide.

Well, count yourself lucky. I have heard this generalization directly from both a teacher and principal at our neighborhood school. The principal cited the many, many years of experience in the district as if to legitimize the opinion.

Stand-alone, co-housed, whatever. I will go along with whatever the district fancies at the moment, as long as they continue to provide an appropriately challenging curriculum, with a meaningful cohort of peers.

Anonymous said...

"Pickle -
Then wouldn't the converse apply.....that SpecEd kids shouldn't hang around Gen Ed. Can't have it both ways.
-Annie June 26, 2013 at 8:01 AM"

Perhaps intuitively, you summize that everything should 'be the same', because 'that is what is fair'.

However, embodied within that concept is that differing student populations who do indeed have the same needs (to learn and grow) ARE are best served by the SAME strategy all the time and in every case. That is clearly NOT the case. Young students get a homeroom experience, that is best. However, that would not be best for high school students, who need teachers who specialize and can provide a deep dive on a single topic like math or language arts. Just because one teacher for everything (except PCP) is best for an 8 year old, doesn't mean that would work, be appropriate, or even doable for a 17 year old.

Students who are fluent in English are put into whatever attendance school corresponds to their address, unless they've chosen and gotten into an option school. Does that mean students who speak no english at all should be similarly assigned? No, they won't be able to function and won't be able to learn, which is why the District assigns them to bilingual orientation centers, and supports them in other ways, so that their needs are met and they can grow academically. Note that they are not placed in particular schools or particular programs because some Staff at the District think it would be 'good for other students' to 'see them' so that the other students' socially are enriched. Their placement is a function of what is in the english-language learners' best interest. As their english skills grow, their assignments are subject to revision.

Inclusion for Special Education is based on research that shows that when a child with significant special needs is pulled from their self-contained class to be in an inclusive general ed classroom, that child is exposed to a richer vocabulary, to richer interactions, to a broader learning environment, so that the child is getting a better education. A special ed child is not placed in a general ed classroom for the benefit of the general ed peers (not saying that they don't benefit -- just saying that is NOT what drives the educational strategy). The child, like ALL children, should have educational strategies deployed to engender his/her learning. Learning. Education. It is why parents send their kids to school. Perhaps parents send their kids to school for different or additional reasons - likely - but, learning to read, write, critically think, do math, etc., those are the 'deliverables'. Say what you want about all the other things you 'feel' school 'should' do, but, the fundamental core of school is academic education.

Again, are all parents equal in their right to assume they send their child to school that day to learn something new? To grow a bit, to get a stretch? So that by the end of the week, month, season, year, their child is now perched at a higher level of learning than when he/she began that year?

I believe so. I believe that applies equally to ALL children: special ed, able-bodied, ELL, non-immigrants, general ed, highly capable, impoverished, wealthy. All of them. Each and every one of them. Regardless of race, religion, socio-economic circumstance, neighborhood, nationality, etc, etc, etc. I believe each child is deserving.

So, while research shows the benefits of ensuring special education children are put into the least restrictive environments (LRE)to scaffold their learning, which means a strategy for inclusion into a general ed classroom, that does not necessarily mean the SAME THING OR STRATEGY IS WHAT IS BEST OR THE "LRE" (WHICH IS A TERM OF ART THAT APPLIES TO CHILDREN WITH AN IEP) FOR CHILDREN ON THE EXTREME END OF COGNITIVE ABILITIES.

(signed mother to 2e)

Anonymous said...


In fact, it is the opposite: you take a child, with an IQ in the 98th or 99th percentile, and, the effect is OPPOSITE: they are now put into an environment that has a less rich vocabulary, is less stimulating, and does not support their learning needs. Their ability to learn quickly without copious repetition is what hurts them the most in a general education class room, and, maladaptive behaviors typically result. The LRE is not the same for them as it would be for a SpEd students. Indeed, one size does not fit all. In fact, the intervention when the child is youngest is often the MOST critical. Not giving these students a sound educational strategy until they are in Grade 4, as some districts do, is devastating, and can have last affects. Highly capable traits are easily spotted even in very young children, like having a 18 month old speaking in complete sentences, learning to read (self-taught) when they turn 3, and using a sophisticated vocabulary. The traits are not subtle. When people unfamiliar with Sped or highly capable make broad statements about 'what is best, educationally' without spending time getting to understand how to optimize academic strategy to foster the best learning outcomes, we end up with children loosing out.

In many ways, SpEd and highly capable have similarities: they are both communities composed of incredibly diverse needs, are a single digit percentage of the District's overall student population, are arguably plagued by misconceptions, and often are the first ones booted out of a building. We know/hope the days of booting out SpEd are long over. The District must and is 'working on' fixing that. Thank goodness.

However, for whatever reason, in Seattle, perhaps for political reasons, certainly not on the basis of research-based sound pedagogical ones, it is still okay, indeed even preferable, to underserve gifted learners, because 'they will be okay' or 'they are less deserving' or ' they are a certain race' or 'they come from a certain socio-economic background' or pick your favorite 'urban legend'. I don't think it is okay to discriminate against a child on whatever criteria and use that as the excuse to not actually teach them something when they show up to your school house in the morning. Do you? Hope not. Because, sadly, as we all know it use to be de riguer back in the bad old days.

-mother to 2e

Anonymous said...

