Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What a gifted program should look like

By request, a thread to discuss what a "true gifted program" should look like and how that differs from APP.

Starting this off, one parent wrote:
A true gifted program would look nothing like APP in its current form.

Parents fight for the crumbs of APP. I wish they'd fight for the delicious frosted cake of a true gifted program. A cake that would better-serve more students than APP ever will.
Agree? Disagree? What should APP look like? What would a true gifted program look like? And, realistically, what changes can happen and how?

Update: By request, the comments in this thread are unmoderated and the discussion wide ranging. Wade into the comments at your own risk and expect off-topic rants and anonymized personal attacks. Keep your shields up and, despite what you see others doing, please try your best to keep it civil.


Anonymous said...

A true gifted program? Oh boy, that's a topic for a different thread and I'm sure there will be many strong opinions. If a new thread gets started, feel free to copy my opinion over to get the conversation rolling.

Here's my off-the-cuff-thus-incomplete gifted program:

A true gifted program would emphasize depth of subject matter and complexity of thought, NOT (solely) acceleration.

A true gifted program would incorporate project-based learning.

A true gifted program would allow for - in fact insist upon - a variety of demonstrations of mastery of material beyond written reports and standardized tests.

A true gifted program would have teachers who acted as much as guides as authorities.

A true gifted program wouldn't penalize English Language Learners.

A true gifted program would welcome and accommodate students with disabilities ("twice exceptional" students.)

A true gifted program would recognize and accommodate asynchronous giftedness. (Giftedness in one area, but average or below average skills in other areas.)

A true gifted program would NEVER use MAP to screen for giftedness. (I think my passion on this point can be duly noted.)

A true gifted program would not equate "early readers" with "giftedness".

A true gifted program would seek out learners with talent in the 3rd big area of intelligence (spatial) in addition to math and language abilities.

A true gifted program would recognize and serve exceptional talent in creative arts, performing arts and creative thinking.

A true gifted program would accommodate kinesthetic learners.

A true gifted program would recognize and address the difference between student "potential" and student "performance." It would serve students with potential as well as students with demonstrated performance.

(Related to the previous point:) A true gifted program would work its tail off to reflect in enrollment the socio-economic makeup of the district it serves.

General education classroom behavior would neither help nor hinder admission to a gifted program.

A true gifted program would provide social-emotional skill building.

A true gifted program would have a dedicated, professional, strategic, funded central staff as well as requiring all teachers and administrators in the program to have training in gifted academics.

A true gifted program would foremost a service -- not a location(s).

A student would emerge from a K12 gifted program with a deep love of inquiry learning and a confidence in one's self. A certificate allowing a student to "skip ahead" in future studies would be a byproduct, not a goal, of the program.

A true gifted program would look nothing like APP in its current form.

Parents fight for the crumbs of APP. I wish they'd fight for the delicious frosted cake of a true gifted program. A cake that would better-serve more students than APP ever will.

Unfortunately, I don't see that cake being baked by this district anytime soon. Let alone a cake with frosting on it.

Been There

Anonymous said...

I can't say I see SPS rising to most of these anytime soon, but for the first time this year they did test all CogAT takers on the "third big area of intelligence" (spatial) you mention by including the nonverbal test on the CogAT and considering that area for eligibility. I think that's one (of the myriad reasons) they're so behind this year. They likely underestimated that extra time that would be required to administer and score a test that is now 1/3 longer than in previous years.

As a prospective APP parent, I'm very interested in social-emotional learning too. Any feedback from current parents on how the LASER program is going over?

Anonymous said...

Well.. this seems like a dream... is there any program like this in entire US.. let alone seattle.

Greg Linden said...

Oops, sorry, I should have made it more clear, I copied that first post in this thread from a different thread.

I just realized it's a bit awkward with the first paragraph referring to a different thread (when this is the different thread right here), but hopefully it all makes sense.

Anonymous said...

@CS...About that spatial screen...Yes, that was a minimal step in the right direction. Unfortunately...
1) CoGat is not an especially good instrument for spatial screening.

2) Spatial giftedness is often hidden behind average or below average language (and arithmetic, believe it or not!) skills in the primary grades...so those kids wouldn't be getting the CoGat screen anyhow, based on MAP scores. (Except in South Seattle where they screened all kids, which again was at least a little step in the right direction. If CoGat was a good screener for visual giftedness, which again it is not.)

3) APP as a whole completely neglects to address spatial skills. Neither does it present lessons as a consistent practice in ways that reach visual learners. So a student with spatial skills, having been identified, wouldn't be served by APP.

And @ Anonymous: Yes, there are many examples of districts which handle most of the requirements of the gifted programs I've laid out. But I'm not going to do SPS's work for it here, nor do I want to go down a rabbit hole of debating one program implementation vs. another. I have to spend my free time supplementing my own child's academics, as I mentioned in my first post today. My point, however, stands. SPS does not offer a gifted program. APP is not a gifted program. It is an achievement program in which some gifted children participate.

Anonymous said...

Errgh. Keep forgetting to sign. That was Been There above.

Anonymous said...

And...CogAT not CoGat...Hopefully I didn't confuse anyone. I get myself in a spin cycle every time I think about the reality of the APP program and its administration vs. what *should* be available in this well-educated, creative city. Apologies.

Been There

Anonymous said...

A true gifted program as outlined above would have about 20% of the number of kids in APP currently. It would be real boon for the district if they could truly serve these kind of kids. They ARE special needs kids and need help.

Lynn said...

William - why? Would it not meet the needs of the other 80%?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps what's needed is a more flexible program to better serve those 20%. I'd argue APP in its current incarnation is not serving them well.

Anonymous said...

Not sure where that 20% number is coming from. And do you mean from the general population or the gifted population? Thinking you made up a percentage to make a point? I don't have a percentage either but my guess is there are a whole lot of kids in APP that aren't getting quality (what they need) and a whole lot of kids outside APP in Seattle who should be in a gifted program.

This will be controversial but I'd be willing to narrow the achievement scores to the top 98 percent if it would mean broadening the program to include other areas of giftedness as outlined in that first post. I am one of those parents troubled by the nondiverse makeup and the nondiverse talent of the current APP cohort.

Anonymous said...

What's a "true gifted program" anyway? It seems to me that before any determination of what is should or shouldn't be, we'd need to first understand who it's supposed to serve. Are we talking about the very rare exceptionally or profoundly gifted children? I agree APP does not serve these kids well, but it would be hard to design a program for such unique, individual needs. Are we talking about highly gifted kids--which likely includes many of those in APP, as well as some not? Or do we perhaps mean a "true gifted program" that also serves mildly and moderately gifted kids (probably some of these in APP, too, as well as others in Spectrum and Gen Ed)?

Kids with different levels of giftedness often have different needs, and a one-size-fits-all type gifted program likely won't work for all. That's part of the reason you end up with some people arguing for greater levels of inclusion (e.g., spatial intelligence, single subject giftedness, creative talent), and others advocating for tighter restrictions and a higher eligibility bar.


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, all of our children are individuals, and it sounds like a lot of what people want is for their child to be treated as such. This description of the "frosted cake" is essentially what ANY parent would want. Have we lost the idea that every person has a gift or talent?

Individualized education would be great. We are on a blog for a public school with class sizes generally >25 that is designed for the academically gifted.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:55, what you say is true, but I'm not clear on your point. Are you saying this shouldn't be a matter for discussion, that the status quo is fine? Or that there shouldn't be such a program at all, since we all have some gift?

I agree that individualized instruction would be a challenge to provide (and said so in my post). However, I do strongly believe that a gifted program--if it's intended to serve a broad moderately/highly gifted population--should include provisions for dealing with exceptionally and profoundly gifted children as well. We have legislation to require special services for highly capable children for a reason--because these kids need something other than the typical education. This is even more the case for those especially unique kids, no? Or do you feel that because they are so unique, they don't merit consideration?

By definition, there aren't a lot of these exceptionally and profoundly gifted kids. Since your typical gifted program is not likely to meet their needs, they should qualify for IEPs. The district needs to find a way to help work with families to help meet the needs of kids who can't be reasonably served by existing programs and services. This could include options such as partnerships with online programs to allow kids access to materials beyond what the schools can provide, or opportunities for independent study on campus. I'm sure there are a lot of other small things a district could easily do to accommodate the needs of extreme outliers, but there's no flexibility build into our program. There needs to be some, within reason.


ben said...

One random thought many of the points brought up in the starting post are qualities that are not isolated to a gifted program.

For instance, I'd like any quality school to

* have opportunities for project based learning.
* have teachers guide as well as lecture.
* not penalize ell students.
* welcome students with disabilities.
* Recognize asychronous development.

etc ....

My primary desired quality would be that a program ought to challenge every kid to reach their potential and not wall off opportunities. I.e. a best fit curriculum for each child rather than very crude and inflexible buckets.

Anonymous said...

The wish list sounds wonderful, and it would be great if all kids in SPS (not just those identified as gifted) were subject to these kinds of educational practices.

But get real folks, this is SPS and we are lucky to have a building for them to go to let alone any of the bells and whistles one might hope for in a gifted program. Maybe thats what spending upward of $20,000 a year at Seattle Country Day might get you.
So yes, dream and discuss all you like, but in reality the financial, capital, and political constraints (not to mention the general incompetence) of the district means virtually none of this is likely to ever get beyond dreams and discussion. And in fact, would anyone actually trust SPS to implement the wish list without f***ing it up like they do with everything else?!

I for one, am grateful for what we do have. I am grateful my kids get to go to school were they are at least somewhat challenged each day, where there is a focus on developing social and emotional skills in addition to the 3Rs, where the teachers are pretty energetic and inspiring (for the most part) - of course, they are constrained by the curriculum/CCSS etc just like other SPS schools.
So whatever visions we have of how great a "real" gifted program could be, and how much better we could identify gifted kids in all their permutations, I think we should not lose sight of the good aspects of the program/schools we currently have. It serves many of our kids very well (or at least a lot better than the alternatives in the this district).


Anonymous said...

I think our APP community makes a mistake when it says what it has is good enough. Because other families hear that as "I've got mine so to hell with yours."

APP already has a bad enough name and I think that instead of circling the wagons on our own students, we should advocate for more services for gifted and talented students. Would that really be so bad to ask for?

It wouldn't hurt our own kids either. I've seen other programs and Seattle's certainly isn't "all that."

Anonymous said...

@Anon @10.41
I wasn't meaning "I've got mine so to hell with yours" at all. The post was specifically describing what an ideal gifted program should look like. I said that it would be great if many of these things were available to all SPS students regardless of their 'classification'. How is that saying 'to hell with yours?"
You seem to be saying that we should advocate for more services for gifted and talented students and that sounds pretty self-interested - it's like saying " I want even more than we're currently getting and to hell with yours". Thats not great PR for APP.

I am not saying what we currently have is all that great or even that it is better than what others have - simply that it suits the needs of my kids (and many others there) better than their previous schools and for that I am grateful. I am grateful for the staff who do their best for our kids despite lack of district support or vision for the program. I am grateful for the existence of the program in its current form because, although it could be even better, it could also be subject to change for the worse.
There are likely to be changes in the identification and provision of services to gifted students but there is no telling how this will play out and whether any of these wish-list items will be addressed or indeed whether any proposed changes will be welcome and/or implemented well or as promised (given SPS history).
I do believe it is a travesty that the needs of many SPS students are not being met in their current schools, hence the growing numbers going through the testing process and enrolling in APP.
But I was just pointing out that while the aspirational items listed here are all well and good, we have to be realistic.


Yasmin said...

APP is a select program for high achievers. Yes, truly gifted kids are in it, but it's not geared for them. It is an escape valve for parents who want an elite, read white and middle class, education for their kids. Before NSAP, it was a road out of the integrated and therefore scary world of SPS for well educated parents. Now APP is a country club program for those with the savvy to get in. As Willam said, the needy kids do not get served very well and the district is looking at two tier system if they don't scale it way back and serve all kids better at their neighborhood schools.

Anonymous said...

There are kids who really are outliers, and I think the accommodations HIMSmom suggested should be available to them. They are probably best served within the APP community - to give them as much of a peer group as possible.

Kids with IQs of 130 are considered intellectually gifted just about everywhere. It gets very tiresome to hear claims over and over again that APP is a club anyone who is savvy can get their kids into. I never have the impression the complainer has any doubts about their own child's worthiness.

Finally, It's easy to see so many areas where the district could improve - but I can remember my school years with no gifted program available. I am grateful for what we do have.

Anonymous said...

Over 130 is gifted but do those kids need a self-contained program? That's the question. There are kids who need it and there are kids whose parents want it. I also don't want to see a district with two layers, it WILL get gamed inevitably. We need to make neighborhood schools accommodate gifted and high achieving kids and reserve APP self-contained for more outlying kids.

Anonymous said...

You're right, we do need to make neighborhood schools do that. Until then, my non-outlier kid is coming to APP next year because she hasn't learned a single thing this year. Sorry.

The 140 club

Anonymous said...

Germane to this conversation, I think - an excerpt from an article in The Seattle Times this a.m. about Julie Breidenbach, perhaps the most respected accelerated learning principal in Seattle. She has left Thurgood Marshall for Fairmount:

...She knows her audience – a crowd that embraces her support for accelerated learning — yet the principal is blunt about her disdain for excessive homework or any practice that sequesters high-achievers, keeping them apart from other kids.

“Good luck finding that world where your child only deals with people just like him,” she said. “That is not my world.”...

I am glad we have this resource coming to West Seattle. I am OK with the blended Spectrum-APP service being started as I do think my child will be served, but without some of the SNAPP exclusionary feel. I understand why SNAPP has had to band together. Its treatment by SPS has been wrong. On the other hand, I don't think parents understand or care to understand how exclusionary the group appears to outsiders. Even understanding the SNAPP situation and being sympathetic, I felt it.

I think West Seattle is a chance to offer services differently. It is a more diverse community in economics and ethnicity. It has a leader that is not fixated on achievement as measured by tests. I like to think that some of that ideal list at the beginning of the post could make it into our new program, as it will be small and somewhat below the political radar. I intend to bring the list to Breidenbach to discuss what is implementable from her perspective.

If any SNAPPers decide to relocate to West Seattle, I hope our program will welcome you and any of your children with warmth.

"Fairmount Bound"

Anonymous said...

