Action needed: Advanced Learning options for West Seattle Elementary Students

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  • #609485

    ChristineB
    Member

    SPS currently surveys recent proposal about Growth Boundaries and also Advanced Learning options for West Seattle and I would like to bring this to your attention. This is relevant for parents of preschooler as well as Elementary students, SPS and private school.

    West Seattle is under served with Advanced Learning options. It’s already a big challenge for West Seattle parents outside the Madison

    area to find local Advanced Learning options for their fast learners. There is a fast student growth in our community and more West Seattle

    students qualify every year for a program that does not offer enough local options.

    Lafayette’s Spectrum program is serving Elementary students living in the Madison attendance area, offers self-contained classrooms for 1st to 5th grade. Self-contained means only qualified students attend, by testing or principals’ choice. Lafayette’s program is strong for years, but placement is not guaranteed. If classrooms are full, your student will not be able to go there.

    Arbor Heights’s Spectrum program is serving Elementary students living in the Denny middle school area. This Spectrum is not self-contained and parents are frustrated to not being offered the same consistency like available to the North end, as well as social factors and the fear teachers won’t be able to meet the needs of the advanced learners as well. Spectrum classrooms can only be self-contained with enough qualified students attending the school. This is a catch 22.

    SPS only offers guaranteed seats in a self contained program for higher testing students (APP). The APP program for students living in West Seattle is located at Thurgood Marshall 7 miles east over the bridge in the Judkins Park neighborhood and the bus ride to school is very long for young students. Some spent more then 2 hours on a bus daily, some a little less by car stuck in traffic on the bridge. I think this is unacceptable.

    About 80 West Seattle students commute to Thurgood Marshall, while about 120 are eligible. I assume, eligible numbers might be higher as many West Seattle students don’t get tested because of the lack of programs in our neighborhood.

    Five year old students would have to do the same commute as Washington state school districts are now required to provide services for highly capable kindergarten students beginning in the 2014/15 school year:

    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=392-170&full=true

    The Growth Boundaries proposal offers an optional APP site for West Seattle at Fairmount Park, but a lack of instructional support for Advanced Learning coming from SPS makes it challenging to start a program at a new school. The central APP sites fear a split will also split the already limited resources. Another argument against a West Seattle location is the small number of students as a big cohort is apparently better for the students.

    Their are other options for West Seattle that would make more sense, like placing an APP program at a more established site like Arbor

    Heights with a very supportive, experienced principle expressing she would like to see the West Seattle APP at her school. Christy Collins

    emailed ‘I have always been concerned our students must travel to Thurgood Marshall for APP. If you are a primary age child, that is

    too far!’

    I would like to bring this to your attention and urge you to participate in the SPS survey (community input ends tomorrow, Friday),

    put “others: Advanced Learning”:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7BKFRS3

    Let the district know your family wants to see a high quality, self-contained Advanced Learning options for your young student in West Seattle. Ideally with a big enough cohort located in an

    established school, with strong, experienced leadership advocating for Advanced Learners like Christy Collins. ;-)

    West Seattle, we have it all, we just have to let SPS know and help them make good decisions on behave of our students and our community.

    Together we can make this work and bring a high quality program to West Seattle that should have been here all along.

    Please comment here if you are one of the West Seattle families interesting in an self-contained Advanced Learning option (Spectrum or APP) in West Seattle, especially if you did not participate in the Advanced Learning testing yet (preschoolers, private school, not interested in commute). We can only advocate for you, if you

    comment here. Tonight is an Advisory board meeting about this at Washington Middle School.

    And please, this thread is not about the Pros and Cons of self-contained Advanced Learning classrooms. If your student is fine and you don’t like self-contained classrooms, don’t move your student to one. If you are against gay marriage, my advice, just don’t marry someone gay! ;-).

    Let parents decide if their highly capable child needs a self-contained program.

    Now it’s the time to speak up, if you want to see this changed. I think it’s broken right now. Let’s fix it.

