Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Options outside of APP

By request, a thread to talk about good local options for APP kids near Seattle aside from Seattle Public Schools APP. Starting it off, an extended excerpt from one parent:
Interlake HS in Bellevue houses the district's gifted high school program. The entrance criteria are tighter are more selective than Seattle, but if you qualify and there's space available they take non-residents. It's a smaller program, and from conversations with the director it sounds like it's more accommodating. I asked what they do if a student is more advanced than what they offer in a certain class, and the response was that "we need to figure out how to offer what they need." Can you imagine hearing SPS say that? Their program seems to be a more rigorous combo of the Ingraham and Garfield options, with more Higher Level IB classes offered, and more advanced AP options as well.

Lakeside has the most advanced math of any of the public or private schools we checked out, offering as far as multivariable calculus. We also really liked the small classes that involved a lot of discussion, and the very engaged students. We got the sense that students could really push themselves (and each other), and that for a student who enjoyed a competitive, academic atmosphere it looked like a good fit. There seemed to be some willingness to advance students beyond the typical pathway if they were assessed as ready, as well as a (somewhat more vague) willingness to help figure out solutions for students who might need instruction beyond their highest level class in a subject.

For a much less traditional option, Stanford has an online high school (accredited, diploma-granting). The core courses look pretty interesting, and there's access to some university-level courses (primarily in math and science). We've found Stanford's EPGY courses to be very rigorous. The online HS includes some in-person summer sessions (e.g., science labs), so there's a bit of in-person interaction to complement the online group sessions. Looks like schedules could be very wacky (classes are peppered throughout the day/eve), and this is obviously best for self-directed learners who don't need/want a lot of personal interaction.

Another atypical option, UW's Robinson Center has a couple different programs for those who want to start college early--typically after 10th grade (UW Academy) or 8th grade (Transition School). The RC provides some good supports to help kids navigate the jump, and for those extremely academic kids who haven't been able to find a good peer group elsewhere, this may be the place. Programs are small and draw from the whole region, so it's not easy to get in.
Please discuss these options and add other good options in the comments.

39 comments :

Anonymous said...

We have also heard of students taking advantage of the Aviation High School.

Anonymous said...

And, Lakeside is mentioned, but how about any of the other private high schools in Seattle? The independent schools, like Bush, SAAS, UPrep, Northwest, . . . and also the Catholic HS, like Holy Names (for girls) and Seattle Prep?

Has anyone availed themselves of those options, and what have their experiences been?

One marker that we've used to look at schools is the number of national merit scholars, which, is, we know, based only on a test (with all the flaws that entails), but that might be expected to reflect the same kind of students as those that qualify for APP (which is also based on testing).

In the Seattle area, only Lakeside, Garfield, and Interlake show up as outliers (with some Eastside HS thrown in the mix), on that criterion.

Anonymous said...

Also helpful is hearing about your APP learner in different SPS high schools -- I saw an earlier thread that compared Garfield and Ingraham, but it's also useful to hear about experiences in other HS in Seattle. I think I've read in comments, about experiences at NOVA, but how about Center School, Roosevelt, Ballard? Sealth?

I know the samples must be small, and that raises privacy issues, but maybe the anonymous posting makes describing the experiences less of a problem?

Anonymous said...

I've heard from a number of people who visited and were excited about Aviation High School, but when we looked at their course catalog the options seemed pretty limited and not all that advanced. I don't think the parents I spoke to had APP-qualified kids though, so maybe it's a better bet for AG than AHG?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

