Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Open thread

Going to be 82F and sunny in Seattle! Beautiful May weather. This is an open thread, talk about anything you like!

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about next year and wondering if there is a way to make math more challenging for my child @ Lincoln. Walk to Math as currently implemented is not really working since it still follows the curriculum. Out of curiosity has anyone else gotten any accommodations that I should look into?
Thanks

Anonymous said...


Wilson-Pacific FAQs:
http://seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/communications/documents/Wilson-Pacific_FAQ_043014.pdf?sessionid=731cd3ed9569e446de5813aa6111401d

Anonymous said...

About walk to math - I would love to see more playfulness in the program. I don't think that my child is at the wrong level,exactly, but all these months of drilling arithmetic are getting old. More side exploration might also help those kids who really are very competent with the current material.

Anonymous said...

Page 11 of the WilPac FAQs clearly states that the district intends to place APP at Madison middle school after Fairmont Park opens:

The new APP program at Fairmount Park, to grow into APP at Madison, was developed
specifically to ease capacity at Thurgood Marshall and Washington Middle School. There has
been strong interest in APP at Fairmount Park, so it appears that this strategy will be successful"

Anonymous said...

This question is from a group of Wallingford parents that will have kids going to Ingraham next year. We understand the current parents have coordinated some kind of bus service to make the commute easier and more direct. How do we find out more information about this so we can get our kids "signed up" for next year?

Anonymous said...

Ingraham shuttle service this year:
http://ingrahamhs.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1708844/File/General%20Information%20/2013-2014%20General%20Info/Ingraham%20Shuttle%20Schedule%202013-2014.pdf?sessionid=a3d1f62e4371ab1536196a9863a58d4d
You don't need to sign up.

Lynn said...

Anon@1:42 pm,

If the district expects the enthusiasm for Fairmount Park to carry over to APP @ Madison, they must be planning to move Julie B there next. Seriously, the only comments I've heard in West Seattle about APP@Madison have been from parents seeking reassurance that it will be voluntary and they'll still have access to WMS.

Me said...

I'm thinking the new IHS family from Wallingford is thinking about the privately funded bus. My kid doesn't ride it, but I have it in my head that one of the volunteer coordinators at IHS knows about it, so if you email ingrahamvol@gmail.com
Nicole may be able to help you out.

If you know the Noble-Randalls then ask them, there was a Seattle Times article that mentioned them and the private bus.

Some IHS person from Wallingford might want to post something on the IHS website or do a mailing so as to be inclusive (and maybe save money). Speaking of which, I wonder if they have considered free rides for verified FRL kids? (Ahhh, the TOPS influence is still there! Yay!)

Anonymous said...

I have some Walk to Math questions/concerns and am curious how different schools are making placement decions regarding which group kids are placed in. I have one APP kid at Lincoln and one Spectrum qualified kid in a so called ALO school.
At your Walk to Math school are you told why the kids are placed in their group? For example, if there is a math group working one year ahead, are parents informed that the kids placed in that group had say a minimum MAP score or a certain MSP score?
My Spectrum kid is not in the advanced Walk to Math group for his grade and claims to be bored. When I questioned the teacher about placement next year and how placement would be determined he would not tell me anything specific other than "we will look at the data". Is it reasonable to want more specific guidelines than "data" ?
How is Walk to Math placement done at your school and do you feel like it is transparent, fair, and equitable?
Btw, my Lincoln kid is in 5th grade and I don't believe they do W.T.M. In 5th so if lower Lincoln grades can speak to this that would be helpful as well.
-WTM

Anonymous said...

Does anyone knowing anything about the choir elective at HIMS? My incoming 6-th grade daughter is interested in choosing it for the next school year. Do kids usually take it all three MS years in a row or are there a lot of changes from year to year? Is it is easy to join in 7th or 8th grade (same for band) after e.g. one year of PE/arts?

new HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

On the HIMS reg. forms that were sent to us for incoming 6th graders, full year PE is an option. I was surprised to this as I was under the impression kids had to do a semester of PE and a semester of art. Is this a typo or can kids actually bypass art and do PE all year? Thanks.
-HIMS PE

Anonymous said...

Yes, at HIMS you can request a full year of PE. Art isn't required. It's my understanding that placement in a full year of PE isn't guaranteed, but they try to make it work.
Parent of one who is there

Anonymous said...

Well, our ALO school doesn't do Walk To Math because it upsets parents. We'll be at Lincoln in the fall.

Anonymous said...

QAE does not do walk to math. They also do not allow kids to go above grade level in their online math program. It is an ALO school.

Anonymous said...

No excitement for APP middle school in WS from anyone I've talked to. More like fear they will not be able to go to Washington MS.
-WS Parent 3

Lynn said...

APP enrollment data was published in today's Friday Memo.

Lynn said...

Two numbers that surprised me - 26 second grade students at Fairmount Park and 173 freshman at Garfield. (That's up from 111 this year.) I predict changes in the APP high school pathway for 2015-16.