    Thanks,

    Christine

    Read up on SPS Advanced Learning

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=214087

    #799137

    Momofboys
    Member

    I am a parent of a child that is APP qualified and currently being served through the Spectrum program. We chose to NOT send him to Thurgood because of the distance he would need to travel. It is too long of a school day for him. I am very excited about the possibility of having the APP Program at Fairmount and want to do whatever is necessary to make that program a success. I don’t necessarily agree with putting APP with a current school, as I think we need that program at Fairmount- to boost enrollment there and to also take some of the students from overcrowded schools like Lafayette & Scmitz. I didn’t know about the meeting tonight, is it open to the public? How can I get involved?

    We are definitely looking at this option for next year. I am not concerned about a smaller cohort… but I also don’t want the classes to be mixed .. ie: 3/ 4th grade split. My biggest concern is the move to Madison Middle for APP- as I understand they are having challenges meeting the needs there with their current Spectrum students. Math in particular. I want to make sure that if we move that pathway to Fairmount/ Madison Middle/ then Garfield, that Madison Middle School has the resources to handle these students. Please keep us posted and let me know how I can be involved ! Thanks

    #799138

    ChristineB
    Member

    APP AC Email 13: Reminder! Community Meeting for all Seattle APP Families, Thursday, October 24

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    A reminder that the APP Advisory Committee will sponsor a community meeting:

    Thursday, October 24

    Washington Middle School (Lunchroom)

    2101 S Jackson St

    6:30-8:30 pm

    This meeting will provide:

    information about the District’s proposed changes to enrollment, boundary and school assignment changes dedicated time for you to make comments, ask questions, and offer feedback a forum for the APP community to respectfully hear from each other! The APP AC will collect all of the comments and convey them to District officials and Board members.

    We particularly encourage families with middle and high school students to attend and share their experience with the community as a whole.

    Email your school rep below with any questions you’d like addressed. If you cannot attend, please email the APP AC with your feedback about the plan.

    See you there! APP AC

    #799139

    Lynn
    Participant

    Does Christy Collins think there’s room at Arbor Heights to set aside 5 classrooms for self-contained APP?

    One thing you won’t need to worry about. I’ve discussed this with the Advanced Learning office and they do not intend to send APP-eligible kindergarteners to the program sites. Services will be provided to them in the second half of the year in their original kindergarten classrooms.

    #799140

    ChristineB
    Member

    Lynn, that is good to know SPS was a plan for the Kindergarteners.

    And I’ll have to wait for Christy Collins reply, but will let you know as soon as I know.

    What grade is your child? Are you part of the task force? Are you coming tonight?

    #799141

    Lynn
    Participant

    I was not able to attend last night’s meeting. Can you share what you learned?

    #799142

    wsparento2
    Member

    I agree that an APP WS K-8 or at least K-5 pathway is needed to serve students close to where they live. I think Fairmount Park would be the best location for many reasons. In comparison to Arbor Heights especially for these reasons:

    1. Arbor Heights is at the very edge of the district and of West Seattle so transportation costs and times would be higher. The accessibility to be involved for out-of-neighborhood families would be lower because of the distance and limited public transportation near the school. The central West Seattle location of Fairmount Park on an arterial near the junction is closer to where more students live and easier to access.

    2. Fairmount Park has an opportunity to hire staff members and a principal who are not just supportive of APP but experienced and specially trained to work with this population. They can be selected with this in mind. I understand getting teacher buy-in has been a problem when AL programs have been placed in schools where the staff didn’t originally choose to work with AL or had little or no training for this change.

    3. Arbor Heights is planning to add a STEM program and moving to an interim location. Putting a new APP program in a school where developing and supporting it can be the main focus makes sense.

    4. If APP is to be cohoused with a neighborhood school, it will be easier if it’s that way from the start and not a forced culture change. When programs are added to an existing school there is often conflict or resentment over resources (like classroom space) that wouldn’t be such an issue if the school has the program from day 1.

    #799143

    Lynn
    Participant

    Was there any discussion of the proposed SE and SW optional sites last night?

    #799144

    ChristineB
    Member

    Great input wsparento2. I agree.

    The main reason why Arbor Height would be great is a very supportive principal with a great vision and a strong PTA. This isn’t always easy to find. I also think, AH would be easier to start as the principal, some AL teachers, some resources, like library and about 30 AL students are already there. It’s easier for parents to buy into a school if you can see and ‘touch’ then just an idea. Like STEM last year, where everything seemed last minute and parents got anxious.

