Friday, February 28, 2014

Open thread

Starting to feel like spring! Discuss what you like!

179 comments :

Anonymous said...

We still do not have our results letter and pre-emptively appealed. Roger Daniels at advanced learning has been very helpful with responses to email. Based on his responses, something seems to have changed. It seems that admission to APP is now based on BOTH IQ and MAP scores. Here are my kid's percentile scores: MAP-reading: 86, MAP-math: 97, IQ-overall: 99.7, IQ-verbal: 97, IQ-nonverbal:99.6, IQ-spatial: 99.

The response I got regarding our appeal was:

Academically Highly Gifted requires cognitive ability to be at or above the 98th percentile and reading and mathematics achievement at or above the 95th percentile.

Anyone have insight into this or suggestions about what we can do regarding the MAP scores... is there a way to privately test for those?

switcheroo

Anonymous said...

Actually, those requirements have NOT changed, just the test has. The district used to use the Woodcock-Johnson achievement test for reading and math and a kid needed to score over 95 on both sections.

A psychologist can give your kid the WJ and if the kid scores above 95 on both sections, it should suffice for an appeal.

-marmite

Anonymous said...

Switcheroo,

Actually, it looks like you only need to obtain reading scores that meet the 95th percentile criteria. A private psychologist should be able to do just the reading portion of the Woodcock-Johnson for you. If those scores come out at 95th percentile or higher you can use those along with the math MAP score to make your appeal.
-CS

Anonymous said...

thank you marmite. this is so confusing to me. we'll have to get on that now. tick tock.

-switcheroo

Anonymous said...

MAP is an inadequate, inequitable and ultimately indefensible screen for a true gifted program. Please see the two posts I just crafted on the thread below this one: "What Should a Gifted Program Look Like"

Involved Parent

Anonymous said...

How did you get results without getting the letter? Were they provided in email?

- still waiting

Anonymous said...

The MAP results are posted on "the Source", the IQ results are from private testing. We did not have WJ results, as the IQ tests were "repurposed" (we were trying to figure out school behaviors). And I was not aware that we needed these.

Yes, MAP is being used as a barrier. Just arranged to have the WJ reading test. The only reason I can do this is because I have sufficient flexibility in my work schedule.

And SPS wonders why there is disparity in the APP program....


switcheroo

maje said...

I'd also love to hear how you got AL to respond to an email. I've been waiting for weeks!

I've been putting off an appeal until we received the letter, but finally gave up and started calling around. Turns out most of the people who do the testing are booked solid because they have gone back to regular client appointments - not expecting appeals to go on this long.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea why we got a response. I asked specific questions and I provided my kids SPS ID number. It also took a while before I got an initial response.

I think they will allow an extension to your appeal. You might also consider contacting your board representative about this. This is a big problem.

maje, good luck with testing, and I mean that sincerely. Maybe someone from the blog can suggest testers that might be available for the full complement of tests. I think the only reason we found an appointment at this late date was because we only need one test, not the whole battery.

switchero.

Anonymous said...

FYI - go down the list of certified testers and leave messages. I have gotten calls back with availability within the next week!

There is a list of private evaluators on the SPS appeals page. Long link pasted below.


http://www.pathfinderk8.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=456474481975c9c68a189a7ad58b5640&pageid=288304&sessionid=456474481975c9c68a189a7ad58b5640

Anonymous said...

Just a point of clarification: a private tester won't necessarily administer the WJ achievement test specifically. There are several they may choose among, and the ones on AdvLearning's list are familiar with SPS's requirements. From the AdvLearn site: "Approved standardized achievement tests include the Woodcock-Johnson III Achievement, Form B (Grade Norms), the WIAT-II, WIAT-III, and the KTEA-II."

I couldn't tell you the differences among these, but our child happened to get tested with the KTEA-II.

Anonymous said...

Despite getting a phone call telling us that our child's test had been mis-scored (the letter we got said our child was "not eligible" but the listed test scores made no sense), we still haven't received revised results.

We're not pushing it at this point because of an acceptance from our top choice private school, but it galls that we paid $90 for a test that was mis-scored and that we still don't know the results for.

Not in SPS mom

Ginger Tree said...

We are sending in an appeal for our kindergartner, however we are contesting his eligibility for Spectrum (not APP). Does anyone have an understanding of the success criteria for a spectrum appeal?

Thanks!

WSea Parent

Anonymous said...

Ginger Tree-
I have no idea about 'rates,' maybe someone else has ever seen hard data on appeal success rates? But more to the point, lacking that, I think anybody's best guess is that they would use the same hard-and-fast rules that apply to APP: basically if you have the scores and submit them correctly you're in, and if not, you're not. In your case, a K qualifying for Spectrum needs only the cognitive/intelligence test scores, nothing more, so it should be straightforward.

I think ALO has more flexibility, but I haven't heard that Spectrum does.

Anyone disagree?

Anonymous said...

Anon - Thank you for your response. Our current small ALO neighborhood school (Alki) is a great school with great staff and a super principal. So I'm not sure that we would move him, but we would like to keep our options open. There seems to be a lot more info out there about APP compared to Spectrum. Thanks for your response.
Wsea Mom

Anonymous said...

WSea Mom,
What you're saying makes sense. Alki's got an enviable ALO program, probably puts many Spectrum options to shame and in any case might be a good fit for you. But obtaining the "Academically Gifted" designation does give you more flexibility, could make things easier, e.g. could mean that participating in ALO would not require a conversation or any further application hurdles however small.

All that said, if I'm reading you right, you'll need to decide what you want to do right now, during open enrollment. This year's appeal process is shaping up to be a long slog, and it's entirely possible that you won't get your appeal results until after open-enrollment ends. If you prefer to be in a Spectrum program (at Lafayette or Fairmount?), you'd need to put that as your first choice as if your appeal will be successful, with Alki as your back-up. But if you prefer Alki, you'd need to make sure you did nothing, other than appeal (if you haven't yet done so) and wait for your appeal letter. If your appeal is successful and you applied for Spectrum and got assigned to Spectrum, I don't know how easy it is to transfer back to your current school for the coming school year.

So really, you seem to need to decide what you prefer, before you know whether your appeal will succeed. And BTW, sorry if I'm saying something you've already long ago concluded or which might be irrelevant to your case, everyone's got something different going on!

-Envying your Alki

Anonymous said...

What is GAI and what is the cut off for APP v Spectrum?

reader

Maje said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Naomi C said...

WIDESPREAD COGAT TESTING ERRORS?

I received peculiar, dramatcially low CoGAT for my son who has not otherwise had any trouble with testing. I've spoken with other parents in a similar position. I have read on this blog where scores as low as ZERO were sent out, and apparently wouldn't have been double-checked without a parent initiating the question. Advanced Learning has not responded to my questions about my son's test, that I submitted before midwinter break according to their instruction.

I became concerned that there could be widespread testing errors. One might expect that there would be a general review of test scores as a whole, as part of basic due diligence for testing. This does not appear to be the case.

I spoke with an administrator at our school yesterday who confirmed emphatically that she knows about a very large number of test irregularities this year.

Because such emphasis is placed on these test results by the district, I do expect them to have very reliable methods for testing and scoring. However, am I correct in thinking that they are also the only ones with access to the aggregate testing data?

I am in no position to seek out private testing at this time, nor do I qualify for free/reduced lunch (and therefore free retesting.) If there have been widespread testing errors, and only those who can/choose to pay for private testing can get corrected test scores, there are very serious equity implications.

I am fairly new to Advanced Learning. If anyone has related thoughts or knowledge, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks

Anonymous said...

" I spoke with an administrator at our school yesterday who confirmed emphatically that she knows about a very large number of test irregularities this year."

Your headline is a bit sensational. Has the above administrator alerted the AL office with his/her concerns? That is quite an indictment of the process and requires some kind of verification and investigation. Scores that are lower than parents and others expect, are not necessarily an indication of wide spread testing errors. Zeros and blank scores are explained in the FAQ's on the back of the results letter -usually the student has not answered enough questions or did not complete (read refused)the test. I have some experience with the refused to complete the test part. My second child in kindergarten at the time, began to cry during the test. The tester very kindly allowed him to return his classroom. I was fine with that. I waited a couple of years to retest him when he was a bit more mature.I am curious what do you believe to be dramatically low scores?

Naomi C said...

Anonymous,

Thank you for your respectful response.

I am aware that my son's low scores are not an indication of widespread testing errors. It didn't even cross my mind until I became aware of what seemed like a strange number of similar results for other students at our school.

Frankly, I'm not really sweating my child's placement this year. However, I am troubled by the idea that there could be unidentified testing errors affecting a large number of families.

Someone, PLEASE tell me why this scenario would be highly unlikely. I'd be happy to hear it.

