Middle School And Beyond

by Louise

Totebaggers – I need a middle school and beyond road map. Basically what exams, classes and camps to look out for. I am swimming upstream not knowing when to sign kids up for PSAT/SAT and other exams, how to have kids prepare etc. Now all school information for parents is online, so if I don’t look carefully I am afraid I’ll miss things.
I know for instance there are 8th grade placement exams – what does that mean?
Not having been through this school system facing decisions on what to have kid take, I value the Totebag collective wisdom.

Advertisements

208 thoughts on “Middle School And Beyond

  1. Hi Louise – this just popped up so I’ll give you my advice/experiences. YMMV due to locations, school systems, etc.

    8th grade placement tests are usually done at the high school in the spring of 8th grade unless everyone is going from a particular public middle school to one public high school – then they may do it at the middle school.
    These are generally for math and language. If your child has taken a language, they may test into French 2 or 3, or maybe have to start all over again in French 1. Math placement exams would tell if they should go in the accelerated class, the regular class or somewhere else. There is nothing you or they need to do to prepare, because you want them to go where they fit. You can check in with your middle school during the second semester of 8th grade to get more specifics.

    PSAT – they take that at school, and you don’t need to do anything. Some schools have the kids take it in 10th grade for practice, but the 11th grade PSAT is the one that is used by colleges and the National Merit folks. There is also a “Pre-ACT” test that some schools use – it has a different name but that is essentially what it is. Again, your school would administer it.

    Your kids sign up to take the SAT, the ACT and the SAT subject tests. These happen on a Saturday at an auditorium or similar location. They can take the tests more than one time, but you don’t have to send the scores to colleges right away – you can see the scores first. You can look at the SAT website as they get into high school so you are familiar with how it works – how to send scores to colleges, what do the schools do with the scores if you send them multiple results (in case your child scores high in math/low in verbal the first time he takes it, then flips the scores the second time!).

    You probably know by know if your kids are good standardized test takers – if they are, great, but if they aren’t you can get recommendations from friends for tutors or test taking agencies. We had better luck with tutors who could work on specific issues rather than the big test prep classes, but again, others have a different experience. Sometimes just getting one of the big workbooks is enough to help them understand how to take the test and what they are looking for.

    I’ll stop now – sorry to have rambled so much!

  2. My advice is not to panic and everything will work out. The thing to focus on is organization–keeping track of different requirements and assignments for each class. This is a big leap from elementary school and is quite difficult. Luckily, the schools spend a lot of time on this, but support is needed at home. If a child can master this during their first year of middle school, he/she is in great shape.

    The PSAT is a non-event in middle school. My advice is to allow your child to take the test, but to ignore it until Sophomore year in high school.

  3. I agree with ssk that YMMV–there are large differences by state, by school district, etc. For example, the PSAT is administered during school time here. However, when I grew up, you had to come to school on a Saturday to take it.

    Most of our magnet schools and all of the private schools have entrance exams in the 8th grade. Each school has a different test with different sign up requirements. It’s a maddening process.

  4. organization, organization, organization. And I regret not being on top of all the assignments and doing daily homework checks when my oldest hit middle school. It took 2 years of intense struggle before I realized that I couldn’t just ignore his work the way I had done in elementary school. We don’t have formal placement exams like some of you are describing. I almost wish we did. Instead, placement is done by your grade average, and since most of the middle school grading rewards organization, you get right back to that again.

  5. The really important thing is to find out how your school does things. I didn’t bother for over a year which was a mistake. Talk to parents in your district who have kids a couple of grades ahead.

  6. Houston – yes, I forgot that there are tests for applying to high school! We have one for Catholic schools, one for independent private schools, and then a few for special public high schools. Your 8th grade teacher/counselor will give you information on all of those. I am not sure if you are planning on private or public high school for your kids – if they are going to the neighborhood public high school then you probably don’t have to worry about this!

  7. Instead, placement is done by your grade average, and since most of the middle school grading rewards organization, you get right back to that again.

    Then it’s really the parents who are getting the grade.

  8. Rhett said “Then it’s really the parents who are getting the grade”.
    Well, that is how it is, so if your school is like this, deal with it.

