So it was disappointing tonight that Stephen Martin had to cancel at the last minute due to some unfortunate circumstances. I had planned to ask some clarifying questions about the test process which I couldn't do. As a result, I'll be waiting to hear from everyone if the K-2 followup appointments to finish the CogAt testing happen tomorrow. My read of the recent status mail and the office's pattern of mass emailing on Wed. nights is that it's reasonably likely.
However, on the flip side Paula Montgomery, the principal of JAMS attended the meeting and gave a long and interesting talk on the current state of the middle school. Some of the points she mentioned:
- Enrollment is rising rapidly. It will go from 850 to 930 students next year and all the grades will most likely be over 300 students. This will require the final mass hiring of new teachers over the summer. Interestingly. Spectrum enrollment continues to be very small 20-30 students per grade. While they are still evaluating the model, the blended classes provide the best option for scheduling these students.
- She was very proud of the quality of last year's new hires. They averaged 10+ years of experience.
- Math is a special focus at the school.
- Scheduling at JAMS revolves around Math classes.
- Math Classes are grouped by grade and subject. There are no mixed grade classes.
- For those coming in from neighborhood elementary schools but HCC qualified, the preferred pathway is to do Math 7 and then skip Math 8 and go directly to Algebra.
- This is also the main use of Professional development in the building. A consultant from the UW comes 2 days a month and conducts studio model classes and coaches individual teachers.
- Beyond HCC/Spectrum, they try to identify via Amplify tests students who are above level and place them in the most challenging classes.
- Potentially (this is not firm yet) there will be screening tests for incoming sixth graders this spring to further aid in Math placement. The focus here is on the gen-ed population.
- So far they find the unblocked LA/SS are working well. When asked for details, Paula mentioned it made hitting the writing standards more precise.
- JAMS has been piloting the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.
Overall, I was impressed with the presentation. I'd love to hear from other parent's particularly on the subject of Science and how its playing out from your perspective. Also I'll put another plug in here for the http://discussapp.blogspot.com/p/middle-school-curriculum-project.html. If you're interested, please add objective details on the Winter curriculum.