Saturday, September 2, 2017

Where Exactly is the Math Bridge Program Taking D181's Students?

This year, we will focus on publishing as free standing posts comments our readers submit that raise important issues, especially those that impact our students directly.  Yesterday we received the following 2 comments that question the impact last summer's Math Bridge program is going to have on our students.  The fundamental questions, in our opinion, are

  • Just how many students should actually be accelerated in math by 3 years?  
  • What really is a good measure to determine if these young children are ready for such rapid acceleration and will be successful in high school and beyond.

Triple acceleration means that when they are in 8th grade, they will be taking Algebra 2 Trigonometry Honors at Hinsdale Central High School, Pre-calculus as Freshmen, Calculus BC as Sophomores, Multi-variable calculus as Juniors and then either go off site to a local college to be further accelerated in Calculus based courses, or take Statistics or Computer Science as Seniors.  The comments below suggest that many avenues to jump onto the 3 year accelerated math track are now in place in D181, mainly as a result of the new Bridge program which only requires 70% to pass these kids.

While no doubt every year there will be a few students district wide who should be triple accelerated, and while no doubt our community is filled with very smart parents with very smart students, when the numbers start to climb and we are now looking at over 15 students in one building alone who have been triple accelerated, has the district inadvertently set most of these students up for future failure at the high school?  Let's hope D181 and D86 closely track these students and are prepared to publicly report the data to the community in future years.

In the meantime, we welcome submission by parents who might have opposing views on this issue and if received, we will modify this post to include the different perspectives.  We want to be clear that on this issue, we, the bloggers, are not taking a position on what is right or wrong, but are simply posing the concerns some parents have submitted and have asked questions that should ultimately be answered.

As always, SOUND OFF!


Anonymous Anonymous said...
I went to curriculum night at my school this week. By the presentation given to 5th grade parents, I have determined that the number of OUTLIERS in my school by very definition goes against what an outlier is. There are 2/3 of our students studying math 2 years ahead and within that group there are 15 kids who will go on to 3 years ahead.

That's 15 kids who are 3 years of math ahead in one building. I didn't realize Hinsdale had so many outliers. We look pretty much homogenous if you ask me.

My daughter thinks she's dumb in grade level math. I told her if 2/3 of your class was truly that brilliant our scores would look a lot better. Clearly, the people making decisions don't have any responsibility for these kids. And parents are blindly going along pushing their kids for accelerated learning.

TRUTH: At some point, it will catch up. Don't have a label of OUTLIERS for a group that is sizable. Outliers are rare. Clearly no one knows what an outlier is.

September 1, 2017 at 8:06 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm looking at the email that came out from my child's teacher regarding her math class.

I don't understand. So all of the kids who took the bridge program passed. That means they all had perfect attendance and they all got 70 percent or better. But if you were in school not taking bridge, you needed 80th percent in years past to be advanced. And to be accelerated you needed 99th. But now we drop it to 97th, take the bridge, and just get 70th.

I'm confused. Good thing I'm not in bridge.

And if you wanted to go from advanced to accelerated last year, you needed 99th. End of year test. etc. But in spring, if you were 97th you could bridge by giving up three weeks intense in summer. Passing at 70th.


And then when I get to middle school is it 70 percent or greater.

My youngest is in a cohort group taught by a middle school guy. The email states that she needs a C or better to continue. C-really?. Is C getting my daughter on Honor Roll at HMS? I don't think so.

I'm struggling to find the words to tell my daughter that event though her teacher thinks a C is okay. It isn't okay here. Not if she is accelerated.

Is this so when they get to middle school they all take Integrated Geometry and slow down? I just don't understand. I got on to the district website and I can't even make sense of this math trajectory at all. There is no communication to parents at all on what this means for our kids. SPELL IT OUT. I never asked for my kid to be 2 years ahead. Or 3. I didn't ask that she be pushed. Great, you pushed her. But you are pushing her but telling her a C is okay. I don't understand. My wife says it is too much too fast. Puberty hasn't hit. What about drama club? what about gymnastics. Ridiculous if you ask me.