Anonymous said...

I predict changes to MS APP as well.

These are the numbers that surprised me:

2013-14
Grade level (%APP)
1-5 (4.2%)
Mid (8.3%)
High (4.2%)

2014-15
Grade level (%APP)
1-5 (4.7%)
Mid (9.7%)
High (5.2%)

%APP is the percent of total SPS enrollment that is APP. I take the numbers as an indication that neighborhood schools need to offer more meaningful advanced learning opportunities in middle school. The doubling of %APP from elementary to middle school is significant.

Anonymous said...

Something I find interesting is the 10-student wait list at Lincoln. The document says that all wait listed students are "out of pathway" applicants. But there is no waitlist at any grade at Thurgood Marshall.

So how do we interpret that? Maybe 10 students' families work near Lincoln so it's more convenient? Or is it possible that people really like the idea of a stand-alone magnet school for gifted youth, and they're willing to drive across town for it?

--wondering

Anonymous said...

Wow Lynn! THose numbers are crazy. I think those numbers are going to raise some eyebrows. Elem and high school should look for changes.
-APP explosion

Anonymous said...

9.7 percent of all middle school students in Seattle are going to be in APP? Am I reading that right? I'm all for a vibrant APP population, but that does seem really high.


Anonymous said...

I have no idea if the middle school numbers are high. I will say *completely anecdotally* that when I talk to parents who have sent their kids to public elementary and plan to send their kids to public high school, a fairly startling number of them seem to go private just for middle school *if the kid is not in APP.* Again, that may just be my anecdata, but I wonder if that is . . . well, representative of an actual phenomenon.

Greg Linden said...

This sounds like a good topic for lots of discussion, so I started a new thread for it, "APP enrollment for 2014-15". Please move discussion on this over there, thanks.

Karen said...

Anonymous at 10:56, you are not correct. The 4.7% is not the number of eligible students in SPS. It is the number of students actually enrolled at Lincoln or TM. The 9.7% is the number of MS APP kids enrolled in JAMS, HIMS or WMS. It again is not the number of APP eligible students. Meaning, maybe some are at Whitman or Eckstein, for example, making the 9.7% low.

Anonymous said...

%APP is the percent of total SPS enrollment that is APP [assigned]

It didn't say APP eligible, but thanks for clarifying that for others.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether APP and Pinehurst students will be on the same buses? Just wondering if my first grader will be on a bus with middle schoolers.

Anonymous said...

I've heard from the office at Lincoln that APP and Pinehurst will have staggered arrival and departure times. Therefore I'm assuming that they will be on different buses. When APP shared the building with McDonald, both schools had staggered arrival and departure times, to allow for all of the buses and parents dropping off and picking up. There would be no possible way for both schools to share buses next year since that would require the same start and end times. It wouldn't be physically possible to move that many vehicles and families through the load/unload area all at the same time.

Staggered times will also allow for both schools to have separate recesses and hopefully lunch times. There just won't be enough space for both schools to use the lunchroom and playground at the same time.

Another factor is next fall there will be that huge construction project going on at the corner of 45th St and Interlake, right across from the Lincoln parking lot. That whole block, except for Walgreens, is going to be demolished and a giant apartment building will be built. I'm sure there will be a lot of construction vehicles also having to move through 45th St. and Interlake Ave. all year long, so that will be a factor in how Lincoln is able to navigate the flow of buses and cars. It will be a big logjam I'm sure.

The office and admin at Lincoln seem to be very aware of the drop off/pick up issues for next year. So I wouldn't worry about your 1st grader being on a bus with middle schoolers. I'd encourage you to call the Lincoln office and talk to Beth or Kathy (the amazing office staff!), as they can give you more specifics about what they know. I trust that they are on top of these sort of things and will make sure these sorts of logistics make for a smooth school experience for both APP and Pinehurst next year.

Glass half-full

SusanH said...

I wouldn't worry about your first grader being on the bus with middle schoolers anyway. Middle schoolers watch out for the little kids; they aren't mean or abusive (although your little one might learn a new word or two). Pre-K 4-year olds ride the South Shore bus with middle schoolers, down here in Rainier Beach. It's been fine.

Anonymous said...

Also, remember that Pinehurst is a K-8 - in other words little ones are a part of that community already.

RR

Anonymous said...

I wanted to give a heads up to all incoming Washington or HIMS 6th graders. Take extra time in choosing your language because if you plan on attending Ingraham APP (IBx); it is extremely difficult to ever switch your language and be ready to take the IB exam in your sophomore or junior year. It would require either taking a year of language over the summer before 9th grade or before 10th grade.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:07pm, we directly experienced this scenario. However, we have a family friend who did the regular IB program last year, and their son did a more basic language test after his 3rd year, so a solution exists. Hopefully the more HIMS and soon JAMS students come to Ingraham, the more diverse the language options can be. I've heard that the JAMS principal is attempting to start Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Chinese isn't offered at Ingraham. French is. Chinese at JAMS will not address the situation of needing to start in the second year of language if doing IBX.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 7:34,

What I was attempting to refer to was the ab intio Langauge option. That was what our family friend did, he was a senior but only in Spanish 3. So, as a last resort if somebody at Ingraham in IBx, they could start in year 1 and test in year 3. Ingraham does not currently offer Chinese but with the increase in student numbers and the potential for JAMS students to learn it could build the foundation of a program at Ingraham.

