Thursday, November 21, 2013

New APP middle school at Jane Addams

Please use this thread to discuss the new APP middle school at Jane Addams that will be set up next year.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a blog for Jane Addams Middle School families around planning for the new school: http://jamsplans.blogspot.com/

Momof2

Anonymous said...

I notice on principal Montgomery's answer sheet she specifically does not answer the question about whether APP would be self contained for LA/SS and science, though that was about a quarter of the comments, and which seems like it would be a pretty easy question to answer if it was actually going to be self contained. So I am guessing no, and now I am leaning toward Eckstein for our family (which I never in a million years would have guessed would be the case! But if the classes are the same minus bio, which we can supplement for, and we lose the benefits of the cohort, which have been tremendous for us, I suppose better to be bullied for being a nerd in your own neighborhood, just like elementary school? Little dark humor from the grieving there.)

Is anyone else thinking that way? Is this the place to talk about it? Does anyone personally know principal Montgomery? Is it (here is my Hail Mary) going to be self contained, but she felt posting that on the jamsplans blog would be divisive to the fragile community she is trying to build?

Anonymous said...

I don't think that there's any evidence there that APP won't function as it has. I think she was speaking to the whole JAMS community. She doesn't talk about any specific program's details -- special ed, spectrum, etc. Not to say that it's not still an open question, but I wouldn't assume anything at this point.

TK

Anonymous said...

Does Eckstein offer high school level Physical Science? That is also part of middle school APP (7th grade). Choosing Eckstein for middle school also means losing the cohort for high school. Will Ingraham continue to be an option? Garfield is only an option if a student is enrolled in APP for 8th grade.

I'm concerned with how middle school APP has changed in the past few years at Hamilton. The LA/SS curriculum has been very weak and the textbooks keep changing for history, or are nonexistent. At this point, I'm more concerned about the expectations for APP in general. The math classes aren't self-contained and it wouldn't be an issue if there was still an expectation that honors level work would be done. If a student is taking Algebra or Geometry in middle school, shouldn't the content of the class go beyond the basics? If not, it's nothing more than a grade skip.

Grace Hensley said...

Many parents at the SNAPP (Seattle North APP) Facebook page serving the APP@Lincoln elementary site are looking forward to our middle school experience. While we value our school-specific information, and we know it will be important to maintain site-specific JAMS-APP, Hamilton-APP and Wilson-Pacific-APP communities, we see the value of the joint APP-middle school experience. We have created the APP Seattle Middle School Facebook page, which is an OPEN site (at present you do not need to be approved to belong). You an find us at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/658956350817901/
and we encourage you to join us.

Anonymous said...

Well it finally happened to my kid. After being in APP program with bright learners that supported learning she is now in middle school math with general ed students. New faces all trying to get to know each other. One kid in math class says "You're a teachers pet" to my kid for all the questions in class. Now my kid says they're not very good at math.
Buliding a supportive community of learners is not as easy as it looks. Inclusion models for APP students exposes them to hostile interactions that shut down their desire to learn new things for the comfort of conformity. APP and Spectrum should be stand alone programs for this reason and the district is overlooking this in the name of "Fairness". The district is drawing down the expectation level and draining the pool of resources for gifted students through the inclusion model they prefer.
The poor teachers need to develop two or three different lessons for the different levels. It benefits no one.
The students are short changed, the teachers overworked and the adminstration can look good without even a word said to students individually. Principals in actual fact have very low student teacher contact hours.
By the time this new middle school gets up and running my kid will have lost two years and could be lost for the rest of highschool. I'm not sure we need to take that chance. This is a very poor approach to solving overcrowding.
The school board did not present the final plan until the public comment period was nearly over. It was a giant bait and switch as the real plan was kept behind closed doors so no one could object. This is very dangerous as our choice system has evolved into despotic rule.

word said...

As far as I can tell "bait and switch" is the implementation plan for Advanced learning in the Seattle Public School district.

Anonymous said...

APP-AC meeting tonight at 6:30, Lincoln Library, with Shauna Heath, Executive Director Curriculum and Instruction.

Anonymous said...

12:27
I don't understand. Every middle school offers math up to three years ahead, so there are no other students of the same grade level on her class?
Worried about MS

Anonymous said...

My HIMS sixth grader's experience has been different than anon at 12:27's. He is in eighth grade math, in a class that is mostly APP sixth graders with a few seventh graders in the Spectrum program sprinkled in. While it's not cohorted per se, it doesn't seem to function any differently. Anon, does your kid have a schedule that prohibits her from participating in math with peers in the same grade?

sarah

Anonymous said...