    One of the big culprits is actually the NY Regents science standards (no, this is NOT Common Core – there is no Common Core adopted in NY for science). Here is the wording “Therefore, as a prerequisite for admission to the Regents examination in Physical Setting/Earth Science, students must have successfully completed 1200 minutes of laboratory experience with satisfactory written reports for each laboratory investigation”
    Sounds innocuous, huh? But this translates into 15 to 20 lab reports that have to be filled out exactly so, on the correct paper, and filed exactly so. The teacher has to have the original so the reports can’t be emailed. My oldest son was forever losing the official sheets so he couldn’t finish them, or losing the sheets once finished, or filing them in the wrong place. The teacher would also lose reports from time to time. Invariably this led to panics because the report has to be there, physically, before the kid can take the Regents. I think this kind of paperwork requirement from the state kind of encourages the whole emphasis on organization and paperwork in the schools.

  9. Well, that is how it is, so if your school is like this, deal with it.

    I can still bitch and moan about it.

  10. Of course, bitching and moaning is the best :-)

    For those of you whose kids face placement exams in the 8th grade, how do you feel about that? Is that a good system or does it lead to the kind of tutoring and prepping that we see in NYC?

  11. Louise, my kid is too much older than yours for any of my advice to be helpful, but I do know these things still vary dramatically by region. I strongly suggest you talk to one of the guidance counselors for an overview and also, as someone else suggested, try to find a parent whose kids are a year or two ahead of yours and ask for school-specific advice.

  12. I had this question because I wouldn’t have known that there was a Math summer camp (optional) offered by the middle school or the recommended studying methods elective (I suppose they will cover organization) unless I talked to the current teachers. I realize that in addition to my kid checking the website for class assignments, I’ll have to check the website too because things like the math camp were buried in the website. So far, kids have been fine without my physical presence at school (at a school where majority of parents were at school for drop off/pick up, volunteering etc.)

  13. I am a troublemaker so I have to ask – if your child misses the placement cutoff by a little bit can they still be given a chance ? or is that door shut ?

  14. Louise – I would sign ANY child up for the studying methods elective. The brightest ones have no study habits at all, since they have never had any need for them, the ones who have always required a lot of parental input need to start to take charge, and such a course will likely go over the correct covers for the TPS reports – perhaps not as vital in your school as in Mooshi’s, but at least you will have an opportunity to explain that conformity and fulfilling the teacher’s expectations have a whole new dimension beyond not falling out of your chair and coloring inside the lines.

  15. if your child misses the placement cutoff by a little bit can they still be given a chance ?

    Is that a good idea? I would say not. I’d rather have them the best kid in the middle level class vs. the worst kid in the high level class.

  16. There are so many variables across state/school districts, so exact tips to manage will vary. However, a common theme starting in middle school is that the schools want your kid to “take charge of their own learning”, so they tend to exclude parents in many of the communications and discourage much parent interaction with teachers.

    Whenever I’ve happened to visit school during their morning announcements, I am usually amazed at how much information is dispensed through the garbled PA broadcast. My kids missed a lot of that type of information, and I suspect that is the case for many students.

    Are your kids going from private elementary to public middle school?

  17. If your child misses the placement cutoff, you can always ask for a chance. That said, I’d be wary of the consequences. DS did not get into an advanced photography class that he really wanted. My instinct was to helicopter in and talk to the teacher. I’m glad I didn’t, because sometimes you just don’t make the cut. Rejection is a life lesson.

    Also, middle school academics are more competitive. In our school, if a child gets into an advanced math class and cannot make the cutoff grade (85%), they are asked to go to a less competitive class. Parents have to sign a contract about this. Also, as kids start doing high school level work, their grades (in 7th and 8th grade) show up on their college transcript. Pushing kids into this type of situation if they didn’t pass the placement test is something I’d hesitate to do.

  18. Of course, Rhett put it much more succinctly than I did. The only time I’d intervene in a placement test is if the child was absent or ill.

  19. “I’d rather have them the best kid in the middle level class vs. the worst kid in the high level class.”