    I got the chance to talk to our school board rep Marty McLaren after yesterday’s meeting and she will look into AH as an option to FP. And AH move to a interim site and designing the new building and eSTEM vision would take some focus away from building a strong AL program, but also could be really beneficial, by having great, up-to-date resources. I personally already have a hard time picking between AL and STEM (with one kid in each) and would be happy if I would not have to pick by access to both at the same time.

    But Marty McLaren also ensured me the principal and teachers for Fairmount Park would be hand-picked with the vision of the new school in mind and these principals and staff are really amazing. So, pros and cons to both options.

    One big take away from yesterday’s APP advisory meeting was that many past moves from AL programs to existing schools ended quite hostile against APP and Spectrum. If the principal, staff and PTA isn’t supportive, it’s set up to fail, especially if the AL cohort is very small in the beginning. An APP pathway to APP at Madison was not suggested. It would be smart for us to demand Washington, as this is a established, large enough program.

    There was also a lot of concern about splitting South end APP and diluting the current program strength and cohort. But also understanding that TM is not the most accessible location for WS students.

    Some parents that helped start new AL programs in the past reported that these were heavily discussed in the beginning but started to flourish over the course of 2 to 3 years. I found this very encouraging. I understand the fear and risk parents face by moving their kids to new schools, but someone has to take the risk in the first year and put in the work, so all can benefit from it later. We have to work together, come up with a strong vision if we want this program to succeed. We, the parents have to fill the gaps SPS can’t or won’t fill.

    There are currently 2 task forces advising the board regarding testing and delivery method – and apparently this is the clue to us, where SPS and the Superintendent is heading with this. AL is dominantly white and Asian and better access should help with diversity. One idea. Another, applying a different testing methods. Right now, it is MAP test first, then parents application, then Cog second. Instead SPS could test potential first and academics second. Math and English could be tested separately to allow more ELL students access. All these are currently discussed to reach this diversity goal. Or administering the same test to all students in all schools without parents application. This was tried in the past with the result of more white students qualifying into APP.

    The current school board is really open to suggestions, ready to act on what we demand, as long there is a real demand, so it’s our responsibility to let them know now and follow up. I am trying my best to inform everyone I know, research options, look for demand and advocating for a APP site in West Seattle, if this makes sense. I am still researching.

    So the big question is, could a West Seattle APP grow a big enough cohort. Most of the 80 WS families currently attending TM are worried trading high quality instruction, leadership and cohort in for accessibility and most likely won’t move their students away from TM and their class mates. This particularly applies for parents of 4th and 5th grade students.

    How strong can this program be from the get go?

    Will it be self-contained? Mixed age?

    Who is the principal? What is his/her experience level, vision and so on?

    If these questions can’t be answered in time, TM students will stay put.

    So, new APP families would have to build the core for the new program.

    How many are there?

    How many did not test because of the lack of access?

    How many AL students needs are currently met in regular ed like Schmitz Park, STEM and private schools?

    Would these parents be willing to move their kids to a self-contained AL program if it is offered in WS?

    How many years will it take to create a big enough cohort?

    And how many future WS students will be in need of an APP program?

    How can we find this out?

    Maybe by offering a second testing window for WS in spring 2014?

    Maybe by more current and future APP/AL/private school parents attending community meetings from APP and Marty McLaren?

    Getting more WS parents involved in this discussion?

    #799145

    Lynn
    Participant

    I think you need a survey of West Seattle families whose children have APP-qualified MAP scores. Maybe you could ask the Advanced Learning office to do that?

    Something that hasn’t occurred to me before – what if you just created an APP early elementary site in West Seattle? (Maybe grades one through three?) More families might choose it if they knew the students would mostly move to Thurgood Marshall together for fourth and fifth grades. That would give them a couple of years to transition into the larger cohort and prepare to go to Washington together. Would that be an improvement over the current situation for you? I think it would be easier to provide the necessary resources (library, after-school programs) for a smaller grade band – so Fairmount Park might work.

