Friday, May 1, 2015

Open thread

It's May. Summer is coming up fast! What's on your mind?

105 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have any Lincoln teachers or admin shared when the Grade 3 SBAC scores will be available?

Our teacher does not know.

Anonymous said...

My son has just been accepted and enrolled at Thurgood Marshall for 3rd grade coming up this fall (2015). I need to get him prepared over the summer in mathematics.

I believe (although I am embarrassingly enough not certain) that Stevens Elementary has been using Math in Focus books 2A and 2B for the second graders, even the ALO group, so that instead of working one year ahead, the advanced learners have been working at grade level this year. (This is my assumption).

In order for him to be ready for HCC at TM, my son will have to complete math books 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B over the summer (previously I had estimated it would be only one year of math over the summer, having not realized the kids were still in 2B, or that seems to be the case. Still waiting for some word back from his math room teacher).

So my question is what recommendations do any of you have for home-schooling 2 math levels over 3 months? Shall i just buy the workbooks? Is that enough? We are on a limited budget, and having a full set of all the books for Math in Focus seems rather daunting.

Anyone else up against this issue?

Thanks!
—mathMomming

Anonymous said...

Also, it's not the textbooks that I am primarily concerned with. It's the breadth of material. I think my son can handle it, but it's supposed to be summer vacation...so there is the question of how to schedule this without making the kid miserable!
—mathMomming

Anonymous said...

No surprise, but it looks like the middle school SS textbooks under consideration as the semi-finalists are the same across Gen Ed, Spectrum and HCC.

Any predictions as to whether or not teachers across the three levels will end up providing significantly different instruction? Or will this effectively be Gen Ed for all? They're already working on the same grade level CC standards...

Anonymous said...

I think it's ridiculous that the schools expect parents to accelerate their students in math. Why don't they do walk to math instead?

In any case, here's what Thurgood Marshall's website says about math acceleration: APP Mathematics Expectations

How can I make sure my child is ready for the math in APP? The APP math curriculum is designed to be two years ahead of grade level and aligned to the Common Core State Standards, so you can look at the Common Core State Standards one grade level ahead of the grade your child is entering as a guide to the math skills your child should have coming into the program.

Example: If you have a child entering 4th grade APP, you can use the 5th grade CCSS as a guide on what we would like them to know coming in.


And here's a link to the Common Core math standards.

Anonymous said...

Are the HCC elementaries working on CCSS 2 yrs ahead for math only, or also LA and SS? Middle school HCC LA and SS are now supposed to only be targeting grade-level standards, so it would be odd if 5th grade HCC students were systematically provided curriculum a year more advanced than what HCC 6th graders get!

Anonymous said...


My understanding is that with the CCSS, HCC elementary schools are at or moving to grade level standards for ELA. Math is still 2 years ahead.

I don't know much about CCSS, but I am concerned about the increased emphasis on informational text instead of literature and on skills instead of content. Not to mention all the ridiculous amount of Amplify and SBAC testing....Perhaps someone else might be able to shed more light on the pros and cons of CCSS for ELA.

My guess/hope is that teachers will still teach curriculum that is appropriate for HCC students.

-nh

CapHill mom said...

To MathMomming, both my children have gone to Thurgood Marshall for APP/HCC, and one started in 1st and the other in 4th. Because new kids come into the program every year from different schools and have different levels of math knowledge, teachers spool all the kids up every year. New parents to the program often ask this question - as I did for my then 3rd grader -but it turns out not to be a problem.

In the younger grades up to third grade, teachers often say that kids who know their basic math facts well - addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - learn more quickly and enjoy math because they aren't slowed down by simple calculations. so practice the basics if you feel like it, but I wouldnt worry about it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Math momming - I would not buy the books and try to teach 2 years of math over the summer. All sorts of kids start TM new each year in 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th grade. My kid started in 2nd. The teacher did a little timed quiz of math facts at the beginning of the year. The kids who had started in HCC tended to know their math facts a little better. In a low key way the teacher asked the others to spend a few minutes each night in the evenings that fall strengthening their math facts (basic addition, subtraction & I think multiplication). My kid did not feel pressure, just knew she had to spend s few extra minutes a night in the fall to gain a command over something some others already had down pat. By December all the kids were at the level the teacher had set. I agree with CapHill mom. It's easy for parents to help kids get a stronger facility with the math facts, but beyond that "home schooling" over the summer can just make the kid stress out about their new school. Trust that you have a bright kid who will get up to speed quickly with the help of the great teachers at her new school. I would have your child enjoy the summer but use some down time in the car, at the dinner table asking them for math facts (what's 12 minus 5?). You don't want them to feel your stress that they will be behind. Like an ALO classroom, kids in HCC walk into a class with a range of backgrounds and math skills and the teachers handle it very well. Enjoy your summer and try not to worry or have your kid worry.
- old timer

Anonymous said...

Our child entered in upper elementary (years ago) and we were given the line, "enjoy your summer, relax, etc.," but wish we had done some work over the summer. For some kids, doing some low key work over the summer is less stressful than trying to play catch up at the beginning of the school year. I'd cover some of the grade 3 and 4 standards over the summer, but I wouldn't buy the school texts (that's way more work than you'd need to do). Maybe go to Math-n-Stuff and buy a few Singapore workbooks if you want some structured practice.

According to the Grade 4 CCSS, students are expected to perform multi-digit operations (add, subtract, multiply, and divide) and know basics about fractions. There are some simple measurement and geometry concepts as well.
Grade 5 moves on to operations with fractions and decimals, which are much easier if basic math facts and operations have been covered.

-another perspective

Benjamin Leis said...

@MathMom I'd second the last post. Think with clear eyes about how your son learns. Some kids are fine with catching up on a two year gap but others do benefit from some low key summer prep. The questions to ponder are how fast does he memorize new facts, how quickly have previous math concepts come, how does he react to being behind and the challenges that come with it etc.? If you do go that route I would also agree that you don't really need to review all of Math In Focus. Just aim have long multiplication and division mastered for 3rd. Doing small amounts of practice over a longer period rather than cramming is usually more effective.
Good Luck

Anonymous said...

Just curious did anyone apply for private middle schools?

Anonymous said...

I think Thurgood Marshall is still using Envision. You might check on that before deciding which books to use.

Anonymous said...

I also would not recommend trying to work through 2 years of MiF books over the summer. We homeschooled prior to entering HCC in 2nd grade and were well ahead in math. My standard recommendation is to ditch workbooks and instead buy a set of Cuisenaire rods ($15 or so on Amazon) and work through the free videos at Education Unboxed http://www.educationunboxed.com which are arranged by topic. It's cheap, it's hands on, and will give a far better conceptual understanding of the basic operations than can get from most books.

For something more interesting I recommend the Art of Problem Solving's Beast Academy which starts at a 3rd grade level. It's sophisticated math written in an engaging comic book style and with puzzle like problems.

Anonymous said...

I had forgotten all about Cuisenaire rods. Thanks for the link! The demonstration on primes and composites leads to factoring, which ties into fractions...so many good demonstrations. You can also buy Cuisenaire rods at Math-n-Stuff.

Another simple non-workbook math practice - dice. Use a pair of 12 sided dice to practice multiplication facts. Add in 3 6-sided dice and you can play "MathDice."

http://www.mathdice.com/kids/gettingstarted/howtoplay.html

Anonymous said...