I would like to know if there are any internal or external checks on test results. I would expect there to be some basic checks in place as part of due diligence in a testing process such as this.

Given budget and staff issues, I'm also don't think it's safe to assume that they exist.

(My son's scores were 30-40 points lower than his current school/testing performance might indicate. As part of basic problem solving, I'd should be able to reasonably rule out testing/scoring/data errors as possible factors.)

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It's unlikely because of the percentiles, if it was somewhere in the 60's or 70's. I don't remember the raw scores to percentile scale, but it means most of the questions were answered correctly. the problems with the machine have been getting the data to the publisher (who scores the tests), but if there is corruption in the data, very most likely 1) the score would be zero, which is the only error I have heard about people getting, and which is easily recognizable and getting fixed, or 2) I suppose some sort of random chance got scored on the wrong answer sheet, though I can't figure out exactly how that would happen- in which case the number would be around 20th percentile by random chance. Or just one would be zero or low, and the rest up where you'd expect.

It's a very different test than other testing he would have done, and many/most kids score lower on it than they do achievement tests. MAP is not a great guide for how the cogat will go. Or he was having an off day, or something else. Who knows. But it's not that likely that it was a grading error.

Anonymous said...

Last year we got a blank and a 65th percentile for my 5th grader, who has a long history of 96-99th percentile MAP scores and who, in private testing, was at the 99th percentile. I tested b/c I didn't know if we'd have enough time to appeal if we didn't make it with the Cogat. So I called the
AL office, they checked, and reported to me that their scanner malfunctioned, and my daughter's actual scores were 98 and 99, and she qualified for APP.

One person's experience

Naomi C said...

Thank you to all who have responded to my concerns.

Anonymous at 8:06 - Can you please tell me how exactly you asked them to review the score in this way? What terminology did you use? Did you call the AL office only, or also use email/written letter? Did they check while you were on the phone or get back to you? Did they send a follow-up letter with updated scores? I would like them to do this basic check and I haven't had a response.

Anonymous at 3:01 - I do appreciate your thoughtful response. I can think of one example in which a bunch of scores could easily come out as 30-40 points low. I also agree with you, that it could be any of the things you mentioned.

Naomi C said...

I'm listing this as a separate comment, for the sake of clarity.

My main question/concern is about testing process, independent of specific test results I've mentioned. Is anyone inside or outside of Advanced Learning reviewing aggregate test results, in order to flag and double-check areas of statistical anomalies? It seems that a certain amount of this would/should be built into the process, but it doesn't mean that it is.

For example: It seems likely (but I don't know) that there are different versions of this test to prevent cheating. If test answers are scanned, the scanner would have to be set to the appropriate answer key. If a group of test answer sheets were not calibrated to the appropriate answer key, all of those tests would not come out as "zero" but rather as other scores. Whether these scores were 20 or 80 percent off would be pretty random.

It's true that the information I have is vague, but that's for obvious privacy reasons. I am observing a situation that appears to me to be like this: Last year, a high percentage of a certain group of tested students qualified for some level of AL (my child was in that group). This year, NONE of the tested students from the same group qualified for ANY level of AL. The one student from this group that had private testing qualified for APP. Doesn't this seems fishy? And yes, I know that a parent from this group has notified school and district administrators.

My experience with the school district in other areas is that this is rarely enough to trigger appropriate action. Also, I'd like to assume that AL would be proactive in correcting this type of error across the board if it was discovered, but I don't. This is nothing against the people in the system, it's the pressures of the system itself that I believe help create and perpetuate a situations like this.


Anonymous said...

They definitely have and check percent of children who take the tests and qualify for the different programs from each school, so they know if it is low. They track that very closely, actually(much more closely than, say, quality of programs or curriculum, no bitterness...), and are using that data in task forces right now. So there is a check.

I have heard of a school last year that like your school typically has a few kids qualify each year(wouldn't say a high percentage, though, just a couple), and didn't last year. The problem there was a tester with a bad accent, so the kids couldn't understand her (or so I hear).

Lynn said...

I cannot imagine that anyone is reviewing the testing process or results. The Advanced Learning office is a month late in reporting initial eligibility results for some students, has another task force starting and doesn't have a plan to meet all the new state requirements for highly capable services. It's a good idea - but there isn't anyone with the time to do it.

The district administered the all-new CogAT Form 7 this year. The publisher's website explains that the test was redesigned to make it "even more fair to students who are learning English." This may be the reason scores are lower for some students,

Here's a link to the website.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how many students will be at HIMS next year? Did the split with JA relieve pressure, or is that being offset with new students? How big will APP be at HIMS?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

@Naomi,
I emailed Roger Daniels and told him the results looked funny to me given her MAP and ISEE scores were both 99th percentile, and would he please take a look. He kindly responded a few days later. They reissued the letter electronically with her correct scores and designation.

But last year the letters were on time and there was not this turmoil at the Advanced Learning office. I don't know if you'll get the response I did.

Good Luck

Anonymous said...

I think they are projecting around 1000 students at HIMS next year, only about a 100 less than this year's enrollment. It's still a guess until they have more numbers from open enrollment. The 5th grade class at Lincoln is quite large plus there are increasingly higher numbers of neighborhood students (McDonald) feeding into HIMS. APP is currently about half of HIMS enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Just read the minutes of the Feb. AL Task Force meeting. They are now posted on the AL web page. The preliminary recommendations look mighty expensive -formal screening of kindergarteners and second graders using on-line assessments? With tons of follow up letters and phone calls. Who is Barbara Grant? Is she a parent rep., district employee, at large committee member? Her name is listed several times in the minutes.

Curious

Lynn said...

She's a hired facilitator. I've seen her name in other documents too. This isn't the first time she's worked with the district.

Shannon said...

Sorry not to reply. Yes, I believe there is some kind of major error in testing this year. I emailed about the lack of results for my son, and two friends who tested in December. All first graders. None of us have heard anything yet - no letter, no second round of testing. I received an email Friday saying they would be in touch within two days to arrange for my son's second round testing in Math and Reading but that if I had independent results I could submit them instead. My son is in an independent 'progressive' school and we are not seriously considering public school till 2015 Fall so this was more to learn our options in Public, so its no crisis but I would say serious system failure.

My friend whose kid is in APP at Lincoln just had her regular MAP scores (not testing into APP) wildly off too (hers were the ones down from 98th to 33rd percentile) this year. I know it happens, it just makes me feel that there are a more than a few co-incidentally weird things going on. I understand that mistakes can be made, BUT I would like a public explanation of what is going on.

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

Update on the Advanced Learning Page. Apparently something will be done by March 7th but if you haven't heard anything , put in your selection including APP as option 1.


UPDATES !
If you sent an appeal to the correct address, you may assume that it has been received and filed. We do not have the resources to send individual receipts.
Our office is currently swamped with emails and phone messages which would normally be answered by the same people who are scheduling and conducting assessments, making eligibility decisions, and processing letters for mailing. Please understand that there will be significant delays during this time. Emails will be screened daily to prioritize those requiring immediate response. Please do not send repeated messages or send to multiple people. This further clogs the system and slows down response time. We are working evenings and weekends to get the work done prior to the Open Enrollment deadline of March 7.
Thank you for your understanding.
Testing continues through February.
Scores and eligibility decisions are not available by phone or email. Please be patient.
All eligibility decisions including appeals will be processed before the open enrollment deadline of March 7 if possible. Extensions will be made when necessary.(www.seattleschools.org/enrollment)
Responses to email are much faster than responses to phone messages.
Any two of the six reported CogAT scores at or above the threshold (87 for Spectrum, 98 for APP) count for eligibility.
If your child was tested for APP or Spectrum eligibility but you haven’t been notified yet, or you are appealing the advanced learning decision:
· You can include APP or Spectrum choices on your application. If your child does not qualify, these choices will be deleted from your application. (For example, if you want to apply for Spectrum at a school but don’t know if your child will qualify, you can list Spectrum and then also list the same school without Spectrum if that would be your choice ahead of your assigned school.)

Achievement scores on nationally normed standardized tests no older than Spring 2013 can be used to support Advanced Learning eligibility.

Students eligible for Spectrum or APP maintain their eligibility year to year as long as they are enrolled in an ALO school or a Spectrum or APP classroom.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=214087

Anonymous said...

I don't find it useful to talk about a weird MAP result in conjunction with the mess that is the AL testing this year. There are lots of things that can go wrong with MAP that could be addressed by talking to your friend's daughter's teacher (one being the amount of time she took on the test).

I wouldn't want to conflate that with the quagmire that the AL office has created this year. It's almost to the point where the whole thing is lacking credibility.

Northeast mom

Shannon said...