Maybe I've been lucky or maybe it's because I chose to not generalize one bad experience (or a few) to indict all teachers and principals. I agree with you re: challenging curriculum and meaningful cohort of peers. By secondary school, I have less concern regarding the need for APP cohort. The self selection into demanding AP classes (where you need to meet prereqs) means your peers more likely are going to be strong academically. It's unlikely many kids are going to sign up for calculus as a lark. I also see my teens branching out, taking classes they're interested in or curious about (not all are part of the usual college prep pathway)and finding out how much they don't know and are learning by working with kids who have talent or experience in these areas.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you mostly up to the last paragraph. It is a but much to compare the historical discrimination toward special ed, minority groups, and the poor as comparable with gifted learners. That's why we have legislations at state and federal levels which include protection and dollars for SPED, ELL, and FRL. Academia research may show many things, sometimes contradictory ones over time with technological and cultural changes, but often lack in the large scale implementation part. Why? Look at our spending and tax system. Now that's political. Parsing out those limited dollars is political ( furlough notice).

We are here because our kids are in APP. The district chose to develop, expand, and maintain this program. I don't feel discriminated against. I just feel APP is lower on the priority list. Realistically given the landscape of growth, capacity, budget affecting 46,000 students, I am not surprised. Bellevue gifted program is undergoing changes next year and big rumbles across the pond too.


Anonymous said...

Mother 2e,

But don't the gen ed kids learn from being around the app kids like the spec ed learn from being around the gen ed kids.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Southside Mom, thank you for your comment. I do believe that the issues here in the south end are more about equitable access (and adding lifestyle choice) than the capacity issues in the northend. We are an APP eligible but not enrolled elementary school family in West Seattle. I believe that an APP elementary pathway in West Seattle would make APP services a more popular and viable choice for more West Seattle students. There's no reason why highly capable students should not be served through high quality advanced learning services IN West Seattle.

How many kids that could be or are APP elligible are choosing not to enroll or test because they don't want to leave the good thing they have going at Schmitz Park? How many that just feel fortunate enough to be in Spectrum at Laffayette? How many kids of immigrant parents because they prefer walk ability and siblings/cousins at the same school? How many kids who just enjoy being at their neighborhood public school? How many who are crossing fingers that Spectrum-in-name only program at Arbor Heights could be enough? How many West Seattle families are choosing to enroll in APP at Thurgood Marshall just because that's the only current service to meet their needs? How many are choosing Pathfinder and K-5 STEM in hopes that an option school could meet the depth of their "highly capable" student's needs? Other reasons?

There are *many* of us in West Seattle who are trying every year to piece together educational solutions for our very bright kids. I agree we don't have the same issues as the Northend. I really want the district to develop APP services and support here in West Seattle for our local kids.


Anonymous said...

Mother of 2e - The district is not argui g for the elimination of self-enclosed APP classrooms, so you are arguing against a no existent straw man. The district has a good 4-year track record with co-housing elementary APP with gen Ed kids. There is data on this. The APP kids at Thurgood Marshall have not suffered academically with co-housing, and their survey showed parent satisfaction with co-housing and the more diverse environment of the school. I had kids at Lowell pre-split when APP. Was stand alone and kids at the co-housed Thurgood Marshall. I believe my kids thrived at Thurgood Marshall and benefitted from the more inclusive environment there. Perhaps the district should release TM's MSP and MAP scores for APP kids. My guess is TM's APP math MAPs are higher than Lincoln's. There is data and the district should use it to alleviate the fears of those who want all-APP schools. 5 of the 6 APP schools in the district are working well with multiple programs in the building. Why drear the inclusion model so much?
- Happy Thurgood Parent

Anonymous said...


This is such a tired argument. Is your child in APP? If so, and you're not happy with the program, you can always remove them.

The general education program is designed to serve the vast majority of children. We place the small number of kids who are outliers based on where their needs are best met. Disabled children are placed in general ed classrooms for their benefit - not to enhance someone else's education.

What do you think is the benefit to kids in general education programs of having APP classrooms in their buildings? Do you think it would benefit them academically as well as for social/emotional growth? I'm really trying to imagine what it would be.


Anonymous said...

Fear, not "drear". Sorry for all the typos from my phone!
- Happy Thurgood Parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do have APP kids. I am not sure what the benefit would be but I do not see any ill effects either. The district is trying to solve a capacity issue. Let's solve the problem and still get kids educated to the level that they need. I think it can be done in a inclusionary environment.


Anonymous said...


We're a West Seattle family too and would be happy to have an APP program here - if it was of an appropriate size.. Equitable access to a real APP program is very important to me and I would rather travel to it than settle for something like a cluster system which would depend on differentiation within the classroom.

There are projected to be around 160 APP middle school students in West Seattle in 2017.


Anonymous said...


Maybe I misunderstood you. Students who require special ed services are not placed in neighborhood schools in separate classrooms, they're place in general education classrooms. It sounded like that is what you were defending for APP.

I don't think we need separate schools - but there is the problem of who to share a building with. A cohort of 250 to 300 in an elementary APP program doesn't leave many seats for neighborhood children. Do families want that? The attendance area would have to be very small.


Anonymous said...

I would say that at times it doesn't matter what families want. Sometimes the district needs to make firm decisions based up facts and budgets. Sometimes we parents lose out. The things that need to be done are the things that are right to do for the kids and the district overall.

No just my kids.

Hard choices. Lots of kids. Small amount of money. What to do what to do. Make decisions based off of facts regardless or what parents may or may not want. We will not all be happy. But hopefully the district will be better for it.


