Middle School Day Proposal

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Middle School Day Presentation





What is the biggest difference between the current middle school model and the proposed model?

The biggest difference for students is that in 6th grade every students will take a double period of math.  In 7th and 8th grade, the double period of math will only be on an as needed basis for students.  Additionally, students taking only one period math in 7th and 8th grade would have the opportunity for an additional elective course, one of which could be World Languages which would become a two year course spanning 7th and 8th grade.

Under the current model intervention/support/enrichment is a mandatory period for all students.  Under the new model only intervention would remain in 7th and 8th grades and students would be assigned to those classes based on need.

What happens to my student if they need that extra support or intervention when there is no inter

There will be an intervention period available in 7th and 8th grade for students who need it.  With the additional period of math opportunities for in class intervention and support would need to be created.  Additionally, if this model is adopted the district will have to plan a multi-tiered system of supports  (MTSS) framework to fit the sequence of courses while flexibly supporting students.

How will this Middle School Day change affect staffing?

At first, we will add math teachers and most likely some additional Special ED teachers. It will also change the elective teacher breakdown (based on which electives students choose).

Would you increase the number of counselors in the Middle School Level?

Assistant Principals currently serve students in an advisory capacity when selecting courses.  That will remain the same for the proposed model.

Is there a plan to help the current students that will not benefit from this new model yet?

Summer Algebra is offered. It is a bridge for students to accelerate their own math offerings in high school.  Additionally, high achieving students also have the opportunity to take summer Geometry prior to high school to advance their mathematical studies as well.

What happens if an 8th grader does not do well in Algebra?

Under the current and proposed model students in that situation would take Algebra again their Freshman year and would still be on track for college and career readiness.

Will there be extra social emotional support for students as a more rigorous curriculum?

The district is always evaluating the social emotional supports in place for students and will continue to monitor these needs, if the new model is implemented.  As schools and as a district we will take appropriate steps to provide support when and where needed.

Have we considered a block schedule for this initiative?

A full block schedule for this initiative has not been examined.  However, this proposed model would essentially serve as a modified block schedule as both Language Arts and Math would be “blocked” and students would receive 2 periods of instruction in both content areas in 6th grade (and as needed in subsequent years).  Research does show benefits and drawbacks to block schedules.

Have we looked at other districts who match our demographic for comparison?

Yes.  We have examined the Middle School models in Rockford District 205, school district U-46 as well as Plainfield. There are encouraging data to support these decisions from both examples.  Additionally, we have piloted the proposed model with a small group of students during the 2015-16 school year using federal grant dollars and found extremely promising results for students with 2 periods of mathematics instruction.  We have expanded the sample pool of students for 2016-17 and we are closely monitoring the results.

Will we still offer remedial high school courses for those students that need them?

Yes.  There is no plan to eliminate remedial math offerings for students who need such a placement.  However, this plan is designed to significantly reduce the need for such courses.

If World Languages becomes a 2 year commitment for students what could that do to CTE enrollment?

While it is not possible to make specific predictions about what will happen to any programmatic area, introducing world languages to students as an open elective in middle school could in theory reduce the number of students electing to take career and technical education (CTE) courses.  However, other factors such as overall school enrollment and student interests drive course selection numbers more than the proposed changes.

Will there be viable and metered out curriculum for intervention, reteach and enrichment?

Work will continue to take place with our middle schools to enhance and shore up the curricular expectations regarding student interventions, support (reteach) and enrichment.  It is important to note that if the new proposal is implemented that support (reteach) and enrichment would be eliminated once the model is fully implemented and intervention as a separate period would happen in 7th and 8th grade only .

What changes were implemented in middle school between 2016-2016 that resulted in improvement?

The teachers and administrators in our middle schools have taken great strides to challenge students through curricular revisions and by raising expectations of student performance.

Will the math programs be available during the summer – i.e. geometry this summer for my curre?

The district plans to continue to offer opportunities for students to advance themselves in mathematics through summer school courses.  That opportunity should be available again.

How would a student take Math 1 and Math 2 (3 and 4) at the same time?

The concepts of two courses (Math 1 and 2) would be combined not so they are being taken simultaneously but so they are being taught in a logical order for students to understand.

