Monday, September 23, 2013

Options for out of APP

By request, a thread to discuss what might work best if moving out of APP.

The request was from a parent with a 5th grader thinking of switching to Spectrum at Hamilton next year (Hamilton will no longer house APP in the latest district plan) and whether that is a good idea. But let's open this up more broadly for parents to discuss with each other what options other than Seattle Public Schools APP they are considering and pros and cons.


Anonymous said...

You mean, like moving? It still hasn't been stated with any certainty that current Hamilton APP students will be grandfathered.

Anonymous said...

I made the request for the thread. I would like to hear other parents' opinions about the pros and cons of opting to attend their reference middle school instead of the proposed temporary holding facility at John Marshall. Hamilton and Eckstein, in particular, are strong academically and have a wide range of available extracurricular activities.

APP eligibility can be maintained by enrolling in Spectrum. You can always rejoin the APP cohort in 8th grade to maintain access to Garfield.

What do you think?

Voting with our feet

Lori said...

We have had the same thought about leaving APP next year and attending our highly regarded neighborhood middle school instead. At this point, it's a much more attractive option than the holding pen at John Marshall.

One of the transition options would have our child in the Marshall holding pen for 2 years, with the APP split happening right before 8th grade. At that point, they'd peel off the APP@JAMS kids and finally send them to JAMS. So if our child is going to have to do an extra transition prior to 8th grade anyway, why not have her in a comprehensive middle school instead of an experimental, educational Siberia for those first 2 years?

The biggest "con" of course is that we are making decisions under the rules as they are today. As we all know, they can change the rules at any time. Heck, I thought we had opted into 4 years at Lowell but we only got 1 year there! I thought we opted into a program with guaranteed access to a comprehensive middle school that would have course offerings appropriate for my child. Instead I'm getting what exactly? Who knows.

So... the district could possibly change enrollment rules and not let us opt out of APP, I suppose. Or, they could change the rules about joining/re-joining APP. Right now, you can join at 8th grade, but what if that changes in a year or two? There is absolutely no predictability in this district, much less guarantees that the rules will remain constant. And remember, after we get through this middle school capacity crisis, we get to go through it again at the high-school level, and who knows where APP will be housed for high school in 2017 and beyond.

That's why my October and November calendar is already packed with private school open house dates. Sad to admit because I always thought of myself as a big supporter of public schools. But standalone 6th grade at John Marshall is not at all something I can support, for my child or anyone else's. I'm just so disappointed and frustrated that with this capacity crisis looming for so long, this is where we are: no reasonable options after years of inaction.

Anonymous said...

Bear in mind that access to Spectrum, unlike APP, is NOT guaranteed for those who qualify. HIMS, for example, has a tiny Spectrum program, and it's not likely to grow. Many other middle schools seem to be gutting their Spectrum programs as well. If you opt to forgo APP in hopes of getting into your neighborhood school Spectrum program, there's a decent chance your child will end up in gen ed instead. That may work for some, but likely not others.


Maureen said...

If you rejoin at 8th grade, wouldn't you have to take 9th grade physical science? (So not be allowed to go straight to Chem at IHS or Marine Bio at GHS.)

Anonymous said...

Based on the experience of the first split it will be better NOT to grandfather HIMS APP 7th & 8th - no matter how much you like the shiny new building and the idea of aging out. It took years to develop a robust program there. It will be the Siberia-for-sixth-graders Lori describes unless all three grades and the APP experienced teachers move together to Marshall, along with music, Geometry and Algebra 2.

Next best choice is 6th stays at the Southeast end of Lincoln until WP is ready, with access to HIMS fields, teams, music, library. Hiring a crossing guard for the passing periods is far cheaper than two building moves.

But a stand-alone 6th will be so far from the comprehensive middle school experience that parents want. It's too grim to contemplate.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Actually, MIDDLE school spectrum seat is Guarranteed in your attendance middle school area (that started last year).

Of course, "what" spectrum will be is utterly grey - certain principals seem to despise it and make it a 'non-program program' at their school. If only the District would make Spectrum a clear, strong program that was consistent across the middle schools. But obviously, this District seems determined under the current leadership to let Spectrum die a death of a 1,000 cuts. Til it will be a name only. All kids in all services and programs should be served better.