Anonymous said...

I don't think APP@Lincoln vs APP@TM is an apples to apples comparison because 1) TM has Lowell's long-time principal, 2) TM has many more of the original staff from Lowell (while Lincoln has had a high turnover of staff), 3) TM is not touting project-based learning like Lincoln, and 4) TM is using a different math curriculum than Lincoln (which not until next year will ditch EDM and CMP).

Let's help each other said...

This is my kid's second year at Lincoln. Last year was academically great and I thought people were over-reacting to loss of staff and more splits. I'm convinced after this year. Almost all new teachers, academically a joke compared to last year. I think it's pretty lame how TM folks say they are up for more splits for us, but then they say don't touch their program. Personally, I'd fight for you to help keep what sounds awesome. I'd like the same in return. The splits and staff turnover really are watering down the academics (in my opinion). I wouldn't wish this on TM kids. I don't know why you think it's OK for ours.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I believe the presentation said they expect APP numbers to increase in West Seattle if there is a south side option. I'm assuming projections for MS are based on current ES numbers. Not sure what this means for the southeast. TM is not so inconvenient for a chunk of the south side and a West Seattle site could end up being more inconvenient for many. Possibly this could worsen numbers for us? I'm not advocating against a West Seattle site but I do wish we could have something closer to home, say Mercer.
-Southside mom

Anonymous said...

Who said that??? The proposal also has TM being split.
- APP mom

Anonymous said...

The District IS reexamining the self-contained element for APP 1-5, this isn't about the stand-alone or cohoused cohorts, it is about the cohort itself and the self-contained model for elementary. Of course, they are being intentionally discreet about this, even when questioned by board directors.
Attended work session

Anonymous said...

@Attended work session, is there a paper trail or a verifiable quote or is this another June rumorr?

Anonymous said...

Happy Thurgood Parent,I am glad to hear that it's working there. I was at Lowell before the split and at the public meetings, there was a lot of fear about APP kids having to be in the same building as the "typical" TM students-i.e. minority, low-income, ELL, etc. Parents sitting around me talked about their APP kids possibly losing ground just be being in the same lunchroom, etc. with the "gen ed" kids. It was pretty sad. And I know of several parents who removed their kids from the program rather than have to worry about such things.

I always thought Julie knew what she was doing and it appears that she managed to pull everyone together, or maybe the fearful ones have all aged out. We were moving on to middle school so we didn't see what happened first-hand, but I remember posts on this blog from some pretty unhappy people the following year or so.

Aged out

Anonymous said...

"there was a lot of fear about APP kids having to be in the same building as the "typical" TM students-i.e. minority, low-income, ELL, etc"

Sorry, Aged-Out, but that's disingenuous.

I was at every single meeting concerning the '08 APP splits and never heard such comments. On the contrary, it was SI John Stanford who first decided it was best to keep APP and Gen Ed kids in separate buildings, due to the disparities he witnessed at Madrona during his tenure. It was also board policy, adopted after the Madrona situation was fixed by moving APP to it's own building at Lowell. Parents who knew and respected Stanford were justifiably respectful of his views and were hesitant to return to the old ways of co-housing urged by the '07 APP Audit, which had not worked in the past. The old "those people" line is disingenuous and insulting to those validly concerned with "been there, done that. Whatever you heard in no-way represented the prevailing concerns at that time.

It's also ironic for North End parents to attack TM parents for selfish motives. For the record, in '08, it was the North End parents who first broke ranks and threw the South End under the bus by urging the ouster of the South End kids from Lowell. I was there when it happened. All has since been forgiven, but not forgotten, so let's not go there.

TM worked out fine under Julie's leadership and a ton of help from parents quite willing co-house with a Gen Ed cohort, but concerned about either group suffering as a result. It took some negotiating, such as abandoning uniforms, building the library collection, and bringing the rough play on the playground under control, but by the end of the first year, things were quite good and have been since.

However, those of us paying attention back then foresaw today's problem of overcrowding at TM and the consequences of APP growing to the point of pushing out neighborhood kids. And if you've seen the tight boundary around TM, it's obvious the district and Board foresaw it too.

To it's detractors APP will always be Chaos theory's proverbial butterfly wings that ultimately cause hurricanes throughout the district. Just seems to go with the territory.


dw said...

Annie said: But don't the gen ed kids learn from being around the app kids like the spec ed learn from being around the gen ed kids.

I fear that's the same flawed thinking that Tolley and Heath are using.

In reality, it's "majority rules" (or mob rules, if you prefer). When the vast majority of kids are GenEd there is a natural draw toward the mean/norm. So the hope is that this works in favor of SpEd kids, drawing them UP towards the norm, though it's highly situation-specific.

On the other hand, when you have a few highly capable kids mixed in a school or classroom, the draw toward the norm is DOWN. There might be some tiny benefit for a tiny number of GenEd kids that are working above the norm. They are still being pulled down in all scenarios, just a bit less in the mixed environment.

This is not really debatable, it's what happens in the real world, rather than some fantasyland of dizzy school executives sitting in their offices wishing for a "we're all the same" world. Teachers teach to the majority of their students, and the majority in any classroom defines the norms. This is the reason many APP parents choose to pull their kids out of local schools to enroll in APP in the first place.

