## Welcome to My In Box

From the parent of a highly advanced Sakai 6th grader:

Do you have a rough estimate of how many hours/weeks of on-line instruction, practice exercises, homework, etc. might be required for students such as my son and his 6th grade peers to complete the self-paced Derek Owens Algebra program and be in a strong position to test out of the WMS Algebra course? If this self-paced program comes to pass at Sakai, we will need to speak with our son about the extra commitment he may need to make over the summer to be prepared to test out of Algebra. (Some 12 year old boys have competing ideas of how to spend their summer vacation!)

Is there a specific test or other criteria established within BISD to “validate” 7th grade Math, Algebra and higher courses? If so, what would be the process and timing for a student to pass the Algebra test and jump to Honors Geometry at WMS in Fall 2014?

As far as course options in 8th grade are concerned, I’d personally prefer to see some sort of WMS-based option for accelerated students who are ready for Honors Algebra II in 8th grade. Zero period is not necessarily the best option for all students/families, due to the lack of bus service and longer school day. Many kids are quite busy in the afternoons and evenings with music, sports and a host of other extra-curricular activities. They often don’t get to their homework until later in the evening, and we know there are a lot of time-consuming projects assigned at Woodward. So I wonder if adding zero period every day of the week might unnecessarily exhaust some kids. Also, daily zero period classes may prevent students from doing extracurricular activities such as jazz band, sports training, etc. which periodically meet in the morning. (Not quite sure on the schedules for extra curricular morning activities these days)

One of the reasons we didn’t enroll our 6th grade son in Algebra this year is because we weren’t keen on sending him to WMS ahead of his (social) peers. Granted, sending an 8th grader to BHS is likely to be less of an adjustment for 14 year olds, but my fundamental preference would be for BISD to create the HC programs/classes students need, delivered at the schools they attend, within regular (1-6) school hours.

If HC classes are consolidated at a single location for practical/financial reasons, the school district should provide transportation for students, rather than expect the parents to always make extraordinary logistical arrangements.

Thanks so much for exploring math curriculum options for our kids with Glen and BISD. We are hopeful the HC math program will continue to evolve and improve this year and in the years to come.

From Sakai Dean of Students Steve Brown in the Jan 23, 2014 Coho Connection on the topic of Math Placement Testing:

What should you do to prepare your [5th grade] student in the meantime? My advice: Encourage them to do their math classwork and homework. And to turn it in! If they are in an extra-curricular like Math Olympiad, support their sticking with it. Finally, keep math being a fun challenge.

Over-drilling and “practice” for potential screening tests is just as likely to burn-out and sour your student on math as it is to get them a “better” placement.

My opinion. If a student is must skip from 5th grade math directly to 7th grade math in order to get into a high ability learning cohort, then the student should cover the 6th grade math in 5th grade with support from the school. If there is no school support, then it is up to the parent to provide the learning opportunity and support. This is not over-drilling and "practice" for screening, this is simply making good use of the learning time in the 5th grade year to build a solid foundation in mathematics.