    #799146

    ChristineB
    Member

    Lynn, I thought about this too, but I heard lots of parents are opposed to move their kids around too often, from preschool to kindergarten to APP 1st-3rd @fp to 4th-5th APP@TM and 6th to APP@WA. That seems a lot.

    But I have to admit, I also like this as an option. Keeping young kids closer to home is a big advantage. And the benefits of a big cohort really kick in at 4th+5th grade, where less parents stress out about a long bus ride.

    #799147

    ChristineB
    Member

    Today 10/25 at 6 pm is the deadline to the Seattle School Board community input survey on Growth Boundaries.

    Feedback to the addition of a APP site in West Seattle is also encouraged. The proposed location is Fairmount Park.

    Take a minute and share your input:

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/7BKFRS3

    #799148

    wsparento2
    Member

    Thanks for the summary of the meeting. I really like the 1-3 APP at Fairmount Park idea with access to TM and Washington for 4-8. Is Fairmount Park going to open as K-5 or roll up? A WS APP program there might start as 1-3 and have the option to grow to 4-5 in a few years if the cohort is large enough. I know busing out of WS is a barrier to enrollment for early elementary APP grades in our community.

    #799149

    pocketzena
    Member

    Thank you Christine B for putting this on the blog. It is critical that all interested West Seattle families speak up about advanced learning opportunities. The district is growing fast, and the district needs to know how many kids/families out there are interested in having way more advanced learning opportunities in West Seattle. I did attend the very last part of the Advisory Committee community meeting. The majority of APP folks there feel like starting a program at Madison would dilute and weaken the program at Washington, which I found difficult to understand. They also felt that the number of APP eligible students in West seattle was purely speculative, and that decisions could not be made well based on speculation. There is concern that the staff/principle at Madison would not be supportive of an APP cohort there, which may or may not be true.

    Being new to APP, I feel these are legitimate concerns, but this is also an opportunity to finally bring more advanced learning opportunities for more students on this side of the bridge. Why not have a vision for the future to include Madison, WSHS and Fairmont Park as APP options. People can still choose to go to Washington/Garfield, but why not be able to stay in you local community ? Yes, it is true then APP will not “be the same” as it has historically been, but why not make it more accessible to others, with different testing/selection and locations?

    Please speak up if you have a kid in APP or any kind of AL, or want to put your kid in an AL program in West Seattle, as the majority of the APP parents at the meeting were opposed to the idea of the WS pathway. If there is a big enough cohort, we can have a high quality program start here and grow in the years to come.

    #799150

    Lynn
    Participant

    If you use different qualification requirements and a different delivery method, it won’t be APP. That’s fine – something else might be great. How would it be different from Spectrum? Or do you want guaranteed access to Spectrum?

    There is some data available on the number of APP-qualified students who stay in West Seattle for ALO or Spectrum programs. You can find it at the bottom of the front page of the Advanced Learning Website.

    #799151

    ChristineB
    Member

    I would like to share the letter from the Thurgood Marshall PTA, so you can read their recommendation. Even I am part of this PTA, and there are some good points, I can’t agree 100 %.

    Hello Thurgood Marshall Families,

    In the final draft of its Growth Boundaries proposal released last Friday, November 1, Seattle Public Schools has maintained its recommendation for optional APP elementary pathways in the Southeast (Wing Luke) and West Seattle (Fairmount Park), without a guarantee of additional resources to support these programs. As far as we know today, students in those neighborhoods could continue to attend Thurgood Marshall next year, but we have no further information.

    North-end APP elementary is housed at Lincoln until 2017, and then they are moved to Wilson-Pacific.

    To read the details behind the proposals, see the SPS Growth Boundaries page:

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=06f896a2620f34f613b4e53dfa6a5558&pageid=294923&sessionid=06f896a2620f34f613b4e53dfa6a5558

    If you have an opinion about this proposal, NOW is the time to share your thoughts with the District and School Board. The proposal will go to the School Board tomorrow evening, November 6, with a final vote on November 20.

    For your convenience, we have provided the email addresses of the School Board Directors and key decision-makers in the School District. We have also included at the bottom of this email a copy of the letter sent by the Thurgood Marshall PTA to the District on October 25. Please feel free to use all or any portions of this letter in your email.

