Fantasy letter... to recipient with deaf ears

NJASK scores came yesterday, C did exceptionally well and it just is another indicator that she is in the wrong math program. She is in pre-algebra (In BRRSD 7th graders are placed in one of three groups: topics is easiest, then pre-algebra, then algebra).  I wrote the following e-mail that I haven't sent. It is a reply to the formal e-mail from the district saying that C didn't make algebra due to the fact that she was making Bs in e-math last year and that some of her test scores were slightly below the minimum requirement.

If you found this posting because you have a child in e-math or are considering e-math for your 6th grader, be warned - if you child doesn't make an A in e-math they will be ineligible for advanced math in 7th grade.  Placement for your 7th grader is vital as it will preclude your child from taking the highest level math in high school. Unless you send your child to summer school - or perhaps take 2 math classes in a year in high school (if they allow that, I'm not sure) - you will be able to take honors math classes, but not the highest offered classes. And if your child is bright and strong in math, they may be bored in pre-algebra. Here is the general information on placement, but there are actual numbers that the children have to reach not listed on this form. If they place even slightly below the requirements they are not allowed into the program. So far I have not heard of a single exception - although I have heard anecdotes about children being reassessed and placed in e-math in 5th or 6th grades. 

On the other hand, one of her friends just dropped algebra because it was a bit too challenging. My theory is that kids ought to be given the chance to try the challenge and change to a lower math if it doesn't work out. The child who dropped is extremely bright but was not in e-math last year. She is in advanced language arts, so it might be just as well as the workload for two advanced classes might require a lot of time.

The e-mail below is a response to an e-mail in which she has just shot down C for algebra placement in 7th grade. Since it is mostly a list of my daughter's scores, I have not included it here. Her last line said, "I assure you that the curriculum in PreAlgebra is not a repeat of the 6 E-Math curriculum." In respect for C's privacy, I'm not including her NJASK scores in this posting, but I am proud of how well she did on a test that "doesn't count" except in NCLB.

Dear Ms. Cadwalader (BRRSD math supervisor and advanced math gate keeper):

We will have to agree to disagree that only children with straight As in e-math deserve to be in algebra, especially since this is beyond the scope of grading required to stay in e- during the school year.  (I believe she had to have a B- or better to continue in e-math).

So far my daughter confirms that everything she has done so far this year was covered last year in e-math. She has not had any new material. While I appreciate that teachers generally review or assess in the first few weeks of school, and it is only October 6th, I will definitely get back to you in a few weeks should the program not cover any new material as promised.

I also emphatically disagree that parents do not know the ability of their children and that children should be allowed to try - and perhaps fail - to manage the hardest classes. It is far too elite! I would much rather see her get a B in an accelerated class than an A for which she did the bare minimum of work! The fact that your parameters rate children in regular 6th grade math classes on the same par as children in e- is completely unreasonable. It favors children in non-e classes to get into algebra. Had I known this at the end of 5th grade, I would never have put C in e- as I had no idea an A was a requirement for entry to algebra. YOU NED TO ALERT PARENTS OF THIS WHEN THEY SIGN THE LETTER ACCEPTING PLACEMENT! E-classes have no bearing on what colleges kids can apply to, unlike the algebra kids who now have a significant advantage over the non-algebra 7th graders as they take the most challenging classes in high school. And unless we send C to a private program in the summer, she cannot catch up now that she is not in algebra from the get go.
Competitive colleges ask students "have you taken the hardest classes offered in your district". C cannot answer yes to this question based on numbers in 5th and 6th grades!

I know there are
plenty of parents  in our boat who have children who placed just slightly outside the parameters for e- or algebra or other special programs and are equally as frustrated.

Finally, her NJASK results came yesterday and while they are only an informal indicator, it indicates that C is a very strong math student! She scored a ....! Her raw score was  X out of a total of 49 points. 

While I am not so naive to think that you are willing to change her placement as you have not done so before, it is my right and responsibility as my child's advocate to point out what I believe is an error in both general policy and specifically to my daughter. 

Best regards,

Bridgewater's Soccer Mom...

So readers - do I send this????


Anonymous said…
Yes, You should send this. We had a exact situation with my Son with this school district. Sent my son to private school in Summer and got back
in track now.

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