We've applied at Aviation, and know a few other APP students who have gone there. It is definitely a niche school, but for math and science, it is outstanding. I think it reaches a broader range of kids - so yes, it works for AHG, though it also reaches other kids. The common theme is an interest in aerospace or aviation. The individual mentoring and projects allow AHG to go further than they might at say GHS. The internships are fabulous too. We have no doubt our child's needs would be met there. The math and science offerings are comparable or better than GHS, but clearly with an aerospace focus (includes Aerospace Engineering and Robotics Engineering). They have AP Lit, but of course can't compete with GHS or IHS in humanities offerings. There is also no music or sports teams beyond Ultimate Frisbee, and you need to take PE outside of school. But it's ranked 6th in WA state (ahead of all the SPS publics) in US News/World report, if that matters to you. They only have 100 kids per class, and the top students are getting admitted to top colleges. Every student is paired with an industry mentor, which we love. The new building and facilities are outstanding. The technology focus is a win for us, and all students get laptops and work with state of the art materials, from CAD design to wind tunnels. It's not for everyone, but we think it would be a great fit for us. Fingers crossed we get in.
-Rare Commenter

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in hearing about options that are more of a hybrid - for those that don't have the option of private school (that's a lot of us), what outside supports or classes can be used for students that are in the public school system? How can you get the most out of public school options while still keeping your child challenged?

Anonymous said...

Sounds great, Rare Commenter. Aviation seems to have a lot going for it (and good luck to yours!). I think the issue for us was that they only offer 2 AP science courses, and--very surprising to me--no AP Computer Science???

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:25, there are plenty of online programs that can be done part-time as needed. Stanford's EPGY (Education Program for Gifted Youth) and Johns Hopkins University's CTY program (Center for Talented Youth) are two well-known programs that provide a variety of challenging courses, up to and including some college-level work. At least in math, they are much more rigorous than any school district course we've seen. It can be a bit of a challenge sometimes to work these in around school schedules though, as at least in middle school they won't let you remain on campus during the unsupervised independent study period(s). Perhaps in high school there's more flexibility?

Running Start sounds like a great option for those who don't need anything extra until after 10th grade, but I'm sure others know more about that program.

The Robinson Center also has some summer programs, which can provide some good challenge--and access to peer group--over the summer.

Oh, and if your kid is ready for a university-level course in a particular subject and you cant find it online (or it really needs to be done in person), you can always try to enroll in an UW course as a non-matriculated student. When we looked into this, I was told by a departmental rep that they'd do an individual assessment of my child's level (looking at samples of past work, syllabi from online courses, and possibly an in-person meeting) and then provide placement info, although actual enrollment would be on a space-available basis (and at the non-student, per-unit cost). Aside from the initial hassle of getting in, though, there could be challenges in making the schedule work with a regular high school schedule--courses are likely offered at limited times, and the lack of alignment between UW and SPS calendars could mean that a course that works for part of the year could be a conflict later on.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I know a little bit about the Transition/EEP program at UW (though I am not an expert, and do not have a child who went through the program).

You can find a lot of information about the outcomes for their students at the web site, who have been parts of longitudinal studies: https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/research/publications/

From reading those reports, as well as talking to some students who have participated in the program, my take is that it is a good option for students who are ready to go to college, especially if their interests lean towards math and technical fields. UW has math, computer science, engineering, and science options far advanced beyond any high school, and, if taking advantage of those classes is useful to you, they are there for the taking. So is the opportunity to work in labs, though you will have to take individual initiative to find those opportunities and be an excellent, independently motivated student.

The pro/con (together)? You don't get high school. That can be both good and bad. No proms and dances and high school parties. No (probably) opportunity to participate in sports. Participation (and certainly leadership) in theater, newspaper, orchestra, all less likely. Also no high school antics. You also don't really get college (if that means frat parties and the like, though girls sometimes do get that experience, which doesn't sound like a good thing to me).

Anonymous said...

