Saturday, February 25, 2006

[random] Initial results - Unexplored region, indeed; part 2

original map photo, iStockPhoto - Copyright: nick belton [The 2nd installment of aforementioned long multi-part parenting-related post with boring self-absorbtion and introspection.
  • Part 1
  • Part 3
  • You have been warned.]
    So, in an attempt to pin down the possible causes of The Boy's problems in school, we scheduled an evaluation with an outside psychologist. We also signed him up for the Seattle school district's Advanced Learning Program evaluation, figuring that it might also shed some light on things. Well, we started that ball rolling back in November (scheduling the psychologist for an initial four sessions) and December (the ALP testing). Right before our first session with the psychologist, we got the ALP results back and some bells began to go off. Even before we got the official results back, we knew The Boy did well. You see, the school district's Advanced Learning Program uses a 2-tier model (for full-time academic programs): Spectrum & APP. Spectrum is an accelerated math and reading program hosted by certain schools - they don't typically go too much beyond grade level, and it's a much narrower bell-curve of kids that the teachers have to deal with: bright kids who're interested in and place value upon academics. Hey, even if the kids aren't interested, it's a sure bet that their parents are - the testing is entirely volunary. Spectrum is a 'pull out' program - the kids stay together as a cohort within grades at the school - and we figured that'd provide a more rigorous environment for The Boy. Then he got invited to participate in the 2nd round of ALP testing. This means that he qualified for the Spectrum program; the 2nd round would determine if he was qualified for the APP program. At each level of pedagogy, the APP is housed in a separate school, one each for grade school, middle school & high school - and every subject for each grade is accellerated by 2 grade levels. We had some mixed feelings about this - yeah, the academics'd be great, but we were worried about the stress, and, honestly, the 'otherness' of APP. These schools are kind of like Dr X's mansion, sheltering mutants from a world that doesn't understand or feels threatened by them. No one wants to raise a mutant, right? Therefore, it was with some (mixed) relief when we got the school district's results. As surmised, he'd easily qualified for Spectrum, but there was a pretty substantial gap between his reading score (good, but low enough to disqualify him from APP - and lower than we'd expected) and his math score (which was well within APP limits). Armed with the ALP results, we went to the psychologist, pretty sure what we'd find. At this point, we were mostly hoping to find strategies we could use to manage The Boy, and help him to moderate his own behavior in the classroom. We went ahead and scheduled a meeting with The Boy's teacher for the same day we were to get had the psychologist's results. The testing (we hoped) would provide us with a framework within which we could plan our next steps with his teacher - his teacher readily agreed to this. In the meantime, we would check out the 2 Spectrum schools where we'd qualify for transportation, and see which one would provide a better fit. We could appeal the ALP's decision and try and get him qualified for APP, but didn't really see the need: The Boy was bright (which we knew) and probably just needed a little extra challenge. Spectrum should provide that, we thought. Over the next couple of weeks, I checked out the 2 Spectrum schools and decided that while both had their own strengths and weaknesses, one seemed quite stronger than the other. This decision made, we began filling out the paperwork for the open-enrollment period. Then we got the psychologist's results. I'm glad we didn't mail in the paperwork - according to her tests, he was well within APP limits. Well within. She had some concerns as well. [Too be continued]

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