Some of the smartest most talented people in the world were not in advanced math. Something stinks here.

September 1, 2017 at 8:28 PM


Anonymous said...

It makes no sense to allow a child to move ahead with only 70% mastery.. At 70% the child should actually repeat the class! It is unbelievable that a school district allows this! Decisions like this from parents and administrators set kids up to fail math in early high school and hate math for the rest of their lives.

Why do some parents find it so hard to accept that maybe their kid is not a math genius? That maybe he or she is a LA wiz, inventor or future rock star? When these kids get to high school they are not going to be prepared. Parents, trust your gut. Don't try to pretend your kid is an "outlier" (whatever the heck that means) when our district has not had a gifted program for over 5 years!

Anonymous said...

It isn't just the Bridge Program. It is everything. I am at a feeder school where both of our 4th and 5th grades have 2 sections of advanced math. All of a sudden after summer, 2/3 of the student body are advanced. Kids who were in grade level are now advanced. Odd.

Then there are whole groups of kids who are further advanced. And they are doing 7th or 8th grade math. At curriculum night they had a whole slide with 5 bullets just on 5 th grade math sections.

I'm confused. They don't tell you why there are two sections. Or what the differences are. There are no explanations. People are left to speculate which group is further and faster. And speculate they do.

What I don't get is-we were at 2 standard something before. Then we were at no acceleration. Then we said we don't grade skip math content. No skipping math content. Then when we went to combined classes of 4/5 and 6/7 and 7/8 and 3/4. Then we drill deep. Explain our thinking. We used to have cognitive tests or IQ tests. Then we did away with that. Then it was teacher buy in. Now it is cognitive tests.

It is like every year the criteria changes so much in my one family-my oldest was 2 years ahead. My second as no years ahead and my third is one year ahead but i've been told she has potential to be 2 or 3. Huh.

The scarier thing is when I ask my daughter do you realize you'll be taking a junior level math course in 9th grade she looks confused. I don't think she understands that at 5th grade.

And success is defined by a C. I got that letter too stated by one of the above writers.

I think District 181 is a laughing stock. It is shameful. And someone wrote on here that they want to accelerated for science too. That will be crazy.

When i asked the teacher how C got to her math class-they said she more than demonstrates her ability to consume the math. What the heck does that mean?

I am so confused.

Frustrated said...

We should require testing like Northwestern, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins to determine anything past one year advanced. I saved the work my daughter did in 8th grade and compared it to what my son did in 7th grade advanced math, that is evidence that CC material has been dumbed down, instead of going deeper. I am all for advanced math - because my college daughter needs another year of math, but advanced appears to be a label to make us feel good.

Sadly, teachers tell our kids Cs are average... At HC, you need an A to be moved to honors, and a solid B to stay in Honors- that is above 80% and substantially above 70%. My daughter noticed that Butler students are better prepared for HCHS, maybe we should take a closer look at what they're doing.

Anonymous said...

Just because a child took advantage of a District approved Summer Bridge program does not make him/her lesser. In fact, we should applaud an initiative that gives kids an opportunity to demonstrate their capable-ness away from the pressures of school and provides opportunity for enriched learning and growth.

What we can and should question is how the criteria is developed to give kids opportunities.

Why do we have 6 different math sections in 5th grade at one school and how can we account for the fact that all of the other high performing feeder schools are not accelerating at the same rate and pace and breadth that D 181 is accelerating? Do we suggest that all of our kids in 60521 are brilliant?

-And a C in an accelerated course doesn't seem great. Why not go back to grade level math and get an A.

I didn't realize the district is planning to tier for science acceleration. What best practices will they employ?

Will they use a reading score on MAP which is what is required for ACE Social Studies? Some would argue that just because a child is not able to score well on MAP Reading doesn't mean they are not advanced material for other coursework. Will it be a combination of either math or reading scores? Will it be teacher buy in?

If it is teacher buy in, then we know some teachers just don't work as hard as others. This is true of every profession out there.

