Additional Information on Math Placement

Advantages of Using a Matrix of Data 

As has been shared throughout this document, we use five standardized test scores as critical pieces of data to inform placement decisions. Using multiple measures increases the accuracy of the placement process over a single placement test, which is not able to delve deeply enough into the area of mathematics to provide a complete assessment picture. With multiple measures, we can examine student performance data from standardized assessments that are professionally constructed and validated. Additionally, our matrix recognizes that students do not always perform on assessments at a level that is commensurate with their true knowledge and skills. By only requiring three out of five scores to meet certain criteria, we have factored into the process the variability involved in student testing. 

Understanding Acceleration in Math 

UPDATED May 2019: At all grade levels, District 27 implements rigorous curricula. Students who are properly placed and conscientious should achieve A’s and/or B’s. We strive to have students achieve 100% on their math assessments because these assessments are a reflection of the grade level standards. If a student earns all A’s, this is not an indicator that he/she needs to be placed in a more advanced course. 

We are often asked “what is the harm in letting my child try a higher level math class?” We can’t emphasize enough that if the student does not qualify, the potential for gaps in math skills and conceptual understanding is significant. The accelerated math courses most likely will not explicitly address the deficit areas because it is assumed that all students already have mastery of the content and skills. These deficit areas are likely to impact future standardized test scores, which can ultimately affect placement at the high school level. Additionally, the pace of learning is accelerated in all courses at the middle school. For example, students in fifth grade experience a 60-minute math block while middle school shifts to a 42-minute math period. In the accelerated course pathway at the middle school, students learn 1.5 years of math content in one year and within a smaller amount of instructional time in the classroom as compared to fifth grade. Due to all these factors, we employ a data-driven process that looks at student performance to guide student placement. 

Movement from a Higher Level Course to a Lower Level Course 

Although rare, at times a student is not able to maintain a performance level appropriate to an advanced math course. When this occurs, we work with the parent to change the placement. It is imperative that we do not continue a student in a math course that is too challenging. To continue in such a course, the student will miss opportunities to build deficit skill areas and conceptual understandings, which will only be magnified further each year. 

Enrollment and Continuation in Math Extensions 

Each year students in grades 3-5 are screened/re-screened for Math Extensions. Enrollment in the program does not automatically guarantee enrollment for the following year. Students must meet the criteria annually to continue enrollment. At the same time, students who qualify may join Math Extensions in fourth or fifth grade even if they did not qualify and/or participate the previous year. 

Math Placement of Students New to District 27 

For fifth grade students new to District 27, our general practice is to place them in the on-level math course and monitor/review their performance for the first half of the year. If the STAR Math, Terra Nova, and classroom performance warrant a change in placement to Honors Math, we will make that placement change no earlier than January and only if the schedule will accommodate the change

For sixth through eighth grade students new to District 27, we typically place them in courses within our Grade Level and Accelerated pathways based on data from the previous school district. We monitor/review their performance for the first half of the year and make changes in placement if warranted and can be accommodated by the schedule. 

Enrolling a Student in an Outside Math Course 

UPDATED May 2019: Periodically, parents approach us about their child being enrolled in an advanced math course through an outside organization or an extensive tutoring program for the purpose of accelerating their child’s math placement in school. Over the last several years, we have witnessed a growing phenomena in this area and have developed some new placement processes to address placement change inquiries. Although we are implementing processes that will allow eligible students to change math course pathways, we strongly caution parents about setting expectations that a child will qualify to make such a movement following supplemental math instruction. Given the volume of math content that is covered in a year-long math course at District 27, a supplemental program is far more likely to enhance a student’s knowledge of math rather than cover enough concepts and skills to replace an entire math course. We encourage parents to consider carefully their child’s genuine interest in math, their motivation for enrolling in supplemental math instruction, their overall goal, and the amount of extra-curricular activities in which their child participates. Rather than viewing supplemental instruction as a vehicle for accelerating math placement, it should be considered an experience that enhances a student’s interest, knowledge and application of math concepts and skills. 

