Friday, March 14, 2014

Eligibility and appeals

There's still quite a bit of interest in talking about eligibility letters and appeals, so let's open a new thread for parents to consolidate the discussion about that. Please ask questions you might have of other parents and, if you can help someone out with their question, please chime in with an answer.

55 comments :

Anonymous said...

Still no official letter, but got an update by phone. Scores of 92/93/95, with MAP in the high 99%. Spectrum eligible, but not the APP we had predicted based on other behaviors, teacher opinions, what we know from our older APP kid's behaviors, etc, etc. Appealing primarily to not have to go through this lengthy process again next year, if at all possible, and to keep our kids together, and most of all because this has been a hard year for my son. Very bored, very 'out of sync' socially with the classroom, and starting to seem like the kind of kid who -needs- APP even more than his sibling ever did... We have the private testing set up for next week, really just wondering if anyone thinks we should spend any time on anything beyond a cover letter requesting an appeal & the private scores (assuming they are sufficient). Given the chaos of this year, is it worth getting teacher letters & the like??? Or is that just a waste of time, and adding to the paperwork they have to muddle through?

Anonymous said...

We had a successful appeal this year for APP based just on qualifying private cognitive scores, fall MAP (both 99%) and a cover letter. We provided nothing from the teacher or school (and our child's CogAT scores were a bit lower than yours).
-Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

A private test that has qualifying scores and a cover letter is all you should need. I wouldn't do anything else.

-good luck

Anonymous said...

People!! All the district cares about is qualifying scores on the tests. If your kid gets the qualifying scores in an appeal you will get in to APP!! Don't waste your time, the district's time, busy teachers' time by getting letters from teachers, sample work, etc. If your kid doesn't get the scores on an appeal, again, don't waste everyone's time by sending in that stuff as you will not get in without the scores!

-Scores Only Please

Anonymous said...

We submitted teacher recommendations along with private testing on our successful appeal. I didn't really believe the recommendations were necessary but didn't want to have any regrets if our appeal was somehow denied. If only the scores matter, I don't understand why they list teacher input and samples of school work on the AL appeal website. It's misleading and results in a waste of valuable teacher time writing recs.

--Take no chances

Anonymous said...

Ordinarily I'd "take no chances," but I tend to agree with those saying just go with the test scores if they're qualifying. Can anyone reading this point to a case where qualifying test scores submitted on time resulted in a failed appeal?

Anonymous said...

anon at 1:08

Last night at the APP task force meeting the AL staff who make the eligibility decisions said that in fact there are kids that are identified that didn't meet the score thresholds stated. I think all the rest of us in the room were surprised to hear this, but they said that there are kids that get qualified for APP through the appeal process where the teacher letters and evaluations tipped the scale on kids who's scores were close.

So, my thought is that if you believe strongly that APP is the appropriate educational service/program for him, do both things. Get the private testing scheduled and ask the teacher to draft the letter. You might not need the letter, if the private scores are high enough, but if they are just below the letter might make for a successful appeal.

Eden

Anonymous said...

Still no letter regarding our appeal here, but AL did email us to tell us the appeal was successful. Signed our daughter up for APP during open enrollment.

If you don't have a letter with an appeal decision yet, I recommend emailing AL and asking for a decision via email.

-Been there

Anonymous said...

I like the idea that a strong teacher recommendation can mean that a test score off by one or two percent is enough to qualify. But, I'm frustrated too. Not all teachers are open to the idea of APP (as in, some are quite hostile to it) and not all are willing to write a strong recommendation, regardless of the strength of the student.

Anonymous said...

For those who have heard back on appeals: How long did it take for you to hear back on the decision?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

To piggy back on the last question - for those of you who got very late initial testing when did you hear back?

Anonymous said...

For those of you who have received an email from AL, when did you submit your appeal?

We submitted our appeal at the deadline, and have not heard from AL yet. Perhaps our appeal is further down in a stack. (?)

Anonymous said...