Yes, a choice between Eckstein or a holding tank roll-up is no choice.

Won't go

Anonymous said...

From the school district's web site:

Advanced Learning FAQ

My child tested into Spectrum. How do I enroll him/her in a Spectrum classroom?
Newly eligible Spectrum-eligible students (or students who have moved and do not have a continuing assignment) are not automatically assigned to a Spectrum program. Families wishing to enroll their child into a Spectrum program must submit a school choice form indicating their preference for school location and program. School choice applications for the following school year are accepted beginning during Open Enrollment every spring.

5th grade students currently eligible for Spectrum will now automatically be enrolled in Spectrum when they enter middle school.

Anonymous said...

Based on the experience of the first split it will be better NOT to grandfather HIMS APP 7th & 8th - no matter how much you like the shiny new building and the idea of aging out.

This cohort has gone through one split and the move to Lincoln. I am guessing many families with current 6th and 7th graders would push for grandfathering at Hamilton, just like those at Eckstein and other schools being affected by boundary changes.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm happy to be wrong about Spectrum enrollment! I saw reference to a guaranteed spot re: APP, but didn't notice a similar guarantee for Spectrum. Is there a stated guarantee (for newly eligible 5th graders going into middle school), or are folks reading the automatic enrollment to be a guarantee? I'm wondering if there could be an unstated "as space allows" part to that sentence...


Steve said...

I wonder if the idea of current APP 5th grade parents doing something *other* than what the District has planned is something they are actually concerned about. I don't think the District has ever cared when people take their kids out of SPS to another district or private school, but large numbers of parents returning their kids to their neighborhood MS might cause them some capacity-related indigestion. Kids in this program have always been moved around like mortar between bricks - they go where the district needs them to hold up their bad planning decisions. I get the sense that many parents are finally saying "enough", and as this thread indicates, looking at alternatives to the District plan.

Do we need a survey to quantify these intentions? Trying to figure out if such data would help or hinder getting what our kids need, what we want, and what's best for the district.

Pistoff said...

I'm tired of all of the uncertainty and unappealing options. We live in the Hamilton boundary, and we will pull our kids (who are currently in 3rd and 5th grades) out of APP and send them to Hamilton instead, when the time comes for them to go to middle school. We will NOT keep them at Lincoln for 6th grade nor will we send them to John Marshall or Wilson Pacific. I've talked to other parents who feel the same way as us as well.

Anonymous said...

If you move your child from APP to a spectrum program you will need to submit a choice form. Your automatic assignment will be APP. I would call the middle school in February & ask if they will accommodate all spectrum qualified students or if they might wait list students. Recently most middle schools have not wait listed spectrum students.

Anonymous said...

Our daughter tested into APP in elementary school, but given the uncertainty in the program, we kept her in Spectrum and planned to move into APP in middle school. Trust the district to make that option far more unpleasant now. We are considering just having her go to Hamilton as well.

Anonymous said...

APP eligibility cannot be maintained by enrolling in Spectrum in middle school.

Academically, I'd say the science pathway would be the greatest loss by choosing Hamilton or Eckstein [aside from the more obvious loss of a Garfield pathway, if staying through 8th grade - but even that is not a guarantee]. There would also be more limited math offerings. If APP leaves HIMS, the upper level math classes may no longer be offered (it took about three years to have them offered at HIMS, post-split). From what I've heard, Eckstein does offer higher level math classes (Geometry).

If your child is in band or orchestra, it's hard to say what the HIMS program will be like in a few years. Eckstein's band and orchestra are quite strong. The grandfathering of current APP students would be the least disruptive in terms of maintaining a similar level of math and music offerings for current Hamilton students (APP or not).

Elective wise, what we haven't liked about Hamilton is the limited access to art class (drawing/painting, not performing arts) and the choice of only two languages (many kids would like to take French). Eckstein also has drama and puts on a play once a year. Quibbles, I suppose.

