District Makes Changes to Math Placement, Promises Ongoing Review

During the August 15 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction Beth Tsoumas provided an update about the latest refinements to the district’s math placement process. The result of this latest change is that more students have been placed into an advanced or accelerated math course, which the district recognizes is an important opportunity for its students.

The district also intends to reconvene a Math Committee made up of teachers from several grade levels and administrators to carefully evaluate the current identification process used to determine math placement and decide whether it should continue.

“After the revision of students’ math placements this summer, we feel comfortable with how they are placed for the coming school year. However, we want to make sure the method is something we should continue using moving forward,” Tsoumas said. “That is why we will be taking this year to carefully examine the process to ensure it is the most effective method for placing students appropriately.”

As Tsoumas explained, last spring the district began utilizing a new identification process to determine student math placement for 2016-17 school year. Called a projection methodology, this process looks at multiple data points and projects how a student will do on a future test, in this case the 2017 Winter NWEA MAP score. Based on that projection, or future score, a student is then placed into a math course.

After carefully evaluating this new process, the district decided the initial standard -- meaning the projected score students needed to achieve on the Winter NWEA MAP in order to be placed into an advanced or accelerated math course -- was set too high. By modifying the standard to a more appropriate level, it will give more students the opportunity to take an advanced or accelerated course.

“As with all of our students, this placement can change if it is not a proper fit, but we felt it was critical to open up the advanced math opportunity to more students who we felt could achieve much success,” Tsoumas said.

Throughout the course of this school year, the district will have ongoing communication with the parent community to share the work of the Math Committee, including whether the current method to determine student math placement will remain.