Friday, November 6, 2015

New Version of Policy Superintendent Procedure 2190SP Highly Capable Services & Advanced Learning Program

A new version of the entire Advanced Learning Program Policy is up on the SPS  site prior to the Curriculum and Instruction Board meeting on Monday 11/9:

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/committees/C&I/2015-16/20151109_Agenda_Packet_C&I.pdf

The advanced learning section starts around page: 113.


I have not had time to parse everything yet and I'll update as I do. But there appears  to be more here than just a new appeals process. On first glance most codifies current changes in the program.

New Appeals Text:

The Advanced Learning office has an appeal process in compliance with the Washington State rules for Highly Capable Programs (WAC 392-170-047). Parents may appeal the Approved: January 2015 Revised: May 2015 Superintendent Procedure 2190SP Cross Reference: Policy No. 2190; RCW 28A.185.030 Programs –- Authority of local school districts – Selection of students; WAC 391-170 Special service program – Highly Capable students Page 5 of 7 decision of the MSC by completing the appeal form included with the eligibility decision letter within ten days of eligibility notification. Appeals may be submitted only if specific circumstances related to the testing conditions may have impacted student performance OR if there is reason to believe there has been a misapplication/miscalculation of scores. Private test scores may be considered by the appeal committee only if relevant to the circumstances above, but are not required and do not replace District testing. Appeals submitted for any other reason will not be considered. The decision of the Appeal Committee is final.


Required Participation in Testing:

District achievement testing in reading and math (i.e. Measurement of Academic Progress or Smarter Balanced Assessment) is required to determine advanced eligibility for current SPS students. Candidates are required to participate in district achievement testing. For referred private school students whose cognitive test scores are at the 87th percentile or higher (98th percentile or higher for eighth graders), Advanced Learning will administer achievement tests as needed.


Higher Bars:

I think these changes plus the switch to the SBAC in 3rd grade and the use of the state norms to determine eligibility will tend to raise the bar on who is admitted into HCC. 

57 comments :

Melissa Westbrook said...

I had requested some info - via public disclosure - on some Advanced Learning issues. Imagine my surprise (maybe not to parents here) that Advanced Learning keeps no stats on F/RL students in AL. I cannot fathom why not.

As well, I had been told, several years back, that for equity, the district would pay for testing appeals for F/RL students and now I am told that is no longer happening. That is a gross inequity if some can afford to retest on appeal and others can't.

Thanks for going thru this with a fine-tooth comb, Benjamin.

Anonymous said...

The new appeals policy is radically changed.

This policy discriminates against a huge range of students, including those who may test differently in a group vs. individually, those with illness or other challenges on test day, even those with IEPs or 504s who have not yet jumped through the hoops to access accommodations in test situations. This is NOT at all EQUITABLE. Parents, please, don't let this happen. Appeals through private testing are essential to students who cannot perform in large, chaotic, one-chance-only group cafeteria settings. Sick on test day? Too bad. Chronic medical problem flares up? Huh. Your parents or guardian didn't have breakfast for you this morning or got you to the test site late? Oh well. The bully you face every day is sitting next to you for testing? Buck up. This is your one chance, use it or lose it.

The district has always offered free appeals testing for FRL students. This should continue and be expanded. The district should not be shutting out yet further students from highly capable programs due to limits on appeals.

- stop this

-

Anonymous said...


I am shocked that the district will no longer pay for FRL appeals. If true, this is a new low for SPS. Why is Nyland getting a raise?

-nh

madmom said...

Please tell me how I can fight this? My daughter went through testing for Early Entrance to Kindergarten, but didn't do well in group testing. So we did private testing.. We won the appeal and she has done wonderfully. Without private testing, she wouldn't be given the opportunity she has now, which would be extremely detrimental and wrong. And it shows how screwed up the testing process is. -Let's fight.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, do you mean they did not pay for F/RL appeals last year? Or they mean that going forward? I am 99% sure I saw on the website that they claimed they were paying for appeals for F/RL families last year. Though now I am doubting myself. Of course they also should going forward, but that is a slightly different issue.