There is a Q/A session with Ms. Watters at tomorrow's PTA meeting. She can't speak to what will happen to APP, but she should be able to answer questions about what might be offered in the absence of APP.

Anonymous said...

My experience at Eckstein having APP kids in spectrum.

Math - geometry & alg. 2 classes are good. Alg 2 is often a group combined with geometry class. One amazing alg 1 teacher, one poor alg 1 teacher. Math placement is flexible every year. You can skip a level any year, do independent study if you are beyond alg 2, or be moved back if you are not hacking it in class. AL, Gen ed & spec ed mixed together based on math level, not age or program.

Science - mostly not challenging. Eckstein kids going into IBx this year started in chemistry with no problems.

LA & History/geography - depends on teacher. Some very interesting & challenging, some not. 6th grade is weakest. Frankly the teacher made more difference than whether it was a spectrum or non-spectrum class.

Music - amazing orchestra, good band. new choir program with very well qualified vocal teacher added this year. no symphony.

Foreign language - very good teachers with foreign trips for spanish & japanese students. Only 2 years offered, Japanese, Spanish, French

Arts – Have historically been quite good, though teachers have turned over.

Generally a child’s experience is teacher dependent even though a lot of the curriculum is aligned. The best teachers are often teaching integrated classes & support classes, not spectrum. (Integrated classes are gen ed & spec ed with 2 certified teachers.) Sometimes one of the 7th grade integrated blocks will be open to spectrum students on a lottery basis. This is where you will find very deliberate differentiation & really good teaching.

For my mathy-music kids this was a better fit than Washington/Hamilton with the bonus of being walking distance. Not sure how it would be if your child is stronger in humanities & weaker in math.

Eckstein will change when JAMS comes online. They changed a lot when the last boundary shifts brought a different population of kids.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering what we could reasonably expect to be offered at a new roll-up APP at John Marshall--and what we expect we will lose. Certainly it won't provide a "comprehensive middle school" environment, but what will that loss look like on the ground? As it is, except for a few classes, the 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Hamilton are all kept pretty separate, with different lunch periods, etc.

My initial thoughts are that this split will be a bigger deal for some kids than others. If a child is particularly interested in music, for example, they will likely be disappointed by the (presumed) limited offerings at the interim site. Similarly, a student who is advanced in a foreign language will likely be hurt by the separation from HIMS, which is an international school and the immersion pathway as well. Are there other areas likely to be heavily impacted re: course selection?

In terms of math, it's hard to say. Will Algebra I still be offered (at both sites) to students who qualify? That seems to be something families could really push for--getting some sort of SPS guarantee (for what that's worth...) that they'll make it happen to help mitigate the move. Seems the least they could do.

LA/SS and Science should not really change that much, as these are part of the APP "curriculum." Some current teachers may not go for the transfer, however, so there may be some shuffling and new ramp-up periods for teachers unfamiliar with the content, with teaching this cohort, etc. From what we've experienced in our years at HIMS APP, though, that's pretty much par for the course anyway.

Extracurricular activities seems to be another area likely to come up short. There won't be an opportunity to play on a varsity of JV sports team with older grades, and it's unclear if a full slate of 6th grade teams would be feasible (and if so, would they be stuck playing against older teams?). The HOST program could also be a loss, unless a similar program were established--although again, with likely fewer selections. Would things like this also merit parent advocacy for guarantees?

What do others think? I know this roll-up idea is unpalatable for a number of reasons, but if it comes to it--and we're not willing to give up the opportunity for more advanced LA/SS, Bio in 8th grade, APP high school pathways, etc., what would we really need to push for--and push HARD--to make it a more acceptable middle school experience for our kids?


Anonymous said...

I also feel that a standalone 6th grade class will be a huge loss in that there won't be any older kids around. I think it's really important to have 6th graders see and be around 7th and 8th graders, because the changes that happen to kids in middle school, in all sorts of ways, are so significant. I want my kid to be around kids who are older. It's not just about what happens in the classroom.

- Age Diversity

juicygoofy said...

We are in 4th grade and APP qualified and were also hoping to join APP at Hamilton in 6th grade. Our neighborhood MS, Whitman has dismantled Spectrum and is seriously overcrowded. Whatever the APP alternative is, we will NOT be enrolling at Whitman.