APP Advisory Committee meeting tonight at Igraham High School Library at 6:30pm. Advanced Learning's Direvtor Stephen Martin is always in attendance to hear from and speak directly with.


Anonymous said...

I stopped going to those APP AC meetings. People may "listen", but nothing ever changes. Can anyone make a legitimate case for why parents should bother?

Anonymous said...

After seeing the waitlist numbers, I'm wondering what the point of Spectrum is. Our neighborhood school doesn't offer Spectrum, but it looks like all the NE elementary schools have long waitlists for Spectrum. Has anyone had success getting accelerated work for your child at a non-Spectrum school? We'll be trying for APP next year.

Penny said...

I'm also interested in the methods people are using to get the most out of their neighborhood schools. Do any of the schools do pull-outs?

Anonymous said...

From the Save Seattle Schools blog on SBAC score reporting:

Anonymous said...
The infographic on the district website about the "Top Ten Reasons" we switched to SBAC assessments says that "Results are available for individual students in 3 weeks!"

I have a third grade student who slogged through this test during the first week of April. Parents should be getting scores from schools as soon as they are available, not only for the students who scored a 1.

From the district's website, we were led to believe that we would get the scores while my student was still in her third grade classroom. That's why the tests are so superior! They would magically help her teacher THIS YEAR identify where she needed additional lessons! Now we are lucky if the scores make it on the last day of school with the report cards?

Also, are they planning on using these results for advanced learning now? I've heard they are.

Sham.

Anonymous said...

How dare the district make SBAC the newest 'gateway' for advanced learning. 1) It is not what the test is meant to measure.
2) No competent district decides, after a test is already administered, to put it to a new use. Not one competent district does this. None. Nada. Zip.
3) And those MAP scores were for?...And those Amplify scores were for? And, and, and?
4) Back to SBAC what's happened to the assurance that fast turnaround of scores is a big new benefit to this test? Getting scores at the end of the school year is not one bit different than getting them over the summer. Same 'who cares' for teachers and students who will have all moved onto the new year.

Aghast

Anonymous said...

Not saying it ain't so, but that rumor that SBAC will be used as the gatekeeper for AL is pretty unsubstantiated at this point. What's the basis for it?

Anonymous said...

Actually, we got an email from Advanced Learning saying we could use "SBAC or MAP" to try to qualify next year. (This was related to our communications about this year's application.)

Anonymous said...

In reaction to "anon at 12:03," I find it really interesting they said SBAC or MAP. Does that mean fall MAP testing will continue? It was my understanding we had seen the last of it. I would actually be pleased about it continuing, as I have past test scores as a benchmark so it is more meaningful to me. However, to do MAP and SBAC and Amplify seems like a bit much (understatement).

Anonymous said...

I think they probably mean this spring's MAP scores will be usable next year.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what they'll use for K-2 students (no SBAC for those grades) and for 3-8 students who did not take the SBAC. (I don't think the SBAC is available outside of the testing windows.)

Anonymous said...

AMPLIFY!

Anonymous said...

This is strictly anecdotal, but it seems like lots of Ballard HCC eighth graders are choosing Ballard High over Ingraham or Garfield. I know Ballard gave a dynamic open house with clubs demonstrating, cheerleaders, band, etc whereas Ingraham was pretty low key with a little too much droning on by the IB Coordinator. I know of at least 20 kids who opted for Ballard over the other two. Anyone have any insight into this??

Anonymous said...

Some guesses:
-close to home
-music
-a known senior year
-access to enough honors and AP classes
-more science offerings than Ingraham
-more flexibility and predictability than either IBX or Garfield

Anonymous said...

Ingraham isn't nearly as strong as Ballard in science or music, so if those are a student's core interest(s) and the family lives in the Ballard area, it makes sense to go there. IB works as an option for a certain type of student but certainly not for all.

Anonymous said...

We have friends at Ballard who are very happy - so not surprising that it would work for other HCC high school students.

They don't have quite as many AP offerings as Garfield, but its close and its "enough" - as not all kids actually need to take 10-12 AP classes during their high school career.

The academies offer some unique classes that neither Garfield nor Ingraham offer (Maritime Academy, Film etc.)

Majority of HCC high school students branch out into so many different interests by the time they are Sophomores/Juniors that the solely "academic" focus - push far "ahead" of other students mellows a bit and they have friends that are taking all kinds of different pathways through high school. A large majority of them are still intent on holding that 4.0 and applying to top-ranked colleges - which is likely true at any high school.

We are not of the mindset that all HCC kids have to stay together in high school - as long as there is a strong cohort of kids to support the AP offerings - it all works out.

Garfield and Ingraham both continue (and will continue, I believe) to have that strong cohort based on the pathway + neighborhood kids joining for high school from private school (at least in the Central Area).

If we lived in Ballard - we may have made the choice to stay at the local school instead of making the long commute - even considering how happy our kid is at Garfield.

-GHS Parent



Anonymous said...

Hi All,
An effort is being made to reach as many of Gary Pounder's former students/parents as possible. I apologize if you have already received this, or if your student did not have Mr. Pounder. If you are interested in making a contribution to a gift for Gary in honor of his long service in SPS, please see below.

Thank you, Sylvia Chambers

As you may have heard, Mr. Pounder is retiring from teaching. After supporting Seattle APP students for several decades, this will be his last spring in the teacher's desk. Please help get out the word to others and pass this email on to those who might be interested.

To celebrate this chapter of his life we are collecting pictures/notes for a scrapbook. Please send to: PounderRetires@gmail.com

or mail to: Cindylynn Fenbert, 7539 14th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115

or Anita Marton, 2654 39th Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98199

To launch the next chapter, we have set up a PayPal* account which we hope he will use toward a "dream vacation" after recovering from knee surgery.

If you would like to contribute to this retirement fund, please cut and paste the link below (it's a long one) to transfer money from your PayPal account, or send a check to one of the addresses above. You can add a personal note when donating on PayPal or include with your check.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=CEJH8GSAWZGBC&lc=US&item_name=Pounder%27s%20Dream%20Vacation&currency_code=USD&bn=PP%2dDonationsBF%3abtn_donateCC_LG%2egif%3aNonHosted

If you would like to be included in this effort, please take action by June 3rd, these gifts (scrapbook and money) will be given to Mr. Pounder prior to by June 15th.

Questions? Please email: gilpy8@aol.com, or marton9999@aol.com

If you are a student, please forward this email to your parents (and vice versa) so all can participate.

Cindylynn Fenbert

Anita Marton

posted by sidneyd

Anonymous said...

We are seeing a lot of JAMS HCC students choosing Roosevelt this year. If they had more AP Science classes, maybe we would have chosen it as well.

I think another reason many north-end HCC families are choosing neighborhood HS is that they joined the program when it was at Lincoln or at HIMS, not Lowell--so Garfield just seems too far away.

Anonymous said...

SBAC testing...

Any anecdotal reports on numbers opting out in HCC classes? It's maybe 20% in my child's middle school class, but perhaps increasing by the time the math testing happens. Some are opting out after giving the test a go.

I'm pretty peeved by the amount of lost class time - an entire week of LA/SS and an entire week of math. That doesn't even include the teacher strike day, which happens on a scheduled testing day, meaning the testing (and altered class schedules) may run into another week.

