Friday, January 17, 2014

Open thread

Discuss what you like!


Anonymous said...

Wow, a midyear reassignment for JB. That's quite a change for TM. It is interesting that the new APP program at JAMS will be started without intentionally bringing in any experienced APP staff. Hamilton's principal is trying to maintain the existing staff, and will most likely have the enrollment numbers to support most of them next year. JAMS, meanwhile, will be doing all new hiring and could potentially have all new-to-APP staff.

Lots of changes in store for next school year.

Anonymous said...

Thurgood Marshall APP parent, here. We live outside of the school boundary area (in West Seattle) and my child takes the bus to school. I haven't found where it says that we will or won't have bus service next school year. If anyone knows and can tell me, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

Are there still folks out there waiting for their kids to be tested? We missed our Saturday date and are supposed to be rescheduled but haven't heard.

Anonymous said...

The Board is voting on the 2014-15 Transportation Standards today. An amendment from Peaslee proposes a 10 min later start for all schools, with the third tier elementaries starting as late as 9:50. While I understand the intent - having later starts for high schools and middle schools - the implications for that third tier are not positive. Students would be dropped off in the pm during high traffic times, and the later start times would mean more days of pm drop offs in the dark. For working parents, the current late start times are challenging enough. Added to that is a change to the walking distance to bus stops. Whereas now the walk to stops is 0.5 mi max for elementary and 0.75 mi max for middle school and high school, they are changing it to 1.0 mile for all students. That's a significant change for elementary students.

Today is the last day to provide feedback.

Anonymous said...

I am interested in people's feedback on the following: I am dismayed by the whole transportation issue. Major decisions are being driven by cost cutting on the transportation side. Middle and high school kids are being forced to start school at times that are documented to be harmful to their health and education. To compensate, they are going to wind up starting elementary schools as late as 950. Seriously?? 950? Personally, I would rather schools just start at rational, human times for everybody and if we have to do without transportation, we just deal: carpools for the little kids, metro for the big ones; extra incentive to stay at your neighborhood school. Not what I would want but it seems better than starting schools at either punitively early or late times. Is this at all part of the discussion?
Lincoln (and next year at Greenwood) dad.

Pay for Bus said...

Lincoln and Greenwood Dad, I totally agree. What about pay for transportation unless you are at a certain school (i.e. high Free/Reduced lunch percentages, high ELL percentages, etc.) or are a FRL kid? I have family on the East Coast - there is no bus service at all in the two states where they live except special ed. My friend in Canada is shocked when I mention bus service since they don't have it, either.

I know there are many people who really need the bus service, but I also have a lot of friends at our neighborhood school who have one stay-at-home parent. They mostly drive, but on days where "they don't want to get out of their PJs", they are glad there is free bus service at their disposal. Many, many kids at our north-end neighborhood school have a stay-at-home parent.

We are a 2 parent working household that uses the bus. I would pay some amount monthly for the service.

Lynn said...

I agree that dropping transportation would be a better solution than starting/ending school days at these ridiculous times. Alternatively, the district could charge non-FRL families a transportation fee. Is there another non-essential program we could cut instead? How much does the district spend on extra-curricular sports programs?

I was heartened to see these comments on flipping school times from the December meeting of the Operations Committee:

 The district is spending a great deal of money on the implementation of MTSS, common
core, and other ways of improving student outcomes. This is an inexpensive way to
improve them, and I cannot justify denying students enough sleep.
 It is the negative assumptions by staff that have stopped this work from moving forward.
 The district is being asked to implement common core standards without any evidence of improvement in student outcomes.

suep. said...

Hi everyone,
The 9:35 a.m. arrival time for Lincoln is in error. Clearly that's more than a 10-minute later adjustment. Stay tuned.

Lynn said...

The Agenda for tonight's board meeting now notes that the Superintendent has asked that action on the Transportation Service Standards be postponed to February 5th.

Anonymous said...

Re transportation: I have lived in a city that provided no yellow bus transportation (but that had a very solid public transit system) as well as a city that provided tax funded yellow school bus school transportation even to private schools. The rationale was that the tax base comes from public and private school families alike, so private school families should still get transportation. It really varies by state.