I hand delivered our appeal 2/21 which included a qualifying test score. Received an email 3/5 with the result of the appeal. The email I received was in response to a general email inquiry re the standard for appeal that I had submitted 3/3. I was told a letter would be mailed in the next day or two, but we still have received no letter. I don't think we'd have received the results yet if I hadn't inquired (the fact that I previously wrote to the Board to complain may also have helped).

Anonymous said...

I hand delivered an appeal on 2/18, emailed on 3/7, and received an email with the results of appeal on 3/10. No letter yet.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I'd second the view that asking gets you a response. We still haven't received our initial letter, but I finally got results by asking Stephen Martin directly. Frustratingly enough, when he gave me the scores, it sounded like they had them for a while? I think they are still so swamped they are operating in triage mode... (In SM's defense,he actually called me in response to my email, and took several minutes answering my questions, etc.)

So yeah, I know they don't want folks to call or email, but...? I have been increasingly worried about my kid's experience this year, and had optimistically assumed he'd qualify for APP. I really wish we had found out sooner that he hadn't, so I would have had more than 5 days to decide on appealing...

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me how long testers are needing to schedule an appeal test and turn around a report? Apparently we will have 5 days when results come in and I am worried that is not workable. Also, any point to calling around to compare rates? From what I've read we are looking at $450. Is that about right? Is that for cognitive and achievement or just one?
Thanks.
Unprepared

Maje said...

Unprepared- You have five days to let them know you'll appeal, but you do need to confirm with SPS that you have an appointment when you let them know. The appeal appointment can be done after the five days.

When we did an appeal test last year, we walked out with the results. This year, we had to do a make-up test with SPS and we're still waiting on those results.

Anonymous said...

We just received our appeal results this morning (by mail). I hand delivered the appeal on March 4. I'm actually surprised how quickly we heard back, given how slowly everything else has gone this year. Good luck to all of those still waiting.

Anonymous said...

Received appeal letter in the mail today, 12 days after getting result via email after inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Yep - we just received our appeal result letter today too (after receiving email results on Monday in response to our inquiry).

Anonymous said...

My son was tested on Monday 10th and we received our results on Friday.

Anonymous said...

Unprepared, we went with Jessica Greenson based on recs from here. She was able to schedule us an appt one week out. She comes to your house, and charges $350 for the WISC IV, another $100 if your child passes and she has to write up a full report. She presumably tells you then & there, since I have to pay her while she's here.... I didn't have the energy to call around, but my sense from talking with various folks is that $450 is pretty standard. (FWIW, we are also doing a learning eval through our health insurance to see if there's anything going on with processing issues given what seems to be a discrepancy between reading comprehension (very high) and auditory comprehension, less so & noteworthy since our son had hearing problems when he was younger. I was hoping I could package all those tests into one comprehensive thing, both time and money wise, but no such luck... Everyone I spoke with said we would have to do IQ testing privately and pay out of pocket for it...)

Anonymous said...

PLEASE ADVISE!!

My kid took APP test and never receive an official score. The SPS staff told us to submit the school choice form with APP selection first. Without knowing the score, I had my kid took the WISC IV and the score came back with 99.5. With MAP scores 99 on reading and math consistently, WISC IV 99.5, strong teacher recommendation, and literature awards, I submitted all documents via Express mail on 3/5. So far, I have not received solid answers no matter how many emails I have sent. They just kept saying "we resent you the transcript.. we will send you a decision in two days.." Then, they stop responding my emails What should I do? Should I drive to office in person?

Anonymous said...

Hand-delivered the appeal on March 7th and received a letter in the mail today.

Anonymous said...

7:33, you should really just relax. That amount of time is nothing compared to how long some of us have been waiting. The scores are good, your child will get in. Just relax...