Reposting from the saveseattleschools blog, where it was mentioned that some parents of HIMS 7th graders are lobbying the board to get them grandfathered at HIMS next year:

Melissa, responding to your comment at 10:35am:

But it is NOT just about 67 kids. It's about the whole school, and how the district intends to start up new middle schools.

The district made a decision to start JAMS up with robust classes at each of 6th, 7th and 8th grades. To now grandfather the current HIMS APP 7th graders only leaves a big whole in the 8th grade and is not fair to simularly situated kids at Eckstein. It is also effectively a 6-7 rollup for APP, which is not fair to them.


To grandfather all current 7th graders is not fair to the current 6th graders - they don't get to go to a robust middle school, as was promised by the board when configuring JAMS this way.

I am the parent of a 6th grader at HIMS who will be moving to JAMS. While the outcome of the board vote on Nov 20th was not what I wanted, we are moving forward and working to make JAMS the best school it can be.

Frankly, I am pretty angry that the board is even considering grandfathering the current HIMS 7th graders given all that was said about a geo-split, equity, etc.

I worked with many of these parents in trying to get 6th and 7th graders grandfathered at HIMS. The vote didn't fall the way we wanted. Now I feel like the parents who are continuing to pressure the board on this issue are throwing the rest of us - the current 5th and 6th graders, and the Eckstein 7th graders who will go to JAMS - under the bus.

Please be aware that not all parents of current HIMS 7th graders affected by this support the efforts to grandfather.

A decision has been made and we need to move forward. I agree with the comment that to grandfather this one group of kids at this point sets a very bad precedent for the board, and is not equitable.

I intend to write the board and express my viewpoint. I feel like all they have heard so far is from those who support grandfathering, when in fact most of us who are directly affected were unaware of this issue until today.

Please write the board, growth boundaries, etc. and express your view, whatever it may be.

Move Forward

pm said...

Move forward--

As a parent of a rising sixth grader, I totally agree. When there was talk of moving the 4th and 5th graders from Lowell to Lincoln a few years ago, parents advocated that the entire cohort should move in order to make sure that the 4th and 5th graders had a great educational experience. Now that those same kids are in 6th and 7th grade, the same parents are arguing that their kids should stay at Hamilton. Now it is OK to move a small group of APP kids to JAMS and do a roll-up? I understand that it seems rough to have to move in the middle of middle school, but it makes absolutely no sense from a programming standpoint to advocate for a small group of APP kids to be isolated at a middle school while the rest of the cohort is kept together. It tells the district that the cohort is NOT important and that it is NOT important for those kids to have a full middle school experience with advanced band, etc. It also really is unfair to students from the NE who are planning on joining APP in 7th or 8th grade. Who would want to be 1 of a handful of APP 7th graders at a school?

Anonymous said...

This is a recent email sent out by Paula Montgomery, principal of JAMS.

LH
--------------------------------

Hello Parents,

I don't yet have a student list for Jane Addams Middle School, but we need to get started!!!You all have done a great job of connecting me with other families, so I am hoping that you can help spread the word.

Could you please send out the following meeting notice? Feel free to send it your PTAs , and post on blogs as well. I want to make sure that families know about the upcoming meetings, and hopefully, after the new year, there will be a more systematic means of contacting future families. While it is early in the process (we have not hired team leaders), I know that parents have many, many questions, want to meet me, and want to start to give input.

The agenda is the same for both meetings. And we will have monthly meetings after the school year, including a day time option.

Jane Addams Middle School Community Meeting
Jane Addams Middle School Library
(Same agenda both dates)

Wednesday, December 11 6:30-8:00
Wednesday, December 18 6:30-8:00

Agenda
Overview of timeline , teacher hiring, and spring processes
Review of facility work
Q & A
Opportunity for parents and community to give first input into the educational design
Brief school tour

Many, many thanks. I look forward to working with you all in the years to come!

Paula

Paula Montgomery
Jane Addams Middle School
plmontgomery@seattleschools.org

word said...