SusanH said...

Anonymous at 5:03 yesterday: you say that IB works for a certain kind of student. Can you expand on that? I'd love to get a better understanding of exactly what type of student is best suited for the IB program. My son is in 7th grade now, so we'll be faced with the high school decision next year. I really want to be able to guide him the right way and give him the information he needs. Help! (And thank you!)

Anonymous said...

@ Susan H. First, let me say that IB is an EXCELLENT program with standards controlled outside of SPS. (A very good thing!) In addition to assuring substantive studies, it works to add context to a student and a student's studies in terms of their place in the world. So, cross cultural connections, and service to the community, are important factors. There is also an emphasis on writing. In short, if a student or a family wants a strong "humanities/liberal arts" base, IB is a fabulous choice. In many ways, IMHO, it is far superior to the AP track of learn and churn through subjects, as systems thinking, an important adult skill, is an IB priority.

But...no program can be all things to all students. One example is a student or family particularly focused on foundational STEM experiences. Ballard and Garfield and Cleveland offer some specific classes and tracks that might be more appealing. Students who want to immerse themselves in hands-on learning and labs might be better served in these or other high school opportunities. If writing is not your student's thing - and never will be - IB may not be the best choice. Or, if a student is self-driven and wants to set up a learning path that isn't as prescriptive, again IB may not be the right choice. Perhaps a NOVA experience, or a menu of AP courses within a student's interest area at the local high school is a better way to go. For bright students for whom music or art is their number one interest, again, different high schools make sense. Then, perhaps, Roosevelt might come out ahead, if you live in that region.

Aside from this, there is no substitute at the high school level, for how a student feels about a school climate. I think it is key to recognize that parental control of a child's academic choices significantly diminishes in high school. A happy student is a student who is excited about her/his school. The best thing you can do for your student is go tour these schools, if at all possible when actual teachers and students and not solely administrators and parent volunteers are present. Of course, there is almost no school choice available in SPS outside your HCC choices and your "home" high school, so if there isn't a fit, you'll be off on the world of private school tours or considering moving. I know families, as I'm sure most of the rest on this blog do, who have taken those steps too.

Good luck!

Anon from above at 5:03, who knows that many other parents on this thread can add their own perspective.

SusanH said...

Thank you! Thank you! That is all so helpful! Our neighborhood school is Rainier Beach, and while the neighborhood is excited about the prospect of IB there, I wouldn't want him to go back to two years of Gen Ed to get that. So our reasonable choice is really Garfield. We'll try for Aviation too. IBX sounds great, but it would be a trek, and we have a very reluctant writer. We'll see. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 8:57

Your kid is losing a week of LA and a week of Math? Mine is losing 3 weeks of everything except 4th period, and Fridays. M-Th of 3 testing weeks, one grade tested each week, the entire school has a 2 hour block in the morning, a normal 4th period to accommodate the normal lunch schedule, and a 2 hour block in the afternoon. The blocks are used as study halls, and the report is that some kids goof off, some work, but regardless, they are not getting instruction. They are working on "packets" of debatable quality, and on projects.

I am wondering how other Middle Schools are managing this. To lose 3 weeks of prime teaching time in order to assess how well they are teaching our kids seems crazy to me. The test is impacting the teaching quality, big time.

Steamed Too

Anonymous said...

...wow. 3 weeks for all students and all classes? 3 weeks?! No PE, art, science, or music? Why can't the district streamline this in some way? The disparity makes me even more steamed. Our child is getting no assignments during testing. Lousy, but pales in comparison to what you describe. All to tell us no more than what we already know - students are either working at, above, or below grade level.

Lynn said...

I saw a link on the advanced learning website this morning On Using Smarter Balanced Assessment Data

For the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), which will be
used as the achievement measure in grades 3rd-8th, a student’s percentile rank is determined
by ranking his or her score compared to the scores of all students who take the SBA test across the state of Washington.


I have a question in to Stephen Martin about what they'll do for students in 3rd through 8th grades who don't have SBA scores. I don't believe that test will be available outside of the spring assessment window.

Anonymous said...

My student choose BHS over IBX and never regretted the decision. We continued Spanish and math acceleration, went with regular LA and SS track.(You can do 9th grade Honors and in 10th grade AP classes.)

We also retook Biology as I do not believe the HIMs Bio class was a high school level course and we didn't need to struggle our way thru Chem in 9th grade.This year my student tool Botany and cannot say enough good things about the teacher and the class. But I think the real gem at Ballard is the Maritime Academy! Look into it if you end up at Ballard.

HAPPY Beaver Parent

Anonymous said...

FYI, I, too, have heard about kids who were glad to retake Biology in high school. They found the HIMS 8th grade HCC Bio class to fall far short of what their HS class covered.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

FWIW, and I don't have data, just pass along, the only middle school that consistently covers HS bio in enough detail to make skipping HS bio a serious option is TOPS. And that isn't even an advanced learning school. Go figure. But apparently there's a rockstar science teacher there. Which comes back to the lack of any real HCC curriculum I guess. My kid's taking Bio in HS. Not her strong suit right now and no need to start on a miserably too fast course in HS.

Anonymous said...

A Saturday, May 30, strike make-up day for seniors? Is that for real? Is that even allowed in the teacher contract? Just when you think SPS can't get any crazier...

Anonymous said...




HOT OFF THE PRESSES!


Lincoln Dragons are the #1 chess team in the Nashville:

APP@Lincoln are the k-3 division BLITZ CHESS NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!! They are 7th in the k-6, which is really impressive that they can compete and succeed against older, more experienced players.

So proud of our fantastic students!


I think sharing celebratory news is great thing to use blog comments for. Talk about the positive and keep our focus on what's good, what is working.

On a similar "good news" tangent, the published volume of 5th grade APP@Lincoln poetry is available at Third Place Books. The young poets put on an incredible author reading, showing remarkable sensitivity, maturity and mirth for children so young. Their works were all great, but I have to say I was blown away by the ode inspired by Beowulf.

Lowell/Lincoln Dragon

Anonymous said...

Way to go Dragons and way to go 5th graders!! It is nice to hear some upbeat news!
-Dragon booster

murray said...

We are trying to decide whether or not to send our incoming first grader to Lincoln APP next year. We are leaning towards Lincoln but the logistical challenges are a bit daunting. So:

1) he would attend Lincoln for 2 years

2) in 2017 he would start 3rd grade at Wilson Pacific

3) He would spend 3rd, 4th and 5th there -- here is my question -- at that point do we switch back to Hamilton (we live in Ballard) or is there some discussion of keeping APP kids up there until grade 8?

I know that no one knows for sure but thought there might be additional insight.

Thanks!

Tracy Bonaccorso said...

Hi everyone

We just received the letter telling us our son (entering 2nd grade) has been accepted into the HCC program. We were placed in the Spectrum program at Wing Luke. But when we did our school choice, we listed Thurgood Marshall for HCC as our first choice. What do we do now? Will we automatically be place at TM? The letter only said we'd been accepted in the HCC - but didn't list a school. Will there be a follow-up letter? Thanks in advance. No answer on the enrollment line right now.

Anonymous said...

