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Topic: Accelerated 8th graders
Replies: 16   Last Post: Jan 31, 2011 10:49 AM

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Virginia Kuryla

Posts: 61
Registered: 1/26/06
RE: Accelerated 8th graders
Posted: Jan 28, 2011 1:05 PM
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This discussion has been very interesting to me. It is a topic that has
been debated in my district for many years, and my opinions about it
have changed a number of times.

Currently, decisions about placement in accelerated classes are made at
the administrative level and have historically been based on teacher
recommendation, grade 5 and grade 6 NYS test scores, and district
universal screening tests. We typically have 1 section of accel 7/8 out
of either 4 or 5 sections at a grade level. I believe that we have 24
students in accel 7/8 this year out of 78 in 7th grade. If a student
does not choose acceleration at 7th grade, I don't think that there is
currently an option to accelerate later unless they were to take calc or
precalc at a community college before their JR or Sr year. There is not
a required "minimum average" and there is no formal policy that would
mean removal from the program.

I share Neal's concern about what to do with students who are used to
getting 90's in their average math classes with hard work, but the same
hard work in an accelerated course only gets them grades in the 70's and
80's or sometimes lower. Usually this began at 7th grade and then there
was a steady decline in grades in Algebra the next year. I have not
taught accelerated classes for a few years, but I still communicate
often about them with the teachers who are currently teaching them and
it seems as though the trends I experienced have continued.

I always did my best to support them with extra help during lunch or
after school and even recommended tutoring to a few. If a student is
willing to put in the effort, I am willing to work with that student
until they comprehend the material. I worked with parents and students
to decide what was best and on occasion a student would move back into
"regular math" or repeat 9th grade math with their peers rather than
proceed feeling like they didn't know what they were doing. This was
not a teacher or school decision, it was a parent/child decision. Most
of the students who chose this were very successful the following year
and carried that success and foundation forward into the other HS math
classes. Most of the students who I worried about but decided to push
on were forced to repeat later when they failed a class and/or regents
exam or they ended up just scraping by, hating Math and dropped it as
soon as they were able.

My experience was that accelerating so many students made it almost
impossible to enrich. I would still have the highest achievers sitting
in class bored while some students struggled to hang on. Most students
worked hard and had grades in the 80's. Those low achieving accelerated
students began to feel like my students with IEP's. It was painful to
watch them suffer and give up and feel like they were not good at math
when I knew that they just needed more time to digest the new material
and/or a better foundation to build on.

I'm curious about the comments made about students choosing to
accelerate. I agree with the premise that any student who wants to try
acceleration and is motivated should be given the opportunity. My
experience has been that parents have wanted acceleration for their
children much more than the child. What are your thoughts about this?
Do you regularly have students who are looking for a challenge and who
push themselves?

Ginny Kuryla

>>> "Westendorf, Neal" <> 1/28/2011
8:23 AM >>>
How do you handle the student who has always gotten high grades but is
not at the top of their game? They jump up a level in the progression
and are painfully over their head. I have one student who is barely
passing and has always had top grades. At this point we don't even know
where to begin with extra help.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Gary Furman
Sent: Thursday, January 27, 2011 5:36 PM
To: list serve
Subject: Re: Accelerated 8th graders

I believe that any student who would like the opportunity to take
accelerated math classes should be able to with some limitations. The
limitations would be not passing mathematics the previous year. I know
among mathematics educators that this is not a popular point of view.
However, there are too many gates that are put in place to keep students
out. Why not let them have the opportunity and provide the appropriate
support when students struggle?
We are so quick to complain that students do not put forth the effort.
Yet, when students want to be challenged and begin to struggle we are so
quick to say that the student does not belong in the class. By allowing
students to accelerate in mathematics, we open other opportunities for
the students when they get into high school. It is always easier to
place the cream of the crop in the accelerated classes, however, is that
always in the best interest of all students, especially students who may
receive free and reduce lunch or are a minority student. As mathematics
educators, it is up to us to inspire students to take on the challenge
that mathematics presents to them.

Gary Furman
Ellenville CSD

On 27 Jan 2011 at 12:17, Westendorf, Neal wrote:

Subject:Accelerated 8th graders
Date sent:Thu, 27 Jan 2011 12:17:16 -0500
From:"Westendorf, Neal" <>
To:"list serve" <>
Send reply

> I have some questions and concerns about accelerating 8th graders
into Integrated Algebra.
> How do you decide who is accelerated? Do you use teacher input? How

> you buffer the parent input and desires if you can. Do you weight the

> various inputs? What, if any, is the input provided by the 7th grade

> or even 6th grade State assessments. Can those assessments be
> correlated to or predictive of success at the Algebra level and
> beyond? What percent of your kids are directed into the accelerated

`track? in any given class? Do you accelerate in 7th grade to help the
best and brightest ramp up to the Algebra material and the HS
> Also, what is your expectation as to the ultimate role of
> acceleration. Do all of your kids go on to Calculus or other Senior
> level math? What percentage of your accelerated students fulfill the

entire sequence to Calculus or other high end math course?
> As you can see, I am frustrated with my (new) course this year and am

> looking for ideas, thoughts and suggestions. Looking forward to
hearing from you.
> Neal Westendorf
> Taconic Hills

Gary Furman
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Ellenville
Central School District

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