With due respect, the above two comments (@12, @2:16) don't seem compelling to me. Mainly because there is not a clear coherent program for APP students at HIMS anyway. There are some good, even great teachers, but they appear to single-handedly implement advanced learning programs, either effectively or less so, without much centralized assistance. This has been my experience in SPS AL for the last 7 years. Just by the luck of the draw, we have experienced arguably the worst math teachers we have encountered in the HIMS APP program (much worse than in Spectrum) and it has had an adverse effect on my student. Thus, I do not see the point of switching kids in their last year just to preserve nonexistent program coherence. The success of APP at JA will hinge on the individual teachers, not on the "program" and not on the student cohort. Furthermore, grandfathering would enable JA to develop a program (which I doubt will happen anyway) from the bottom up (6th to 8th) instead of having it "poof" into existence for all 3 grades.

BTW, I asked my HIMS middle schooler (7th) what it would be like if all the 8th graders suddenly disappeared (which is what it would seem like at JA if they were grandfathered to remain at HIMS). She said "well, I guess we would be trampled less……".

So, color me in favor of grandfathering although we are not involved in any lobbying efforts.

Anonymous said...

Word -

So what I'm hearing is that you're advocating for a 6th grade roll-up and a dismantling/splitting of APP, since the cohort really doesn't matter?

~ trying to interpret

Anonymous said...

Thus, I do not see the point of switching kids in their last year just to preserve nonexistent program coherence. The success of APP at JA will hinge on the individual teachers, not on the "program" and not on the student cohort.

Wouldn't the "nonexistent program coherence" be reason to not support grandfathering? If the program has little oversight or coherence, then why the push to stay at HIMS? If the academics are not consistently strong to begin with, where is the gain in staying? If there is such inconsistency, what are families holding on to (besides the obvious friendships)?

The program is most robust with the full span of grades, 6-8. That goes for any school, not just the APP program. That was the argument for not splitting 4th and 5th graders off to Lincoln by themselves.

I agree the teachers play a large role in the strength of the program. One question to ask the JAMS principal is how teachers will be hired. Will current HIMS and Eckstein teachers get hiring preferences, or will it be entirely new hires? Will there be planning time for teachers in order to support coherence and consistency among the various APP sites?

befuddled

Anonymous said...

It is "the greater good" versus the choice model and personally I favor choice. These are people and one policy does not fit all people. Let the ones who want their own NE cohort go and the ones whose kids can not understand the move and the fact that somehow they are now lower quality students in their current program are going to be shipped out. Try to explain it to these kids. I do not care what anyone says this is croniysm and stinks. This city is better than this policy. Move on? Stand up for youyrself. The process was hiojacked and the actual outcome hidden behind closed dors until the week before the vote.

word said...

Hi Trying,

No I am not advocating for dismantling the cohort, I tend to agree with Anon at 1:35. When a split (dismantling the cohort!) like this is implemented during middle school, when families have already established transportation and scheduling issues for one school, they should have access to choice. Also, some kids are more adversely affected than others if wrenched away from friendships mid-way through middle school (the toughest 3 years in every human's life - at least as I have heard). So families may want to have some say in whether they endure that to satisfy the SPS "chess game" and Banda described the enrollment capacity struggle.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz, let the 8th graders stay at Hamilton and Eckstein for that matter. They found room this year; they can find room next year. And they can find room for a few kids who move into the neighborhood (some probably even move out). It's a year, people. Not everything has to be about the cohort and the ultimate in educational experiences - maybe it's just a group of kids who want to stay at a school they like and their parents wanting to see their kids happy. How horrible is that?

JAMS 6th and 7th graders will have plenty of peers around and two plus years to build community and school pride. But for 8th graders, it just feels like a layover on the way to high school. When I stop in Denver on my way to New York, I don't go out and see the sights - I hunker down and wait at the gate for my flight. Let them finish out middle school on a good note.

And the definition of robust is not big. A robust program is the result of one that is started with thoughtful planning and care. Instead of worrying about if there will be advanced math or language, why not concentrate on starting small and getting things right. As much as we all can speculate, nobody really knows how many kids will need advanced this or that until they show up at the door and then they figure it out. A principal who has fewer students and staff to supervise has more time to think about program design. And, I'm guessing that more than a few 8th grade parents are not going to feel the love of being in on the ground floor of starting a new school.

At the risk of sounding like my dad, when I attended middle school in Seattle it was only 7th and 8th grade. I guess we didn't realize all we were missing by not having 6th or 9th graders. It just was what it was. 6th and 7th graders are not going to care if there are 8th graders in the building. The only ones who will care are the 8th graders who are moving!

Plus this is not a situation of "if you build it, they will come". Plenty of APP students will opt for the known program at Eckstein for their final middle school year and not a few students have legitimate second addresses in this district. You may not get your cadre of 8th graders anyway.