In the absence of any clear information on what has gone wrong, I think that its quite valid to speculate on significant variations in all the tests. If someone explains what happened we can figure out which variations are due to the quagmire and which are due to our kids staring out the window at seagulls.

Anonymous said...

There is an APP-AC meeting coming up this Tuesday. You might be able to talk to someone from the AL Department there or just let the APP-AC know what is going on...
Good luck.

Next APP Meeting is Tuesday March 4, 2014, Garfield High School Library 6:30 to 8:30pm.
Open to all.

Future meeting dates and locations:
April 1, 2014, Hamilton Middle School Library
May 6, 2014, Thurgood Marshall Elementary Library
June 3, 2014, Lincoln Library

-The APP AC

Anonymous said...

What is the quality of geometry at HIMS? We are considering the school and if my child is happy in math, she's happy. Is the geometry teacher pretty good?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I will spare everybody the gory details, but I'm sorting an enrollment snafu and I think there is one crucial question.

Is it true that Spectrum seats in middle school are guaranteed for all those who want a seat and are eligible?

Put another way: is it possible for Spectrum to "fill up" at a middle school?

Thanks for any info - TB

Anonymous said...

TB- It sure is possible to fill up seats at middle school with Spectrum kids. It's always been one of the appeals of APP. Spectrum isn't guaranteed - it's space available. APP is guaranteed, if you enroll by the deadline. Someone correct me if I'm wrong...
-Hate SPS

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 11:34AM:
At HIMS there are three Geometry teachers this year (this might change next year). One has an extensive experience with the subject itself (has written his own "notebook") and the population of the students he teaches for more than 30 years and most of the students (the mathy kind) love him.
Unfortunately we can't say these facts of the other 2 teachers, as I have heard (and they are teaching from the "not so great" Discovery Geometry book). It is a luck of the draw in which class your student will be next year.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Like most things at HIMS, it's hit or miss. We have one of the "other" math teachers. It's his first year teaching geometry, and it's been a miss, to say the least. Really wishing we were in the old timer's class! Don't know about the other one.
-Supplementing math

Anonymous said...

Geometry at HIMS
We are in the "third" Geometry class at HIMS this year. This is a rather miss also because this is the teacher's first year in a Geometry class and also teaching the APP population (since she came from another school last year). (The "old timer" teacher has only one Geo class this year.)
We are supplementing math also

Anonymous said...

About Spectrum filling up, is it possible is used to not be guaranteed but now is? There is some language to support that thought and I've been told that on the phone. The Enrollment FAQ current says "5th grade students currently eligible for Spectrum will now automatically be enrolled in Spectrum when they enter middle school."

But of course it's getting reliable information that is most frustrating part of this, and I can tell you for a fact that the enrollment FAQ is incorrect about automatic enrollment (although that might have something to do with my kid being APP eligible, not just Spectrum).

Anyway, maybe Spectrum actually is guaranteed now?

- TB

Anonymous said...

My kid is supposed to be taking the second test this week. In the meantime though we have to complete the open enrollment form. With the crazy delay and lack of notice, we haven't done any tours. We know a little about TM APP, but even less about Lowell or John Muir Spectrum. Since we have to select alternative choices, can someone please give me some feedback on Lowell or Muir Spectrum? The search function is only returning data up to 2011 (?). Much appreciated!
"No nothng mom"

Lynn said...

TB

Enrollment in 6th grade Spectrum is guaranteed at your attendance area middle school. The language on the Advanced Learning Enrollment Options website is:

Enrollment for 6th Grade Spectrum
Spectrum students in 5th grade will be automatically assigned to 6th grade Spectrum at their attendance area middle school. Other Spectrum-eligible students [including those in the Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) schools] entering grades 6 through 8 who want a middle school Spectrum assignment to their attendance area school must apply to enroll (during or after Open Enrollment through September 30), and will be assigned to Spectrum at their attendance area middle school. Spectrum-eligible students may also apply to enroll for a Spectrum program at any other school through school choice. School choice forms are available from the Enrollment Office.


And here's a link to the page.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the response about geometry at HIMS. Is it the same story with science? Spotty quality? At our current MS we have a very good geometry teacher and lousy science. We could always do an online math class, but science....

If it's a crap shoot for science AND math, I think that's too much risk. We could always put her there in 8th grade to have the HS options.

Considering HIMS

Anonymous said...

To Considering HIMS:
Since the half of the current APP 6th and 7th grader students (and maybe some of the current teachers also) will be gone next year to JA, nobody really knows what is going to happen next year at HIMS. This is true for all the classes (including math and science).
This year there is a great APP science teacher in 7th grade who helped to build the science APP curriculum last year, but she is pregnant and will be gone in April.
So (un)fortunately whatever is true for this year might not be true for the next...

Anonymous said...

Some of the Option K8s have strong math/science programs even if they don't advertise themselves as Spectrum/APP. Ditto for LA/SS. It's not like private schools, either, have Spectrum/APP "designations" and they still often offer advance coursework. Many of them offer need-based scholarships, so they aren't beyond as many parents' needs as they may think.

Parents really need to get beyond the silly Spectrum/APP marketing and expand their thinking on where solid learning for bright kids can take place here in Seattle. There's more than APP for sure. In fact, there's better than Spectrum/APP, whose delivery model is definitely hit or miss.

Lynn said...

Is there a public K-8 in Seattle that offers biology - and access to Garfield for an accelerated student for whom IBX isn't a good fit? Are there enough open spots at good private schools in Seattle for every current APP student? I doubt it.

Why should parents of highly capable students be expected to look outside of the public schools to find a school that meets their children's needs?

Anonymous said...

My 8th grade child has one of the other two Geometry teachers, the one that is teaching Geometry for the first time. My child really enjoys the class and likes the teacher alot. It's been a good fit and my child is doing quite well in geometry. We had the "great 7th grade APP science teacher" and didn't have a good year at all in that class. I think some teachers are a good fit for one student and maybe not for another. I wouldn't not consider a school just because you read on a blog that a couple people didn't like one teacher or another. HIMS is a solid school overall with a lot of good teachers, many after school opportunities, top notch music classes, a good principal, and an active parent group.

To the parents with Spectrum questions, since this is an APP blog there probably aren't a lot of Spectrum parents reading here. Most of us don't have experience with Spectrum. Sorry there aren't more of us that can offer any insights. I wish I could answer your questions.

Northender

Anonymous said...

I can reiterate that a Spectrum seat is guaranteed in middle school, though, unless you are currently enrolled in Spectrum in elementary school, you must turn in an enrollment form.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming none of us will hear anything about our appeals until after Open Enrollment closes. Is that what others are hearing? I know we can still blindly submit our choices.
-CS

Anonymous said...

I'm another who is waiting on an appeal. The AL office seems to be a black hole right now. Emails, calls, appeals, and such go in and nothing comes out.

-waiting and becoming nervous

Anonymous said...

We're waiting on an appeal as well. The AL department could really avoid a lot of ill-will by stating clearly what makes for a successful appeal. If it's only scores, at least for APP, then say so instead of inviting book lists and teacher comments. Also, be clear about whether private testing scores alone guarantee a successful appeal. I know that others have said this is so, but nowhere is that spelled out on the AL website, and I won't believe it until I receive notice in writing from SPS. If AL were clear on that point, I wouldn't have bothered teachers for recommendations. With GAI being only qualifying score, though, I couldn't be sure that would be enough.

And why doesn't the AL department feel any obligation to offer parents an explanation for the delays? Posting a notice about being "swamped" doesn't explain why they are so far behind this year and have failed to adhere to their own deadlines. Is a little candor about what's going on too much to ask?

--Beyond exasperated

Anonymous said...

Beyond,

At least you are waiting on appeal, we are still waiting on an INITIAL determination of eligibility.

So fed up.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there's activity happening yet with AP test registration? I know it's typically done through the AP classes, but my child is doing independent study. Last year we registered via Dr. Vaughan, but I'm not sure if the AL office is on schedule with this or not... I don't want to bother them now if not necessary, but also don't want to miss out on our registration window. Have any high school AP students heard anything about AP tests yet?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Yes - AP test registration is going on now - and closes soon for some tests.

Take a look at this link -

March 3, 2014
Homeschooled students and students whose schools do not offer AP must contact AP Services by this date to obtain a list of local AP Coordinators and schools where they could arrange to test.

https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/ap-calendar#examDate

Sounds like it might be too late -- but I would contact them ASAP.

Our kids registered last month.

-GHS Parent

Lynn said...

HIMSmom,

Because the AL office is not responsive right now, and it's unlikely anyone at your child's school will be able to help, I'd contact Kris McBride at Garfield. I bet she could help you.

