Friday, November 28, 2014

More splits coming?

In an open thread, parents highlighted a section of an update to the District's Growth Boundaries Plan:
"Highly Capable Services students within the Washington pathway continue to grow, limiting the space at Washington Middle School for non-Highly Capable Services students coming from feeder schools. Again, staff are reviewing Highly Capable Services student enrollment data, as the location for Highly Capable Services could potentially be moved from being housed solely at Washington to a combination of Washington/Meany/Madison or otherwise."
And others said:
Washington is doing a fine job educating APP kids... better break it up.
Any bets on how many weeks it'll be before we see that same sentence repeated, but with Garfield and other high schools instead?
The writing is on the wall for high school. The new AL policy says that all high schools will be equipped to handle HC kids. It's just a matter of time before the automatic assignment to Garfield ends and the options will be neighborhood school or opt in to IBX at Ingraham, Rainier Beach, and possibly Sealth, depending on address ... I don't see any other way to solve the capacity problems that are coming.
Doesn't sound good. Please discuss further here.


Kari said...

I imagine this is partly why our veteran teacher told us at thanksgiving conferences that he's had more requests for private school references this year than in the past 20 years. It's so sad. However, kudos to SPS since driving out APP kids is certainly one way to close the achievement gap. Sickening. My 5th grader could run this district better. And, it's not long until this happens in the north end so your ire should be raised, too. I can't believe no one is commenting on this.

Anonymous said...

I imagine that not only are the kids in the northend getting smarter, but the parents are also becoming more affluent and can afford private school. A lot of tech money. Public school if you can make it work, otherwise private is the answer. A very privileged place to work from.

Lynn said...


Didn't you realize this happened to the north end this year? APP at JAMS.

Lynn said...

Tonight in West Seattle: A parent with a student in the APP advanced-learning program at Fairmount Park Elementary asks what the district plans for those students as they advance to middle school. District official Flip Herndon says, “the thought is that APP will be offered at Madison Middle School.” He is told, though, that other district officials have said there are no such plans. Seems like this will be straightened out outside the meeting.

Here's a link to the report on the West Seattle Blog.

My sense is that Fairmount Park families do not want to be the guinea pigs for a new (tiny) APP at Madison. Maybe they'd try it if it was optional (with access to Washington still guaranteed) and if it allows the same access to Garfield and Ingraham IBX. I'd be interested to hear what the admin and staff at Madison think about this idea.

Anonymous said...

It happened years ago when APP was split to HIMS, and it happened again this year with the split to JAMS. Each split is a dilution and reworking of any shred of APP that remains. You might as well call it Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Simply put, there is no "program" anymore. There are qualification criteria and kids are cohorted, but that's it. Each HCC school--or teacher--does its/his/her own thing, with no oversight or accountability for delivering services with any fidelity. Because really, fidelity to what???

@ Kari, re: the lack of comments, I think a lot of folks are just tired of all the SPS BS and are tuning out to some extent. Sad, I know. Oh, and re: closing the achievement gap, yes, getting APP/HCC kids to leave is certainly one way to help. So is this--failing to provide a curriculum that ensures adequate pacing and and acceleration for these kids. If you instead have them focus on grade level standards (since "those new CCSS are just so hard!"), you can help tamp down their enthusiasm for learning and their exposure to new material both. If only SPS could do something about us pesky HCC parents, who insist on picking up the slack at home!

Anonymous said...

Agreed...and to your point Kari, I'm wondering if there is much point to this blog anymore. There seem to be few people on it. Sadly, I think most engaged APP/HCC parents have decided to focus efforts elsewhere (like private school). There is no longer anything to complain about or anyone to complain to. The "program" is just a test and a cohort, and Advanced Learning only administers the test. It seems clear more splits are coming, but it's not the tragedy it was when the first split (Lowell/TM/WMS/HIMS) happened. That was really the death knell, and it has taken this long to peter out. The Garfield assignment will go soon, I predict. We are not a unified community anymore, so we can't meet in the cafeteria. It seems we're going out not with a bang but a whimper.

SusanH said...

Old Timer-
I'm guessing there are more lurkers on this blog (like me!) than people may realize. Some of the newer parents probably come here more for information than to comment.
But I'll throw in my lament too. My son started in APP last year for 6th grade (WMS). It was wonderful. A breath of fresh air. He was challenged and inspired and with his people for the first time. But a lot has changed this year in 7th grade. The SS/LA curriculum was incredibly watered down, just weeks before school started, in order to follow Common Core, which mandates a 1/2 year of Washington State History. The teachers had to scramble to ditch their rock-solid, long used World Civilization curriculum to accommodate this. Depressing. 10 weeks of Roman civilization became 2 weeks, allowing for no group projects or art, etc. Plus, the overcrowding is WMS is really being felt this year. 32-34 kids per class doesn't allow for much individual attention or differentiation. It's very sad.