And what of this new and improved common core ELA curriculum? Will it continually pass judgment on kids who are average readers vs "advanced readers"? what makes you an advanced reader--is it simply because you read all the time and have great vocabulary? Is it your Fountas and Pinnell level?

If so, then we should look at how we give Fountas and Pinnell. Who gives it. Is it given consistently and how is it given. There is a rubric but no two schools do it the same way and no two teachers do it either. Reading is not quantifiable. And Fountas and Pinnell is just a rubric that some kids don't do well on. If we can give them margin in math--a lot of margin--why not in Fountas and Pinnell.

Someone said their building has upwards of 15 outliers. Is that possible and still be an outlier? Can we look at the data of these kids?

What makes them an outlier? I would wager that those 15 kids do not have the same classroom performance--I would bet they don't even have the same range of performances or cut scores on MAP or whatever test. But somewhere someone made a decision. Who?

Some kids were hand picked at some schools and given a pass every year to accelerate more and more. Some kids are so entitled because their parents are entitled.

We need consistency. We need accountability.

But none of that will happen with no staff working at the District Office. And a Board of Education that spends 5 hours at a monthly meeting. We also can't keep any staff. Average time at district office is 10 months. That's wholly unimpressive.

This is not rocket science. This is doing your part before making rash decisions. In the business world, this wouldn't happen. District 181 needs to run like a business. Cut and trim the fat. Starting from the top.

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of the math. Can we talk about something else? Oh wait. Everyone only cares about math.
Regardless our math program is ridiculous. I agree. There is no way 10 or 15 kids per building are outliers. If that is the case then shoot- we need to win award for our academics. Somehow given the state of our administration I don't think that is happening.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter at 4:08pm: I agree with a lot of your concerns/questions. I really do.

However, I do take exception with the comment about the Board of Education spending 5 hours at a monthly meeting. First of all, these board members are volunteers giving of their time. Second, they spend a lot more time than 5 hours a month on District 181. Board meetings are long, the good ones spend hours prepping in advance of those meetings and some of them also chair/participate on various district sub-committees like the Finance committee or Learning committee. I personally Couldn't take on this responsibility and I'm thankful for those who do (in particular, Jennifer Burns and Leslie Gray who give countless hours to all of us).

Anonymous said...

4:08, I agree with most of what you say. No one should be advanced at 70% or even 80%. Butler kids are better prepared at HCHS, especially in math. Maybe because Butler's math department offers an extra level of math before Algebra II. The class they and Hinsdale Central offer that D181 refused to is Integrated Algebra/Geometry. Last year instead of offering this class, our district decided for all of us that our kids did not need this type of a class. (apparently there were too many uber smart kids) It was a poor choice, especially since Hinsdale Central offers it themselves. It plugs all the holes in learning obvious from the large number of too quickly accelerated, poorly prepared math students. Instead of offering a logical choice that would have helped round out our children's math foundations though, D181 ({parents? administrators?) insisted that OUR middle schoolers were all so smart that D181 did not need this type of a class. Give me a break. D181 kids are not any smarter than kids in any other district....their parents just think they are. It was a really poor choice to skip so many D181 kids straight through to Algebra II in middle school.

And while I am sure that there are at least 30 sets of parents of 8th grade parents who think their kids are outliers, this is impossible. If somehow some pushy parents convinced the principals at their schools that their darlings needed to be triple accelerated, the only person to blame is our unqualified administration Althtough 15 kids shouldn't go forward, 1, 2 or 3 children are actually GOING to be truly qualified. What do you propose be done with those kids, hmm? Turn them into unqualified teacher aides/child labor? Some parents are always going to have a problem with any kid who isn't their own being accelerated like that. Those parents need to get over their unfounded disbelief that anyone else's child is more capable than their own.