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone bought out the old 'middle-class, white, elitist' canard about APP. Actually you could well be describing our previous neighborhood elementary school.
Get the chip off your shoulder - parents are not flocking to APP because they want to segregate their kids or get them a country-club environment (have your seen Lincoln by the way?) Even private school families head to APP when their kids academic needs are not met in their posh private schools.
It's the academics, stupid. That's what we choose APP for - so that our kids can actually learn what they are capable of learning. So that they can be challenged, maybe struggle a bit, and learn that not everything comes easy, sometimes, but with perservance they will get it. Maybe to allow them to 'safely' experience failure an overcome it (all these immensely valuable lessons/skills). To allow them the experience of fitting in intellectually with their peers, and yet still experience the diversity of skills, interests, quirks.
It's not the building (decrepit), the location (where-ever it will be next?), the staff (same SPS pool), the district support (what support?), the public perception (being labelled white elitist is a downer), or the white, middle class predominance (often comparable to your neighborhood school depending on zip).
Is APP excellent at providing the academic, social/emotional, creative enrichment - not really, but it's a damn side better than nothing.
Most APP families would welcome more diversity. It is the districts job to deliver that though - add it to the wish list. Most districts that have gifted programs adopt similar criteria for entry to ours. I'm not sure why it is so controversial here.

Anonymous said...

So yes, dream and discuss all you like, but in reality the financial, capital, and political constraints (not to mention the general incompetence) of the district means virtually none of this is likely to ever get beyond dreams and discussion.

Although the parent who wrote this no doubt did not intend harm to other communities, it must be said that this is the sort of reasoning that went on in all-white enclaves in the 50s and 60s. Things worked for the people "within" and they weren't, as a whole, inclined to lobby for expansion to those "without".

Can APP parents really not see why a lot of administrators, teachers and parents do not like the program as structured?

The criteria laid out by ?? at the beginning of the thread is a hella lot more visionary than anything that's come out of SPS or APP parents or those lackluster advisory groups that have been thrown together. It's a starting point for discussion that I like it a lot. All I see on this thread are APP parents who say change can't happen (beyond some additional early screenings.)

Is that really acceptable thinking from achievement oriented families? Because I don't think so. The nay-saying is just....wrong.

How about some additional positive brainstorming?

I would love to see a specific screener for ELL kids, for instance (so that means an emphasis on non-verbal skills), and then see ELL support built right into the APP program, which it certainly is not today. And yet, ELL support is supposed to be located with ELL kids so why can't it be built into APP? "International Schools" specifically work based on this model in many countries. I know some very very bright kids who are learning English as a second language and don't have English support at home. I would love to have these neighborhood school kids make the leap into APP and be in my daughter's cohort. Great for them. Great for my daughter.


Anonymous said...

I don't think anybody is thinking that what we have "works" for lots of families. I think people are saying it would be great if it was better, but our district is so mired in politics and willing to listen to the sorts of mistaken assumptions laid out by the troll up thread that app will never see any real improvements at the district level. that is *not* to say other schools won't or that general education will not get better. I think math is improving as we speak with the committee, and I hear the middle school science curriculum is about to increase rigor. My gen ed students do well with our current language arts program, but I hear people are working on that too. Some well connected k-8's and a few other interest groups can affect change, but app cannot, certainly not for its own program. We are no board member's darling, as we are in no one's district, and we have no advocates on staff. I do not think the task force will have any positive effect at all. I think it is being held so that staff and the board can say they had community engagement, and then they will do whatever they wanted in the first place. Which may not be bad, but I think that is what will happen, based on what happens with every other task force.

I am well aware of how SNAPP appears to some outsiders, but I've also spoken to enough of those same people when they had no idea that I was affiliated with SNAPP to know that nothing short of entirely dismantling the program and sending all the kids back to their neighborhood school would be enough for them. Probably I should put a sign on my child that says "not so smart" in penance for having closed to send them to app in the first place. It's not rationality, for the most part, and misdirected toward parents instead of staff when the complaints are valid. In a functional district I wouldn't feel threatened by that because gifted education is basic education, and I could trust the school district institution to maintain gifted education and take seriously the charge of educating kids who are ahead, even if some people didn't like it. Here that's not the case.

I am willing to promise you zero of the families at Lincoln moved their kid to "escape" diversity. That's absurd. I'm not sure he often you have found reaching out to people who call you a bigot has been effective, but so far in my life it never has, since they have already made their decision. so yes, I do ignore those people most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above: You articulate your reasoning well. But you reinforce my point. Your reasoning ends up defending the program as is and says there is no opportunity for improvement.

I am not saying anyone is a bigot. I am saying that the APP community advocating for additions to the program would remove the external perception that APP is not welcoming.

Make sense? Again, those on this blog are smart. Surely we can come up with some suggestions to improve the program for future and current students?

And I don't agree that we don't have an advocate. Sue Peters, new board member, is an APP parent, isn't she?


Anonymous said...

I was referring to the country club comment above with the bigot thing.

There is an enormous leap between cynicism and defense, and it's disingenuous of you to make it when I did not! Not thinking tilting at windmills is a good idea is not the same as defending the status quo. I try to change what is possible to change, and in my case that's math for gen ed students. I have seen that process work, and the district work with families, and the space between the way a more politically popular group and app is treated is such a gaping maw that yes, I think it is insurmountable. I've been in app a while and am pretty firmly convinced app has no voice and no potential for one unless some external changes happen (more stable, reliable JSCEE, less politicking of the board, change in state law, takeover by the legislature, etc).

I don't agree with you that advocating for anything in particular would change perceptions about app. I watched during the growth boundaries debacle- it really didn't matter what we advocated for, people were offended by anything and everything.

Plenty of board members have had children in APP (Kay smith Blum), but that does not make them advocates for the program. Board members like programs 1) in their district and 2) politically popular.

Anonymous said...

Edited to clarify- I'm speaking as part of a more politically popular group/school community above, and know how much better I and the school are treated in those circumstances than when I have tried for app.

Anonymous said...

...the principal is blunt about her disdain for...any practice that sequesters high-achievers, keeping them apart from other kids.

“Good luck finding that world where your child only deals with people just like him,” she said. “That is not my world.”...

I have to quibble with this attitude when it comes to teaching young gifted kids. Sure, none of us as adults lives in a world filled with people just like us, but remember, we are adults! We have life skills and a level of maturity far beyond that of the typical 6 year old!

Isn't elementary school supposed to be a safe place for kids to learn social skills? To practice making friends? To learn what behaviors turn others off as well as those that draw people in? If a child isn't in an environment with others who will "get" him, he isn't going to be able to practice those skills effectively.

I recently read the book "Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind," which has a long chapter about the educational needs of kids by level of giftedness. Here are some relevant quotes:

"Whether or not Level Two students will feel particularly odd, different, or lonely depends upon which type of school setting they experience. Intellectual compatibility is ultimately more important to social relationships and interactions than socioeconomic class. If they are in a school where there are many other like themselves intellectually... these students will experience more positive feedback & acceptance than if they are with others who don't understand what they are talking about."

"People in Level Three can experience social difficulties because they are seldom with others like themselves. The key for good social interactions & friendships is to arrange classes & activities in which other Levels 2-5 people are involved. Young people learn good social skills when they spend time with others who get their jokes and share many of the same interests and abilities."

"...Level Four people often have trouble making casual social connections. Social awkwardness can be painful. During childhood, parents... can try to place them in special programs with other very advanced children as often as possible... It makes no sense to force Level Four children to work on any but the most rudimentary friendship skills with others who are intellectually very different from them.... A large metropolitan area might establish a school and provide transportation for all students who are this bright, as has been done in the Seattle area..."

"Many gifted children find it hard to find others with whom to form close friendships. Unless they get support in developing both friendship skills and finding venues where others who are like them congregate, they may feel that something is wrong with them."

(to be continued...)

Anonymous said...

Also from the book and perhaps the most relevant quote:

"Many educators say that children need to be with people their own age in order to learn social skills and to 'just be a kid.' 'They need to learn to get along with others,' is a phrase that is frequently heard coming from teachers. Mixed-ability grouping, however, puts children together who have very different interests, senses of humor, and perception. Coupled with the natural immaturity that accompanies childhood, this situation is not a good recipe for learning how to enjoy other people. We learn social skills from people who *have* social skills, usually the adults in our lives, not other children. When children have little beyond their age in common, they can be very intolerant, even cruel. Because highly intelligent children tend to have different interests and abilities than the majority of their classmates, they are often rejected, teased, or bullied by age peers. [They] require an emotionally safe and supportive environment while they are young and still learning about their place in the world. If parents can arrange things so that their children have the change to experience regularly accepting and supporting environments when they are young, these children will gain the wisdom and experience to deal with and enjoy people from a variety of backgrounds and interests as they mature."

So, to me, rejecting self-contained APP classes because they don't represent the "real world" that adults live in is a real dis-service to these kids, who need a peer group in order to develop their social skills.

--social skills fan

lisa said...

APP parents have to ask themselves if they want a district with a self-contained program for gifted and high achievers. Sure, it works to a degree in providing academic rigor, but there are ways to that in neighborhood schools. Are we going to have test-in schools for the arts as well? For high level athletes? For science high achievers? For exceptional writers? It's certainly possible and some big city districts do it. Kids in NYC schools start cramming in pre-K to get into certain schools and it keeps going through high school.Test prepping kids is a big, big business there.
My kids aren't in APP and, frankly, I agree that it the program probably keeps families in public school who might otherwise leave and gives many kids a challenge they would not find at neighborhood schools.
But do we as a district want to change that and keep kids with their neighborhood peers? The APP community seems pretty content with the status quo. It works for them better than the current alternative, but do they want it to change and do they see a change back to neighborhood schools, if the rigor was there, as a positive thing?

Anonymous said...

@ social skills fan

I believe you will find a number of academics, including within SPS, who would disagree with the premise of that book. That's academia for you...no point left undisputed. :-) The key, I think, is that academics will take each other more seriously than they will plain ol parents.

So Breidenbach's viewpoint will carry much more weight within SPS than any of us parents quoting a book. I have visibly seen administrators and teachers recoil from parents insisting on self-contained programs for their children. I think we can win some expanded services but I doubt we can do much about whether APP remains self-contained (or not). Administration will decide and will quote whatever academics they agree with.

Pragmatic Mom

Anonymous said...

Ditto what social skills fan said. Ms. Breidenbach may be an experienced and respected advanced learning principal in Seattle, but it doesn't sound like she really understands the needs of highly gifted kids. Spending 13 years in school with kids you don't relate to is NOT a good recipe for learning to deal with life, unless the lesson you're trying to teach is that you'll never fit in so might as well learn to deal with the masses. Sorry, but I want my kids to find people they relate to and develop deep, meaningful friendships. By bringing together a lot of gifted kids into one program, APP increases the likelihood of that happening.


Anonymous said...

And just to be clear, I'm not advocating for keeping my kids away from others who are not as academically gifted. They are exposed to kids of all types via the neighborhood, sports teams, activities, etc. They learn to deal with the general population by virtue of living in the general population. But what they don't find in the general population are kids and teens they relate to. Self-contained programs can help with this.

As usual, I get the feeling that most folks advocating for inclusion don't have extremely gifted kids who really need the program. It's like our own version of ed reform, where outsiders know best.


Anonymous said...

The problem is not whether it is theoretically possible or desirable to provide increased academic rigor for those who require it at neighborhood school.
The problem is the ability of SPS to do this is a well planned, consistent, equitable, demonstrable fashion.
This is the premise of ALO, spectrum etc and as we can see this is a total free-for all. Every school does it differently or not at all. Every teacher differentiates differently or not at all. This is not fair or equitable for students. This is why parents with kids who need or are capable of more are leaving these schools for APP.
If you would like to see APP divided up at neighborhood schools keep in mind what has happened with spectrum.
Keep in mind that the gifted kids who will suffer the most in neighborhood schools are not those in the more affluent NE suburbs (for instance) where the neighborhood schools have a relatively high proportion of 'advanced learners', and therefore more opportunities for group differentiation, peer relationships etc, (not to mention active parents).
It is the ones in poorer, or more diverse neighborhoods, that will lose out -the ones where gifted kids might be real outliers among their peers and where the most of the classroom effort is focused on addressing the needs of struggling kids or ELL etc. How are the academic and socio-emotional needs of these kids (who may be perceived to be doing fine compared to their classmates, or who may be acting up out of boredom) going to be adequately met?
It is great shame and a missed opportunity that schools who have a high proportion of AL or APP-qualifying students can not provide more academic enrichment for their kids. It seems that the grade standards are used as the ceiling rather than the floor in these schools - they could take so many of their student further but the seem to be opposed to it on philosophical or political grounds. If these schools took really looked at the potential in their students and seriously tapped into it, instead of just paying lip service to ALO, they would become much more attractive prospects. But even if some schools were able to do this, it still makes the whole situation inequitable and all about where you live.
At least with self-contained APP, any kid, from any kind of family, in any part of the city, who meets the eligibility criteria has access to the program. They don't need to live in the right area to go to a so-called 'good school' or have pushy parents lobbying the teacher or principal for more differentiation in class in order to challenge them. They don't need to be the nerd, or the goody-two-shoes, or the annoying disruptive one that can't sit still and be quiet because he already got that concept 3 days ago the first time it was introduced and now he is bored witless.
Of course we can aspire to better and wider reaching services but remember who we are counting on to develop and implement these.
Can we trust SPS to really install and oversee robust, consistent AL programs in every school (or at least a school in every neighborhood zone) when they have not kept similar promises they have made to AL community in the past?


Anonymous said...

I was at the Fairmount Park meeting where Julie made those comments. She wasn't saying the kids don't need self-contained classrooms - she thinks self-contained schools are not necessary. I think APP kids at FP will be fine academically. By choosing FP students are gaining a couple hours a day of free time - that's a big deal especially for the youngest kids. They are giving up the larger peer group that Thurgood Marshall and Lincoln provide. These kids will likely have the same classmates from first through fifth grades. One of my children will be well served there. The other (luckily past elementary age) would not have. That child (very asynchronous in skills) needed more from a program.

I'm in favor of making optional programs like this available - that way families can decide what works best for them.

The much more interesting thing about the meeting was that the principal of Madison showed up - it appeared Julie didn't expect that. It was a uncomfortable because most parents who had questions about the transition from FP to middle school were looking for confirmation that their children won't have to attend Madison. People are willing to stay at Thurgood Marshall if it's the only way to access Washington and Garfield.

