Thursday, January 22, 2015

Open thread

How are things going?

More loss of Spectrum for blended classrooms

Looks like McClure Middle School is dropping Spectrum and honors classes. From a letter to parents:
Next year the McClure Language Arts Department will be joining the rest of our departments at McClure and mirroring the advanced learning policies within our feeder schools. We are establishing a "blended" or "clustered" model in which all of our students who have been Spectrum-identified and our General Education students will be blended into the same Language Arts classrooms. There will no longer be separate Spectrum and General Education classes.

There are many reasons behind this modification, not the least of which is our commitment to the concept of growth mindset - the researched-validated principle that we can teach students that their success in school is not stagnantly based on their past but, with grit and perseverance (and a supportive, intentional school environment) all of our students can and will grow. We have looked at testing, classroom performance and discipline data and found that the array of skills, behaviors and challenges in both of these "tracks" are similar. All of our Language Arts teachers are currently teaching (or have taught in the recent past) both sets of students and our curriculum for both Spectrum and General Education courses have already been aligned. Finally, our teachers are spending this school year and this summer to collaboratively develop differentiated lessons, assessments, projects and activities to support and challenge all of our learners.
As the letter says, they are mirroring the broader trend in Seattle Public Schools of eliminating separate classrooms for advanced learning (and especially Spectrum). What do you think?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Testing in and new parents

It's that time of year again when the district administers APP eligibility tests and new parents are considering whether to go into APP/HCC. As in most prior years, it sounds like there are issues with test eligibility letters arriving late or not at all.

Let's open a thread for new parents to ask questions about the tests, what APP is like, and anything else they have on their minds. Existing parents, if you could answer any questions you can in the comments, I'm sure the new parents would be grateful.

Update: Advanced Learning apparently said, "This year, we are processing more than 5,400 applications and are continuing to test students through the end of February. ... Additionally, testing results and eligibility letters will be sent by early March." Note that early March is after most school tour dates and when open enrollment ends, so this delay is likely to lead to other problems.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Open thread

It's 2015! What's on your mind?

APP, this blog, and 2015

I thought we might want to start a discussion about what we'd like this blog to do in 2015.

Andrew Siegel started this blog in 2009 to provide an independent forum for parents to talk about the Lowell APP split. Since then, it's been used to talk about the many other changes that have happened to APP over the last six years, the biggest of which were multiple splits mostly along a north/south divide, but also including changes to Spectrum, overcrowding and capacity issues, further splits in the north and out to West Seattle, the lack of promised curriculum and consistency between schools, changes to textbooks, loss of experienced teachers, and name changes.

I think it's a good time to talk about what we'd like out of this blog for 2015. I think that this, the Seattle Schools Community Blog, and the HCC-AC are the only city-wide venues for discussion of APP/HCC, not just at a specific school, not just in the north or south, but across the entire city. And, so, I thought we'd want this blog to stay as a discussion forum for APP/HCC issues city-wide, mostly unmoderated, and mostly focused on common issues and some effort at holding together the broader community of APP/HCC across all the splits and changes over the years.

Are there are other things we want for this blog? What else might be helpful to APP/HCC parents in Seattle Public Schools?