It's not really just one shot. It's one shot per year. I feel somewhat ambivalently about this, but I have wondered for a long time how repeated testing (and repeated testing so close together in the case of appeals) of very similar tests affects the validity of the scores.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

I guess I would start by asking, "What problem are they trying to solve" by changing the appeals process, and by changing it in a way that appears designed to reduce appeals.

What percent of appeals are successful? And what percent of students get in on appeals, and, how do they perform compared to students who don't appeal? Having a large number of successful appeals isn't prima facie evidence of a problem with the students - it might be evidence of problems with the district's group testing!

If there is evidence that the current appeals process doesn't serve students and their families well (ie, by letting in children who don't do well in HCC), then let's see that evidence.

If so few appeals are successful that significant staff time is wasted sorting through a mountain of appeals that lack merit, then let's see that evidence.

If this is just a way to reduce staff workload and manage capacity that will ultimately deny children an appropriate academic placement, that is a wholly different issue, and one that I would fight vigorously.

As is, it's impossible to judge whether the change is warranted or appropriate. So, again, I ask what is the problem they are trying to solve?

Puzzled

madmom said...

Puzzled, as I mentioned above, my daughter was granted early entrance to kindergarten based on a successful appeal. The group testing was an awful procees, with the same MSC, using the COGAT. She has done extremely well in kindergarten, just as the private scores indicated she likely would. We also know that her scores would have previously allowed for a successful appeal into HC, but now it is likely she will be overlooked just because she isn't very comfortable in group test settings.

Anonymous said...



Thanks for providing a link to the docrment Benjamin.

See page 118. Appeals for FRL students has been crossed out.

I don't know how many FRL students have appealed over the last couple of years, but I am guessing it is a small number. Data of any kind is hard to get from AL office.

I will write to Stephen and the board this weekend in the hopes that they will restore appeals for FRL students.

-nh

Anonymous said...

I'm speechless about using SBAC for advanced learning entrance. Speechless. It is such a computer-experience heavy test, so long, so differently administered at different sites, so many flaws - and yet that's what they're going to use?

Ugh.

Anonymous said...

nh,

Ha! Like a quick note to Stephen will turn this ship around. He made these changes alone, without engaging families in a discussion. He is not interested in our input.

Anonymous said...

Well would you look at that--HC pathway language is being eliminated from these procedures, too. And that addition of "currently" says it all. So this the pathway clarity we're supposed to get via the AL office, if pathway language is removed from the SAP?

Anonymous said...

Some other changes/additions:

1) HC Qualification based on 1 composite score (instead of two individual scores or individual/composite combination)

2) Spectrum students can be teacher identified for placement

3) Math placement in 6-8 is not based on AL eligibility

4) "For Grades 9-12, HCC students may currently [italics added] choose accelerated access to Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Garfield High School or an accelerated International Baccalaureate (IB) Program (IBX) at Ingraham High School." Some subtle word changes in this portion - instead of Garfield pathway, it's now "accelerated access to AP courses" and instead of IBX pathway, it's simply IBX. The word "currently" was also added.

5) It also codifies what's happening with Spectrum placement at JAMS, where Spectrum students have been placed in the HCC classes.
"...students are either grouped within General Education or self-contained classrooms, depending on location."

Anonymous said...

Math 6-8 was not previously based on AL eligibility, so that's not a change.

Anonymous said...

Those Spectrum students are (according to the the current policy) supposed to be served in general education classroom or self-contained Spectrum classrooms. Highly Capable students are guaranteed access to a self-contained HCC classroom by board policy. If JAMS can't or won't provide that, the students should be guaranteed assignment to another HCC site.

Anonymous said...

I read "self-contained" the same way as anon at 8:24 pm. But can anyone confirm specific instances of non-HCC kids in the HCC classes at JAMS? Or is this a rumor?

The new appeals process sounds like it's getting much closer to Bellevue's, where appeals are only allowed for things like illness on test day or scoring mistakes. I suspect the removal of FRL from the appeals language is a reflection of their intention to reduce outside private testing. Probably doing so in the name of equity, without understanding it creates another kind of inequity.

