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Friday, August 03, 2012

Friday Open Thread

Good Friday to you and here's to a lovely weekend with the Blue Angels (thanks for protecting us boys despite the noise), the Olympics (a shout-out to my vertically-challenged peep, Gabby Douglas - you made us proud), and the weather (still not hot enough but I'm from Arizona).  

An editorial over at the UW Daily where opinion editor, Miles Liatos, did the research and says No to charter schools.  I knew I liked those kids.

Last weekend to get those ballots in.  Keep in mind, that several races CAN be decided in the primary if any candidate gets more than half the votes.  This includes State Superintendent and judges.  Info here on this confusing issue of where there are voters guides (some just on-line) and some that include statewide issues (not all counties do) from the Times.

Fun thing to do this weekend - the Seattle Great Wheel, our new ferris wheel, will be putting on a half-hour light display tonight and very night of Fleet Week at 10 p.m.  Even if you don't ride it, a pretty show for free.

57 comments:

David said...

That UW Daily editorial is good. It covered the 2009 Stanford study showing charter schools hurt more than help on average, but also it had some some other data I did not know, such as how much it can cost in legal fees when the state tries to shut down a poor performing charter school.

StopTFA said...

Who ought there thinks that, now that TFA alum Chris Carter is principal, Aki will have a passel of temp TFAers? Yeah, thought so.

Give Aki students REAL teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Banda said Cris Carter is going to Mercer.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Aki already have a couple of TFA "kids" on staff?

Oompah

Anonymous said...

Cris Carter is going to Mercer

Actually he is going BACK to Mercer; he's been there once before.

May be a better fit for him.

HIMS Parent

StopTFA said...

Oops, I meant Mercer. Either way, after reading TFA's schmoozy emails, I'm sure he'll want hire a few to keep his cred with TFA. Not too concerned about his cred with students, teachers, and families.

StopTFA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

re "Cris (sic) Carter... Mercer may be a better fit for him."

Can you please explain why you would say that, HIMS Parent?

-Another HIMS Parent

Carol Simmons said...

Times article Aug. 2nd

State to get grants to pay for AP tests for part of the fees charged to low-income students who take Advanced Placement tests. "The grants are expected to pay up to $38 per exam for as many as three exams per student."

Does anyone know how much each exam costs?

Thank you

Carol

Melissa Westbrook said...

When my sons took the AP tests, they were $80 apiece so a high fee. The $38 will help. I believe some individual high schools kick in more money to try to bring that down further.

Anonymous said...

RE: Chris Carter.

I never got the sense that he was a fan of APP and going to a school without this program may be a better fit for him overall.

HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan said...

Another HIMS Parent -- the APP program issue "fit" was always my impression too. For APP to work well in a school, the principal has to not only see the benefit of, and like the presence of, the program, but ideally also has to be able to see the ways in which the APP program and the school's other programs can benefit each other. It has always baffled me, for instance, that kids at Eckstein have more accelerated math opportunities than HIMS kids do. Presumably, the kids at BOTH schools need the flexibility -- but only Eckstein gets it. I don't know the genesis of the problem, but to me it has the feel of someone who was less willing to push for maximum opportunity for accelerated students.

Jan said...

Another HIMS Parent -- the APP program issue "fit" was always my impression too. For APP to work well in a school, the principal has to not only see the benefit of, and like the presence of, the program, but ideally also has to be able to see the ways in which the APP program and the school's other programs can benefit each other. It has always baffled me, for instance, that kids at Eckstein have more accelerated math opportunities than HIMS kids do. Presumably, the kids at BOTH schools need the flexibility -- but only Eckstein gets it. I don't know the genesis of the problem, but to me it has the feel of someone who was less willing to push for maximum opportunity for accelerated students.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know the genesis of the problem."

MGJ assigned CC to HIMS after the AAA was closed. He was briefly assigned to JA before HIMS (he never started at JA).

It was during very chaotic times created by the last super, especially in the principal assignment department.

Glad those days are behind us.

HIMS Parent

Charlie Mas said...

I actually have some serious concerns about how well Mr. Carter will do at Mercer. Those concerns are rooted directly in Jan's comment about how Mr. Carter capped math progress at HIMS.