Anonymous said...

Is the ab initio option only offered for Spanish? We were informed that the ab initio was not available for French.

Anonymous said...

That's a very good question... Through the IB, it should be offered in any langauge but I am not sure about Ingraham's policy. Maybe if you went to the IB's website and looked for information about it, that would help your case.

Anonymous said...

To any parents of 8th graders at WMS, can you tell us about the LA portion of your kids' studies?

HIMS recently did a "media studies" unit, focused primarily on race and gender issues. Just curious if that's similar to what WMS kids are doing this year as well.

From what I've heard from my own kid and other parents, it isn't going over all that well. My kid says it feels like focus is on getting kids to agree with the teacher's viewpoint. Other HIMS parents hearing the same?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

@ HIMS mom: If you had any idea of what has transpired at Center School this year you wouldn't "go there" with your question. You really wouldn't.

No, I won't elaborate, but you can easily read more about the messiness of teachers attempting to have these conversations, and the subsequent reactions of their students, their families and the district. At the end, someone or someoneS get hurt within the system, and you never know which oneS it will be.

Only people who have directly witnessed these conversations in the classroom should be questioning whether or not they are appropriate. Everything else is heresay. Sometimes very hurtful hearsay.

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to have conversations about race and gender (fine), and it's another thing to use critical race theory ideology with middle schoolers (not appropriate), but that's what's happening.

My child would agree there is a focus of getting kids to agree with the teacher's viewpoint, and not just on the race and gender issues. My child asks if it's possible to drop the class, because simply reading history books would result in more learning.

And there you have it.

Anonymous said...

The fact that the conversations can be "messy," as you say, is all the more reason they should be done with extra care, or not at all. Middle school students may not have the perspective to understand the nuances of some of these conversations.

Only people who have directly witnessed these conversations in the classroom should be questioning whether or not they are appropriate

Parents are obviously not going to be firsthand observers...but students are. Are you suggesting students themselves should be the arbitrars of what's appropriate, and parents should zip it? What are you suggesting anon@1:46?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 1:46, Seriously???

There's no official curriculum, so we should not ask about it, even if we hear concerns from multiple sources? That's BS. I can't go sit in the classroom day in, day out, and the media studies unit is over anyway.

I am familiar with the past situation to some extent, and am not interested in a repeat. However, if there are in fact a significant number of kids uncomfortable with the approach, there may be a legitimate reason for further conversation on the issue. FWIW, my kid generally agrees with the perspective being presented, and is not uncomfortable with the topic. My kid does not, however, groove on the fact that they are being repeatedly hit over the head with the same ideas, or that there seems little room for discussion that may not align with the teacher's beliefs. Now that's just my kid's opinion , and I'm certainly not going to raise a stink based on that. I am, however, going to ask around.

I should also note that I like the teacher, and my kid generally does as well (until this unit). I think it's more a curriculum issue than anything else. Teachers are not perfect in devising lesson plans, hence the inquiry re: what WMS is doing, if anything, on media studies.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

So who's in charge of curriculum? Kids, parents, or teachers?

Anonymous said...

My kid does not, however, groove on the fact that they are being repeatedly hit over the head with the same ideas, or that there seems little room for discussion that may not align with the teacher's beliefs.

My child has expressed the same sentiment.

So who's in charge of curriculum? Kids, parents, or teachers?

Funny you ask, because right now, the kids are. They have been tasked with teaching an era of Washington State history, with each group taking on a particular era. The have one class period to present a timeline of people, places, and events. Students are supposed to learn everything they need to know from their classmates' presentation, then be tested on a quiz created and graded by the students.

What about AL's involvement in the curriculum? And the state defined standards?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 4:28, I assume you're implying that curriculum should naturally be developed by individual teachers and not parents or students (or curriculum specialists?), but I'm not sure I agree. It seems to me that a more collaborative approach is needed. Different teachers have different strengths, and not all are good at developing curricula from scratch.

Many years ago, one of the key recommendations that came out of the APP evaluation was the need for an APP curriculum. We still don't have it. Well, we do--it's just that nobody can define it, because it's whatever the heck any individual teacher wants to teach. That seems to me a poor way to run a program, a poor way to ensure that kids are getting the rigorous and meaningful education they need.