I give him credit for showing up. Madison has a reputation for rejecting gifted programs (and the idea of gifted students) - they were the last middle school to implement a Spectrum program. There are still only around 100 students enrolled in it. His comments didn't inspire a lot of confidence. He said they don't know what the plan is - Madison is waiting to hear from the district whether they're going to become an APP school. He said they're a Spectrum school now and they couldn't be both APP and Spectrum. He also said that families are asking the district to make West Seattle High School an APP school so students don't have to leave West Seattle for high school. The fact that he can't imagine having both APP and Spectrum in one school confirms my impression of Madison. The statement about West Seattle High School was suspect. Has anyone ever heard an APP parent saying they hope to send their kid there? I do think Spectrum parents have some ideas about what they'd like to see at WSHS.

Anonymous said...

Yasmin - I don't even know why I'm responding to you, but your comment about APP parents wanting a "white and middle class" education and calling it a country club are just too much. It IS all about the academics, stupid. I've been dealing with people like you for years now, and moved my kid to three different schools before finding APP. Our neighborhood school in the NE was FAR more white and affluent. We had $100K plus auctions with a "golf" theme before moving to a broken down school at Lowell and finding our place. And we just did our tours for HS - we could have gone to our very white, nondiverse neighborhood high school, or Ingraham (more diverse) or Garfield - which is about as mixed racially and socio economically as you get in Seattle. We chose Garfield for the academic fit - the diversity was just a bonus for us. It's not a perfect progam - and the district needs to address that yesterday - but you are bitter and wrong if you think people choose APP for a "white middle class" experience. I guess only if your kid has struggled in several fine neighborhood schools do you get this.
-just saying

Anonymous said...

You can call Yasmin stupid but my understanding is Lincoln has les than five FRL kids. No other school comes close. Country club doesn't describe the building but the attitude and exclusivity.


Anonymous said...

Yasmin, Kingston and others so fixed on calling APP parents disparaging names and stereotyping based on misunderstanding and misperceptions: PLEASE STOP!

Labeling APP it "white elitist" is RACIST and offensive. It is no more appropriate than if I were to call someone "white trash"

Seattle's socio-economic and demographic diversity IS NOT APP's creation, and the purpose of the program is not to fix all of societies ills.

It is a program designed to met the educational needs of academically highly gifted kids.

I'm tired of APP being the punching bag for all of the inequity in SPS and SEATTLE.

I agree that we should test ALL kids and provide avenues for identifying ELL kids.

AnduUniversal preschool should provide opportunities to kids that otherwise aren't supported academically to develop their giftedness so that they can be identified.

Again, the purpose of APP is not to be the most socio-economically and racially diverse program/school in the district. It is to serve the educational needs of highly gifted kids.

Please stop turning APP in the whipping boy for all of our social and economic inequities.

I'm all ears for positive suggestions for creating more equality across all of SPS.


Lynn said...


Have you read any of the research on the effect chronic stress has on cognitive ability? When a family deals with food or housing related uncertainty, or the parents can't provide a predictable household schedule, or children are unsupervised before or after school, or the neighborhood they live in is unsafe, the children's brains are not functioning optimally.

In my own experience, when I've been under a lot of stress for an extended period of time, it was obvious to me that my cognitive functioning was impaired. Ask any parent how well they'd do on an IQ test in the weeks (or months) after their child is born.

The fact that there are very few children at Lincoln that qualify for FRL is not at all surprising if you take a moment to think about it.

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I wasn't calling Yasmin stupid. I was referring to the early comment, "It's about the academics, stupid" which I believe is a reference to the slogan, "It's about the economy, stupid." I apologize if I was inartful. I don't agree with Yasmin but hope to be above name calling. Point taken on Lincoln - however, I would like to see it compared to Laurelhurst, View Ridge, Coe, and others in SPS who are never targeted here. And it doesn't address my statement about Garfield - most of the APP parents I know are choosing high schools MORE diverse than their neighborhood ones.
-just sayin

ben said...

There's a lot of space between kids having no intellectual peers to relate to and going to an all AL school. I'm with Julie in the idea that you can provide a program that meets student needs while still part of a larger more heterogeneous community.

That said if the different populations of kids are still so isolated from each other that they don't regularly interact I'm not sure how much benefit they are getting out of the overall school's diversity.

Greg Linden said...

From the moderator, anonymity should not be used as a shield for lobbing personal attacks. Please tone it down (or use your real name).

In general, the topic here is improving how APP serves the kids it is supposed to serve. Let's try to stay on topic and keep it civil.

Anonymous said...

Two points, just sayin',
the schools you mentioned have dozens, 30 to 40 or more FRL kids. And, yes, Garfield is very diverse, ut the program, the cohort, is still the same exclusive group. Predominantly white middle class with very, very low FRL.


Anonymous said...

I'm confused by some of the comments. Why would Breidenbach have been talking about self-contained schools? Surely she made those comments in the context of her move to Fairmount Park from Thurgood Marshall, which is just swapping one type of self-contained class for another.

I don't think *anyone* in the district is talking about creating self-contained schools. Lincoln is only configured that way due to the capacity crisis. No one there asked to be a self-contained school. It's just what happened over the course of one summer due to capacity mismanagement.

The reality is that Breidenbach has agreed to be the principal at a school that will apparently put children who score at the 87th percentile or higher on the CogAT into self-contained classes. This change ensures that the highest achievers aren't "sequestered" from other kids, to use her language. When you go from having kids in the 98th/99th percentile together in classes all day to having those at 87th percentile and above together, you have in fact ended "sequestration" for the most highly capable. The key question is whether that's a good thing to do or not, for any of those kids.

Remember, what they are doing at FP isn't some sort of new model based on best practices; it’s just Spectrum with a guaranteed seat for APP kids. Any APP family who wants their child in Spectrum has that option now, if a spot is available. Some families have found, unfortunately, that being in Spectrum or an ALO program isn’t enough for their APP-qualified kid. That’s why many have chosen “traditional” APP over the years. I hope that option still exists in a few years for the handful of kids whose needs might not be met in this new “blended” program.

--social skills fan

Anonymous said...


Dozens? I'd have to see those numbers. And this is where APP is damned if they do, damned if they don't. The charge was APP parents chose a white, middle class educational path - choosing Garfield over the local, all-white school seems to refute that (but not for you, I guess). True the program, such as it is in HS isn't as diverse as it should be, and I acknowledged that, but there sure as HELL is lots of mixing in HS, unlike at the elementary school level. All electives, clubs, sports, social, etc are with a mixed student body. Won't you at least acknowledge that it is far more diverse than other schools? High school isn't elementary...some of my (non-APP) neighbors are horrified I would send my kid to "that area". They stay safe at our local white high school - yet no one here criticizes them. I'll stop now, as there is no point in trying to change the mind of those you choose to villify APP. We can't win. Go on believing I chose it because it was full of white rich people. Sigh.
-just sayin

Anonymous said...

Wow, that all sounds so awesome @Been there AND I've heard it said that you can you anything, but you can't do everything.

I would love to see APP improve on many of those points you mention, but this list is honestly unrealistic for a public school district so radically underfunded and challenged by many other issues.

However, I'll pick my top 3 wishes for APP from your list:

--A true gifted program would emphasize depth of subject matter and complexity of thought, NOT (solely) acceleration.
--A true gifted program would recognize and address the difference between student "potential" and student "performance." It would serve students with potential as well as students with demonstrated performance.
--A true gifted program wouldn't penalize English Language Learners

While I agree that it would be SOOOO awesome if there were schools in SPS for the musically gifted, artistically gifted, and so many other gifts, we can't do everything, so why don't we just focus on doing what we can, and doing it well? I don't see how it can try to have APP focus on so many different types of gifted-ness.

And, being new to this community, I'm completely baffled by how much contempt there is for APP. When we realized our kid would need something different than the neighborhood school, my neighbors turned their nose up at me. One mother told me that "like, 50% of APP kids are on the [autism] spectrum!" Talk about misperception.

In other places in the world it is a status symbol to be in an accelerated learning program. In Seattle you are call elitist and actively disparaged. I don't get it.

So there are MANY reasons why this whole list is impossible at this stage, not the least of which is that public perception is that those APP kids are taking up more than their fair share of the pie. Push APP back into every neighborhood school, and let the bullying commence.

A previous poster is right: in theory this all sounds wonderful, but in reality there are constraints. I want to live in a multimillion $ house and have a house keeper and a private jet. But I can't because I don't have unlimited resources, and neither does a public school district.

Given what I saw last fall during the growth boundaries process, I'd be happy if we managed to hold onto self-contained classrooms. Pushing APP back into neighborhood schools would force teachers to differentiate across 27 or more students all the way from kids who aren't even close to reading at grade level to kids to are 2-3 grades ahead.

It is simply impossible to do everything all at once, and asking teachers to essentially teach 3-4 classes at the same time is crazy. We don't bat an eye at kids being grouped by age, and yet, there is a ton of ire at grouping kids by ability when it comes to academics. Again, I don't get it.

And the slippery slope of trying to do it all is going to mean that nothing gets done well.

The issue is complex, and I appreciate the pie in the sky exercise. AND I hope and pray that the deciders (i.e. the task force and the district) don't do what I fear they are going to:

Make APP a "service" at every neighborhood school instead of a well designed program that is consistent across a few locations (not to be insular, but to make efficient use of resources) and actually serves these kids' educational needs.

While lots of folks in the SPED community believe strongly in "mainstreaming", at the same time as offering special services to accommodate special needs, I personally think that the special needs of AL kids are both better met AND more efficiently provided when you DON't "mainstream" them.

It is all about the academics, AND being efficient with finite resources. It isn't about being exclusive.

--infinite possibilities but finite resources

Anonymous said...

To Kingston and the other trolls who like to play the white/elitist/middle class -card.
We don't choose APP because it has low FRL/predominantly white population. We choose it because our kids either need or will benefit from the accelerated curriculum and intellectual peer group and/or because they were not doing well at their existing school (which could be neighborhood, option or private). Even if APP had a very high FRL or ethnically diverse population, we would still choose it. For many, that would make it an even more attractive option. Note - when APP was at Lowell this was actually the case. Garfield is another example.
Families who chose APP can't be held responsible for the make up of it. The district determines the eligibility criteria (and they are pretty standard nationwide) and is making increasing efforts to improve the identification of gifted kids in underrepresented populations. We'd be happy if that effort is successful. However, the reason why many of these groups are under represented in advanced learning, or are performing less well in other educational settings (societal, racial, financial disadvantages, etc) are something that Seattle and the US as a nation need to address- we can't expect SPS to fix it, nor can you blame APP families for it.
I know I shouldn't feed the trolls but I just hate the unfair characterizations that go on here.

Anonymous said...

I think Kingston looked at the school reports.Calling people with different opinions and observations"trolls" is a way to diminish them. Lynn, are you saying poor people are too stressed to be smart? I hope not.

Anonymous said...

There is pretty conclusive research that being impoverished to the degree of chronic stress (as opposed to lower income but secure) does translate into doing poorer on IQ tests. Here's a study that got some air time last year- http://phys.org/news/2013-08-poverty-cognitive-ten-iq.html
That's just one little example, but there are a lot. It's not a straight line, though. Being richer doesn't make you score better after you feel stable and secure.

In my experience Lincoln is lower income than the NE school we came from overall. Many more students live in apartments or have both parents work just workaday jobs, not all Microsoft, lawyers, and doctors. I don't doubt that students with food insecurity don't score as well as they could if they were not food insecure, but if we had a better measure like median income I'd bet a lot that Lincoln would not be in the top 5 wealthiest schools. Not, of course, that that would convince people who just don't like advanced learning.

Anonymous said...

@Katy - SIgh,
Firstly, noone is saying poor people are too stressed to be smart. A lot of evidence points to the adverse effect that impoverished, violent or dysfunctional households, uncertain housing conditions or homelessness, mental illness or drug addiction in families, and other adversity has on educational outcomes. This is not because the kids are less smart - it is because many live in situations that are foreign to many of us - lack of parental supervision or support since parents are working multiple jobs, stress owing to exposure to violence, multiple families living in crowded conditions - no room to study. No books or reading aloud. Irregular bedtimes. Not enough food. No english speaking families and kids may be translating for adults when needed. Missing school. Even with the same innate intellectual capacity, many of these kids will not perform as well at school (or in society) as their well rested, well fed, read-to, peers who have all the advantages of the middle-class. This is why universal preschool is a good idea. The earlier poster was pointing out that this is one reason why such kids are underrepresented in AL.
It takes some sort of societal intervention to break this cycle.

People get called trolls when they post inflammatory statements guaranteed to rile folks up (these things get said on this blog and the Save Seattle schools one whenever the topic of APP or AL comes up) rather than presenting factually-based argument or opinion. Is calling APP families "elitist white middle class racists" not also a way to diminish them?

Anonymous said...

anon at 5:34--

I'll take a stab at answering the question. The push back with charter schools is because our schools are already severely underfunded and charters will take away funding and focus it on specialty schools and in some cases unproven pedagogy while leaving the vast majority of the communities in the lurch. It is about the fair distribution of resources.

We also have this weird social thing that might be called Seattle liberal guilt. You notice how folks go out for a nice dinner in a fleece and jeans? It's because there is more status in being average outdoor seattlite joe/jane than there is in carrying a birkin bag and wearing jimmy choo shoes. Seattleites hide signs of affluence or success, instead of flaunt them.

This concept carries through for some folks on the idea of having a school (not just stand alone classes) that is dedicated to gifted learners. We couldn't possibly ask for that because we are really just like everyone else and having a school dedicated to gifted learners is exclusive/elitist.

It is actually illogical, but deeply rooted in the value system of the Seattle culture.

Personally, if programs like the Cascade Parent partnership have enough of a different model for educating those kids that they deserve their own stand alone site, then APP REALLY SHOULD have their own school(s). Language schools get their own schools. ESTEM gets its own school. Option schools with various pedagogy get their own schools.

But APP, the program designed for gifted kids that is actually supposedly REQUIRED by state law shouldn't have its own school because that would be perceived as elitist.

In this town parents HIDE that there kid is in APP unless you are the company of only other APP parents. It's uncomfortable, because when someone asks you where your kid goes to school, and you say APP they take a step back and gently say, "oh!" The more bold folks will tell you why they hate APP and why it should be abolished.

Our neighborhood school used to have Spectrum, but it was dismantled a few years ago because of the intense social pressure and perceived "Those kids are getting more than my kid."

I'm not kidding here. This runs deep in Seattle culture...

--cultural realities

Anonymous said...

Wait Moderator, I don't see that post I was responding to any more...