So, I suggest lightening up. Don't stand in the way of making some 8th graders feel like they've been listened to and let those who wish to advocate for letting 8th graders grandfather, do so.

WG

ben said...

Everyone is free to advocate for whatever they wish to the board and that goes especially for students. No one can practically stand in their way. However, with admittedly no direct stake in the cohorts involved I'd find it disturbing from a process perspective to revise the last board vote. In the district, we need a culture of firm decision making in general as opposed to one that rewards constant lobbying and as a result reduces overall certainty.

In this case, it will hurt the planning and hiring process which are ongoing for the middle school to not know who the target students are or are not, its unfair if it grandfathers only HIMS middle school students and not the Eckstein ones (however the Eckstein kids problably must move for capacity constraint reasons), and I can see some definite disadvantages to grafting 8th grade APP onto the school if the regular 8th grade teachers/culture are pre-established as opposed to being there from day one.

Ben

Anonymous said...

I posted on the saveseattleschools blog that I'd post the questions I have about APP at JAMS here, so here are the things I am still wondering after last Wednesday's meeting, and after reading the other blogs. It may be that most of this should be asked at an APP specific meeting, like John Rogers had for their population:

Self contained? LA/SS blocks? If not, wtf? I understand they are not adhering strictly to all this at Hamilton now, but that's different than codifying blending as a policy at a new school. What about for science? I don't want to deny anyone opportunity, if they feel like doing advanced work, shouldn't there be more honors classes, instead of just not actually having an APP program? If there are not enough spectrum kids for spectrum classes...doesn't that actually mean those kids should get to go to a spectrum program (ie Eckstein)?

How many sections? What if it's a wonky number of kids?

Also, these kids have been split, a lot. I don't want to quibble over whether that means they shouldn't be or who has it worse, but they have, and now they are getting shipped off somewhere else. What can we do to help them feel a sense of belonging (cohort them together) while obviously balancing that need with the need to foster a strong community JAMS wide? Concrete things- home room together, commitment to blocking- not just sympathetic nods that everybody has it hard. Everybody has different challenges, and this is a specific one for those specific kids, which should be addressed specifically.

And, since unlike the last split, when teachers came with the program, there are no intact pieces coming to start this APP program. So we/you are staffing a gifted magnet program from scratch, which is a little different, since though most of your pool will have comprehensive middle school teaching experience, very few will have any APP teaching experience, and you don't have a set of teacher mentors coming to help build from within. What can we do to find teachers experienced with the gifted population? Who can help train them? Can any of the teacher leaders take this on? Can part of the hiring process take into account the need for at least one teacher with experience here? I know in many states it's part of sped, but WA doesn't work like that.

Are there any other curriculum needs Hamilton has to fund itself we should be aware of? Library needs for research projects?

I don't have a kid there quite yet, but I think we should begin as we mean to continue. And whatever gets set up now will be my APP option shortly, so I'm keenly interested.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Program fidelity is a big issue. Hamilton is allowing a great deal of deviation from the APP scope and sequence. With a new site and potentially all new teachers, I'm concerned the program will lose even more of the challenge that keeps students engaged (which is the reason we chose APP to start with...).

I'd specifically ask how the school plans to maintain program coherence, how they will ensure the APP scope and sequence is followed, and how new teachers will coordinate with APP staff at Washington (not if, but how).

Students need appropriate text books for LA/SS. This was part of the board amendment, so I'd also be interested in the timeline for getting books. The facility improvements are supposed to happen over three years, but book purchases need to be done so students have texts for next year.

I'd be wary about plans to unblock classes, since that indicates they may not be committed to following the APP scope and sequence (which is based on blocking LA/SS). Yes, some LA/SS classes are currently team taught at HIMS, but they are the exception.

Principal Montgomery seems very capable, but I just left the first meeting with an uneasy feeling about the direction of APP.

Perhaps the most confusing response was something about needing to coordinate with the high schools - Nathan Hale, Roosevelt, Ingraham, and Garfield - but in the future she'd only have to coordinate with Hale. Is APP getting moved again in the near future?

-very wary

Lynn said...

I'm not a JAMS parent - but here a couple things I'd do in your place. I'd ask that a separate hiring team be set up for APP teachers - parents on this team should have a child in the program. Job postings for APP teachers should note that certification in or experience with gifted education will be considered in the hiring process.

