District Response to Why Just One Location for Alegebra Testing

From SPS Communications:

We have students from over 70 different elementary school classrooms that meet at least one criteria for Algebra 1 Readiness Testing. Given this wide variety of classrooms, we opted to select a central location for testing. The Stanford Center and the dates/times were selected because:

· The Stanford Center is close to the center of our large city.
· It offers desks and chairs for students and waiting spaces for families.
· As opposed to using a school, it means we do not have to burden a school staff with staying late for   the testing.
· The afternoon times prevent students from missing school.
· The variety of dates allow families to select one that they can make work.

The Stanford Center was the location used for testing last year and many families dropped students off for testing and walked up to Starbucks for an hour; others dropped students off and waited in the common spaces. To my knowledge we had no complaints last year that the location was challenging.

I would say that I would not consider JSCEE to be near the center of the city.  I continue to think two sites - one to the north and one to the south would have been a better and more equitable.

Call me crazy but I believe most schools have desks and chairs and waiting areas.

I agree that after-school makes the most sense but around rush hour/dinnertime would not have been my pick. 


Anonymous said…
"at least 1 criteria ..." For shame.

-- Ivan Weiss
Laughable said…
"The afternoon times prevent students from missing school. "

The district has loaded our children down with MAP tests, Amplify and are foisting the ridiculous 11th grade SBAC on students. Now, the district is worried about loosing classroom time. Ha!
Anonymous said…
How many schools are represented by those 70 classrooms? And how many of those schools are likely to offer access to Alg 1 for 6th graders? Or has there been some sort of policy change that requires it--in which case, are all middle schools and K-8s also required to offer up through Alg II???

It wouldn't make a lot of sense for a school that won't provide a full Alg 1/Geom/Alg II pathway to bother giving the readiness test, so the likely number of schools that would have needed to offer it would have been much smaller. The sites would be closer to home, and if schools offered these tests at times that worked best for them, there would likely also be more variety in options.

And if JSCEE staff are so worried about protecting school staff from the extra work, couldn't they travel to the small # of sites and administer the exams themselves?

Anonymous said…
This is a change for the district, after preventing many capable students from accelerating to Algebra in past years. It's difficult to harp on them for what is a big leap in making Algebra accessible to those that want more acceleration. That said, I also wonder if schools other than the APP pathway schools are actually going to offer that level math (Algebra 2 to 8th graders)? For how many students is it really the best option? It's a pretty small number.

math craziness
Anonymous said…
"70 classrooms" -- I continue to say that is EXACTLY the reason to offer the testing in 3 regions, such as JAMS, Washington and somewhere in West Seattle. To ACTUALLY reach all these kids, not just the ones with transportation.

(And I imagine 6 of those classrooms are at Lincoln, but I'm not saying offer at HIMS b/c I think equitable access for all is better served at JAMS or Broadview Thompson).

After school is the worst possible time to test children. Seriously. An algebra readiness test from 4:30 to 6????

Theoretically Saturday morning at 10 am at JSCEE also makes sense - it puts more students at their best, coming from home, not too late, not too early. But there is not one Saturday test date. NOT ONE.

JSCEE can say that "70 classrooms" means they should be downtown, but anybody else remember the infamous lipstick on a pig comment? Saying it is access doesn't make it so.

And "not missing school" as an excuse? I LAUGH. My kids have more standardized testing than PE. And only this test actually confers a real benefit to my kid, and only this test actually tests stuff the kid was actually taught. Geez.

I can and will get my kid there, and offer rides to people at the kid's school.

But I maintain that at a minimum the staff needs to deliver this test onsite to every kid at a Title One school. Make it fair. Make it accessible. Live up to "equal access framework".

Don't just talk the talk to justify doing whatever the heck you want to do anyway -- live it. Make it accessible.

Four tests, all the same weeknight, same time, same place is NOT accessible. It only allows people who have a specific, slight conflict to choose a different time -- if you actually have real access troubles, such as working dinner shift or no car, this is not "choice" - it's just the same old barrier four different times.