It's not just academics, but social and emotional aspects as well. Use of complex language, vocabulary, types of play and interactions are all affected. For most APP kids this means that they need to "dumb it down" to get along in a GenEd environment. It's especially bad for elementary aged girls, who have extra societal pressures and are more attuned to them as well.

Bottom line is that when talking about traits rubbing off from one group to another, you need to understand which direction it flows. Toward the norm.

dw said...

Let's help each other said: This is my kid's second year at Lincoln. Last year was academically great and I thought people were over-reacting to loss of staff and more splits. I'm convinced after this year. Almost all new teachers, academically a joke compared to last year. ... The splits and staff turnover really are watering down the academics (in my opinion). I wouldn't wish this on TM kids. I don't know why you think it's OK for ours.

This is the problem with newbie (a term of endearment here!) parents and teachers, lack of perspective.

The fact that you're seeing it after only two years is admirable, but try to step back for a minute and understand that some of us have been watching this slow deterioration for a decade or more. We've been advocating year after year against (more) splits at any cost. They are the destruction of the program.

In elementary school, most of what parents gauge the program on is based on their own classroom/teacher. The first couple years, if they happen to get a great teacher, then they're trumpeting off to the world about how great the program is, how great their building/principal is, etc. Newbie APP parents come into the program their first year, and it's exciting because it really is a step up from what they had in their neighborhood school; however, these days it's mostly because of the cohort, not the system in general.

Extrapolate back in time based on what you've seen happen over two years at Lincoln, and imagine how much better the program was 6 or 8 or 10 years ago. Yes, it really was that much better, with experienced teachers in most classrooms, and new teachers got helpful mentoring from them. I'm mostly talking about SNAPP, because ThM got Julie and was able to retain many of the Lowell teachers.

But at SNAPP, this has been especially bad as the principal has been destroying the program year after year by pushing out the experienced teachers. They're almost all gone now. Not only that, but she has explicitly disallowed experienced teachers from mentoring the new teachers, which is just inexcusable. I don't know if it's the case across the board, but I've spoken at length with multiple teachers that have left that building, so I know it's true in a least a number of cases. This is something that should be picked up on and taken to the Ed Directors and/or Board.

Pm said...

I have a rising ninth grader who attended Lowell in the old days. It was not all sunshine and butterflies. There was a lot of inconsistency across each grade level because teachers did their own things. Some parents complained because one teacher would spend a lot of time on math and move the kids far, but then the kids would spend the next year repeating the same math because the other kids had spent more time on writing during the previous year. Some of the teachers were awful and were eventually pushed out. Some fabulous teachers also left, too, but some of their reasons were personal (babies, babies, and more babies). Back then, everybody complained about how much better the program used to be.

Anonymous said...

Our experience has been consistently inconsistent. When I read the 2007 review of APP, I am nodding my head in agreement with many of the criticisms/suggestions contained in the report. It's almost 6 years later and little has changed. In terms of program delivery, the problems that were noted previously still exist. The cautionary language about needing a curricular framework and vision, before splits, was right on.

2007 Review of APP

The report was based on National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Standards. Problems, issues, and concerns:

...Many principals do not understand the need for gifted programming, do not support current efforts, and will not provide options within their buildings.

...there is disagreement concerning the setting in which APP should function.

...parents, teachers and administrators are forming "camps" based on belief systems rather than concrete evidence of the effectiveness of the option defended.

..."They [administration] seem to think that gifted education is just grade skipping"

...students with giftedness in a single content area...are not a fit for APP or Spectrum [or even ALO]

...Lack of instructional vision for APP...inconsistent challenge...quality of instruction highly variable...little to no within class differentiation...no provisions for twice exceptional students...lack of rigor in science education

...in the absence of guiding documents and tools [curricular framework], the issue of highly variable teachers will create exponentially larger issues for ensuring quality curriculum experiences

..."There are some teachers teaching APP who should not be, and there is just nothing you can do about it."

Anonymous said...

Pm is right that nothing is, or was, ever perfect. In ANY program or setting. Lowell was not a perfect world for everyone, even 10 years ago.

But if your youngest is a rising freshman, perhaps you don't understand how bad the situation has become over the past 3 years at SNAPP under the current "leadership".

Prior to, say 3 years ago, most teachers at Lowell APP had at least a few years experience, and several had at least 12-15+ years in APP. Not anymore. I believe there are only 2 teachers in the entire building with more than about 3 years of teaching APP (someone will certainly correct me if I'm off). Some of this is due to growth, but much is due to frustration with leadership and a huge effort to clear the decks of any and all experienced teachers.

At Lowell, experienced teachers often helped new teachers get up to speed, both with curricular issues, and with understanding the unusual aspects and needs of these atypical kids. A lot of mentoring happened, much of it informal. But at Lincoln, RG refuses to allow the experienced teachers to mentor the new teachers. WTF?! There may be some coordination amongst the new teachers (I don't know either way), but it's obvious that in her process of "clearing the decks", RG doesn't want any remnants of the old way of doing things to persist. To the complete detriment of the kids. It's disgusting.

Also, what you're talking about as far as inconsistency is a fascinating topic.

You're right, there was inconsistency in the old days, and some of it probably should have been reigned in. But the alternative is what Greg King, and now RG are demanding of their teachers, which is absolute uniformity. Teachers are expected to be on the same page, teaching the same thing without fail. There is no room to add a special unit on ANYTHING. Want to do something special for your class, but the other classrooms can't do it or have no interest? Not allowed. Want to let a few kids move ahead in math? Are all the other teachers doing the same thing? No? Then not allowed. Extra recess for good behavior? Are all the other grade-level classrooms getting the same thing? Forget it. Okay, I'm making up the specifics to protect the innocent (who have all left the building), but you get the picture.

