Get ready: marathon meeting June 14


Yep, that’s the reading material for tomorrow night’s meeting: first reading for the district’s 2016-17 budget and Local Control Accountability Plan, plus the proposed $744 million facilities bond for the November ballot. Up for second reading is the updated Math Placement Policy, P.E policy, and policy for JROTC teacher credentialing and funding.

Tomorrow night’s meeting will be so long I will not likely be able to blog the results of all of the discussion but I wanted to dig in a little to one area: Math Placement Policy, because I’ve received some emails about that.

The updated Math Placement Policy is the district’s response to SB 359, the Math Placement Act of 2015. The Act requires that prior to the 2016-17 school year, districts serving 9th grade students must adopt a fair, objective and transparent math placement policy for pupils entering grade 9. The law is silent on math placement prior to 9th grade. The law was adopted to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to complete the math course sequence necessary for college admissions, and to ensure that students are not disproportionately held back to repeat math courses based on race or ethnicity.

The policy clarifies that all students entering grade 9 will have the option to take CCSS Algebra I — students who fail CCSS Math 8 or receive a D or F in the course will be offered additional support and tutoring. Additionally, students who take coursework covering CCSS Math 8 and CCSS Algebra I before 9th grade with C or better will be allowed to take a math placement test (Math Validation Test, or MVT, in the policy). Passing the MVT will allow these students to take CCSS Geometry in 9th grade.

In addition, within the first month of 9th grade, students placed in CCSS Algebra I (including those who did not pass a previous administration of the MVT) can challenge their placement in the course. If these students have received a C or better in a CCSS Algebra I course and can pass a fall administration of the MVT, these students will be placed in a CCSS Geometry course within a week of passing the MVT.

It’s true that last year, a few students were able to a)pass the MVT and effectively skip CCSS Algebra I to be placed into CCSS Geometry in 9th grade, or, b)take a UC-approved CCSS Algebra I course and place into CCSS Geometry in 9th grade. Under this new policy, students entering 9th grade in 2016-17 will have to do both: take a UC-approved CCSS Algebra I course, either online, or in private school, AND pass the MVT.

I don’t really have a problem with that, because what I really want is for all students to take and pass a Common-Core aligned Algebra I course — I don’t really care whether they do it in private school, online, or in public school, so long as they take it and can pass the course, demonstrating that they’ve learned the material. If public school students choose to take a CCSS Algebra I course prior to 9th grade, that’s fine, but we need to be able to verify, via the MVT, that they learned the material and can demonstrate mastery. I also like that the district is offering an additional opportunity for students to accelerate in 9th grade, through the fall administration of the MVT.

More tomorrow!





4 responses to “Get ready: marathon meeting June 14

  1. Won’t this policy exacerbate opportunity disparity? Parents who have the means and wherewithall to put their kids in (a) private schools that offer 8th grade algebra, or (b) afterschool or summer classes that complete algebra before the 9th grade, will do so. Kids whose parents have neither the means, knowledge or inclination to do so will not, and those kids will not have the opportunity to do so in SFUSD, no matter how mathematically talented they are.

  2. Dismayed Parent

    The push back is coming from parents who don’t trust the motivation, content, or grading of this particular test. If SFUSD is so deeply concerned about students taking Geometry without having fully mastered Algebra I, then passing this test should be an exit requirement for every Algebra I student in SFUSD. This is a control thing – if the district left placement in the hands of the individual schools (where it has always been) and trusted their principals and teachers, then we’d waste a lot less money with students sitting in classes that they don’t need, wasting valuable teaching resources. Burning money in a cash-strapped district just to muscle flex and limit advancement is a disgrace. Think of the middle school tutoring you could buy with the cost of developing and administering these tests? The districts priorities are all wrong and the board should put a stop to this.

  3. How does one determine if a student is held back based on race or ethnicity?

  4. I agree with the validation exam for incoming 9th graders. This was in place even Algebra was an option in Middle School. My son had to take one to show proficiency when he entered 9th grade (he was the last cohort taking Algebra in 8th grade). All middle school algebra classes are not the same.

    However, my question to the board is about *accredited high school* Algebra classes which are ucop approved. This is a different situation because this is a high school class. The language in the proposal voting on saying nothing about accredited high school ucop approved Algebra. It says nothing about UCOP approved classes.

    Click to access 7738929947259990892.pdf

    It says students have to provide a syllabus to the district before being allowed to take the MVT.

    There is an undefined area with the accredited high school UCOP class. If students are asked to validate accredited high school Algebra 1, will they be asked to validate all accredited *high school* classes to continue to the next in the sequence.

    This is an important distinction. This isn’t about middle school Algebra (those transferring in from Oakland or surrounding districts which have the Algebra in 8th grade option) or independent study or non accredited courses like UC Scout.

    This is about accredited high school classes which an 8th grader might take or a 9th grader might take but the rising 9th grader would have to validate but the rising 10th grader would not.

    The language surrounding accredited high school classes has been removed since the draft proposal in April.

    The current policy is the district accepts accredited high school UCOP classes (regardless of subject). Has that changed?

    Meanwhile, will the SFUSD math teachers be part of crafting a MVT? How will any MVT be reviewed to ensure it is fair, doable in the time allotted and aligns with what is being taught in the SFUSD?

    Disclaimer: My rising 9th grader finished an accredited high school algebra 1 class in May and has been enrolled in geometry starting in August, so I have no proverbial skin in this game.