Who at JSCEE does not get that? It's like presenting four ten foot walls and saying "you can jump over any of them. Your choice. See, you have access to an exit." It's not choice, it's not access, and it's not equal.

--Original Poster

Anonymous said…
"No complaints" is not a rigorous study of whether a barrier was presented. The people for whom access is a barrier are also probably less likely to complain. Embarrassment. Lack of email. Lack of knowledge. Lack of English. Lack of freaking time to complain into the black hole.

Here's the questions to ask for actual data, not for "no one complained, so it was a success":

1) How many students were offered testing last year?

2) How many students took it?

3) Of the students who did NOT take testing:

a) what schools were they from?
b) What races/ethnicity were they?
c) Were any of the students who did not take testing FRL?

This data should be easily accessible to SPS. It should take less than an hour to find that information, if a list has been maintained (as it should be) of students who were eligible to test last year and those who actually tested. The results to those simple questions would be an actual answer to "is it a barrier" or not.

If ONE eligible FRL student did not take the testing - I'm going to infer that is a FAIL by SPS. Period. If one or more students from a Title One school did not take the test - again, I assume FAIL of downtown location.

I HATE it when email polls are used as data - they're not. And "no complaints" is not data either.

-- Original Poster
Anonymous said…
I can't stand rush hour traffic. If my kid was taking that test at 4:30 pm, I would have needed to leave my job early by 2:45 to pick him up at 3:30 (when his elementary school got out last year), then battle traffic from north Seattle to JSCEE to get there by 4:15. That would be a very long day to take a math test from 4:30 until 6 pm. Home by 7:00 maybe to north Seattle. I can't stand rush hour traffic. My kid is in 6th grade Algebra at JAMS.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
hmmm...so i know my fifth grader passes at least one of the criteria, but i haven't heard a peep about these tests. can someone point me to a link on the district website as i couldn't find it when i went there to look. thanks.

5th grade parent
Anonymous said…
Algebra testing? We're new to the district this year. I had no idea this existed, even after talking about math with our principal. What are the "criteria" for the testing?
Maureen said…
You know, I'm not generally big on criticizing SPS staff, but while a single location for this sort of test is one type of stupidity, only offering the tests at one time of the day on one particular day of the week is an even higher level of stupidity (or malice or laziness, take your pick.) Normal people have schedules that they are obligated to adhere to. Maybe SPS staff can and do walk out of work whenever they want but the average parent cannot.

Now, if they said they were doing this because they were paying 5th grade teachers to drive their students to JSCEE to take the exam, then I might see a reason for the time slot (but even then, only Thursday?!)
Anonymous said…
I do not have a dog in this fight at all. However, this is horrible. I live in Magnolia. I cannot imagine, racing home from work early, picking up child at school early (we don't get out until 4:00 so how could we actually make it to a 4:30 test on time?, and then racing through the downtown grid lock to get to JSCEE? This would require me getting out of work early and child getting out of school early. Who are they kidding? Also, have you driven downtown lately after 3:30. It's a complete disaster and I am not exaggerating.

SPS should be REQUIRED to provide bus service to these eligible kids, to and from their wonderful centrally located center for the testing. And it should be during the school day (since they are so comfortable taking up so much other school time on MAP, SBAC and Amplify). Once again, my kids are not eligible. But this is so unfair to all. I cannot even imagine the burden on families who cannot get out of work or have very limited transportation.

I will send this thread to the Board. Naturally, I don't think they will all read it and naturally I don't think anyone - save Sue Peters and Betty Patu - will say anything to the Superintendent.

Also, there is no reason to attack any other comment personally.
Anonymous said…
One sensible way to eliminate the fracas of this extra test at the inappropriate time and inequitable location?

Eliminate the test.

Seriously. Just get rid of it. They did without it for years!!

All of the invited test-takers cleared one of the two SPS Criteria: either the 250 minimum MAP math score this year in 5th grade, or the 525 math MSP 4th grade test last year. Let all the 250+ math Map 5th grade scorers simply opt up to algebra 1 in 6th grade, as it is known all of them did well at HIMS based on this criteria alone for several years running. Afterall, other students are allowed to opt up one level of math in middle school... so in the name of equity allow these students the same courtesy/opportunity, and by doing so that will eliminate the need for probably half of the students to take this test.

