Math Task Force Presents Final Recommendation

A final recommendation from the Superintendent Math Task Force was presented to the Board of Education during a special meeting Monday. The recommendation includes four components of the math placement process. Pending approval, this new placement process would be utilized for next school year. To read the full Board report, please click here
“The math placement criteria and processes recommended by the task force are strategically designed to provide multiple opportunities for a student to be placed in advanced math in grades 4-8,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Patricia Wernet. “At the same time, we are also mindful that  ‘over-inclusion’ in advanced and accelerated classes can be a disservice to those students for whom a well-designed grade-level program is the most appropriate placement.  Therefore, our placement criteria and processes are intended to balance those interests.”
The Superintendent Math Task Force was formed at the start of this school year. Its official charge was to research, design, and recommend a repeatable, predictable, collaboratively designed student identification process for advanced and accelerated math. The task force had representation from key stakeholders, including staff from District 34 and District 225, a member from the District 34 Board of Education, and parents. 

The four components proposed by the task force include:
Placement Process
The proposed identification process is strategically designed to have multiple phases in which students can be considered for advanced/accelerated placement. It expands opportunities to students and offers flexibility for entering the advanced programming beyond grade 4. Placement will begin January of every school year and, depending on which phase of placement a student falls into, decisions will be communicated to parents by the end of that same school year. Please note: all students currently in advanced/accelerated math will automatically remain on that pathway.
Placement Method: Matrix
In the simplest of terms, a matrix is a tool that includes the components and cuts scores for both cognitive and academic assessments that will be used to determine student placements. Through research of the prior matrix and projection methodology previously used by the district, the task force determined that MAP Math and a Student Performance Rating Scale, which is completed by the student’s teacher, are the two strongest indicators of student readiness and success in advanced/accelerated math. Therefore, these are considered to be the strongest weighted factors in the matrix.
It should also be noted that members of the task force reviewed current student data to determine the appropriate cut scores, meaning what number a student would need to receive on the matrix to be considered for advanced/accelerated math. With the goal being to strategically expand opportunities for advanced/accelerated math, it was important that the task force run simulations to see how many students would potentially place into each course and adjust the cut scores to ensure students have been appropriately placed.
Appeal Process
The redesigned process allows for parents, teachers or students to appeal to the district if they disagree with the district’s initial decision on placement. The appeal process will include an online Appeal Form, Student Survey, Supplemental Math Test and Additional Teacher Input (including classroom performance data).
Provisional Placement with Exit Criteria
As mentioned previously, there are multiple opportunities for students to be placed into an advanced course. For students not initially placed into an advanced math course, but move into this course, they are considered provisionally placed. This means their progress will be monitored to ensure they are finding success in their course placement. If they are not finding success in a course placement, the district will utilize a new exit criteria.
“I am incredibly proud of the work the task force has completed. This new placement process will allow for greater opportunity for our students to be considered for advanced or accelerated math and to continue on that path well into the high school. We are also fortunate to have had the high school as a partner with us in this process,” Wernet said.
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