Seattle does not have the best public transit - it really depends on where you live - and doing away with yellow bus service would make it difficult for some families to get their children to school, not to mention make traffic worse.

But back to the issue at hand...elementary schools should not start any later than the current third tier schedule. It's pushing the boundaries of reasonableness as is. 9:30 should be the latest start time. Period. We deal with the early 7:50 start time for middle school. Sure, it would be nice if were 10 minutes later, but not if it means even crazier times for that third tier. Nearby districts have start times as early as 7:30.

suep. said...

Hi folks, as noted above, the transportation item has been moved to the Feb 5 board agenda. Also, the board request for an impact analysis of later arrival times was for 10 minutes later (not 20 or 30).

Anonymous said...

I would pay a monthly fee for the transportation for my kids in order to start the district schools (ES, MS, HS) between 8-9 am.
MS mom

Anonymous said...

Lincoln dad and others, I have been starting to agree with you, transportation can't wreak such havoc on what should be academically driven decisions, we have to drop it, except there is an easy fix. Just swap elementary and middle school start times. Then you aren't trying to fudge middle school start times as late as possible by pushing elementary start times out so that they are walking home from the bus at rush hour. Since commute times are set to lengthen next year with longer bus walk times, 9:40 is too late to start, too. If any change is made, it needs to be to push elementary times earlier. I don't think this is just an app issue at all, and have been alerting my neighbors at other elementary schools around town who were very surprised and dismayed to hear about either amendment.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why, with the staff feeling that they can move elementary times up to 30 minutes later, that at least the middle school if not the high school times could be flipped next year. What analysis would be required beyond the ZERO that has been shown for the current changes.


Anonymous said...

I would definitely choose to pay for the bus if that meant school could start at 8:30 instead of 9:30 or 10:00. I'm already paying for before-school care, so I could stop paying for that and use the money for the bus instead. And I could get to work early for a change...

Tired of 3rd Tier

Theo Moriarty said...

Some good news: I am leading an interactive trip to London and Paris this summer. We have openings to add students, parents, family, and friends at the middle school level. Current Middle School age students please unless they are accompanied by a parent on the trip. Though I teach at HIMS this is not a school sponsored trip. We took 17 students and parents last year to Italy and Greece and had a blast. We are hoping to reinvigorate Ms. Shadow's tradition of going on summer trips. If you are interested in learning more please email me at tmoriarty at gmail dot com. We've got 10 travellers right now and can take up to 10 more. It's a great way to keep up with friends, make new ones, and for APP staff to get to know each other across sites.

Theo Moriarty, APP AC member and HIMS teacher

Anonymous said...

For future JAMS families - They are currently surveying students for the school's new mascot.

JAMS fusion page

For those looking at the choices, the mascot of the original Jane Addams Junior High was "Jaguars," and the colors were red and black. Vote jaguar!

juicygoofy said...

Hi all. We are planning on sending our current 4th grader to Lincoln APP next year for 5th grade. I would appreciate advice on how to catch up with math. She is already roughly 1 year ahead via Spectrum, but I'd like to start supplementing her work and continue through the summer. Where should I start?

Anonymous said...

I found the Singapore books really good. My 4th grader is new this year and had done through 6a, and much of the material is repeat. I think if you did just that she'd be fine. They're dividing fractions right now(I think ). Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...



37 Questions said...

Mrs Burke and Ms Stone did a super job. The kids loved it and it's been a crazy couple of days. We have been invited to a fun event where the kids will have a great time.

My kid is the one that forgets to close the car door and has to come back. Thanks for the last link, haven't read it yet. They are a great group of kids and these are memories that will always stay with them.

Jen C

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know who will be attending (teachers? Principal?) the open house at Lincoln tomorrow night?


Anonymous said...

The JAMS blog site has a post on aligning their start time with Hale's in order to access music, language, science, and math classes. They are encouraging parents to write the district in support of a later start for JAMS (I can't quite figure out the time they are proposing, but it would be much later than any other middle schools).