Those whose 4th grade math MSP test put them into range of 525+, allow them to opt up too subject to 'counselling' from their current 5th grade math teacher. The teachers know who is best suited, and while some parents may be inappropriately super keen, some may be inappropriately super intimidated, and both camps might listen to the actual teacher about what is likely the best fit for their student.

Eliminate the test, allow students to opt up, with those basing their potentially eligibility on last year's 4th grade MSP be counseled by their current teacher.

Problem solved. Allow choice. Don't ration rigor! Save time/money/resources by not deploying yet another test on these kids at dinner time downtown.

Ration rigor???

Anonymous said…
Isn't offering an Algebra readiness test increasing the availability of accelerated options when compared with using only MAP and 4th grade (!) MSP scores? When it was only MAP, parents complained as well - using only one data point to determine placement is not ideal. An Algebra readiness test provides another data point. Placement based on a grade level achievement test (and 4th grade at that) is pretty questionable. and elementary teachers are not necessarily good at determining future math placement. Choice should be based on some meaningful information.

Anonymous said…
@sheesh "Isn't offering an Algebra readiness test increasing the availability of accelerated options when compared with using only MAP and 4th grade (!) MSP scores?"

No, it is not. It is limiting participation, rationing rigor.

IF the algebra readiness test was given to every single 5th grade child (and I do not advocate for that because kids are already tested enough!) OR was given to ANY 5th grade child who opted IN to the test just because they wanted to try, then yes, it would allow potentially MORE kids to go straight to algebra 1 in 6th grade.

However, that is NOT the case. Instead, students now have to qualify via two tests to take this third test, and all this third test could do is exclude students who previously would have been included: whereas in previous years just having the 1 test of 5th grade math MAP was sufficient to include you into the course, no further test necessary (again, all those kids passed EoC with flying colors). So, all this 3rd test will do will cut some kids out who would be successful.

They are not finding a way to find more qualified kids with this test, they are finding a way to WEED kids out with this test.

If they said all those who qualify, as in previous years, go to Algebra 1 unless they don't want to, and anyone who feels that algebra 1 is the right level, we invite you to take this test, then this test would serve as a sort of 'appeals' process, allowing those without qualifications to at least prove themselves. But, this test is being used to further screen kids who did prove themselves to now do yet another test that their predecessors did not have to do in order to access rigor. That is why it is used to cut kids, and that is why it is all about...

Ration Rigor?
Jon said…
Typical passive aggressive behavior from the District staff. They don't want to do it, so they make it technically possible but hard.

"Ration Rigor?" has a good idea though. There isn't much reason for this test. It should be sufficient for students (and teachers) to just choose algebra or not.
Anonymous said…
But wait, the Algebra readiness test is given to students that met one of two benchmarks - either MAP or MSP - and they are being given a second chance to qualify. Those that met both the MAP and MSP cutoffs are qualified without the readiness test, right? Therefore, the Algebra readiness test is increasing opportunities for those that only met one of the cutoffs. If a student is ready for algebra, despite missing the cutoff for MSP, the algebra test should confirm that, yes?

I would argue many advanced students could pass the EOC with thorough coverage of pre-algebra, as it's a test of very basic algebra concepts. Passing the EOC means they learned basic algebra. But does it mean they can do the higher level coursework required in high school? They still need three years of math in high school, starting with precalculus as a freshman.

I guess I don't understand the outrage. The district is offering multiple chances for students to qualify. And do you really want students in the class that might be better off taking 8th grade math? The goal is to make the right placement decision for students.

But, this test is being used to further screen kids who did prove themselves to now do yet another test that their predecessors did not have to do in order to access rigor

Some of their predecessors were also blocked from Algebra because they missed the MAP cutoff by one point on one test. They probably would have been glad to have another opportunity to prove themselves, like with the algebra readiness test. Before that, there simply was no option to take Algebra in 6th grade. 6th grade students were booted out of the algebra class by administration. Some families ended up doing independent study for algebra.