There's also a need for some sort of alignment across program sites (e.g., HIMS, WMS and JAMS), as well as vertical alignment with high school courses that follow. It's hard to have that in the absence of an agreed-upon curriculum. I think it would be great to have teachers take the lead in developing the APP curriculum, but it should be done collaboratively--with APP teachers across the secondary APP sites all weighing in and helping to refine it. It should also involve the input of those who have expertise in working with academically highly gifted kids, since many of the APP teachers lack such training.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Please tell me you are attending the APP-AC meeting and sharing the above, as well as forwarding concerns to the head of AL.

Anonymous said...

Heck no that's not what they are doing at Washington! You can go to the WMS website and see exactly what is covered. It's readily available. The SS curriculum is meant to prep kids for AP World at GHS. And in LA they are reading books and studying literature and writing! Imagine!
HIMS 8th chooses not to align, while 7th does. This is very dangerous as a new site is being established. At Hamilton Watters is letting the 8th grade set its own version of "US History".

open ears

Anonymous said...

At Hamilton Watters is letting the 8th grade set its own version of "US History".

The question is who will take these concerns seriously and get things back on track? My child is resorting to reading an online US History text so as not to be completely ignorant of American history. It's crazy.

Anonymous said...

It's not just 8th grade that has deviated from WMS. 6th grade at HIMS is doing it's own thing as well. There is little to no connection between LA and SS. They have had multiple "book clubs" where students choose the books and they simply read and discuss. The titles are somewhat arbitrary. The "World Literature" text sits on the shelf unused.

Parents should be aware of what's going on, and how far things are deviating from traditional APP coursework. It's very concerning.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I do not think there is anything to be gained by sharing with the APP-AC. I do not think they have the ear of the district. I spoke to several members who are not even sure what their role is anymore and were quite disheartened. What happens at the APP-AC doesn't go anywhere...and the board doesn't talk to them or get info from them. Perhaps the new task forces will have better luck, and will get a clear directive and will share info with the board and staff.
-old timer

Anonymous said...

Teachers should not push their agendas in class

Anonymous said...

Parents need to demand alignment with WMS. This needs to happen before the new middle school opens. Elementary parents, speak up, or you will have a wattered down version of APP to look forward to when your kids hit middle school.

open ears

Anonymous said...

open ears or HIMS parents, give us a petition or a framework for protest. We'll get behind you!

Elem mom

Anonymous said...

-Open ears
"Parents need to demand alignment with WMS"

Demand from who? The teacher, the principal, the exec director, the AL director, the T&L director, the Superintendent, the Board, who?

So far nobody cared, even though the dismantling of the APP program was going on for years (actually I think since the MS split).

HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Is there some way to get the differences between HIMS and WMS down on paper? Organized and clearly compared? It seems there's a thread of a clear story here that could be used to begin a petition for alignment. I have such high hopes for Jams (though my family is years out) and I hate to see this happen to MS APP.

Anonymous said...

The reality about the HIMS situation is that a forcibly removed teacher should not have been placed in any classroom without some sort of examination into the facts. While the teacher in question was displaced, the reasons behind the HIMS placement are unknown. For my 8th grader, the teacher has not been providing any sort of history curriculum for the entire year. Basically, the center school 12th grade LA/SS structure has been imposed on 8th grade APP. The side effect has been the Garfield history changes and the root is the lack of alignment between sites, and by teacher reassignment in all grades at HIMS.

If the APP-AC isn't doing anything, something needs to be changed. I am slowly becoming in favor of a APP PTSA, similar to SpEd. APP is a type of SpEd so why shouldn't we have similar representation?

I am certainly willing to start the ball rolling on this if people would be interested.

Other HIMS mom

Anonymous said...

I would be interested in meeting with other parents to discuss offline.

Anonymous said...

Parents need to follow "the process," which means you meet with the teacher first, then the principal. If you don't get resolution, then the Executive Director.

Anonymous said...

I wonder If this has any connection to the 8th grade yearbook photo stunt. My child mentioned to me that some students held up letters that spelled out "Disapproval." Staff put a stop to it. Anyone know what it was about? My child didn't know the meaning behind it.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:46, I'm trying to work on exactly what you mentioned--a clarification of the middle school APP curriculum, including a comparison of any big differences between WMS and HIMS. My ultimate goal would be to use that in ensuring a consistently strong APP MS curriculum across all three sites.

So far I have been trying to get specific curriculum info via official channels (e.g., Curriculum & Instruction), but I'm not sure that will pan out. Probably time to get clever.

I am also going to ask the APP AC Hamilton liaison to schedule a meeting or two with HIMS families to better understand the extent to which families have concerns about HIMS APP issues. Would be good to know if this is just a few people, or if concern is becoming more widespread. If she isn't interested, I'll come back here to see about arranging something ourselves.

There may or may not be issues with particular teachers--and specific concers are probably best addressed to individual teachers--but dealing with overall curriculum/program implementation issues requires a difffferent approach. My sense is that having a consistent curriculum would help minimize some of these other issues.

Elizabeth

Anonymous said...

My student took Greenberg Race and gender class. Best class SPS offered...sorely needed in all schools.

Your students are being given an amazing opportunity to learn some authentic US history. And parents want to align with the dry textbook curriculum so their are ready for an AP class.