They are pushing down the road toward scripted teaching, with no room for any differentiation or areas of passion. Is it any wonder that great teachers won't tolerate that kind of environment? What you're left with are new, inexperienced teachers and/or malleable teachers that will tow the line.

Some fabulous teachers also left, too, but some of their reasons were personal (babies, babies, and more babies)

There were a lot of excuses put out publicly for why teachers left under Greg King's rule, but he badgered and bullied teachers until they left. I'll never out anyone individually, but for almost all the nice and plausible stories you heard about why all those many teachers left, behind the scenes was an ugly tale of two principals that were out of control. RG has almost finished the job. It really was much better a few years ago.

- lived through it, glad to be moving on

Anonymous said...

Consistency doesn't necessarily mean 100% uniformity, but a certain amount of content should be predictably the same for each grade level. It goes back to the lack of a coherent curricular framework across grade levels. A student's progression becomes more dependent on the quality of the teacher because of the absence of a clear set of skills and specific content to be covered.

There was a situation (Lowell, post split) where a class had two math tracks, one accelerated beyond the APP standard, which was possible with the help of a parent volunteer. It was great for those needing the differentiation. From the outside review, lack of differentiation within APP was one of the criticisms of the program. It was not so great if you didn't happen to be in that particular class, yet could have benefited from the differentiation. Is the answer to just eliminate all differentiation? No. The answer is to find a way to provide similar opportunities for differentiation to all classes. Prior to the split, math was supplemented with non-CMP packets that students worked through independently. There was some ability to work ahead.

Another example is middle school LA/SS. Because there aren’t defined literary units and Hamilton APP didn’t purchase the history books being used by Washington APP, the HIMS teachers are kind of making it up as they go. Some teachers can run with this kind of freedom, but others need a basic framework as a starting point. You get everything from assignments copied from the web (not exactly tailored for APP students), readings from college level texts (can be really inappropriate for their age), to teacher selected books that are at a 4th or 5th grade reading level. Consistently inconsistent. New to APP teachers and those with little or no background in gifted ed are creating the curriculum, which is not always ideal. Because the year was not planned out in more detail, some classes did not even get through the year’s material and did not cover some basic skills.

Some consistency and uniformity is needed. A student shouldn’t lack skills because they attended school A instead of school B, or was in teacher A’s class instead of teacher B’s class. This is true across the district. It’s not something specific to APP, but the growth of APP is exacerbating the problem within the program. When the program was at one school, there was more collaboration among teachers and there were predictable class projects from year to year. The teachers still had some freedom.

Washington and TM seem to have the weathered the splits with more of the "old" APP intact. The experienced principals are just as important as the experienced teachers.

Maureen said...

Some consistency and uniformity is needed. A student shouldn’t lack skills because they attended school A instead of school B, or was in teacher A’s class instead of teacher B’s class.

This is interesting to me. I definitely feel this way and was (for example) annoyed when one teacher at my kids' K-8 taught cursive through Z and the other one only got to M). I guess I assumed this wouldn't be very important to APP parents since they often choose to skip their kids a year or two ahead in curriculum (I assume they realize their kids will always have holes in what they are taught, but know their kids can fill those in at home.)

Maybe the solution is to annually pretest APP kids and track them within any given school? The teacher who welcomes in the parent to work on advanced math should be assigned the kids who are already ahead, and those kids should advance together as a cohort going forward (or maybe walk to math and reading should be instituted at the APP K-5 schools). That would truly take advantage of the cohort model of advanced learning.

Anonymous said...

But what if the other teacher had their students write and perform an original opera instead of focusing on math? What if they wrote two more long stories? Focusing on standardization to the degree the district does currently is only a net harm for students- the mediocre teachers aren't better for it, and it just stifles the amazing teachers we do have. I think there should be a pretty loose curriculum of standards to each grade (and I do think walk to math should be standard everywhere, including APP, which would take care of your problem), and then teachers should just have at it.

I definitely have gotten annoyed myself when there is a clear skill difference in teachers, and my kids ended up with the worse teacher(this has only happened once in all our years). But only because I had bad luck, not because I think the kids in the better teacher class should get less benefit from the excellent teacher. Hopefully it will mostly even out over time, and I would much, much rather everyone have an even shot at some of those excellent teachers than no kids get the benefit of them at all.

If they do split again I think the sorting mechanism Maureen mentions might be helpful for some kids. I have one child who is only able to access a group of peers in their strengths because the school draws from all over, and splitting would mean the particularly high math and reading groups would dissolve into 2 kids, not enough for group instruction, nevermind if they then were split across classes again.


Anonymous said...

But what if the other teacher had their students write and perform an original opera instead of focusing on math? What if they wrote two more long stories?

All well and fine as long as they still cover math, or science, or history, or whatever core content is supposed to be covered. We've had teachers that loved math, but history was an afterthought, or teachers that loved writing, but math instruction was not only lacking, but had to be retaught properly at home (and this is in APP). It's about what's not getting covered as well as what extras are being included.

We found the move to more specialization of teachers in 4th and 5th grade to be an improvement. Teachers that were stronger in math/science could teach math/science, without sacrificing reading/writing, and vice versa. Subjects would get more equal time because sudents had to switch classes at regular times.