Did they delete it or did you?

--cultural realities

Greg Linden said...

From the moderator, yes, the post promoting charters looked spammy to me and went over my (very high) threshold for off topic, and I just warned about avoiding personal attacks and staying on topic, so I deleted it. I hate deleting comments, by the way, and do it very rarely, only a few each year. I'll leave the response, but can we please stay on topic?

The topic is how APP should serve the kids it is supposed to serve. Let's try to stay on topic and keep it civil.

Anonymous said...

oh, Greg, thanks for letting me know. I was a little confused.

I actually thought it was a very fair question.

If we are talking what a gifted program should look like, why doesn't it make sense to have a stand alone school(s) that is/are focused on all of these things which Been there has laid out?

Personally, I'm opposed to charters in Seattle because of how they pull away funds, but their question was a fair one.

We already have lots of option and alternative schools that are sort of like charters in their structure, but the name is different and technically SPS still has more influence than what happens in a charter. World school, AS#1, all the language schools, Cascade Parent Partnership etc... Each of these schools/programs are built around specific educational offerings.

APP is the program/school that is a specific educational offering for Highly gifted kids. And in the private school side of Seattle, so is the Seattle Country Day school and Evergreen.

Why ARE so many voices opposed to a stand alone APP elementary school, and especially why do so many APP parents on this blog oppose the stand alone school concept?

To build what Been there is suggesting, it would take cohesive vision and leadership, and that is much easier to implement if you actually have more cohesive influence over what is implemented. That can happen much more easily at one school with one focus, instead of schools that are focusing on the educational needs of an incredibly wide range of kids.

What if SPS actually had 3-4 schools like Seattle country day or Evergreen for our AHG kids?

--cultural reality

Anonymous said...

Uh, I thought the topic was "what a gifted program should look like." No mention of APP. No mention of some absent and arbitrary rules that would get my comment deleted.

Had no idea asking an honest question about gifted education - in a charter format - would be considered that incendiary or "spammy." As a newcomer, I was honestly trying to understand if a charter might better serve gifted students in Seattle, which completely relates to the topic at the top of the page.

I guess I shouldn't have mentioned I'm from California. Tolerance and inclusiveness only goes so far, I guess.

Anonymous said...


Like I said, I thought it was a fair question, and you did say you were from California. I appreciated it.

And, I think Greg accidentally punctuated the point I was making. Seattleites talk a lot about inclusiveness and respecting diversity, but in reality we tend to include only people who agree with us.


--cultural reality

Welcome to Seattle.

Anonymous said...

cultural reality: I really appreciate your kind and welcoming words, thanks! I thought I was asking a fair question, too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

going back to Yasmin's post she said parents who want an elite, white, middle class education. She called no one racist. Don't parents who go to U Prep want an elite, white, middle class experience for their kids? does that make them racist? Yamsin didn't say it and if you inferred it, that's on you. Facts are facts, there are almost no FRL kids in APP.
Now being FRL does in no way mean dysfunctional, as I hear represented here.It only means lower economic class. So the jump to FRL kids having a predisposition to academic inferiority is bogus, to say the least.
To get to the meat of the issue, many, trolls as they are called frequently, believe that our APP program serves too many kids who are merely high achievers and does not serve well the truly gifted. Struggling to cope with high cognitive abilities and the accompanying problems is something the district should be addressing better. IMHO, creating a separate system for high achievers is not a good idea.


Anonymous said...

The FRL income cap is very, very low. I should know; we've skirted it. Are you honestly saying that at that income level there is no greater incidence of food insecurity and monetary stress in households than households above that line? Let me inform you then, because you don't seem to have had that experience the way I have- there is. It's not enough money for the security and stability kids need.

What program serves the "merely high achievers?" Neighborhood schools expressly don't. Find something else for them before leaving them twisting in the wind.

Poor House

Anonymous said...

$552 per week gross for a family of two, to be precise. $13.80 an hour for a 40 hour week. I've lived that life and known many others who have and they have the stability and security of family and enough money to survive just fine. What they don't have is the white privilege of college educated parents, english spoken at home, drug and gang-free neighborhoods, and being a member of the dominant white culture. They have food and clothes and love at home. They are not deprived.
no one said anything about abandoning high achieves. I just, respectfully, disagree. I feel that we do not want a two tier system in SPS, with advantaged high achieving kids separated from the rest of the students. Only those students with true special needs, i.e. very high cognitive abilities and adaptive difficulties, placed in self-contained classes and programs.


Anonymous said...

Why is gifted a dirty word in Seattle? At one time, Scandinavians were the largest immigrant group in the area. The culture they brought with them valued collective success over individual achievement. A novelist in the 1930s coined the term Jante Law to to describe this attitude. The ten rules of Jante Law are:

You're not to think you are anything special.
You're not to think you are as good as we are.
You're not to think you are smarter than we are.
You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are.
You're not to think you know more than we do.
You're not to think you are more important than we are.
You're not to think you are good at anything.
You're not to laugh at us.
You're not to think anyone cares about you.
You're not to think you can teach us anything.

This attitude is alive and well in Seattle.

Anonymous said...

APP specifically serves kids that score in the top 2% of kids on a nationally -normed IQ test AND who perform in the top 5% in measures of reading and math skill. They are not merely high achievers. Having a very high IQ does not necessarily correspond to high math/reading achievement levels, nor do high math and reading achievement scores necessary indicate a very high IQ. To qualify for APP, kids must demonstrate both very high IQ and very high academic performance in reading and math.
The pros and cons of the various tests that can be used to obtain these scores are up for debate but the intent of the program as it stands is not. It is quite clear. I hear a lot of talk about a lot of APP kids not being truly gifted or just being high achievers or whatever but the fact is, that according to these widely used objective measures these kids can be categorized as academically gifted. That is not to say there are not other forms of giftedness, or that there may be very high IQ kids missing out because they do not have sufficient math/reading achievement performance.
I'm not exactly sure what people think 'truly gifted' kids are supposed to look/act like. The fact is they are all different. The spectrum of ability/intellect at the very top (and very bottom end of the bell curves i.e top and bottom 2% of IQ scores) is very wide.
Anyways, we don't go around thinking of our kids as gifted or talented or whatever. That just happens to be the label used to define them on the basis of quantitative tests, but I don't think of those terms as defining my kids on a personal level.

Anonymous said...


You make an excellent point. Actually, it is two excellent points, and the point you aren't making is that these two issues aren't related to each other, and they may even have contradictory solutions.

If the goal of APP or any gifted ed program is to serve the needs of the highly gifted, and that isn't being done very well now, what are the solutions? Tighten up the identification criteria and build a program focused on meeting the complex needs of these kids?

And if the goal is to include more FRL kids in gifted education, then what is the solution there? Is it to loosen the identification criteria and/or focus do lots of things to bolster their educational exposure so that they can meet the identification criteria? Why aren't there more FRL kids in APP? It certainly isn't because those kids who are in it are kicking out FRL kids. There are other much more complex reasons, and the minimal number of FRL kids in the program has very little to do with whether or not it is serving the truly gifted now.

Further, logic tells me that gifted kids are likely to be high achievers when given the opportunity. I think this may hold true for all people: provide the opportunity and the resources and people rise to the occasion.

So how can we separate the gifted from the high achieving? That's a tough one. I'm not even sure what the point to that would be.

Either APP is designed to meet the needs of only highly gifted learners, or it is designed to try to serve the entire spectrum of abilities (including doing something to entice more FRL kids) but can't really do both at the same time.

Should we do more to bolster and educate all kids? Should we provide the opportunity for all gifted kids to participate in gifted education regardless of their income status? I think yes.

But the primary goal of APP or gifted ed should be to serve gifted kids.

--cultural reality

Anonymous said...

Having "love and clothes" and "surviving" is not the same thing as a stable home without the sorts of financial and daily stressors that cause a child to perform less well on any test, including IQ tests. You seem intent on romaticizing being poor and so remaining blind to science, but when I was poor enough to qualify for FRL life was definitely more stressful for my child. It is just absolute fact that at that income level there are higher levels of chronic stress among children of all races, even if it's just skippy for a few families with excellent social and family networks. And no amount of moving around program definitions or schools helps that at all. Certainly not getting rid of our city's gifted program, or sending children you don't consider deserving back to programs which universally refused to serve the, in the first place.

Poor House

Anonymous said...

@ Tulip
Of course not all poor families have the sorts of difficulties that impair kids ability to learn or perform to the best of their innate abilities.
I know this because I grew up in a very poor, working class family, with an alcoholic father, but I was loved, and my mother and grandmother took a real interest in my schooling. My sister and I were the first in our extended family to go to college and I became a physician. Many less- well off kids end up doing very well in schooland/or life. But you can not deny that many kids growing up in poverty or challenging circumstances (e.g. new migrants) are disadvantaged in our educational system. I am not saying they are not loved, or that they are all deprived but there are clear societal disadvantages. I was not saying this to disparage poor people, but to explain why it seems hard to get reasonable diversity in the APP program - therefore why it open to these allegations of providing a "white- middle class education'.
All kids regardless of background have access to APP if they meet the the SPS qualifying criteria. I'm just saying there are barriers to meeting these that some innately talented kids face that others do not and there needs to be some way for society as a whole and perhaps to some extend SPS to address this.
I respectfully disagree with your '2- tier education system comments'. It sounds a lot like you want a to lower the ceiling rather the raise the floor. Like somehow the high achievers should pay penance for their advantaged status.

Anonymous said...


I was going to leave this one be, but I can't...

Using the words "white" to describe a group of people and "not racist" together is an oxymoron. Using race to categorize people and terms like "white privilege" are by definition, racist.

I'm totally with you about the cultural and social realities of poverty and the inequity and disadvantage that many people of color continue to face because of the awful legacy of this country and the continuing subtle and not so subtle racism that exists.

And I totally agree that we need to do more to create equality in our society. And all kids deserve a basic education.

The solution is not to stop serving gifted kids because other kids aren't being served well enough. The solution is to build programs that will serve all kids appropriately, and design them to be color blind to the best of our ability. That's not to say culturally insensitive, but that to continue to incorrectly racially categorize APP as "white" is offensive. My kids APP class is actually rather culturally diverse: east indian, east Asian, middle eastern, a German, and a brit to name a few...

--cultural reality

G.S. said...

It's not about just identifying gifted kids, it's how to serve them. Having a system like the current APP is creating a larger and larger group of kids separated from the rest of the district. That's a reasonable approach and one that is done in many districts, NYC schools is an often used example. There are other models however , that reserve self-contained programs for those students of a higher cognitive level than we currently use in SPS. Gifted children are still identified and served, but mostly in neighborhood schools. It's really about where the line is drawn for self-contained and how services are delivered to all gifted students. Keeping students in neighborhood schools does not necessarily mean less services, it could provide more.
On the other hand,if we want test-in self-contained programs, we can have them. We can keep APP like it is, make it larger, add new self-contained programs or reduce self-contained. I believe that is what the current Task Force is discussing. There are valid arguments for all approaches.
As regards FRL students, the last TF worked on that issue and again, there are different strategies, such as lowering standards for entry, affirmative action, alternative tests,maybe more. Gifted ed is an evolving field and to think anyone has all the answers is naive.

Anonymous said...

Let me try digest this, mentioning "white privilege" is racist? It's a real academic term and I'll give you you one citation.

"White privilege is a form of racism that both underlies and is distinct from institutional and overt racism. It underlies them in that both are predicated on preserving the privileges of white people (regardless of whether agents recognize this or not). But it is also distinct in terms of intentionality. It refers to the hegemonic structures, practices, and ideologies that reproduce whites' privileged status. In this scenario, whites do not necessarily intend to hurt people of color, but because they are unaware of their white-skin privilege, and because they accrue social and economic benefits by maintaining the status quo, they inevitably do."

— Pulido, L. (2000), "Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California", Annals of the Association of American Geographers 90: 15,


Anonymous said...

Tulip, I'm honestly confused by what you've said. Your quote says it: "White privilege is a form of racism..."

The conflation of APP as "white privilege" is directly calling it a racist program.

Are you saying that APP is a racist program, or are you saying that you can use the term "white privilege" and it isn't identifying APP as racist?

Anonymous said...

High emotions, wasted energy and useless debate now.
all parents have one goal - provide best for their kids. Is there one best solution to that - oh god no. So put urban opinions with careful consideration as if u r responding on facebook please.
Not every one will become a Mozart or Einstein. . And Mozart / Einstein of the world happened irrespective of educational system, s limitations..
so in good faith.. lets be respectful of others and have a healthy conversation.. and do best what u think for it kids with the current 'rules of the game' or change the game.. whining and disrespecting anonymously won't make any kid superstar.


Anonymous said...

I know that there are more important points being made on this post, but I just have to respond to something "cultural reality" posted - "You notice how folks go out for a nice dinner in a fleece and jeans? It's because there is more status in being average outdoor seattlite joe/jane than there is in carrying a birkin bag and wearing jimmy choo shoes."

This is hilarious. I am a native Seattleite (yes, they do exist), and this is not why I proudly wear fleece to restaurants. I wear fleece because it's more comfortable and because I am am incapable of paying $500 for a pair of high heeled shoes - not to mention that I would not be caught dead in high heel shoes. (I don't know what a birkin bag is). Playing dress-up is not my idea of a good time.

Seattleites, as a vast generalization, do not tend to flaunt their wealth, but American society as a whole tends to look down on intelligence. Why can we have varsity sports, which require tryouts and are therefore "elitist," but varsity-like education is a problem? It's because we value football more than education. Look at how much we pay for sports palaces as compared to our schools. That says it all.

Until we have good, universal pre-school, none of this is going to change. Lower income children now enter the district at a disadvantage and they are not catching up. There have been lots of studies that show that if a kid is behind in 3rd grade, they are unlikely to ever catch up. And our public schools don't currently have the staff or financial supports to help those kids to catch up. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2011/04/the_disquieting_side_effect_of.html

Blaming current APP parents - who have NO control over who enters the program or what criteria are used- does not change that we are not serving far too many kids well. Holding some kids back as a misguided attempt at "fairness," only hurts those kids and helps none.


Greg Linden said...

From the moderator: Fine, sorry, I thought I was being helpful. It is true that there seems to be some interest in broadening this discussion to the existence of APP and efforts to keep this on topic are probably futile. I'll put the two comments I deleted back (should be the two following this one) and stop trying to keep this on its original topic. I'll add a warning up at the top-level for this thread, but go at it.

Anonymous said...