    Thank you in advance for taking the time to share your opinion.

    Sharmila Williams & Tasha Irvine

    Co-Presidents, Thurgood Marshall PTA

    Contact the School Board & District Staff:

    School Board Directors:

    betty.patu@seattleschools.org

    sharon.peaslee@seattleschools.org

    sherry.carr@seattleschools.org

    harium.martin-morris@seattleschools.org

    michael.debell@seattleschools.org

    kay.smith-blum@seattleschools.org

    martha.mclaren@seattleschools.org

    School District Administrators:

    Superintendent Jose Banda

    superintendent@seattleschools.org

    Assistant Superintendent, Teaching & Learning, Michael Tolley

    mftolley@seattleschools.org

    Director Curriculum & Instruction, Shauna Heath

    slheath@seattleschools.org

    Interim Supervisor, Highly Capable Services, Stephen Martin

    sbmartin@seattleschools.org

    GrowthBoundaries@seattleschools.org

    SAMPLE LETTER FROM THE THURGOOD MARSHALL PTA:

    October 25, 2013

    Dear Superintendent Banda and School Board Directors,

    We recognize that managing growth and capacity within Seattle Public Schools is the driving force behind the new Growth Boundaries initiative. However, we are greatly concerned that the rapid roll-out of proposals will compromise the quality, consistency and equity of APP services under the latest October 11th plan.

    We, in the Thurgood Marshall Elementary PTA, believe that we have a strong, diverse, academically-challenging program supported by our outstanding administration and teaching staff. The school successfully serves APP, Special Ed, ELL, and General Ed/ALO students under one roof.

    At this time, we do not understand the logic behind creating new pathways for our APP students since capacity is not an issue in the South End. We have worked hard over the last four years to create a strong and cohesive cohort at all grade levels, which would be dismantled under your new proposal. Creating two new APP pathways right now would diminish the strength of our program and require you to spread limited District resources across three different South-End locations . How can three small, fragmented, co-housed elementary sites be equitable to a large, stand-alone APP elementary school?

    We surveyed our APP families to understand the relative importance of location and quality of APP services. The respondents included 44 West Seattle and 11 SE Seattle parents. While a portion of these families may want to have APP closer to home, they do not want to sacrifice quality for location. Our survey results indicate that our APP families value:

    • Strong administrative leadership and teaching staff

    • Rigorous curriculum to meet the needs of the APP learner

    • Cohort size large enough to support self-contained classrooms

    • Consistent delivery of APP across the District

    We support the District’s intent to expand APP services to West Seattle and SE Seattle, but not at the detriment of all of the families being served at Thurgood Marshall, including those residing in West Seattle and SE Seattle. Until a program can draw sufficient resources and students of its own, it will only under serve the students it is trying to support.

    Furthermore, our Special Ed, ELL, and General Ed/ALO families have expressed concerns about proposed changes, but we have not had the time to engage this group of diverse families to understand their perspective because the District is moving so quickly. Just as the District is still determining how to better deliver Special Ed services, we ask that you take the same care when planning the future of APP services. Please consider waiting until you have the results from your Advanced Learning Task Forces, which will recommend how best to deliver APP across the District, rather than rushing to fix a problem that is not broken. Engaging with our families from West Seattle and SE Seattle will also help you understand their specific needs as you look to expand these services in their neighborhoods.

    Thank you for considering the opinions of the Thurgood Marshall PTA as you finalize the proposal.

    Sharmila Williams & Tasha Irvine

    Co-Presidents

    Thurgood Marshall Elementary PTA

    #799152

    marco
    Participant

    After getting this mail from the TM PTA I sent an email to all the people mentioned and told them how excited I am for West Seattle to get an optional APP pathway ;)

    #799153

    ChristineB
    Member

    Please read up on the public comments submitted to the school board.

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/13-14%20agendas/110613agenda/20131106_GrowthBoundaries_AttachmentD.pdf?se

    There is a lot of sympathy for West Seattle families and a lot of great input. There is some valid fear from current TM families to lose resources and cohort size by splitting the South-end program.

    I currently try to connect with WS families that are not aware of the decision. Families currently not attending TM.