Be thankful there is a pathway, albeit one with a less than ideal time and location.

math craziness
Bird said…
We got an email about testing our kid.

I'm afraid I've been a bit burned out on keeping up to date with the ever shifting district, so now I'm confused. Maybe someone here could enlighten me.

My kid will be going to HIMS out of JSIS. She's repeatedly taken the test for APP and qualified every time, but has never had any accelerated coursework because we kept her in the immersion program.

I'm a bit surprised to see algebra in 6th grade might be a possibility, but apparently she missed the cut off on the MAP by a couple of points, and passed the cut off on the MSP.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what happens if my kid takes algebra in 6th. How many kids take algebra at Hamilton? Are they pretty much all kids out of HCC? Does taking algebra in 6th mean she takes geometry and algebra II by 8th? Hamilton's website is not informative on this matter. Is there appropriate coursework offered at Hamilton at 8th grade? And then what does she do in high school?

I'm sorry, I'm sure this is well known to parents in APP/HCC, but we are out of the loop since we stayed in general ed, and most of the district's web info on the topic appears muddled or contradictory. I'm not sure who to approach with questions about this.

I also am not sure how reasonable it is to have my kid take algebra in 6th grade. While everyone in this thread appears to be poo-pooing the placement test, I assume a lot of this is because their kids were in HCC for elementary, so have covered the necessary curriculum.

Our kid hasn't had accelerated instruction, so I assume if she starts algebra in 6th, she may be missing some preparation. She is a quick study, and I'm sure we could fill any gaps in, but I'd have to know what the gaps are first. Surely there will be some gaps if she skips CMP1, 2, and 3. It doesn't seem like anyone is providing this sort of information.

Also there may be some language gaps for my kid since almost all her math has been taught in Japanese. (I asked if she knew what an exponent was, and she said no, but when I showed her, she said, "Oh, we covered that, but I didn't know what it was called in English."

Anyway, I guess I welcome a placement test if it tells me my kid will have all the necessary pre-requisite knowledge for algebra. Because of our circumstances, I feel I need this kind of guidance. I don't think a high score on the 4th grade MSP provides an accurate assessment on whether a kid is prepared for algebra and likewise I'm unsure about the value of the MAP score.

I'd like my kid to take algebra if it is appropriate, but I also don't want her to enter unprepared. She already thinks she is not very good at math (which is clearly very much not true if she has qualified for skipping years of math instruction) so I'd like her to not blame any trouble she has on some innate inability rather than the fact that the district has provided poor preparation for the course.
Anonymous said…
I would recommend your daughter not take Algebra in 6th grade. It's a good option for very bright kids who are chomping at the bit to do more advanced math, but definitely not the right choice even for most APP students.

My son was a few points away from qualifying for Algebra in 6th and we just put him in pre-Algebra. He was a bit bored, but I think it was better than being overwhelmed.
Since your daughter hasn't been in
APP, I don't think algebra would be a good choice.

Anonymous said…
Bird, if she thinks she is not very good at math, please consider not putting her in algebra. The HCC teachers in elementary do not generally think even kids who qualify automatically and are currently taking 7th grade math in class are well served by taking algebra. You need those prealgebra concepts repeated, down, much more than earlier more arithmetic based math, which you can skip over (or take in Japanese if you are pretty clever). If she is a couple points away on MAP, she will be in 8th grade math, and that is plenty of skipping. You still might want to go over ratio and some percentage concepts before she starts. Possibly exponents, too.

My kid is in app, qualifies automatically for algebra(which means making both the msp and map cut offs-though I admit I think especially the msp cut off is spectacularly unhelpful. It's a nonadaptive test, JUST 4th grade math. How on earth is that even a little illuminative as to the student's ability to do 9th grade math two years later?!), is one of the strongest students in the class according to her teacher, and we are putting her in 8th on the advice of that teacher, who has taught middle school math. In elementary, when math is arithmetic based, pure acceleration is rigor. At proof based and post algebraic math, pure acceleration is not rigor. The coursework and executive function requirements are significant- probably more than pure iq requirements, You're signing a 5th grader up to do ap calculus in 10th grade- something I think a kid should sign up for affirmatively, not as a default because the district is trying to figure out who to have do algebra.

