Friday, January 2, 2015

Open thread

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


Anonymous said...

Will kindergarteners who qualify for APP on the Cogat start to be pulled for achievement testing soon?

Also, how accurate is Cogat for young five year olds?

k mom

Anonymous said...

Our K Wedgwood student has not been Cogat tested yet. Last year testing also was very slow and we worried we missed it, but they finally got it done in January.

It would be nice if Advanced Learning would publish a schedule beyond simply "sometime in a three month window", and "well let you know the day before", but there are a lot of students to test.

Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope they've got a better handle on testing this year than whatever that was that happened in 2013/2014 (still testing in Feb, all the letters were late, the appeals date passed before people even had their results).

Anonymous said...

Our North Beach K student has also not been tested yet. I imagine the mess from the testing last year will pale in comparison to the mess that will happen this year. There are just more students to test every year and no improvements to the system.

Greg Linden said...

I'm wondering if we might need a new thread to talk about this testing problem.

So, to clarify, we're talking about the statement -- "If the MAP scores are high enough [87th percentile or higher], we will mail or email you a test-date appointment letter later in the fall. If you don't receive one by mid-December, contact the Advanced Learning Office at" -- on this page and that many, or perhaps even most, parents have not received the letter by mid-Dec?

Anonymous said...

My child goes to a school that has decided not to MAP test. Isn't that still being used as the entrance to further HCC testing? If that is still the case can anyone tell me how to proceed? My child's K5 experience has been OK, but we are considering HCC for middle assuming he qualifies.

Thank you. K5 mom

Anonymous said...

From the page Greg linked to above: IMPORTANT NOTE: If both spring MAP scores are not at the 87th percentile or above (or you do not have spring MAP scores), but you believe your student is a strong candidate for Advanced Learning, please submit your application by October 2. We will advise you of your next steps. Subsequent achievement scores such as fall MAP data will be considered. (If your school has opted out of fall MAP testing, your Advanced Learning candidate will be provided an opportunity to take the fall MAP). The Teacher Rating Scale is also considered as an indicator of the need for cognitive testing.

Anonymous said...

HCC K testing is different that other grades. Any K child whose parents applied for testing by the October deadline should be tested as there are no Spring MAP scores for K students to act as a gatekeeper.

In the past I've been told by Advance Learning that: (1) K and 1st grade students may be COGAT tested on a different schedule (month?) than other students from the same school; (2) if the K child does well enough on the COGAT they will then later be tested for Academic Ability (using Woodcock Johnson?).

For K students, the district has still not finished COGAT testing.

For those that eventually qualify for HCC for elementary through the standard process, when they complete the testing doesn't in the end seem to matter. The COGAT is age-normed supposedly to the month. And per the district, parents have until the end of the first month of school to decide to move their kids to HCC and are still guaranteed a seat, even if they didn't choose HCC on the school choice form.

For those that want to appeal, the late testing is certainly a headache, but perhaps the district isn't overly concerned about those cases...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that is good information to have, I didn't know that parents have until the end of Sept to move qualified kids to HCC and they are still guaranteed a seat.

What a headache though.

My daughter is in K and got one of the early testing dates for COGAT, back in October. I don't know if she will qualify for HCC. I'm thinking Spectrum is a good possibility, though I'm not sure I would move her to a different school for a program that seems to be on its way out. I'm planning to do a lot of research once I have results, which I realize could be a while.

It occurs to me that I may not have results about Spectrum eligibility until after the school choice deadline. So I guess I would have to fill out an application with the Spectrum program & school on it, and I will be considered in the lottery if she qualifies. Do you think that's how it works? Our local spectrum school is Whittier, and unfortunately we live just a couple of blocks outside the boundary. I know they have a waitlist for Spectrum every year in that school.

-Kindergarten parent

Anonymous said...

Commenters on this blog have gone down this path before, and never is there any progress or pushback to SPS: MAP IS NOT A VALID ASSESSMENT OF GIFTEDNESS.

The problem I see is that once families access HCC via the MAP they have no reason to advocate for removing this ridiculous barrier to accessing services. Where are the HCC families trying to do better for all the kids in our system?

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Actually, parents HAVE advocated for the District to NOT use the MAP scores as a BARRIER to access CogAT testing to see if one measure of a student, cognative abilities, falls within the range of the APP program/HCC.

In other words, let students be nominated to take the 2.5 hour CogAT even if their reading and/or their math scores are below the benchmarks of the program.

In one sense, this may NOT make sense, as we know that the benchmarks are (i) 98th percentile or higher congative abilities AND (ii) 95th percentile or higher reading achievement AND (iii) 95th percentile or higher math achievement. In other words, even if the CogAT is turns out to be in the 99th percentile, given that one or both achievement pieces was/were under the required benchmark, the student would not qualify for APP/HCC. The APP/HCC program is accelerated, and it would not serve students who may have the cognition, but, could not have the ability to actually access the curriculum.