    Oh good lord no — at least not at our school. There is a huge delta between the GT-level coursework and the level below. At least based on a variety of complaints I have heard from a friend whose daughter just finally made GT this year. From the side-by-side comparison of what our respective kids were doing, you’d have thought hers was in remedial English. I wish I could recall the specific anecdote at the time, but I just remember my jaw hitting the floor at the basic level of the work (it was of the “draw a picture”-type crap you give kids who can’t be expected to put a sentence together. In 8th grade.).

    There is, in fact, a reason most parent want their kids in GT, besides hubris and ivy dreams. You tend to get the best teachers, and it just seems like the school puts more effort into making those classes “interesting” and “challenging” (whether they succeed is another story).

  20. Not making the cutoff for advanced photography is a bit different than not making the cutoff for 8th grade algebra or 10th grade honors chemistry. Why? Because those course determine your ability to take AP science or calculus later on. That may or may not be important for a given kid, but I think it is a bad idea, if the kid is basically smart enough, to cut off options way back in the 8th or 9th grade.

  21. Louise –
    You did not indicate which grade your child just finished. If you are starting 8th Grade in the fall. If you have any school choice, start scouring their websites for admissions information.

    Most private schools have some sort of exam before acceptance and then placement exams afterward to determine actual class placement, such as French 2 vs 1 or Geometry vs Alegbra 1, etc. based on what they took in middle school. Their website will also tell you about parent information meetings, ability for your student to shadow for a day, and the timeline for applications and payments. If you child is taking a standardized exam (ISEE is the main one in our area), I recommend taking it early as you only get a max of 2 tries in a year. If your kid doesn’t do well on this type of test, then you can get practice in and/or a tutoring course.

    In my area, the specialty public and some charter schools (one for fine arts, one for STEM, etc) have an application process and timeline as well. We have 7 or so school districts in our metro area, but we don’t live in one with these options. The public schools in my area are mixed as to whether they do a placement exam or just accept what was taken in MS as the indicator. For example, if you took Algebra 1 in 8th (and passed) then they will automatically put you in Geometry, etc. Again, starting to look at their websites is good.

    Start talking to your kid about their interests and criteria for a HS. As a parent, I kept the authority to make the final decision, but knowing my kid was interested in A and B made it easier to weed out options that were equal in my mind, but did not have A and/or B. This is also a good time to start asking other parents – where does your HS child go now? what do you like/dislike? Also, ask your child’s peers parents – what schools are you considering for your child? Why?

    My DD#1, just finished Freshman year. Last year we had 6 privates for her to consider. There are more in our metro, but these fit the parental budget and commute requirements. She ruled out one immediately and another when they did not have a music department. She ruled out a 3rd after the joint parent/student visit. We did more research on the remaining 3, she shadowed at all 3 and I asked a number of follow-up questions in the fall, and we selected 1 to apply to and had another as our backup. We will be starting the same process with DD#2 this fall. She has the same 6 to select from. She has already ruled out 3. One for the same reason – no music department, one because it has no sports teams, and one because of the distance from home, which limits the extra curriculars. Her remaining 3 are – her sister’s high school, one her sister wouldn’t consider, and her sister’s back up school.

  22. Coc – they are staying in private school. The main difference is that now that the parent has to check the website to know what is going on/opportunities/sign ups available vs. getting emails/paper reminders from the school. Progress reports will also be posted online. All the student’s assignments are posted online, that will be their area of responsibility.

  23. Placement tests – We had the option to discuss with the school. If your child is borderline, you have the ability to put them in the higher class, but then there is no turning back that year. If your child just has test anxiety, I’d likely move them ahead, but if it is really about the skill level, I’d be more hesitant. That said our school also had “boot camp” classes in the summer, so you could take the class and then retest or take the class after you decided to push your borderline student ahead.

    My DD#1 did well enough to move forward based on the test, but the school gave her the option to review the test with the department head. We were given some things for her to do over the summer and it helped.

  24. “Parents have to sign a contract about this.”

    A contract agreeing to be asked to leave in case of average < 85? What if the kid clearly belongs in the advanced class but the parent won't sign the contract? They put them in the average class?

  25. , if the kid is basically smart enough,

    If they can’t make the cutoff then it means they aren’t.

