Math Placement FAQ's

Math Acceleration - Frequently Asked Questions

Why are some 5th grade students being given a screener test over 6th grade standards?  

For many years, students in the United States (including the Olympia School District) have been “accelerated” in math by skipping entire years of math. One common practice was to have 6th graders skip 6th grade math and take 7th grade math in their 6th grade year. The Washington State Standards for math aim to focus students’ learning each year and deliver a coherent development of mathematical understanding through the school years. Students in 6th grade math are taught deep concepts that are foundational for their understanding of math, along with important algorithms.

 

Based on the change in our Standards, research on acceleration, and what other districts across the nation are doing, Olympia School District has determined that it only makes sense for students to skip 6th grade math if they can demonstrate that they know the content.

 

That said, we do want students to have that opportunity if they are ready. We are therefore giving a screener test over 6th grade standards to students who achieve a spring MAP score of 240 or above to determine whether it would make sense for them to skip 6th grade math.

 

What students are selected to take the screener test?

Students who achieve a spring MAP score of 240 or above will be given the screener test over 6th grade standards. If they also score a Level 4 on the SBA, pass Claims 2, 3, and 4 of the SBA with a Level 3, and achieve a high enough score (at least 60%) on the district 6th grade screener, parents will have the option of deciding whether or not they want their student to skip 6th grade math.

 

When and where will students take the screener test?

The screener test will be given in the final quarter of the school year, once the spring MAP has been given. The district will work with schools to schedule the test, to be given at each school, during the school day.

 

My student will be in JAMS.  Should they take the Screener test?  

Administrators for the JAMS program use all of the data they receive to determine the best plan for each student. They request that students who are eligible take the Screener test in math.

 

Is the screener test timed?

While we desire to give ample time to students to complete the screener test, we also recognize that our students endure a lot of testing each spring, and do not want students working on this test beyond a reasonable amount of time. The intent of the screener is to see what students know with respect to the mathematics content of 6th grade, including vocabulary, notation, procedures, and ability to use their skills. While there is some problem solving involved, the majority of the questions should be available to a student who demonstrates the readiness to skip 6th grade math. For these reasons, we are limiting testing time to two hours (Most students will complete the test in 45 to 90 minutes).

 

When and how will parents be notified as to the results of the testing?

Parents will receive notification from the students’ middle school, informing them as to whether or not they have qualified to skip 6th grade math. For students who have qualified, parents will be asked to respond as to whether they want their student to be placed in 6th grade math or directly into the 7/8 compacted class. The letter to families will be sent out after all testing is completed and Smarter Balanced scores have been received by the district.

 

What class will students take who skip 6th grade math?

Students who qualify and have parent consent will be placed in the 7/8 compressed class in 6th grade.  Assuming that goes well, they will take Algebra in 7th grade and Geometry in 8th grade.

If there are not enough students who are enrolled in Geometry at the middle school, students may opt to commute to their local high school for Geometry (District transportation will not be provided).

 

If my child does not skip 6th grade math, what other options for acceleration will there be?

Students who complete 6th grade math and receive a score of 240 on the spring MAP or Level  4 on the SBA will be placed in the 7/8 compacted class in 7th grade. In this class they will be taught all of the 7th grade standards and about half of the 8th grade standards. Assuming all goes well, in 8th grade, these students will take Algebra 1, and also receive instruction on the remaining 8th grade standards.

 

Students who do not accelerate in middle school may have the option of accelerating in high school by taking two math classes in their 10th grade year. Based on their achievement in 9th grade Algebra 1, demonstrated motivation to learn, parents signing a course waiver, and space and teacher availability, a student may decide to take two periods of math in 10th grade: Geometry and Algebra 2.

 

Why would a student want to be accelerated through math?

We recognize that some students grasp concepts more quickly than others, are very motivated to learn math, and have a desire to complete some college level math, including AP or IB courses, while in high school.  For these students, it may be appropriate that they are accelerated through the sequence of math courses.

 

I would like more information.

For more information about math placement options, please visit the OSD website. For further questions, please contact the counselor at your student’s middle school.