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Class placement question

one1ofeachone1ofeach 11 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
I am a very long time lurker (I have one who’s a junior and one incoming sophomore) and kind of considered myself an old hat at the boarding school thing. My older one was the kind of kid who did everything herself but the younger one needs more parental involvement and it’s giving me pause. His teacher recommended algebra 2 honors and he was placed in a regular section (this is his favorite subject and he was the top math student at his previous but much smaller school). Wondering how hard to push to get him moved. If he is bored it will NOT lead to good things. I see a lot of advice on here about schools knowing what they’re doing and to trust the process. But this I think they got wrong. Over my years as a boarding school mom I have seen many examples of parents trusting the process and their kids getting mucked up because of a lack of parental intervention. I’ve also seen a lot of over the top parents though....hence the pause.
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Replies to: Class placement question

  • RedLionessRedLioness 87 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Maybe push a little bit now if you're that concerned about him missing out, ask if he can take a placement test or something of the like. Tell the school you're concerned, and ask if there's a way to be reassured he's been placed somewhere correct for him.

    But don't really dig your heels in the sand yet. There is a truth to trusting the process and allowing kids to be placed where the BS sees fit. However, as you've noted, BS are not holy gods and can make mistakes. If the school doesn't budge on his placement, even after a placement test or something like that, then let September come and school start. Give it a few days, then call him up and talk to him. Bring up the topic of his math placement somewhere. If it's too easy for him, then dig your heels in and tell the school to move him. And if it's not, you won't regret anything.

    At least that's what I think you should do. Up to you to decide how much that's worth.
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  • RedLionessRedLioness 87 replies1 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Also, question: Do your children go to the same school? Do you have experience with your son's school specifically, or are you new to the community?
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5575 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would raise your concern with the school. If there were parts of the placement test that indicated major weaknesses or missing skills, they might be right in the placement. But if he was on the cusp, it is possible that they'd move him without blinking. It sounds like it would be best if they could do this during a th time period when both are offered so he can move down if it turns out to be too much of a reach. Our school generally recommended (in this situation) trying the harder class. It's easier to drop down than run after a train that's well out of the station.

    One other thought... Sometimes placements help the school create sections of the class among well matched kids. So this may simply be putting him with his peers, rather than being terribly different content. I think you should have the conversation with them. You may walk away happy with where he is or they may happily move him.
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7942 replies158 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Algebra II & Trig is a TOUGH course-- this coming from someone who teaches it. It looks to me as though the teacher who made the recommendation isn't from the same school he'll now be attending? I think this may be one of those times when you trust the school's advice and leave things as they are.
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  • CTMom21CTMom21 421 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    My experience has been that the school generally makes the right choice and generally they want to challenge the kids, BUT you’re justified in at least asking the question. I was pushing for an honors language class for DS (no placement test) and he was put on regular, which ended up being plenty challenging. Just last night I DID make a fuss about placement, since DS was pushed out of an honors class due to a scheduling constraint — obviously a different issue. I generally don’t want to be “that” kind of parent, but this was a case where we felt strongly, and when I made it clear how important it was, it got taken care of!
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1341 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Schools vary and the admissions staff has likely seen others from your son's other school. They might know that a particular score or recommendation means one thing or another. Often when the kid has been the best in their class, the parents don't really know where their kid is at in terms of other kids. My student had three kids in the math class last year all of whom were the best in their town. All had to drop down a level. My kid was not the best in the town and did extremely well. I think it depends on a number of factors not only background but also how quickly the kid learns.
    I would let me kid go for a week or two and touch base in great detail ( even with the teacher if needed) to get a sense of the pace of the class and where your son actually is. Kids know if they are struggling compared to their peers. Or if it's a cinch.
    One thing you already know as a BS mom, many BS kids are talented in a particular area. So just make sure the talents line up. Being a new student and struggling could make for a tough year. And let your kid lead. I doubt he'll want to be at the wrong level either. Sitting in a slow paced math class is boring.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 11 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you to everyone who replied and for the advice. Very helpful and I sent an email today outlining my concerns more fully.

    The kids are in different schools (their choice due to different sport/passions/personalities). Is it wrong to wish that I could get my daughters advisor to write me a letter of recommendation for my sons school explaining that I’m very sane and totally hands off 99% of the time? Lol

    My main issue is that my son is a very fast paced learner. So a placement test is measuring what he knows now, generally a teacher gets through half a sentence and the kid already understands the concept. So it’s not what he knows it’s how he learns that indicates he needs the faster pace of honors. If there are things he doesn’t know he will watch half a
    Math video on YouTube and understand it.

    Anyway, we shall see. I did my part and feel like I said what I needed to say and I feel much better.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5575 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Good for you, @one1ofeach ! I too always cringed at the thought of being "that parent" but was reassured on numerous occasions that the school really wants to hear from you in these situations. As long as it's part of a constructive dialogue, it's all cool! Thanks for the update. Looking forward to hearing if you are happy with the resolution.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 11 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Disappointed all around. Sigh. Was told after my email that he did so badly on the placement test they almost considered having him repeat geometry. This seems fishy to me as his math teacher last year said he was one of her best students ever and had zero holes in his math knowledge. Also the ssat score. I feel like they made a decision based on one data point and not all the other.

    Forward to a couple weeks of class. Math is boring. The challenge problems given in class he’s already done for homework and didn’t think they were challenging at all. Other parents have told me kids never get moved. The whole point of choosing this school was to get math that he loved and it’s not happening.

    Been having a really deep gut feeling that this isn’t the right school for him and that’s a scary place to be as a parent.
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  • GoatMamaGoatMama 1188 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If I were you, I would revisit this issue with the school. If your son is not challenged he is not in the right class. It's not too late to move up. (And I wouldn't pay too much attention to parents who say that kids "never" get moved. What may be true for their kids may not be true for yours.) Talk to the teacher or have your son talk to him/her. The chances increase when the current teacher is in support of moving up. Or in talking to the teacher you may learn that the first two weeks were mostly a review of old material with little new content, and that things will pick up quickly and your son will soon find himself challenged enough, so it's best to stay where he is. Either way, I would start with the teacher. Good luck!
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5575 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @1ofeach , just want to say I am pulling for you. I know that feeling of nagging worry for your kid, and it's rotten. Sending good vibes.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5575 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @1ofeach , I would also add that you will need to have a conversation with your child and make it clear that it is up to him to excel and "knock it out of the park" even if he is bored. Schools do not like to set kids up for failure, so he's going to have to prove that won't be the case.

    While I know you had hoped for a great math lesson (which he still may get), the immediate lesson at hand is that there will be teachers and classes we don't like, but we only punish ourselves by not taking full advantage of them because we don't like them. I would make sure he understands how he was placed in his current class, what was done to try to move him, and emphasize that now, if there's a move to be made, it's on him to demonstrate that he's up to it. My kid, at this age, was one who tended to "revert to the average " rather than make himself the outlier, so I understand the challenge you face. But at some point, what you tell him will probably resonate. Again, I feel for you and am rooting for you both.
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  • one1ofeachone1ofeach 11 replies3 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank so much @gardenstategal and @GoatMama as I said this kind of worry is new to me since the older one just sails through life. I will start having these conversations and hope for an outcome that he can be happy with at school.
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