Wow. cantakeit, you are falling into the mode of defensiveness so unbecoming and stereotypical of APP parents. Relax and let people have their say. Better to know your enemy, Don't provide any more ammo with rants. And Lynn, your statement is really beyond the pale. So poor people are too stressed to be smart? Whoa, put a brake on it. You do APP parents no service with statements like that. I think Yasmin and Kingston are being polite and restrained. They happen to have ideas you don't agree with, but they are not attacking you. Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

Won't charter schools address some of these needs? I moved here from California, a very charter-friendly place (and where nearly every teacher wants their school to go charter!). I don't understand the anti-charter movement here, when in the future a lot of these truly gifted children will be able to attend a school designed by teachers and parents *specifically* the way you described in your first post. We came from a gifted charter. The teachers had very specific and unique skills and training. Academic freedom and managing a school the way you - the parent - see fit seems like a dream for families with gifted children.

Anonymous said...

White privilege is a form of unintentional racism, but, yes, APP is a racist program by professor Pulido's definition.Here is a definition that may be less offensive,

"Experts define White privilege as a combination of exclusive standards and opinions that are supported by Whites in a way that continually reinforces social distance between groups on the basis of power, access, advantage, majority status, control, choice, autonomy, authority, possessions, wealth, opportunity, materialistic acquisition, connection, access, preferential treatment, entitlement, and social standing (Hays & Chang, 2003; Manning & Baruth, 2009)."

— Vang, C. T. (2010), An educational psychology of methods in multicultural education, New York: Peter Lang, pp. 36 and 37


Anonymous said...

Annnnnnnnns there we go. Off the rails. App mirrors seattle's demographics though not currently the sps system's. People are working on that, though I agree with those people that a higher priority is more economic diversity- you keep flip flopping, but they are not actually the same thing. App is more diverse racially than my neighborhood school, though. No, it is not a racist program, except that by virtue of us living in a racist society every program is a racist program. Just like your school, Tulip.

Anonymous said...

So for those who consider APP to be a racist program because it has a higher proportion of whites than the district overall, would it no longer be considered racist if there were lower entry standards for non-whites, to achieve a more racially representative APP population? Or would that be even more racist? Or is racist either way, and nothing APP parents can say will change that? Curious to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

US society as a whole, and the education system are are manifest example of white privilege. We get that.
But why come here bashing APP - it is no more or less an example of white privilege in action than any other sector of SPS system or Seattle society in general.
SPS can't change the ills of society, and what would satisfy folks like Tulip anyway - a whole separate school system (charters?) that do not operate on the basis of white privilege? I'm not being facetious - I am genuinely interested in what should/could be done differently to remedy this issue (In APP, in SPS in general, in society as a whole).
Marmite makes some great points - about needing to close the achievement gap before school even starts, and my personal bugbear ….

Why do people admire, aspire to, and support sporting achievement but not academic achievement. Why is it that noone expressed any concerns about fairness, equal opportunity, elitism, etc in our multi- tiered sports systems with their has special programs/teams for the most gifted in their sport (elite sports in other words), but so many people are uncomfortable, and downright nasty about identifying and nurturing academic talent or potential.
Apply the Anti- APP arguments to sport - why should we have select soccer teams? Why shouldn't the best players play on the same team with everyone else - why do the players with advanced skills get grouped into select teams with more intensive coaching, and groomed to go even further in their sports - aiming for the Sounders etc. Why is that fine - but grouping academically advanced kids together and giving them more advance tuition bad? People have the wrong priorities here - I read there is a lot less emphasis on sporting endeavors in in countries like Finland etc that are outperforming the US in education .


pm said...

The more I read about gifted learners, the more I begin to realize the importance of the environment in shaping IQ. Music lessons increase IQ. Enrichment activities increase IQ. Enrollment in Rainier Scholars leads to a huge proportion of those underrepresented students qualifying for APP/Spectrum. What I think we need is some sort of "transition program" to recruit underrepresented students in the lower grades and tutor them intensively until they qualify for Spectrum/APP.

Anonymous said...

Is MTSS on the horizon? It will force kids back into neighborhood schools if implemented as I've read it will be.

Lynn said...

Here's a PowerPoint presentation on how students are chosen to participate in Rainier Scholars, what is required of the students and families and the eventual results. It's a very successful talent development model, but I don't think it's workable for most families.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread premise. It's getting a bit sidetracked though. Let me try to bring it back, via someone's post from 10:49 p.m. last night that got me thinking:

I hear a lot of talk about a lot of APP kids not being truly gifted or just being high achievers or whatever but the fact is, that according to these widely used objective measures these kids can be categorized as academically gifted. That is not to say there are not other forms of giftedness, or that there may be very high IQ kids missing out because they do not have sufficient math/reading achievement performance.

Here are my main two reasons for agreeing that Seattle does not have a gifted program:

1) It has precious little bordering on no implementation of gifted teaching methods, supports or curriculum, aside from acceleration of presentation of materials.

2) Aside from this year's pilot CogAT screening in South Seattle, SPS uses an academic screen not a cognitive screen as a selection device, which means it is a barrier to entry for many gifted children. Grade school MAP measures home support, early reading skills and to some degree teacher talent. It does not measure giftedness.

So, to parents perfectly happy with APP as an academic acceleration program, which I bet are the majority of parents on this blog, there isn't a problem with the set up of the current program.

But to others, it is a sham.

How to address the latter group? That's in my next post, because my thoughts are too long to fit in one Blogger field.

Involved Parent

Anonymous said...

1: Stop promoting APP as acceleration. Change its name to and promote the program as depth. Train teachers to dig deeper in creative presentation and in expectations of their students to show unusually broad/deep mastery of ideas. Also, make emotional growth/support a core component of the program.

2: Use a cognitive screener first not secondarily for admission to the program. It is the cognitive screen that is key. That addresses the initial poster's point that APP should admit kids with potential, not just performance. A cognitive screen at a couple of grades - say K,2 and 5 would hopefully also address today's racial and income disparities in the program in a much fairer way.

On the cognitive screen I'd recommend nomination to the program based on asynchronous(completely agree with the initial poster here)giftedness. That means the top of the top in Verbal and/or Mathmatical and/or Spatial. You aren't losing any multi-area gifted kids in this process but you are now including some of the most interesting, potential-filled, desperately in need of SPS services students who are in our system but are excluded from APP right now. It is indefensible that these kids are not served in our top program for intellectual capabilities.

Naturally following from this admission criteria would be more ELL and SPED services within APP because those kids would be within APP.

I don't know what the cutoff would be on the Intellectual screening scores - I guess it would be at whatever level we can support funding from state/city.

My most controversial proposal: I would drop academic scoring altogether as admission to this gifted program. Yes, altogether. I'd insist that every single school offer accelerated (vs. gifted) learning in its schools. Students should not have to leave their buildings to get accelerated programming access - and downtown academic administrators need to get off their duffs and get the currently laughable grade school expectations for serving accelerated kids upgraded pronto.

In the scenario I paint, one of my kids would remain in the gifted program. One of my kids would not. I would be OK with the return of the one who would not make an intellectual cutoff receiving advanced services at her local neighborhood or option school.

As readers can see, I have put a lot of thought into this. I don't expect everyone to agree, but I do expect everyone to understand that APP as currently structured is not sustainable, and changes have to be made. Moving to a gifted program gives structure to those changes.

Involved Parent

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tulip for clarifying your point. While some folks might see this as off-topic, I don't think it is.

The question is "what should a gifted program look like?" To answer that, we first need to ask "What is the purpose of a gifted program?"

If I'm understanding Tulip's point correctly, part of the purpose of a gifted program is to sustain white privilege. The program itself is the embodiment of "a combination of exclusive standards and opinions that are supported by Whites in a way that continually reinforces social distance between groups on the basis of power, access, advantage, majority status, control, choice, autonomy, authority, possessions, wealth, opportunity, materialistic acquisition, connection, access, preferential treatment, entitlement, and social standing."

I can see the point, though I would ask you to think more broadly about the forces at play. The original gifted programs (like KC, MO in the 80's) were designed in part to attempt to desegregate schools. The idea (however flawed) was to build programs that would motivate white people to attend schools in the largely black, inner city. I was one of these kids who got bussed across town where my teachers were all black and the school was 90% black, and my class was 80% white though 50% FRL.

It was a great education on so many levels. I was challenged academically and socially and my understanding of diversity and bias and cultural realities runs deep. care very deeply about these issues and agree with you that we need to do more to build a more equitable society.

Fast forward to Seattle over the past 10 years years. Efforts to desegregate the schools were abolished, and Seattle returned to a neighborhood school assignment plan. Wealthy and middle class predominantly white neighborhoods now have boundaries for their schools which don't include the diverse demographics of the city. Queen Anne, Wallingford, Green Lake, Ballard, Fremont, Laurelhurst and so forth are all largely white and middle to upper income.

It is the SPS student assignment plan which no longer supports attempts to desegregate schools that is actually the embodiment of "white privilege" as defined.

APP, on the other hand does NOT discriminate based on where you live. The criteria is "giftedness" and kids are bussed in from all over the city.

While many kids will never have the chance to go to JSIS or JAK8 or Laurelhurst (whose PTA raises something like $800k) because we can't afford to live in those neighborhoods, Gifted kids all over the city have access to a school/program that challenges them.

In this way, APP and gifted education is still on the right side of attempting to desegregate the schools. It doesn't exclude FRL intentionally, while some neighborhood schools now exclude racially diverse and lower income kids.

I'll be very curious to see the results of the 2nd grade CogAT screening from SE. Many district automatically screen all kids in 2nd grade, which would help make sure that more gifted kids are identified and can access gifted education services. If we did that, we would do a better job of identifying gifted kids from all walks of life.

And, consider this. What if APP were returned to neighborhood schools? The same schools that are performing poorly and are not serving FRL gifted kids appropriately will continue to not serve them appropriately. I think it is the already disadvantaged kids that would be most harmed.

I totally hear your point about white privilege, and think that the actual mechanism within SPS is the neighborhood assignment plan, NOT APP.

Pushing APP back into neighborhood schools will only further disadvantage FRL kids.

--cultural reality

Anonymous said...

Some great points I'd like to second:

"--Stop promoting APP as acceleration. Change its name to and promote the program as depth. Train teachers to dig deeper in creative presentation and in expectations of their students to show unusually broad/deep mastery of ideas. "

"Use a cognitive screener first not secondarily for admission to the program. It is the cognitive screen that is key. That addresses the initial poster's point that APP should admit kids with potential, not just performance. A cognitive screen at a couple of grades - say K,2 and 5 would hopefully also address today's racial and income disparities in the program in a much fairer way."

"The more I read about gifted learners, the more I begin to realize the importance of the environment in shaping IQ. Music lessons increase IQ. Enrichment activities increase IQ. Enrollment in Rainier Scholars leads to a huge proportion of those underrepresented students qualifying for APP/Spectrum."

And there was another mention for Universal pre-k programs.

I really like the ideas for building up our program, instead of dismantling it.

--cultural reality

Lynn said...

Involved Parent,

The task force on identification is recommending that we administer universal cognitive screening tests to every student in kindergarten and second grade.

I would like to see achievement testing requirements dropped in kindergarten through second grade. CogAT or IQ scores at the 98th percentile should qualify students for the program.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this discussion!

The current APP program makes lip service but not good service to find public school gifted kids.

I can explain best by cribbing a webpage from Seattle Country Day School, which advertises itself as a gifted program. We can't afford that program, but we can afford to do critical thinking about its public school counterpart. I'll see if I can cut and paste from the Country Day site, but if it comes out wonky here is the address: http://www.seattlecountryday.org/gifted_bright.html?current=three

SPS's APP program enrolls bright kids. Some of those bright kids are definitely gifted but they are not getting the services they need and deserve. This district needs a gifted/talented program. It also needs to do a better job of serving bright kids. Let APP serve the bright kids. But don't let that preclude a gifted program.

Advanced Learning Mom

Anonymous said...

This is supposed to be a side by side comparison. See the web page for easier reading.

Advanced Learning Mom

Bright or gifted? Some comparisons

The Bright Child

◦Knows the answers
◦Is interested
◦Is attentive
◦Has good ideas
◦Answers the questions
◦Top group
◦Listens with interest
◦Learns with ease
◦6-8 repetitions for mastery
◦Understands ideas
◦Enjoys peers
◦Grasps the meaning
◦Is receptive
◦Copies accurately
◦Enjoys school
◦Absorbs information
◦Good memorizer
◦Enjoys sequential presentation
◦Is alert
◦Is pleased with own learning

The Gifted Child
◦Asks the questions
◦Is highly curious
◦Is mentally and physically curious
◦Has wild, silly ideas
◦Discusses in detail; elaborates
◦Beyond the top group
◦Shows strong feelings and emotions
◦Already knows
◦1-2 repetitions for mastery
◦Constructs abstractions
◦Prefers adults
◦Draws inferences
◦Is intense
◦Creates a new design
◦Enjoys learning
◦Manipulates information
◦Good guesser
◦Thrives on complexity
◦Is keenly observant
◦Is highly self-critical

Janice Szabos: distributed at 1988 CAG Conference by Redlands Unified School District

Anonymous said...

1) It has precious little bordering on no implementation of gifted teaching methods, supports or curriculum, aside from acceleration of presentation of materials.

Exactly. It is the source of many issues within APP. With no official district defined curriculum, teachers (that are not required to have gifted ed training or even a basic understanding of the needs of gifted students) have an excessive amount of academic freedom. Textbooks for LA/SS may or may not exist. Teachers may not even cover grade level standards. It can be good, great, or plain awful. You don't know what you'll get each year. So maybe not too different from any other classroom in SPS.

As far as identification, both IQ and achievement testing are required because the program is largely acceleration. In order for students to be successful, they need to be achieving at high levels already. If the program were designed differently, then perhaps the identification procedure would reflect that. They are tied together, which has me concerned for the two separate committees on AL. Identification and program delivery are linked. To work on one facet without knowing the other seems problematic to say the least.

Dropping the achievement testing requirement may mean students enter the program and struggle. It doesn't mean we should ignore these students, but they might need to be served with different services than those that have both high IQ and achievement testing.

The other issue is that the committees are just looking at APP, rather than how to serve all gifted learners (you know, Spectrum and ALO). The structure of APP depends on the services of Spectrum and ALO, and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

We already supposedly have a system that distinguishes the "bright" from the "gifted."