Tracy,

He's guaranteed a seat at Thurgood Marshall. I'd check his assigned school online in a week or so to give them a chance to update the system. Alternatively, you could go to the enrollment services department (open 8:30 to 4 most days) and take care of it there.

Lynn said...

An update on Social Studies Instructional Materials adoption: Kathleen reminded the committee that this is a general education and highly capable program instructional materials adoption. There is a subcommittee that will have an eye on determining whether the texts selected for general education provide extension opportunities for highly capable students to ensure they will be effectively challenged. They will apply the criteria to ensure this is the best selection. There will be consideration for two adoptions. If the materials do not meet the needs of the highly capable learners, they will move in another direction and choose one of the four vendors or choose none.

Tracy Bonaccorso said...

Thanks for answering my question!

Anonymous said...

Muarry,

I would seriously wonder about WP being in anyone's HCC future. 700+ kids are not going to be enrolled there. Who goes I am not sure.

I would think that QA, Magnolia and Capitol hill/mountlake/madison will all go to a new HCC program at Lowell. But who knows. There are just too many kids then seats north of the ship canal.

Anonymous said...

Considering the less-than-enticing stories on here about public middle school programs for Spectrum/HCC kids, how difficult is it to get into one of the private middle schools in Seattle, i.e., a school that offers a better academic experience?

Anonymous said...

The private middle schools in Seattle aimed at HC type kids are Lakeside, Seattle Country Day and Evergreen. I believe the only HC option for HS is Lakeside. The smaller class sizes at private schools in general certainly help, but smaller class sizes are no guarantee kids will get differentiation.

There are not many spots for the kids who apply. For 9th grade, for instance, I understand Lakeside's acceptance rate is about 12%. Lakeside lets in 60 new kids at 9th grade, but those kids are from all over Seattle and surrounding areas. Rumor has it that all private schools in Seattle are seeing a surge of applicants the last couple of years as people try to get out.

-can't escape

Anonymous said...

My APP kid is now in private middle school. I would add Seattle Academy (SAAS) to the list of options posted above, although that's not where we ended up. But after touring many, many private middle schools, only a handful seemed like they would provide enough challenge and avoid a lot of repetition. SAAS also seemed willing to really personalize math placement if that's important for your student.

I know some families who opted for University Prep this year after Lincoln but haven't heard how it's going. My feeling from that tour was that there'd be some repetition (like, IIRC, the 6th graders putting on a production of Midsummer Nights Dream, which my kid had just done in 5th grade at Lincoln!).

My advice is to be open-minded. Attend a lot of open houses. Take your kid with you if you can because they will have a better sense of how much repetition there might be if you aren't in the classroom a lot.

And don't let a high tuition prevent you from applying. Lakeside says precisely that during their open house. If you think it's a good fit for your student and they agree and offer a spot, they have financial aid that can make attendance a reality. Yes, it still costs real money and may require sacrifices, but you may be surprised to find out you can actually manage to afford it. The middle school acceptance rate is also low, something like 15% I think last year. But again, if you don't apply, your chance of acceptance is zero. We thought it would be a good fit for our kid, no way we could afford it, but that's where we are, and we are very pleased with how it's going. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Oh, and Lakeside starts at 5th grade, so parents of current 3rd graders who are interested in private middle school could tour next fall to apply for 5th grade instead of 6th. I'm not sure, but the chance of acceptance might be higher, assuming fewer apply for 5th than for 6th grade.

--former dragon

Anonymous said...

Some private schools in Seattle, like the ones mentioned above, can be a great choice for high achieving, academically ambitious kids. But they are unbelievably expensive and not all applicants will receive financial aid.

Families should be aware that no private schools around here practice true "need blind admission" - in other words, applying for aid will make it less likely your kid will get in. If they really want your kid they will offer admission AND aid. But very very often, excellent but needy applicants are waitlisted or denied because their families cannot afford the exorbitant price tag.

That is just the reality of applying to private schools - though schools like Lakeside do make a big effort to help finance the education of students they really (really) want who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend.

If you have deep pockets, though, the chances of getting in to many Seattle area private schools rises exponentially...

-parent

Anonymous said...

No, actually deep pockets and excellent ISEE and SSAT and the whole package doesn't actually increase your chances compared to previous years.

Everyone who is applying to private schools should understand the reality that there are not really any additional private secondary school seats, and yet there are thousands of additional children in the system.

And of course at the high reputation schools, seats are also going to East Siders and kids from other districts - places like Lakeside, SAAS, Northwest and UPrep are regional, not just Seattle, draws.

Private schools can choose exactly the mix of students they want - that's their choice - but they can't say "everyone's so great, we just want 30 more kids this year over last year". Like public schools, they don't have the space (or even in many cases the desire) to just build another wing and add 30 more kids at every grade level. And they're certainly not going to use portables or go up to 30 kid classes. So as the number of kids in the area goes up, the percent of school seats which are in the private schools decreases. Public schools have to create more and more seats as more kids arrive. Private schools don't.

I expect that "70% of kids go to public and 30% go private" in Seattle will be changing.

They are building more private K-5 options, but it's much more complicated to build a desirable secondary school option. SPS already has more kids coming into the system at 6th grade than were in it at 5th - counter to expectations, more kids enroll in SPS middle school than leave!

There are, quite simply, not nearly enough seats in private MS for all the kids coming out of private elem. and all the kids who want to leave SPS -- so it's a very tough game of musical chairs. Many kids who went to private elem. schools are not getting into private middle schools - this is a really challenging time for private elem. b/c they can't reliably tell parents where "kids from X often go to Y" anymore.

So - the chances of getting in actually go down every school year, even for those who CAN pay, b/c the number of total children in Seattle goes up so much every year.

And honestly, unfortunately, entrance appears to be harder for kids coming from Lincoln b/c the schools are upfront about wanting to have diversity of elem. background in their incoming 6th grade classes. They don't want a clique from just one school, and I don't blame admissions for that - it's reasonable. Just like they don't want a class of all one type of kid, or all soccer players, or all musicians. They want a range, they can pick a range.

However, if they only want to admit 4 or 5 kids from Lincoln 5th grade into a given 6th grade, and there are 40 of the 180 fifth graders at Lincoln applying ... (because there are), well, you can do that math.

If you're sure you want to go public middle school, then swapping to APP/HCC even as late as 5th grade is a good idea - but if you really think you want to go private, and you're trying to decide between local 5th grade and Lincoln 5th grade - I think there's a better admissions chance out of a different school.

Sorry.

And take an ISEE or SSAT prep course. They're old school tests, paper and bubbles and analogies, and none of the zillions of SPS standardized tests really work that way anymore.

Anonymous said...

I have heard every single year for the last 11 years that there were not going to be enough private school seats, that the chances were going down, down, down, and yet I have never heard of a single actual child not getting into a private school unless they just applied to Lakeside or something. And this year (I have a fifth grader), I knew ~2 dozen kids applying, and every single one got into their first choice. I have a high schooler too, and we are seeing many of those kids who left at middle school again, often with gaps and regret. It's not all wine and roses out there in private school land. I would say it is difficult to find a school willing to provide even the rigor public gifted programs do, and you already know about the ones that do. There are other advantages to some of the other schools, though.