I think there should be a pretty loose curriculum of standards to each grade (and I do think walk to math should be standard everywhere, including APP, which would take care of your problem), and then teachers should just have at it.

Something needs to be done to provide differentiation in math, agreed. The "pretty loose curriculum" is where we've had problems. It can be great with an above average teacher, but disastrous with others. Maybe it's one of those things your child has to suffer through in order to understand. If the next year's teacher assumes certain content and skills were covered previously, because they were part of the stated curriculum, and they were covered in one class, but not another, it makes it rough going for both the students and teachers. It's not that easy to fill the gaps.

"Standardization" of delivery is what becomes stifling, but standardization of core content is necessary for coherent progression of learning and skills. I don't think it stifling to be told you have to teach XYZ, but it is stifling to be told you have to teach XYZ from page 10 on day 7.

Anonymous said...

"Another example is middle school LA/SS. Because there aren’t defined literary units and Hamilton APP didn’t purchase the history books being used by Washington APP, the HIMS teachers are kind of making it up as they go."

This, to me, is insane. Why is there no consistency between the two APP middle schools? And is it really standard practice for middle school teachers to come up with their own curricula? Is it only this way for APP, and not Spectrum and/or gen ed?

On a related note, I believe I've heard comments re: middle school teachers working together across Washington and Hamilton to help standardize things... Does anyone know if that's true, and if so, how it's progressing?


Anonymous said...

We have suffered through it, and in the post standardization world. We did have to do work at home to catch up(in math, too), and like I said, I was annoyed. But no amount of standardization across grades or whatever was going to help- it was just a bad/lazy teacher, the only one we have ever come across, but it happens, teachers are human; it's a big system.

Then, though, the next time through, when the next kid got the "good" teacher for that grade, the good teacher was hamstrung by all the standardization and curriculum implementation requirements, and so kid 2 missed out on the truly excellent teaching and projects the good teacher would otherwise have wanted to provide and had in the past. Still a good year, but could have been outstanding. So a net loss for the kids.

I think there should be some kind of roadmap if the teachers want it, but for them to be as free as they want to deviate, so long as, say, they cover whatever grammar/period of history/math they are supposed to, in elementary school. Probably less freedom in middle.


Anonymous said...

I think standardization of curricula is great. There should be clearly defined set of skills and knowledge that students are expected to have mastered by the end of each grade (at any school, not just APP) and the primary role of any teacher is to ensure the material has been covered in such a way that the majority of students (if not all) will have attained these goals.
We accept standardization of material within schools and districts (even if we don't actually like the them) - clearly it would be inappropriate for individual teachers to, for example each pick their favorite math curriculum, and teach that.
I don't believe it is necessarily appropriate for teachers who love math or drama or whatever to focus heavily on their pet subject, unless there is time to spare when the core subject matter has been completed/mastered. Then, great- go for it, but not at the expense of material that forms the foundation for the following years curriculum. Each year teachers should be able to rely having incoming kids who have adequately mastered the material on which they will build. It should not be dependent who's class they have moved up from.
Elementary teachers are expected to be generalists. Specialization is later elementary grades (or even earlier ones if feasible) is a great way for students to benefit from teachers expertise and passion in certain areas (and probably allows a larger number of students exposure to a teacher who is gifted in that subject area).
Of course I don't think anyone should be dictating exactly how the material is covered - the actual classroom process must allow for individual teaching styles/practices (they are not programmable robots!).
I can't say what whether what has been happening at Lincoln involves any more than simply standardizing the curriculum, or expectations for what is covered in each grade, but its been great at Lincoln this year knowing that to a large extent all classes in my kids grade are doing the same thing, no one class is getting anything better or worse than the others.
I don't think accepting wide variation (in subjects covered, disciplinary methods, rewards etc) under the premise that it will even our in the end is the right approach.


Charlie Mas said...

I attended a drop-in meeting with Tracy Libros and got a different perspective on the APP situation.

From the presentation to the Board with some data blanks filled in by Dr. Libros I now have this expectation (employ all the usual caveats; this is an expectation, not carved in stone):

The District has minimum and maximums for cohort size for APP. In the north-end there's too many students for just one. There needs to be two.

I expect two north-end APP pathways through elementary and middle school. Given the difficulty of traveling east-est in this town we should expect a northeast pathway and a northwest one. It's pretty clear that the northwest one will use Wilson Elementary and Pacific Middle school. I've no strong sense of the northeast elementary school (TC sounds plausible), but it looks like it will go through Jane Addams middle school. APP will leave Hamilton entirely. Hamilton has too many other programs to juggle and not enough capacity for APP along with language immersion.

The south-end has too many APP students for one pathway but not enough for two. What to do? I expect a guaranteed seat at Thurgood Marshall and Washington with an option (like the Ingraham IBX option) in West Seattle.

I'm not sure what schools would be the APP alternative pathway in West Seattle, but an authentic and intentional stepped up K-8 STEM program at Boren would fit the bill very nicely given the Project-Based Learning there. Yes, a lot of chess pieces would have to move for this to happen, but not as many as you might fear.

We have a K-5 STEM and a STEM high school, but no STEM middle school. Hmmmm. Don't we need one?