Anonymous said...

Oh I think they understand they're creating another kind of inequity. It's just not the kind they care about. Young kids, anxious kids, kids with ADHD - their needs don't matter.

Anonymous said...

How can they justify using SBAC, with all it's problems, as the gatekeeper. Why not look at what other districts like Bellevue use (since they are trying to emulate them in the appeals aspect).

Anonymous said...

"They" are district staff. They think the SBAC is a great test. The only problem in their minds is too many opinionated parents opting their kids out. This is a great solution to their problem. Next up will be requiring SBAC participation to remain in HCC.

CapHill mom said...

Totally agree with Puzzled that it it isn't clear what problem(s) the district is trying to solve by limiting private-testing appeals and also not funding appeals for lower-income families.

All I could come up with is:
1. Reduce the number of kids in HCC? I assume this is a goal because fewer HCC kids over time reduces the district's legal/financial requirements to provide a specialized education for this population
2. Push families and kids to take the SBAC rather than opt out? Unquestionably a district goal and, IMO, a nasty and manipulative way to do it.
3. Ensure that kids who qualify as HCC from an academic standpoint ALSO are good test takers in a crowded room filled with fidgety strangers? Viewed charitably, perhaps someone in SPS HQ wants to prepare kids early for the SAT or GRE experience?
4. Increase economic and racial diversity in HCC by.... narrowing the pipeline for kids to be admitted? I expect this is the primary or secondary goal, but "the solution" makes no rational sense - if fewer kids are admitted under these criteria, then it becomes even more likely that HCC will be filled with the best-prepared test takers.

It seems that the district's view is that unless everybody can do private testing, then no one should - that is a political argument but not an academically sound one in terms of creating an equitable opportunity for all students to succeed in the Seattle Public Schools. Studies of academic achievement consistently show the relevance of family income, the number of books in the home, etc, to prepare kids for starting school. Families, schools and society have a tough job overcoming that reality. However, limiting HCC to stellar test takers doesn't put a dent in that problem either.

So here are some ideas that are not mutually exclusive: invest more in specialized education for underachieving kids, have teachers do more to identify high-performing, lower-income kids who could benefit from Spectrum or HCC, and also create a more personal testing environment so kids can be treated as individuals, which is the real benefit of private testing.


Anonymous said...

The required participation in testing really irks me. So, let's say a parent doesn't know about this rule (a very real possibility considering how confusing district info can be), opts their kid out of testing, and then decides to apply for Advanced Learning. Does the kid then have no chance of getting in? My understanding is that previously, the district would administer achievement tests for Advanced Learning to whomever needed them (new to district or opt-outs).

Anonymous said...

The testing and appeals process uses a lot of district time and resources. From a practical standpoint, limiting appeals may free up time and resources for AL staff to actually focus on improving the programs and services. Also, the policy states that district achievement testing is required, and it included MAP as an example. It does not explicitly state SBAC, the state achievement test, is required. I read it as district achievement testing can not be bypassed, and if there are no SBAC scores, they would take the MAP or ITBS or something, but it would be administered by the district. The wording is somewhat open to interpretation.

Anonymous said...

I am loathe to become the anti-appeal poster, because I agree with all the problems mentioned for shutting down appeals. But I don't agree there are no problems this could solve. The problems it might solve are:

1) improve demographics. I suspect that the demographics of kids who get in on appeal are generally richer and less racially diverse, which means we are giving richer, whiter kids a "double shot." However this is provable, so maybe the district should tell us. It's also never a "one shot" deal. One shot a year. If you have an off day, you can try again the next year.

2) Free up resources for- *gasp*- an advanced learning curriculum. IMO, this is worth it, if true. Who cares if we get all the kids if there's no THERE there to the program. Middle school LA is particularly week, in our experience. But I am not sure it's true. Do appeals really take time? Don't they just have to look at the scores sent in, see if it is an approved provider, and say yes or no? Even if this is 500...how hard can it be?