Can this time be used for more problem-based/problem-solving and application pedagogy?

Yes. One of the goals of this change would be to provide math teachers the time to use problem based learning and to apply more real world situations to their instruction.

Are test scores or grades used for placement in 6th grade?

As a district we currently use a variety of data points to determine 6th grade placement such as grades, teacher recommendations, CogAT and Performance Series scores. By using multiple measures, we are able to account for a variety of situations and ensure proper placement for each student.

How will teachers/administrators monitor the kids for correct placement as they are very busy?

Just as we currently do, administrators will work with teachers and students to look at several pieces of information to make sure the best placement recommendations are made. While this does take considerable time it is one of the key functions of our administrators.

What about Elementary math? Will you focus on basic math facts?

Deeper articulation between elementary schools and middle schools will be a key part of this program.  Ensuring that all K-5 students are exposed to age appropriate concepts will be necessary.

What will be changed at the elementary level to better prepare and challenge our children?

Last year all District 129 elementary schools adopted a new Math resource (Envision 2.0). This tool is being used to better prepare students for the rigors of Common Core Math.

Why couldn’t this be done for the current 5th graders?

Because of the needed time to properly vet, communicate and plan such a shift it was not possible to do so prior to the 2018-19 school year

What will be done to better challenge and prepare next year’s 6th graders?

Math scores for all middle school students in district 129 have been consistently rising for 3 years.  This is due to curricular and instructional changes by district math teachers and a focus on continuous improvement by the building administrators and district leaders.  The current 6th graders will continue to be challenged through instructional improvement as they have been.

If my student is currently in 7th or 8th grade, would they stay with the current model?

Yes,  your student will stay with the current model. There will be summer opportunities offered to students.

Why add an elective but no enrichment?

In most cases the enrichment curriculum is based in the same content strands as our elective offerings. By allowing students to choose another elective they will be able to exercise choice in the offerings they want to experience.

What are 2 ELAs and why is it important to keep both?

2 ELAs refers to 2 periods of English/Language Arts. The district shifted to two periods of English/Language Arts several years ago in order to ensure students were receiving the proper foundation in reading and writing to prepare them for high school and college level course work.

What are you doing to accommodate smarter students?

If you refer to the slide deck it shows that advanced students will have the opportunity to take advanced math offerings including Geometry in eighth grade. This would be an option not previously available to District 129 students.


Can we look at this one?

Is there a way to take la & lb both in 7th grade? Meaning can Spanish be formatted differently too? For example la=Vocab/grammar, lb = immersion activities.


Because of how the periods are formatted and the need to extend the amount of time students have with World Language curriculum the plan does not accommodate taking 1A and 1B of a World Language in 7th grade.  Students will have to commit to taking both courses in 7th and 8th grade.

Is this a ? and answer?

Why can’t we trickle down even to 5th grade and lower so they don’t need to take 2 math classes in 6th grade? My 6th grader (granted on ET track) would have been ready.  But, my 3rd grader is bored and ready for more now.  Why wait?

There would be less lost opportunities and choices with electives if we start in elementary school.

Are we seeing a need for 2 ELA classes in 8th grade?

Currently, students who do not take 2 periods of ELA in 8th grade miss important skills prior to High School English.

Will a current high school student be able to take an advanced math class?

Current high school students have access to all available courses through AP Calculus. Students must complete the required courses prior to each course they take.

In 6th grade would the 2 periods of math be back to back with the same teacher?

In the proposed plan students would have the same teacher for both periods of math. Whether or not the courses would be two back to back periods remains undetermined.  Some research suggests that a break in between two periods of the same content (such as English or Math) can have benefits for student learning.  That decision is still yet to be made.

If the pilot showed growth with the periods at the time as they are now, why increase the day?

The pilot referred to in the slide show demonstrated growth when two periods of math were taken (84 total minutes), not the typical 42 minutes in non-pilot classes.  Additionally, this plan does not require a lengthening of the day, just a redistribution of how some of the time is spent.

What if an 8th grader wanted to take Spanish in 8th grade but wasn’t able to in 7th grade?

Unfortunately, a student in that situation would have to wait until 9th grade to take Spanish or another World Language.

