Academic Challenge and Mathematics

Academic Challenge and Mathematics

Do I support classes that have distinct levels of challenge at CRLS? Yes. Does this mean I am happy with the student demographics in these distinct level classes? No. I understand this is a question that leads to the question of why someone would support distinct challenges at the high school level and then not support distinct levels of challenge in the middle schools. It appears to be a contradiction.

Our district needs policy on mathematics education in the grades 6 to 8. For many years, student access to advanced math has varied widely from school to school and student to student. Some students accessed Algebra I classes at CRLS, while others relied on outside classes or materials that parents provided for their children. Some schools tested students to assess their readiness for Algebra I in 8th grade and others did not. This was not a fair or equitable system. Clearly, we missed offering more intensive mathematics to students who were ready to learn it. We need to prepare more of our students for more challenging mathematics.

How do we do this in a way that advances the achievement of all our students? that is fair and equitable? How did the district move from a place where the Algebra Project, which advanced the premise that all students can learn Algebra, to a place where a student needed to be in a particular school or rely on parent navigation of the system in order to learn Algebra in 8th grade?

I understand the desire for distinct levels of challenge, particularly in mathematics. I believe even with those levels, we still will have students, albeit a small number, who will not be appropriately challenged in an accelerated class. I also have other questions. How will we adequately prepare all our students for high school level mathematics? How will we decide who will be in the accelerated class? Will it be similar to CRLS, where the students themselves may opt into the class (as a student can opt into honors level)? Will students who may not self identify as strong in mathematics but have shown some promise be encouraged to attempt these classes? Would there be flexibility in these groupings? Would a co-teaching model in all three grades provide an environment where the accelerated students would get the challenge they need? An evaluation of the present 6th mathematics classes should tell us.

If I’m elected as a School Committee member, I will be asking many questions about policy matters. I want data-driven decisions, rather than ideological decisions. I also want policy decisions made in the broader context: wanting to improve achievement for all students. My goal is for many more students across a wide range of demographics arrive at CRLS ready to take honors classes. I believe any model we choose needs to serve all students. If not, we need to make adjustments to the model.

Please let me know if you have other questions.

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