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My name is Ken Graham, and I am the K-12 Director of Science for the the Long Beach School District. I am attempting to collect some information on policies of entrance into accelerated courses at the middle school, and I am hoping that this group can help me out.
This year we had approximately 70% of our students in grade 8 take Regents Earth Science. Of those students 98.9% passed the Regents and 69% achieved mastery. We have a policy of self-selection, meaning that students can opt into any level of a course that they choose.
Could you please provide me with a brief synopsis of how students in your middle school are placed in a Regents level science or math course for grade 8? For example, do you have standardized exam score requirements, teacher recommendations, waivers for signing in, self-selection/open-enrollment, or universal acceleration?
Please tell me your district, your title, the procedure, and an estimate of the number of students in math or science as eighth grade students.
I look forward to sharing my findings.
Thank you in advance.
At Commack Middle School (where I am currently Math Chair), I have about 40-50% of the population sitting for the Integrated Algebra Regents Exam in any given year. The beginning of that acceleration actually happens in grade 6, when I make recommended placements for our incoming 6th graders. I study basically 4 pieces of data to make the tentative placements- Quantitative COG scores from 5th grade, performance on the Grade 4 Math Assessment (the most recent ones available), Grade 5 math average to the point of scheduling, and a rubric score based upon the student's habits as they pertain to reading, problem-solving, working collaboratively, etc. Once the tentative schedules go out, parents are able to question the placement and I tell them where their child fell, by percentiles, relative to the whole incoming 6th grade class. I assure them that their child will be appropriately challenged, but indicate that with a signed letter, they are able to "self-select" their child into the accelerated course. Also, I truly refer to these courses as "accelerated" and not "honors"...my accelerated track contains the following courses: Pre-Algebra 6, Pre-Algebra 7, and Integrated Algebra. The regular track contains: Math 6, Math 7, and Math 8. We always have 100% passing Algebra in Grade 8 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% mastery. Certainly, our current procedures (and the issue of accelerating all) are worth revisiting now with the adoption of the Common Core Standards. Hope this helps!