HIMS Mom,

Aviation just started mandating Computer Programming for last years 9th graders, so they haven't had to roll out AP classes yet for that. I know they will have advanced classes, but again, with only 100 students per grade, there may be limitations. Weigh this against whether you will get in to those classes at GHS, too. The only AP science they don't offer that GHS does is Biology, which is consistent for this niche school. (Physics and chem are the natural choices). They are very clear that if you want to go into health sciences (med school), this is not the school for you. If you are looking at sheer breadth of offerings, GHS will prevail, as they have much larger numbers. They have a little something for everyone, and that is where we are going if he doesn't get in. But I felt very confident that our son will have a challenging, exciting full course schedule for 4 years at Aviation, and we wouldn't have to go to Running Start, which seems to be a likelihood at GHS. The other benefits of Aviation outweighed the smaller course selection. And I'm sure he'd get more computer time and experience with the resources at Aviation.
-Rare Commenter

Grace Hensley said...

I'ld like to know about other solutions for elementary-aged APP kids. Our 4th grader has been suffering through a mismanaged program since 1st grade and we are loathe to put our kindergartener into the same boat.

My research identified Seattle Country Day (Queen Anne) and The Evergreen School (Shoreline at Meridian) as valid private solutions for gifted children. Expen$ive, gulp!

We are also considering home-schooling or the Seattle Public Schools' Cascade Parent Partnership so that we retain APP status/affiliation yet cover things in as much depth as we want, instead of just faster.

Finally, my 4th grader is desperate to go to Aviation. We're looking into skipping a grade somewhere so he's not 'repeating' 9th grade. When we visited the open house last fall we were VERY impressed by the students' unscripted enthusiasm and swell of applause as each teacher and administrator was introduced. We just have to suffer until then.

Anonymous said...

If you choose to enroll at Cascade Parent Partnership, I don't believe your child retains APP status. They would need to retest in order to enroll in APP again. Cascade is not an ALO or Spectrum option. It certainly can be an option for APP qualified students, as you can access advanced work online or teach at an advanced level at home, you just lose the APP status.

You do have the option of part-time homeschooling in both elementary and middle school. It's easier in middle school because the day is organized around a set schedule, but parents have done it at Lincoln as well. Part-time homeschooling students retain their APP status.

Anonymous said...

You can part time homeschool in middle school, but I know a parent who had pushback about whether they retained APP status or not. It may depend on what you homeschool. Math, for instance, is not APP so that should not effect status, but maybe if you homeschooled LA, SS or science it would...? I would check to be sure.

We removed our child from HIMS after one year because the school didn't work for us. My child started in APP in 1st grade, so we know what the program used to be. My child had an awesome 5th grade APP teacher (no longer there) and 5th grade was far superior to what we saw in 6th. 6th grade math and science were downright awful and LA/SS were marginal. After taking with parents from other grades, it didn't sound like things improved.

We were sorry it came to us having to leave the school, but child wasn't learning anything. Our situation now is much better, and we do not regret leaving. One thing we miss is the excellent Mr Rowe.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

We are currently homeschooling 7th grade APP LA at HIMS. No pushback at all--just filed a Declaration of Intent to homeschool and that was it. My kid has/had a split block so we could keep the SS class without the issues that we found with the LA teacher.

LH

Anonymous said...

LH-

That's good to hear. The parent I spoke to who had issues was wanting to homeschool under the former principal.

With all the parents homeschooling these days for various subjects at HIMS, Ms Watters has to be pretty used to it.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

The law is on the student's side when it comes to part-time enrollment. They can't deny you access to APP simply because you are part-time homeschooling, nor can they deny your request to part-time homeschool.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what curriculum you use for LA, or is your child enrolled in an online course? LA/SS has been such a frustrating waste this year. My child remarked that simply reading history books would have been a better use of time (8th grade).

-bordering on bitter

Anonymous said...

That's the rub. There is NO LA curriculum. So, we are just cobbling together essay assignments, grammar workbooks and keeping up with the reading for SS. Some extra vocabulary with Quizlet and a bit of BrainPop. All way better than the stressful last two years of less-than-stellar LA teaching.

Our main focus is getting our kid to be able to go through all the steps of writing a well thought out, well defended essay. Too much time in LA is spent doing extraneous stuff that wasn't helping get the basics down.