I know a lot of people are really concerned about when the district is offering this test, but I am actually concerned they are offering algebra to too many little kids and calling it rigor, when it's not. It's extra homework.

That said I am sure plenty of non hcc kids take algebra in 6th. high school depends a little on where you go. Precalculus in 9th, calc 10th, then depends on what is available at the high school you go to. Statistics, calc bc, etc. one of our concerns is the possibility of private high school if the district does not address capacity, in which case there would be some serious repetition.

Math lady
Anonymous said…
None of my children were/are in elementary APP. Oldest took Algebra in 6th grade, did okay. Elementary school had walk to math with tutors for math up to Calculus level. Second kid in JSIS like yours, eligible for Algebra next year but we don't know what to do yet. Don't know what math concepts have been taught. Will have to ask teacher for advice end of year. Although there aren't that many concepts taught in middle school math that you can't caught you kid up pretty easily. Make sure she knows her multiplication tables very thoroughly and can do arithmetic without calculator. Ratios, Fractions, Exponents, Equations, Radicals, Polynomials, Integers, Variables, Graphing, Complex Numbers, a few more things I can't remember now at 2 in the morning but should be easy to find out.

Things to consider:
1) 6th, 7th and 8th grade texts VERY VERY VERY BAD. Totally incomprehensible. As bad as EMP.
2) Algebra text also bad. Weird explanations of concepts (coffee cups and pennies to explain unknowns, took me a whole day to figure out the bloody upside-down cup represents negative x!); almost no worked problems examples. Crappy or no summary/recap of chapter concepts. Organization of which subject is taught when is bizarre. Equations are not emphasized enough so you waste time looking for them, not enough practice so you can get the concepts totally down. I read a couple of chapters and gave up. Fortunately I tutored athletes in college so I just dug out the old notes and gave it to kid to read. Algebra is straight forward and not difficult so I didn't have to do anything else.
3) Seems like fewer concepts are covered than from when I took Algebra. Don't know if this is how it is now or if more is covered in a high school class. Same with Geometry this year. It's March and almost no proofs yet. The teacher is using same text as high school class and supplements with his own notes so I think this is how Geometry is taught now. Don't know what will happen if kids want to take geophysics or glaciology in college.
4)Daily HW for Algebra and Geometry, weekly quizzes.
5)We wanted to take additional elective this year instead of Geometry since I saw no necessity to be 3 years ahead. Was told if no Geometry this year then will have to retake Algebra next year 'cause bureaucracies love moronic policies.
6) Are you planning on IBx at Ingraham? 'Cause statistics is major zzzzz, might want to not curse your kid with it in 12th grade which should be FUN!
Good luck, so many decisions in parenting, it's exhausting.


Anonymous said…
When did Algebra in 6th grade become so popular? I was in a gifted school 30 or so years ago which allowed me to take Algebra in 8th grade, which allowed me to take Calculus my senior year. Even after passing the AP test for calculus, I still took it again my freshman year of engineering school.

Just curious.

Anonymous said…
All good input, from Momof2, CCA, and Math lady.

The district texts for middle school (CMP) and the core high school courses of Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 (Discovering Algebra, Discovering Geometry...) are not geared toward advanced learners. I think many students, advanced or not, would benefit from different math texts that cover more content in a more straightforward way. They do not cover some advanced skills that more traditional algebra texts cover - for example, working with rational expressions and factoring polynomials, which are important in higher level classes. Discovering Geometry leaves deductive proofs to the very end and not all teachers get to the very end of the text. The main approach is one if induction (guess the rule and hope you're right), rather than formal deduction (learn and prove the rule based on known postulates or theorems).

