May 2, 2016 President’s Message
The primary reason American students do not compete well in mathematics with students from other advanced countries is that students in the United States frequently do not get exposed to algebra or geometry prior to high school. Educators recommend pushing down these key math subjects to the middle grade levels.
Edison School District has already restructured the middle grades sequence to allow more students to reach geometry by honors eighth grade, and algebra in the accelerated math classes. Our students taking geometry in eighth grade have done extraordinarily well in the PARCC test, with 100% passing versus 53% for NJ State. The eighth grade students taking algebra have a similar story to tell: 91% of our district students passed the PARCC as opposed to the NJ statewide average of 59%.
But here’s the problem: how can we get more students into accelerated math in grade 6 so that they are prepared to take Algebra 1 while still in middle school. Students that remain in level 2 math class from grade 6 through grade 12 will not be able to take calculus while still in high school, which is expected by top colleges.
An exciting pilot math program has been designed by supervisors and teachers that will give many students in the academic level 2 track an opportunity to move up to accelerated level 1 over the course of the 2016 summer. Teachers have identified 120 students going from grade five to six who did not meet the placement criteria for accelerated math level 1, but could meet those criteria if certain skill proficiencies were corrected.
The Edison School District is offering a free, four week online summer math course designed to enhance the math performance for these selected 120 students. Middle school math teachers will monitor the math progress of these students using their Chromebooks and working with Ten Marks assignments from June 27th through July 22nd. Students are required to take a pre-test before leaving school in June, and must pass a post-test at the conclusion of the course.
Successful students will be placed in accelerated level 1 math rather than the academic level 2 math sequence.
Math courses taken in middle grades constitute the critical path to higher achievement courses in high school, and have a substantial impact on the college admissions process. Parents fortunate enough to have their children identified as having the potential to succeed in advancing to the accelerated level 1 math are urged to take advantage of this marvelous opportunity.
Frank Heelan, Ed.D., President
Edison Board of Education