One part of what has made Mercer so successful is an attitude that there is no ceiling on student achievement.

Mr. Carter's decision at HIMS makes him appear to be a ceiling advocate rather than a student advocate.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the cap mostly effect APP kids?...did other students face roadblocks in advancing in math as well?

wondering

Anonymous said...

Yes the cap on math was related to APP students only, they are only allowed to track two grades ahead.

HIMS does allow non-APP students into APP classes, not sure what the criteria is to participate. But I know a couple of non-APP students were in my students LA/SS and math classes. So HIMS does not have a cap for non-APP students, which is great.

HIMS Parent

if it's not one thing, it's another said...

re: Math caps at HIMS.

This fall, HIMS does not have the same cap on APP math as they have in recent years, however the process they are using is flawed and worrisome.

This past spring the math dept downtown decided that APP kids (and others who are operating at or above APP math level) can finally access Algebra 1 in 6th grade. Kudos to Dan Gallagher and staff for at least attempting to finally address the problem. The process was rushed, but was supposed to involve multiple MAP/MSP scores and 5th grade teacher input.

WashingtonMS has mostly gone along with the prescribed plan, however, HIMS decided to do their own thing, further restricting access by looking at only a single MAP (winter of 5th grade), requiring the benchmark score (250) to be achieved in all four MAP subgroups, and completely disregarding any 5th grade teacher input.

There are a bunch of problems with this situation.

First, a 250 MAP score in 5th grade does show strong math competence, but it does not address content coverage as it applies to Algebra 1 readiness. There is a significant content gap between what is covered in 5th grade APP math and what the kids are expected to know prior to Algebra1. Some kids who have had a lot of outside math, such as in math club or outside classes may already have this content knowledge, but most of the kids do not. Most parents aren't aware of these details and will simply let their kids enroll in whatever class the building places them into by default, even if it's not the best choice for the student.

Next, HIMS is lucky enough (at least right now) to have a strong math teacher that will be able to bring many of these kids up to speed if they are lucky enough to be placed in his one particular section designed for 6th graders. Otherwise, good luck. In all other sections, the 6th grade students will be placed with 7th and/or 8th graders who have already covered the material. Those 6th graders will be thrust into a frustrating situation from day one. Because of the nature of the kids and their parents, hopefully many of the kids will get help outside the building and get up to speed. But it's far from ideal if the students/parents don't understand the details and didn't actively opt into this 3-year acceleration plan.

Also, because HIMS is only looking at winter of 5th grade MAP scores (which we all know fluctuate ridiculously on any given single test), they will not even allow a student who got a qualifying score in 4th grade to take Alg1 if they happened to miss one subsection on the winter of 5th grade test. Crazy, but true.

Allowing teacher recommendations could potentially alleviate quite a bit of this, but HIMS is not allowing this. Why?!

Lastly, some parents have been complaining that scores from spring of 5th grade are not being used, but disallowing spring scores actually does make sense, given the way the criteria were generated. The 250 cut score was based on previous winter tests, which means that if the spring test results were used the cut score would be several points higher. One could argue that spring results should be allowed and the cut scores should be higher (and I might agree with that assessment), but that's not the way it's set up right now, and there are bigger problems to work through before looking at those kinds of adjustments.

I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion here about this issue, but my guess is that most of the parents directly involved really don't know enough about the details to do anything other than go along with what the building has recommended. If you know incoming 6th graders who might be in this category it might be helpful to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the new HIMS principal will be a breath of fresh air for the APP community and this math placement issue can get resolved once and for all!

HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...

Hopefully the new HIMS principal will be a breath of fresh air for the APP community and this math placement issue can get resolved once and for all!

HIMS Parent

math parent said...

My guess is that the discussion is limited because there just aren't many parents that 1) read this blog AND 2)have students qualifying to take Algebra in 6th grade.

There are so many issues with APP and curriculum, etc., that it's hard to know where to focus your energy. The problems begin in elementary school where the APP curriculum is not truly designed for advanced learners. It's simply an acceleration of the CMP curriculum, which is fraught with problems. The folks at Art of Problem Solving have a good discussion here:

The Calculus Trap

I would not place my child in Algebra for 6th grade simply because they had a 250 on the MAP. I have seen the gaps left by CMP. In all likelihood, students ready for Algebra I in 6th grade have done some math outside of school, either in math club, or supplementation at home. [Please weigh in with your experiences]

I hadn't heard about the score needing to be met on all four subgroups. What a misuse of the results. The MAP should be ONE component of the qualifications, not the sole criterion.