Any comments, pro and con? I'd prefer my child doesn't leave the JAMS campus each day for a core class. Would 6th and 7th graders potentially walk to Hale as well? Does anyone know what's up with this proposal?

-searching for the positive

Anonymous said...

I think aligning the times with Hale is a great idea - not so much so kids can walk to Hale for classes, but so that the middle schoolers can leave home at 8 am instead of 7 am! I know my son would do so much better with more sleep in the morning - and most other teens and pre-teens would as well.
Also, JAMS Principal Montgomery has talked about sharing some teachers with Hale - perhaps a language or music teacher or even a therapist. There are many reasons why that could be good for both schools - and the teachers.
Mom of 2

Anonymous said...

To clarify the proposed adjustment to JAMS start time: The alignment is more about sharing resources such as faculty between the schools, not so much about having kids walk to Hale. And the proposed time would be 15 minutes earlier than Hale, so 8:25 a.m.

There are additional details and contact emails if you want to advocate for the change on the JAMS blog:

—NE mom

Anonymous said...

So release time would potentially be 2:55, rather than 2:20? Looking at Hale's current schedule, it shows a Tuesday late start schedule (10:00am). Is that being phased out for next year? Also, start/end time is currently 8:30/3:00 for Hale. So 15 min earlier than what? I also don't understand how faculty would be "shared" unless the schedules were completely aligned (as opposed to staggered).


Anonymous said...

Looking at Hale's schedule, I'm even more confused about how JAMS students could take classes at Hale, or how Hale teachers could work into the JAMS schedule. The schedule is different every day. Monday and Friday have one schedule with a 2:30-3:00 "reading period." Wednesday and Thursday have a different schedule with A and B day blocks and then there's a Tuesday late start. Would JAMS be on such a schedule as well?

Hale student handbook

Anonymous said...

Hale's current 'baseline' start time is 8:30 am. A 15 minute staggered time would have JAMS consistently starting at 8:15 am (currently the k8 in the Jane Addams building has an 8:20 am start time).

The Boards wants to move away from 7:50 am start times for the existing comprehensive middle schools. Why they won't simply implement this one with an 8:15 am start time, I can't fathom (change it next year? Why not start it off the way they seem to want it anyway - especially when there is educational reasons to start it this way to begin with).

I cannot fathom this Board.

-smart bell times

Anonymous said...

Anybody getting letters yet?

I'm extremely nervous about all the instability, not even sure the program would be a good fit for my child, but I would like to know if it is even an option!


Anonymous said...

Waiting - I hear you; I'd like to know just to better advocate for my K kid at his current school.... But just got today's mail, and nothing there, so...? Heard from a friend that her kid is getting -tested- this Friday, so not sure when we can really expect rulings... I'm assuming prior to the 24th open enrollment period!

We've stayed at our local ALO school for our older APP-eligible kid, and so far that has been working better for us - but having the official designation has definitely greased some wheels, so...

Anonymous said...

Still no letter here either.

Ballard mom

Anonymous said...

No letter at our house either. Ingraham's open house is tomorrow night and their IBx info night is next week and we don't know if our daughter even qualifies for the program.

-Lake City Parent

Anonymous said...

No letter for us either. We are signed up for Lincoln's Feb. 10 tour, and we'd really like to know before we attend. Anyone have a letter yet?

-Just want an answer

Anonymous said...

From SPS's advanced learning website:

"We began mailing eligibility letters on January 31 and will continue until all 4024 letters have been sent. As of Tuesday 2/4/14, 1637 letters have been mailed."

So, they still have appx. 2500 letters to mail! And, appeals have to be submitted by Feb. 21 (Feb. 14 for Free Lunch students). Are you kidding me? Get those letters out or extend the time, especially for the Free Lunch students. It's always a time crunch, but this year is the worst!

-Fed up

Anonymous said...

What a mess. We don't have a letter yet. This poor execution is making an already frustrating process even more challenging. Get on the ball, SPS!

-frustrated dad

Lynn said...

The kids who qualify for free meals also receive free individual testing - that's the reason for the shorter period to appeal. The advanced learning office has to schedule and administer those tests.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Mas wrote his thoughts again on where advanced learning is heading. We want to send our 3rd grader to APP next year for 4th grade but do others think this is on the horizon?