Anonymous said...

anonymous March 15, 2014 at 7:33 PM wrote:

It has been very frustrating since the mid of Feb when all of my friends have received transcripts except for my kid. I have to pay $400+ to have my kid take the test. If my kid passes the APP exam at the first time, can I ask SPS reimburse the money? I may drive down to the office tomorrow. I just hate if they shut me off when I get down there.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you seriously need to relax... I get that you are frustrated, we are still waiting on an INITIAL letter and share your frustration, but at this point, what do you really hope to accomplish?! You know your kid has the scores on both MAP and WISC-IV, you already requested APP for next year. YOU ARE FINE. Driving down there to 'confront' them or 'demand ' some sort of resolution is not only not helpful to you (they aren't going to come out and deal with you anyway), but even more importantly, takes time away from the rest of us. You've sent your emails, you submitted your scores, just chill out and let them get to the rest of us as well...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Maje for responding re. the appeal time frame. I did not know that you also needed to schedule an appt with SPS/AL. I thought it was just a paper submission kind of thing.

Also, please confirm my understanding, on top of getting private test results to support an appeal, they asked your child to take ANOTHER test? I don't know if my kid can take this. She is already resentful that this all means she may leave her current school.

Thanks.

Unprepared (and now also fatigued)

Maje said...

Unprepared: They actually just administered the first test, the one they were supposed to do in the fall. There shouldn't be a second test for us.

Davim said...

We just received approval of our APP appeal in the mail on Saturday March 15. We snail mailed our appeal on March 4th. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Can those of you who submitted appeals, would you please say who you used? And what the timeframe was for scheduling a test appt and preparation of their reports?

It would be much appreciated!!

Anonymous said...

We used Honora Hanley and were able to get an appointment the next day, but only because she had a cancellation. The report took a couple days. The problem you may run into now is that many of these providers block off time in the couple weeks between when results are supposed to come out and the appeal deadline. Because of the delays this year, many of the testers will have a relatively full schedule of regular clients at this point. You should just start making calls until you find someone who has time in his/her schedule. SPS has a long list of providers so you should be able to find someone. Remember, SPS just asks that you have an appointment scheduled when you notify them you will appeal; they don't say you have to supply the score report when you notify them.

-Don't panic

Anonymous said...

Is their any value in doing private testing for the achievement portion? My kid got 99-98-99-99-99-99 but only 92 and 91 on the reading and math. The reading is a surprise but I know her math exposure is limited. Do kids typically improve in these areas with testing? While I know the test was a rushed 45 minutes, not sure whether there is room for improvement given the limited math exposure.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
$450 poorer?

Anonymous said...

$450 poorer:

If those academic scores are from MAP testing at school on the computer, then they might be higher with private testing. But if they're from district-administered individual academic testing they will probably be about the same with private testing. On the bright side - with those cognitive scores your daughter will probably shoot up in academics by next year (I'm guessing she's young).

-CS

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with CS, that's right on.

If those academic scores were in fact from individual testing already, or in any case further testing doesn't yield any changes, you might find yourself waiting to see if - as CS suggests - your child soon 'shoots up' in the academic/achievement areas. If for some reason that does NOT happen, I'd encourage you to consider whether your child would benefit more from 'enrichment' than from 'acceleration.' The APP program has in some ways been reduced to mere acceleration, while some ALO schools look like they have good programs for tapping into the learning styles and interests of kids with high cognitive skills, different learning styles, etc.

-Open minded

Anonymous said...

$450 poorer,

You might also not actually be $450 poorer. The person we used charges $350 for cognitive testing, but only $150 for achievement testing - plus then $100-$150 for reports, etc. So you might 'only' be out $250??

Also, my older kid was accepted into APP several years ago but has stayed at a strong ALO school, and we have been VERY happy - I think there is some good flexibility to the pace of advancement, etc if you find a 'real' ALO program that works for you... We are only appealing for our younger because we want them at the same middle school if possible... (And, obviously, because we think it is a good match intellectually! I just mean that we are only seeking the AHG tag vs AG tag for middle school reasons...)

Anonymous said...

Anyone willing to name what they think are the "real" or "good" ALO programs? I'm really interested to know as it would be great to keep that as an option.

Anonymous said...

RE: "good" ALO programs...