I would also have serious reservations about placing 6th graders in the 7th and 8th grade classes, but I'm guessing it's a scheduling issue with teachers. That gets to another point: having teachers qualified to teach students working well beyond the standard grade level. Teaching Algebra to 8th graders is not the same as teaching to it to advanced 6th graders. One teacher can not carry the whole program on his shoulders. What happens when that one teacher leaves?

There are also no guarantees as yet for math placement in 8th grade. Will there be a class for those accelerated 6th graders once they complete Geometry in 7th grade?

I appreciate the info and would like to know where to see the policy/guideline in print. "If it's not one thing," do you know where parents can get the info?

Anonymous said...

If it's not one thing...

I am also closely following the math situation at Hamilton. Some of what you said in your post doesn't match with information that I have seen elsewhere. For instance, it is my understanding that the math department recommended that all kids who got 250 in SPRING of 5th grade or earlier be allowed to take Alg 1. This quote is from a letter Bob Vaughan sent to a parent this past June: "The standard of performance on MAP was selected after looking at the performance of 7th graders in Algebra 1 who scored 250 or higher MAP in the spring preceding 7th grade and looking at their success on the State's new Algebra 1 end-of-course exam."

It is my understanding that Chris Carter did not want 6th graders is Alg 1 at all, so they are keeping the classes artificially small. This means that not only are kids being placed in a lower down class than they could do, they are also saddled with the problematic 6th grade HH math teacher.

Also, I don't believe you are correct in saying a 250 in 4th grade wouldn't qualify a kid. Again, from the same Vaughan letter: "The new variation is that fifth graders who earned a RIT score of 250 or higher on last spring's or last fall's or this past winter's MAP Math assessment are being recommended to be considered for placement into Algebra 1 for 6th grade." This statement says that scores of spring of 4th grade and winter of 5th grade were used. There is no mention of subtests being used.

I, too, am hoping the new principal will be more flexible than the last principal when it comes to meeting kids' needs.

-Hopeful

Anonymous said...

To clarify my post above. I only mentioned Spring of 4th grade or winter of 5th grade because Lowell@Lincoln kids did not take the fall test.

-Hopeful

if it's not one thing said...

Hopeful,

Yes, Bob Vaughan did state what the district recommendations were in that letter. However, Hamilton has decided, on their own, to NOT follow the process recommended by the central office. The plan has problems of its own, but when buildings can decide on their own whims to do whatever they feel like, even when it goes against all manner of best practice, THAT is the biggest problem of all.

Math Parent,

Unfortunately, it's difficult to get correct and up-to-date information because it changes all the time. This is a great example. You need to send emails and/or make phone calls to get the real information. Even then, you'll often find that the left and right hands don't have any idea what the other is doing. Anyone who's been around for long enough has undoubtedly experienced a staff member swearing that what they say is correct, but it's in direct conflict with another staff member who swears that what they say is correct. Bottom line with class assignments and scheduling is that the buildings have final say over downtown in many matters.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I talked with the HIMS registrar in June about my son, since he just missed the winter 250 cut, but got above that in the spring test. The registrar said that they were only using the winter score and that even at that score many students would not be fully ready for Algebra 1. So I am satisfied with him being put in Pre-Algebra (or whatever it's called).
Unfortunately, it's often left up to parents to discover these things on their own...

NE Mom of 2

Anonymous said...

The registrar said that they were only using the winter score and that even at that score many students would not be fully ready for Algebra 1

By "they," does she mean Hamilton (as opposed to AL), and is she qualified to make the final decision about who is ready for algebra?

The registrar is your friend, but I would not take the word of the registrar as final. I have been given misinformation from the school that contradicted AL and district information. Clarify, then confirm with other sources. If your son really wants to take Algebra I and his 5th grade teacher concurs, you may want to reconsider. If you truly are fine with less acceleration, then that's another story.

-been there

JB said...

"There is a significant content gap between what is covered in 5th grade APP math and what the kids are expected to know prior to Algebra1."