3) Change the make up of the schools, especially at elementary level. In our time in APP, specialists have gone from being people who pulled out kids who were advanced for extra enrichment to people at the school who nearly exclusively pull out kids who are behind. This is a tremendous loss. I think APP should be the one place in the whole district that concerns itself with kids who are ahead(even if it never was perfect, of course). Of course, I don't have evidence that the make up of kids who get in on appeal is any different than the kids who do not. The district has this information, and the schools know who is getting pulled out. And this may not be what caused it at all- equally plausible is kids who previously qualified but were not so accelerated, and would have been challenged enough at their home schools, no longer stay in them. So they come to APP and are behind in a subject or two not because of anything to do with appeals but because advanced learning at schools has been dismantled during this time so that APP is the only option for most people. If my two options were a little too much or nothing at all, I'd pick a little too much, too.

Requiring participation in district achievement testing is blackmail, IMO. Horrible. And I am not sure kosher given that this is a basic education service.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Argh, loath. Not loathe. I...loathe that particular grammar error.

-sleeper

CliffM said...

I also see no indication of an SBAC requirement. There is no change in 2190SP's reference to type of achievement test to be used.

Without getting into the fairness of the tests ... many more CogAT-tested kids will qualify for HCC/Advanced Learning under this policy change. I wonder whether Stephen Martin has worked up estimates, given the potential school-capacity issues.

Just to repeat, for clarity:
HCC
Just 1 of the 3 CogAT scores need be 98th %ile for eligibility (instead of 2)
Math and reading achievement tests both must be at 95th %ile or above (no change)

Spectrum/Advanced Learners
Just 1 of the 3 CogAT scores need be 87th %ile or above for eligibility (instead of 2)
Just 1 of the 2 achievement tests need be 87th %ile or above (instead of both)

There is what I'd call an odd holdover: the remaining self-contained Spectrum programs will still require reading and math results at 87th %ile or above.

Benjamin Leis said...

The section I quoted in my original post is specific either map k-2 or smarter balanced 3-8 is required.

hschinske said...

I think these changes plus the switch to the SBAC in 3rd grade and the use of the state norms to determine eligibility will tend to raise the bar on who is admitted into HCC.

I suspect it will make the number of students admitted smaller, but essentially at random (well, it won't be random overall, but random as regards their actual level of accomplishment). I don't think the bar will necessarily be raised at all.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

It should be noted the procedure specifies a composite CogAT score.

98th-plus percentile on any one of the following CogAT Form 7 composite scores:
Verbal/Quantitative (VQ), Quantitative/Nonverbal (QN), or
Verbal/Quantitative/Nonverbal (VQN)


....still seems that having only one score will admit more students than under the current policy.

Anonymous said...

How does using composite scores make it easier to qualify? Because before you had to have at lest a 98 in two areas, but now your 99 in one could help carry your 97 elsewhere? If so, that does seem like it would increase the number who qualify...

Anonymous said...

Instead of appeals, parents can focus on test prep. There's more than one way to game the system.

Anonymous said...

I've been told centers like http://hiscorelearning.com/ are fairly popular in Bellevue.

Anonymous said...

I expect that's a direct response to Bellevue's no-appeal policy. It would be easier to order CogAT review books from Amazon.

Anonymous said...

The proposed appeals policy is terrible!!

Is there a way to fight this?

Anonymous said...

Email the members of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee. They're meeting this afternoon and this is on the agenda.

Anonymous said...

Done. I wasn't sure who exactly is on the Curriculum and Instruction Committee, so I sent to Nyland, Tolley, Stephen Martin, and the board.

Here's the text if anyone wants to borrow:

Dear Curriculum and Instruction Committee,

I'm writing to urge you NOT to revise the appeals process for Highly Capable Programs as described in the draft revision to Superintendent Procedures 2190SP: ("Appeals may be submitted only if specific circumstances related to the testing conditions may have impacted student performance OR if there is reason to believe there has been a misapplication/miscalculation of scores. Private test scores may be considered by the appeal committee only if relevant to the circumstances above, but are not required and do not replace District testing. Appeals submitted for any other reason will not be considered.")

