Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Notes from the Advanced Learning Task Force

A parent points to a document titled "Advanced Learning Task Force individual combined recommendations May 15, 2014".

In my quick read, these are notes on what people on the Advanced Learning task force are recommending. From the notes, it appears the first two people (Barber and Jenkins) are recommending completely changing APP. Their part of the document states that APP, ALO, and Spectrum end in 2015-15 for 6th grade (pp 8). The following years more grades are eliminated until APP is no longer offered in 2017 in middle school, no longer offered in 2018 in high school, and no longer offered in elementary, middle, and high school in 2019. In its place would be a new HiCap program with both shared and self contained classes and different entry criteria with no appeals process.

Most of the other people appear to be recommending much more modest changes, some very few changes at all. But these notes out of the ALTF may come as a surprise to many -- they did to me at least -- as it appears at least some on the committee are advocating completely replacing APP with a different program.

Please discuss.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Open thread

Summer is almost here! What's on your mind?

APP and the achievement gap

This from another thread seems controversial, worth highlighting, and worth discussing further. Excerpts:
What does seem apparent is SPS is hell-bent on closing the achievement gap by taking away opportunities for advanced learners.
There is an active effort to keep the top kids in line with the pack in gen ed. Shauna Heath's recently reported pronouncement that Spectrum is one year ahead, no more no less, and APP is two years ahead, no more, no less, is another chilling illustration of this practice. Michael Tolley's recent "realignment" of APP middle school LA/SS scope and sequence with gen ed is another one. I could go on and on, and the parents here could give many more examples of the way their kids were actively held down in gen ed, and even in AL, but the political climate in this district is indeed against too much academic achievement.
I don't think people would say they want kids to do poorly, but I do think they would say 1) high achiever's higher test scores are evidence that we are giving too many resources to them and should focus more on the bottom half (I disagree and think those high test scores are generally in spite of the district, who owes them much more in terms of learning opportunities. Not more resources, but the ability to move ahead if ready) and 2)it is more important that children be in the same place when they move to the next grade than that they learn something new. I find that statement actually odious, because I believe we should not treat children like completely fungible blocks, and should be able to meet children where they are, but there you go.
Please discuss further here.

Update: Charlie Mas started a related thread over on the Seattle Schools Community Blog, "Troubling Talk", in which he writes, "Most troubling were the number of people who think the solution is to discontinue honors classes ... Ending service for students working beyond grade level will not help students working below grade level."

Friday, May 2, 2014

APP enrollment for 2014-15

In an open thread, Lynn pointed to the "APP post open enrollment" numbers.

As other parents mentioned, the big surprise probably is the percentage of all middle school students that are in APP (9.7%), which leaves people wondering why that is and what that might mean for high school. Please discuss that and other thoughts on the numbers here in this thread.