Shannon said...

The Olympic Hills option is not exciting me in the least. We would go to an option or neighborhood elementary rather than OH.

Jane Adams MS remains to be seen. I am considering private MS for my younger son. I will probably hang in there with my 7th Grade APP kid because he loves his cohort.

When we discussed the school options and what he had heard he said "I just want to stay with my friends, I don't want to be split up into different schools again (he went through the Lowell split).

We seem close enough to the Ingraham option to "hang in there". However, this fall I am touring Independent High Schools as well as Ingraham.

- Shannon

Anonymous said...

Like some other posters here, our family has an APP qualified 5th grader, currently attending neighborhood spectrum school. We were planning on Hamilton for APP starting in 6th. Neighborhood MS is Eckstein. Considering foregoing APP now and going to Eckstein, but wondering if anyone has ideas about getting better science privately and doing some sort of pull-out. Does anyone have any knowledge about any such options?

Also, I realize we would be foregoing Garfield (unless we transfer to APP in 8th grade, which seems less than ideal from a social perspective). Any thoughts on whether this would be a big mistake?

I'm sure not feeling like there are any great options (other than private). I would be curious to know if private school applications will see a jump this year!


Anonymous said...

Any idea why Bagley, Greenlake, and Greenwood wouldn't feed into Wilson Pacific instead of Hamilton? Seems like more of a neighborhood school for them. Then that would leave room for APP at Hamilton? Am I missing something?


Anonymous said...


Try the Center for Talented Youth (Johns Hopkins) or the Center for Talent Development (Northwestern University) for online science classes.


Anonymous said...

Note, that while you forgo the option for Garfield assignment by not being in APP 8th Grade, APP eligibility will allow guaranteed assignment to APP/IB at Ingraham. The primary reason behind this seems to be that Garfield's path for APP students is the same classes but taken a year or two in advance which would require having been in APP the previous year while Ingraham has an actual program with specific APP classes that can be jumped onto by a highly capable student (i.e. 8th Grade private school).

Seattle Family

Anonymous said...

Seattle Family,

Garfield does not have a path for APP students. Every class at Garfield is available to any student. A new-to-APP freshman could easily have their needs met there. The primary reason Garfield assignment is restricted to APP-enrolled students and Ingraham is available to new students is capacity management. Garfield is over-enrolled and Ingraham was under-enrolled before IBX was created. This is the determining factor behind every APP program placement decision.

There are not enough APP students in West Seattle to create viable programs (meeting the minimum recommended number of students) - but they're going to do it anyway. Why? T. Marshall and Washington are over-crowded, Madison is under-enrolled and Fairmount Park will be a new building with many empty seats.

Anonymous said...

Oops - that was me above. That's the second time today someone has said that APP-eligible students have a guaranteed seat in IBX. I don't see that anywhere on the AL website. The transition plan for 2013/14 said:

APP 8th or 9th graders currently attending Hamilton, Washington or Garfield may request an assignment to the APP/IB Ingraham for by filling out a school choice form during the open enrollment period.

Eighth grade students not currently enrolled in APP at Hamilton or Washington may test for eligibility to enroll in the APP/IB Program at Ingraham.

To me that sounds like you have to test in 8th grade to requaliify for IBX if you were not enrolled in APP at Hamilton or Washington.


PM said...

As a parent of a high schooler who was in the first split, I find these posts ironic. Back then, parents fled to private schools to avoid Hamilton. Now parents are considering opting out of APP to remain at Hamilton. In my opinion, whatever the district does to APP will eventually be better than any other choice for an APP qualified kid who really needs the program. It may take a few years to get there, but APP parents will work hard behind the scenes to make the new situation work well for their kids.

Anonymous said...