ALO is a designation that some schools have, but the implementation is completely inconsistent from what I've heard. For example, I've heard one mom of an AHG kid at Blaine be happy (but at her own admission did a ton of extra work to augment his education), but several others have expressed the opposite. Some people feel strongly that the ALO is sufficient but I'd personally be hesitant to hang my hat on the idea that the implementation in EACH classroom in an ALO school was sufficiently "enriching." There are many many kids now at Lincoln who have changed over from an ALO school because it wasn't enough, and anecdotally many parents say they regret not having made the switch when they first identified their kid as AHG.

I think that potentially the perception that ALO's are providing a good gifted education option is a matter of not really knowing that it could/should be better. Or for some folks it's comforting to have the kid be at the top of the class all the time. But are they really being challenged to their full potential? I'd be curious to know...

If folks already think that APP is not good enough because it is perceived to be just acceleration (I would argue that point rather fervently, though), the ALO schools have even less cross collaboration on what that is supposed to actually mean. Some will just hand out extra work sheets...

Additionally, AHG kids now have guaranteed assignment in APP. But, if you wanted to get into an ALO that isn't your neighborhood school, good luck with that. Schools are all becoming overcrowded and good luck getting into a "good" school if you don't live within the boundary.

None the less, I would be curious to know which schools people think are good ALO's...

And further what exactly they are doing that they makes them so good.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your feedback all.
My 9 yo daughter is at a private school, so no ALO and not likely she will advance considerably in the next year (since the educational model isn't particularly advanced). We noticed her being "stuck" last year and just kept her at her current school because she was happy. Now, even she's frustrated, and, our bank account can't support private school any longer. I am annoyed that we might be responsible for her low achievement scores and done her a disservice by going with play or education. I'm actually considering Spectrum as a happy medium (only one year ahead rather than two), but it's not guaranteed and doesn't appear to have as many advocates with muscle driving the problem.
We decided to spring for the achievement testing and cross our fingers!
Thanks again.
(Now definitely) $450 poorer

Anonymous said...

Should read:

"I am annoyed that we might be responsible for her low achievement scores and done her a disservice by going with play OVER education."

$450 poorer

Anonymous said...

Should read:

"I'm actually considering Spectrum as a happy medium (only one year ahead rather than two), but it's not guaranteed and doesn't appear to have as many advocates with muscle driving the PROGRAM."

$450 poorer (and hating autocorrect!)

Anonymous said...

Deafening silence about good ALOs?

Lynn said...

Here's a report of the number of Spectrum-eligible and APP-eligible students at each ALO this year. You might want to compare those numbers to the number of students from each school enrolled at Lincoln or Thurgood Marshall. (Listed in this document on pages 9 and 19.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't exactly call 4 hours in the after school/dinner hours a "deafening silence", and am somewhat hesitant to jump into this discussion on a supposedly anonymous forum, but happy to stick up for our ALO school, and take some offense at the idea that we are simply there because we "don't know better" or "don't know what we are missing". I went through a top rated program for gifted kids from second grade through 12th grade, my educator father is considered an expert in the field of 'best practices' for gifted children; I am not simply naive about what works and doesn't work.

My oldest goes to Adams in Ballard, and has gone the ALO route for three years. Why do I think it's working? NOT simply because he's "top of his class" - he often isn't, and frankly - that's OK with me. I want him to be challenged, I want him to not assume he will always be first or always have it easy. The fact that he's not is actually a big part of why we kept him at Adams - a strong cohort of AG and AGH kids (close to 25% of his class, all opting to stay) means he IS challenged. It also means that he has a real peer group, while not being isolated from others who may be gifted in other ways, or may have unique and worthwhile perspectives to add but who don't "test well" for whatever reasons. He is also consistently met at HIS level, not at some arbitrary "1 year" or "2 year" dictate. His teachers know him well enough to know when to push and when he's giving 100%.

Equally if not more important to us, though, at this age was all the things that Adams could offer that APP could NOT: PE, Music, & Art more than once every three weeks; a full-time dance teacher who is also an experienced English teacher and who understands kinesthetic learners, a huge playground with meaningful recesses, before and after school language, art, music and physical ed programs with actual TIME to enjoy them instead of being stuck on a bus 45 minutes a day: Neighborhood friends, and a strong connection to the ADULTS in the neighborhood as well, so that he is growing up knowing an entire community is looking out for him.
I could go on and on about the things I love about Adams, but the ACADEMIC portion of choosing ALO over APP isn't the ONLY thing that defines a "good ALO".