How will this new model impact my student if they have an IEP or 504?

All students with individualized education plans (IEP) and/or 504s have specific needs that are considered by the parents/guardians and the school as a whole.  The same will be true under the proposed model.

When will scores be reviewed for placement in 7th and 8th grade?

Similar to our current model scores for placement will be reviewed in late January and February of each year.

In 6th grade, instead of having enrichment, why can’t students take an additional elective?

Under the proposed model students in 6th grade would take an additional period of math which eliminates the possibility of taking another elective and fitting in all required courses. 

What leads you to believe math is the reason kids are not completing college?

When examining the data from the slide show presentation we were able to see that a large number of students were taking remedial college level math after graduating high school.  As a result of that, many students were failing to graduate from college within 6 years of leaving high school.  Additionally, many of the same students who were in remedial high school math were the ones taking remedial college math.  These connections led us to the conclusions outlined in the presentation.

Are the teachers prepared and qualified to teach the math courses being mentioned?

Part of this plan will include adding some additional staff who are able to teach all of the courses outlined. Additionally, we will have to examine our instructional methods and provide proper training for our math staff on how to best utilize two periods of math instruction.

Is the measure of success for all students the same as the pilot and will there be more pilots?

The pilot was success rate was calculated using the scores from Middle of the Year to End of the Year Performance Series Scores in 2016.  There are currently additional pilots being conducted and the data will soon be complete.

In 6th grade do all kids start at math 1 or determine placement by performance series?

As a district we currently use a variety of data points to determine 6th grade placement such as grades, teacher recommendations, CogAT and Performance Series scores. By using multiple measures, we are able to account for a variety of situations and ensure proper placement for each student.

When does the BOE make a final vote? Is there still time for further questions?

The Board of Education will not make a final vote until Spring of this school year. There will still be time for community input and questions during that window of time.

Will the extra support go away for students that do not have an IEP but receive extra support?

If intervention is needed in both reading and math then schools will have to provide more flexible services in reading such as targeted pull outs or placement into existing programs such as Read 180 or System 44 which focus on improving deficient readers.

How does the new model support students who choose to take band?

In the proposed model students could choose to use one of their elective options on Band.  If a student needed 2 periods of math consistently in 7thand 8th grades they would not be able to take Band and other electives as well.  However, barring unique circumstances students would still have at least one elective option which they could choose to use on Band.

If a students scores at 99% on math standardized tests, will he also take 2 math classes?

Students who already show a high level of math ability would still take two periods of math in 6th grade in order to put them on a track for Geometry in 8th grade.

On the proposed schedule of classes Math 2 and Math 3 together, is the district cramming two year?

On the proposed schedule of classes, Math 2 and Math 3 would resemble the current standards and outcomes of 7th and 8th grade math.  While the standards and outcomes would remain generally similar under the proposed model, the sequence and manner in which the standards were delivered would have to be adjusted.  These adjustments would be designed by the district teaching and learning team with input from classroom teachers. The goal would be more in depth understanding for students because of extended exposure to mathematical concepts in the school day.

Does the data shown include the common core that was pushed upon the students?

Because we are a public school district in the state of Illinois we do administer a curriculum aligned to the Common Core State Standards as required by Illinois School Code.

What if you are in 7th grade and only have one Math period and your grade drops?

Flexible support to students when and where it is needed will be implemented.  A 7th grader with one period of math should have another period of an elective.  Provisions may have to be made to have students receive support during one of their elective courses.  This could come in the form of a pull out of class.  Individual student needs will drive those decisions.

Will there be a process in place where students will be identified so no kids fall in between?

Currently, all students are monitored three times a year (at least) for progress in Math and Reading.  This model will offer more opportunities for students to receive varied and ongoing levels of support based on their areas of need.  Assuring students are not lost in the shuffle will remain the focus of this model as it is in our current practice.

Who will be guiding these students on what courses to take?

Assistant Principals and teachers will monitor student needs and make placement recommendations.

Is there a plan for the 4th year of math in High School for high achieving students?

The district is investigating offering an additional calculus based course (Multi-variable Calculus) in order to accommodate high achieving students with an additional math offering in their senior year.