UNDER THE HEADING OF THEY DO WHAT THEY DO
N will be entering the 9th grade this fall and will hopefully be enrolling in the local public high school (or maybe not). Currently in the 8th grade, N is taking his final today in Honors High School Geometry. N attained this level of competency by working year round on math ever since the 1st grade. He has not had to skip a year of instruction as the local public students have.
The local district, in its infinite wisdom, will not accept N’s transcripts showing straight A’s and Standardized test scores in the 99th percentile for mathematics as proof of his ability. In their defense, N does not have state administered test scores on the CST Algebra 1 or Geometry tests – those tests aren’t made available to home schools that operate independent of a school district. The local high school is requiring N to take a 50 question, calculation heavy, 2 hour, Geometry course challenge exam. The test will cover material from a classroom he’s never attended and a textbook he has never used. The test won’t be a neutral exam such as the standardized exams.
According to “district policy” my son must pass the challenge exam with a 90% grade or better in order to continue on in the honors track. We were not to be supplied with the answers to the study guide that was provided. We were also informed that the study guide was missing ¾ of the materials that could be included on the exam. I wouldn’t be able to correct the study guide questions, as N has passed me by mathematically speaking. Thankfully Barry G came to my rescue and worked the problem sets, and provided fantastic comments and notations which helped me to provide my son with a proper review where he was weak.
The district, county and state all refused to let N take the CST tests this spring because he wasn’t enrolled with the public schools. In May I gave N the CST retired questions for Geometry (posted on the CDE website) and he only missed 2 out of 64 questions. We also gave him the on line Algebra 1 test, and uncovered an area of weakness, which was remedied with one evening’s chalk and talk thanks to purple math - he then only missed 3 questions on the whole Algebra 1 exam.
Needless to say, I’m a bit worked up because our high school won’t accept N’s test scores and grades as proof of his abilities. It seems terribly unfair when you consider that the district students only need a B- grade on their report cards to advance to the next honors level class.
If you investigate further - our high school’s CST scores for the 9th grade single honors Geometry class indicate 75% of those honor students fail to score in the advanced category. That’s not a stellar record -- especially knowing how low the proficiency bar is set by the California Department of Education. N is trying to gain entry to the 9th grade Honors Algebra 2 course. The Algebra 2 double honors track has better CST scores with only 22% of the honors students failing to score at the advanced level. The improved performance of the upper track is likely a product of after schooling.
The administration is slamming the gate shut on students who transfer in from schools other than the local district. UPDATE: It isn’t “all” out of district transfer students who must take this exam as I had previously been informed. No, it’s just the students who come from “non traditional” high schools that must pass a challenge exam. So apparently, private home school students must out perform the majority of the local high school honors math students in order to gain admission to the honors math track. Perhaps, hypothetically speaking, it’s just the home school children of veteran math warriors who are expected to perform at this level.
This all seems so horribly unfair. N is an excellent student and has worked incredibly hard, and the standardized tests all place him at the very top. I wouldn’t be so bent out of shape if the local high school CST scores indicated that the honors classes were full of elite math stallions, but that just isn’t the case.
N finished the high school’s study guide exam and took 40 minutes longer than the 2 hour time limit they are setting on the exam. Hopefully the multiple choice exam he will be given next Tuesday will be easier to complete within the time limit otherwise, N will be getting the gate slammed shut in his face.
UPDATE: I’ve just learned the ruling we will get as a result of this test is not the final end – I can always appeal the decision! This is great! I can spend my summer vacation fighting with the school district -- and my son isn’t even in their classrooms yet.
THERE IS HOPE:
On a happier note, I do have some good news to report. N took the California High School Proficiency Exam last Saturday. The CHSPE allows students to exit high school early, and continue their education at the community college level. Though the exam is designed for students 16 years and older, N (only 14) was able to take the exam with the permission of his “non traditional” school (heh). We will get the results in mid July.
Previously parents have posted on KTM that skipping the high school math program and moving a student up to the college level for math isn’t perhaps the best move. I do remember Wayne Bishop having once written about saving a student from the public high school system and getting him placed into a college math program early. I would like to know what those of you who frequent KTM think about taking this approach.
With the CHSPE proficiency certificate in hand, N will be able to enroll in community college courses without permission from the high school and receive dual credit for his courses. Some local home school parents even send their middle school students to the community college. N will still be able to attend the HS and play sanctioned sports as long as he attends 4 classes. A few of the ambitious local students have managed to graduate high school having also completed an Associate Arts degree.
The CHSPE does NOT allow a student to stop attending school. Students must (by law) attend classes until they reach their 18th birthday. Additionally, it’s possible the HS will refuse to allow N to receive a HS diploma and be in the graduation ceremonies if we go this route (though there may be a way to work this out). The CHSPE certificate is supposed to suffice as an equivalent document in lieu of a high school diploma and is accepted by the state of California and, I believe, the armed services though I am not sure about that.
I would appreciate hearing what KTMers think about this opportunity and look forward to reading your comments.
Monday, June 25, 2012
help desk: J.C. progress report & question
from California, JC writes: