Thursday, November 21, 2013

New APP elementary in West Seattle at Fairmount Park

Please use this thread to discuss the new APP program (blended with Spectrum) that will be set up next year at Fairmount Park in West Seattle.


Anonymous said...

Does this mean Spectrum will be moved from it's current location?

WSteacher said...

A question has come up: what if your child qualified but stayed at a non-ALO elementary, but now you find out there will be a WS option. Your child has lost the status, and the testing deadline has passed (it was before the news of the new program was announced).

Anonymous said...

You're most likely out of luck for next year for the WS option. I'd call the Advanced Learning office to check though.

Anonymous said...

From the AL website:

All candidates must go through the SPS testing process to determine eligibility for Advanced Learning programs. We adhere strictly to the established timelines and eligibility criteria without exception, in order to provide equal access for the nearly 5000 candidates who are referred annually.

Lynn said...

I asked Shauna Heath some questions about the program and she told me:

The blended APP classroom is a new idea being developed to create a West Seattle APP option. Such a classroom would include all identified APP and Spectrum students, and might need to be filled with other high-performing but not necessarily identified students in order to create full classrooms.

I think if a child was previously APP (or Spectrum) qualifed it might be possible to be assigned to the program at Fairmount Park next year. You'd want to be sure you don't lose your seat at your current school and end up in a general education class at FP if there isn't room in the blended classroom.

What I can't figure out is what will happen in 2015-16. Take the 2014-15 second grade classroom as an example. It will be filled with APP, Spectrum and probably some unidentified but high-achieving students. If more West Seattle second grade students qualify for APP or Spectrum next year, will they be able to enroll in the blended program for third grade in 2015-16? If so, will those high-achieving students who were assigned to fill the classroom lose their seats and be returned to general ed classrooms? What's the alternative?

dw said...

Lynn said: If more West Seattle second grade students qualify for APP or Spectrum next year, will they be able to enroll in the blended program for third grade in 2015-16? If so, will those high-achieving students who were assigned to fill the classroom lose their seats and be returned to general ed classrooms? What's the alternative?

This is exactly the kind of thing that should be bothering everyone.

A perfect question for Shauna. Have you posed this scenario to her yet? It's not just a possibility , it's very likely!

Even if there are no GenEd kids to fill in the gaps, there are likely to be Spectrum kids in the same boat. It's a natural problem when there aren't enough kids to fill a program, and one of the reasons this "split-off experiment" should never have been allowed to happen.

Lynn said...


I did send these questions to Shauna on November 21st and have not received a response. I foresee these decisions being left up to the principal.

What curriculum would this classroom use? For instance, if it's a second grade class, the APP students should be using the fourth grade general education curriculum, and the Spectrum students should be using the third grade general education curriculum.

If you fill the empty seats with high-performing general education students, what happens to them the next year if more APP or Spectrum students apply for that grade? Will they be moved back to a general education classroom to repeat the prior year's curriculum? If not, it seems like the classes could not take any more APP students than the number who enroll for next fall.

Anonymous said...

Actually, no, they shouldn't straight out be doing 4th grade general ed curriculum in 2nd grade. There is a grade by grade scope and sequence for APP, which compacts the curriculum but is not necessarily 2 grades ahead in all subjects. That's not what APP is supposed to be! In 4th grade, for example, they should be studying Washington history, just as other 4th graders. In science, they cover some units early, while skipping some units in order to accelerate to Physical Science in 7th grade. For writing, some students are developmentally at grade level. Please stop perpetuating the idea that APP = 2 yrs ahead.

As far as the other question, yes, this has happened with self-contained Spectrum. Students are teacher selected to fill out classroom rosters, then might be bumped out the following year if more Spectrum students are identified or enrolled. I'm not sure what happens in a "cluster" model.

Lynn said...

Sorry - I should have been more clear. The AL website says: Eligible students enrolled in the program are expected to.....(b) work toward mastery of expectations significantly beyond grade level in reading and mathematics (typically, two grades or more above current grade assignment); and (c) demonstrate mastery beyond grade level expectations in social studies, writing and science.

As the expectations for Spectrum and general education students are different from those for APP students, my question regarding the curriculum to be used is still relevant.

Anonymous said...

Lynn: Please be more thoughtful and careful. APP is not simply 2 years ahead. I agree with the Anonymous poster who asks people to stop perpetuating this damaging, grossly inaccurate rumor. I dread the Frankenstein's Monster that appears to be in the making at FP, and what it signals for the entire program. Lord help us.


Lynn said...

Shauna's response:

If there is a need to blend Spectrum and APP (that is dependent on enrollment) we would provide a differentiated model that addresses the levels of both. Since most classrooms in schools have a continuum of abilities teachers differentiate on a regular basis. The principal can make a decision with his/her staff about how this is done, for example, they could use a walk to model.

Students who are Spectrum and/or APP will receive instruction this year and next at their ability level. If APP fills in 2015-2016 Spectrum students will continue to receive instruction based on the district program delivery model for Spectrum. Currently, this is done in various ALO schools and middle schools with APP services and Spectrum programs. If APP at Fairmount fills up in 2015-2016 then the decision can be made to continue a separate Spectrum program and/or deliver the program modeled after an ALO (depending on numbers). Either way students will receive instruction at their ability level.

Anonymous said...

APP is not simply two grades ahead, that is true. Curriculum should be presented at a faster pace and at a deeper level. At Lincoln starting this year, subject are being taught 2 years ahead. 1st-5th grades are using math and reading curriculum that is fully two years ahead. There are certainly some grade specific things, like Washington State history and science. This is a shift for teachers and students this year, and I know my child's teacher has been working to help kids feel successful and not frustrated by this new expectation. The teacher expects that students should be working towards mastery at that level and the expectation is two years ahead. I'm sure there are some challenges for students new to Lincoln, but it seems that teachers are working through this to support students. My child has been rising to this new challenge. It hasn't been easy all the time, but he's been rising to the challenge which I've been happy to see.

As a long time APP parent, I personally think it's a positive shift to move back to what APP expectations use to be, two years ahead and curriculum that moved at a faster, deeper pace. I'm not sure at what point this got watered down. There have always been expectations that new to APP students will need time and support to get up to speed, and that hasn't changed. The expectation like it states on the website quoted above, is that "Eligible students enrolled in the program are expected to.....(b) work toward mastery of expectations significantly beyond grade level in reading and mathematics (typically, two grades or more above current grade assignment)."

I hope that students who are in this blended model at FP will be held to the same APP standard as students at Lincoln and Thurgood Marshall. I'd hope that a FP APP student could in theory join a class at Lincoln or TM and be at the same academic level. Rigor should be the same in APP regardless of what school you go to, which will be harder to achieve with a blended model.

Lincoln mom

Anonymous said...

"Work toward" means curriculum is compacted through the years so by middle school, math, science, and LA (?) are two years ahead of the gen ed standards. Starting out two years ahead in first grade is not the same and I'd argue developmentally inappropriate for some subjects and content (the FB comments can attest to the issues).

I actually don't think this is going back to what APP used to be. Using the grade level materials, just two years ahead, is not the same as adjusting the curriculum for advanced learners. In middle school, we have seen changes that don't bode well for the program and the advanced learners its supposed to serve. The LA/SS is losing coherence and program consistency, while math is simply accelerated, not advanced. My child is quickly losing interest in school.

Anonymous said...

Amen 8:07.

LA/SS at HIMS in 6th grade looks only vaguely like APP. If a new program is starting at JAMS, parents need to demand the rigor and content covered at WMS.

open ears

Anonymous said...

My child is at the point that reading history at home is the best means of actually learning about ancient civilizations (6th grade APP@HIMS), not class. What is going on? Who is in charge of program fidelity? I am at a loss as to how it should be addressed.

Anonymous said...

To bring this back on topic, if APP in West Seattle is set up without alignment with Thurgood Marshall curriculum, APP as a program there becomes meaningless. As the district eyes Madison for a middle school APP placement, there will be no program integrity if people don't insist on it NOW while JAMS is being set up. Ask that the new program at JAMS follow what has been developed at Washington for over 30 years. HIMS veered badly in certain classes, giving the message at the district level that anything goes in APP. There will be no hope for curriculum fidelity in West Seattle if APP parents don't demand it at every APP site.

open ears

Lynn said...

I was just wondering about this. Where are the parents who are eager to have APP in West Seattle? Has anyone contacted the executive director to find out when a principal will be hired and to get on the interview team? Who is setting up the PTA?

Anonymous said...

Lynn - Perhaps the District should have found these people before creating the new APP/Spectrum blend at Fairmont Park. It appears from blogs that the only people considering Fairmont Park for APP are a handful of incoming 1st graders and parents of even younger children who may or may not test into the program in the future. Thurgood West Seattle families I know plan to stay at Thurgood. What is the plan for 3rd, 4th, 5th grade APP with likely no more than 2 or 3 APP kids in a class? How is that APP and not Spectrum, which usually has that many APP-identified kids? I hope West Seattle families get a strong advanced learning program in their neighborhood, but the District's "If you build it they will come" attitude won't fly if they don't back it up with building a rigorous APP alternative to Thurgood. Otherwise families needing a real, rigorous APP program will continue to make the trek to Thurgood.
-- Field of Dreams

Anonymous said...