Some comments:

1. HAMILTON PTA on WED: Can someone ask Principal Watters if she'd work for portables on the neighboring field to keep her school together until 2017? It's an option some people are pushing - 8 or more portables if the city will rent the field to the district for a couple years. Eckstein and Whitman have tons of portables, by the way, and this would be only until 2017, when Wilson Pacific middle school opens. It would be great to have her say she wants to keep APP as part of the Hamilton community until 2017 and will move heaven and earth to do so, including utilizing portables so years until Wilson Pacific Middle School can be bridged together. Some people think the fields are vital. I agree, but even vital fields are trumped by SEATS for kids. So can some Hamilton parent ask the principal what she thinks of portables?

2. Re going to Wilson Pacific: please embrace going as a whole group in 2017, 6-7-8. At tonight's Hale meeting, there was a lot of advocacy against either new middle school being 6th grade by itself for a year - that was good to see - and a lot of energy around Wilson Pacific for APP b/c it keeps APP out of neighborhood capacity problems. If everyone knows they'll go as a full group from the beginning in 2017, then it won't be so traumatic - that doesn't yank out any current Hamilton kids, but it does let upcoming kids start at Hamilton, for the comprehensive experience, but with the knowledge that in 2017 they'll move as an entire school. So they can get used to the idea, and no one has to suffer as a stand-alone sixth grade. With several hundred kids at all levels, it will be very comprehensive -- and APP parents can push for a lot of curriculum they want (foreign language for ALL 6th graders, for instance, rather than be shut out until 7th) (French!)

Frankly, if it's a standalone 6th grade, we would think hard about staying in our attendance area, but we would absolutely go if Wilson Pacific starts w/the entire 6-7-8 APP band all at once. And we'd sponsor more music stands than you could shake as stick at.

And, on a side note, if you're advocating for APP with the district (which is a must, b/c they don't read this blog), could you please add that if district designates Wilson Pacific elem. as the location for all of APP elem as one cohort, and therefore does not draw an attendance area around Wilson Pacific, there is room in Lincoln for Pinehurst to remain until the new Thornton Creek building opens? It's nauseating that the district is using a straw man "Wilson Pacific Attendance Area Elem" as the 2d tenant in Lincoln to say there's no room for Pinehurst. Thanks! And please, please email the district.

Anonymous said...

Just saw this story about last night's meeting at NH last night.

North End school plan draws a crowd

Anonymous said...

Just saw this story about last night's meeting at NH last night.

North End school plan draws a crowd

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 9:11,

The Garfield classes that APP students take Freshman year in Science and history are not open to any other freshman at Garfield but are open to upper grades, because of the middle school pathway. While capacity of course was the rationale, this is an important factor as to why they would never allow test ins, there is simply no program. However, it has been a excellent fit for our daughter thus far but our son wants to go to Ingraham as he seems to like the idea of having some of his classes with his middle school peers.

Lynn, according to the Growth plan, APP/IB at Ingraham will have a guaranteed assignment next year and you can get in by: being in APP in 8th Grade, being in Spectrum in 8th Grade with APP qualification, or testing in.

Seattle Family

Anonymous said...

Repost from Open Thread

From the Growth Boundary meeting tonight -

The district still has not decided whether or not current 6th and 7th grade APP students will be grandfathered at Hamilton. Pulling all APP out of HIMS as of next year, and splitting them between JAMS and Wilson Pacific (housed at an interim site) is still on the table for 2014.

If grandfathering is important to your family, you need to submit your comment and get counted.

Community comments included:
"No APP at Olympic Hills or JAMS, it takes up neighborhood seats" [applause] I didn't know whether it was a comment from someone not liking APP, or someone just not wanting APP to be split and moved to Olympic Hills/JAMS. Of course some of those APP kids are neighborhood kids as well...

Another random tidbit - They plan on placing a football field at the Wilson Pacific site for use by the future Lincoln High School (for practice only).

Anonymous said...

Seattle Family,

Sorry to be obtuse. Is the information about IBX something that was said at the presentation? The PowerPoint says this:

• Recommended sites for the two north end pathways
o Wilson-Pacific Elem > Wilson-Pacific MS > Garfield (or to optional APP/IB at Ingraham, with guaranteed assignment)
o Olympic Hills > Jane Addams MS > Garfield (or to optional APP/IB at Ingraham, with guaranteed assignment)

Which looks to me like the current plan:

• APP at Lincoln > Hamilton > Garfield (or to optional APP/IB at Ingraham)
• Thurgood Marshall > Washington > Garfield (or to optional APP/IB at Ingraham)
APP/IB at Ingraham is a choice for APP-eligible students who apply.

