1. This article really nails a huge pain point I’m experiencing with my 2 11th graders at GMHS and it extends beyond math. IB psych is not co-taught and is a ‘college level class.’ One might argue that my child with an IEP should not take it then. But there are limited electives that are not IB and she is very interested in psychology. There’s only 1 English class at the 11th grade level that is not AP, IB, or honors—both of my children were told they should not take that class bc it’s for kids who don’t plan to go to college. The problem is that the IB English class has ‘college level’ assessments. My children do not need college-level courses and work. They need high school level work. I absolutely believe we need to serve all students, but when there are IB, AP and Honors English and only 1 other English choice that’s for ‘kids that don’t plan to go to college,’ I’d say that the curriculum is imbalanced.

  2. Based on the math requirements graphic presented in this article, a student would have to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade if they anticipate going to college for science/math/Pre-med etc. Otherwise, they may have to double up on math during their high school years in order to complete the calculus math requirement for college admissions. Questions: Is there room in the HS schedule to take two math courses in one year? If you cannot double up OR you are an 8th grader not ready for Algebra or have not decided you want to study something math oriented in college, are you doomed?

    1. Or if you child takes Alg I in 8th grade but by the time they reach 11th grade and are not deemed ready for the 11th grade IB math course, what happens to them? They can take AFDA but then there is no math course in sequence to take in 12th grade. (Note the first column shows in the graphic in the article.) AFDA does not prepare a student for the 11th or 12th grade IB math courses. Basically, a student is left without a math class they can take in 12th grade. I know, because this happened to my child. I know I’m repeating myself, but the curriculum is not well balanced–there are far too many courses for kids who are high-performers (IB, AP, Honors, dual enrollment). Kids who struggle typically have 1 choice and that 1 choice is either a dead end (as illustrated by the math curriculum) or for kids who don’t plan to go to college (which is how the only English class in 11th grade that is not IB, AP, or Honors was characterized to my children by 2 different staff members).

      1. So English and Math are not balanced. What about Science and other subjects? Agree, that the courses are geared towards high performers and I would respectfully ask, how many are high performers and how many are within the bell curve? Are we serviing those in the middle well?

        I understand there is a big push to get everyone on the IB bandwagon. The school has invested in that curriculum/teaching methodology but I would want the School Board to analyze the cost benefit and I don’t believe that has ever been done.

        For a small school, I don’t see the need to offer Honors, IB, AP, Dual Enrollment for the high performers while not addressing the needs for the students in the middle appropriately.

  3. Thank you for this article. I have been concerned for many years the school is focusing on those students who excel, leaving the average learner behind. Not all students are college bound and those who choose a different path should not be overlooked or slighted in course choices.
    In the early ’00s, I had an IEP who student whose interest placed him in an AP course. On back to school night, we were told by the instructor he should not be in the class but there was not another option. I am very sorry to read this is still occurring almost 20 years later.

    1. Lisa: I hear what you are saying. I worked really hard with other parents and dedicated staff to create new opportunities for children with disabilities at Mason but more than a decade later I am back as an advocate for other students and I see that, with some rare exceptions, most lessons learned, advances made, revisions written, opportunities created were not stored anywhere, shared with other staff, incorporated into any training or system, discussed in any board meeting or subcommittee meeting but eliminated as soon as that child moved through. What a complete waste of our tax dollars/education resources – the 100s of staff hours that it took to create those advances just lost because it obviously is not at all a priority to build on those improvements. They appear to not even have a system set up to share ideas or improvements across the district with other special educators or year to year for incoming new special educators. Last I checked they don’t even have special education staff meetings to share ideas and what works. Increased access is not built upon and given any spot light. Those “improvements” are looked as “expenses we seek to avoid so don’t tell anyone what is possible here.”

  4. I have long been concerned about the impact of the IB program on our ability to meet the needs of all our students in our community.

    Cost: There appears to be a systemic lack of curiosity as to the cost of this program. Having sat though budget meetings for hours and watched the supposed hand wringing over funding, it sort of blows my mind that no one even asks about the cost of ANYTHING when they discuss IB. In 2014, I sat in a school board meeting presentation about the program. Not one question about cost, cost of the required training, the impact on other budget areas (I mean who cares right?), impact on or access for students with disabilities, the impact on our ability to also offer other classes students may need, and not one question about outcomes as to how we measure how this curriculum creates better educational outcomes (for which we can measure and show data.) Nothing. Zilch.

    I recently listened to the most recent school board (retreat) presentation on the IB program. I don’t have my notes in front of me right now but I can tell you that my takeaway is similar. I give Superintendent Peter Noonan credit because he does mention/ask a question about students with disabilities in the meeting. I have always wondered where the discussion took place that would talk about the real meaningful details mentioned above such as budget impact, system wide program impact etc.

    If anyone is curious the link is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwWA2VRezNI&feature=youtu.be

    Training: What I found troubling when I listened is the lack of inquiry into the tiers of required training (and associated budget impact.) I think I can share the time stamp when I find my notes, but the presenter mentions a level one training (as I recall.) My concern is this. While it is certainly economical to have one teacher attend this required training and then come back and share the information with others: 1) That is not best for the teachers, they need to attend themselves to really be effective and 2) there is probably training (tier 2?) for which attendance is required. Ok, so my question is — tell me about that. How many teachers have to go and how much will that cost and what is the projected cost of having our staff members complete that required training? Over 5 years, over 10.

    I also would like to see a list of all the classes/sections we are required to offer and the budget impact of that requirement now and overtime as our student body grows.

    Enrollment: How many students are in each section each year (show me a chart) so we can see that our students are choosing these classes that are the focus of our high school and our education dollars.

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