    I am also trying to find out more about these numbers. Apparently critical numbers are disclosed, making it even harder to make a conscious decision. I don’t see the point busing whole classrooms of West Seattle students to TM, if we could grow a strong program in WS. But I see a strong point in not splitting TM for a mediocre local program with only 5 to 10 APP students enrolled in each grade. It would need a fortuneteller to know these numbers for sure, but I would hope the district might know MAP scores for WS and potential number of APP.

    Many parents would probably consider a strong, local Spectrum program over APP at TM, if it would be accessible to them (as Lafayette isn’t).

    Helping Arbor Heights in creating a strong program would be one priority to better serve WS in the near future. Committing to making it self-contained for one or two years would attract families that did not want to buy in in the past.

    Another option would be placing a Spectrum program at a WS school with the highest testing MAP scores, creating a viable cohort and self-contained classrooms. K-8 STEM might be a good option for a Spectrum program as the middle school pathway isn’t figured out yet.

    The district does not provide funding and training for APP. I have a hard time buying into the argument of diluting these resources. There are barely any. If it’s mentoring by more experienced teachers, I agree, but how can you fear to lose something that isn’t there in the first place. The Advanced Learning office has only funding for the testing process. There just isn’t anything to lose. Maybe with resources it’s more about the donations by parents that will be less with splitting the program.

    I think, an experienced principal and great teachers can create an APP program in WS that can provide well for our advanced learners. The risk is leaving TM for a not established program in the first years, but the risk is very low for families that did not consider TM as a viable option before and for all the students not tested unaware an option, or in demand of a local option.

    Placing the APP program at Fairmount Park could help build a strong new school community there, relieve crowding at Lafayette, and allow more WS children to get the AL services they need.

    There is not much help provided by the district to start the program so the core work would have to be done by an outstanding principal, staff and parents. And it will be a lot of work, but could in the end lead to a program that could be very attractive even for students outside WS. We have a very supportive, family-friendly community and can make things like this happen.

    There are a lot of unknown variables in this decision making it really hard to find a straight solution. Finding these answers, discussing this with other WS families and then recommending a clear vision is my goal for now.

    There is still time for your input until 11/20. See the school board and district email addresses above and give your personal input.

    #799154

    ChristinB – helpful forum, thank you. Per your post, and seeing NO mention of APP@FP in materials for final Board vote on 11/20 and lots of emails lobbying to “hit pause” on any changes to all APP for 2014, I decided you were right – here’s my personal input I emailed this morning:

    DATE: 17 November 2013

    TO: Superintendent Banda, District Administrators, and Board Directors

    WHO: I am a parent in West Seattle concerned about program access for highly capable learners

    REQUEST: Amendment to Re-Instate Initial proposal to add a West Seattle APP pathway for 2014/15.

    ISSUE: Needs of West Seattle highly capable learners are not being met by current program access.

    • In 2009, the Legislature recognized that “for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.” [RCW 28A.185]

    • Last May, SSPI Randy Dorn informed district Superintendents and every school principal that, “Beginning with the 2014–15 school year, all districts are required to provide highly capable programs and services for students in Grades K–12”.

    • School Board policy D12.00 requires “program sites be distributed geographically…to provide equitable…. program access.” Policy C56.00 requires endeavoring to “3. Place programs where students reside.”

    • West Seattle-ites’ access to APP at Thurgood Marshall Elementary requires commutes in heavy traffic over the West Seattle Bridge – school bus rides I’m told can often be 45 minutes – one way.

    • Though two Spectrum elementary programs are in West Seattle, Lafayette is perpetually oversubscribed; Arbor Heights is a struggling startup – they are a local near-alternative for very few.

    • West Seattle elementary families, faced with these access challenges, make tough choices, and sometimes find alternatives (eg. private, parochial, homeschool) until middle school. This might explain the anomaly seen in your density maps showing where APP-enrolled students live (10/2012) (scroll to p.7 “1-5” elementary, p.8 “6-8” middle school maps.) Each of the six large geo-clusters on the middle school map is mirrored on the elementary, except West Seattle, which shows almost no elementary enrollment. Do all of our kids wait until 5th grade to jump into the 98th percentile, or is something else going on?

