Was this a good advice on my part?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by anna9868, Jun 18, 2018.

  1. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Jun 18, 2018

    Hi guys, I wonder if you can check me on this advice that I gave to a friend yesterday.

    Here is the situation:
    It's a Russian family. When their daughter finished 5th grade 2 years ago she had Math placement test and was put into regular Math class. The parents know that both of their kids are pretty advanced in math, so they wrote to a principle, listed reasons why she should be put in advanced class, the principle believed them and transferred the girl to an Advanced class.

    Right now, their son is about to finish 5th grade. He too, was put into regular Math according to the placement test. When the parents again wrote to a principal, though, he said he is not in charge of testing any more, so he told them to speak to a vice principle. They emailed vice principal, told her the story. Asked if they can see that placement test, told her their son is pretty advanced in math. The vice principal didn't answer. When they contacted her again, she said she called them on their phone and didn't reach anybody. They made sure she has the right phone #, they told her when is the best days and times to call. And since then, they heard NOTHING.

    There is only 1 week left, and the mom is pretty worried. They are leaving to go to Ukraine next week for the entire summer, so she won't have the opportunity to do anything about this problem again. And she is really worried her son would be bored to death in a regular math class.
    ============================
    Mom's question: should she contact vice principal again?

    My advice to her: don't contact vice principal any more. It doesn't look like she is willing to talk or help them for whatever reason. Go higher, go to the district and try to talk to someone there.
    (now, I am not sure who would that "someone" be)

    Do you think this was a good advice on my part? Again, I'm not familiar with NJ schools at all. I gave her an advice that I would've given to a parent in our local school district. So, if you have anything to add, would be great!
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 18, 2018

    Not good advice. She’s already spoken to the principal and left messages for the vice principal. It’s the last few days of school in many NJ districts and the VP is most likely busy with other end of year activities. (Truthfully talking with the current math teacher should have been your friend’s first step). “Going higher” to “the district” would involve the superintendent. That’s overstepping, IMO, and could get your friend a reputation as a problem parent.

    If your friend doesn’t hear from the VP, the kid can start school in the regular math class and they can request alternate placement or a review of his assessment when school starts. In the meantime, they should relax and enjoy their vacation.
     
  4. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    I'm pretty sure that my friend is not overly concerned about being a "problem parent". I know I wasn't when I was trying to help my child in school. However, the mom is pretty worried, and would like to know that she tried all she could to transfer her son to an advanced math before they go to vacations
     
  5. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Will they not have access to e-mail while on vacation? Most of these conversations are handled by e-mail at my school. I teach high school, so it is a little different, but we have several levels of courses: general: college/career prep, enriched: requires 50th percentile or higher on standardized test for subject and/or parent request/contract, honors: requires 75th percentile or higher on standardized test/B grade or better previous year or recommendation of teacher.

    I like having that level in the middle. Parents who think their kids are ready for more academic challenge can sign their kids into enriched classes. They have to sign a contract that says that they know their child does not meet the academic requirements for that course, but that they want to be in it anyway. Those contracts become very helpful at parent-teacher conferences.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    She needs to hold off on calling or going higher up and wait until the beginning of the school year. What’s happening with one student at the beginning of next year is not a top priority for administrators right now.

    I think telling her to go to the superintendent was poor advice. Telling her to be patient and to make the request again in August would have been more appropriate.
     
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  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Jun 19, 2018

    Everyone in NJ thinks their children are advanced in math. Most likely they are not advanced. I know the parent is upset that she won't have the opportunity to set up her kids for failure, but she will get over it.
     
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  8. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    Jun 19, 2018

    interesting! why do you think especially in NJ parents think that? Would you say the same thing about PA ?
     
  9. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Maybe I shouldn't say everyone in NJ, but rather, everyone in an affluent NJ suburb. This is based on my experience, where there seems to always be a race to nowhere to get students into the most advanced, high level courses, even if it is not necessarily in the best interest of the student. I am not very familiar with PA schools, but PA seems a bit more laid back than NJ.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :rofl:
     
  11. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    yes, I agree PA is definitely more laid back. Saw that from my 9 years of subbing in over 30+ different schools, all of them in an affluent area
    perhaps, that's why I heard many times in our schools teachers explain that the advanced math is not really that advanced. it's the same material, but learned at a faster rate
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I wouldn't elevate to the superintendent, but I would certainly e-mail the VP with return receipt and read request on. I would recap the issue and that you were expecting a phone call and indicate you would like this to be resolved prior to the school year beginning.