  26. From the side-by-side comparison of what our respective kids were doing, you’d have thought hers was in remedial English.

    If the kid has zero aptitude or interest in parsing Silas Marner isn’t it better to focus on the things they are good at?

  27. “If they can’t make the cutoff then it means they aren’t.”

    Likely the cutoff is somewhat dependent on peer group. The very same course might be offered at both Richlake High and Podunk High; the cutoff will probably be higher at Richlake.

    OTOH, the grading may be a little higher there, too.

  28. Milo: Yes. DS was accepted to Algebra in 7th grade through a placement test. He had to take a 4 week math class in the summer. Our letter said that if he did not take the class and if we did not understand and accept the rules, he would not be allowed to take Algebra in 7th grade.

    Our main worry is if this was setting him up for a lot of stress in an advanced class that he may or may not be able to do well in. If he stayed on this track, he would take Geometry in 8th grade and Algebra II in 9th grade. DS2 is an above average student, but he isn’t a superstar.

    However, in our school, there was a Pre-Algebra pre-AP class (i.e. 7th grade math honors) class for him to take as an alternative, so there were 2 good options for us.

  29. Houston – I get why they’re doing it. It just makes it easier when the time comes for the principal to haul out the form and say to Angry Mom “look, you signed this” because it appears official.

    Still, I like to question exactly how much weight or authority such a signed agreement really constitutes. It’s like the lettering on the office windows of the car dealership: “$499 Processing Fee on all new car sales.”

    It’s still negotiable.

  30. IME it’s all negotiable. However, don’t forget that administrators and teachers will remember how much of a PITA you were, and how that memory may carry into how they treat your child.

  31. LfB,

    Are there only two levels? I just double checked and the systems around here still seem to offer the same 4 levels they did when I was a kid.

    Traditional courses in the humanities and the sciences are streamed, often with Curriculum II, Curriculum I, Honors and Advanced Placement options. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, course levels will be renamed to College Prep (formerly CII), Advanced College Prep (formerly (CI), and Honors/Advanced Placement (no change).

    Some title inflation obviously, but the concept seems to be the same.

  32. “$499 Processing Fee on all new car sales.” It’s still negotiable.

    In Virginia, it’s not, technically speaking. They have to publically state their processing fee and can’t waver from it. They can, however, lower the price of the car so your out-the-door price is lower. Tomato-tomahto you may say, but strictly speaking car dealers in Virginia have to charge the same processing fee to each customer.

  33. CoC – That’s why I maintain that you’re far better off NOT being in the Totebaggiest of districts, because in a strong, but not super-spectacular school, a parent simply doesn’t have to try so hard to get these things done. Being a PITA isn’t required.

  34. Milo – A lot of the signing of paperwork fends off the “you didn’t tell me” in the middle or on the back end. My DD#1 had a classmate whose parent in MS was the biggest PITA in the entire school. I can’t tell you how often anything verbal between that school and the family turned into a huge deal because no one told the child and/or parent something, even when is was understood by everyone else in the class. After the first year of MS with that family, many things came in writing that never had before. That way the teachers and administration had the signed paper to fall back on.

  35. Rhett – Number of levels available and their rigor varies depending on where you live. Example, two former MS classmatse are in two different schools (one private; one average – not average totebag – suburb public) and are both taking Pre-Ap Algebra 2 and both ended the year with As, but the private school kid was a low A and the public school was a high A. Both took the same practice PSAT a few weeks ago. Private school kid scored 520 on the math, public school kid 380, but both are getting As in the “same” Pre-Ap class.

  36. Lauren
    I am already sick of MS. I can’t wait until this week is over. We still have school this week, and there is one social studies teacher that is still assigning heavy homework even though these are fifth graders. They are just in this building due to space issues. One “bonus” year of MS is done, and three more to go.

    I find out all of the ‘right’ stuff from my friends that have kids in 7, 8, and 9 grades. I have several friends with kids that are in those grades because they have older siblings of DD’s friends in 5th grade. I just try to pay attention when they complain about placement tests for math and science in 8th grade. They mention the best guidance counselors, they discuss modified sports etc. I am learning a lot by just listening to them complain, or share when we are together.