Look, we started off in private school, and may well go back, but it is in the private schools' interests to make us all afraid spots are about to run out, so we need to shell out a hundred grand more to save our spots. They absolutely can and do expand. New schools start when there is demand. Lower tier schools' reputations are buoyed by expanded applicant pools and so there is a larger range of acceptable options. If APP is working for your kids for now, don't worry about it. Someone will be willing to take your money if you need them to.

Anonymous said...

Earlier poster.

Not sure what two dozen kids who got in to first choice you know.

I know at least a dozen got in nowhere for 6th, just waitlisted many places (and a rare few who got in multiple places). Suspect that the ones who got in nowhere don't talk about it much.

Teachers were floored b/c they hadn't seen so many kids not get in as this year.

Anonymous said...

In my limited experience, the opposite is true. Families get offers but not financial aid or can't afford it after all, so they said they "didn't get in" to avoid appearing poor.

I don't know as many people as you two, but I also don't know anyone who applied to private middle schools and did not get in to any. I do not think I know an especially capable group. Last year I heard about a couple families who did not have offers in spring, but both did by the fall. Their children had IEP's and so were a little more difficult to place.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe that it getting into private schools for middle school isn't an issue. We applied to 6 private schools for K for my kid and were rejected from all of them. (Well, actually waitlisted at two, but never got in off the waitlist.) I had friends with similar experiences. Why is it so much easier to get in for middle? Are there just more private middle schools that can serve HCC kids?

Anonymous said...

Private elementary schools are very tough to gain admission to here unless you are a "connected" family or your child offers some rare combination of brilliance, charm, and diversity. I think the middle school admissions process is probably more egalitarian since standardized test scores/proven grades and ability are much more of the application process than simply who the parents are. I suppose public middle school + homeschooling with online courses might provide the best of both worlds. Lakeside offers a phenomenal education, but unfortunately very few students get to benefit from it.

Perhaps the other option is to relocate to the Eastside for middle schools since many of the public options there seem pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Reminder


6-7:30pm TONIGHT!!!

APP@Lincoln Ice Cream Social Open House


For all new & returning families (siblings, grandparents, etc welcomed!)


See you there, Dragons!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone made use of the Cascade Parent Partnership for a child that can benefit from an accelerated curriculum? Contemplating home-schooling...

Anonymous said...

What grade?

Cascade Parent Partnership academics are not geared toward advanced learners. If you are wanting advanced coursework, you'd probably need to do that at home, either online or through a purchased or self created curriculum.

If your child is in middle school, you can part-time homeschool. Your child maintains HCC status by taking at least one HCC class, and still has access to foreign language, music, after school activities, etc. Some elementary parents have also managed to part-time homeschool.

Shoreline's alternative school, Cascade K-8, might have more opportunities for highly capable students, but I think they recently changed their policy on inter-district transfers.

Anonymous said...

I recently visited Cascade Parent Partnership, and they seemed quite open to teaching to the individual child's level.

Apparently, there are other academically advanced children there who need a more flexible classroom environment.

Classes are separated by subject, so it makes it quite easy to tailor a schedule to your child's needs.

My PG son is quite wiggly and easily distracted in a busy environment, so I don't expect any perfect solutions. I'm willing to sign-up for one elementary class as a trial in Fall.

Anonymous said...

You can request an appt at Cascade to discuss your child's profile and specific needs prior to enrolling in a class.

You may even want to introduce yourself to the teacher of any class you're considering.

The environment seems very relaxed and flexible.

Anonymous said...

One point on this topic - a highly capable student retains their eligibility as long as they are enrolled in any school in the district. (If you want to use that to enroll in IBX or Garfield, they do have to be enrolled in HCC for the eighth grade.)

Anonymous said...

Regarding Algebra Readiness Test:

Big joke! Totally about rationing rigor. No other way to really think about how the District does this. Testing kids after school, like, 5pm... clearly not the most student-friendly time. But then, there is the dancing cut-score pinata!


Will someone please explain how the test has different thresholds depending on the kid?? If it is the tie-breaker test, because the kid already met one of the two benchmarks, shouldn't giving this third, most appropriate test to students that actually is about algebraic skills have ONE threshold, say, 47, like the publisher says for all students?

How can it be 50 out of 50 for Tai (she gets 49, she is denied access) but 48 out of 50 for Carlos? That makes no sense.

And, what is with the time restriction? What are they trying to prove? Shouldn't they be trying to assess if the kid know fundamentals and is rock solid in the required math skills? Isn't that what is necessary to take algebra, the requisite skills? So, why time it? Per Nunnally and Bernstein, 1984, p. 348, excessive limitation of time will cause the test results to be unreliable (in other words, the kids didn't get enough time to show what they know). Furthermore, since kids don't ever get timed tests in schools, they don't have the concept or practice of time management down to have approached this high-stakes assessment. Designed to screen them out, basically! Ratio rigor!

The District is doing a SUPERB job of rationing rigor. That seems to be their specialty, their goal. It just proves how much they don't actually care about kids or understand their needs or have any desire to support learning.

Besides, the best part is their letter had an impossible rubric, which, several 'failed' kids pointed out to the adults. Serious. No making this up. So the district changed their rubric to correct their error.

Maybe the district personnel are not qualified for algebra.

No Rationing!


Anonymous said...

I have two kids who qualified for APP when they were tested (7th grade for K1, 2nd grade for K2). We didn't move them (TOPS worked well for them and we didn't need the golden Garfield ticket.)

K1 graduated from RHS and is studying Neuroscience. No problem. Well except he really would have fit in better at Garfield (diversity and possibly some real science.) He is a flexible well rounded kid. He's fine.

K2 is actually brilliant. Really. TOPS was the best possible place for her. ART. SCIENCE.PLAYWRITING. PE even if you wouldn't volunteer (Yay Don and Eric!) she landed a spot at Ingraham and is doing IB (not IBX because her Spring 7th grade MAP scores were not high enough. Umm ok. Whatever.) I am actually not a fan of ACCELERATION as a model for advanced learning.

I guess long time posters might recognize me even if I don't sign my name this time. But my real point is: why should single subject achievement scores (MAP,SBAC) be a determinant for access to the HCC for High School? (Not a rhetorical question. Please provide your best explanation.) Thanks.

Call me Mom of 2 for this.

Unknown said...

To clarify: spring 7th grade MAP MATH scores were too low. Others were not. All LA scores exceeded HCC requirements.

Anonymous said...

And to further clarify. Sometimes the kid who qualifies for HCC/APP is not the kid who would benefit the most from the cohort and access to advanced classes. Given that SPS rations access to advanced tracks: is that an issue?

Not for my kids. But for all of the others this might apply to.

Anonymous said...

If your child really and truly wants to take Algebra in 6th grade, but did not qualify by district cutoffs, there is another option: part-time homeschool for math. It might even be better than what they'd get at school.

Anonymous said...

@No Rationing, your child can homeschool for one year (Algebra 1) and enroll in Geometry at school for 7th grade.

Have you looked into Thinkwell? They offer video based instruction at a reasonable cost. You get 12 mo. of access, so you could enroll now and try it out over the summer and decide if it's the path your child wants to take.

http://www.thinkwellhomeschool.com/products/algebra-1

Anonymous said...