    If they are unavailable via phone while out of country, indicate that too and ask for all correspondence during the trip be via e-mail. I assume the country they are visiting will have access to e-mail.
     
  13. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I'm not sure how it is in elementary school, but when you get to the high school, that couldn't be further from the truth. For example, honors pre-calc covers at least 3 chapters of the textbook that are left out of cp pre-calc, and the other chapters are covered at a greater depth.
     
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  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    In my local district, the advanced math starts in 6th grade and starts covering content that will NEVER be taught to the students not in the advanced classes. It isn't just faster, it is multiple math topics each year. That essentially means that if a student isn't in advanced math going into 6th grade there is a lot of math and math prep for higher level classes that isn't done making it near impossible for kids to jump into the higher math tracks. There are kids who hit 7 and 8th grade where developmentally it now makes sense but are stuck in lower level math classes because they don't have the requisite skills without having to hire a tutor to fill in the gaps. These kids remain unchallenged for the remainder of their math career in HS unless they end up in an AP Calc class which requires them to know the sections that were never taught. Then they struggle and all point out that the school was right and the kids should have never been in the higher level math. Ugh it is frustrating to see. Lucky are the kids whose families can hire the tutors to help them fill in the gaps so that when their kids go to college they aren't smacked in the face with the fact that the district didn't prepare them for higher level math courses.
     
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  15. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    yea, gotta admit, I mostly subbed at elementary level. rarely middle or high.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    We call it "accelerated" math at my elementary school.
     
  17. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This is why at my school all incoming students take diagnostic exams and then, based on their results, are placed onto certain tracks (so by ability). If they want to take a more rigorous track, then they have to take the final exam and answer problems with at least 85% accuracy to advance — an 84 or less results in a non-passing score, which seems harsh, but a student’s needs to deomonstrate mastery in a supermajority of the course material. Speaking of which, students come in lacking in one or more areas and then once they master that foundational-level knowledge they are eligible to move up to more advanced math classes. Then and only then are able to skip ahead. Of course a parent can request to have their child tested, but they are only allowed one attempt and if they fail, then they have to take the regular course — no exceptions.

    In short, our system works very well and all students get tailored instruction, regardless of their ability level.
     
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  18. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I would not go to the Superintendent. All the Super will do is phone the P and tell the P to phone the parent back. If the parents really feel it is that urgent, go to the school and ask to book an appointment with the VP and have the conversation in person.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I don't think she should worry a whole lot. worst case scenario, the kid is put into regular math class, and in a couple of weeks' time the teacher can see that he is advanced (if in fact he is), not just bored, and I'm sure then it wouldn't be too hard to make the switch.
     
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  20. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    You know Linguist, I've spent 9 years in schools before I left. Now I don't believe in public education any more. I also do not believe that for most special education students public schools is the right place. Especially, the Learning disabled or students with emotional disabilities, or Autistic or kids with ADD minds. I've worked with those kids for many years and I've seen that in too many classrooms too many teachers DON'T SEE anything about students. They only see what they want to see.

    Now, I don't blame the teachers for that. It's often a combination of stressful work environment, total bullshit kind of help from administrations that many teachers resist, and many other factors.
    So, no, I don't agree with you that my friend should rely on the teachers seeing things. Oh, let me give you my own good example.

    My son is 15 years old. As the 4th grade IQ test showed he is, what you call, Twice Exceptional student. Has many areas he needed help with over the years (super slow reader, problems with reading/writing) , etc and almost brilliant in other areas. We live "on the outskirts of the civilization", where no one even knows of the term Twice Exceptional, let alone does something about it.

    And I'm the paranoid kind of mom/teacher who never hoped that schools can help with my son's problems. I'v been his tutor and mentor and special education teacher over the years. And no, unlike my friend, I've never tried to put him into any advanced classes.

    Now, because of Vex Robotics he's been doing (and because he is a kind of boy with a Super concentration) he is now doing Math years beyond his own schooling (he just finished 9th grade), as well as programming. Meaning, doing on his own time, at home.

    Do you think anyone noticed in school? Heck, no! He is not the kind of child to open up in schools. He opens up at home to us, his parents, though.

    Anyway, long story short, we have hit the wall. I'm pulling him out of school next year and planning to homeschool. Unschooling kind of homeschool.

    Now, I don't want my friend to get to that state by the time her son gets into high school. That's why I do think she should be very proactive and not rely on what some teachers may or may not see about her son.
     