If a student skips to Algebra 1 in 6th grade, without having covered the missed content, it will probably catch up with them later. They might do alright in Algebra 1 because the text itself is more of an Algebra light, but they will have gaps. Pre-algebra covers basic probability and statistics; ratio, proportion, and percent; introductory geometry concepts (angle relationships, area, volume, surface area of solids, etc.); working with integers (positive/negative numbers) and exponents; and other concepts that should be solidified before taking Algebra.

Is this really not explained in the District letter to parents? At the very least, you'd think they'd have some cautionary language about Algebra in 6th grade is for students that have shown mastery of skills such as...and list the general expectations for those entering Algebra. It's not fair to students or their future teachers to place them in a class for which they may not be prepared.

We wanted to take additional elective this year instead of Geometry since I saw no necessity to be 3 years ahead. Was told if no Geometry this year then will have to retake Algebra next year 'cause bureaucracies love moronic policies.

What? One option would have been to do math as independent study (you wouldn't want to go a full year without math) and cover additional math topics, yet still enroll in 6 classes, then take Geometry in 8th. They couldn't make your child repeat Algebra, especially if your child had passed their class and the EOC. That's plain idiocy.

math craziness
Anonymous said…
Algebra in 8th grade will get a student to Calculus by 12th grade:

8 Algebra 1
9 Geometry
10 Algebra 2
11 Precalculus
12 Calculus or AP Calculus AB

Algebra in 7th grade will allow for more AP math classes (which boosts GPA rankings...), either AP Calculus BC or AP Statistics:

7 Algebra 1
8 Geometry
9 Algebra 2
10 Precalculus
11 AP Calculus AB
12 AP Calculus BC or AP Statistics

Most students will not need to accelerate beyond Calculus in 12th grade (or Algebra in 8th). That was the honors track in my day, but Algebra in 7th seems the base expectation for the most advanced students now. Algebra in 6th? I think it should be available to students that would thrive with more acceleration, but I would not choose it for my child if we weren't doing additional supplementation outside of school. Algebra in 7th still provides many math options for high school.

math craziness
Anonymous said…
And one more thought...our previous assistant principal recommended skipping 8th grade math as opposed to 7th grade math, if a student wanted to accelerate in middle school. The reasoning was 8th grade math had a lot of overlap with Algebra, so topics would get covered, but skipped 7th grade concepts wouldn't. I don't know if schools allow that option anymore.

math craziness
SusanH said…
Agreed about 7th grade math. The math specialist at our K-8 advised that 7th grade math is the most important prep you can do for Algebra and beyond. If you really want to skip a course, skip 6th or 8th, not 7th.

Also agree with the question: why the desperate push to be THREE years ahead in math? I can see the super-intense mathy kids needing that, but they are the outliers. S
Anonymous said…
The problem with not accelerating in order to make sure that a student gets basic skills and doesn't have holes in scaffolding for higher level concepts is that CMP2 does not teach mastery of pre-algebra skills or a solid scaffold for continued math.

You need to supplement at home no matter what level of math your child does if they are using CMP2 or Discovering math or even the AP calc series, where they learn to program their graphing calculators.

At UW they get students who aced high school math but can't accurately manipulate fractions, calculate percents or factor quadratic equations. Graphing calculators are not allowed.

-home math
Bird said…
why the desperate push to be THREE years ahead in math?

I'm sure this is entirely appropriate for some kids. Our kid has always seemed to be about three to four years off-schedule developmentally. I'm fairly certainly if she had the appropriate preparation, algebra in 6th would be no big deal for her.

I'm not really worried about her grappling with the conceptual pieces of algebra at that age. I'm more worried that she won't have covered all the necessary topics and that taking algebra will send her on some crazy trajectory that the district is not willing or prepared to support. (See above threat to force a kid to take algebra again for no good reason.)

I also don't have a very clear personal understanding of what it would mean to take calculus early in high school. When I was a kid, they didn't offer calculus in high school. I don't have a personal vision of what that involves. I remember kids in college doing very poorly in calculus. I'm not sure how high school calculus compares in terms of pace and rigor.

Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts and experience.
I just want to say thank you to all of you on this thread.

What started off as a thread on the irritation over the Algebra testing schedule morphed into a great discussion on math in middle school.

Those of you who had been thru it stepped up to give advice and your experience to parents with questions. As well, it helps so much for parents to know what might be happening (or not) throughout the district.

THAT is what this blog is about - getting out information and sharing experiences - in short, being a community.

Thank you.
Anonymous said…
This is a classic example of acceleration without added rigor or a plan for where it will get these kids in high school. One of my kids qualified as a 4th grader for Algebra in 6th but went to lakeside in middle school. At Lakeside, no one takes algebra until 8th grade. Accelerated math kids at lakeside then move on to geometry in 9th, precalculus in 10th, calculus AB and BC in 11th and multivariable calculus or advanced math electives in 12th (beyond BC calc.). The idea is to give all kids, even the math whizzes, a solid, deep foundation in math basics before acceleration and complex topics are tackled. It allows for some real challenge in high school without speeding kids through the curricum. If only SPS could implement a real advanced learning math curriculum that provides both challenge & depth.
-- been there
Benjamin Leis said…
I wouldn't quite describe the upper math track as unplanned through high school. If you follow the sequence its

6th grade Algebra
7th Grade Geometry
8th Grade Algebra II
9th Grade PreCalc
10th Grade AP Calculus AB
11th Grade AP Calculus BC
12th optional Grade AP Statistics or Running Starting

But given the current teachers/text books yes I have my doubt about the rigor along the way. There is definitely opportunity to infuse more depth along the way. Just finishing the textbook adoption process for MS would be a great first step.

On the other hand, I'm also suspicious of one size fits all sequences like that at Lakeside. Compressing Calculus AB and BC into 1 year seems a bit dicier than allowing 2 years to do it like our pathway. And there are really are significant populations of kids out there i.e. enough to form classes that have mastered pre-algebra prior to 8th grade.

Anonymous said…
@ been there, the Lakeside pathway you mentioned doesn't seem to match what's in their catalog, which is this sequence:

Alg 1
Alg 2
Geom (reg., accel., or honors)
Precalc (reg., accel., or honors)
Calc (accel AB, Accel BC, or honors BC - note: AB and BC are both yearlong courses)
Optional Stats or MV Calc after that...

Your version of the plan excludes Alg 2. You also indicated Calc AB and BC are taken the same year, but they are listed as yearlong courses. Do kids double up?

It allows for some real challenge in high school without speeding kids through the curriculum.
Hmm. The plan you outlines means they either skip Alg 2 completely, or maybe they speed through and cover Alg 1 and Alg 2 material all in 8th grade? Same with calculus--most schools offer two years if they go to the BC level, but at Lakeside it seems to be single year of Calc to be ready for the BC exam? Is the idea that they go slower in the middle school years, then very very rapidly accelerate in high school? Is there evidence that that's a better approach? Personally, I think I'd rather see more even pacing, but that's an interesting approach.

Anonymous said…
It's unplanned in that not all middle schools are guaranteeing Algebra 2 will be available (or even Geometry), and not all SPS high schools offer AP Calculus BC. Students are being offered placement in a class that could potentially leave them without a math class in either middle school or high school. This is the first year Hamilton has officially offered Algebra 2 (and the teacher that saw it through is now retiring).

questionable planning
Benjamin Leis said…
I've wondered if you could request transfer to a different MS or HS for math classes under the new Advanced Learner policy. That seems in the same spirit as the guarantee of access to AP classes. That's probably hopelessly naive of me to think that might be possible.