I think your assertion that some kids are entitled to accelerate because their parents are entitled is off base. Yes, there are a lot of entitled parents, kids, and teachers in this district, yet not all of them are in the accelerated program. Many kids were incorrectly hand picked, but not all were. Once incorrectly hand picked, it is much harder to send kids them back down to an appropriate class - especially without any appropriate leveled classes to send them. It isn't the children's or parent's faults that D181 administrators are so clueless so I don't think that you should lead others to believe that only the children of entitled, pushy parents are accelerated. The only person you can blame for parents incorrectly persuading staff to accelerate kids who should not be are administrators and staff and the board who allow those administrators to continue making bad decisions.

I agree that without appropriate testing and an administrator certified and experienced in gifted education that our district will continue to accelerate way too many kids and hurt their educations. They will also overlook a lot of children who don't fit the traditional mold of what a gifted or bright kid is. It's just that without any curriculum experts able to quantify and definitively say why some kids qualify and some kids don't, parents like you will continue to resent any and all children who actually are qualified to accelerate.

Just how our kids take a bridge program to build their skills in math, the board needs to force our superintendent and principals to take a bridge class in curriculum and gifted education. It doesn't make sense for only our kids to go to summer school when so many staff and principals are the ones perpetuating the blatant problems with the district's gifted/accelerated program.

Anonymous said...

I think it's a very vocal minority of parents who instigate the mass accelerations. There's quite a bit of entitlement in our district, plus too many administrators who are too politically correct/SELAS Kool-aid drinkers that don't want anyone to feel dumb or different. It seems like way too many people not only want, but expect their kids to be in the highest level classes, get all honors & AP classes in high school, go on to an Ivy League college, and then become a doctor, actor, CEO, or some other high priced, glamorous job. If the kid's capable, kudos. but there's nothing wrong with not being one of those professions. What's wrong with going to a trade school for a year or two? Many trades start out at $50-60,000/year while many 4-year liberal arts degrees can barely find any job at all. It's time for people to get over themselves.

Anonymous said...

I have a HCHS freshman, former ACE (gifted) program student who has received 99th percentile in math on all standardized since first grade, straight As with strength in math, plays chess and is a girl. She had always been in "accelerated" which means algebra in 7th, geometry in 8th. She literally was bored in class, did her homework during class, straight As. I was never approached about the triple acceleration although I assure you I would NEVER have done it. I tell people this all the time....the parents push for it, perhaps they pay for it....I can't imagine what other parameter these students are being calculated against but it just goes to show you....there is something behind the scenes. Again, for my daughter, math is her strength, she enjoys it and is where she should be. She will most likely study engineering, pre-med or economics for college. She is confident in math. I won't go into the HOURS she has spent in the classroom HELPING, AIDING and TEACHING other students in her accelerated classes who were struggling. YEARS !! (Without a pension) she has seen it all with the many kids who should never have been in accelerated. The 3 years accelerated must be parent-driven ....and somehow this crazy district obliges. And they use nice people like us to "help" and teach other students.

Anonymous said...

To the parent who posted yesterday at 12:57pm:

Please don't assume that you know everything about the children who have been triple accelerated or their parents. Being one of those parents, I can assure that in our case, it wasn't parent-driven and I didn't pay for it unless you are counting the taxes that I pay to send my children to school here. There was nothing behind the scenes and no secret handshakes. My child has never been coached, tutored, flash-carded, etc. and scores in the 99th percentile at the junior/senior high school levels, not at the 99th percentile as a 7th grader for a 7th grader. There will be some kids (although not many statistically) that needs this advancement and I think your statement is really unfair. In this district, we should be able to provide these opportunities.

I'm glad that your daughter is doing great at school. She sounds like a very talented girl and I'm sure you must be very proud and you should be. However, don't tell that you would NEVER have triple accelerated her if you had been told she should be.

Anonymous said...