Consider that Greenberg is driving his point over and over because these students need to have the point repeated.

Oh and my student also took and passed the AP English Comp exam at the end of Race and Gender class...go figure.

Anonymous said...

You will be told there is no APP curriculum. I'd suggest finding a parent at WMS that is willing to share what their student has been doing for both reading and writing assignments, plus a general summary of topics covered.

Here are some people and topics that have not been covered in the US History class at HIMS:

-Missouri Compromise
-abolitionists
-Andrew Jackson
-Trail of Tears
-Frederick Douglass
-women's rights
-Dred Scott Decision
-Abraham Lincoln
-Lincoln-Douglas debates
-Civil War
-Reconstruction
-Jim Crow laws

...and the list goes on. Pretty basic stuff. Not sure what is meant by "authentic" history? And yes, APP parents probably want their students prepared for an AP level class where they can learn even more history. Because that's the general idea of a history class - to learn history.

Anonymous said...

If these are the topics that were NOT covered in the HIMS 8th grade SS class, I wonder what exactly was covered so far this year?
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

The problem is the lack of curriculum. Not the teachers. This is a problem in other middle schools too when new teachers come in, you'll find different focus. Some schools block LA and SS, others don't. I wonder if that affects what is being taught. Aren't they working on better alignment for HS?

Form the OSPI website of suggested Washington 8th grade SS course outline

https://www.k12.wa.us/SocialStudies/Outlines/UnitOutlinesEighthGrade.pdf

OSPI K-12 learning standards:

http://www.k12.wa.us/socialstudies/ealrs-gles.aspx

There is an emphasis on civics and citizenship as well.

FYI

Anonymous said...

From the provided OSPI link:

In eighth grade, students develop a new, more abstract level of understanding of social studies concepts. The recommended context for developing this understanding is U.S. history and government, 1776 to 1900. Students explore the ideas, issues, and events from the framing of the Constitution up through Reconstruction and industrialization. After reviewing the founding of the United States, particularly the
Constitution, students explore the development of politics, society, culture, and economy in the United States to deepen conceptual understandings in civics, geography, and economics. In particular, studying the causes and consequences of the Civil War helps them to comprehend more profoundly the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a culturally diverse democracy.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, the problem here is lack of curriculum. When I taught 8th grade US History, I was given a 500 page book that covered from the "discovery of the Americas" to present day. I had one semester to teach Us History. 2nd semester I had to teach Washington State History and Geography. I was given nothing in terms of the important historical events or concepts that were required to be covered. When there is no specified curriculum why is anyone surprised that different teachers and different schools are teaching different ideas and concepts??
-It's obvious

Anonymous said...

It's more than lack of curriculum.

Anonymous said...

When there is no specified curriculum why is anyone surprised that different teachers and different schools are teaching different ideas and concepts??

So shouldn't there be an APP curriculum, reflecting some level of consistency across sites? Not that teachers shouldn't have flexibility, but there should be a core curriculum at the heart, no?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

There is no district adopted curriculum, but there is an APP curriculum. WMS is teaching it.

Anonymous said...

There is no consistency (or teacher collaboration) across APP sites and there never will be. Couple years down the road JA APP will in the mix chiming in on what is going on in their neck of the woods.

And who knows, maybe it will be perceived as better than what HIMS and WMS has to offer and become the new gold standard.



Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I'm ready to give up just yet.

Here's a question: what exactly is middle school APP--just a cohort, or more? If more, what's the more?

Anonymous said...

Was there a final meeting of the Advanced Learning Task Force on May 1? I have yet to see the minutes posted.

Some discussions on curriculum alignment from the April 2 mtg:

ALTF2 April 2 mtg minutes

Some random comments from other mtg minutes:

"Confusion and tensions between site based management and district management, transition to site based management"

"Hamilton doesn’t have the APP approved materials, out of print and policy problems
o Ancient and Medieval Worlds for Social Studies at Washington, not enough copies at Hamilton"

"Lack of agreement between two sites on social studies"

Anonymous said...

While the APP-AC seems to hardly ever communicate important information to the community, the task force notes have been extremely informative. I have to give the district credit hear...

Other HIMS Mom

Anonymous said...

*here

Bad typing skills...

Other HIMS Mom

Anonymous said...

The reason there will never be any alignment across sites is that the alignment and collaboration wasn't put into place at the time of the split. This was because APP was promised that an aligned curriculum would be in place at the time of the split. That curriculum never arrived so HIMS built its own program under the leadership of a principal who didn't believe in the program. As a result some teachers were put into APP classrooms who were not experienced with gifted education which further moved the program away from what WMS was/is doing. Yes, parents complained. Principal left. New parents come in, take up the cause then head off to high school. JA APP now being formed...any alignment or collaboration being done? Probably not, so a third APP "model" coming online.

