Math Placement Information

     One of our many goals at Sakai is to ensure that our students are engaged in all areas, providing the appropriate level of challenge and rigor--all while keeping a close eye on a student’s social emotional wellness. This balance between academics and personal wellness is crucial.

    As you may be aware, part of this piece has always included seeking well-informed and careful math placement. For the majority of students, the placement which corresponds to grade level is the right level of challenge. With the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), grade level curriculum provides both sufficient rigor and depth in mathematic concepts. At the same time we have always recognized that, for some students, math instruction in grade level content beyond their assigned grade may be more appropriate.  

    Traditionally, screening, assessment and placement for fall math instruction has been done in the spring (at the elementary schools, for our future 5th graders). In the past, we have provided students with a computation and mastery assessment (to determine current knowledge of 5th grade curriculum), weighed that information with other assessment data and teacher input, and determined placement for either 5th or 6th grade math instruction to happen in the coming school year.

    While this system has worked well for a certain number of students, we recognize that it has likely not worked for everyone. A student might show in the spring assessments that completely skipping 5th grade is not the best option for them. However, once that student begins attending in the fall, it may become clear that with some additional support, 6th grade math might have been a reasonable option after all. Up until now, we have not had a model in place to fully address this on a wider scale.

    Our goal this year, then, has been to develop a plan that will refine the program to make this compacting/acceleration available to as many students as needed. As we look ahead to next year, we look forward to providing a model in which all incoming 5th graders who show the ability to access 6th grade math will receive it in a setting with like peers, with the objective being equitable challenge and rigor, curriculum acceleration and compacting and, in most of these groupings, readiness for 7th grade math the following year.

    Please know that while the Sakai math and district curriculum team has done a great amount of work to put this model together, there is still work to be done over the summer to secure particulars. Questions you may have about specific assessments, curriculum and delivery models may not be available until fall. But do know that our intention is to provide this learning program to more students, not less. The program will not be compromised in rigor or pacing; and any students who may have qualified for 6th grade math under the old assessment calendar, will most certainly qualify within this revised model.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding as we have done this most important work, and stay tuned for more information as we move into fall.


    The Sakai Instructional Team 


    With this as stated above, Sakai and Woodward will determine which students can safely be assigned to advanced placement classes beyond 5th grade:

    Identification: Our math teachers, with the Associate Principal and Differentiation Specialist as facilitators, will identify students for further assessment and consideration for placement in 7th grade math as 6th graders. This recommendation is premised on identified students having met at least three of the following standards, with data showing results beyond a reasonable doubt: 

    1.    Current placement in an accelerated or advanced group or 

    2.    Independent work to cover the next year's grade level curriculum

    3.    Consistently high-level class/homework performance; and

    4.    Adequate scoring on selected diagnostic (mastery) and computation fluency exams.

    *The most recent Smarter Balanced exam may be referenced as a resource if needed, but will not be considered or weighted as a data point. The purpose of the SBAC is not as a diagnostic, but a summative assessment to reflect the mastery level of grade level concepts. It’s not designed to assess students at expanding grade level standards.

    **The final mastery and computation assessments will provide the greatest weight for placement determination, with current math teachers making the final recommendation. Since students are being considered for possibly "skipping" an entire grade level of content, evidence of understanding and mastery is crucial to support this placement. It's understood that a student could meet criteria 1-3 above (and qualify for screening), but not perform strongly enough on the mastery exam to recommend placement in the advanced content group--including students identified as Highly Capable. 

    Also, note that placement in a 5th grade accelerated/advanced cohort in no way guarantees placement in 7th grade math (as 6th graders). Students are expected to perform well throughout the year to warrant moving beyond 6th grade math completely (diagnostic testing will still take place in the spring). As well, while 7th grade math allows students to be pre-identified for algebra in 7thgrade, parents will want to monitor their child’s progress throughout the year to ensure readiness for algebra. If your student’s current performance in 7th grade math is currently falling short of Woodward’s algebra requirements, you will receive a letter to that effect by mid to late March.

    Further Screening for students moving on to Woodward: All 6th grade math students at Sakai will be assessed at the end of the school year to provide Woodward with data on incoming students. 6th grade math students may be given a 7th grade mastery and computation screener, so WMS teachers might see what they already know about the curriculum they will learn the following year. Those students in the accelerated track (7th grade math) will be given an algebra readiness screener, with recommendations of pre-algebra, or algebra, provided to WMS teachers. Final determination of placement at Woodward rests with the WMS team. 

    Notification: Currently, final decisions in regard to 5th grade math placements will be made in the fall.

    Questions: If you have questions about the process contact our Associate Principal or Differentiation Specialist.