Before pursuing an option like Thinkwell, however, be sure to check with your school's registrar to be sure they'll accept that as proof of completion of all the required Alg I concepts. It sounds like they are tightening up requirements, at least at some schools. Our registrar asked for some proof of completion of a district approved Algebra 1 course. I seem to recall her mentioning that Thinkwell didn't count, although she may have been referring to a different program. It's also possible--or likely--that these requirements differ by school. I'd get any pre-approval in writing.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

If the registrar is doing that - she is violating state codes. It amounts to the district usurping the rights of home based instruction parents to make decisions on curriculum and materials. Courses taken as independent study for high school credit do have more requirements, but if the course is taken in middle school (no high school credit) as HBI, the school can not specify online providers or materials. It would be akin to telling private schools what materials they can use.

HBI students are treated as private school students for class placement. The district can require a placement test or ask to see a syllabus, but otherwise they need to place a student based on work satisfactorily completed in the previous grade. If you state your student completed Algebra 1, then they should be placed in Geometry.

HIMS, of all places, should be aware of this. If they've "forgotten," you can remind them of the applicable codes:

RCW 28A.200.010
At the time of a transfer to a public school, the superintendent of the local school district in which the child enrolls may require a standardized achievement test to be administered and shall have the authority to determine the appropriate grade and course level placement of the child after consultation with parents and review of the child's records

The key phrase is "after consultation with the parent and review of the child's records."

RCW 28A.200.020
...all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing, and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent except for matters specifically referred to in this chapter.

-informed parent

Anonymous said...

More info here:

http://www.k12.wa.us/privateed/HomeBasedEd/PinkBook/pinkbook.pdf

Anonymous said...

Melissa Westbrook is reporting on the Superintendents statements during a visit to McClure:

Nyland's comments below:
"Many parents want a return to tracking and acceleration. They worry that inclusion takes too much time from their child. Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective. We do need to meet each student where they are and challenge them to help them find that “spark” that many parents mentioned.
Students – all students – do in fact learn better in cooperative/diverse groups both academically and socio-emotionally. Inclusion is mandated by law for SpEd and for ELL and for Spectrum. RTI/MTSS requires us to provide supports in every classroom."

Melissa's comments:
"Wait, what? "Separating students by ability is not appropriate or effective?" Has he forgotten that is what the Highly Capable program - like most gifted programs throughout the country - does? (Not to mention Walk to Math.) As well, I would be happy to show the Superintendent the research I have read that says that students at the bottom do benefit from being in a mixed classroom but that students at the top do not."


Anonymous said...

Ask yourself, is Nyland really writing this? Or just signing off on something written by the magical thinking folks in Teaching and Learning?

Anonymous said...

@ informed parent, thanks for that WAC info. It doesn't sound completely black and white to me, however. Sure, a parent can choose the curriculum, as per RCW 28A.200.020. But does that mean a school has to accept it as meeting its criteria for placement in the next level? Per RCW 28A.200.010, the Supe has the authority to determine the appropriate grade and course level placement of the student, right? So if they decide that you need to have proof of x, y and z in your HBI and they don't see evidence of that in your school records, couldn't they deny advancement? It doesn't say they have to offer a placement test, and "consultation" with the parent doesn't guarantee anything. I agree that you could probably fight for the placement you want in such cases, but if you have multiple acceptable options for HBI in a particular subject and can get automatic approval with some programs vs. having to fight it out with others, the easy way might be your best bet. However, if you're set on a particular approach that might require more of a fight, it's nice to know that in advance so you can try to resolve the matter before the next year's scheduling begins. By talking to your registrar first you can get a better idea of what will be required to get what you want when the time comes.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I went over to MWs blog! I found this gem on the SBAC performance task:

My 5th grader's classroom activity revolved around talking about "what is a cabinet" (discussion of a piece of furniture - yes, seriously - I guess I understand how in some areas it might be called an armoire or some kids might only have closets, so having "cabinet" explained might??? make sense? But these are 5th graders. Don't you think they know what a cabinet is?)

Then the performance task was basically you're helping a preschool rearrange their supplies. You have the following things, these dimensions, and this is your cabinet, with these other dimensions. How do you fit them in the cabinet.

The bang-your-head part of problem?

EVERYTHING, the cabinet and the stuff, were ONLY TWO DIMENSIONAL. There was no depth to the cabinet, unlike real life, and the things were all flat.

So my kid was at first really confused b/c he had to take his knowledge of 3D objects from the geometry unit they had just completed and discard that, go back to 2D objects - so the real world "what is a cabinet" (an inherently 3D object, with depth as a vital component) discussion was contradictory to the skills used in the problem.

And the "real world" nature of the question was in fact completely inappropriate to the skill being tested - and caused a lot of confusion. He told me he finally figured out what they wanted, but it never did make sense to him b/c the cabinet had no depth in the problem. So it didn't matter how you arranged things, but he figured they wanted big things on the bottom, medium sized things in the middle and small things up top.

The question could have been designed to use flat things like different sized flagstones and a patio, or posters on a wall, or something like that - but it emphasized the 3D nature, without actually giving a third measurement.

My husband thought it might be that they created a 3D question, realized it was too hard, and dumbed it down to 2D - without ever revisiting the appropriateness of the "cabinet" as the basis for the question.

Who writes this stuff?

Signed: whatever

Anonymous said...

Two random questions:

1) My kid is not yet elementary age, but he's zoned for Lowell, which I see has a Spectrum program. Obviously he hasn't been tested yet, but I want to be familiar with potential options, and I never read anything about Spectrum at Lowell (it's new there, I see). Any experiences?

2) Speaking of Lowell, I see from their website that their mascot is a dragon, which I also see is the mascot at Lincoln, and then I saw a comment here referring to "Lowell/Lincoln dragons"? What's up with that?

-Curiouser and curiouser

Anonymous said...

1. Tracking and ability-based grouping are NOT the same.

2. ALL EVIDENCE shows that ability-based grouping is the single MOST effective way to support growth for any group of non-SpEd students. Even the work on cluster-grouping says that it is a not as effective as ability-based grouping, but, when ability-based grouping is not possible (i.e., not enough students), then, it is a less-desirable but better-than-nothing alternative to doing nothing. Some papers come right out and say that ability-based grouping is politically unsavory for the adults, so then they discuss how to do the work-around solution of 'clustering'.

3. Mixed ability grouping actually harms NOT JUST the top 10th percentile, but, is damaging for the bottom 10th percentile. Yes. Think of it this way. If you were put on a 'mixed ability' basketball team, and, you are the worst player in your grade, and, you had 3 guys on the bench who were the best, and, they were running like jack rabbits and dunking the ball and making every lay-up, would you want to get up off the bench and attempt to play, when, you could barely dribble? Research shows that having those groups together stymies growth in the bottom 10th. Damages those kids. Of that, there is no question. So, we can all pretend that that research-based data doesn't exist, which clearly is the politically popular thing to say and the most politically correct thing to do, or, you can focus on kids and help them grow academically, which all kids go to school in the first place: kids spend time in the classrooms to learn academic skills. They are not there to sit beside the 'right mix of kids', they are there to learn and grow math, reading, writing and critical thinking skills as much as possible.

So, public education is pushing something that is cherished because social justice matters. Good intentions. But the road to... Sadly, by trying to do the right thing, they are harming the kids they most want to help.