"I think I know where Seattle Schools are going with Advanced Learning. They intend to fold them into MTSS, Multi-Tier Systems of Support.

If the Tier I curriculum proves insufficiently challenging for a student then that student will be switched to a Tier II advanced curriculum. Tier II will be delivered in the student's school and, depending on the model selected by the school, probably within the student's classroom.

If the Tier II curriculum proves insuffiently challenging for a student then that student will be referred for testing for Tier III. If found in need of Tier III, the student will be assigned to the school in that service area that provides the Tier III advanced service.

This is a new system, but to student families it will look like ALOs in every school and APP all over the District like Spectrum - one elementary program in each middle school service area and one in every middle and high school.

There won't be annual testing using the CoGAT like we have now. Instead, there will be continuous testing - as MTSS calls for frequent assessments. Access will not be determined by cognitive ability but by achievement - that is, a need for greater challenge than the Tier I or Tier II curriculum.

This shift will mean some big changes.

There will be no problem delivering services in every school.

There will be no problem delivering services in every grade level, K-12.

All of the state Highly Capable Grant money, now spent on testing, will instead be spent in the classroom on curricular materials and professional development.

Both the Tier II and Tier III curricula will be eligible for funding by the state grant.

Students will not be self-identified and nominated. They will not be selected by their teachers. They will be identitified by their performance on regular assessments.

Students will be able to move in - or out - of Tier II and Tier III advanced curricula at any time. The need for the placement will be continuously assessed.

Schools won't have finite capacity for Tier II as we see now for Spectrum. Every student who needs it should get it. This is particularly relevent when you consider the fact that about 12% of Seattle middle school students are in Spectrum or APP. Many of these students probably would have (or did) qualify in elementary school but either the family chose not to change schools or they got waitlisted."

Greg Linden said...

Ooo, that deserves its own thread. I started one, "APP and Spectrum to become MTSS?"

Anonymous said...

From the SPS website, it looks like no letters went out today: "As of Wednesday 2/5/14, 1637 letters have been mailed. The Selection Committee meets daily."

-what a joke

Anonymous said...

any letters arrive today?

apparent said...

". . . where advanced learning is heading. We want to send our 3rd grader to APP next year for 4th grade but do others think this is on the horizon?"

Even if Charlie is proved right, you would still be better just to go ahead and sign your current 3rd grader up for APP next school year. Any such changes would still take time to implement, by which time your kid will already be in middle school anyway. Also, APP students already identified as academically highly gifted won't be unidentified, but other eligibility rules could change. Even speculating that Charlie is right, your worst case scenario would be that sometime in the future your APP kid receives academically highly gifted services at your local school.

Anonymous said...

we are a part of the waiting-for-letters cohort.

this is really frustrating! i just called one of the private testing options listed on the sps website and the woman's vmail explains that she is completely booked, but may have spots open up as people receive their letters. so people have been proactive in scheduling possible re-tests for their kids.

does anyone have any info/advice regarding the appeal process and what type of success people have who do not in fact retest, but submit teacher's letters and school work samples?

our daughter was tested in first grade and scored 98, 97 and 96 on the cogat. if this year's scores are comparable do we really need to go the private testing route to ensure she will get into app?

any thoughts, even anecdotal, are appreciated!

Anonymous said...

It's my understanding you need to have the scores. Period. Work samples and teacher letters might support the appeal, but bottom line, you need to meet the cutoffs. If your child is close to meeting the cutoffs with the district testing, then in all likelihood this year's scores will be similar. Private testing should be consistent and perhaps high enough to qualify simply due to margins of error and the benefits of a one on one setting.

Last year's qualifying CogAT scores could be used in an appeal. Suppose your child had 98 verbal and 97 quantitative last year, and 97 verbal and 98 quantitative this year. You then have two qualifying scores, one verbal and one quantitative. The achievement scores need to qualify as well, but you should know those already if they are based on MAP.

Lynn said...