    • Dramatic new housing construction boom in West Seattle, with no added mass-transit and same one bridge bottleneck – will make it soon, if not already, untenable for SPS to continue to require small children in WS to make this commute in order to access basic education.

    Taken together, these issues constitute a pressing need to add APP capacity in West Seattle yesterday, if not before – calls to “hit pause” and “table all changes for APP in 2014” do not represent us stakeholders.

    CONCERNS: COHORT

    At the end of October, the APP Advisory Council (APP AC) wrote Superintendent Banda and the School Board to recommend that “all decisions concerning APP should be tabled for 2014. If the District feels it must move forward at this time, then the Committee strenuously objects to: 1. Optional pathways because they will not have an adequate cohort size.”

    I’ve not yet seen the analysis behind this statement, but I feel certain two particular data points are not even on their radar, but which are vital to any considerations of cohort size in West Seattle:

    1) The number of children who are currently known (to their parents/themselves) to be APP-eligible, but who have not ID’d to the school district (this is my family; I know of others.) Serious considerations for West Seattle families include:

    • bus time, especially for smaller children

    • safety of travel route – across the WSBridge & I-5

    • overall travel time (caregivers, students, and non-APP siblings in sum)

    • separation distance, especially for smaller children (between caregiver and school)

    • neighborhood concerns

    • co-location issues

    • socio-economic equity & gap issues

    • friendships and playdate logistics

    • after-school activities/logistics difficulties

    • logistics difficulties with non-APP-siblings’ schools

    • greatly diminished ability to volunteer/ contribute to school community, and

    2) The number of children who don’t even test (this was my family) or determine eligibility, because

    • elementary at Thurgood Marshall is not considered viable for their families (see #1, above),

    • the two Spectrum programs in West Seattle are either perpetually oversubscribed, or in-name-only/lacking resources (i.e. can’t get in vs. not sure want to)

    • families, unplugged from SPS and/or AL, are unaware of testing and rigid timing

    • dissuaded from SPS at all turns, other options – parochial, private, homeschooling – are found.

    This helps explain why the West Seattle portion of the density map showing where currently enrolled elementary APP students live is white/empty. This is also why it would be a serious error to use these maps individually, at face value, to show compliance with policy C56.00, or worse, as rationale for killing an optional APP @ Fairmont Park in 2014.

    Determining whether a cohort size is inadequate, adequate, or optimal depends, I think, on your perspective – eg. if you are the student , the parent, or the cost manager. The APP AC asserts that the “minimum cohort” for APP (1-5) is 250 students. A majority of the 2012 Advanced Learning Task Force found 200 to 250 to be “an approximate minimum size for an APP elementary (1-5.) However, the highly capable schools I toured between drafting this letter all cap their class sizes between 16-20 students, suggesting they consider a cohort around 192 as optimal . The asynchronous development that is hallmark of highly capable learners can mean (widely) differentiated instruction is quite necessary. Best accomplished in a smaller class, parents vie for the opportunity to essentially pay down their child’s class sizes to 192. Which is almost 25% lower than the APP AC’s minimum cohort size, and well into their “inadequate cohort” zone.

    Highly capable area schools

    Grd Cohort

    1 16 16

    2 20 20

    3 20 20

    4 20 20

    5 20 20

    subt 96 96

    totl 192

    “minimum 250” per APP AC*

    Grd Cohort dif.

    1 20 20

    2 20 20

    3 25 25

    4 30 30

    5 30 30

    subt 125 125

    totl 250 58

    * distribution mine

    Now, these varying “minimum cohorts” can help lower decision risk by putting boundaries around it. First, start with current APP enrollment at Thurgood Marshall. Assume a Fairmont Park option would pull out 40% (a guess, not knowing actual #s of WS families in APP, or the number of 4th/5th graders who elect to stay at TM. This number could also become a managed target to ensure a minimum cohort.) Now, add to APP@ Fairmont Park the number of APP-eligible currently enrolled in Spectrum West Seattle. Using the range of 200 – 250 recommended by the 2012 AL task force, the Cohort Challenge for a new APP path in West Seattle falls between 39 and 89 new APP enrollees.