Lynn said…
In middle school, a highly capable student can of course transfer to a school with the HCC. In high school a student could request a transfer once they've taken all the classes offered in (for example) math. How many kids want to transfer during high school? (This only applies to Highly Capable students - not those who are accelerated in math only.)
Anonymous said…
HIMS mom-
The High School pathway I was referring to at Lakeside is the Honors pathway offered to the strongest math-focused kid. They take a more rigorous Algebra in 8th, followed by Honors Geometry, Honors Precalculus, then Honors Calculus in 11th grade (which prepares them for the BC exam if they choose to take it). 12th grade provides options like multivariable calculus, statistics, or some interesting interdisciplinary math electives. In the honors pathway they go straight from 8th grade algebra to Honors geometry. Most Lakeside kids take a somewhat slower pace, following Algebra with Algebra II and taking calculus in 2 years (AB and BC). My point was that there is not much acceleration in middle school at lakeside. Instead the philosophy is to provide a very strong math base for all students in middle school, then to provide ample rigor and acceleration in high school for those who express a strong interest in math. The SPS highly capable approach instead accelerates through the very basic curriculum but doesn't offer much more in high school to the kid who opts to take Algebra in 6th grade. It's not well thought out. Unless something changes in the offered courses, the 6th grade Algebra kids won't be getting any added benefit in high school as a result of their acceleration. They may just end up having to take the AP exams at a pretty young age.
-- Been there
Anonymous said…
If I understand the AP Calculus levels correctly, Calculus AB is equivalent to a semester of college Calculus and Calculus BC is equivalent to a year of college Calculus. BC covers what is in AB and you are not required to take AB prior to BC, at least that is what Wikipedia says. Has it always been this way? My college prep high school only offered one AP calculus back in the day.

Anonymous said…
Yes, the AP Calc BC exam covers both AB and BC material. I think the classes, however, are typically set up to be sequential--AB then BC, or sometimes A, then B, then C .

@ been there, thanks for that info. Very interesting. Crappy SPS curriculum issues aside, one potential benefit to Alg 1 in 6th is that you then have the option of getting through both Calc BC and AP Stats in HS, which is otherwise hard to do with the SPS math sequence and prerequisites. Starting later but preserving full HS options works at Lakeside because they do that skipping/compacting/accelerating /etc. And re: your concern the SPS sequence would have kids taking AP exams at too young an age, don't both the sequences we're discussing have kids taking Calc BC their junior year? I guess the SPS sequence adds the possibility of an AB exam in 10th, but I would think kids could opt to hold off for the BC in 11th.

Anonymous said…
Back in my day (over ten years ago), Algebra was given to accelerated students in 8th grade. High school went Geometry, Alg II, Junior year had the option of either Trig or Pre-Calc, and senior year had the option of Calc, Calc AB or Calc BC, or AP Stat (yep, we had all those choices). Most of the kids who were into math enough to pursue it into senior year wound up taking BC or Statistics (or took Statistics as an elective), and the BC kids were encouraged to take the AB test if they wanted, just to see how they did. (Or maybe it was the other way around? I was not a math person myself and stopped in eleventh grade.) It's my understanding that the harder AP Calc was quite attainable, but the teacher was well-known as one of the best in the school, and everyone said she made all the difference.

Personally I feel like it'd be easier to cram in more calc at the end than be thrust into algebra early... but again, I didn't excel in math myself.

-New Mom

Anonymous said…
My HS experience was much like New Mom's.

Most kids (maybe 50-75%?) took 8th grade math, then Algebra 1 in 9th, Geometry in 10th and Algebra 2 in 11th. Then you could choose a math - for 12th - many did Statistics. Accelerated kids took Algebra 1 in 8th, Geometry in 9th, Algebra 2 in 10th, Trig/Pre-Calc in 11th and AB OR BC Calc in 12th. A few very accelerated kids (~10-25 a year?) shifted a year futher ahead. They went to the local university for Linear Algebra in 12th.

We had a very different gifted program direction though - it was all enrichment based in elementary school and enrichment + acceleration in middle school. One day a week the teachers did review for non "gifted" students and the "gifted" students went and did additional fine arts, creative writing, math games, puzzles, etc. They started class tracking in middle school and acceleration then. To me it makes more sense since young kids (even gifted ones) develop unevenly, but, well, there's much about education in Seattle that doesn't make sense to me.

NE Parent
Charlie Mas said…
Equitable access? Does anyone care?

Guess not.

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