Eliminating the option to submit alternate (private) test scores will prevent the proper identification of many, many students who are in fact highly capable (and would benefit greatly from Advanced Learning services) but simply did not test well on their one given test opportunity. Perhaps a student was ill or the parent/guardian wasn't able to get him/her to the testing site on time that morning. Perhaps the student simply didn't test well in a chaotic, noisy group setting. This is particularly relevant when the students are young elementary grade children with little to no testing experience.

Changing the appeals process as outlined above will not create better or more equitable access to the Advanced Learning program, nor will ensure that those deemed eligible for HCC are truly the most capable. Rather, it will simply limit HCC to students who happen to test well in group settings.

Anonymous said...

For those worried that the appeals process is only letting in the lower-scoring kids, both of my APP kids got in on appeal, and they are both 99% on achievement and 99.7 and 99.9% on IQ. I would not be able to appeal the COGAT under the proposed changes, since neither was sick on testing day and no scoring mistakes were made. They were just squirmy 5-year olds who were easily distracted in the group testing. If we had kept them in their neighborhood school for 1st grade so we could try the test again the next year, everyone would have been miserable. Kindergarten was a disaster for both of them- they were bored to tears and were developing behavior problems. While not perfect, getting them into APP has had a hugely positive effect on them.

Anonymous said...

Two points:

I am very concerned that this will just lead to more Cogat test prep. To me that's going to skew things toward privileged families much more than IQ testing does. I wouldn't even know how to prep for an IQ test and it would be obvious to the tester anway. Add to that the elimination of appeals for FRL...and the outcome could be the opposite of what they seek.

Also, are we sure that appeals are really ruled out under most circumstances? Doesn't "specific circumstances related to the testing conditions may have impacted student performance" seem like it could actually be fairly broad? (Again, for privileged families who are savvy about navigating the requirements.)

Anonymous said...

Years ago, our child did group testing on a Saturday morning. According to our child, the proctor did not clearly explain the sample questions on what was the CogAT. My child was pretty confused and the results reflected that. How did we know? We had qualifying scores from the previous year. We used those in an appeal. No private IQ testing required. This was back when students needed to requalify each year if they tested but did not enroll in a program. The revised appeals process would actually cover this situation, but we would be in position of needing private testing. Huh. Anyone expect increased reports of testing inconsistencies with the proposed changes?

Anonymous said...

1:04 above, I agree with your second paragraph. We successfully appealed in Bellevue, so it is untrue that Bellevue has a no appeal policy.

Anonymous said...

With regards to only requiring 1 CogAT composite, I think the change is actually negligible. Current policy is that students must receive two 98s, where those 98s could themselves be composite scores. I'm guessing its very difficult to receive a composite of 98 without an individual subtest scored at 98+, so by just requiring a composite 98 not much has changed.

There was a time in years past when students had to receive individual 98s on the verbal and math. That I would agree was much more difficult. I believe that changed 2 years ago when they moved to CogAT version 7 and introduced the non-verbal subtest, but it may have been earlier.

Anonymous said...

At least in the last 9 years it has never been 98s on both subsections. Before the switch to CogAT 7 they required two 98's out of 3- either on both subsections or on the composite and one subsection. My high school aged child had to take it several times before we decided to switch her, and each time she received a 99 on one section, 97 on the other, and then a 99 composite.

Oldie

Anonymous said...

The following provides an interesting discussion on CogAT composite scores for talent identification:

http://www.shakopee.k12.mn.us/cms/lib07/MN01909221/Centricity/Domain/1643/CogAt%20detailed%20description.pdf

Anonymous said...

Our child's school (I believe like most) now only gives the MAP achievement tests in the Spring. Does anyone know how this will be handled for Advanced Learning qualification? For example, will they use the Spring kindergarten MAP scores for a child testing in first grade for eligibility in 2nd grade, which would be a heck of a lag? Or will the provide additional achievement testing for those passing the CogAT, or accept the upcoming Spring achievement tests scores?

Anonymous said...

They have always used spring MAP scores from the previous year.

Megan Hazen said...

Is this a change for 2016?

Anonymous said...

The Advanced Learning staff want to apply the changes to the current testing session.

Anonymous said...