What are some of the content areas/skills CMP misses, please?

We aren't there yet, but CMP looms.

Mathy mom

Anonymous said...

There's a list of year-by-year CMP math topic coverage on the APP blog. Skipping 6th grade HH math means skipping those topics, unless of course a student has covered the material elsewhere (or in a class where the teacher has let students work ahead of the curriculum). CMP also allows quite a bit of calculator use and covers some topics shallowly. You'd be surprised how many kids don't have their math facts down or have trouble with long division.

Anonymous said...

My biggest frustration with the math at Hamilton is that kids there get fewer math options than they would get at another school. It is just like the problem with spectrum at various schools around the city. Why is the principal able to override the AL department's recommendations? Why do kids at Eckstein and Whitman get a higher math than the kids at Hamilton do? I would ask where Bob Vaughan is in all of this, but I think we all know the answer to that one.

I hope the new principal will prove much better.

-hopeful

Anonymous said...

Big News from Utah.... Utah is one of the 45 states that adopted Common Core State Standards .... (Now after some analysis ... many states are having second thoughts.)

Utah will leave the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The Utah Board has voted to pull out of their testing consortium – the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). SBAC had received Race to the Top funding in order to provide assessments based on the Common Core State Standards.

SBAC is headed up by Dr Joe Wilhoft .. Mr WASL ... (WOW!!! the WASL lunacy expanded to 45 states ... look for a lot of vendors to make a fortune on this coming debacle.)

-- Dan Dempsey

math parent said...

A timely article on Algebra for all classes...

Algebra for all

Anonymous said...

Don't read too much into Utah leaving the SBAC. The primary reason is that their right-wing legislators (who hate Obama) are on an anti-federal-gov't tear (unless they're handing out money, in which case they're the first ones in line with both hands out). They're also trying to take all federal lands and put them under the control of the state so they can destroy all the natural resources with mining and fracking and other lovely environment-destroying techniques.
I can guarantee you that if GW Bush were still in charge, Utah would not be leaving the SBAC. However, they won't come out and say that their hatred for Obama is the reason, so they make a few other things up along the way.
Trust me. Not only do I have family in Utah, but I've also ended up on some kooky mailing list from some legislator in Heber (Utah) and a psycho lady named Gayle Ruzicka (sp?) of the Eagle Forum and the paranoia about federal control over education (OMG - they might learn about SEX! The feds advocate gay marriage!) is out of control. Good entertainment at times, though. (I suspect one of my right-wing relatives registered me in the hopes that I might come to my senses.... )

CT

Jan said...

CT: very interesting point. I have found myself in the same territory with respect to some of the Texas "pushback" to the federal education program. Here is what I can't figure out. This is one of those "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" situations, I think. How much common cause can those who want less federal oversight and meddling (for the purpose of localized control of truly "liberal arts/STEM education" find with those who oppose local control because they also oppose what I have always thought of as an American-style (i.e. -- values rich, but religion-neutral) liberal arts education?

Charlie Mas said...

I'm reading a lot of strange statements like "HIMS does allow non-APP students into APP classes, not sure what the criteria is to participate." and "HIMS decided to do their own thing,"

I don't think that either the building or the entire community made these decisions, so it is inaccurate to write "HIMS decided". Instead, it would be more accurate to write "Mr. Carter decided".

Let's name the agents. Let's give people credit for their decisions and not attribute the decisions made by actual people to some amorphous institution.

Anonymous said...

OK, staff decisions have been made at HIMS to allow non-APP students to participate in APP classes, which means that non-APP students do not have a cap on the level of work they can participate in. On the other hand, staff decisions were made to not allow APP students to progress past two grade levels in math, placing a cap on the level of work for these students.

I cannot say for certain that these decisions were unilaterally made by Mr. Carter.

HIMS Parent

Maureen said...

non-APP students do not have a cap on the level of work they can participate in.

HIMS Parent, don't non-APP have exactly the same cap as APP students? (i.e., algebra in 6th grade, so math three years above grade level)

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is true, but I have not heard of any non-APP students wanting access to Alg. II in 6th grade. My understanding is this issue has been an APP-related issue at HIMS.