(206) 252-2362 krmcbride@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

We are waiting on appeal, but not hopeful. How can a kid with a 99.7th percentile IQ not qualify for APP? Dyslexia, that is how. I will post on the "what should APP thread be" thread, but right now I just want to cry. My kid needs the program, but won't get it for a reading score that is 9 percentile points too low thanks to a learning disability.
-switcheroo

Anonymous said...

We too have yet to receive an initial eligibility letter. I highly doubt appeal results will be out before open enrollment closes. If anyone does receive results please post! Because what I really need now is more fuel for my angry fire!

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

Will my socially very normal, very mainstream kid fit in at Lincoln, or is he going to end up frustrated with the personalities at that school? I toured today and got concerned.

1st grade kid

Anonymous said...

Switcheroo - try not to despair! Have you had private testing for reading (e.g. Woodcock Johnson or any of the other nationally normed achievement tests that SPS will accept). If this is an option for you financially, then look into that (or approach the district for free appeal testing if you are FRL eligible) The scores are likely to be a lot more indicative of true ability than MAP. It may also give weight to your appeal to have a psychologists explanation (ie. dyslexia) even if the reading scores are still slightly below the threshold - and/or the psychologist may be able to suggest the most appropriate way of testing this domain given the concern re dyslexia. I know there is a 2e (twice exceptional) population in APP so it does not necessarily exclude kids who are very advanced in some areas but have difficulties in another domain. I also suspect (but have no proof) that their may be a little bit of leeway with the scores (e.g. a few points) if one is a little lower but the others are very high and the overall picture indicates the kid would do well in APP.
Hope it all works out.

Anonymous said...

@1st grade kid

Out of curiosity what made you concerned? I'm not sure how to answer that question. At the beginning of the year I think the whole first grade class went through some social adjustments because it was all new, and even though we already knew a few of the kids, it was 23 kids figuring out how to make friends in a pretty typical way. For the most part, the boys play soccer at recess and the girls play various pretend games, like I think might happen at other schools. What sorts of "personalities" gave you concern? Every school has diversity of personalities.

--current 1st grade mom

Anonymous said...

@1st grade kid
Lincoln is so big I really think there is something for everyone here. My child started last year - we moved him not becuase of any social concerns, more for the rigour. You are going to find 'personalities' at Lincoln just as you would any school. Your socially well adjusted kid will find like minded peers at Lincoln too.

2boysclub

Anonymous said...

Any suggestions for testers to get a revised reading MAP? Names and numbers greatly appreciated.

-switcheroo

Anonymous said...

There is a website for the SPS approved testing providers here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=5414380abaf0c6bc6039679326cb8c52&pageid=288304&sessionid=5414380abaf0c6bc6039679326cb8c52

Anonymous said...

I looked very hard at the second grade classrooms since that's the grade he would be in next year. Maybe I looked too hard but I saw way more fidgeting and much less attention than I was expecting. I have an older child and don't feel my expectations are unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like what you saw, then it's probably not the right fit for you. No point in looking for a sales pitch. You know your kid best.

Anonymous said...

I think that has a little to do with the teachers at that level. There are two who manage a class tightly (one of whom is teaching a split, including most of the easiest second graders), and two who are looser. Not sure that makes it better for you.

Ishmael

Anonymous said...

Thanks, GHS Parent and Lynn. We should still be fine on the AP test timeline, as I think they let middle school students join in the SPS batch of registrations, but it's very helpful to know the process is underway. I'll keep trying the AL office (with a little more urgency now!), and will try that GHS contact as well.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

@HIMS mom you can/should also contact any SPS high school and ask to speak to the AP coordinator. The AL office does not handle AP exam registration nor is it coordinating AP exam administration. All of this is being done at the high school level.

Anonymous said...

Are there similar issues in third grade? I thought first, fourth and fifth looked great but was not too sure about the second and third.

Different mom

Anonymous said...

For families who took tours, keep in mind that this is a snapshot of part of a day and that APP or not, kids are kids. You have to weigh th facts and decide for yourself it it's going to be better for your child to move. There is no perfect classroom, no perfect teacher, no perfect school. That said, I can speak for my two kids there, one who is currently in 2nd grade and the other in 5th grade that Lincoln was a great choice for our family (given our choices). If you're at a wonderful school and your child is doing well, what is the push to move to Lincoln? However, if your child is not doing well and you need to make a change, then it's very likely that Lincoln will be a positive change. If your expectations are so high that Lincoln does not fit the bill, then don't make the change.

I understand you want to make the perfect choice. After all, it seems like you only get one chance at it. Listen to your gut and go with it. In the end, I do believe most kids, because of the interest and support of their parents, will be OK.

Anonymous said...

Also, try to remember: for most folks, it isn't 'now or never'. We are at an ALO school that my APP qualified kids love. So we have kept them there - for now. Every year, around this time, we do a soul-searching assessment of how things are. For my oldest, he is still happy - strong cohort, teachers who know him. So we'll stick with ALO for another year. For my younger, the choice is a bit muddier... we may give it one more year at our ALO, just because I know the teachers for next year are all great. But one of the great things about being qualified and staying at an ALO is that you really can reassess every year, while keeping your child 'on track' for any potential switcover...

Rene said...

I would appreciate hearing from parents with APP children who chose to initially stay with their neighborhood school's Spectrum program and then switched to APP later on. Did you encounter any difficulty with waitlists? I am not quite ready for the switch to APP (although I think my child is), but I am worried that I may deprive my child in some way. And I want to hear from parents who made a similar choice and the issues they faced when they ultimately switched schools. Thank you so much in advance!

Anonymous said...

Rene,

As long as you apply for the APP program during open enrollment, there won't be any issue with a wait list. APP qualified kids are guaranteed a spot if they apply during that window.

If you apply after open enrollment closes, you run the risk of a wait list. That's what we worry about for our younger kid. Right now, I'm sticking with ALO, but the year has had some serious ups & downs for him, and in the long term, I think APP might be a better fit/more important for him than it would have been/might be for his older brother. Our added puzzle piece is that he is NOT at his assigned neighborhood school, so if we opt into APP, but then want to leave, he might not get his spot back... definitely a catch-22 at times.

In general, I feel like ALO has worked great for my oldest, but we are also in a good school for it, with a large chunk of Spectrum or APP qualified kids, so there's a good cohort & teachers on board. I know that hasn't been true everywhere, and even in our school, I think we have had to be proactive to some degree to get what he needed. I don't think every family is as happy as we are... I def think having the official designation has helped, but we also pursued extra work, etc before that because he was so bored... Those experiences really shaped how we approached school for our second kiddo, so hopefully it will be a smoother progression for him. There's only so much they can do for K kids, but we at least knew what our options were, and what to ask for. So far, I feel like our ALO school has really embraced the idea of getting services to qualified K kids as early as possible.

Rene said...

Thank you for replying to my question - I really appreciate that. If I understand your reply correctly - during any open enrollment period my child will be guaranteed an APP spot in future. As far as you can recall, have you ever heard about students applying to APP being put on a waitlist for APP? Would I be correct in assuming that the non-guarantee lies with the Spectrum spots. I have heard there are waitlists at certain schools' Spectrum program. Good luck with your decisions too.

Maje said...

For those of you who are *still* waiting, we were too and I finally discovered why it was taking so long.

My kid didn't finish the Spring MAP, so the scores were too low to qualify. When I applied in October, they were supposed to send an initial rejection letter with an opportunity to appeal using the Fall scores, which were fine. I never received the initial letter (I would definitely have noticed it) so when I finally heard back from AL they said that my kid wasn't eligible and the appeal deadline for that was last December.

So, I was patiently waiting for a letter that would never arrive. I don't know what happened to that first letter, but if your child's Spring scores didn't hit the cutoff then you may be in the same situation. AL said that they would schedule a test, hopefully some time this week.

Anonymous said...

To above asking about the younger grades, I was helping Tuesday, and would say that's about what it looks like on a normal day. If it didn't look good to you then, it's definitely not going to feel good in the fall when your kid misses their friends and your neighbors start sniping about "those awful APP parents."

What I mean is- this is the most positive you would feel about it for a while. The transition is almost always a little rough, and there are often unforeseen issues. If your child needs the change it may well be worth it to try, but if it doesn't look better than wherever you are now just after the tour, I wouldn't expect it to feel like a better fit for your family on the fall, either.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me how many classes per grade level there are at APP @ Lincoln? Just wondering whether anyone has had any issues with incompatible personalities (it happens even amongst the nicest students) and then the child was "stuck" in the same class with this difficult situation.

Anonymous said...

There are between 3 and 6 classrooms per grade. 3 1st grade, 3 1/2 2nd grade, 4 1/2 3rd grade (I think),6 4th grade, and 5 5th grade.

