Friday, June 27, 2014

Hamilton APP issues

By request, a thread to talk about issues specific to Hamilton APP.


Anonymous said...

Who hired the current principal (name obviously omitted) at HIMS? Was there a committee? Was there APP representation? Did they come in under Banda.


Anonymous said...

Yes, there was a committee who hired Principal CW two years ago (before Banda). In the committee there was an APP representation. CW seemed as the strongest candidate (but I am not sure that the members were allowed to have a discussion with her about gifted ed/AL).

Anonymous said...

Is part of the problem that little policy exists around APP, so schools and individual teachers and principals are left to make decisions that may not always be in the best interest of highly capable students? I'm not wanting a super rigidly defined program, but there is such little definition around programming and teacher qualification that it has led to many issues for APP classes. Hypothetically, you can have an otherwise good principal that simply doesn't support APP, and then what? What if teachers are assigned to APP classes that don't support APP or are otherwise not a good fit for highly capable students?

Anonymous said...

Yeah exactly anon. and that is HIMS in a nutshell since the first splits.

Anonymous said...

Teachers aren't assigned. They are free to move around the district. They can be asked to sign up or do so by choice. The better question is how can AL draw good teachers to the program and keep them? What working conditions are needed for that? You can start with yourself, what keeps you at your job: salary, benefits, boss, colleagues, clients, respect, trust, job satisfaction, flexibility, creativity, etc. Finally, how would you like your "performance" to be judged daily on a blog by anonymous folks. Who do you answer to first? The students? The parents? The ones who yell the loudest? The students who have highest needs? The principal? Fellow teachers? All the above? What happens when those needs conflict?

just a thought

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, I think they are talking about assigned within a school, which teachers don't control.They aren't upset that teachers are moving between programs, but that the teachers with highly capable experience within a school are not being assigned to teach those students, and teachers who are (sometimes) antagonistic toward advanced learning are being assigned to teach those classes.

I think there gets to be a sense that teachers teaching app classes are the "good" teachers, but I know our family has had several app teachers who were amazing for those students(quick moving, high energy, patience for intensities) but would not have had the patience (or creativity to come up with many different strategies for learning a topic) for kids who were behind, and similarly at least one gen ed teacher who was fantastic for the kids who were behind and in the middle, but a very bad fit for the advanced kids. I think there is frustration that that sort of thinking about fit is not happening at HIMS.


Lynn said...

Once a teacher is hired to work in a particular building, their principal decides which classes they will teach. A middle school history teacher with an interest in working with gifted students can apply for and accept a job at HIMS - and then find themselves assigned to teach general ed students. They can be reassigned between programs from year to year if the principal chooses.

We need a more clearly defined program and someone who is responsible for ensuring principals provide that program at their schools.

Anonymous said...

just a thought
I had similar thoughts, many times over the years in SPS. That is why strongly support a meeting (regular meetings?) with the stakeholders at HIMS. So everybody will understand the others's point of view. And a common ground so at least the basics would be covered. So the students (even the ones with no parental support!) could thrive there.
Didn't happen under Mr C, and I wonder if it would ever occur under Ms W.

Anonymous said...

For those who may have missed it, the Hamilton parent rep to the APP AC recently put out some info re: a survey (currently underway) and a new email group for HIMS APP parents. The survey is for parents with kids at HIMS APP this past year, including kids who graduated. The email group is for those who will have kids in HIMS APP next year.

Hamilton can't/won't give the APP AC parent rep an email list of all APP parents at the school, so the best way to reach people is via word of mouth. If you know of HIMS APP families that might care to provide input and/or get on the email list, by all means please help spread the word about these! I don't know how much longer the survey will be available, but it seems to be active so far...

This is essentially how it ran in the last HIMS newsletters of the year:

APP Survey
Leaving Hamilton next year or returning for 2014-15? Please take a moment to fill out our survey once for each child in APP. As the parent representative of Hamilton to the APP Advisory Committee, I sometimes find it difficult to fairly speak for you and represent the positions you would wish on the issues faced by the APP community. I would like to know more about what you think and how you felt this last year went. Survey responses are anonymous, and results will only be shared in aggregate.

Follow this link to complete the survey.