FYI, there were other issues related to Mr. Carters leadership (or lack thereof) specific to APP that you can read up on over at the APP Blog. But honestly, it’s probably not a big concern for people reading here and no reason to rehash the history. I think the change will be good for our school!

HIMS Parent

Anonymous said...

Reading through the comments, I'm confused. From the quoted AL letter, the 250 score was based in part on the scores from the Spring of 6th grade, or "performance of 7th graders in Algebra 1 who scored 250 or higher MAP in the spring preceding 7th grade." The guideline was developed based on scores from Spring of 6th grade, yet (perhaps to be conservative), the score needs to be met by Spring of 5th grade. But wait, the school is saying the score needs to be met by Winter of 5th grade, and in all subtests. So a 4th grader getting the score of 250 - which was deemed the cutoff for success when 6th graders achieved the same score - may still not qualify, because now scores have to be met in all subcategories?

Let's look at equivalent MAP scores. Suppose a 6th grader achieved a Spring MAP score of 250. Assuming the student stayed in the same percentile range, we can extrapolate back to Spring of 4th grade. A score of 250 in Spring is 94% for 6th grade, 97% for 5th grade, and 99% for 4th grade. For a 6th grader scoring in the 94% range (RIT 250), and assuming typical growth, a 4th grade score in the same percentile range would be 234. For a 5th grader scoring in the 97% range (RIT 250), and assuming typical growth, a 4th grade score in the same percentile range would be 240 (numbers are all based on 2011 norms).

Based on those numbers, how can they then say a 4th grader achieving in the 99% range is not qualified?

There are several issues - using MAP as the sole qualifier, without some other algebra readiness test, and not sticking to Spring of 5th grade scores at the ultimate cutoff.

-very confused

Po3 said...

To me it sounds like they are trying to not qualify any students to make the issue of having 6th graders taking Algebra I go away.

Problem is one or two will qualify no matter how you "stack the deck." So then what?

another HIMS parent said...

It does seem that way...perhaps they'll begrudgingly have one class, but are trying not to have two? There is also the issue of who teaches the class. If you know a specific teacher will teach 6th grade Algebra I, you may be more inclined to bypass 6HH.

From what I've heard, there were students that had scores above the 250 cutoff that signed up for Algebra I in 6th grade (at HIMS), attended some classes, then were subsequently forced out of the class. I guess they really didn't want students accelerating beyond the APP pathway (they'd then have to offer an appropriate class for 8th grade).

Was it the principal, the HIMS math department, or both? That, I don't know.

SP said...

...from the other side of Seattle, received this morning from Marty McLaren's list serve:

I want to let you know that I learned on Friday that a new location has been found for Middle College High School – it will be a site other than the Boren building. However, because the agreement has not yet been finalized, the district is not ready to make a formal announcement to the STEM and Middle College families. The hope is to have completion and an announcement by late next week. I’m very encouraged at this news.

Regards,

Marty McLaren

if it's not said...

very confused,

Based on those numbers, how can they then say a 4th grader achieving in the 99% range is not qualified?

There are several issues - using MAP as the sole qualifier, without some other algebra readiness test, and not sticking to Spring of 5th grade scores at the ultimate cutoff.


It's very easy to see why you're confused. Many parents are. Much of what has happened with regards to advanced math in that building (and the district at large) over the past few years has made little sense.

The building is making their own choice to override the district recommendations, and so far it looks like they are being allowed to do that. With that in mind, they can make up whatever rules they like, and as long as they are consistent (and not racial or otherwise discriminatory), then they can get away with it. They could also just choose to make one section available and have a lottery to get in.

The saddest thing is that using a MAP score of 250 doesn't correlate at all to being ready for Algebra I. Scores of 250 or higher in another middle school were found to be a good indicator of success in Algebra I, but in that case it was with older kids that had already covered the requisite material necessary for Algebra I. This is a completely different situation, and is throwing a bunch of 5th graders into a class that they will not be prepared for unless they did some work on the side over the summer. Allowing a 250 spring score (by itself) to qualify would be even worse. 6th graders who are lucky enough to be together in one class could easily be given this material in the beginning of the year, but others almost certainly will not. Using MAP as a primary qualifier, let alone the only qualifier is a huge mistake.