Honestly at the point HIMS shouldn't align to WMS, but to IBX. Teachers should collaborate with IBX teachers to see what student to are lacking coming into the program. One question I would ask of IBX teachers is how solid is the students science knowledge coming from Biology, because that could be a bigger concern than Greenbergs class!

Anonymous said...

Re: IBX
IBX students need to start with the Standard Level of Biology (after they finished the Chemistry course in 9th grade) and can go on to the High Level only when they finished it so most of the students are fine with the knowledge they received at HIMS. At least that is what I was told by Mr Thomas.
IHS mom

Anonymous said...

HMS students go on to either Garfield or IBX at Ingraham, just as JAMS students will, as far as we know. The APP program in middle school needs to align with both of these options (either AP or IB pathway).

As a result some teachers were put into APP classrooms who were not experienced with gifted education which further moved the program away from what WMS was/is doing.

This is happening with the current principal as well.

The lack of oversight by someone in AL, or teachers trained and experienced in developing appropriate curriculum for highly capable students, is problematic. You can't just treat the students like they are two years older (there have been some questionable material choices), and delivering the grade level curriculum (two years ahead) at a grade level pace isn't always appropriate. They should be striving for both depth and breadth in the curriculum.

2cents

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but HIMS should NOT align to IBX alone. Remember many HIMS students go to Garfield too, so aligning to IBX would not serve them. If HIMS needs to align with IBX, then it needs to also align with Garfield. All students from HIMS need to be prepared to move on to their feeder high schools.

A good starting point would be for WMS and HIMS to get on the same page with their curriculum. Wouldn't it be great if both sets of APP students came out of middle school with generally the same knowledge base?

Has anyone met with Ms. Watters directly to express your concerns? It's very easy to make a one on one appointment with her, just call the main office and set something up. I did this a couple months ago and Ms. Watters was very receptive to my constructive criticisms/ideas. She gave me very direct answers and welcomed my concerns. Maybe more people need to get her ear and really press for alignment with the WMS principal and staff. I don't think this is a lost cause.

Northend HIMS

Anonymous said...

Not sure if there were enough experienced teachers with gifted certs to begin with. Not only that, these teachers have to want to apply for these positions. They may be happy teaching where they are. Have to look at it from their end, what incentives are there to transfer? Think of why we make job moves. Is is for a promotion, job satisfaction, more pay, better working conditions, commute time, flexibility, new challenge, friendly & supportive environment, stress level, etc.? Aldo how can we keep good teachers in the program? Maybe retention and recruitment aren't our job as parents, but we are a big part of that social condition teachers work under.

Anonymous said...

You are not the only parent that has provided feedback to the principal. So are questions and concerns being politely filed away, or taken as cause for some action?

JAMS, HIMS, and WMS should be on the same page with their APP curriculum. Yes, they should come out of the middle school program with generally the same knowledge base and skills. This message needs to go beyond the principal.

Anonymous said...

In the approved DeBell and Martin-Moriss amendment to Growth Boundaries and Student Assignment (11/20/13), was the following:

Direct the Superintendent to provide proper instructional materials and curricula for Language Arts and Social Science classes for all middle schools serving Academically Highly Gifted students in the Accelerated Progress Program (APP).

Has the Board followed up on this, and is the district taking action on it?

DeBell and Martin-Moriss amendment APP LA/SS

This is where parents can put their energy. Talking with the principal will have little impact.

Anonymous said...

OMG! And here I thought they were the bad guys. Ok, must be more careful about reading stuff off blogs.

Anonymous said...

"Talking with the principal will have little impact."

Talking to the district will have no impact...

The good news is middle school is a fast three years, they all survive and most go on to do well in high school and get into good colleges.

I know that is hard to see when you are fraught with anxiety over what history they are or are not getting in 8th grade.

But it will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Patronizing.

Anonymous said...

For some of the students, it will be fine for not doing challenging work in most of their classes for 3 years.
For others, it will be troublesome/terrible/wasting their time/talent, etc.
It all depends on your student and you, how you handle the situation.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

...I've seen my child totally come to life, embrace learning, get excited about what he's doing in school...and it has been great. I feel like he is finally getting an education, rather than the test prep and boredom he was experiencing before.

As quoted from a happy parent. It is about maintaining engagement. It's why APP exists. The lack of history coverage is a sign of a less than challenging class. I think most of us want our children to do more than "survive," we want our children to thrive. You most likely chose APP because your child thrives on learning.

Three years is a significant chunk of time. A student can do all of high school in three years. Think about it.

Anonymous said...

FYI Principal Watters makes decisions about which teachers teach which classes. For next year she has assigned an experienced 7th grade teacher to teach Gen. Ed/Spectrum with no regard to the teacher's preference. She has referred to HIMS APP on numerous occasions as APP 2.0, and has refused to allow (paid) collaboration time with WMS. Teachers try to collaborate on their own time but without principal support it is not a sustainable option. Currently the HIMS representatives for the APP curriculum design team are Ms. Watters (who states that "the Common Core Standards are the curriculum" I swear that is a direct quote she has made to several teachers...) and a teacher with 1 year of APP experience in a split block. As for your concerns about the 8th grade curriculum...which breaks my heart with its lack of rigor or academic content, but rigor will never be the forte of the current lead 8th grade APP teacher, apparently and as crazy as it sounds - the teacher is pedagogically opposed to gifted ed.