My impression is that only the scores matter. She wouldn't qualify without another section at 98 or 99. (One of my kids was 99 and 96 or 97 a couple years ago and I had to submit IQ scores in an appeal.)
If the placement is important to you, and she had qualifying math and reading scores, I'd make some more calls and schedule an IQ test for late next week or during midwinter break. You can always cancel if the CogAT scores qualify.
One thing to consider is finding someone in Shoreline or Bellevue to do the testing - pretty much any district that has a different testing schedule.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that SPS has removed any reference to how many letters have been sent.... Almost as interesting as the fact that nobody seems to have rec'd one yet! :-/

Anonymous said...

Everyone I know waiting but me has gotten theirs.:/

Anonymous said...

Two of my daughter's 5th grade classmates received their letters yesterday, but we still have not gotten ours as of today. Ironically, we went to the test date on Nov. 2 that was announced via e-mail with one day notice whereas the other two kids skipped it and were tested mid-January.

They must have a group of new people in the AL department since this year seems much more disorganized and behind than others. We will be gone mid-winter break and will have less than a week to appeal assuming we get the letter next week at all. Honestly, I am starting to find it very unfair that some people have lots of time to appeal (the ones who got the letters early) whereas others will be scrambling. 1-2 days offset between when letter are being received is ok, but not a week or potentially two given the short appeal's window.

Anonymous said...

I am really perplexed by all the comments relating to private testing for appeals. Whenever it is mentioned that private appeals testing is widely used to gain admission to AL, and all the inside knowledge families must have to make the appointments with psychologists very early in the process to even appeal, in addition to the large expense, there are always comments that vehemently deny this happens.

Private appeals testing does seem to be common. It is expensive and favors those who know enough to make appointments well before the letters come out from AL. It's a flawed system.

Lynn said...

I think what you see people reacting to so vehemently is the assumption that there is something unethical about private testing - that the district's tests are more valid than those administered individually.

The district does offer individual testing for the appeals process to families who qualify for free or reduced price meals. They also provide information about the testing and appeal process (and I believe even a list of professionals who administer tests) on the advanced learning website. What more do you think they should do?

Anonymous said...

re: testing
thanks much for the feedback!
i have been able to find someone to do the private testing and scheduled it for over break. if the scores don't qualify her we have a back up plan. as this will determine where she ends up for middle school i really don't want to leave anything to chance here.

i really do find it egregious that the school district is making people wait this long for the letters and not adjusting the deadlines. if it is simply a matter of reviewing the numbers and seeing who meets the threshold why does it have to take a week longer than initially promised?

Anonymous said...

What's the collective thought on whether a teacher's letter helps on appeal? I privately tested my daughter in the fall and those scores qualify her for APP. She didn't qualify based on the Cogat. We will appeal, and I need to determine whether we submit only the scores of her private test, or if we should submit some of her school work and a letter from her teacher?

Any recommendations from the collective?

-North parent

Lynn said...

Anonymous @ 3:27,

From the minutes of the January APP AC meeting:

Identification Task Force: A notification will be sent out shortly about the next Identification Task Force meeting. The meeting was supposed to be the week of 1/13 with the topic of demographics data.
• They are still trying to get the data, including data from the recent CogAT testing that included testing done on all 2nd graders in 14 SE schools. They were working over break to get the CogAT booklets chopped and scanned, but the scanner is not working. Because they are still waiting on this data, the meeting is postponed.
Testing Process: Stephanie Bower asked where the dep’t is in the testing process. The CogAT is longer this year because they are giving the full battery. They don’t have as many tests scored as they did at this time last year. Jan. 31 is the date by which they are supposed to send out letters.
• Gail Herman asked what the APP-AC can do to help. Stephen responded that there may be nothing at this point – the District has people working on the technical problems.

Anonymous said...

@north parent,

Last year we submitted just the qualifying test scores (private cognitive and MAP) with a cover letter for the appeal. The letter was simple--student name and Id number, what the qualifying test scores were, and listed what the official score documents were that we included with the letter. In our experience, if they have the scores that make them eligible for APP, then that is all they need.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

RE: private vs. the districts tests....