I'm hoping someone at the presentation said there will be a change from a choice to guaranteed placement in IBX for APP-Eligible students.


Anonymous said...

Portables on Wallingford playfield will not fly with the neighborhood. There is significant pushback from the neighborhood simply from HIMS using the field for PE on occasion. The fields are also used by the neighborhood for organized sports.

Anonymous said...

Re portable pushback: I understand. However, there are no school seats, and someone in that neighborhood must go there. Ultimately, if the city decides a high quality education is in the city's best interests, and the rent would help them improve the field in a couple years, and the HIMS community is aligned rather than in-fighting about staying together for a couple more years, then a few NIMBYs should consider perhaps the common good. Sorry to sound snippy, but I get tired of the "not here" thing. Kids are the future. They have to go somewhere. Field mafia trumping schools bugs the tar out of me, especially when it comes from a heck of a lot of people who have yards to begin with! (I know, some apt dwellers too, but it's so often led by people with houses, and kids need to go to school). And it's soooo short-sighted to say fields at all costs... sigh. Like at Wilson Pacific, which will get MUCH nicer fields in the end, Wallingford might get much nicer fields in the end too.

Anonymous said...


Not at all! Your concern is completely valid, we had a similar question. Mr. Tully said at the Hale meeting that APP/IB at Ingraham would be a guaranteed option assignment, so if you say you want to go there, you will get a seat no matter what.

Does that help answer your questions?

Seattle family

Anonymous said...

Yes - thank you!


Anonymous said...

Any info on the proposed removal of APP from HIMS from Ms. Watters at the PTSA meeting last night? We were unable to attend unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

Ms. Watters says she really doesn't want an annex at Lincoln, APP or not. Why? Many of these kids already walk to school in that neighborhood. There is already a traffic calming circle at the intersection.

It is the least expensive and least disruptive plan. Crossing guards are far cheaper than renovating and preparing John Marshall and moving APP twice.

People who are part of Lincoln and HIMS should work to change her mind, because the 6th grade stand alone is a really bad and expensive idea.

Jane Addams kids who need higher math cross a much busier street to walk over to Nathan Hale.

Parents who are worn down and exhausted now will be spread very thin with 2 PTAs, 2 orchestra/band programs to support...avoid the grade-level split.

open ears

Methylgrace said...

Dear JuicyGoofy, (and anyone else with experience),

You said "Whitman has dismantled Spectrum" ... Can you please elaborate on your observations, with specifics?

I observed that first-hand at Whittier once, several years ago on a school tour, when the harried principal said something like "Well, all of our kids are Advanced kids", and it was clearly a "Spectrum-in-name-only" school with no support for the program from top down.

With an APP 4th grader going onto middle school soon, we are very seriously considering dropping down to Spectrum for middle school.

I want to be able to know what red flags to look for, and how to identify a "dismantled" program, especially at a school that we're not in every day.

Anonymous said...

Methyl grace,
Approach the principal and teachers from the perspective of meeting your child's needs. You are gauging for flexibility and what the school can realistically provide. Keep an open mind and do it in earnest if you and your child truly want to consider the local school option.

Ask without emphasizing the AL label, if the school can accommodate your 6th grader in algebra. If so,what is the math track then - is there geometry, EOC expectations? Ask about the science and LAs programs. Are there honors classes and what the curriculum encompasses? If this applies, ask if the school can work with you should you want him homeschool a period.

Two friends kept their boys in their neighborhood middle school and at the time found the principal and teachers willing to work with them. The parents and their children are very low key about it all and I think this helps. Both are self starters, unlike my child, and will graduate this year.

Hope this helps

Methylgrace said...

Dear "Hope this Helps",

Oh, I get it ... look at the APP 6th grade curriculum, which would be Math 8 [Reference] and see if my 6th grader can walk to that class? etc.? Now I just have to find out what Math 8 is ...