Meeting minutes, January 16,2008

Math Matters: State & Local Concerns
Moderator: Dr. Vonzia Phillips, Director, Middle School Instruction, DCSS
Joanne Leonard, Director, Accountability, Georgia DOE
Dr. Kimberly Anderson, Middle School Mathematics Coordinator, DCSS
Wanda Audrict, High School Mathematics Coordinator, DCSS

ELPC Minutes
Fernbank Elementary School
January 16, 2008
Welcome – Co-President Terracer Earnest and Principal Jason Marshall welcomed parents and introduced Board Members, County Administrators, Principals, and elected officials.

Introductions – Co-President Faye Andresen introduced the guest speakers:

Moderator: Dr. Vonzia Phillips, Director, Middle School Instruction, DCSS
Joanne Leonard, Director, Accountability, Georgia DOE
Dr. Kimberly Anderson, Middle School Mathematics Coordinator, DCSS
Wanda Audrict, High School Mathematics Coordinator, DCSS

Topic: Math Matters: State & Local Concerns

Dr. Vonzia Phillips presented an overview of Middle School math course options in DeKalb. She used a handout from Georgia DOE (Mathematics Curriculum Comparison of GPS & QCC Course Content available at and information posted on the DCSS website ( - FAQ, Course Transition, Math Plan).

· The new Georgia curriculum, Georgia Performance Standards (GPS), offers more rigor to all students than its predecessor (QCC, Quality Core Curriculum). The Fordham Institute has ranked the GPS 5th in the nation (The State of State Standards 2006).

· The tendency has been to track students, placing them in performance-based groups at low, average, and high levels; however, we think teaching to those groups limits students. Our challenge with GPS is how to make sure our students know and can apply knowledge without reverting to tracking.

· Accelerated Math option – We added this option for this semester to target top achievers who want to begin AP Math work in the 11th grade. Typically about 5% of the high achiever-gifted group is ready for AP Math in 11th grade.

· Students not in Accelerated Math may begin AP Math in 12th grade.

· There are three Math choices in Middle School (Grades 6, 7, and 8):

1) On-Grade Course – Includes some concepts traditionally taught in high school from

integrated algebra, geometry, statistics and even this course is very rigorous.

2) Advanced Course – Includes same content as the On-Grade Course but is taught with more

depth or speed based on the needs of each class. Those in the Advanced Course this

Semester will probably cover the course plus preview next year's work.

3) Accelerated Course – This choice (already noted) is for those interested in being prepared

to begin AP Math in 11th grade.

· Advanced Course placement – The criterion required is a CRCT Math Total 825 or above.

· Accelerated Math 8 placement 07-08 – The criterion required is a CRCT Math Total 825. The GPS Math 8 course is being covered plus 22% of this year's 9th Grade course. Next year the criterion required will be increased.

· Accelerated Math 7 placement 07-08 – The criteria required are ITBS 95% and CRCT Math Total 870 (a different scale than 6th grade based on QCC vs. GPS). One-half of the 7th grade GPS will be covered plus all the 8th grade curriculum. The County is firm on both criteria; we believe the Advanced option will serve those not meeting the Accelerated criteria well.

· Accelerated Math 6 placement 07-08 – The criteria required are 95% ITBS and CRCT Math Total 370 (using different scale than 7th Grade). GPS Math 6 is covered plus one-half GPS 7. Those who continue on to Accelerated Math 7 next year will cover the second half of GPS 7 plus all of GPS 8.

· Rigor has moved to the elementary level; these students will be better prepared for middle and high school math.

Q. Like the raised standards but what about finding good math teachers? And teachers who avoid homework?

A. We are clearly asking more of teachers and their content knowledge. The state has addressed preparation for Middle School instruction. Often training is economized by a train the trainer (who carries the training back to teachers) approach. However, Dekalb wrote a grant to fund individual training for every teacher. HR does make national recruitment trips and efforts to find qualified teachers. Parents should see homework coming home.

Q. Appreciate the improvements although making the decision about level for a student in 6th grade is difficult. Suggestions?

A. Keep in mind that a child is not locked in. We are confident that even the On-Grade Level is college preparatory because of the rigor of the coursework.

Q. The 7th Grade Accelerated Level course seems packed this year with both 7th and 8th Grade concepts covered. Will the 8th Grade material be thoroughly covered?

A. GPS is designed to cover material thoroughly; it does not go back and re-teach last year's work. It ladders curriculum and is less spiral (an educational model with review built in).

Q. Can my middle-schooler in the Advanced Level take calculus in high school?

A. Yes, there a number of options available. At minimum, certainly in 12th Grade.

Q. How do AP and IB math mesh with Math 1, 2, 3, 4? If a student takes calculus in the 11th Grade should he or she have to take math in 12th Grade?

A. The County has a new IB coordinator and there has been discussion in this area. DeKalb Board Policy requires our students to take 4 years of math at the high school level. DeKalb has been on the forefront with this requirement which is about to be required by the Georgia DOE.

Q. If a student takes calculus in 11th Grade, will he/she have to take Calculus 2 in 12th Grade?

A. Not necessarily calculus, but a math course, yes.

Q. Is all this grandfathered in for current high school students?

A. Yes, current high school students and 8th graders will follow a traditional track.

Q. With a student currently in Accelerated Math 8 who may not stay there, what about concerns that both parents and students may not be sufficiently or well-informed on level selection?

A. Good point. We want parents to get this. This is why we've been in constant communication with principals, counselors, and parents.

Q. How is this being phased in at the elementary level? What about students who do not have a strong math foundation?

A. We will not re-teach curriculum. All schools are expected to have support safety net programs in place. We have to expose students to the complement of curriculum.

Q. Registration for Fall 08 starts now. Will the previous year's data be used for placement?

A. Yes, the previous year's test scores.

Q. Are kids in the Accelerated Level automatically enrolled for the next year at that level? Could one of these kids get kicked out with a low score on the CRCT? Isn't the ITBS skewed?

A. Yes, students will be reassessed at the end of every year. Yes, students may come out any year. No curriculum can be skipped. We backed away from the Iowa. The CRCT tests kids on what was taught. The move toward standards-based instruction and testing is not unique.

Q. How is a child placed who has not attended a county middle school?

A. We will do a case by case assessment. We evaluate based on student's records.

Q. What do colleges do with the names Math 1, 2, 3, 4?

A. Colleges typically request course content descriptors from high schools. Remember that there is no single national curriculum.

Q. Can you put a link to the handout and some explanation on the county website?

A. Yes, that material is available (see link in first paragraph).

Closing Remarks & Adjournment – Co-President Faye Andresen

· Please contact Faye or Terracer with ideas, suggestions, or questions needing to be answered at the Feb. 20 meeting: Myth Busters: Connecting Elementary to High School


Feb. 7 – Shamrock MS – County PTA Dinner

Feb. 20 – ELPC at Oak Grove Elementary – Myth Busters: Connecting Elementary to High School

Respectfully submitted,

Polly Wills, Recording Secretary