I would request that one person in the school be responsible for APP at JAMS - providing training to teachers on the curriculum, problem-solving for families, coordinating collaboration with APP teachers at other schools.

Can you put together a list of frequently asked questions about APP and Spectrum at JAMS for the principal to answer - and get this posted on the school's fusion page?

I think too that this is the time to set up a fundraising entity to purchase (and hold) those assets that are required by the program, but not provided by the district. That way as the program moves from school to school, the assets can move with it.

Anonymous said...

Schools don't have separate fundraising for individual programs (with the exception of music, drama, etc., which are still school wide). Can you imagine? Pretty divisive. Fundraising is done on a school wide basis. That's how it was at Lowell, and how it is at Hamilton, Washington, Garfield, etc.

Shouldn't the hiring team to be representative of the school, with APP included, because it is possible APP teachers will be teaching classes other than APP specific classes? This happens at Hamilton, and the principal is likely to want that flexibility. There should be some specific questions for applicants applying for APP positions. I'd specifically ask applicants why they are interested in teaching APP.

Lynn said...

I agree that schools generally don't have separate fundraising arms for individual programs. This is a program though where students have been involuntarily moved and parents have had to replace equipment/supplies they were forced to leave behind. I would be wary of doing that again with no guarantee your children will not be moved again or be able to take those items with them. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I agree that's not nice and fuzzy feeling to have a separate arm, and in a better world I wouldn't think it necessary. But the district is asking APP parents to fund start up schools at a rate of one every other year, lately, and I think APP has a good shot of getting kicked out of JAMSin 2017, so it really seems the only sensible option.

A lot of what has been happening at Hamilton has been done in the name of parental flexibility while the principal deals with a very difficult capacity crisis. It seems churlish to punish the parents for not throwing a fit in difficult circumstances by declaring it the new normal. The school won't be oversubscribed at first, and APP will be over a third. Things shoukd be able to run more loyally to program design. There should be several teachers who teach specifically APP, and it's worth asking if the hiring process should be different. Maybe not, but maybe.

All of these issues are problems with splitting prematurely and cohousing. Wish the district had not put us here.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

This is the text of the amendment that was agreed to unanimously by the board just last month.

--------------------------------

VI. STATEMENT OF ISSUE
... The opening of new middle schools (Jane Addams Middle School and Wilson-Pacific Middle School) provides a unique opportunity to hire teachers specifically for the APP program. This plan would also provide long-term stability. North end students have endured multiple moves on a short notice and deserve long-term stability. The opportunity to manage APP cohort sizes to maintain critical mass and offer consistent, high quality curricula ensures the long term success of this state-mandated academic service. The district can manage an increase in APP if needed at Wilson-Pacific, or contraction if needed by phasing out APP at Hamilton at some future date.

------------------------------

The Board itself is agreeing that APP should have teachers hired specifically for the program. Please speak and write to your board members reminding them what was promised. Students changing schools need a familiar face. Additionally, the amendment mentions consistent curriculum. Curricular alignment with Washington will better ensure that when students arrive at high school, they will arrive having covered common content.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Thank you, open ears!

Anonymous said...

I'd also advocate to get JAMS reps (staff and parent) on the APP Advisory Committee ASAP. Maybe just interim members for now, but best to get connected at outset.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Please email the School Board schoolboard@seattleschools.org and Mr. Banda jlbanda@seattleschools.org (copy the JAMS principal too if you want): SAME BELL TIME FOR JAMS AND HALE

Info:
To leverage the educational opportunities between JAMS and Hale, such as math, foreign languages, and instrumental music, ESPECIALLY as kids are being pulled from Eckstein and Hamilton which both have rich and robust music offerings (including choral!), it is imperative that JAMS bell time be aligned with Hale. If they are aligned, then, the logistics of supporting students who need courses at Hale can readily be achieved. That will make for a fantastic educational program that will be the pride of the District!

Note that this is not about bell times, about early or late, it is about education, it is strictly about bell times being the same so that it is possible to do the 'walk tos' and to get kids the courses they need!

PLEASE, PLEASE please advocate to support Principal Montgomery's vision to make JAMS as excellent as Eckstein and Hamilton, and, that starts by having a bell time that is the same as Hales. THIS IS VITAL -- PLEASE EMAIL THE BOARD AND MR. BANDA TODAY!! TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE . As far as I am concerned, this is absolutely vital to make JAMS be able to realize on the opportunities that uniquely exist at this campus, and that requires a same bell time.

JAMS WILL ROCK