Given, however, that MAP is being used, the fact that they are ignoring previous test scores is ridiculous, and parents in that situation should be raising a ruckus.

Kids who would be well-served by this extra acceleration are being denied and kids who are going to struggle are given default assignments into Alg I. Very sad.

some clarification said...

PO3,

I don't believe the building is explicitly trying to not qualify any students, although that was absolutely true a couple years back.

This year there are a few things playing into this decision:
- I think they finally understand that this situation will never go away. Like you say, there will always be at least one or two (more likely 8-10).
- Change of staff downtown. The previous head of mathematics was unreasonable and flat out refused to grant any students acceleration beyond 2 years, period. She has been replaced.
- Staff downtown wants to have a process in place to make it fair. They don't want some kids to get into a special class because their parents were in-the-know, while others are left out. This is a laudable goal, but it's really no better to have a rushed/flawed process in place that negatively affects kids on both sides of a single "cut score". This, sadly, is bureaucracy in action.
- The building has no idea how to serve these kids and is implementing their own system based on their own needs and experience, including the realities of a middle school master schedule. Again, this is not an excuse, just the reality of what's happening.


another HIMS parent,

Using this acceleration to avoid a specific teacher? Bingo, you win the prize! Just another sad element to pile onto a mountain of sadness.

As for your understanding of the situation from a couple years ago, no kids were in AlgI because of any MAP score. There was a small group of exceptionally advanced kids at HIMS that year, some of which managed to be placed in AlgI in 6th grade, while others were not as lucky. Eventually the flak caused by the discrepancy caught the attention of people downtown and those kids were eventually kicked out of their classes. It was the start of a very troubling process, and much unnecessary anguish over the subsequent years.

But you are correct about the district and building's desire to not have to offer a class for these kids in 8th grade. And what do you know? Magically, they were able to qualify just enough kids this year to fill one section, without bleeding over into two sections. Amazing, huh?

As for who was to blame? Take your pick. The orders came from downtown, but the principal made the decision to obey without digging in to determine the best thing for the students. This year the building is ignoring recommendations from downtown and doing their own thing, so you never know how that plays out. Frankly, at this point I'd rather focus on the future and forget the past, regardless of how dishonorable those actions were.

Anonymous said...

What does a parent do? Spend time and energy pushing for an appropriate class or have their child take a class outside of school? Would a class designed for accelerated learners be better in terms of keeping them interested in math, vs taking what may be a lighter class with older kids?

Is it possible to take an online class, during school hours, moderated by school staff?

-very confused

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patrick said...

When do the spring MSP results become available? Thanks!

Jan said...

Here is the thing I can't understand. Back in the "olden days" -- five years or so ago, before MAP was even a twinkle in MGJ's eye -- WMS used to test ALL its incoming kids for math placement. It seems to me that a legitimate math placement test (i.e., NOT MAP) could be constructed to figure out pretty well which 6th graders are truly ALG I-ready, and which might benefit from pre-ALG I in 6th grade instead. This just isn't rocket science! It was done, well, by SSD for years. And it didn't cost an arm and a leg. They just did the test at the beginning of school (or maybe in the spring for the APP kids whom they all knew were going to WMS) -- and made the class assignments. Voila! Done! Why does it seem like the shortcomings of MAP are making this more difficult? Or am I unfairly maligning MAP here?

And, very confused -- I was never able to convince any SSD school to allow my child to take an online course "on the school premises." They could never work out rooms and oversight. So, if we did anything other than the offered classes, we had to arrange to do them off-site, hopefully either the first or last period of the day. I don't know if that varies school by school, or if it may have changed in the last year or so.

Po3 said...

WMS was not the only school to test and place for math. Totally made sense. Then MGJ got a stranglehold and we we know the rest of that story.

Anonymous said...

very confused,

No, unfortunately nothing has changed. As of last year, at least, it was still not possible to take an online class during school hours, moderated by school staff. Or I should clarify--not possible at HIMS, that is. Apparently other middle schools may allow this. Go figure.

If you're lucky enough to have a schedule that allows for an independent study period either the first or last period of the day, and you don't take the bus or have other transportation issues to deal with, you can always start late or end early. However, sixth graders generally have less flexibility in their schedules, so it even less likely that first year. If you skip math at HIMS and can't get 1st or 6th period off, you can take another elective instead, then do the math in addition to a full course load. Not ideal, but at least it's an option.