Speaking from my experience, I have a child that always seemed to find that one person (different every year), that he did not get along with. It could have been just an exchange of words or a little more than that but one of two things happened; either he and the other kid ended up becoming buddies as they realized how much more they had in common, or they learned to avoid each other. In other words, the issue resolved itself given care and time. The teachers and staff are really good about working through those types of conflicts as well. It's a part of life, too. Kids shouldn't be sheltered from incompatible personalities. They need to learn to deal with them.

Lynn said...

Every student has a guaranteed seat at their designated (attendance area) school. APP students also have an alternate designated school - their APP pathway school. Every student has a guaranteed seat at their designated and their alternate designated school through September 30th. There are no longer wait lists for APP.

Information on this is on pages 13 and 19 of the Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment.

If you have an APP-Qualified student, there is no need to make a decision this week.

Rene said...

Thank you, Lynn,
that helps so much!

Anonymous said...

We just found out our ds got into app at Hamilton, apparently based on a preemptive appeal (we never got results from the October cogat, although from his acceptance letter it seems they were just below the thresholds for further testing and he was accepted based on a wisc-iv score + ssat schools). We've been in private school and are considering Hamilton v. Private School options, and would love any insights. Some considerations:
-- Math: ds is in an advanced math group at school, but level is likely below app kids at Lowell. Not sure where he would place at Hamilton
-- Size: current school has two classes of 18-19, and most private middle schools are around 100 per grade
-- Music: son plays trumpet and would love to be in a band
More generally, do people love the school? How are the app teachers?

Anonymous said...

Appeal betters are starting to arrive.

-better late than never

Anonymous said...

HIMS is great, but not like a private school. Music is phenomenal. Our daughter's classes have 32-36 (!) kids in them, depending on subject. Teachers range from great to terrible. But the students are great, the building is lovely, and she loves it. You just have to take the bad with the good.

- -7thgradeparent

Anonymous said...

Not knowing your private school options, it's hard to comment, but would suggest you take into consideration the poor math curricula being used by Seattle Public Schools. Most teachers are following the district texts (CMP for pre-algebra, Discovering Algebra and Discovering Geometry). Math is considered separate from APP in that you don't need APP or Spectrum qualification to place in higher level math. The typical pathway is Algebra in 7th grade for APP, and Algebra in 8th grade for Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

We are waiting on the results of our appeal - has anyone received a letter yet from SPS?

Anonymous said...

We haven't even received our initial results letter yet. Our kindergartener was given the Woodcock Johnson Tuesday, and I have no idea when they plan to give us results.

Our family has now decided to stay out no matter what, but it is maddening that we don't have what is really a very relevant piece of information that could have swayed us.

Anonymous said...

For those considering Lincoln, you might want to head over the the SSS blog, and, look at the Tuesday Open thread. Some comments about how impacted that Lincoln campus will be with the addition of another school. Eyes Wide Open comments. There is talk of 4 shifts of lunch. Even more buses. There is still no playground, so not sure how that will be approached. A school of over 800 kids? That might not be important to you, but, thought you might want to consider it.
-megaschool

Anonymous said...

For kids entering APP at HIMS this fall, is there a significant likelihood that they all will be moved to Wilson-Pacific when it opens in the fall of 2017 when those kids are entering 8th grade? Or does the size of the cohort make it more likely that North APP will then be split between Hamilton, JAMS and W-P? Or is it a crap shoot? W-P would be schlep (and probably a longer commute than Washington) for people in Queen Anne or Magnolia.

Anonymous said...

Anom @ 12:31,

I think the kids entering HIMS this fall will be entering high school (not 8th grade) in 2017. The problem might be if W-P opens in an interim site (John-Marshall) in 2016. I recall that being an option. I also recall that the district/board left it open for now whether all of HIMS APP will go to W-P or whether it will be split again. I think it will depend on APP enrollment numbers.

- Entering HIMS in 2014

Anonymous said...

Advanced learning told me that our appeal letter would be mailed today or tomorrow.

--Finally

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Finally! I was just wondering if I should bug them, but I can wait until at least Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Shannon said...

We are getting the second round of testing tomorrow. We have not had any letters yet. I am not sure how one can appeal before receiving a result but apparently we could have.

Anonymous said...

The Advanced Learning web page was updated today. It includes new information about the program at Fairmount Park. Another testing opportunity is being opened and is limited to families in W. Seattle but only for APP eligibility. Spectrum is not included? I thought Fairmount is slated to be a blended Gen. Ed./Spectrum/APP. How can that be done without Spectrum. The web site states that they have not completed the current round and are opening a new round? Weird.

puzzled

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about the policy posted on the Advanced learning 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. My child attends a private school. When I turned in the nomination form, I included copies of private test score reports. CogAT testing on a Saturday is required - even though I gave them the IQ scores. CogAT score did not meet the requirement. We receive a letter denying placement, then filed an appeal that consisted of sending new copies of the IQ and math & reading scores I gave them in October. I was not surprised by this process - but it's a total waste of time by an office that is ridiculously behind schedule. Not to mention that I had to pay for my child to take the unnecessary CogAT. Just another example of time and money wasted to provide the appearance of equity. Also, several parents have mentioned here that their kindergarten students were given WJ math and reading tests - even though they had qualifying MAP scores that would be allowed in an appeal. Who is making these decisions?

Anonymous said...

They're allowing testing for APP over here because the program hadn't been announced when nominations were due last fall. That said, what are they going to do with a student who tests and has Spectrum qualifying scores? Will they not be eligible for Spectrum because they tested at the wrong time?

Anonymous said...

"They're allowing testing for APP over here because the program hadn't been announced when nominations were due last fall."

Not sure what difference this makes and the same logic applies to Spectrum. It is available during open enrollment right? It is still odd to me. Why open this whole thing up again for a select group no less and especially since some people are still waiting for letters from the Fall process?

Anonymous said...

Spectrum is not new in West Seattle. APP is a program you could not access without a long bus ride. They think families have bot chosen to test for it because of this.

The testing isn't open to private school,students either. The information sheet says your child has to have MAP scores to test.

Anonymous said...

"The testing isn't open to private school,students either."

Sorry, I don't buy that. Private school families pay taxes and should be allowed access as should families interested in Spectrum. Also, private school families pay a fee to join the fall nomination round -per comment just up thread. I would guess that the same fee would be charged in the West Seattle session. Private school families have not had the opportunity to take MAP but can be denied the opportunity to participate in a West Seattle test session? What about those who opt out of MAP?

I am not trying to pit neighborhoods against each other but W. Seattle is getting a heck of a deal.This year APP families are given two options Thurgood Marshall and Fairmount Park. Not only that, but an additional opportunity to test for APP. Also, down the road what happens if Fairmount Park runs out of space to house both APP and the neighborhood? I am not sure any of this has been adequately thought through. Just sayin'

puzzled

Anonymous said...

Someone on the SSS blog said that a Lincoln teacher said they are expecting 10 fewer kids this year. Can anyone with access to RG confirm this? How do schools have these estimates before Open Enrollment has even ended? And how can they predict for Lincoln when eligibility is so behind?

New family

Anonymous said...

I can confirm the opposite, that they have no idea yet how many kids will come. A fairly stable percentage of kids come who test in each year, so they can extrapolate from that, but definitely not exactly how many kids. Open enrollment isn't even over yet, and I know two people waffling as of today.

We still haven't received our kindergartener's initial results. Frustrating.

Anonymous said...

@new family

The SPS process for deciding individual school budgets was released to each school this last week BEFORE open enrollment is over and they actually have more accurate numbers enrollment numbers to work with. If a teacher is saying that the district is projecting 10 less kids at Lincoln this year over last, it is because they are working only from estimated projections, not reality. First, they haven't completed the identification process, so they don't actually even yet know exactly how many kids qualify for APP. Second, open enrollment doesn't close until tomorrow. District process releases the initial budgets to schools for the following year based on estimations and projections, not real numbers because they do this before open enrollment closes. This year, to complicate things, as I understand it, the person who used to do this work and was pretty good at estimating is no longer at SPS and NO ONE has filled her spot. AND the Advanced learning office has completely missed the deadline for notifying folks.

--Only time will tell

Anonymous said...

@puzzled and all newer to SPS parents...

APP has always been the option for all AHG kids that qualify. AHG kids have a guaranteed spot in APP, and have for a very long time. This is supposed to be the fundamental equity of the program. It doesn’t matter where you live, you get bussed to APP if you qualify. Living in West Seattle only means that the bus ride might be longer. Up until 3 years ago, kids all had to trek all the way to Lowell on Capitol Hill. Elementary has only been in TM and (temporarily?!) at Lincoln for the past 3 years.
AHG kids in other districts also take long bus rides to AL programs. It’s about logistics and economy of scale. When a program is designed to serve the top 2%ile of kids, you have to plan for special sites (i.e. school buildings) to serve those kids best. In a big city like ours (52,000 kids and counting) we actually have enough kids to provide 2 elementary APP ONLY schools if the district wanted to.