However, I think a CogAT for some students might possibly give valuable information, especially for students who parents/teachers might think are highly cognatively capable. It might be able to pinpoint areas of strength in, for example, a child with a speech or language processing disorder.

Indeed, the District is now undertaking implementing a CogAT "screener" taken before the MAP achievement tests (or, their replacements SBAC or whatever ends up being used). The screener is only 45 minutes, and, because it is planned to be given universally, say, to all 2nd graders, it means the District would not have to gain parent permission to give the test (of course parents are free to opt-out). And, it may highlight young students who are cognitively highly gifted (in the 98th percentile or higher) but who have not 'come to the attention' of their teachers/parents/guardians as such. This info can be used to differentiate to that child, or, to offer a talent development program, so that their achievement pieces go up accordingly, and then become qualified for the APP/HCC program.

My hope is this approach will catch students from underrepresented populations. It will provide insight into the robust abilities that may not be 'showing up' in the classroom, for whatever reason, so that appropriate interventions are commenced.

So, I remain hopeful

Anonymous said...

What is the District's "Algebra Readiness Test'?

It is like a standard ART, which is a bunch of questions about all kinds of math (a smattering of geometry, stats, basic arithmetic, expressions, etc)? Sample ARTs can be found on the internet, for example.

Or, is it a mini lesson on Algebra, followed by a test on the Algebra they just learned? So, it is testing the students ability to quickly learn and apply a new mathematical concept that they have never been exposed to before. That is what I heard the District does... but I am wondering how that would even work.

Algebra Test?

Anonymous said...

Whittier K parent,

I couldn't find the final waiting list numbers for 2014, but I did for 2013.

In 2013 it appears there was no waiting list for 1st Grade Spectrum at Wittier. Then it goes up to 4, 11, and 10.

What I've heard else where is that generally its easiest to get in to Spectrum in 1st grade, before more and more kids test in.

As to the future of the Spectrum program, I think it totally depends on the school, principal, and related community. Our school supposedly used to have one of the best Spectrum programs in the city. But by the year our daughter participated, it existed in name only. Now there is a new principal, so who knows.

Anonymous said...

Riverside Publishing (CogAT) has some discussion around correlations between achievement tests and ability tests.

Anonymous said...

To those with kids who joined APP at middle school, how has it been socially?

My HIMS HCC child has found it challenging to get to the know the other kids, since while they are in class they are generally working. Lunch is short, and with no recess there seem to be limited opportunities to make new friends. My child is not particularly athletic, either, so the sports teams aren't a good option. HOST classes might be good, but my child's perception of them is that kids don't really like them and they are something parents just make them do, so I'm meeting some resistance on that front.

I realize it's still somewhat early in our middle school experience and things are likely to improve over time, but I'd be curious to know if others experienced the same thing or have found good strategies to help promote further social connections at school. My kid is not particularly shy and usually doesn't have trouble in new situations or with moving schools, so this is all somewhat surprising to me.


Anonymous said...

I received an email notice today from Advanced Learning that K Cogat Testing at Wedgwood will take place on January 28th.

Anonymous said...

They used to promise results were mailed by Feb 1 and the whole system of tours and open enrollment was set up aroun that timeframe. January 28th testing at WW means no chance of scoring them and completing achievement testing (for those who qualify) by January 31st. Frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:27-

Anecdotally my kid's best friends have come from non-APP elementary schools. Sometimes having new kids to hang out with is a boost to the APP elementary ones (like mine). It did take a while for his little gang to form--but they are still good friends now in 8th grade.

It's a little easier this year at JAMS where they have Advisory which has some dedicated social time built in. Yours might find time in Homeroom at HIMS to chat and get to know more kids.

MG said...

Kindergarten parent here. I saw a comment here somewhere that the Spectrum program is on its way out. Can someone clarify this?

Anonymous said...

Hi HIMS parent Jan.9 9:17am,
Is your kid in music? We found at HIMS that music was the one class where kids really had fun together and got to know each other well. Especially in jazz since they have so many performances. In 6th grade they can do Jr. Jazz after school, and then when they learn how to do it, they can try out for Senior Jazz which is an elective. We have been gone from there for 2.5 years now, so things may have changed. Good luck,

Anonymous said...


The “old” definition of Spectrum meant self-contained classrooms one year ahead. In contrast ALO meant an "inclusive" approach with an emphasis on differentiated instruction and flexible grouping". By the old definition, “Spectrum” at many(all?) schools, including Wedgwood and Viewridge, no longer exists.