Well actually....we the taxpayers pay for the services (as long as there is space of course) and the cab rides back and forth. I am not the only one I assure you who has wondered: what are the parameters set in place to determine this program ? The district has set and communicated set public parameters (more recently) for math as well as other programming but not that one. I happen to know teachers who have made some interesting remarks about the program and I have watched children go from NOT accelerated in math to 3 years accelerated is TRUE. Did they hire a great tutor ? I also think there are outliers but NOT 15 per building. I can only assume that you too are excellent at math so you must know that many people who are amazing at math are also terrible at English, grammar, rhetoric, communications etc...I learned this by attending one of the best engineering schools in the nation. It begs the question...where are we missing the curve on other curricula for these students ? Is someone in D181 actually measuring this and what are the outcomes? It really shouldn't be dismissed as "oh you don't know what you're talking about"....I also find it interesting that you gloss over the fact that many top D181 students especially in math act as in-class tutors to other struggling students. I guess if that isn't you, then no need to worry about it !

Anonymous said...

To 11:15pm:

Yes, we, the taxpayers, pay for the education of the children in our community and the services needed to support the delivery of that education. I pay for my children and your children and vice versa, you do as well. I honestly don't want to get into a debate. I just wanted to point out that making a sweeping generalization that all of this acceleration is parent-driven is unfounded. You don't know the circumstances for every child and neither do I.

I do agree that statistically, there can't be 15 outliers per building. Someone needs to take a hard look at those numbers.

Anonymous said...

I think what's been lost here is that OUTLIERS is a term that applies to top 1 percent. And in every school district, every neighborhood there are those top 1 percent. Statistically speaking, top 1 percent in a given grade or school doesn't amount to twenty or thirty or forty children, it amounts to a small number of students per school/grade/district.

The challenge here in D 181 is two fold: providing meaningful opportunities to our students earlier that both challenge and nurture the learning spirit and curve; stimulate the student who is over arching or above grade level; and provide social and emotional support to those students who are accelerated beyond chronological age and grade level.

I do believe that there is a need for some students to be one, two, three or whatever years ahead. Some kids are just talented in math. Just like some kids are born readers, science oriented, athletic, etc.

And let's not harp on the fact that tutoring or enrichment provides the sole basis for acceleration. To my knowledge, a tutor cannot take the MAP or other standardized test for a student. A tutor cannot teach a child who is not ready to learn the material. A tutor can expose children to above grade content; provide test prep; coach a child to be a stronger worker, more organized student, more prepared child--but a tutor cannot perform for the student. The truth of the matter is in this community, people school their kids in baseball, soccer, basketball, swimming, tennis, piano, and whatever else all in the path of private tutoring. And yet, no Hinsdale kid is in the major leagues and no Hinsdale kid has gone on to the NBA. So no amount of tutoring, private lessons or anything else is going to replace hard earned, natural talent and perseverance. No amount of tutoring is going to sustain a kid long term in an accelerated track.

What is the question in my mind is WHY ARE WE BRIDGING KIDS to the OUTLIER GROUP? Why are kids who are double accelerated bridging to triple acceleration? Why are kids in grade level bridging to double accelerated? You shouldn't be bridging to outlier status. And we need to look at the kids in these trajectories--do they continue to bench at 99th percentile? 98th? or are they dropping to 85th or 87th? still great scores but perhaps not competitive with their grouping. What of students who are in these two and three year tracks? Are they performing well in class? Are their social needs and emotional needs being met? Do we have supports in place for them? Can we see a grid on how they are doing in year 1, year 2, year 3 of this acceleration?

And for the parent who commented that you pay for cab rides or bus rides for students who need math differentiated, let's be clear. We in Hinsdale are all tax payers for D 181 schools. Those taxes pay for special education; pay for books, materials, desks, flex seating, teacher salaries, etc for ALL students. Regardless of their math, reading or social abilities. We all are entitled to fair and just education for our children living here. And every child should be looked at for every opportunity.

Math shouldn't be this complicated. We swing every which way, every year. We have kids with 2 STD and no STD in these math groupings; we have kids at 77th percentile and kids at 99th percentile. We have students who did a year of math in 3 weeks (HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?) and kids who were forced to NOT skip content. We have no consistency at all. We have no leadership at the BOE or D 181 Admin offices either.

Has anyone ever really LISTENED to the families and LOOKED at the data of our outliers? Have we pulled the MAP Scores and class records of the students blindly, anonymously to see how these kids got there and how they are performing? An audit if you will.