    MS is all about organization in my district too. I think it is because they are trying to prepare the kids for the mountain of work that they will have in the HS. The other reason is that the part of the brain that is responsible for some of these skills is not going to be developed until the kids are closer to late teens, so one way to learn organization for some kids is through these routines.

  37. Speaking of communication, our school has been pretty bad. I just followed up with a teacher because he has yet to respond to my email question of 7 days ago. And it’s not as if I pepper him with emails. This has probably been my 3rd email to him during the school year, and they have included complimentary stuff not just questions.

  38. How to organize (mainly using a big file folder with a slot for each subject, a school/home section) and an agenda to write down deliverables has been going on since the third grade for my kids.
    What will be new this year is lockers – deciding if you have to bring books home (and be laden like a pack horse) vs. leaving books in the locker. Let’s see how that piece goes.

  39. Especially if your kids walk to school, consider buying an extra copy of the heavier textbooks to keep at home.

  40. For my oldest, we went to a different organizational system this year at the suggestion of the ADHD coach he has been seeing. I think it has worked reallly well. My son made his own planner, with a full page for each day. There is a row for each subject, and two columns – one for assignments made that day, and one for assignments due that day. So if he gets a social studies assignment on a Monday, due on Friday, he writes down all the instructions for the assignment in the social studies row on Monday’s page, and then also puts in a brief note on the Friday page saying it is due. Because there is a page per day, there is finally enough space for each subject to write down all the instructions. In the planners given out by the school, there is never enough space.
    He carries a big binder with a folder per subject, and in the folder, he has work to be handed in on the left, and material for the week on the right. On Sunday night, we clear everything out, and move outdated stuff to manilla folders that are kept in his room. This way, I see all the graded work. We saved EVERYTHING, because in previous years he had incidents in which a month after something was due, a teacher would claim it was never handed in. This happened again this year, but this time he was able to find the graded item in the big folder and bring it back in. For similar reasons, we also scan everything that is to be handed in, and email it the evening before the due date. We had to get special dispensation to do that in all classes, and some of the teachers still won’t give him credit until the physical paper comes in, but at least he has proof that he did the work which was a HUGE issue for him last year. Keeping to this system has really minimized the missing homework problems.

  41. CoC, if your kid is on an IEP or 504, he or she is entitled to a second copy in our district.

  42. Communication with teachers has been a huge issue. Last year, when my oldest was in 8th grade, we had several cases in which a teacher would suddenly claim, a month or more after something was due, that it had never been handed in. In each of these cases, they were assignments that I knew my kid had done, but it was so far after the due date that there was no hope of finding it. It made a big impact on my kids grade and led to a crisis for my kid. That is why we ultimately got serious and got the 504 plan and a therapist who specializes in what are called 2e kids.

  43. “If the kid has zero aptitude or interest in parsing Silas Marner isn’t it better to focus on the things they are good at?”

    @Rhett — you assume all kids start at the level indicated by their innate intellectual ability, then proceed linearly based on their ability and interest, and that the testing accurately reflects that innate ability. I disagree with those assumptions. Case in point: the kid I was talking about started as a Russian adoptee with no English as a toddler, and with ADHD to boot. She got off to a slow start in ES, worked her butt off, and has been slowly but steadily charging up the class list, so that starting around 5th or 6th grade, she was consistently moving up to the harder-level classes every year. Now she is GT in all but one class — with consistent straight As the whole way. She clearly can handle the work and has the smarts; it is just a huge lift in our system to move up if the teachers didn’t snag you as “smart” by 3rd grade.

    But my original point was just about the level of work at each level of classes. Yeah, there are 3-4 different levels of classes — I was just surprised how simplistic the expectations were for the second-highest-level class — no wonder her parents worked so hard to get her into GT.

  44. you assume all kids start at the level indicated by their innate intellectual ability, then proceed linearly based on their ability and interest, and that the testing accurately reflects that innate ability.

    If you’re 13 and the test says AP Calc isn’t in your future, in the vast majority of cases that’s likely true.

    I was just surprised how simplistic the expectations were for the second-highest-level class — no wonder her parents worked so hard to get her into GT.