Anonymous said...

That Bryant number is really large. View Ridge is a similar size school but Bryant's numbers are 40% bigger. They could never fit all those kids back into the school.

Lynn said...

How is it that Adams can provide more PE, art and music than APP at Lincoln - plus a full-time dance teacher? Do you know what Adams gave up in their school budget to offer these?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I don't know that Adams 'gave up' anything per se. At least part of it is the actual scheduling; kids at Adams have PE, music & dance 1-2 times EACH every week, as opposed to the rotating solid week @ Lincoln. I believe each grade gets 5 'sessions' every week. The hours may be the same at the end of the year, but I have boys; they can't go two weeks without PE...

Art is a whole other thing altogether, and Adams is likely not a 'typical' example of that in terms of ALO's. Adams is an "arts integration lab school", meaning that art is incorporated into everything they teach/learn. Long long ago, that was related to a federal grant, but now much of the funding comes from a combination of PTA money & various grants. (I believe, but wouldn't swear, that the dance teacher funding comes from that - but it also may not, since our PTA doesn't fund 'staff' positions.)

We also have a full time counselor (originally 1/2 time but when our enrollment went over 500, she became FT), but only a part-time librarian. That may be where some of the funding is different?

Anonymous said...

Original Poster just writing to say, SO GLAD we went for the private testing! Not just because there was a HUGE difference in the outcome (qualifies now at 99.9%, so glad I trusted my instincts!), but also because the feedback about his strengths was genuinely helpful... I know SPS can't offer this kind of testing for everyone, but there has to be something more meaningful than the CogAT for highly gifted kids...

Best $450 I've Spent - with sincere thanks to those of you who told me to go for it!

Davim said...

I noticed the relatively large percentage of AHG children at Bryant... 28 vs 1-5 at other schools. Our child was just accepted into APP but we are on the fence.... Bryant is a wonderful place and Lincoln does have several issues including no playyard, a shared campus, weekly rotations of music/Pe/art, and the challenge of location. Does anyone have experience with Bryant Spectrum vs Lincoln APP at 1st grade? I suppose I am asking about the perceived value of education at either school. I am less concerned with advanced curriculum and more interested in the ability of either school to provide a challenging and rewarding experience four our little guy. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

If it was still choice time you could put Bryant Spectrum as first choice and Lincoln APP as second choice and see if you got a spot at Bryant Spectrum. I hear Spectrum is hard to get into due to limited spots. You may not have much choice now that that enrollment form was already due.

Choice?

Anonymous said...

Um, Bryant doesn't have Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Just noting that the report hyperlinked (on 3/19 from Lynn at 8:01pm) with numbers of students who are AG and AHG eligible does not include my child. There is a zero in the grade column and my child was eligible for Spectrum 2013-2014. I mention this as it leads me to question how accurate this report is.

Anonymous said...

We'll that makes things much more simple.
Choice?

Davim said...

Oops I meant ALO @ Bryant. Anyone with kids that have used both programs, APP At Lincoln vs Bryant ALO?

A said...

Just wanted to quickly say that the district testing thing is a mess and I think it's grossly unfair that students have to pay $$$$ to try and get the education they need. Our son and a friend got extremely underwhelming results from a district examiner (whom I later heard is not the best). They both got 99% on private tests and I know our child is absolutely thriving in APP.. he's finally happy to be at school.

The problem? There was tons of stress/worry deciding on taking a private test... and extra begging/borrowing from family members to scrap together the money for it.

For many less-well-off in the area such as ourselves... this is an *extremely significant* barrier to the APP program and it just continues to reinforce the stereotype of "rich kids with most resources"(monetary/social/family) getting to be in these programs disproportionately.

Little things like this make a big difference.

So go get the test. The district testing is consistently way off. And fight to get a refund from the district. We were unsuccessful... but more voices don't hurt.