LH

Lynn said...

I hope the task force on service delivery models considers including Cascade as one of the "variety of services" offered to AHG students. It might be a good spot when a students needs something more than/different from what SPP offers. If you could maintain eligibility for high school, and Cascade would provide access to accelerated classes, I think it could be valuable.

Greg Linden said...

I'd like to suggest that, if you are considering leaving Seattle because of problems with the schools, you might write the mayor (ed.murray@seattle.gov) to let him know that.

It may not do any good, but, if people, tax money, and economic growth are leaving Seattle due to problems with our public schools, the mayor should hear about it.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know much about Shoreline or Bellevue (besides Interlake)? I'm curious how they handle their AHG students.
-wondering

juicygoofy said...

I contacted the Shoreline admissions office a few years ago. Things may have changed since then, but I understood that there are two AHG elementary designated schools in the district. One on the east side and one on the west. Students are in self-contained classrooms, but the program is housed in a school with other students. All elementary schools are K-6. Entrance to AHG is different than in Seattle, as the students must be tested by Shoreline schools, and they don't use CoGAT. I don't remember what they do use. Space is guaranteed to all who qualify. There are typically one or two classes per grade with splits when necessary. There is no specific AHG program in middle or high school, but advanced and APP courses are theoretically available to all students.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if this is too off-topic, but could really use some advice:

We aren't unhappy with APP at Lincoln, but we are considering moving to the eastside for other reasons (including special education reasons for my non-Lincoln child). Anyone familiar with the elementary & middle school programs out in Bellevue or Lake Washington districts, including how much of a pain it would be to get our kid in to one of them once we move?

Also, not that we can afford it, but any thoughts about Open Window or other private schools out there that might be good for an APP kid?

Anonymous said...

At 1:22...
I think you will be pleasantly surprised - no blown away - by Bellevue. We've seen a bunch of our APP friends slowly get trickle over to Bellevue, from 1st to 7th grade, and they all said it was as easy as pie. No private testing, no drama. The schools did assessments of each child when they enrolled, and nearly all were immediately placed in their gifted programs. They are all having amazing experiences and I am deeply jealous.
-still here

Anonymous said...

anon@7:10PM -what you described was a transfer from one public school gifted program to another public school gifted program. Seattle does this as well. All a parent needs to provide is evidence that the student was eligible and enrolled in a public school gifted program. Bellevue does test their own students and uses the CogAT and has an appeal process that is far more stringent than SPS. It does not appear to accept private tests for appeals. Go look at their site.

APP x2

Anonymous said...

@7:10,

Point well made - I have been consistently amazed over the last 10 years how the SPS's vilifies parents and families who are motivated to learn.

We have experienced some of the worst math education I've seen in the district at HIMS APP. Whenever we complain to the principal - we are made to feel like jerks and troublemakers.

Too bad moving to Bellevue isn't an option commute-wise.

We've grown to hate SPS AND their little APP program too.

-Wicked Witch of the West

Anonymous said...

APP x 2: "All a parent needs to provide is evidence that the student was eligible and enrolled in a public school gifted program."

I'd hoped so, but Bellevue is telling me that my child will have to be retested, despite already being in APP. (Because the Seattle district scores are more than one year old.) Maybe that's okay, and maybe Seattle has the same requirements for students moving into our district. But apparently it's not a simple transfer.

I appreciate the information.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous parent above considering an Eastside move - a related question that could apply to those thinking about other programs here:

Has anyone had a child in elementary APP for years and then gone to a elementary program that is not as accelerated (public or private)? Would it be that big of a deal? (I'm referring to a child doing fine in APP and not struggling to keep up.)

Lynn said...

I would only move a child to a less accelerated program if a grade skip were possible.

Anonymous said...