"..."progressive education," which holds that social injustice, institutionalized racism, white prejudice, and other societal ills cause the achievement gap. Progressives want to fix the achievement gap by moving underachieving students closer to high-achieving students whenever possible, arguing that tracking and sorting are evils that create underachieving “ghettos” that perpetuate, or even cause, the gap..."

...So progressives push for underachievers to spend more time with achievers who will model desirable behavior..."



But the problem is the 'achiever' is there to learn too. She is not there to be the teacher of some other child; that is not her job.

Is it that some kids are less entitled to an education than others?

Kids who are 'good to go' should not strive to reach as high as they can go because others are not there right along side of them? I hope not. I hope ALL kids are equally deserving of an education, regardless of their achievement status. How ironic then is that inherently contradictory value of 'progressives' (who believe themselves to be the guardians of the promise of a civil society), that some children are just MORE equal, and those more entitled ones are the ones to focus on, even if it comes at the expense of other student's learning.

There are obviously very strong sentiments and very diverse perspectives about these issues, because all children rely on adults to have their needs met, and so naturally parents care very deeply about doing right by children, no matter what they think is best or most appropriate. We hopefully can all respect that and each other.

Anonymous said...

Nobody would propose a "mixed ability basketball team" because sports are important.

Academics are not.

Anonymous said...

We HAVE mixed ability sports teams already. It's just that those who aren't good enough spend more time on the bench or sidelines--and when they get on the field, none of their "teammates" pass or throw to them. A small number of people can carry the team, so the coach doesn't really have to worry about those who aren't very good.

On a mixed ability "academics team" however, the rules are different. Everyone has to get equal playing time and everyone's contribution (or lack thereof) counts the same. The coach (teacher) thus cares a lot about the weaker players--so much so that practices ONLY focus on them and their weaknesses, while the more skilled players screw around on the sidelines.

Anonymous said...

Umm, unified sports teams are in most middle & high schools in the district. My kids have not had the bad experiences with them that you describe as the inevitable experience with mixed-ability sports teams.

Anonymous said...

every child should have the opportunity to reach their potential, it's that simple.

If segregated ability-grouped classrooms work best for academic potential, that's fine, but what about a child's potential as a community member- as a co-worker-as a humanitarian?

Are those qualities fostered as well in a classroom segregated by cognitive ability and achievement?

There's the rub because schools do have the mandate to do more than just instill academics, they are explicitly required to teach community values, respect for others, acceptance of others, citizenship,etc.
So how can students in Seattle spend 12 years in publicly funded school without working with students of differing academic levels in academic classes and gain these skills?

PE and music don't accomplish that to the degree that LA and SS and science classes do. Certainly all kids have ideas about science and government and literature that are valid and interesting despite their level of cognitive function. I dare say some of more pervasive social mores and world views were not originated by the intellectually superior.

Was Jesus highly capable, Buddha, Gandhi, Mandela, Lincoln, Marx, Julius Caesar, Frederick Douglas?

Was Golda Meir, Angel Merkel, Harriet Tubman, John Muir, John Brown?
Einstein himself wouldn't have been in HCC as he wasn't even talking at age 5.



Anonymous said...

I daresay kids can learn respect, collaboration and positive social values in an ability-grouped classroom.

And ability-grouped classes can present a greater range of academic abilities than what you'd find in a typical gen ed class. That's the nature of the tail of the bell curve. It's not like the kids in gifted classes are all clones.

Is exposure to different academic abilities really the issue? Or is your true concern more about segregation re: income, race, etc.? L

Anonymous said...

Can't resist getting off-topic here. Einstein not talking until age five is an urban myth. There is now substantial documentation in various biographies that he was speaking in full sentences by age 2 1/2.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were self taught. How can you even make comparisons with a time that outright prevented reading from being taught?

There's the rub because schools do have the mandate to do more than just instill academics, they are explicitly required to teach community values, respect for others, acceptance of others, citizenship, etc.

The state "recognizes the value" of honesty, respect for self and others, personal responsibility, self-discipline...etc., but it does not explicitly require schools to teach these values. It leaves it up to districts. There is no mandate. That is not to say they are less important than academics, just that they are not mandated as part of basic education.

http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.211

The state describes the goals of a basic education here:

http://app.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.150.210

Anonymous said...



A basic education is an evolving program of instruction that is intended to provide students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens, to contribute to their economic well-being and that of their families and communities, to explore and understand different perspectives, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives.

Anonymous said...

And you can provide all those opportunities in ability-based classrooms.

Anonymous said...

the community part regarding fellow students is missing

Anonymous said...

Nelson Mandela finished his boarding school in 2/3 the traditional time. Jesus at age 12 was found teaching and discussing the Torah in an impressive way after a holiday. Many of our presidents nobel prize winners skipped grades. The brain does not grow sitting in a chair bored. One must be challenged to learn and grow, unless of course you are God incarnate- then any class would do. You make arguments for APP, not mandated chair sitting.
-BrightAndCitizens

Anonymous said...

I think most of us with any real understanding of gifted children and HCC would agree that extreme outliers are not well-served by the current program. We would also agree, however, that some sort of special program for these kids is absolutely essential--not just to the academic progress of such kids, but perhaps more importantly, their overall health and well-being. They need something different than most kids--not better, just different.

I think there are many supporters of gifted ed who would also agree that some of the kids currently receiving AL programs/services (HCC and Spectrum) don't necessarily require instruction that is fundamentally different from gen ed instruction--more challenging and more advanced, yes, but not different in approach and delivery. These are the kids who need more challenge than gen ed classrooms have proven able or willing to provide under the current circumstances. The question is whether or not that has to be. If gen ed classes were able to provide appropriate challenge, and if all neighborhood high schools were able to offer similarly challenging offerings, I think many families would opt to stay in their neighborhood schools. The increased level of challenge in neighborhood schools would likely please many gen ed families and allow for greater opportunities for students ready to stretch.

The question in my mind is how could we possibly get to something like this given the current system and constraints? We can't just return a bulk of the elementary HCC kids to their neighborhood schools--not only are there capacity barriers, but they've been working too far ahead to get adequate services there.

Would a transition plan work? Say you develop criteria for who would qualify for a much smaller, more focused program to serve those extreme outliers. (And to me, you'd want to set those criteria to allow for a large enough cohort to support the social development of those kids. Seventy-five kids spread over all grades like the old IPP program seems way too small. I'd want to see at least 20 per grade, even if that means dropping to more like 3 SDs above average.) Kids accepted into the new, smaller program coul join the current HCC cohorts, which could be allowed to continue on until they run their course, but maybe they could get some additional individualized planning.

Kids who would have been newly eligible for Spectrum or HCC but are not a good fit for the "outlier" program are the ones who would see the first big changes. They would be staying at their local school--which would HAVE to start providing support. How can this be done? Can it even be done? We've argued and argued over differentiation, and the verdict seems to be that while it is indeed possible, it's hard to do--and damn near impossible with larger class sizes. Walk-to's seem to hold some promise, although there are drawbacks there as well. So are there other, creative options--or are we just stuck? Is there a way to work around the large class sizes?

(cont'd)

Anonymous said...