  21. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    My experiences teaching in K-12 education in both general ed. and special ed. programs are aligned with your comments. Despite a lot of lip service given at staff meetings, IEP meetings and board meetings, twice exceptional students rarely receive the accommodations that are needed for them to reach their full potential. I can't begin to tell you how many students I've seen languishing in schools where special ed. and even identified gifted and talented students don't receive differentiate instruction designed to meet their academic needs. Something is wrong when it is commonplace for students to remain in special ed. programs from elementary through high school - never reaching a point at which they can be exited because teachers don't know how to accelerate their learning. Consequently, for these unfortunate individuals, the achievement gap predictably becomes wider with each passing year. More often than not, our dysfunctional education system fails to live up to parents' expectations, in part because of the sentiment so eloquently expressed by one of my former colleagues at a meeting in which the superintendent pointed to the school's low test scores - he whined in frustration, "We're doing the best we can!"
     
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  22. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    In some of the schools in our district, not all, no support is given to students in coursework that is beyond what is needed to graduate. So, a child with an IEP that really needs additional support in a subject they may excel with proper supports but has a disability that impacts the ability to learn will never receive in-class support for those classes. So, upper level math courses, honors courses, and electives usually place students in unsupported classes or parents and students are convinced that those classes are not classes they should be taking.
     
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  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    How proactive were you for your son? Public schools have the resources to help kids like your son while private schools generally do not.....and homeschool parents in general simply lack the pedagogical skills and content knowledge to make a difference, IMO.
     
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  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Czacza, Public schools are very different in different areas. There are many areas that won't put any real resources into special education. In addition to that special education in these public schools is often just a dumbing-down of everything and whole group teaching to kids with different disabilities and different needs. So, I can see how even a private school that may allow for differentiation or parents who lack pedagogical skills may actually be more beneficial in the long run.

    In my area homeschooling has huge groups and resources. I know this is not often the case. But the area is lucky to have it. Parents pool together to use their knowledge and skills to run classes for the home-schooled kids in upper level subjects or with students who need something a bit different. It is like a co-op where everyone uses their skills to support the group. Some of these parents are ex-teachers. Some are just great at teaching. Some aren't but handle paperwork or counsel parents about how to keep up with the required paperwork from the state. Some are transportation for others.
     
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  25. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    proactiveness - is not what I used while dealing with schools. Intuition and my power of observation. I've subbed in over 30 schools during my subbing career, most of them in good influential school districts, with in all kinds of special education classrooms . I've witnessed lack of empathy, indifference and emotional abuse quite often with students facing many emotional and psychological challenges in school. I also learned a "golden rule" of how schools deal with student's difficulties.. If a student is a quiet one and his behavior doesn't bother anyone, then, in most schools no one cares about what problem the child is faced with.

    Remember, my topic about my daughter's Selective Mutism 6 years ago? and how I felt intuitively no one gives a damn in school about this condition because students with SM generally don't bother anyone and are generally good students? Well, turned out I was 100% right to take matters in my own hands without being afraid to become a problem parent for the school..

    So, no, I never was a proactive parent. I sensed that my own children are the type that would receive 0% support in school ever since they were little. Oh, and I never considered private school because we don't have that kind of money.
     
  26. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    so well put!
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    So true. So true. If they will pass the child on regardless of how the student performs, how is it in their best interest to do anything extra for the child? It only hits the fan if the family has enough money to hire a high-quality, effective lawyer.
     
  28. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    ehhhh, it also takes a parent who is at least a little bit realistic about their child's special needs. Which I find, these days many parents aren't (before, as a Special Ed. aide, now as a children yoga teacher)

    example. Before I made a decision to quit working in school I worked with a high level autistic child. (in my opinion, he was more emotional disturbed than autistic) He was 100% integrated into general ed classes. He was one of the two boys in a family, both on the spectrum. The only thing that interested his mom was this boy's grades. She obviously expected perfect grades from his son; nothing else interested her.

    The AS (autistic support teacher) worked closely with mom and did everything to help her in her gaol. So, for example, the boy would get super frustrated at a math class because he reacted too emotional to the sight of his own corrected mistakes. When he was in a bad mood he would take a pencil and try to poke himself in his stomach with a sharp end real hard.

    Now. I worked with Emotionally disturbed teenagers before in various settings. I've had trainings, so I would get very worried for him, would try to talk calmly and reason with him. Everything, to take his attention off that potentially harmful pencil.

    I got blamed by both his classroom teacher and his AS teacher for doing that because the AS teacher's theory was he was only doing it to get my attention, and that I should immediately call AS teacher when this happened. Her solution to the problem? She would take him outside of the classroom, and proceed to shout at him and other forms of verbal abuse.
     

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