Changes in Math Placement 

UPDATED May 2019: We seek to place all students in the appropriate math courses and pathways. By employing a comprehensive process, we ensure that all data and placement decisions have been carefully considered and confirmed by multiple educators. From year to year, we have minimal changes in math placement and continually review and refine our processes and criteria to ensure initial placement decisions are appropriate.

Mid-Year Placement Changes: We have standard processes for reviewing third grade and sixth grade student data during the school year for the purpose of making placement changes into Grade 3 Math Extensions and Grade 6 Accelerated Math. Generally, we do not make placement changes at other grade levels during the school year due to the complexity of building a master schedule.

Entry into Grade 3 Math Extensions: Because we have limited standardized data for third grade students, we re-screen all third grade students for Math Extensions in January/February following the administration of Terra Nova and STAR Math tests in the winter. If the standardized data and classroom performance qualifies the student for Math Extensions, the student will be invited to participate in Math Extensions. Three of the student’s five standardized test scores must meet the following criteria:

  • Terra Nova Mathematics - Scale Score of 648
  • Terra Nova Math Computation - Scale Score of 636
  • Terra Nova/InView CSI - Score of 124 or higher
  • 3rd Grade Fall STAR - Score of 662 or higher
  • 3rd Grade Winter STAR - Score of 731 or higher
    Above scores are subject to change as the District continues to study and refine its eligibility criteria and processes.

Math 6 to Math 6 Accelerated: Because the Accelerated course pathway is a new sequence that starts in sixth grade, we re-screen all students in Math 6 following the administration of Terra Nova in November/December and the STAR Math test in January. If the standardized data and classroom performance, including teacher recommendation, qualifies the student for Math 6 Accelerated, a placement change will be recommended to the parent(s). 

Three of the student’s five standardized test scores must meet the following criteria:

  • Terra Nova Mathematics - 95th National Percentile or higher. Additionally, this should be one of the scores meeting the benchmark as it addresses critical math concepts and skills that should be mostly mastered by students going into Accelerated Math. 
  • Terra Nova Math Computation - 95th National Percentile or higher
  • Terra Nova/In-View - 117 or higher
  • Fall STAR - 94th National Percentile
  • Winter STAR - 94th National Percentile or higher
    Above scores are subject to change as the District continues to study and refine its eligibility criteria and processes.

Classroom Performance must meet the following criteria:

  • Tests - Average of 95% or higher for first and second quarters
  • Quizzes - Average of 95% or higher for first and second quarters
    Note: A significant outlier score will be excluded in the calculation of the average; however, it will be limited to one quiz and one test score.

NEW May 2019 End-of-Year Placement Changes: We have developed new processes that accommodate course pathway changes at the middle school level from the Grade Level Pathway to the Accelerated Pathway and from the Accelerated Pathway to the Honors Pathway. Some of these changes involve skipping an entire math course at the middle school, which will require a placement test for eligible students. In May of each year, we review assessment and classroom performance data of all students. The following processes are followed regarding placement changes. Please note that all eligibility criteria are subject to change as we continue to study and refine our processes.

From Grade 5 Math into Grade 6 Honors: Any student in Grade 5 Math can be enrolled in Math 6 Honors (even if he/she was not in Grade 5 Math Honors) if the student meets the criteria and has strong classroom performance. As part of our regular processes, we review all the data and will consult with parents of all children who meet the criteria to enroll in Math 6 Honors. Consultation usually occurs in the summer prior to sixth grade. No placement test is required for this placement change. Three of the five standardized test scores must meet the following criteria and only one STAR score may count towards the minimum of three scores meeting the benchmarks. 

