Monday, July 20, 2009

Revised High School Math Requirements

When the State Board of Education recently increased the high school math credit requirements for graduation to three credits the wrote the rules in such a way that students who took a high-school-level math class without credit as an eighth-grader were required to repeat that same course for credit in high school. In Seattle, that would mean that students who took Integrated 1 or those who will take Algebra 1 in eighth grade would have to take the course again in high school to fulfill the graduation requirements.

Of course, that wouldn't be necessary if the students were awarded high school credit for the class, but, in defiance of state law, Seattle Public Schools does not allow that.

Fortunately, on Friday, the state board gave students more flexibility in their choices for high-school math so it will not be necessary for students to repeat classes. Now students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and don't have to repeat the eighth-grade class if they don't want to.

It bears repeating the facts of this situation as they present themselves here in Seattle.

1. For about four years now State law has required school districts to award credit for high school level classes taken in middle school if the student or the student's family petitions for the credit.

2. Seattle Public Schools, in contradiction to the state law, refuses to grant credit for the classes. They claim that they don't know what is taught in the classes and they don't know if the teacher is certified to teach high school level classes. Of course, they will neither make a determination of either point nor will they accept evidence of either point.

3. The Board, at the September 23, 2008 meeting of the curriculum and instruction committee, wanted to amend District policies to comply with the state law and allow students to earn high school credit in middle school. The District staff, specifically Michael Tolley, asked the Board to delay the policy revision saying that he had been working on integrated grading policy reform for two years and he would be ready to introduce it in January for a vote in February.

4. The Board accepted the delay despite the fact that this element is not connected to any other part of grading policy and is not integrated into it in any way. The thinking was that the change would be effective for classes beginning 2009, so waiting a few months from September to February would not change anything. The policy change would still be in place for the start of school in 2009.

5. The integrated grading policy reform was not ready in January or February. Mr. Tolley promised it in March for a vote in April.

6. The integrated grading policy reform was not ready in March or April. Mr. Tolley promised it in May for a vote in June.

7. Mr. Tolley finally admitted to the Board that the integrated grading policy reform will not, in fact, be ready in time for the start of school in 2009.

8. The Board has not taken any further action on the question of high school credit for classes taken in middle school. The policy change will not be in place for the start of school in 2009. A whole year has passed and the Board was not able to strike a single sentence from Policy D46.01 that would bring the District into compliance with state law.

12 comments:

Deidre F. said...

"Now students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and don't have to repeat the eighth-grade class if they don't want to."

In years past kids didn't have to repeat the 9th grade math that they took in 8th grade, they just didn't get HS credit for it. In other words if a kid took INTI in 8th grade, Freshmen year of HS they took INT2, and then as sophomores they took INT3.

Most of the kids who take INTI in 8th grade do so so they can be on the college track and be able to take higher level math in 11th and 12th grade. Thus they fulfill the three year math requirement without ever repeating a class.

If a child was not on a college track or had no plans of taking higher level math courses in HS, they probably wouldn't elect to take INTI (now AlgebraI) in middle school.

At least that is how I understand it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The point is that we have a state law mandating this issue. I don't really care what the district's reasoning is. Students should be allow credit whereever it is granted by the state. The Board should have disallowed the delay based on the fact that the district has not - with any valid reason - been in compliance with state law.

It sure would be great to pick and choose which district policy we as parents would like to ignore.

SPSMom said...

So why doesn't the board just make the district comply with the law? The disctrict had their chance, they blew it, now time for the board to take responsibility.

Deidre F. said...

I was not defending the district in their delay in allowing MS students to get credit for HS classes that they take and pass. In fact I have lobbied several board members to take a stand, and written MGJ. My kid is one of those kids who is not receiving credit this year, and we are very frustrated. I was just keeping the facts straight. You do not necessarily need to repeat a math class in HS that you already took in MS, you just don't get HS credit for that class.

Charlie Mas said...

I think I know what happened. The State Board apparently did a poor job when they re-wrote the high school graduation requirements. The previous version of their new rules (accidently) required students to re-take the classes. They have fixed that mistake in this second version.

dan dempsey said...

Why do these central admin folks not even get the obvious correct?

O.K. get ready to raise hands and vote. All for greater centralized control to bring about increased achievement vote now.

We are apparently just gluttons for continuing insanity.

Check 78 year-old Deborah Meier's opinion here.

SpedWatch said...

According to my reading, and I'm no lawyer, the school board is actually correct in its interpretation, denying credit for courses finished in middle school. Here's the article from the Seattle Times Online detailing the new ruling. It was hard to get a link, so I'll post it as is. Evidently (according to the Times), most specifically NO CREDIT was to be given for classes taken in middle school. A repeat of the class in high school was required and was indeed the previous law. Now, with the new regulation, there's still no credit, but you can start at different levels... as Deidre noted was her experience anyway.



The state Board of Education has made a minor revision in high-school mathcredit requirements.


During a meeting in Gig Harbor on Friday, the board gave students more flexibility in their choices for highschool math.

The board decided earlier that beginning with the class of 2013, high-school students will be required to earn three credits of math to receive a diploma.
When the requirement was changed, the state rule said students who took highschool-level math classes without credit as eighthgraders were required to repeat the same courses for credit in high school.

The state board decided Friday that students can choose to start with a different math class in high school and don’t have to repeat the eighth-grade class if they don’t want to.


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wseadawg said...

Somewhat Off Topic, but here are two articles everyone on this blog should read (IMHO):

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-bracey/mayoral-control-of-school_b_240487.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/what-frank-mccourt-could_b_241331.html

old salt said...

In December, the SBE voted on new math requirements for high school graduation. At the time, it was noted that the new policy changed the treatment of middle school students taking high school level math courses. The recent vote corrected that mistake. These requirements will affect students entering 9th grade this fall. They have not been applied yet.

The new graduation requirements do not affect the granting of credit for high school level courses in middle school. That is addressed in sections 4 & 5 in RCW 28A.230.090.

Charlie Mas said...

The way that the State Board initially wrote the graduation requirement impacted students who took the high school courses in middle school without credit, but did not adversely impact the students who took the high school courses in middle school for credit.

According to state law, students are supposed to have the option of deciding whether they get the credit for the course or not. Perhaps the State Board presumed that they would all want the credit and therefore they didn't consider the possibility that a student would not want the credit when they first wrote the new requirements.

Deidre F. said...

My son took and passed INTI in 8th grade at Kellogg MS in Shoreline. Had he decided to go to a Shoreline HS this year he would have received HS credit for that course. He would have also received HS credit for the two years of Spanish that he took. But he will not go to a Shoreline HS he will go to a Seattle HS, Hale, where he will not receive any credit for any of those classes. It's very frustrating, and I'm appalled that SPS feels that they don't have to follow state law. The longer we are part of this district the more frustrated I get.

dan dempsey said...

wseadawg,

In regard to Mayoral control and the illusion of improvement. Here is long, long, time NYC ed advocate 78 year-old Deborah Meier's opinion.