Tests are not perfect but it is what we use to identify gifted kids.

In my way of thinking, it is a good thing that the district allows appeals, because no assessment tool is perfect, and a group administered test to young kids who've never taken a bubble test before may not always give an accurate assessment of that kids capability's.

I've heard from a testing expert that it is not uncommon to have kids who score in the 98th percentile and above on IQ tests and on the skills based tests, NOT have the threshold scores on the Cogat. Conversely, there are kids that score high on the Cogat, and may do so not because they are necessarily exceptionally bright (i.e. high IQ), but have had a robust education thus far.

It is possible that the Cogat actually identifies some kids that it shouldn't, and doesn't identify others that it should.

But currently it is the test that is being used across the country by school districts.

If there was no financial assistance provided to families to appeal, the process would certainly be less "fair" than it already is. It is already not completely "fair" because you have to opt in to the testing in the first place, and by a certain date in early October, so the kids of parents that are engaged and knowledgeable about the system are at an advantage. This isn't necessarily about who has money as much as it is about which parents have the time, energy and will to focus on this.

and, just because you pay for a private test to try to appeal, doesn't mean that your kid will have the scores to successfully appeal.

I'll be curious to see how many more kids in the SE were identified after testing the entire 2nd grade population this year.

I'd also love to see any longitudinal studies that might actually be able to compare which of the tests is a better tool, if any...

--testing isn't perfect

Anonymous said...

North Parent--

Last year the only thing they wanted was the scores and the proof that they got those scores. My kid's cogat scores from the district were not even close to the private testing we had already done before we even thought that APP would be the right fit for her.

All we submitted on appeal were the scores that showed she does meet the stated criteria.

Just in case you didn't know what that was, it is here:

You probably already know this too, but it shows the percentile ranks required and the tests that can be used.

Basically, the appeal is an approved IQ test plus approved skills based tests, each meeting the percentile threshold stated.

Anonymous said...

Some say you can't study for an IQ test, but a quick explanation of the concept of ..this is to that as... Type questions for our kindergartener was a large part of bumping his score from the 70's to 99's. A kid with absolutely no idea of what this kind of test is about has a disadvantage, especially in a group setting. Let your little one know they are looking for the different kinds of relationships and they'll have a leg up. Oh, and let them know that no one knows all the answers, and a good attitude with no fits is just as important. ... AHG kids can really freak out or clam up when they realize they don't know something. Try a retest if your kid is up for it.
Unsolicited advice

Be careful said...


Prepping ruins the validity of the test. Retesting within a short window also invalidates the test. Not to mention, it's a bit unethical. If your kid won't qualify without gaming the system, then I'd be hesitant to enroll him/her.

Anonymous said...

I question the validity of IQ testing small children altogether... They seem to have very little predictive value until middle school age on the upper end. For SPS it is a sorting system for who gets a challenging education and who wastes years sitting at a desk learning nothing.

A huge part of getting your kid into APP is helping them to learn about humility. A child needs to spend time where they are not at the top.

My kids APP class breaks down just like the regular class did... a handful of kids are WAY ahead in one or more subject. Most struggle, some a little more than others, but do make the leap to math 2 years ahead... and a small handful are having a really hard time with the jump and/or pace.

I am really glad to have a kid somewhere in the middle.

If your kid is not getting an education in the regular classroom and they didn't make the mark with the retest, retest and prep, go private, homeschool and tutor, do something! A child needs an education.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Unsolicited that if your child is not getting an education in their class it's a parent's responsibility to advocate for their child. The most commonly-used individually-administered IQ tests have stronger validity and reliability than the CogAT. The only reason districts use the CogAT is because they can't possibly administer a "gold standard" IQ test to 5000 children. Seeking an IQ measure with higher validity and reliability for your child if you believe their abilities were under-measured with the CoGAT is logical. The district provides individual appeal IQ testing for students eligible for free and reduced lunch with the same tests private psychologists use. Anecdotally, I know several students (family friends) who did not do well on the CogAT, eventually entered APP with individual IQ scores, and are now at the top of their APP classes in middle school, even under-challenged by the work.