This is completely wrong, to change testing criteria in the middle of a testing sessions. It is sadly also what I have come to expect of SPS. Good policy implementation let alone customer service is unheard of.

What do we have to do to get a year's notice out to the potential HCC community. Changing the game midstream is not acceptable.

central parent

Anonymous said...

Another thing that is not acceptable is the testing schedule. First, they establish Saturday testing dates months in advance and include very clear language that families must make every effort to keep their appointment on their assigned date(and in good faith, we set aside this date, otherwise we all know it will wreak havoc on the system and results won't be available until May). Then, they don't send out notices of testing times to the first set of schools (Oct 17th) until 11pm on Wednesday night (11/14). They belated realize that some/half/the majority? of their emails have been "blocked". Families that mysteriously did not receive their email because of this will be "rescheduled as soon as possible." The next week, they now realize they can't test everyone at all of these schools on the date they originally published. (They take the tone of c'mon, parents. We can only test 600 students on each date. Why are you expecting to be tested on the day we told you to reserve months ago???) They are unwilling to consider shifting schools to additional dates ahead of time because they have scheduled too many schools on each date. They tell families to simply wait until Wednesday to see if they are still testing on that date, and if not, then "please be patient" and "do not show up"). Further, if you are a squeaky wheel and email them after you've been passed over on your date, they will assign you a new date. However, they will not keep this new date even if you show that your email that says "your new date is X."

You know, some kids get really anxious about this testing. They need to be prepared by their families at least a few days in advance, ya' know? I am getting really pissed off about the way AL is treating families and the standard they apparently hold themselves to. Saying that they are overwhelmed is not an excuse. I am disgusted.

Anonymous said...

As far as I know, testing is a mess every year. They just can't seem to figure it out.

CliffM said...

We had kids tested in the falls of 2009, 2011 & 2012, and I don't remember any problems. One (or two) of those years, we couldn't make the assigned Saturday date, so Advanced Learning scheduled a special test during a school day. Each year, the results were mailed when we had been told to expect them, at the end of January -- before Open Enrollment. (Hmm, or am I dreaming?)

Does someone have the stats on the number of tests administered each year, for the past few years?

Anonymous said...

I agree. We never had trouble like this in 2011 or 2012. We received our results on Feb 1 like clockwork.

H.

Anonymous said...

2013 testing was a mess...

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's only been an issue since Bob Vaughn retired? He left in early 2013.

Anonymous said...

No back then they never had 5000 test and not all kids had Saturday test. All my kids had test at school. And we only appealed our 2e kids reading test with an outside tester. Retested oldest cognitive scores and still 98+ percentile but their SBAC scores were not qualifying, high 80's... Strange as they have been in the program for 9years. Most have been because they were being tested on stuff they learned 2 years prior;-)

These changes should be fought back as inequitable for FRL and 2e kids.

Ugh

Anonymous said...

I can’t figure out the Advanced Learning office. I know they have well intentioned staff. And frequently they get it right. But I’ve also encountered many glaring mistakes and oversights and I can only imagine what additional work they create for themselves. For example once we had to submit an appeal to get them to correctly apply the eligibility rules to the test scores they sent us in the same letter. Once we found out the day before our child was to be tested after we sent emails and left messages that someone had to respond to. This year the policy seems to be “your testing date will be x, but if you don’t hear from us before then, then it’s not x and at some point we’ll let you know when it might be.” I can only imagine the additional number of parents trying to contact them.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if there is a way for us parents to comment on the proposed changes to the appeal process?

I was under the impression the comment window was short and was only in November?

SouthParent

M. L. Y. K. said...

Is anyone else consider homeschooling in order to provide better for their child's needs? I am beginning to think this might be our best option but would be interested in other people's experience with gifted children and homeschooling and curriculum choices.

-Questioning Homeschooling

Anonymous said...

In response to M.L.Y.K. Questioning Homeschooling,

I am considering p/t homeschooling or afterschooling as the best possible solution to meet academic needs. You can read curriculum reviews on the Accelerated Learner Board on The Well-Trained Mind Forum and curriculum options on the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum.

- NEParent