(cont'd)

When I think about elementary school, it seems like only about half the day is actually spent receiving instruction in core subjects. Could we change the staffing ratios such that kids had smaller classes for the core instruction then were in larger classes for art, PE, music, etc., as well as lunch and recess? Or maybe instead of having Teacher A send her class to music first period and Teacher B sending his 2nd period, they both send half their class during each, then they can essentially break their kids down into four levels of ability, then teach smaller classes that match. The tradeoff would be that they don't get that empty prep period when the kids are away at "music," but the smaller class size might make it worth it. They'd still need time to collaborate with other teachers though, but maybe that's what those half-days are for? I don't know, I'm just trying to brainstorm...

From what I can tell, there are very few who think the current system is working well--but most in it agree it's better than nothing. And since nothing feels like the only alternative, we fight tooth and nail to keep the inadequate system we have. But are there truly no other options? It feels like a lose-lose situation. People occasionally throw out ideas about what an ideal program should look like, but there's never an accompanying roadmap that makes it seem like even a remote possibility. The ideal, or even the good, feels out of reach. Is it? Or can we come up with something that is both better and FEASIBLE (politically, capacity-wise, contractually, logistically, academically, etc.)

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

On one hand, the state "legislature finds that, for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education." On the other hand, you have a district that seems to be doing their best to not provide anything too different, either because some think it is inequitable, or there is simply a lack of willpower or oversight. I don't think even the not-so-extreme outliers are being served in the current program.

Anonymous said...

IPP was not 75 kids spread over grades 1-12. The program started slowly, with just a few grades. The oldest kids moved up to Garfield together, so the high school program didn't start until that first group of kids got old enough. I know this is a minor point, but I wanted to clarify that there was concern about cohort size at the time and classes weren't of 6.25 kids per grade.

I have posted this thought many times over the years, but I believe the first thing that needs to change is people's attitudes towards AL, both parents and district staff. I am sure we are all familiar with what happens on the Save Seattle Schools site whenever AL comes up, even if AL is a secondary topic. People need to understand that some kids have a talent with learning like others have in sports, art, etc. The kids in the program did not all go to crooked psychologists to buy fake testing or petition (enough already on the SSS blog kept talking about families "petitioning") their way in. I have no idea what "petitioning" one's way in would even mean.

I think changes will eventually need to be made to all AL programs in the district, but nothing can be done until there is capacity. No one wants all the APP kids to go back to their neighborhood schools. Principals should not be allowed to say that they "don't believe in AL" and choose not to do it. Differentiation cannot be opt-in for teachers, but must be a part of their jobs, whether they believe in AL or not. This is another thing that cannot be done with the current class sizes.

I am not hopeful about the program. Selfishly, I am happy my kid is a bit older and will be leaving the system in a few short years because I don't see the program lasting.

-resigned

Anonymous said...

I'm very hopeful about the program. HC kids are getting better served at all schools.
Even a student coming out of the cohort for high school not at Garfield or IBX, can get all the classes they need to be very competitive in college applications.
The HCC may not be the best fit for kids in the 145+ range, but other options open up like Robinson for middle schoolers and early entry at UW for juniors.
I think we'll see more kids staying local, the mandate to provide service at every school will be tested by parents and some schools will make it work. I think non-HC parents will see the benefits of keeping HC students in that rigor will be more available to all and school staff will have to get used to HC kids and their parents and not push them away to the cohort.

There is common ground to be found between HC parents and neighborhood school administrators, it is going to take some understanding on both sides to make it work.

Anonymous said...

Where do you see highly capable kids being better served now? Or are you assuming that will be the result of the new policy? I don't agree with resigned - I don't think the program is going away. I also don't expect any great improvements based on a policy that will not be enforced.

Schools were "required" to include plans for serving highly capable students in their CSIP this year. How many did at least that much? Here are the CSIPs for every school.

Anonymous said...

I have an HC student served well and know one going to any Ivy not from Garfield or IBX. CSIP's aren't usually worth the electrons they're displayed with. I'm just saying if parents want to get service locally they have the right to get it and staff should be more receptive than in the past. Will it happen? I hope so and am trying to look towards a better future.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:48, while I applaud your optimism, I don't see the basis forbit. Rigor will be more available to all? I don't see it. You think neighborhood schools will suddenly start providing curricula that are appropriate for kids working several years beyond grade level??? More likely we see a bit of movement toward the middle--a bit of increased rigor for gen ed, but decreased for HC. That is , if these services really make their way to all schools. Were you referring primarily to HS and increased AP offerings?

One other thing--people always throw out the idea of the Robinson Center programs, as if that's the natural route for some of these kids and can be a substitute for SPS's poor HC services in middle and/or high school. The fact is, however, that the RC only takes a small number of kids each year, and they draw from from the wider Seattle region, as well as other states and even other countries. Transition School, for the youngest group, generally takes kids after 8th grade--so it's not really a middle school solution. They also don't seem to accept many kids from SPS--maybe only one or two a year on average. It's really not the answer to SPS's problems.

Anonymous said...

The program may continue to exist on paper, but where is the evidence the program is serving students that need a significantly more challenging program? As anon@12:04 suggested, Robinson is not the answer (neither is private school for many families). APP used to serve those students working well above grade level, while providing a pathway for 4 years of high school. While students have access to AP classes come high school, there is a huge void at the middle school level. If students aren't served through the HCC program, they really have limited options.

Anonymous said...

Anon on the 23rd at 11:02 - I wish people would take the 2 seconds it takes to add a name. Responding is nearly impossible when everyone is anon.

One of the anons said I thought the program was going away (I didn't say that), but the program must and will change, and I am not optimistic that it will change in the right direction. Unfortunately, I think the program will continue to be watered down. I think the WA state law, that was supposed to help with meeting the needs of AL, actually had some unintended consequences in that it allows "differentiation," which we all know doesn't and won't happen at neighborhood schools. I know some states require AL kids to have IEPs, and maybe that's something to consider. My child started in APP at Lowell, and the program has deteriorated dramatically. I wonder if people who are happy with the program are recent joiners? My child went to HIMS for a time, but we bailed because it was so poor, and we have enrolled in a private school for next year.

The program has no curricula and no one appears to be watching what happens in the classroom. The only benefit of all the past splits is that we know people around the district, so we hear about other schools. HIMS doesn't work for many (most?) kids and JAMS parents are not all happy either. WMS seems better, but that may be because there are teachers there who remember the olden days and are able to make the best out of the non-existent curricula.

I know that this current program didn't work for us, and I don't have a kid who was doing calculus at 7. I have a kid who loves to learn and who has been really frustrated with SPS and lack of rigor.

-resigned

Francesca said...

What do you do with a child who is unevenly advanced--i.e. I have a 5 year old who is reading around C/D level (approximately on grade level for K) but is eating up 2nd/3rd grade math. He qualified for Spectrum but I didn't have the achievement testing done since I didn't think he would make the reading mark. Unfortunately, it is unlikely he'll get off the Spectrum waitlist. How did kids not at Lincoln get to work ahead in math at non-Spectrum schools? (Our default is Green Lake).

Lynn said...

You should contact your principal and ask what would be possible for next year. If she won't allow him to walk to another level of math or be placed in a classroom with another group of advanced math students, you'll need to supplement at home if you want him to progress in math next year.

You could also request a transfer to any school with a walk to math program - it wouldn't need to have a Spectrum program.