BY JANE MEGGITT
ALLENTOWN – Starting next year, the school district will use a new procedure for accepting students into its eighth-grade Algebra I class.
Maybeth Conway, the assistant superintendent and curriculum director of the Upper Freehold Regional School District, gave a presentation on the new procedure at the March 8 Board of Education meeting.
In November, several parents went before the board in their efforts to verify rumors that the district was considering eliminating its eighth-grade Algebra I class.
At that time, Upper Freehold Elementary/Middle School Principal Miriam Peluso called eliminating Algebra I “a horrible idea.” She also said that a committee of teachers would gather data to make recommendations about the class. Conway’s presentation was the result of that committee’s deliberations.
According to Conway, seventh-grade students will now have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the eighth-grade Algebra I class.
Students will have to receive an “A” as their final grade in seventh-grade math. The new criteria mean that students would have to maintain an “A” or “B” average in the first marking period, and an “A” average in the remaining three marking periods of seventh-grade math, according to Conway.
In addition, students must have advanced/proficient performance on the seventh-grade state math test, with a score of 90 percent or better on a locally administered aptitude test in algebra. To be eligible for the class, students will also need to have satisfactory ratings on a teacher assessment rubric, according to Conway.
When asked how many students would be eligible to take Algebra I next year given the new requirements, Conway said, “Until we see the results of the new seventh-grade state test and the algebra aptitude tests, we can’t begin to predict numbers.”
Conway said the district hopes that the final number of students eligible for the class would “compare favorably with our current enrollment.”
“We currently have one class of eighth-grade algebra students, with roughly 25 students,” she said. “Over time, we hope the number will grow.”
Those students found to be eligible for the Algebra I class will have to take two days of additional instruction that would address key standards in the eighth-grade curriculum, according to Conway.
Students and the parents of students who take the eighth-grade Algebra I class will have to sign a contract that outlines performance expectations. Those students who receive below a “B” average in the class would fall subject to review, according to Conway.
According to Conway, the changes will help the district more appropriately identify its advanced students. The new requirements will also provide an opportunity for all qualified students to participate in the algebra program, she said.
The new identification procedures will also provide assurance that all students have a sound fundamental math background before they take the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment (GEPA) exam and leave eighth grade, according to Conway.
“It will also mean a more successful, sustained achievement in the high school math program,” Conway said.