  45. Every year it is a mixed bag with communication. This year for my Freshman, 2 out of 8 were more difficult to communicate with. One was just slow and the other, I am not sure we were ever on the same planet – maybe universe.

    Organization – if your kid can’t handle it or get an accomodation, be wary of too many advanced classes. The amount of work assigned and all the overlapping deadlines can be a killer. Like what? Math, assigned on the same day – regualar homework due next class, test corrections – two classes from now, mini project – five classes from now. Multiple that sort of schedule for a kid with 7-8 subjects and you can see how the poorly organized can end up living in a nightmare.

  46. Austin – I enjoyed reading how your gave your girls options for high school. And I find it interesting that your girls picked 2 of the same schools. What is it about that third school? Why wouldn’t DD1 consider it but DD2 will?

    Louise – I wish you luck. I don’t remember middle or high school being this complicated, but I wasn’t in a Totebaggy neighborhood, and my schools didn’t offer G&T programs. I got placed into an honors track based on the previous year’s grades (so in 8th grade I got placed into algebra because my 7th grade math scores were very high). My score on the Catholic HS placement test plus middle school grades determined my track (honors to high honors depending on subject). Throughout HS, I could move up or down based on my final grade for that subject. Example, I got ridiculously high schools in Algebra I in 9th grade, so I was pushed to the high honors/AP track starting 10th grade.

    This discussion brought back a memory… in the August before my junior year, one of the nuns called my house to tell me she placed me in the AP track for English and History. She decided that I needed to be challenged. Without my parents’ or my consent, she changed my schedule. Mind you, I registered for the honors classes, just not the AP track. I didn’t want the extra work. But no, she did me a *favor*… which forced me to have to read an additional 5 books by September.

  47. The high school from which I graduated had 3 or sometimes 4 levels for each core academic course. Thus, you could be in Level1-2 English, Level3-4 English, or Level 5 English, which was the AP ENglish in the senior year. There were no placement tests or grade cutoffs – the student and parents decided which level a kid would enroll in. My junior high, on the other hand, was completely untracked except for math – if recommended by a teacher, you could take a placement test for 8th grade algebra. I was not allowed to take the test despite having an A in 7th grade math because I was a year younger than the other kids. I ended up taking math in summer school a year later to catch back up

  48. I just can’t get over how glad I am I didn’t go to school in this decade. And I’m glad my kid is safely out of it.

  49. “I can’t tell you how often anything verbal between that school and the family turned into a huge deal because no one told the child and/or parent something, even when is was understood by everyone else in the class.”

    I gotta say, I have a new respect for this issue, having just discovered that DD is in the 8th percentile for audio processing skills. The phrase “in one ear and out the other” comes to mind. . . . So from my perspective, I’d be a *lot* happier if the school would write more of this stuff down, or have it available online, or something — best way to minimize misunderstandings.

  50. “the part of the brain that is responsible for some of these skills is not going to be developed until the kids are closer to late teens”

    So why not defer requiring these skills until then, instead of pushing them into earlier years so that the parents have to take care of this stuff for their child to get good grades?

    It’s interesting that many schools mentioned require placement tests, but our school relies more heavily on class grades. As MM pointed out, grades are often dependent on parents getting heavily involved. Our school seems to dislike tests; they seem to like the process more than the final outcome. They don’t trust a test as much as a “holistic” evaluation. Of course, I’ve learned that holistic is quite subjective and based on factors like “creativity”. It also often involves posters and PowerPoint presentations.

  51. “If you’re 13 and the test says AP Calc isn’t in your future, in the vast majority of cases that’s likely true. ”

    Rhett – this is an interesting point (and probably true). Would you suggest, then, we move towards a model where all students are tested and placed on a track? Would you allow for students to get off that track (above or below, doesn’t matter), or would you keep them on that track regardless of their performance? Would that track dictate the level of college the student would be eligible for?

    I’m honestly curious. Mostly because I’m the minority you didn’t mention in that statement. I test very low in math, so in 9th grade, I was placed in Algebra I even though I took the course in 8th grade. Because I knew the material, I got high 90s throughout 9th grade. The school put me in AP Calc track in 10th grade. In the model I mentioned above, I would never had been given the AP Calc chance.