  • 5th Grade Terra Nova Mathematics  - 99 National Percentile
  • 5th Grade Terra Nova Math Computation - 99 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova/In-View CSI - 130 or higher
  • STAR Winter - Scale Score of 978 or higher
  • STAR Spring - Scale Score of 999 

From Grade 6 Math to Grade 7 Math Accelerated: Any student in Math 6 can be enrolled in Math 7 Accelerated at the start of seventh grade if the student meets the eligibility criteria. As part of our regular processes, we review all the spring data and will consult with parents of all children who meet the criteria to enroll in Grade 7 Math Accelerated at the start of the school year. Consultation usually occurs prior to the end of the school year. Criteria for placement in the 2019-20 school year will be posted as soon as it it finalized.

From Grade 5 Math Honors to Grade 7 Algebra Honors (Skip Grade 6 Honors): In rare cases, a student may demonstrate such strong command of math that he/she should be considered for further acceleration in math. We review the data for all students using the eligibility criteria below to identify candidates for consideration. If the criteria is met, the parent(s) is contacted to initiate a discussion about math programming options and interest in the student taking a placement test

Standardized Test Data - Three scores must meet criteria with one of the scores being STAR. 

  • Terra Nova Mathematics - 99 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova Math Computation - 99 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova/In-View CSI - 130 or higher
  • STAR Winter - Scale Score of 978 or higher
  • STAR Spring - Scale Score of 999 or higher

Classroom Performance & Teacher Recommendation

  • Quizzes: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Tests: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Teacher recommendation - Teachers are a consulted for all students meeting the criteria. If the teacher does not recommend the child for further advancement, the school will contact the parents to discuss the data and placement options.
    *An outlier score will be eliminated when calculating the average. This will be limited to one test and one quiz score for the year.


From Grade 6 Math Honors OR Grade 7 Math Accelerated to Grade 8 Geometry Honors (Skip Algebra): Algebra is considered a foundational course for all future math coursework in high school and college. To skip a yearlong algebra course, a student should be engaged in very rigorous and formal supplementary algebra instruction. We review the data for all students and use the eligibility criteria below to identify candidates for consideration. If the criteria are met, the parent(s) is contacted to initiate a discussion about math programming options and interest in the student taking a placement test. If this accelerated placement results in a seventh grade student enrolling in Geometry, the student will enroll in Algebra 2 Honors at Glenbrook North High School as an 8th grader. The implications of taking a course at GBN as an 8th grade student should be discussed and fully understood prior to making a placement change.

Standardized Test Data - Three scores must meet criteria with one of the scores being STAR

  • Terra Nova Mathematics - 99 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova Math Computation - 99 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova/In-View CSI - 130 or higher
  • STAR Winter - Scale Score of 1046 or higher

Classroom Performance & Teacher Recommendation

  • Quizzes: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Tests: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Teachers are a consulted for all students meeting the criteria. If the teacher does not recommend the child for further advancement, the school will contact the parents to discuss the data and placement concerns.
    *An outlier score will be eliminated when calculating the average. This will be limited to one test and one quiz score for the year.

From Grade 7 Math to Grade 8 Algebra (Skip Grade 8 Math): We recognize that some students will engage in significant supplementary instruction during middle school with the goal of enrolling in Algebra in 8th grade. We review the data for all students and use the eligibility criteria below to identify candidates for consideration. If the criteria are met, the parent(s) is contacted to initiate a discussion about math programming options and interest in the student taking a placement test

Standardized Test Data - Three scores must meet criteria with one of the scores being STAR

  • 7th Grade Terra Nova Mathematics - 97 National Percentile
  • 7th Grade Terra Nova Math Computation - 96 National Percentile
  • Terra Nova/In-View CSI - 117 or higher
  • STAR Winter - Scale Score of 912 or higher

Classroom Performance & Teacher Recommendation

  • Quizzes: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Tests: 95% average for each quarter*
  • Teachers are a consulted for all students meeting the criteria. If the teacher does not recommend the child for further advancement, the school will contact the parents to discuss the data and placement concerns.
    *An outlier score will be eliminated when calculating the average. This will be limited to one test and one quiz score for the year.

  

Inquiries about Math Placement 

If you have additional questions about the placement process, please contact the school’s principal. We are available to explain the placement process and your child’s data.