Spectrum should be for "bright" kids and APP should be for "gifted" kids. That list a few posts above is the same as or similar to the one that Dr. Brulles uses to distinguish the two groups in her cluster model of gifted education. And her clusters don't put the two groups together.

We don't need to reinvent the wheel. We could simply support robust Spectrum programs throughout the district for high-achieving kids who can work beyond grade level while improving APP to be the program that meets the needs of high-potential/high cognitive ability children, regardless of where they currently are on the achievement ladder.

Screening for cognitive ability at K and 2nd grade makes a lot of sense. I would oppose doing it only at 2nd grade because I know too many children who were miserable and out of synch in their neighborhood schools at ages 5 and 6. We can't afford to make those kids wait until 3rd grade for an appropriate environment.

--social skills fan

Anonymous said...

@ Lynn: Are you on the AL Committee or do you have a way for me to communicate directly with them?

I am SO excited to hear about the discussion for K,2 universal cognitive screening, and I want to help kick it into reality.

I want to reassert another screening @ 5th, in the name of equity concerns. At 2nd grade, kids without home resources may still lag in their intellectual development. Another screening @ 5th would give our system (our inadequate system!) additional years to expose them to ideas and experiences that can boost intellectual scores. These kids need that later screener.

Kids new to the district in 6th and 7th grades should also be screened.

Also, I am pleased that you agree achievement testing at the earliest grades is unnecessary. Any insight into what the committee thinks? I want to push the point that it is not only unnecessary...it is inequitable and is part of the reason the APP program has a bad reputation in many quarters.

Anonymous said...

(Involved Parent wrote above comment.)

Anonymous said...

I don't know enough about IQ scoring. Does 98% cutoff allow for uneven giftedness? Can off-the-chart abilities in one area overcome deficiencies in another area to ultimately achieve a high score?

If it does not work that way, then I see a problem with Lynn's premise about who should be admitted to a gifted program. Those uneven kids need the gifted supports perhaps even more than the 'uniform' kids.

Anonymous said...

@involved parent,
excellent insights.
Agree that eliminating all achievement based testing would gather more underrepresented groups as well as more gifted kids in general.
Would like to see a three phase testing regimen of cognitive testing followed by creativity testing followed by individual intelligence testing.
As far as delivery, s self-contained cohort could be replaced by a once a week day-long session at a central location for work on projects of depth, with students bussed from their neighborhood schools.

interested parent

Anonymous said...

Involved Parent-

There is some information posted on the AL page about the task forces, though I find it confusing and you have to dig to get the details. As you can see, the AL office is swamped, so making sure that all of the details of the TFs are posted might be low on the priority list.


The TF that started last October is the one that has focused on identification. They have not yet published their recommendations, though they spoke to them a bit at the Kick off meeting for the second TF meeting which was held on Wednesday. My understanding was that someone from that TF who is also on the second TF will be writing them up soon.

The TF meetings are open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend. However, I don't think that future meeting dates have been decided yet.

The APP-AC was intimately involved in designing the charter for the current TF (the one that is deciding program delivery). I wonder if you should/could direct your question to the chair of the APP-AC to ask that notice of all AL TF meetings (both 1 and 2) be sent out by the APP-AC. The APP-AC google group is here, and contact information for all of the APP-AC members is on everyone one of those e-mails:


--cultural reality

Anonymous said...

I like the creative thinking, but really dislike the idea mentioned to replace a self-contained cohort with a once-a-week, day-long session at a central location. Spend 4 days a week bored and socially isolated, then get one day--or partial day, after accounting for the extra bus rides--with a bunch of kids you don't really know that well, trying to squeeze in enough learning and peer interaction to make school not so miserable? It sounds a lot like our old ALO program, which had special math and LA classes once a week. I really can't see how that adequately addresses the needs of highly gifted kids. Maybe I'm missing something?


Anonymous said...

To Yasmin, Winston et al.,
Thursday's Colbert Report on Hulu has am great show celebrating the last day of black history month. I am going to have my son watch it before any video games.
If you don't know the show, it's a little parodic, actually a lot.

Anonymous said...

The idea of a once a week session is that the students would not be doing accelerated coursework but projects, only projects. In depth, student directed projects. A time to really delve into something, within guidelines of course. An entire day, minus the bus ride, no other focus except their project. Intensity, cooperation. Exactly what is so missing from APP and what is so needed for the young gifted mind.
Interested parent

Anonymous said...

Our daughter had a once a week pull-out at her neighborhood school. Complete waste of time. Not only was the work just random, but the rest of the day/week was still at grade level, and on top of that, our child was pulled out during science (!) where real learning was actually happening.

Pull-outs are what schools do when they can't have a more formal program such as Spectrum or APP.

One day a week of projects means 20% less time spent on core subjects. Shouldn't the work be built into the regular day?


Anonymous said...

You're comparing apples to cigarettes, ugh.
An ENTIRE day spent with other gifted kids and trained gifted teachers working only on projects designed to go deep into the subject. There is nothing remotely like this in APP currently.

Anonymous said...

I know my kid would have loved a program like the one day a week program. She refused to go to APP middle school and had a pretty lackluster experience academically at the local school. She could have easily made up the missed day and the project based experience with others like her would have been a godsend. Interesting idea.

Anonymous said...

I think that replacing APP with a weekly pull-out program is a terrible idea and agree that pull outs are really only an option for districts that have too few kids to do full time cluster or ability grouping.

Regardless, though, the reality is that in Seattle, there'd be nowhere to pull them out to! Seriously. Are you going to send the 600 Lincoln kids back to their crowded neighborhood schools for 4 days a week then send them where exactly for their weekly pull out? There are no free buildings or really even empty classrooms any more. Where would this weekly pull out program even be located?

Anonymous said...

I have been checking in on this discussion. At first it seemed hopeless...like all posters wanted to do was preserve the little they have, with the population they have. Now it seems like some great debate and ideas are emerging about gifted vs. academic achievement programming. Thank you.

I hope we don't go down a rat hole arguing about once-a-week or not delivery models. That's the trees not the forest.

So....what about this idea that we could have 2 divisions of G&T (as some places call it) programming? That's a big picture suggested change. Neither would be "the best". They would offer differ focuses and entrance points to the world of G&T programming.

One division would be for the intellectually gifted, as based on cognitive scores (and maybe creativity scores?) and **potential** instead of **performance** for entrance. (No classroom achievement scores necessary for entry.) It would not look like APP today but have a group of intellectual outliers - Lynne proposes a 98% cognitive score floor in one? two? all? of the 3 areas of intelligence - verbal, math, spatial - with appropriate social/emotional/academic (twice exceptional kids) supports. The program might or might not accelerate introduction of new materials. It would be taught by "gifted" trained teachers.

The other division would be for intellectually bright kids and would require some floor of standardized academic achievement scores for entrance. The focus would be on more rapid introduction of new material with the goal of skipping base level classes in high school and eventually college. This would be considered a straightforward course to move into IB or AP in SPS.

(This is what APP looks like today, but neither this nor the other division would have to be called APP.)

This does not have my full wish list, but it's a far sight better, and I do believe achievable within SPS, than what we have today.

Been There

Anonymous said...

Acceleration is not the answer for gifted kids. They need more than that. APP is not giving it to them and somehow it has to improve. I don't like the busing, but I do like the one day a week for intensive project-based learning with no distractions.Sounds like it would really get kids excited.Even if it meant less acceleration of coursework. I know as a youngster, being quite obsessive about projects and the thought of an entire day each week would have made my life at school much more tolerable. It would teach great social skills as well as perseverance, both things many gifted kids need work on. With the right faculty, it could so enrich the lives of gifted kids, it chokes me up. Does anyone know a program somewhere that embraces such learning?

Curious Georgina

Lynn said...

Involved Parent

I am not on the AL committee or the task force. I'm just very interested in it. The recommendations of the first task force have been posted on the website here.

This summary is on the bottom of page three:

Three On-ramps:
 Universal screener at K first 2 weeks of school; teachers alerted of cognition status to notify
parents of students in AG/AHG category; responsible to differentiate services for them.
If no response from family that triggers a phone call with families from school IA, teacher
speaking their language; people of color respond to one-on-one communication.
Assessment determination not based upon what we think based upon research information for
all students not just a certain group of students; Timing within Fall MAP testing
Universal cognitive screener for 2nd grade to capture more children; scores above 85%
 Achievement triggers onramp 87%/85% add call if no letter received; research study on
outreach/marketing critical
 Nomination process

My understanding is that we will retain our current nomination and testing process, but add the universal screening at K and 2.

I agree that the achievement screening is inequitable. Agree too that you should contact the chair of the APP-AC.

I would choose your suggested program over the current one for all of my kids. HATE the idea of a once a week pull out. Kids need to be learning every day.

How about this - an optional gifted program that requires 98th percentile verbal or overall cognitive scores. The alternative would be an APP-like acceleration-focused program. Kids who have high quantitative cognitive scores are the math superstars. They should have access to as much math as they want wherever they are. If their school won't provide it, they get access to the accelerated program.

Anonymous said...

APP is not giving students the education they deserve and need. Acceleration is band-aid approach to their needs. They need staff that can guide them into real depth of subject and who understand the way they thin and the problems they encounter. I don't see any of that in APP.All it does is let principals and staff at neighborhood schools off the hook for dealing with bright, well- prepared kids who need rigor to keep interested and a place to point to as "serving" AHG kids. Would it cost money to properly serve AHG kids? Yes, but they are by definition special needs and should get extra cash. They have real needs and the district is failing them. The status quo is seen as "better than nothing" but really it's not giving AHG kids much that's going to help them when they leave SPS. Their potential is being squandered and it's a shame.
I want to see intensity and enthusiasm from the program. Something like the project based learning.
This thread started with a list and I would encourage all readers to go back and read it. Every point on it is valid, none more so than:

A true gifted program would look nothing like APP in its current form.
The thread took a few turns but the original poster hit the nail square on the head. I hope downtown reads it and I wish parents would stop fighting for crumbs and demand a real meal for their children.

Fed Up With the AL dept

Anonymous said...

I'm really struggling with something. Often mentioned on this blog, here and in past threads, is the idea that we have two types of kids--high achieving kids and gifted kids--and that they need completely different things. The high achieving kids need fast-moving classes and acceleration because they are ahead of their grade, whereas the gifted kids need greater depth of instruction at grade level and teachers who better understand their unique learning styles.

Is it really true, however, that most of the bright and gifted kids fall into one category or the other, and not both? As I've shared before, I have a very high cognitive skills kid who is also very advanced academically. This kid loves learning, and wants to cover material quickly and get on to new topics ASAP. This kid spends summers working, not playing--by choice. I KNOW this kid is not alone in this, but from the sound of things most kids are either/or. Is that really the case? Is there really not a large group of high cognitive skills kids who are also working significantly above grade level, and who grasp new material quickly and want to make rapid progress? Assuming there ARE a lot of kids like this, how do folks propose a split program like that suggested would serve such kids well? They need the cohort of gifted kids for the social aspect, but they'd go nuts if they were suddenly forced to work 2-5 grades below level in various subjects. Shouldn't a program for gifted kids be able to serve gifted kids who are academically advanced??? They are arguably the ones who need such a program the most, since they are outliers both socially/cognitively and performance-wise.


Anonymous said...

cultural reality (and others who can speak to this): Is JAK8 a highly sought after school? After touring, it didn't seem like a good fit or compelling option for us. Also didn't get the sense that they like the Spectrum program (questions about Spectrum were more than gently guided toward an "include everyone"/integrated learning/E-STEM is best message.

Anonymous said...

"So....what about this idea that we could have 2 divisions of G&T (as some places call it) programming? "

um, well... this leads me to a bunch more questions. Like HIMSmom says, why are these two groups necessarily different enough to design two different programs? I don't know that I understand what you are suggesting. Are you suggesting:

Group 1: 98% and above IQ grouped together and focused on deep and meaningful learning, not just acceleration. (fully accredited gifted teacher/curriculum/ the whole nine yards of everything these kids need.)

Group 2: XX% (what would this be?) in reading and/or math grouped together and working at an accelerated pace. Kids don't need the IQ scores necessarily to be in these classes. They would just need to be accelerated.

Would these two programs be delivered separately or could they be combined (i.e. Fairmont park?) If they can be combined at will by the district, then what happens? Is the focus depth or acceleration?

And really, beside the focus of the two groups, how is that any different APP and Spectrum? If I'm understanding you, I think that all that you are really suggesting is turning APP into more well rounded gifted education instead of simple acceleration (which I totally agree with)

AND offering accelerated advanced learning opportunities for anyone who can demonstrate achievement.

If that is the case, instead of trying to split up what we know now as the AHG kids, why not focus on defining HOW APP really should be serving these kids better. By that I mean formulating a different "mission" for APP. Instead of the "acceleration" it is about depth and here are the strategies used to employ that etc...

And then suggest that Spectrum be reinstated as an achievement based program, NOT only IQ based, and single domain learners get their needs met there too?

Or, am I missing something? Currently, all of the kids that are identified in APP meet that 98% percentile cut off, so this first group would be as large as it is now, and maybe a slight bit larger if you were to take away the achievement testing requirements.

--cultural reality

Anonymous said...

I participated in a once-a-week off-site G & T program in Arizona throughout my childhood. I still remember how wrong it felt for all the "smart kids" to get on bus and leave the other kids behind once a week. I can't imagine what it felt like on the other end.

Anonymous said...

@ Cultural Parent. The redo of APP to a gifted program, and spectrum becoming the acceleration program is on the path to what I mean. It's not really that simple when you get into the weeds (for instance, there isn't a Spectrum program or an APP curriculum), but it serves as a starting point for conversation.

The key to reshaping the gifted program is for current APP parents as well as the district to accept admission of kids based on intellectual potential and not intellectual achievement. My personal view is that asynchronously gifted kids absolutely belong in this cohort, too.

When you remove academic achievement scores as a screener, and insist on full population intellectual screening at a couple of different grades, you'd be dealing with a G&T program populace that would demand different G&T services. More services. Better services. Socio-emotional services. ELL and SPED services. Deeper learning. And I do have faith that a true gifted program would emerge. It would be a program far more equitable than today. And far more valuable.

But we might just have to remove the APP name to get there. I find it disheartening - and amusing - how many parents are fighting to keep the APP program "as is". They can't get beyond the APP name. They hoard the (questionable quality) APP services their student receives and can't get beyond the APP box. And I have come to believe it is a box. A bad box. Let me come back to my key point: Two year course acceleration is NOT a G&T program. It's just not. It's something more than GenEd, but that's about it.