  52. My kid goes to what most of you would consider Podunk High School, but even we have a parent portal so that both the parents and the kids can keep track of grades and assignments. Makes it so easy to keep on top of everything. One bit of advice is don’t make your kid take classes that she does not want to. DD has friends who parents make them take band or choir. I just don’t get it. Let your kid be open to new ideas and experiences. Other parents insist that their kids take the most advance math, but then the parents have to hire a weekly tutor so that they kid can get a decent grade in the class. Follow your kids lead. If the kid has no interest in a subject or thinks that it will be too hard, then don’t force it.

  53. The problem with relying on placement tests is that, just as some smart kids are really bad at organization, there are also smart kids who freeze on tests. Perhaps a combination of grades and test would be the better strategy.

  54. Would you suggest, then, we move towards a model where all students are tested and placed on a track?

    Yes.

    Would you allow for students to get off that track (above or below, doesn’t matter), or would you keep them on that track regardless of their performance?

    Yes.

    Would that track dictate the level of college the student would be eligible for?

    No, in my ideal world there would be one test that would entirely determine college admissions – like they do in Ireland or China.

  55. Rhett – it is often not as simple as saying, Susie is great in math and not interested in English, so she should be in AP track for Math, maybe even a grade ahead, and average college prep for English. The top 2 tracks for kids often have classes that have only one section offered, so the schedule is set up for the assumed 100% across the board enrollee who is following the expected progression at grade level. The choice or level of foreign language or Social Studies options can be limited by the rest of the schedule, or the ability to take AP Chem instead of AP Physics. This happened to me 48 years ago when I changed schools into a very good high school in 10th grade. Because of the schedule for my 2 languages and the fact that I had no more than algebra I in ninth grade at my prior school, I ended up in remedial American History, slow track Geometry, and non honors English.

    In addition, the peer group – not of the kids but of the parents – in the average track at a non elite public high school in a place like eastern MA is by default somewhat self selected. The well off send their middling achiever to private school. The middle class who don’t like the type of kids or the perceived lack of attention by teachers in the mid track choose Catholic school. The ethnic groups who stress academic test prowess often have invested enough in tutoring to get the average native ability kids’ scores up enough to make the next tier. The parents who advocate, get accommodations or just manage the organizational stuff really well can keep the grades high enough to boost a borderline candidate. Some parents home school for a couple of years. So the parents who are left may be just busy making ends meet, or don’t understand the system, or don’t have high academic expectations for this particular child, or worse.

  56. The Chinese education system is horrible. I would not want to move to their model. I think a better example of a test focused system with strong tracking would be Germany. At least they do a good job at it, unlike the Chinese.

  57. I in ninth grade at my prior school, I ended up in remedial American History, slow track Geometry, and non honors English.

    And then went to college (a very very good college IIRC) at 16?

  58. No, in my ideal world there would be one test that would entirely determine college admissions – like they do in Ireland or China.

    I came from a system like that. Good test takers, people who had years of test prep were able to ace the entrance test but that was it. Most were exhausted by all the years of study and quite a few got into professions because that’s what their parents wanted them to do which they were ill suited for. Lots of corruption in the test taking process because the stakes are so high.

  59. Louise: A lot of textbooks are now online, as well. DS rarely brought home his books in 6th grade.

  60. Rhode – Not really sure what there is about it, given the level of knowledge they each had entering 8th grade.

    Sheep – We have a portal, but in MS the teachers upload information on Monday. If they make changes during the course of the week, they do not change the portal, so it becomes dependent on the kids remembering. In our HS, the portal is for grades across the board. Some teachers use it for assignments, others use their class websites – which is hit and miss how much parents can see, others tell them verbally in class, and still others post information on their class Google drive. Step 1 for the kid is to figure out what each teacher is doing. Step 2 is to then find a way to combine those so you don’t miss something and to track it all.