But, that’s not what we have.
3 years ago the district created a broken home situation for APP where 1/3 the kids get to live with Dad and 2/3 the kids live with mom. Dad (AKA Thurgood Marshal APP) believes very strongly that communal living with other families is the best environment for the kids, and Mom (SNAPP) believes that the kids will be better served if they have their own home. And, not only is APP a broken home, but the parents are still fighting about how to parent. Both parents love their kids, but now siblings are growing up in very different living situations, and there is virtually no collaboration between the parents.

So, contrary to popular belief, APP is not really a “program” anymore and it certainly isn’t being led by a cohesive group across all the sites by united leadership. Some folks are still holding on and hoping and praying that the parents will get back together and we’ll all be one big happy family again, but most folks have moved on to focusing energy on making their “APP” homes the best they can possibly be given the circumstances.

So, please don’t be fooled into thinking that this new “optional APP” site is actually going to be providing APP like what it used to be, or even what happens at either Lincoln or TM. There are only an estimated 60 AHG kids across the 5 grades which averaged 12 per grade, so classes will be “Blended” with spectrum kids. Perhaps this will work for some kids, but it isn’t APP@Lincoln for sure. It might end up being a nice school and kids might get a decent education there. But in the absence of maintaining the basic qualities of APP like standalone classrooms, it just isn’t APP.

--it sucks to split up a family

Anonymous said...

SPS is a mess to be sure. However, I'm not sure I get the divorce analogy here. The split was because of growth both with APP and district overall coincide with budget cuts year after year. Certainly what money the district gets could be used more wisely. I don't see a school out there that could have accommodate all APP population under one roof then or now. Bellevue, a smaller district, also have multi sites to deal with its HCP growth alongside overall growth. Judging from co-workers complaints, they have their issues as well.

I rather work on the curriculum to ensure quality.

AP

Anonymous said...

It's now the Saturday after open enrollment, our mail has come and gone, and still no letter. I appreciate the email we received last week saying that the testing company is having a hard time with some results, but living in limbo land at their mercy is making me nuts. Almost feels like they just want us to do preemptive private testing to get them off the hook... And I've given up switching for next year (for more reasons than just this), but sure as hell don't want to go through this mess again next year!

Anonymous said...

Fyi - Long time APP teacher Mrs.Jacobsen is retiring this year. Notes and well wishes from previous students are sure to be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"I rather work on the curriculum to ensure quality."

The 2007 review team advised against a split until a curriculum was developed and in place. The District ignored that recommendation and created an even worse situation in terms of capacity management.

The AL Office has no time to help develop curriculum nor to assist general ed teachers in meeting the needs of gifted students in neighborhood schools. They are too busy testing kids. Management-higher up in the food chain than the AL Office-prefers allowing principals to develop their own strategies without much supervision nor input from the AL Office. See spectrum and the new blended gen.ed/spectrum/app at Fairmount Park. I've said this before but the District is moving toward a hodge-podge of inconsistently administered delivery models. This is good for no one and certainly not equitable.

much older parent

Anonymous said...

Hodge podge doesn't mean bad. We have co-housed elementary at TM and basically an all APP building at Lincoln, as well as cohorted high school populations and hundreds of APP eligible students at neighborhood schools. They all need service. Gifted Ed is an evolving field. There are pros and cons to each method. Even the much bandied term "best practice" does not equate to the best for all kids all the time.
What I'd like is some data and some transparency. How are kids doing under the different models? Are they dropping in scores when "blended" or doing better when cohorted? Are AHG kids getting challenging work at neighborhood schools? Are kids at APP sites getting enough time with kids not in gifted programs? Are the kids happy?
The data on academics is there at the LA office. Do they look at it? Why won't they share data?
Where is the superintendent? Where are the reports?

Anonymous said...

"Are kids at APP sites getting enough time with kids not in gifted programs? "

Why does this matter and isn't that the job of a parent? Shouldn't we be asking the same question of neighborhood schools -are those kids getting enough time with those different than themselves? It makes an assumption that a kid lives in a cocoon of nothing but APP all day every day. Most kids participate in many activities that involve other kids both inside and outside their neighborhoods and school programs -sports, scouts, church, synagogue.

And in terms of services, hodge-podge is bad unless it is tied together with a coherent curriculum/framework. Are the kids happy? Ask the parents -does the district ask families who stay in their neighborhood schools if their kids are happy and really why do families choose APP or Spectrum? If the AL Office has that information I am all eyes and ears. Why have so many Task Forces been convened over the years to examine gifted-ed? Do we examine neighborhood programs with the same zeal? Nope. Blended vs self-contained, I honestly don't care but it does matter that services delivered are at least consistent across the district -not necessarily cookie cutter programs but consistent. Spare me the rhetoric about gifted-ed evolving. It's been evolving much like public education in general over the past 30 years -a victim of the shiny object syndrome and vortex called data.

Grab a Mop

Anonymous said...

For those who loved Sagan's Cosmos, (shameful plug here for my favorite science dude) Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos 2.0 is premiering Sunday night on Fox and Nat. Geo.

gazer

Anonymous said...

It might help just for comparison and perspective to look beyond our border to see what other districts do with their G&T.

Fairfax county school district (FCSD) is one of the largest districts which have a long experience in delivering G&T program.

http://www.fcag.org/gtfcps.html

for data breakdown and those concern with teachers with G&T certification, there is a breakdown for that:

http://www.fcag.org

If you read the first site, the description of its history shows an ever evolving and changing program to meet growing needs and to improve delivery. Currently, growth and budget have been the ongoing challenges and have affected delivery of its program. What I find fascinating is how honest FCAG is about the program and the differences among schools. The principal and building staff have a lot of say in how the program is structured. Curriculum is supposed to be the same, but maybe paced differently so students master the materials.

The district dropped its G&T program for HS. Students take honors, AP, or IB classes. The much regarded magnet school, Fairfax's Thomas Jefferson School for Science & Technology is usually ranked within the top 3 in the nation for best HS year after year is open to surrounding school districts, not just Fairfax students (like Aviation HS, but with public money).


Anonymous said...

I am actually a graduate of the Fairfax County program referenced above, and have to say it worked MUCH better at the elementary level than what I see out here or experience as a parent. As kids, we were able to participate in some amazing activities that I just don't see being attempted out here - Great Books program, hands on and indepth science experiments, Shakespeare plays perform at Wolf Trap, etc, etc. Some of that was undeniable linked to growing up in the DC area, and the access that gave us both practically and because of the other kids in the program (offspring of folks like Cheney, Quayle & Thurmond meant frequent White House and Capitol access, for example, something you just couldn't replicate here) - but those are the caliber of opportunities I was expecting when I first learned about APP. A huge reason that we kept our eldest at his neighborhood school was because I had more faith in it to deliver that sort of experiential learning...

Interesting side note, I was a member of the first class to attend Haycock Elementary when it became the 'permanent' home for GT (after moving around, much like here...) and I can still remember the outrage of the local community: our wing of the school had state of the art facilities, including AC, while the "base" kids (seriously, that's what they were called...) had zilch. As a kid, it was NOT a pleasant experience to be so resented, particularly by adults in the school who felt like our program had taken over their school.... Something I always think of when people talk about the design for WP, or what to do at the elementary level. Not saying I support solely stand alone schools but such wide discrepancies between what two groups "have" is a clear recipe for disaster....

On a last side note, Thomas Jefferson may be a great place for math/science oriented gifted kids, but it was SOUL CRUSHING for my bright friends who were stronger in the arts. Many of them were lost in the absence of a strong humanities problem, and either failed out or drifted sadly until graduation. I will always be glad that my humanities-minded parents were appalled by the singular focus and kept me in honors classes instead of letting me go there...

Anonymous said...

PS, Meant to add that I switched high schools halfway through when I moved to the other side of DC and actually graduated from Montgomery County Public Schools. As a student, the rigor of MCPS was MUCH more evident at the high school level, and I had a new appreciation for my parents' frustrations about grade inflation in Fairfax County. I always tend to regard the high ranking status of FCPS with a decent amount of cynicism. I'm sure it's different now than it was in the 1980's, but in those days, teachers weren't flunking senators kids despite what little work they did, and buying homework, test answers, etc. was a widespread practice....

Anonymous said...

Wondering what training is offered to teachers of highly gifted? I know WA doesn't have an endorsement, but we're from out of state and wondering what teacher's qualifications are for teaching APP in Seattle...do they get any additional/specific training? Can't see on the website...

-mamabear

Anonymous said...