Been There

Anonymous said...

UGH! In my boldfaced point, I made a mistake. It should read

The key to reshaping the gifted program is for current APP parents as well as the district to accept admission of kids based on intellectual potential and not ACADEMIC achievement. My personal view is that asynchronously gifted kids absolutely belong in this cohort, too.

Been There

Anonymous said...

APP wasn't always a 2 year acceleration program, as it's currently being described and implemented. There used to be more teacher-created themed curriculum, different from the grade level materials. Many of the criticisms and comments being made here were addressed in the outside review of 2007. If the district had acted upon many of the recommendations, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. If the district had further defined an APP curriculum with the first split, we'd be a lot closer to having a true gifted program.

old timer

Anonymous said...

Report here:

Evaluation Report Accelerated Progress Program

Anonymous said...

@ Old timer, yes, yes and yes again. The decision to divide APP was distinctly political. The 2007 review recommendations were ignored with regards to curriculum being in place prior to any split. Now a third elementary program is being developed in W. Seattle without a curriculum to guide the principal. The principal -while good- has her own biases about how gifted programs should be administered. This program will look nothing like Lincoln or Thurgood Marshall. In a very short time APP will be a hodge podge of inconsistent delivery models. And think again if you believe the AL office has the time or resources to monitor/evaluate the effectiveness of the different regional offerings. The eligibility process is a time suck which consumes nearly the entire school year. There is no time left to do anything else.

When APP was a much smaller program,there was acceleration along with depth.I am saddened to hear that it is now nothing more than an accelerated program. A thematic approach was developed by teachers in the program. They collaborated and built a really solid basis for social studies and language arts -math was district materials one and two+ grade levels ahead. However,I recall math and SS linked with a long-term study of commodities -rice etc. Those kinds of projects were the rule rather than the exception.

So,dream on about what the ideal program should be -I'll be watching from the sidelines as another very old timer.

Much older parent

Cindi said...

i think the biggest crime is the lack of service for kids who stay at their neighborhood school. A student may not want or be able to travel to an APP site or be able to tolerate the self-contained environment. Cluster grouping and walk-to's should be required at every school for these students.

Lynn said...

I'm having a hard time understanding what it is about a self-contained environment that a child couldn't tolerate. The transportation problem I understand.

Services should be provided next Spring to every highly capable student identified next winter - as basic education for those children includes accelerated and enhanced instruction. I wonder if the principals at every attendance area and option school understands that. Hopefully someone is working on that.

Anonymous said...

In the 2007 report referenced a few posts ago, all respondents stated they were bored with being with the cohort year after year. This was cited as one reason to continue cohousing. When kids enter a self-contained Spectrum classroom and realize they will never be in class with their friends again for the rest of elementary school, it can cause distress.

Anonymous said...

What plan is this you are referring to for next spring and what is "highly capable"? I'm not familiar with that as an SPS designation.

Lynn said...

Highly Capable information on the OSPI website. This law contains new requirements that districts must meet at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year. It includes a new definition of basic education for highly capable children and requires identification opportunities and services to be provided from K-12. There's a link to presentations on that page that contain lots of good information.

Anonymous said...

@Lynn -While I understand the language of the WAC, I cannot imagine any district in the state identifying students for HC programs while they are in high school. By that time most have either been identified or take the most rigorous course offerings at the school, usually AP or IB. Upper classmen/women are too busy taking AP classes and tests, doing community service projects,taking SATS and PSATS, figuring out colleges and completing college applications. Those kids are not going to sit for an exam that identifies them as Highly Capable -nor should they. And identifying kindergarteners means testing them as preschoolers, which is nuts. Whoever revised the WAC need their heads examined.

Anonymous said...

Highly capable is just WAC speak for APP qualified. SPS also uses "Academically Highly Gifted" for the same thing sometimes (on test result letters).


Lynn said...


They'll have to change the law if it's impossible to comply. Districts can't just say it's ridiculous and ignore it. I like the fact that it's focused on the student's need for a service rather than requiring the district to offer a program.

You might think testing preschoolers is nuts, but it's not uncommon. Diana Brulles's district has a tuition-supported gifted preschool program in three schools. Admittance requires IQ testing. There are plenty of students in APP whose parents knew they were going to end up in APP before they entered kindergarten. Why should they have to change schools for the first grade? Why not allow them to start K in a school with APP? SPS will be offering services to students in K once they're identified - not at the beginning of the year. I would like to see this move the responsibility for preparing children for first grade APP math from parents to teachers.

Can you not imagine a student who moves into the district past October 3rd of their eighth grade year? Or a twice exceptional student who is not identified until after that date? Where do Seattle Country Day students do after they graduate? The district offers highly capable services to some students in the ninth grade - but not to these. It is unsupportable to offer access to Garfield and IBX to only one group of highly capable students.

Outside of SPS, Bellevue hasn't provided services before second grade. Can you imagine that there were some first graders who were unchallenged and miserable there in the past? My nephew attends a small town high school with no AP classes and only inclusive honors classes. These clearly do not meet his needs for accelerated and enhanced instruction. His district will have to come up with something for him now.

The changes in the law might not offer anything for your child(ren). That doesn't mean they are not necessary for others. I know students in Seattle who

Lynn said...

What I should have said was that you are correct about how the current situation works for most high school students. There are students every year though for whom the this system doesn't work - and because there is no requirement to provide services to them, the district does not.

Anonymous said...

I've been on the Special Education side of WA state mandates about service to students. Don't confuse an unfunded mandate with action. OSPI will likely be little to no help and will allow individual districts to talk a good game but stall and say 'we're working on it' for years. Years and years. If you think Seattle will do anything comprehensive next year I predict 95 percent chance of you're being bitterly disappointed.

If the district wanted to get serious, though, these discussion comments would be a good place to start. Someone should point them - whoever they are - to our points about current limitations and failures of APP. In my opinion the program is horrible.

Anonymous said...

Lynn brings up some very good points:

Currently APP @ Lincoln starts at 1st grade, so first graders start Kindergarten at a different school. There are 3 1st grade classrooms there this year, BTW. We knew before we even started that our kid would be qualified, because of all the signs (i.e. that list that is posted on the Country day site) and having done the investigation (i.e. testing) because of all of those signs. We chose not to start her in SPS because of this and the sense that a kindergarten year in her neighborhood school would not only be a wasted year, but require an additional move.

What I read from the identification task force was not that kindergarteners could be identified and placed in an appropriate school before even starting K, but that they would be identified early on in the year. Wouldn't it make more sense to do pre-k testing? And offer K at Lincoln and TM?

Further, Cindy says:

"I think the biggest crime is the lack of service for kids who stay at their neighborhood school. A student may not want or be able to travel to an APP site or be able to tolerate the self-contained environment. Cluster grouping and walk-to's should be required at every school for these students. "

If the districts own published information is correct, ALL currently identified AHG kids ARE being cluster grouped. Currently there are 934 APP 1-5. There are an additional 128 AHG kids in 1-5 that in "spectrum" schools. Spectrum is supposed to be an advanced learning program, and provides cluster grouping and walk to's. The district doesn't show ANY AHG kids not in either APP or Spectrum. None. They are all reportedly being served by one or the other program.

So first, we need to be careful that we are talking about the same kids here. APP and AHG is about the top 2%ile kids. And, this idea that all of the neighborhood schools should be providing these services is confusing to me. This whole thread and many many people are saying that APP isn't even really serving gifted kids now, and somehow every one of our 95 schools is going to be expected to serve gifted kids equally?

It doesn't make sense that every teacher in the district is going to be required to have gifted credentials and know the gifted curriculum and so forth. It is really crazy to expect that all schools and classrooms can be all things to all kids.

Gifted ed needs specialized teachers and curriculum, and the only way to do that efficiently is to group classes together.

We are a huge district of 52k kids and 95 schools and growing. Currently only 5% of the whole district is AHG identified. Think about it. If AHG are only 5% of a school population, and EVERY school was expected to proved AHG services to them, then how does that work logistically? 5% of a 600 kid elementary school = 30 kids across all of those grades. That means that likely there are a few kids in each grade, and what principal is really going to direct teaching resources to those couple of kids?!

I have a gifted kid, and we REALLY need SCHOOLS and PROGRAMS that serve them, not some crazy expectation that every single teacher in the district will become qualified to teach them. If we even had a chance to get our kid into, much less pay for, either Evergreen or Country Day, we might have done it if we realized that so many people are so hell bent on dismantling APP for the sake of "equity".

It is NOT equitable to require that AHG kids sit in gen ed classrooms and get "walked to" for math and reading.

In my mind, a single campus with the minimum cohort as ALREADY defined is a starting place for what makes a real gifted program. I'll post the recommendations that have ALREADY been made to refresh everyone's memories.

--don't splinter APP in the name of "equity"

Anonymous said...

Guiding Principles for Accelerated Progress Program/Highly Capable Education
Updated October 15, 2013
These principles are compiled from historical experience and input from educators, families, and
education experts. Previous committees and task forces have recommended utilizing these principles for
APP sites around the District, as these are key to maintaining program integrity and success.
1. Provide a clear, long-range vision and goals for APP and all Highly Capable programs that will
inform and guide planning and decisions.
2. Provide self-contained classrooms for all core academic instruction in elementary and middle
school, including Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science for APP-qualified students working
approximately 2 grade levels ahead of same age peers. APP level math should be offered.
3. Maintain a critical mass APP cohort at each school. In elementary schools, the minimum is two
sections per grade (or 250 students). In middle schools, the minimum is three sections per grade
(or 270 students). In high school at Garfield and in the accelerated IB program at
Ingraham (optional APP HS path), the target cohort size is 100 students per grade (or 400
students). This critical mass allows for:
· Appropriate academic, social and emotional support
· Teacher support and collaboration.
· Access to an appropriate number of academic, social/emotional peers
· Sufficient numbers of students to schedule advanced courses that are critical to APP
curriculum (continued)

Anonymous said...

4. Provide a consistent, appropriate APP curriculum across all sites. This requires a clearly defined
and documented curriculum for grades 1-12 that encompasses content and application specific
to highly capable learners. Program development should utilize national best practices, APP
teacher experience, and experts in highly capable education.
5. Provide APP curriculum support, which includes training for teachers, cross-school horizontal
and vertical alignment, and planned time for staff collaboration between sites.
6. Assign principals, teachers and counselors that are truly committed to and experienced in
supporting highly capable and twice exceptional students and their education, can support a
self-contained classroom model for core academic subjects, and can successfully support the
sometimes differing needs of all programs in their building.
7. When APP is co-housed, locate and house APP with appropriate and welcoming school
communities/programs that have similar or complementary visions or academic foci to avoid
competition and philosophical conflicts. Sites should be able to meet anticipated program
growth over the long term.
8. Work to increase diversity within APP while maintaining appropriate acceleration and rigor in
self-contained classes. Improve efforts to identify APP- eligible candidates within
underrepresented communities by working closely with principals and educators at schools with
significant populations of FRL, ELL and minority students. Provide support to families throughout
the testing and enrollment process. Provide social and emotional support to underrepresented
populations in APP.
9. Provide sufficient staff in the Advanced Learning office to oversee the growing programs,
maintain equity, alignment and collaboration across multiple sites, and address identification
and testing needs, including options for twice exceptional students.
10. Provide a continuum of strong and rigorous programs for highly capable students via APP,
Spectrum and ALOs throughout the district. Advanced Learning should recognize and provide
single-domain gifted students access to appropriate curriculum, peers, and instruction.

Anonymous said...

Did you all realize that the NW Gifted Child Association is hosting a conference at the JSCEE this coming Saturday the 8th?


This would be a very enlightening conference for this topic. What are other districts doing, and do they have more truly "gifted" programs? I've heard that Shoreline and Edmonds and Federal Way in particular have awesome and sought after programs.

Do they have the same criticism that their programs don't have enough diversity and if so, how do they deal with it?


Anonymous said...

Don't splinter, just to clarify one of your first statements, there ARE several AHG kids who are being "served" in Gen Ed. You can find them in the district numbers as the AHG kids at ALO schools. I know there are 5 at our school in my child's grade alone. They are not cluster grouped nor do they have "walk to's".


Anonymous said...


They posted the numbers of AHG kids for 2013-14 here:


The whole ALO line is blank. But they also posted an ALO participation PDF which has numbers for AHG kids.

I stand corrected, and it looks like SPS needs to correct this data.

Thanks, and I agree that if they are promising ALO then they should be providing services. If this isn't happening, then there is not ALO, I would think!

And this isn't APP's fault. this is the district not actually providing ALO as promised.

--don't splinter APP

Anonymous said...

And there are identified AHG kids who are NOT being served, too, because their neighborhood school doesn't even offer ALO.


Anonymous said...

I get some of the concerns with the Spectrum self-contained model.

Self-contained in Spectrum can feel more self-contained than self-contained in APP. The group dynamics in a Spectrum classroom are harder to adjust without the ability to assign students to different classrooms.

Because elementary and middle school APP have multiple classes at each grade level, and new students enter in significant numbers through 6th grade, students really do get mixed up year to year. This is different from Spectrum in which there may be one class of students moving through as a cohort. With APP, teachers have the flexibility to thoughtfully create classroom rosters each year.

Of course as APP gets splintered, this flexibility gets lost and you are back to the issues that Spectrum faces.

Anonymous said...

4. Provide a consistent, appropriate APP curriculum across all sites. This requires a clearly defined
and documented curriculum for grades 1-12 that encompasses content and application specific
to highly capable learners. Program development should utilize national best practices, APP
teacher experience, and experts in highly capable education.

This lack of an appropriate curriculum has allowed middle school APP LA/SS to run amok. It is all over the place. I sometimes think my child would be learning more in Spectrum LA/SS. I do not exaggerate.

Anonymous said...

@don't splinter,
we DO need service for AGH students at every school because for a variety of reasons kids can't or won't go to an APP site. Equity doesn't require dismantling APP in any way, it requires serving the kids who stay local.Since APP is primarily acceleration, it's not beyond reasonable expectation that service could be provided at all 95 schools. Under the MTSS model this would be the case and if a students needs were unmet, further actions, such as moving to a school with a higher concentration of AHG students or a more comprehensive program in the case of 2E students, would be mandated.
Self-contained delivery will be maintained as a service for students who need that level.The district has said changes will appear for the 2015-16 year and it appears this is the direction.

Anonymous said...

here's what activist and blogger Charlie Mas said about MTSS last month:

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.
2/5/14, 2:26 PM

Lynn said...