Anonymous said...

I think there are more people reading this blog than commenting. I think it is because there doesn't seem to be an advanced learning priority at SPS. My 6th grader is enjoying JAMS. He has a great LA/SS teacher who is very devoted to HCC. My 11th grader at GHS is glad to be there. They are both challenged in a good way.

Anonymous said...

The curriculum was changed because the district changed the APP scope and sequence to align to WA State grade level social studies standards, which suggest WA state history in 7th instead of in 8th. The state requires WA State history, though it could be done in 8th just as easily as 7th. Common Core is for LA specifically, not social studies (though CCSS are supposed to be incorporated into some SS). They did not have to change the scope and sequence because of CCSS. CCSS is about skills, and the districts are supposed to define the content to deliver those skills. The old APP curriculum could have easily incorporated CCSS without substantially changing the scope and sequence.

Greece and Rome used to be a big part of the 7th grade curriculum, but no more. It's a real loss. I'm seeing little substantial history content this year, limited literature coverage, and a general lack of coherence. It is depressing. My child wants to quit school. I don't think it's just tween ennui. I'm glad to hear it's not like that in all grades. One of the JAMS 6th grade teachers came from WMS, so maybe something good remains.

Anonymous said...

My 7th grader at WMS is fine, the teachers are stressed to the limit because of the increased class size and the sudden change in curriculum, and I don't blame them, but my son is happy and still learning. It's not all doom and gloom for us anyway. The strong cohort of learners still add to the strength of the learning experience. However, I wonder how the program will change when my younger child reaches middle school. My greatest concern is that the good, seasoned HCC teachers will leave by the time my younger child gets to middle school.

Anonymous said...

For years TOPS has done multi-month Greece and Rome LA/SS in 6th grade - not 7th. All kids take it. It appeared to me it was a highlight of middle school no matter where the students were in their academic achievement. The homework my daughter brought home was tougher than my freshman year high school offering on the same topic.

The more the district waters down the former APP program the more parents need to look closely at the actual classroom curriculum offerings of their middle school

Anonymous said...

Marty McLaren has reported twice now that there will be an HCC program at Madison Middle School. I know that Stephen Martin has told parents that isn't in the works - but I don't think that means much. His office isn't involved in decisions about program placement.

Anonymous said...

1. How is it possible that the HCC office knows nothing about HCC program placement and promises. Another evidence point on the ridiculous structure of SPS middle management.

2. Regarding the above post, why is it impossible for parents to understand AHEAD of enrollment what the curricular offerings look like at the very least in the HCC-designated schools and the K8 schools. Shouldn't we have some idea of what middle school at Salmon Bay or TOPS or Orca or Pathfinder looks like on the academic challenge scale? Shouldn't we have some idea of what it looks like within our own HCC locations?

How hard is it to publish on individual school websites, at minimum, a syllabus from each school on its 6-8 math, LA and science classes. Sure, teachers and class makeups change at the last minute but at least it would be a starting point for making decisions.

This district makes me feel like I'm shopping in 1975 USSR: You will have no knowledge, no choices, and you will be required to like it.

Friday venting

Anonymous said...

What you're seeing here is that the AL dept. has no control over the department. The AL dept is only the gatekeeper for who does or does not get in to the program, but they have no control over the running of the program.

AL offerings are decided in secret, just like everything else in this district. I don't see you getting anything in writing because parents could see what is missing and see just how far off track their school may be. As it is now, there is no written curriculum so you don't.

My kids are getting to be old enough that I hope to get them out before everything completely goes down the drain.

Yes, I am pessimistic. I also don't think the district cares if you like it or not. They don't ask families why they leave the program or district. They have too many families as it is, so leaving is a benefit to them.

Anonymous said...

From comments here, it seems middle school APP/HCC has more curriculum issues than either elementary or high school, and locations other than WMS seem to be the least consistent in delivering curriculum. I'd be concerned about the quality of a new program at Madison or elsewhere.

I'd post actual LA/SS syllabi for current and past classes, but honestly, they are so general as to be useless. Or they sound more impressive than what actually gets delivered. The classes within and among schools are allowed to vary greatly, so even with a curriculum framework, it's not clear what improvements, if any, we will see.

-glass half empty

Anonymous said...

I'd be concerned about HCC at Madison simply because the staff is openly hostile to advanced learning. There is a reason that so many West Seattle kids are at Washington. Spectrum (which was established recently at Madison over their strenuous objection)is meaningless. At Eckstein there are plenty of HCC eligible kids who stay in their neighborhood school. This doesn't really happen much at Madison. I don't understand the push toward HCC at Madison when there will be plenty of room at Washington when Meany opens. Maybe it doesn't help that the new WMS principal sees HCC as "segregation".

open ears