Anonymous said...

What you say is consistent with what we are experiencing. It's frustrating as *ell, but at least it begins to explain the situation.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9 30pm:
OMG, this all sounds awful if it is true.
"FYI Principal Watters makes decisions about which teachers teach which classes."
She did that already this year too.

"For next year she has assigned an experienced 7th grade teacher to teach Gen. Ed/Spectrum with no regard to the teacher's preference."
Isn't this wasting the teacher's talent, energy, especially when HIMS doesn't have lot of gifted ed teachers? And then who will teach the 7th grade APP classes, the gen ed/spectrum teachers? With no available curriculum and no experience?

"the current lead 8th grade APP teacher, apparently and as crazy as it sounds - the teacher is pedagogically opposed to gifted ed."
Then why is he teaching in an APP classroom in a school that has gen ed/spectrum classes also?

How can we stop this?
HIMS parent

Anonymous said...

Is JAMS still hiring? Maybe it's not to late to defect.

Anonymous said...

He or she?

Anonymous said...

Great. If 6th and 8th weren't bad enough, with kids bored out of their minds and begging to actually learn history and read worthwhile books, now Watters is dismantling the 7th grade team? The only rigor at HIMS? I've heard her say APP 2.0 too, and it grates.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that Principal Watters limited the LA+SS homework load in 8th grade for 20 mins a day (and none for the weekends)?
If it is, I wonder if this is really the best preparation for the students for the HS AP/IB/IBX workload?

Anonymous said...

In response to "FYI Principal Watters makes decisions about which teachers teach which classes..." - Isn't it normal for a principal to assign teachers to teach a particular class? Teachers don't always get to choose the classes they teach, but that's not a bad thing in my experience. Usually the principal is looking at the big picture and not just the needs of one person or one grade. -RR

Anonymous said...

There seems to be no effort to assign teachers to APP classes that will be suited to teaching advanced level classes. As 7th grade was the holdout for maintaining some fidelity to APP standards, one has to wonder whose needs are being met with the assignment.

Anonymous said...

There are now several cohorts from APP HIMS enrolled in IBX. Maybe a group of parents should meet with the IB lead and ask for his impressions regarding how well prepared APP students are coming in. If there are deficits you can report back to Watters and ask how she can troubleshoot. Maybe ask for collaboration between MS and HS teaching staff. I would think it would be hard to come up with an argument against that suggestion.

Parents have been battling this issue now for almost five years. You are going to hit a wall trying for WMS/HIMS alignment. Try MS for HS alignment.

I actually think the idea of moving away from a MS APP model, that has no codification or curriculum to a MS IB model has great potential. Solves a lot of HIMS APP issues, makes sense for an international school and would provide all the rigor to prepare students for either GHS or IBX.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a group of parents should meet with the IB lead and ask for his impressions regarding how well prepared APP students are coming in. If there are deficits you can report back to Watters and ask how she can troubleshoot.

Doesn't this seem like something AL should be doing as a matter of course?

Anonymous said...

AL dept. has very little control over principals. It never did. It has zilch power in enforcement. Perhaps EDs do, but they choose not to. Curriculum matters are under the jurisdiction of C&I or whatever it is called now, but heck, it can't even align or manage to produce decent curriculum for the general ed students.

Anonymous said...

Sherry Carr community mtg:
Sat. 8:30-10:00 at Bethany Community Church

Martin-Morris community mtg:
Sat. 11:00-1:00
Montlake Library

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the May 7 4:49 commenter for posting the link to the board amendment directing the Supt. to provide proper instructional materials and curricula for LA/SS middle school APP classes.

Just for the fun of it, I'm going to send it to the Board to remind them of it, ask them who on the Board is responsible for following up to check that the District has done this; and who in the District has been specifically charged with ensuring this happens.

I'm not expecting much - but maybe if enough parents email, someone might take notice.

Jane (parent of an 8th grader at HIMS)

Anonymous said...

Check the Friday open thread on saveseattleschools blog to see what is happening to Spectrum there, particularly to teachers whose students are unable to show adequate "growth" on the MAP.

This is why advanced learners need to OPT OUT! The scores of the highest scoring kids are being used to punish teachers. If your kid is not in a grade where the test matters for placement, please opt out! Your kid enjoys standardized tests? Too much is now at stake.

open ears

Anonymous said...

New thread on the save seattle schools blog explaining after 10 years of advocacy nothing has improved for advanced learning students.

Lynn said...

The minutes of the May 1st Advanced Learning Task Force meeting are now available online.