- mamabear:
Teachers in SPS don't need any additional qualification to teach in a gifted classroom. They don't get any additional/specific training just the usual PD that the school offers to any other teachers they are in.
In some schools it is not even on a volunteer basis (rather a principal designation) who is teaching in the gifted classroom. (Because of this some teachers could feel this as a punishment).
Sad state

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. I received an email last week asking me to call and schedule achievement testing for my child. I had included those scores with the nomination form in October, and provided another copy last week. They reviewed the score report and told me no further testing is necessary. I received a call today - they'd like to schedule achievement testing. Oops. Forgot to take child off that list. Still haven't received an initial determination of eligibility.

Anonymous said...

Things do changed. TJST earned its rep more recently. But it was designed to be a STEM school from the get go with the focus on math and science. I agree for those wanting the humanities, this school or Aviation HS in Renton isn't it. In the 1980's, Arlington's county HB Woodlawn, the alternative folksy school was the darling in NOVA. Hancock ES is about 1000 students now, Portables galore according to my young nephew who goes there. Because of capacity issue and it's one of the sites for Level IV AAP, the district is planning to add more Level IVs to reduce the load on Hancock and other schools in similar situation. Point here is splits and redraw of boundaries happen.

And yes, the drive to get into AAP center schools (especially the ones with better rep) is a mainstay of many parents' focus. I would say it's even more intense there, but we are catching up. This program success also created similar problems to the ones we are seeing in SPS.

Anonymous said...

How many of us are waiting for responses to our appeal?

We're one. We submitted on 2/28.

Momofchattyboy said...

I'm very confused by the entire AL process. Is the cohort that important if a child is challenged at their school, even if it doesn't have a formal AL program?

My son tested into Spectrum in Kindergarten with a 99.9% cognitive score and a 141 IQ. He had a 98% on his math, but is young and was just beginning to read so his reading scores were too low for APP.

We chose not to put him in our local excellent West Seattle Spectrum class because it seemed very structured - he's a very chatty, kinesthetic learner, moves a lot, and likes to do work on the floor. We also decided not to place him in our neighborhood school with an excellent ALO program because the classes seemed crowded - he's little and young and we didn't want his chatty behaviors to be a negative. Instead, we put him at STEM for the project-based learning.

Fall MAP was on 99% for 2nd grade math (he's just in 1st), and his reading missed Spectrum by a few points. But, he's receiving excellent reading support, been placed in advanced math, and loves his project based learning at STEM (it plays to his spatial skills and need to move and talk).

His teachers have no doubt he would test into APP next year. However, is there anything in an APP/Spectrum blend (such as planned at FP) that he's not getting where he is? Is the APP cohort that important? He's chatty, chatty, chatty and moves all the time, but is doing so well. The only downside I can see is that he'll be excellerated into classrooms with older kids, and might not have many kids his age who talk his "language."

Anonymous said...

Unwilling and unable to pay for a preemptive appeal we hopefully won't need, so still waiting on my kiddo's INITIAL letter....

Anonymous said...

By the way, I agree you should look at programs and schools with a jaundiced eye beyond the stats and ranking. A good school or program built on the ability to screen means you are going to get students who are better prepared, motivated, and have parents who are very active and engaged in their kids' education. It's no surprise that many of these schools and programs also don't have the challenges of high FRL, ELL, or spec ed population.

It shouldn't be a surprise Lakeside has more National Merit scholars semis than other HS. Nor is it surprise Garfield and Interlake are up there too.

Anonymous said...

After preemptively scheduling testing because we hadn't received our letter and were heading out of town for mid-winter break, we were able to file our appeal on 2/21, the original deadline. I was told via email last week that appeal had been decided and a letter would go out Thursday or Friday but have received nothing yet. Will Advanced Learning or SPS ever do us the courtesy of explaining what caused all these delays?

Anonymous said...

Momofchattyboy--I have a kid in APP who will being going from TM to FP, and a younger child at STEM. He had the MAP scores to AL test, but I decided to keep him where he is, because he's very much the kind of learner I think the school was made for--investigational, hands on, math and science oriented. I think it should be a great place to keep a kid who is engaged like that and is stronger in math than reading. The APP cohort is very important for some and less so for others--children they can relate to is key. An APP classroom tends to be pretty structured and fast paced. I feel like we have plenty of ahead of the curve kids at STEM, so I do feel like my son has peers he can relate to. They are two pretty different environments, so it comes down to fit.
--3kids3schools

Anonymous said...

Anon @1.14: they are supposed to send a letter and an email this time, so you should at least have received an email by now..have you tried calling them?
We are still waiting too, but we just dropped the appeal last Friday..
good luck!
SE Maman

Anonymous said...

SE Maman, yeah, I've done the email route.... Enough to be told "we are having problems with your kid's scores, we will let you know..." But that was over a week ago. Sigh.... All feels a little futile at this point!

Anonymous said...

I think if you call again you will be able to get them to tell you or email you the results of your appeal.

Anonymous said...

Momofchattyboy--

I can't speak to the STEM school, but I would say that if you felt like the school is a good fit and he's learning enough and staying engaged, then there may not be any reason to move him.

The APP at Fairmont park will be totally new and the make up of the classroom is still a mystery. No one can really say how it will play out. There isn't an APP curriculum to be followed, and there will likely be blended classrooms both by grade and by Spectrum/APP. Further, there are no specialized gifted teachers because there is no requirement to have specialized teachers for APP.

It is an unknown, and your STEM school is a known that you seem to be pretty happy with. I personally wouldn't move him to the this experimental program at Fairmont park unless you felt like his needs weren't being met in STEM.

--my two bits

Momofchattyboy said...

@ "3kids3schools" and "my two bits"

Thanks so much for the input! :)

I agree, STEM seems like a really nice spot for kids who are interested in investigational hands-on math and science. They are happy and engaged and we have some superstar teachers. While the principal at FP is very dynamic, we still don't know how everything will shake out at that school. It could be absolutely wonderful, but my son is happy where he is.

When I asked my son what his favorite thing at school was (other than his friends), he said without hesitation "STEM projects and math." Our biggest worry is that so many of his buddies tested into Spectrum and are probably switching to FP. So, I hope he has a few friends who remain who "get" my chatty kid. :(

Anonymous said...

If you haven't received your scores yet, I'd recommend sending AL an email. I did and received a prompt reply -- apparently, our letter was mailed on February 15th but never reached us. A bit more disconcerting is that they included a PDF with our son's scores, but this document also included names, IDs,addresses, and test scores for 60 other SPS students. (A clear FERPA and Privacy law violation). If you also received this PDF, I'd love to know -- hoping we were a one-time mistake.

New Low for SPS

Anonymous said...

Dear New Low for SPS -

I am very disturbed if SPS is sharing private information of students in the .pdf you mention. Would you be willing to draw this to the attention of the School Board, Advanced Learning and the Superintendent. It is unacceptable to share this information - as you say, it violates privacy and FERPA. Very disheartening. This can't be repeated.

Thank you for considering speaking up about this.

Best Wishes

Anonymous said...

I don't know, maybe another parent would be faster at sharing the information than SPS....

Bitterly still waiting

Anonymous said...

@New Low for SPS - I sure hope that you reported it to AL. The FERPA violation you described is a very serious issue and it needs prompt attention.

NGC

dcarnegie said...

I did send an email back promptly after receiving the file, alerting them to the error and to not disseminate it further. We received a response late this afternoon that the file was a mistake, probably a result of the craziness of this application season, albeit a serious one. Thankfully, we were the only ones to receive this file.

New Low for SPS

Anonymous said...

"Thankfully, we were the only ones to receive this file."

How can that be verified? More likely, many many families received it.

concerned

Anon said...

Just to be fair - Stephen Martin always responds to our email inquiry on the same day.
One mom's experience

Anonymous said...

@ Twice a Coop Mom

My son has been in coop preschool for two years and this year we applied to a private preschool for the next academic year. He will be turning 4 when school starts in the fall.

We are currently torn between keeping him at the coop preschool which he really likes, and sending him to the gifted preschool. Coop is primarily play-based, no academic preparation. Between home life and Chinese school, he gets most of his academic fundamentals. While the private preschool offers a firm and caring teacher, and claims to cater to "gifted students" they say that they firmly will not teach academic fundamentals for reading, writing, or math.

How did you "prep" your child for the APP program? We think are child is a highly capable learner, and are very interested in preparing him for a future in APP (or Spectrum). But aren't sure if private preschool (with the price tag) is the right answer. What are your thoughts and experiences?

@ Twice a Coop Mom

Anonymous said...

Coop mom, both my boys (now APP) did coop as well, one for 3 years prior to public K, the other did 3 years followed by Jump Start at the Boys & Girls Club, (mostly because he has a November birthday and was much older than the majority of kids in his class so was ready for a little bit "more" that last year) and then public K. That was MORE than enough 'prep' for APP. Frankly, APP in my opinion is about natural intelligence and aptitude, not cramming ahead of time.... He's only going to be 4, with plenty of years of school in his future. There will be more than enough time for work, my strong bias is that these early years are for play...

