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 

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 impress 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. Additionally, these deficit areas are likely to impact future standardized test scores, which can ultimately affect placement at the high school level. 

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, we 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 

Periodically, parents approach us about their child being enrolled in an advanced math course, such as Algebra, through an outside organization. Please be aware that neither Wood Oaks nor Glenbrook North High School accepts these courses in place of the advanced courses at Wood Oaks. For this reason, we discourage enrollment in advanced courses that are designed to accelerate a student in mathematics. 

Changes in Math Placement 

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. As a result of our processes, changes in math placements are rare. The Third Grade Math Extensions and Grade 6 Accelerated Math are the only two classes for which we specifically re-screen students during the school year and plan to make placement changes if warranted.

Grade 3 Math Extensions: Because we have limited standardized data for third grade students, we re-screen all third grade students for Math Extensions following the administration of Terra Nova in November/December and the STAR Math test in January. If the standardized data and classroom performance qualifies the student for Math Extensions, the student will be invited to participate in Math Extensions.

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 qualifies the student for Math 6 Accelerated, a placement change will be recommended to the parent(s). 

For all other courses, the placement decisions are maintained for the entire school year. Additionally, no placement changes to course pathways will be made after sixth grade.  

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.