Also available: Nancy Hertzog's recommendations for providing services in kindergarten through second grade. (She is recommending leaving highly capable children in general ed classrooms until third grade.) She's also recommending the district provide after school and summer enrichment programs - which leads me to believe she is delusional.

Notes on the reduction of self-contained classrooms in the Kent School District. (They are still serving the top3% in self-contained classrooms.)

List of task force members.

Each member is supposed to bring their recommendations to the next meeting on Tuesday May 20th. I suggest contacting anyone you know on that list to discuss their recommendations. I'll be asking the members of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee to attend so that they can hear what the entire committee recommends before Shauna Heath presents her suggestions to them.

Nancy Hertzog believes that with a bit of training, general ed classroom teachers will happily and effectively serve highly capable children in early elementary school. What do teachers say about that? The SEA has just five items on their website under Actions and Priorities. Here's a link to the one on advanced learning. It's dated 2002 - but the I don't think attitudes have changed.

Anonymous said...

Thoughts on 6th grade book clubs? The books are all over the place in terms of quality, appropriateness, and level of challenge. There seem to be no standards, plus students need to find (or buy) whatever random book their group chooses even if it's not available at the library. These are not books listed on a syllabus at the beginning of the year.

wild wild west

Anonymous said...

Elementary book clubs are a joke, unless the teacher does them one group at a time or has a parent volunteer assigned to each group to moderate.

Readers and writers workshop has sucked the life out of true language arts for highly capable learners.

Parents whose children have gone through the program, it is no where close what it use to be. Teachers do not have the freedom or trainning to provide the depth and rigor highly capable children need, which is their basic right.

Maybe TM still has vestiges of true project based learning; maybe Washington still has consistently high quality and appropriate rigor, but where I am, it is a happy fluke if any of my kids actually encounter a worthy or inspiring academic challenge during any part of their day. Music is a bright spot, at least.

Old Lowell, RIP

Anonymous said...

Readers and Writers Workshop was originally created for struggling readers and writers in elementary school. It was not created for advanced learners, nor is it the best program for middle school. In middle school, skills need to be more explicitly taught and books should be selected to include some classic literature.

"Project-based learning" is killing social studies learning. The pattern this year in 6th grade is to divide and conquer. For a given unit, students are divided into groups, then given a particular focus within the group. Groups then present their work, which may amount to a museum walk of sorts. So your child learns a fraction of a fraction of what could be learned.

The same approach is being used in 8th grade this quarter. Students are not reading the WA State history book, even though it covers a lot of material and ties in US history. Instead, student groups are assigned an era, and each student focuses on one aspect of that era. Once again, students learn a fraction of a fraction of what they should be learning. Their exposure to other time periods is limited to the summaries from classmates.

This is APP?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I'm wondering if folks with more years of MAP testing behind them can shed some light on how to interpret the scores. My 1st grader at Lincoln has MAP scores that correspond to scores given for 5th grade math and 7th grade reading on the chart given here. Given that APP is working two years ahead, should I be worried that my kid will not be challenged enough? I have no sense of what other APP kids score on these tests, so it is hard to gauge what weight to put on them. I'm not sure what we would do if APP is not 'enough', and my kid seems happy since the move to Lincoln, I just worry that happy might reflect skimming along and not really being challenged- just more challenged than at the neighborhood school. Any insights would be appreciated!
Thank you, -A worrier

pm said...

Worrier-

No, that chart is a bit misleading. Look at page 73 of this instead for reading and page 85 for math:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDUQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nwea.org%2Fsites%2Fwww.nwea.org%2Ffiles%2Fresources%2FNWEA%25202011%2520Norms%2520Report_01.17.2012_2.pdf&ei=MEl1U-asIYWAogSwmoHQCg&usg=AFQjCNGfSnxQIFYTXkcNhlGERaUu-U0gtg&sig2=xTIBmKUCIJLIlasElGuKFA&bvm=bv.66917471,d.cGU

A 221 in math is 5th grade on your chart, but 92nd percentile in 3rd grade. There should be a cluster of APP kids scoring at similar levels. Whether or not APP does a good job with kids is a separate debate, but there are definitely plenty of kids with similar scores.

Anonymous said...

Those scores are a little lower than my kids' first grade end of year scores. I consider them pretty average at Lincoln and mostly challenged enough. :)

Anonymous said...

There are different MAP tests, one for K-2 students, another 3-5, then one for 6+. They might give APP 2nd graders the 3-5 test.

MAP for primary grades

More discussion here

I'd not get too worked up about scores. With subsequent years you will see if the trend holds.

Anonymous said...

New peeps, how was the social?

Anonymous said...

The social last night was good fun for our incoming Lincoln family. We felt really welcomed by the families and teachers, and our daughter loved the scavenger hunt and getting to play with some of the other kids. Thank you to current families and teachers for making this happen!

One funny moment was when our incoming first-grader saw the lunchroom - her mouth dropped open and she asked, "Why is it so small?" ; )

Anonymous said...

For those looking for alternative learning options, you may want to check out Northwest Liberty School (Woodinville).