But the district has kept the name “Spectrum” with the same eligibility criteria. So what’s the new definition?

Here is our experience last year at Wedgwood. When I asked in the school office about Spectrum, I was told that it meant walk-to-math and that was it. When I asked if all students in our daughter’s math class were therefore Spectrum qualified, I was told not necessarily. When I asked if the school had anything in writing about Spectrum I was told no. When I asked where I could find out more, and was told to go to the district website (platitudes). When I asked our daughter’s teacher during her conference, I was also told Spectrum meant walk-to-math, and that otherwise all students receive differentiated instruction based on their ability. During the year our daughter was in the Spectrum program, we never received a single communication that mentioned “Spectrum”, there were never any parent meetings, and if we hadn't been told that she was in Spectrum, we would have never known it.

The 2014 “Advanced Learning Task Force” final recommendations only address HCC and neither Spectrum nor ALO. The Task Force meeting that I attended never addressed Spectrum. The district is required by state law to provide services for HCC. The same is not true for Spectrum or ALO. As a result it appears that the Advanced Learning Office no longer overseas a well-defined Spectrum program, but instead just leaves it up to each school to define for themselves.

Regardless, we've felt our kids have had excellent teachers at Wedgwood that have in fact differentiated based on ability. But I know other parents who have not felt the same.


splits suck said...

Anyone hear about the initiative to split Washington MS into Madison in West Seattle and Meany for north of the Washington. Is this in preparation for the Washington renovation?

Anonymous said...

I have heard the rumor of splitting Washington. I actually thought it was more than a rumor and that it had actually been said by a district employee.

I think APP/HCC will be broken up sooner rather than later. Already the program above elementary has been watered down so much that it is virtually nothing. Our family left HIMS APP because it was so bad.

This district will claim that it's bringing APP closer to where kids live, but they will really just be putting the final nail in the coffin. I think the GHS guarantee is about to go, too.

-not optimistic

Anonymous said...

This potential Washington split is the topic of another recent thread. Just scroll down a little on the home page of the blog.

The idea was found in a recent capacity/boundary document that the district posted in November.

Anonymous said...

Would it be split like HIMS and JAMS, where there was no grandfathering?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of splits, who is worried that Lincoln can't handle another year of growth? What will the numbers looks like this spring, and what is the plan if we top 700?

Anonymous said...

I predict it will be a new optional program at Madison rather than a split from Washington.

splits suck said...

"I predict it will be a new optional program at Madison rather than a split from Washington."

Share more what that means because you have to have 90 kids to do MS. That is the cohort size. Look at HIMS and Jams they barely had it and the admins hated the disruption. Think about it you are running 6-11th grade based on math placement. Oh yeah that is in middle school... that will be oversubscribed.

Anonymous said...

Jane Addams Middle School
New Family Information Night

Wednesday, January 28
6:30-8:00 PM

Come and learn about all that Jane Addams Middle School has to offer. We will begin at 6:30, with a short presentation in the auditorium and then have several breakout sessions by subject area, allowing new students and parents to meet teachers, learn more, and see our newly remodeled areas.

Later in the spring, we will invite students back for scheduling of classes and community building.

Anonymous said...

Any report from the Ingraham meeting last night about the options for IBX seniors for next year? Did people seem satisfied with what will be available? Details?

IBX Watcher

AnonMom said...

"Speaking of splits, who is worried that Lincoln can't handle another year of growth? What will the numbers looks like this spring, and what is the plan if we top 700?"

This is definitely on my mind. There's no doubt in my mind that the program can only increase as parents lose faith in Spectrum.

Anonymous said...

I'm also worried about increasing numbers at Lincoln. Does Principal G have a plan?

Anonymous said...

FYI, this was sent out today in McClure's online newsletter. Sounds like Spectrum/Honors for LA will no longer exist at McClure:

Language Arts:

First, 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. For even more details on this, please see the McClure website for the informational document which includes more about the research, philosophy and mindset behind this shift in our Language Arts program.

McClure Mom

Greg Linden said...

McClure Mom, that's worth a new thread. Here it is: "More loss of Spectrum for blended classrooms"

Anonymous said...

Do any parents here have experience with a child who goes to Lincoln and has slow processing speed?
This detail came up during the testing phase, and now seems to be making a difference with slow completion of classroom assignments. The teacher seems frustrated. I'm thinking of consulting the school psychologist.

Slow and steady

Anonymous said...

Slow and Steady, what makes you feel like your teacher is frustrated? Many gifted children have slower work pace because of perfectionistic standards and many have handwriting difficulties. This should be something your childs teacher is familiar with and can support. Have you tried talking with the teacher?