    TM FP FP FP APP at

    a b c

    330 APP at TM 2013/14

    (132) 132 132 132 assume 40% opt FP

    19 19 19 #AHG inSpectrum-L

    10 10 10 #AHG inSpectrum-AH

    198 161 161 161 Subtotl

    (200) (200) (250) Min.cohort range

    (192) Area hc schools1-5

    (2) (39) (89) (31) *Cohort Challenge*

    2013/14 APP Enrollment

    2013/14 Spectrum

    2012 AL Task Force majority favored an approximate minimum size for an APP elementary (1-5) of 200 – 250, and a minimum 2-3 classrooms per grade, with the possible exception of first grade (ie less another 16-20.)

    Concerns over achieving a minimum cohort at a new optional APP path in West Seattle, and maintaining one at Thurgood Marshall, no longer requires making a “build it and they will come” leap of faith. Instead, the question has become much simpler, answerable via probabilities or survey, and actionable:

    How likely is it that between 39 and 89 new APP-qualified students will be found in West Seattle?

    Quite.

    Although other possible concerns have been raised, there is now no time to research and address, but prima facie they appear to be red herrings, assuming good management. It’s been a revelation to discover the APP AC, and I look forward to working with them in the future.

    Finally, a sincere thanks to you and your staffs for all of the time and effort put into this process – from what I’ve seen this past week, it has been prodigious. Here’s hoping you have capacity for a little more!

    Sincerely,

    sleepyinseattle

    #799155

    while trying to fix tables, decided to delete it all, and of course hit send post:) No links, no heatmaps here…Sorry.

    #799156

    wsparento2
    Member

    Sleepy in Seattle,

    The plan has been clarified see the link below. APP and Spectrum “blend” to be offered at FP next year.

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/13-14%20agendas/112013agenda/20131120_GrowthBoundaries_AttachmentB.pdf

    Your number crunching and points are very helpful. Thank you!

    #799157

    wsparento2,

    Thank YOU! So THAT’s why it appeared APP@FP had been pulled off the table…it HAD! And was in the hands of the Superintendant, whose purview includes program placement decisions – I had no idea. Well, WOO HOO! I really am sleep deprived right now, but feel like banging pots a la New Years!

    now sleepy AND speechless in Seattle!!

    #799158

    Lynn
    Participant

    Sleepy in Seattle,

    I have a few questions and some information for you,

    1) What do you mean by neighborhood concerns and co-location issues?

    2) What are your concerns about socio-economic equity and gap issues? How would locating a program in West Seattle alleviate this concern?

    3) Are you aware that parents in public schools can’t “pay down” class sizes? These classrooms will be the largest in West Seattle. Yes – that will greatly limit the differentiation available. Adding another program (Spectrum) in the classrooms will expand the range of differentiation needed too.

    Enrollment Data

    56 West Seattle students enrolled at Thurgood Marshall last

    year.

    9 AHG students enrolled in West Seattle ALO programs this year.

    29 AHG enrolled in West Seattle Spectrum programs this year.

    It’s possible that there are another 106 1st through 5th grade students in West Seattle that could qualify for APP. Unless they tested this fall, they won’t qualify for the 2013-14 school year though. It’s very unlikely the majority of those 56 students at TM will return to a smaller program in West Seattle.

    I’d be really interested to hear what you think this blended service delivery method will look like. Someone from the district told me new elementary school principals are hired six months before school starts – so you can expect to start planning in March.

    Good luck.

    #955219

    ScottElliff
    Participant

    The plan has been clarified see the link below. APP and Spectrum “blend” to be offered at FP next year.

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/13-14%20agendas/112013agenda/20131120_GrowthBoundaries_AttachmentB.pdfwritemyessaytoday.net

    Your number crunching and points are very helpful. Thank you!

    Hello,

    Where can I find the updated plan? I’ve seen someone posted on the forums about the Advanced Learning Task Force Update. I’d appreciate any information. Thanks.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  ScottElliff.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  ScottElliff.
    #955222

    ScottElliff
    Participant

    Hello,

    Where can I find the updated plan? I’ve seen someone posted on the forums about the Advanced Learning Task Force Update. I’d appreciate any information. Thanks.

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