I wrote the executive director about this several weeks ago and he has not responded. Don't assume that just APP families are interested in building this school. This is also a new neighborhood school and a Spectrum site. Fairmount Park is a chance for kids to walk to a true neighborhood school instead of being bused to an overcrowded school. It could be an opportunity for families to enroll siblings at the same campus even if they aren't in the same program. This was difficult to do with lack of Spectrum seats and general ed seats in many West Seattle elementary schools before. -Another WSParent

Anonymous said...

I am a mom of two APP students. I like the idea of having an APP choice in WS. That said, and onto a different topic, I am somewhat conflicted about APP instructors teaching kids material two grade levels ahead. I know this is very challenging for most of the kids in the program and I wonder if the kids will learn the material as well in the long run. I end up doing private tutoring at home. That is what I have noticed about this. More work for me, and I am left wondering if the material is going to truly sink in before moving on. Is this pace and level really doing these kids a favor in the end? And, will they ever feel confident that they can master things in this sort of environment? These are important questions.

Anonymous said...

I am more than a little nervous commit to move my child from Thurgoood to this new school when the building is so far from being completed and I have yet to hear a solid plan for the APP education. I am torn because saving 2 hours a day in busses daily could really improve our family's quality of life. A quality family life is likely worth as much or more than the triggers of a quality academic education. I wish I did not have to think of this choice in those terms. Has anyone heard anything specific about curriculum or personnel for the new school? West Side Mom

Anonymous said...

I'm really curious to know when the plans for Fairmount Park will be communicated! We are really leaning towards attending, but obviously can't commit until we have more details. I haven't heard much of anything about what is happening.

-Getting Frustrated

Anonymous said...

From the Seattle Public Schools Website Fairmount Park Elementary webpage:

Parent Information Nights

These meetings will be held in the Alki Elementary in the cafeteria:
3010 59th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116

These informational meetings will be conducted by the principal and the later three dates will include teachers hired for the 2014-2015 school year

These events could be crowded so we ask that only adults attend unless you have childcare issues and need to bring your child(ren) along.
Meetings will run from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on the following dates:

Thursday, Feb 6th
Wednesday, Feb 12th
Tuesday, Feb 25th
Wednesday, Feb 26th
Tuesday, March 4th

Anonymous said...

Can we PLEASE stop conflating APP and AHG kids?

The Accelerate Progress Program (APP) is the program into which Academically Highly gifted (AHG) kids are guaranteed a spot. They can OPT OUT of APP by attending their neighborhood school or spectrum (which I keep hearing doesn't actually provide enough seats for all who qualify and is very different in each school, but that is another issue....)

APP is currently a SELFCONTAINED class room delivery model where kids are group by grade AND are AHG identified. According to Ms. Heath, there will only be about 60 AHG kids that will possibly attend Fairmont park, so that means that there will not be enough kids for each grade. AHG kids in this school WILL NOT be in self-contained classrooms. Therefore, Fairmont park will not be an APP site.

Yes, it's possible that AHG kids can be served by a "blended" model and a "walk to" model, but that simply isn't APP. APP is SELF CONTAINED classrooms.

Should Fairmont Park offer some sort of delivery model that AHG kids will opt into? Why not? But it isn't APP, and continuing to call it APP is problematic.

Why does this matter? Because this is the first step to all currently enrolled APP kids getting placed back into "blended classrooms" and provided "differentiation through walk to programs"

Some AHG kids are served through Spectrum or ALO’s, which is great. However, if the district starts calling "blended classrooms" and "walk to" APP, then it is a very short distance for APP at Lincoln and APP at TM to become the same.

It all sounds so nice to have an “APP” site in West Seattle, but that is not what is happening. What is happening is blended classrooms and walk to, which is not APP.

(for an enlightening explanation of the differences between program, services and schools, check out this blog post here:

Anonymous said...

I attended the first half of the FP meeting at Alki ES last night and cannot believe how excited I am about this principal and her team. We were solidly on the fence, but the ideas and enthusiasm Ms. Breidenbach brings is infectious.

She's hand picked music and arts teachers on her teacher selection team and intends to keep these elements as a focus for the entire school curriculum. As a new APP parent of a 2nd grader, I'm hoping you'll all give this school serious consideration because the team behind it will make it great.


Anonymous said...

Any other details about the service delivery model for APP-qualified and Spectrum-qualified students?

Anonymous said...

She said on no uncertain terms that the goal is to make FP APP equal to TM APP in rigor and experience.

She said that the first year would probably be a blend of the two groups out of necessity, but her goal is to break out a separate APP cohort as soon as possible. She mentioned walk to math as a possibility, but was as yet undecided. Differentiated instruction is widely practiced now anyways.

The math curriculum question was deferred until the district makes their decision.

The meeting on the 26th is supposed to be APP focused.

Best, WSYH