APP Email Group
In addition, we have set up a Google group specific to Hamilton's APP community. Due to confidentiality concerns, among others, it is not possible to specifically target families involved in APP unless it is through an opt-in system. We will be sharing information relevant to APP, middle school, and Hamilton in particular, from meeting notifications to quick position polls, survey results, and opportunities to gather your opinions and improve communication for us all.

You can sign up here.

Original message from Noelle Clemons,
relayed here by HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

There is also an APP middle school Facebook page, but it doesn't seem very active.

It is harder to make connections with families come middle school. I wish there had been some group that met outside of the PTA and the APP-AC that gave parents a forum for discussing concerns or just finding fellow parents for support and guidance. It would be valuable to have a place to discuss APP specific issues outside of formal meetings and without having to post on a blog or on Facebook. Would there be enough parent interest? Would the meetings turn into gripe sessions?

I don't know the answer, but I am glad to see the Hamilton rep actively trying to engage APP parents. It's a start.

Anonymous said...

One substantive issue at HIMS is math placement. Can we have a discussion on the group about this?


Anonymous said...

What is going on with math placement? I thought they were now using the district math placement matrix (MAP and MSP scores), but then I heard there was an algebra readiness test given to some students as well?

Using 4th grade MSP is somewhat questionable and the cutoff could mean missing only one question on the test depending on the state cutoff and scaling for a given year. Of course, the new CCSS assessments mean different scores and cutoffs. This year was the last year for the MSP as we know it.

Perhaps the district is simply trying to find the best placement criteria, but in the process they are changing the rules each year. Can we assume good intentions?

Anonymous said...

Math placement at HIMS doesn't sufficiently serve or challenge the APP students. It seems to be driven by capacity. Except that those who are denied appropriate placement are not credited for outside work as at other a few other schools in the district. The arbitrary nature of the math placement is common to the whole district but it seems particularly endemic at HIMS IMO.


Anonymous said...

Math placement at HIMS doesn't sufficiently serve or challenge the APP students

I would go one step further and suggest that even if students are accelerated along the math pathway, the standard Algebra or Geometry class that simply follows the Discovering texts is not challenging for advanced math students. At a certain point, simply accelerating the content does not provide appropriate challenge.

According to the AL description [bold added]:

The curriculum is presented at a significantly accelerated learning pace and focuses on grade level expectations that are significantly above the students' assigned grade level with a significantly advanced level of complexity and depth.

Based on our experience at HIMS, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Except that those who are denied appropriate placement are not credited for outside work as at other a few other schools in the district.

When you say "credited," what do you mean? That placement is based on proof of outside coursework? And what other schools are you using for comparison?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if WMS also uses the Discovering texts for math?

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming JAMS will be using the Discovering texts...

Anonymous said...

Agree with all you said @9:19.

Students at HIMS who take home schooled or other courses (such as those at the Robinson center) will not be placed appropriately at the following year despite proof of completing the course and transcripts. This is what we have been told. Meanwhile, at JAMS the APP students who are moving there WILL be given credit for outside courses. I don't know how WMS handles this - but based on what I have seen it is a completely arbitrary decision of the principals involved without any consideration for alignment between the APP programs or the state mandates on the district to provide advanced learning opportunities. Also, other schools (McClure for example) recognize that the number of students exceeds the capacity of the advanced placement classes and (at least) provide the parents with outside learning information and opportunities (although parents are in the hole for time and money to cover the deficiency). Hope that is clearer.


Anonymous said...

@TiredoftheEntropy, homeschooled students should not be denied appropriate math placement. I don't know your particular situation, but if there are 7th graders at Hamilton taking Geometry, for example, and your child homeschooled Algebra for 6th (and you submitted the Declaration of Intent, plus you have some syllabus or other course documentation), then your child should not be denied placement in Geometry for 7th.

They cannot treat homeschooled students any differently than private schooled students when it comes to placement, so they can't impose rules for homeschooled students that wouldn't also be applied to private schooled students. That implies they can't use the EOC as a qualifier for placement as private schooled students wouldn't have taken the EOC prior to enrolling with SPS. I'm not sure how they classify summer courses, but there is precedent for APP students taking Robinson Center courses in order to accelerate.

If you have not already, contact the principal at Cascade Parent Partnership Program, as she will be familiar with this situation. Bottom line is, don't take HIMS "no" as a final answer. It's the homeschooling laws, not highly capable program laws, that support your case.

Anonymous said...

@7:36 - understood. Thanks for your advice.