Anonymous said...

There's no preparation to it. Read to him, talk to him and answer his questions. This is the time to play. Keep him where he is happy!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh, gifted preschool. Super funny.

App times three

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. They ring true to my ears! It's nice to hear others' experiences who have walked through this before. Nice to hear from other coop moms, too (hooray!) :)

My son is a later birthday, too. September.

@ Twice a Coop Mom

Anonymous said...

For those who have just recently had the second round of testing, how long before you were advised of the result?

Thanks!

--Mom waiting with bated breath

Anonymous said...

Just got our results, and considering the appeal route. Anyone have a recommendation for an evaluator that isn't crazy expensive?

Anonymous said...

Twice a coop mom, The best things you can do for your preschooler to achieve high levels academically, is to read to your child, talk and listen to your child (without distractions from your smart phone), sing and listen to music together, go to the library and read books together, etc. Attention one-on-one is what helps kids achieve their potential. (Plus playing with their friends and getting fresh air in a relaxed atmosphere.)
Twice APP

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:43: We used Carol Cole. Her rate is $425 for the cognitive. Not cheap, but it seems to be on the lower end of what I've been hearing. She's on the SPS list.
-CS

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the concensus ended up being last year on Jessica Greenson but she is also more affordable end.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend Jessica Greenson. She is great. In addition, for $450 she can come to your home if your kid prefers a familiar surrounding.

Anonymous said...

I second the jessica Greenson recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Twice App :)

Anonymous said...

Has anyone received their appeal letter/email yet ?

SE Maman

Anonymous said...

@ Practice Makes Perfect

Did anyone do practice CogAt tests and MAP tests with their child before the test? I'm reading some things on the CogAt website that seem to imply that practicing these does help.

Anonymous said...

Don't feed the troll.

Anonymous said...

Curious: for those of you who have successfully appealed, did your child's CogAT score seem surprisingly low given what you knew about your child in other ways, or as compared to academic testing, etc? (I know the two categories of testing are very different, just genuinely surprised by the results of our child's CogAT and trying to decide if appealing is worthwhile or a waste of time/money.)

Anonymous said...

Yes! My APP-eligible kids received CogAT scores that were low enough to be obviously meaningless. The one who is the most verbally gifted had a verbal CogAT score at the 64th percentile. If you are surprised by the score, and the achievement score qualifies, I would test privately.

Anonymous said...

Especially if you have a K or first grade student taking the oral group test.

Anonymous said...

SE Maman, I have receive my appeal decision via email but only in response to my inquiry. They promised a follow-up letter that has never materialized.

Anon @ 1PM, our 4th grade daughter's CogAT scores were lower than we expected. We (and her teachers) had assumed she would have no trouble getting into APP whenever we decided to go that route. Then, our CogAT scores came back ranging from 75-93. Private testing, however, showed a GAI of 99 and FSIQ of 97 which was much more in line with what we expected. The GAI score combined with MAP scores (and probably unnecessary teacher recs) was enough for a successful appeal.

--Done Waiting

Anonymous said...

"Especially if you have a K or first grade student taking the oral group test."

It is not an oral group test at kindergarten. It is a group test but the test questions are read to them. Very different than an oral test. They make their answers by choosing a picture (which they believe is the best answer -key word here is best) and fill in a bubble under the picture. Appeal the result especially if you know that your child needs APP.
Old Parent

Anonymous said...

I emailed on Friday asking for a timeframe within which we might receive results of our appeal (submitted on 2/18). We received an email on Monday with the eligibility results and the promise of a letter "in a few days". Still no letter, but at least we know the results.

Anonymous said...

Anyone read the red shirting thread on The save schools blog? Interesting.

Preschool coop mom- I wouldn't say prepping for APP, but if you want to teach your kid to read, and they are interested, I recommend a good phonics instruction like Plad Phonics and a set of Bob books. Teach the short vowel sounds before long... Don't let people tell you not to teach your kid something if they are ready. It's silly to hold your kid back from learning if they are ready.

TeachAKidToRead

Anonymous said...

Oh, and preschool prep for the coop mom for math... Teach your kid basic familiarity with numbers. To count to 10 forward and back. To count objects to 100. To count and group by 2s 5s and 10s... Place values to 1000. Then start addition to sums of 10 then for all single digits... Then basic addition story problems... Then subtraction and how it relates to addition. Then help them memorize well. If they get that far. Then multi-digit and regrouping.

BasicEducationIsPrepForLife

SusanH said...

Free, creative playtime is the best thing you can do for your preschool child! The academics will come, at the child's own pace. You can't prep for APP.

Anonymous said...

You sure can spend a lot of money prepping,especially for the CogAT. Whether it works...
Just google CogAT test prep. Lots of "testimonials" and promises to get onto G&T programs and private schools.

Anonymous said...

You sure can spend a lot of money prepping,especially for the CogAT. Whether it works...
Just google CogAT test prep. Lots of "testimonials" and promises to get onto G&T programs and private schools.

SusanH said...

Ugh! That makes me crazy. It's just a case of the rich getting richer, by buying every advantage. It's the like the article in Sunday's New York Times about the SATs. There is a direct correlation between test scores and parents income level, since it's all about what level of test prep you can purchase.

Anonymous said...

@ SusanH I agree and what happened to the joy of learning. Are we simply trying to cram kids heads full of multiple choice bubble-in facts? This kind of preoccupation with test prep sort of negates the idea that APP is a needs based service/program.

Sigh

Anonymous said...

APP or not...have you seen the thread on the Seattle Schools blog regarding homework? 3 hours/night in HS plus more on the weekend? It's ridiculous what we're doing to our kids, and all for what?

Getting into THE college cannot be the peak moment in our kids lives. Life goes well beyond the age of 18-22. I'm going bonkers thinking about the prospect and we haven't even started middle school. We need to let kids be kids and have a love of learning not just be in a race to cram as much info as possible.

ack!

SusanH said...

Well "ack" (are you the same person as "sigh"?):

You'll be happy to hear that our experience in APP middle school has been that there's really very little homework. My son is in 6th grade at Washington, and most learning happens in class. Maybe he has an average of 30 minutes a night? Plus clarinet practice. It's been surprisingly easy and manageable.

Anonymous said...

@ SusanH
Nope I am not ack and I am glad to hear that middle school does not burden kids with home work. It was a bit of a crap shoot when my kids were in middle school -teacher dependent. High school is different. If college is in the plan, then they need to begin the ramp-up for the demands of higher ed.especially in junior/senior years. My eldest who is now in college complains that there was not enough required reading in H.S. Go figure.

The point of my other comment was to echo yours which I did not do well. I can't stand it that some parents believe in test prep for an exam which identifies kids for elementary school gifted programs and that this is beneficial to the child.

Sigh

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I hear you. I am admittedly one of those parents who never thought I'd appeal, but now find myself doing just that... And when I was trying to learn about the WISC out of general curiosity, I was amazed by all the prep courses and what not - and the expense. I know some kids don't test well, and I wish there was some acknowledgment of that in SPS - but I'll never understand why people push their kids so hard to get into APP. If it's that hard to get in, what sort of experience will they have when they are actually there?!

Anonymous said...

Maybe they are the ones who get in are challenged in class then have 30 min homework and clarinet practice...
Perhaps it's the ones who don't get in who sit bored in a desk all day then have 3 hours of homework piled on in an attempt to keep them busy.

Perhaps

Anonymous said...

Again with the claim that people in Seattle are pushing their kids to get them into APP. It doesn't happen. It's not worth it. Did you read the discussion of what a gifted program should look like?

Anonymous said...

I bet people do push their kids. The basic Ed. Is scattered and suffers from laughable math curriculum. Spectrum is moved and marginalized and spots are on wait list even with qualifying scores. If SPS were to support it's other programs and allow grade skipping where appropriate I bet very few would ever bother retesting. APP applicants wouldn't be stressed out, and the AP office would be a friendly and helpful place.
Perhaps

Anonymous said...

If you want some real horror check out the movie 'Nursery University'. It shows some competitive craziness over preschool admissions. I think Seatilites are generally a bit more laid back, but we have all sorts of cultures and parenting styles around here too.
Scary Movie

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much to
TeachAKidToRead & Besteducatorsprep thank you for the words of wisdom. :)

TwiceaCoopMom

Anonymous said...

Would you mind the share the link to the Save The Schools blog?

Anonymous said...

Thread on the Seattle Schools blog regarding homework:
http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2014/03/homework-is-it-worth-it.html
- HW