The District is working very hard not to talk about high school. Be suspicious of that. I expect them to require every high school to offer an APP pathway of some kind. It will be IBX at Ingraham, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach. It will be accelerated placement and AP classes at Garfield, Roosevelt, and Ballard. Cleveland STEM and The NOVA Project will create ramped-up rigor versions of their existing programs. The Franklin, West Seattle, and Hale will figure something out. It could be AP classes, accelerated placement, Running Start, independent study, online classes, or something of their own invention.

These are my guesses based on the current data and my current reading of the personalities, politics and sheep entrails that drive these processes. It's nothing else.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh, right, I forgot to explain why Washington in the south. It's pretty clear that Mercer would be a better choice.

The current center of gravity for APP students in the south is around Stevens. I don't know if people moved to be closer to Lowell at one time or if that's just the way it is. Meany would be closest to where the students live, but it's not very accessible for most of the south-end or West Seattle.

Honestly, Washington isn't much better. If you're in Arbor Heights or Rainier Beach Washington isn't much of an improvement over Meany.

The better choice would be Mercer. Not only is it more centrally located in the south-end (though still shaded north) but it offers much better access from West Seattle by either the West Seattle bridge, the 1st Avenue Bridge or the South Park bridge (when it re-opens).

Unfortunately Mercer is already pretty full and it can't easily give a feeder school to Washington. Hawthorne? maybe. Beacon Hill Elementary? No. Beacon Hill is the language immersion school, and Dearborn will be the next and Mercer is the designated pathway for them.

So Meany is out and Mercer is out.
Denny is the least centrally located. Aki Kurose? I don't see it happening; Aki is busy with other issues and it's unclear what impact that placement would have on participation.

Personally, I would find it funny as hell if the District chose Madison as the location for southend APP, but West Seattle is just invisible to people who don't live there. Also, it's not that great for transportation.

So that leaves Washington, which also have the power of incumbency working for it. It's a decision that looks like a non-decision.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Charlie. Any idea on the timing of the splits, or how they will work coming out of the interim site at Lincoln?

--APP in ALO

Anonymous said...

This was posted on Wallyhood.org about Hamilton capacity issues. They posted a letter from Banda.


~APP Lincoln Parent

Anonymous said...

"We believe we can..." and "we are not planning to..." still leaves the window open. They intend to make it work one more year, but I'm not resting easy until my child's sitting in a classroom.

Anonymous said...

If they move APP in the NE to TC you will probably get 15-20% of Bryant and VR alone. It's close to that in some grades this year already.

If that happens, is it really such a special cohort after all? I would say no. The benefit of APP is just a marginally advanced curriculum.

Anonymous said...

I'm also interested in the timing of these middle school changes. I have a student who will likely be entering APP at 6th grade a year from now, in fall 2014. I had a feeling HIMS would be too full by then (since it's too full already!), but I don't have a clear sense as to where APP will likely be located. Will they likely make all the changes at once, relocating APP to two interim sites? Or perhaps peel one group off early, if their new home will be ready sooner?

It's sad to hear, however, that language immersion and APP will no longer both be possible in the same middle school, although I realize we were somewhat unique in planning to do both. Language immersion is one of the ways to help add challenge for an APP-qualified elementary student, so it's too bad the district sees APP and LI as mutually exclusive.


Anonymous said...

APP compacts the curriculum so that by 7th grade, math and science are a full two years ahead. It's compacted so the pace can be faster - 1st graders don't just skip to 3rd grade material. In middle school, math can be up to 3 years ahead, if there is large enough cohort working at that level. I'd consider that more than marginally advanced. It's about the cohort working at an advanced level, not just that there's a cohort of like ability students.

Charlie Mas said...

All of the attendance areas will be declared this winter for Fall 2014, but just because there's an attendance area for the new middle schools starting in 2014 doesn't mean that students will be assigned to that school at an interim site starting in 2014.

The finance and construction schedule will drive that.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the rewording in the "20130619_Action_Report_HighlyCapable.pdf" file referred to in the July 3rd Board Meeting agenda? (The decision on whether or not to pass was deferred until the August 21 meeting...)

The following piece was crossed out: "The Highly Capable Student Programs Grant application and the management of programs were discussed with representatives of an Advanced Learning Taskforce. The taskforce completed their work and made recommendations to the Superintendent in the Spring of 2012"

And replaced with: "The Highly Capable Student Programs Grant application and the management of programs are regularly discussed with representatives of an advisory committee charged by the Superintendent. The committee includes parents, teachers, and administrators."

This is followed by: "New taskforces will be convened in the Fall of 2013. Each taskforce will consider and make recommendations around one issue related to Highly Capable Services. The initial task force will consider how we qualify Highly Capable Students. The second task force will focus on the specific delivery model.

Public interest in the program remains high, enrollment has increased, and providing sufficient capacity for serving all eligible students is a present and continuing challenge."

What irks me is the "regularly discussed" statement, when no task force has yet been convened (resulting in a disingenuous statement), the statement doesn't state what the advisory committee is charged by the Superintendent to do, and as far as I know this is the first time a "qualifications" and a "delivery model" task force has been mentioned. I'm also curious why this was pushed back to August 21st ("when few parents would normally be paying attention")...

Donald Tsang

Anonymous said...

Nice find, Donald Tsang. I think we need to call them out for being deliberately misleading every time they do this kind of thing. It reeks of a preconceived agenda vs. going where the facts and findings lead.

How can we have faith when people are willing to fudge facts and fabricate a reality that doesn't exist? This just stinks to high heaven already, and we've barely gotten started.


Anonymous said...