APPx2-

That was not our friends experience. As new students to a Bellevue elementary, they were given an assessment and then placed in the program, with zero parental involvement, which floored our friends. One of their 3 children did not do as well in a reading portion, and then were given extra support, and moved into the program a few months later. Astounding.
-still here.

Lynn said...

Bellevue has two levels of gifted services - it sounds like your friend's children are receiving pull-out services. (Unless they were moved to the self-contained program mid-year?)

Anonymous said...

Well, still here, that is certainly encouraging information. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

We have two boys who were in APP at HIMS. One is now at Aviation, the other at Blanchet. Both schools have provided academically challenging opportunities. Both boys love where they are.

Blanchet tested all incoming freshman and placed them in the corresponding math and language arts classes. There are Honors classes for most subjects and AP classes. There are robotics and debate and UN clubs, Honor Society, plus student government, among other activities. The school is very good at giving recognition for academic and athletic and volunteer service achievements.

Aviation does not have as much flexibility with class offerings, and there are some basic required classes. Our son was able to take Algebra 2 as a freshman and he'll be through AP Calculus BC when he graduates. They are trying to open more lab science class space, since demand has grown. All of the classes are rigorous, and my son has given more presentations at Aviation than my other two HS sons combined. There are robotics, debate, Science Olympiad, and student government clubs, among others.

2schoolsMom

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that, 2schoolsMom. How would your kids say the overall rigor and depth of study compares to HIMS APP? Would kids who find HIMS APP to be painfully slow-moving, too basic, and not intellectually challenging likely be pleasantly surprised by one of these schools, or are they best for kids who are relatively comfortable with HIMS APP? I know it's all subjective, but any thoughts are much appreciated.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

HIMSMom,
I asked my kids for their personal direct comparisons to HIMS APP.

The one who attends Aviation said some classes, even Freshman level language arts, and math are very rigorous and demanding when compared to HIMS. But other required classes such as info tech are too basic.

The one who attends Blanchet replied that if a student had, for example, Mr. Pounder, at HIMS and felt the math was too slow, then that student may not be challenged enough at Blanchet unless many levels were skipped. He feels HIMS APP is similar in challenge and difficulty to Blanchet's honors courses.

Hope that helps! Sounds like a mix of difficulty depending on the class at each school.

2schoolsMom

Anonymous said...

Looks like we will be a two schools family too. My son was accepted to Aviation High, and will probably go. Our other (former) APP kid now attends Lakeside, which didn't interest my son. We feel they will both get a rigorous and engaging education. But we thought Garfield and Ingraham were both excellent choices as well, and we would have been fine there either. In the end, you have to pick the right fit for your kid. It isn't always about which is the toughest or most competitive or who offers the most class choices (how many do you need, really, if you have a pretty good idea of what they want to do?). It's where they will get the best education for them. They all have pros and cons. Find the one that they see themselves at and want to succeed at. It's less about the parents in high school - they are taking control of their education. I hope anyway!
-Rare Commenter

Anonymous said...

Rare Commenter,

I completely agree that there are so many other factors to be considered when making the 'right fit' decision.

And, just to clarify, my son felt Mr. Pounder provided him with plenty of rigor and challenging math work!

2schoolsMom

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear insights and ideas for an APP kid who is passionate about IT and computer programming. Heading to HIMS next year and thinking ahead. Are after-school clubs the only structured place for kids to pursue technology interests at Hamilton? I noted the comment about the UW as an option when he's in high school. What options do the current APP high school pathways offer? Other SPS high schools? Non-SPS schools?

Anonymous said...

My daughter is going to graduate from Holy Names next month. She went to k-8 in Seattle Schools and tested into advanced learning but did not change schools. HNA has been great - the cohort is more academically ahead overall to begin with - many AP classes - the school seems open to placing kids ahead into higher level classes as appropriate. Almost of her teachers have been very good. Lots of opportunities for music, sports, clubs, etc. My daughter seems well prepared for college and will be attending a selective LAC in California next year.