The district really needs to do something about this...

ELB

TechyMom said...

Has anyone gotten their transporation letter yet? Our bell time changed, and I'm really curious how much the pickup and ride time have changed.

Lori said...

My transportation letter for last year is dated August 26, 2011, so it came roughly a week and a half before school started. I have no reason to think it will come earlier this year, although it would be nice.

dw said...

Jan said: Here is the thing I can't understand. Back in the "olden days" -- five years or so ago, before MAP was even a twinkle in MGJ's eye -- WMS used to test ALL its incoming kids for math placement. It seems to me that a legitimate math placement test (i.e., NOT MAP) could be constructed to figure out pretty well which 6th graders are truly ALG I-ready, and which might benefit from pre-ALG I in 6th grade instead. This just isn't rocket science! It was done, well, by SSD for years. And it didn't cost an arm and a leg. They just did the test at the beginning of school (or maybe in the spring for the APP kids whom they all knew were going to WMS) -- and made the class assignments. Voila! Done! Why does it seem like the shortcomings of MAP are making this more difficult? Or am I unfairly maligning MAP here?

Jan, you are absolutely right, and it's so frustrating! The problem (which is so typical) is that there was a system that was working just fine and they broke it. Why?! The math dept at WMS did a very good job at screening for kids who had the requisite knowledge to enter Algebra I in 6th grade. No system is perfect 100% of the time, but it worked quite well, simply because it tested for mastery of the required material leading up to that class.

We have lost that very simple mechanism. Now, especially because Hamilton has decided to use their own arbitrary filter, there will be kids poorly served on both sides of the fence (unduly granted or denied access).

Parents of incoming 6th graders should get together with the new principal ASAP, perhaps even before school officially starts, to try to give her some visibility into the problem. You may have a kid that should be in the class, but was denied, or your student may be placed into Algebra I, but they really aren't well-prepared for that class.

The important thing everyone should be aware of is that your child's MAP score by itself is NOT indicative of which class they should be placed in!

And, very confused -- I was never able to convince any SSD school to allow my child to take an online course "on the school premises." They could never work out rooms and oversight. So, if we did anything other than the offered classes, we had to arrange to do them off-site, hopefully either the first or last period of the day. I don't know if that varies school by school, or if it may have changed in the last year or so.

Over the past couple years HIMS has given some of the advanced math kids the opportunity to take their online courses during the day during their "TA period", but I believe that's only available to 8th graders.

Anonymous said...

"Parents of incoming 6th graders should get together with the new principal ASAP, perhaps even before school officially starts, to try to give her some visibility into the problem. "
dw: I agree with you a 100%. But we still don't know when the new principal will start. And I heard that the students' (and master) schedule is (almost) done.
The problems: nobody knows who is involved exactly, since the MAP scores were kept secret, and also there are kids from Lowell (3 classes) and from other schools who are just joining the APP program now. Any idea how could we spread the words in the middle of the summer about a possible meeting with Ms Watters before school starts?
- HIMS APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Just a thought - I'd contact the parent that ran the Lowell math club and see if she can spread the word to parents of former math club students.

dw said...

HIMS Parent said: The problems: nobody knows who is involved exactly, since the MAP scores were kept secret,

Secret? Can you not see your student's MAP scores via their source account?

The process as to how/who got into Alg I, now that was rather secret, but I'm pretty sure MAP scores should be easy to find. Plus, the kids see the results immediately when they finish.

and also there are kids from Lowell (3 classes) and from other schools who are just joining the APP program now. Any idea how could we spread the words in the middle of the summer about a possible meeting with Ms Watters before school starts?

Good question. Maybe the old fashioned way, phone calls and emails. Much easier for the Lowell families who are clustered in one building and probably have class roster lists from last year, but for the other families new to the program it will be tough. If anyone is still reading this thread and you know incoming APP kids (or extra-accelerated non-APP) entering Hamilton this fall, give them a head's up and/or point them toward this blog.

Anonymous said...

From the HIMS website:
"Student Schedules and PE Waivers for 2012-2013
Student schedules will be posted on the SOURCE on September 1."
- HIMS parent