I'm in the north end of West Seattle. If we had access to IB programs in 1st through 12th grades, I would choose that over TM, Washington and Garfield. I wouldn't do it though unless there were at least 25 students per grade - and an elementary principal who liked and supported gifted kids. We could use Hughes for this.

There's nothing at Madison or WSHS I would choose for my kids though. My neighbors with kids in early elementary are concerned about this. STEM programs at these schools might make them more attractive to neighborhood families.


Anonymous said...

Lynn, would you enroll your kids in K-12 IB even without an exclusively Advanced Learning cohort or IBX option?


Anonymous said...


I'd have to know more about it to be sure. My impression is that it's a more challenging curriculum. A strong foreign language component would make it attractive - as my family doesn't have access to that now. I'd be more comfortable if it was an AL program - an APP/Spectrum combination with good math grouping could work. If it were challenging enough for those kids, I'm not sure it would be a good fit for others. Couldn't we set up IB elementary and middle school programs with separate classrooms for AL students? You could mix them up for art/music/PE.

What do you think?

NESeattleMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NESeattleMom said...

Hi Lynn,
IB is a two year program, normally 11th and 12th. It would be at the end of a pathway, not actually part of a program from 1 to 10. or one year advanced in the case of IBX

Pm said...


There's actually an elementary school version that is offered a some local private schools (Soundview School in Lynnwood).

Anonymous said...


There are four IB programs for students ages 3 to 19. Seattle Public Schools currently only offer the fourth (diploma) program. Bellingham has two public elementary IB schools. The IB website (at ib.org) allows a search for schools by state.


Unknown said...

Unfortunately, I haven't had time to read everything said in the thread, but want to share a couple of things. As a West Seattle APP parent, as well as a future STEM parent, I would highly appreciate having APP in West Seattle. We have an hour long bus ride each way, which seems fine, but isn't perfect for a 7 year old. Our kid misses out on after school activities. Most start between 4 and 5 pm, and he comes home around 5 pm. I talked with other WS parents. It seems there are quite a few that already tested into APP but did not want to bus their kids and stayed at their schools or choose one of the better local school options, like STEM. I try to push that an APP program in West Seattle should be considered at STEM. With more resources, labs, tech toys, this would be a great benefit for the STEM students and West Seattle parents would not have to pick between APP as better academic fit and STEM as local, forward curriculum anymore. I know it would take a couple of years to get established depending on leadership and PTA, but I have high hopes this could be great for West Seattle families, after being underserved with Advanced Learning options for so long, especially in the South end.

apparent said...


many thanks for digging out all this information about SPS staff designs regarding APP and sharing it with families in a way that the district administration has not yet done. So far, it appears that all of your calls are on the mark.

One possible inconsistency between the published board work session presentation and your later conversation with enrollment manager Tracy Libros is on Slide 10, where one stated policy goal of minimizing student disruption favors keeping middle school APP at Hamilton. This does contrast with Dr. Libros’ prediction that to free up needed space at Hamilton north end middle school APP will likely be moved to two other locations (e.g. the new Pacific middle school, and Jane Addams middle school).

So what will happen? If its all about numbers, I'm curious about something I'll put into its own post . . .

apparent said...

Apparently critical to this discussion are the middle school APP enrollment projections that have just been presented by the staff to the board. Without further explanation, these numbers look decidedly odd!

* * *
According to the table on Slide 20, the north Seattle elementary APP enrollment is projected to rise by 15% over the coming decade from 594 in 2013-14, to 675 in 2017-18 (when the new Wilson Elementary and Thornton Creek buildings will open), then 685 in 2022-23.

According to the table on Slide 20, the south Seattle elementary APP enrollment is projected to rise by 20% over the coming decade from 317 in 2013-14, to 383 in 2017-18, then 379 in 2022-23.

* * *
According to the table on Slide 20, the north Seattle middle school APP enrollment is projected to rise by 80% over the coming decade from 549 in 2013-14, to 861 in 2017-18 (when the new Pacific Middle School building will open), then 989 in 2022-23.

According to the table on Slide 20, the south Seattle middle school APP enrollment is projected to rise by 53% over the coming decade from 347 in 2013-14, to 452 in 2017-18, then 530 in 2022-23.

* * *
As described by Melissa Westbrook in the Seattle Schools Community Forum, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in her report on the school board’s Boundaries and Capacity Management Work Session: “They had Rachel Cassidy, the district demographer, come and explain a sheet with potential growth in APP and pathways. ... Both DeBell and Smith-Blum felt that, looking at the sheet that Cassidy handed out, the numbers on growth didn't jive correctly.”

Anonymous said...

Any word on hiring for the Advanced Learning role that Bob Vaughan left? Anyone know anything?

Anonymous said...

Meeting to Boundary issues via West Seattle Blog...


West Seattle’s representative on the Seattle School Board, Marty McLaren, has just announced the dates for the informal meetings she promised to set up over the summer, to get your thoughts on boundary changes and other big district decisions later in the year:

The decisions about Seattle Schools Growth Boundaries in West Seattle will be very important for our community, and I’ve scheduled two informal West Seattle meetings so that community members can gather to discuss the issues:

Saturday, August 3, from 10 to 12 noon at the Southwest Branch Library, 9010 35th Ave SW

Wednesday, August 14, 6 to 7:45 PM at the West Seattle Branch Library, 2306 42nd SW (behind the Metropolitan Market)

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