I emailed Shauna Heath about Charlie's theory. She told me it:

does not accurately reflect the purpose of MTSS and/or the work of Advanced Learning. Advanced Learning and MTSS both function as a way to support students, but not as a way to qualify or serve our advanced learners. The WAC provides the guidelines for qualifying and providing instruction for highly capable students.

Lynn said...

I agree that every school should be required to have a plan for highly capable children. It's possible that some schools would do a good enough job that fewer families would opt for the self-contained programs. Of course, if principals were interested in doing this - they would already be doing it.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, that email response is about as clear as mud.

"Advanced Learning and MTSS both function as a way to support students, but not as a way to qualify or serve our advanced learners."

If you dissect this sentence, well, it just makes no sense. And what are the WAC guidelines on delivery of service and identification?


Lynn said...

You will find a link to info on the WAC in my post from 10:01 last night. Yes, I can see now that the sentence makes no sense. It was clear to me that she understands that the state requires certain things (nomination and identification processes, a variety of services from K-12) for highly capable students - and that MTSS won't fulfill those requirements.

Anonymous said...

MTSS is used to deliver AL service and can fit with WAC guidelines for nomination and identification so I don't know what Shauna is referring to in her email. MTSS would be better for 2e and single subjected gifted students, especially the latter who get no service currently, contrary to best practice. Google MTSS gifted ed, many good articles and examples.

Anonymous said...

@ anon at 9:28--

Can you clarify what you mean by:

"Equity doesn't require dismantling APP in any way, it requires serving the kids who stay local.Since APP is primarily acceleration, it's not beyond reasonable expectation that service could be provided at all 95 schools. Under the MTSS model this would be the case and if a students needs were unmet, further actions, such as moving to a school with a higher concentration of AHG students or a more comprehensive program in the case of 2E students, would be mandated."

I'm confused. First, APP isn't merely about acceleration, which is what many folks have been posting about here. In recent years the focus may have shifted toward acceleration though the program description still includes "Students who are academically highly gifted present significantly different learning styles, learning pace, and curricular needs that require comprehensive and substantial modification to the general education curriculum and classroom experience to achieve educational benefit." AND "...with a significantly advanced level of complexity and depth."

Acceleration alone means giving kids extra worksheets. Delivering the complexity and depth means providing learning with more complexity and depth, and how this is supposed to be provided in the same class with a different pace and focus is difficult to understand. Even if only the pace for AHG kids is different from the gen ed classroom, either the AHG kids are sitting bored while they wait for their class to repeat the learning a few more times, or the other kids don't fully get it before they move on. If ONLY pace were at issue here, there is a substantial mismatch in a classroom that is trying to serve the entire spectrum of ability. BUT, pace is not the only issue.

Further, what do you mean about moving kids to a higher concentration of AHG? Isn't that what APP is?

I'm not understanding your point here. APP is currently the program where AHG kids are concentrated and provided (however incomplete it currently stands) with accelerated and more in-depth learning opportunities.

Are you merely suggesting that MTSS should provide sufficient differentiation for AHG kids that stay in the gen ed classroom?

What are you suggesting for the "higher concentration of AHG kids"?

--don't splinter

Anonymous said...

with a significantly advanced level of complexity and depth

That takes us right back to the beginning of the thread.There is no curriculum which provides for this. I don't care how it's delivered, I want

"significantly advanced level of complexity and depth"

That what's missing in most AL situations, whether at an ALO, Spectrum or APP site and the AHG and AG kids and single subject and 2E students all suffer together from this deficit of instruction. Some are grateful for what is available, some are upset over what's missing, we should all demand proper service for every kid who needs more challenge.
Sometimes this blog is percieved as an "I got mine, leave us alone" place and I know that is not the attitude of most APP parents. It's hard to not feel threatened when you've been given so little at such a cost for your children who need help,but the big picture requires looking ahead to brighter future for all gifted kids, in or out of APP. It's made to feel like the Titanic with not enough boats to go around. I don't think anyone here wants to watch others drown, metaphorically.

Anonymous said...

Here's a real idea. Find teachers who were id'd as gifted when young and have them help do PD for teachers surrounding teaching gifted kids. Like it not, many teachers don't understand giftedness. Many parents don't either. Same with SpEd. Their are teachers who.ve been in SpEd systems and many with children in programs. Built-in advisers. Maybe staff should all take a CogAT and get the feelings parents and students get of being ranked and classified. All staff. I bet there are some pretty brainy low level staff and teachers who know how to fly under the radar. Dealing with giftedness is a big part of APP and any gifted program, or it should be. I don't think the district is being creative enough in using the human resources available to it.For example, a teacher who was what we now call AHG, could detail their experiences to other staff who are not gifted. Could be an eye-opener for the teachers. Giftedness is hard to understand if you aren't gifted. It can easily be misperceived or dealt with, if problematic, inappropriately and/or ineffectually.
I like to think there is some training but having a gifted adult to consult when needed could be invaluable.
Just thinkin'

Lynn said...

I think MTSS could (and should) take the place of Spectrum. Every grade level at every elementary school should have a plan for serving children who are exceeding, meeting or not meeting grade level expectations in math and reading/language arts. Principals should be held responsible for ensuring that those plans are followed. Every middle school should offer opt-in Honors Language Arts and Social Studies Classes. (Real honors classes - not those classes where the honors students just do more work.) That would serve children who are advanced in only one area, end the ridiculous practice of limited Spectrum seats and cut back on the number of children who are nominated for advanced learning testing.

That leaves APP for students whose full scale IQ or GAI is at the 98th or 99th percentile. Some of them will be well served and happy in their local (or option) schools. The rest should have the option to move to an APP site - and I too want to see a "significantly advanced level of complexity and depth" in APP. There should be no achievement testing required for APP - that will provide access for 2e kids. Parents should be able to enroll their child for kindergarten in an APP classroom with qualifying IQ scores from a private provider - or by paying the district a fee to administer an individual IQ test in the spring before kindergarten.

Anonymous said...

APP is an accelerated program, not a gifted program. My experience this year is that an IQ of 99.7 p-tile, with MAP p-tiles of 86 and 97 are not sufficient to get into the program. The district justified this by saying that most APP kids read 2-3 grades ahead and reading is essential (for acceleration...)

I would prefer a program that works to foster potential. This would result in a more diverse program.


Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the statement that APP is an accelerated program. Or, rather, the implication that it's only an accelerated program. When you have a classroom full of gifted kids (and maybe some bright ones), the level of discussion and dynamics is different than one you would get without this concentration of kids. The knowledge and insight into various subject matter and the fact that one could have such knowledge and have it be welcome or even expected in the classroom must have a positive effect. I suspect most of the teachers welcome deeper dialogue and discussion and teachers can adapt accordingly. I believe my kids are getting more than acceleration and they are getting more, from the teachers and from being with like peers.

Anonymous said...

@switcheroo and all...

APP is SUPPOSED to be about more than just acceleration. However, the identification process is currently excluding gifted kids that haven't already been taught the content of 2 years accelerated (if the MAP scores actually test this accurately I would question, btw) and the main curricular focus has become 2 years accelerated in part because of the Common Core initiative.

As the original poster stated:

"A true gifted program would emphasize depth of subject matter and complexity of thought, NOT (solely) acceleration."

I have the same concerns that you do, as many others here have also stated: APP should not be ONLY about acceleration. Therefore, the identification process maybe shouldn't exclude kids based on achievement scores.

One perfect example is that the idea that ALL gifted first graders should already have learned all of the content through 2nd grade by the time they enter the program is illogical in my mind. If they haven't been taught the content, they won't score on the tests. But that doesn't mean they aren't gifted. That only mean that they did not have an academically accelerated preschool/ kindergarten experience.

However, the flip side is if you throw a 3rd grade kid into a classroom that is doing 5th grade work, that kid may struggle having missed 2 years of content even if they are gifted.

A solution to this might be:

--Only cognitive scores are used to identify kids in K-2 grades. Achievement scores inherently exclude gifted kids that didn't have academically rigorous K-2 experiences. This would catch more kids at the beginning of their educational journey, AND would likely change the upside down pyramid of the APP numbers (there are 3 first grade classrooms and 6 5th grade classrooms at Lincoln)

--Achievement scores (reading and math) in 3rd grade and on would be used as a benchmark, not necessarily an absolute line in the sand.

--Spectrum and/or ALO would be focused on accelerating content for ALL kids that demonstrate the ability, regardless of cognitive scores. Specifically, Spectrum and ALO would NOT be based at ALL on cognitive scores, but would be based on achievement, and Single Domain achievement would be supported appropriately as well.

I would urge you (and other parents) to get involved in the conversations that are happening within the APP-AC, and the APP Task Forces. All these meetings are open to all, and I've found them all to be pretty welcoming and willing to listen to constructive ideas.

Unfortunately, while this blog is a great place to have these conversations, it isn't where the decisions will be made.

The APP identification task force hasn't published their tentative recommendations yet, but they spoke to them at last nights APP-AC (and someone please correct me if I misunderstood):
--No identification process before K
--universal cogAT screening in K and 2nd grade to nominate more kids to test to see if they qualify for APP
--To qualify, in all grades, the same criteria still apply: 98th in cognitive and 95th in achievement.

Again, those are tentative recommendations and they aren't published yet, and I understand that they expect that there may be changes to the recommendations after the Program delivery model task force does its work.

Personally, I appreciate you all coming here and voicing these thoughts, and I hope that your thoughts are being heard by the decision makers too.

And perhaps more importantly, that win-win solutions can be found in educational programming to meet the needs of our gifted and/or high achieving kids.


Anonymous said...

One of the things that bothers me about the achievement vs. potential discussions is that it is rife with internal inconsistencies or difficult implementation consequences.

If you say potential should be used alone, and that kids can join at any time successfully what does it imply about the program?

1. Either the kids who are identified late have increasingly larger amounts of potential at later ages that allows them to catch up.

2. The curriculum doesn't really deviate much so catching up isn't that much of an issue there's never an insurmountable gap.

3. The curriculum has more breadth but this material doesn't build over the years so it doesn't really matter if you missed part of it.

4. A highly differentiated learning model is being used that accommodates kids at different levels.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 10:16, I can see where you are coming from, but I haven't seen it played out enough to be convinced this occurs in only a classrooms with gifted and/or bright kids. Learning is such a dynamic process and fluid. It comes from all sides and at every level. It takes an engaged teacher and students. One of the best teachers my child had taught her that in his classroom, "we are all learners and teachers." This was not a self contained class. That lesson was applied through the entire term not in words as much as in deeds. The discussion and work they did individually and as a group reflect that. They covered the course "curriculum", but with enough elasticity which the teacher allowed when the class or a group gets excited over a topic and wants to dig deeper. The thing is it wasn't the best and the brightest that set the tone. It was the engagement as a class that revved it up and sustained their learning. I think she learned a lot on how to listen and to think. It was good to be challenged by kids from her usual cohort.

another view

Anonymous said...

Last sentence should be "challenged by kids outside her usual cohort."

another view

Anonymous said...

last year about 930 AHG kids were at APP elementary sites, Lincoln and Marshal and about 240 were at ALO or Spectrum sites. Those 240 kids aren't any less deserving of depth and complexity just because they don't go to an APP site. They may have very valid reasons or just want to stay with neighborhood friends.Small districts find ways to serve small populations of AHG kids and SPS needs to as well. In middle school it continues with 200 at non APP schools and 950 at HIMS and Washington.
We are missing a lot of kids if we don't make an effort to engage them and offer challenging work.
Was APP designed to be the only place to get service for AHG kids? Or was it an option for those who needed the cohort and the self- contained atmosphere?

Anonymous said...

I did not say this only happeend in classrooms with gifted learners. I was mainly arguing the assertion that APP is only an accelerated program. It's more than that and for all the complainers out there (however legitimate), APP does serve a lot of gifted learners well. I would hope teachers will engage all levels of learners in and out of APP.

I don't know what the original design of APP is/was. Recently, I have had a chance to be introspective about what APP is for us and how it's serving my kids. My gifted kid definitely needs the cohort and the acceleration (depth and complexity is also great when it's there). APP, even as it currently is, is much better than what he had in private school. Having the cohort is huge, though at times, he even feels the pace is slow.

As narrow of a view point it is, I can only make what is the best decision for my kids with the options that are available to us. Does that mean I am satisfied with all that APP is? No. I think it can be much more and I applaud those who fight the fight to make it better. At the same time, I am realistic and look to what is within my control. This is mass public education. If I wanted it to be tailor made to my kid, I'd have to homeschool, move, or find some way to pay for private school that caters to my wishes or is more aligned to my needs and wants. And, maybe I can say this because my kids are fine so take what I say with a grain of salt.

APP bashing, even from within, does not help the program. I am thankful we have APP, even in it's limited form. Hopeful for change but thankful to have the option.

anon at 10:16

Anonymous said...

What I hear from the above poster is that APP isn't great but it works OK for his/her kid and there isn't much hope of changing things anyway so he/she isn't going to do any advocacy. But good luck and godspeed to others who want to advocate.

That viewpoint feels complacent bordering on in denial of how wrong the current program is. No family should have to choose between ELL and gifted services for their kid. No family should have to choose between SPED and gifted services for their kid. No family should be denied access to gifted services because their kid has not had the good fortune of early learning or effective teaching - (that is why achievement testing is inequitable).

APP as currently delivered is not only not good - it is morally and possibly lawfully wrong. Period. There should be no excuses about the situation from Downtown, let alone parents on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Your extrapolation of my short statement is a bit of a stretch. Your moral superiority is evident. I certainly didn't mean to convey anything quite like you inferred but that was obviously my error in communication. Maybe parents on the blog shouldn't try to come across as making excuses. Wouldn't it be nice if parents on the blog were equally less judgemental and seek to understand first. Instead comments like yours only discourages dialogue. I concede. You win. Feel better?

Anonymous said...

It seems that APP is the only option for parents who do want an accelerated pace for their rapid learners. If 930 kids were in APP last year to get more depth of learning, the shouldn't we see about the same number of kids skipping 2 or more grades in regular classrooms when they master content early. I haven't seen kids 2 years younger in regular classrooms at all. Shouldn't Sps be accelerating kids too then? Perhaps some parents would just rather have a couple years of college done earlier.... Saving their kids some precious time.
Precious Time

Anonymous said...

Writers remorse...I guess I'm being equally judgemental. Regardless, your point is clear. However, I don't agree with your assessment of my statement.