    Meme is correct. It can be very hard to get a kid a schedule if they are not taking class all in the same level track – remedial, normal, honors or Pre-Ap/AP. That seems to be less true the largest schools. Last year a number of Seniors in our school had to choose between Band and an AP class. There were only 6 kids who were taking the class and the only time it didn’t conflict with another AP class that they were in that was larger or with a core class (economics is not AP) was to make it conflict with Band. Four of the six were in band – they were allowed to play in concerts etc, but didn’t get all four years on their transcripts.

  61. Is my child’s school the only one where teachers don’t actually ever put the homework on the online system? I would say 80% of teachers only enter assignments when they are posting the grades. My son had an English teacher (his worst subject) who posted a couple of A’s in the first few weeks of school, then nothing until the night before grades were locked, when his grade dropped to an F due to a couple of assignments she said he had not turned in. Fortunately, he still had the graded papers and was able to show them to her, but the system is only helpful for keeping up with homework if the teachers actually post the homework there *before* it is due.

    Louise, what no one has touched on is that middle school also brings on a whole new level of social anxiety. Kids seem to suddenly become very interested in pecking order and conformity, and making sure you fit in consumes a fair amount of energy in a given day (depending on your kid). That can take up a lot of brain space for some kids.

  62. “consider buying an extra copy of the heavier textbooks to keep at home.”

    That’s what DS has done. We try to get used books, either at the school carnival or from older students, since some of the books are pretty expensive.

    “he or she is entitled to a second copy in our district.”

    Do you have to buy your kids’ books?

    At my kids’ school now, we have to buy their books starting in 7th grade. When I was in school, at a public school, all textbooks were provided by the school. I always had my own copies for the year, but I’ve heard many stories of kids having to share books.

    For those of you who have to buy, any tips for keeping the cost down? DS is currently shopping for his books for next year, and I need to get DD on that task as well. We always look at Amazon, half, and Barnes and Noble to see if they are cheaper than the seller with which the school has an official relationship.

  63. “the system is only helpful for keeping up with homework if the teachers actually post the homework there *before* it is due.”

    Survey says, ding ding ding ding!!

  64. “Would you suggest, then, we move towards a model where all students are tested and placed on a track? Would you allow for students to get off that track (above or below, doesn’t matter), or would you keep them on that track regardless of their performance? Would that track dictate the level of college the student would be eligible for?”

    Isn’t this basic model, albeit with a lot of variations, pretty common? My kids’ school uses the basic model, although placement on the tracks are based on classroom work as well as tests, and it’s common for kids to move between tracks.

    Tracks definitely affect the level of college; highly selective colleges are unlikely to take kids who didn’t take a lot of AP/honors classes unless they’re very good athletes.

  65. “No, in my ideal world there would be one test that would entirely determine college admissions – like they do in Ireland or China.”

    While we don’t have that here, supposedly one benefit of the current and past SAT is its ability to recognize those with high, but underdeveloped, cognitive ability.

  66. On the website I haven’t seen any notification for supplies/books. However, the ever efficient PTO already has the sign up link for events and dues collection information up :-).

  67. “One bit of advice is don’t make your kid take classes that she does not want to. DD has friends who parents make them take band or choir. I just don’t get it. Let your kid be open to new ideas and experiences.”

    I think this is good guidance, especially for band or choir, but parents need to retain veto power. E.g., taking just the minimum number of math or science classes required to graduate could severely limit college options.

    Keep in mind also that parents may put their kids into certain classes not for the classes themselves, but for the peer groups.

  68. Finn – same source as you have noted for purchased text books. Try kids a grade above, before the end of the year when they have already sold their books back AND if school has already decided on the list. If they are AP books, sometimes your local community college or university will have the book in their book store – used. Most don’t require an ID to get in or buy books. A friend suggested craigs list, but that might be too much back and forth. Another tip – the book seller our school is affiliated with will buy back books you got from other sources as long as it is the same ISBN. I made a few dollars on one book I bought via Amazon and sold the the book seller.

  69. I’m enjoying this discussion. It makes me feel like less of a PITA parent for complaining about the lack of tracking in math (for next year, they got rid of algebra in middle school and I’m NOT happy) as well as in everything else. In theory, Common Core may be fine but the Smarter Balance implementation stinks. All children are NOT the same and are NOT going to learn the same material at the same rate.

    At SoFl mom’s suggestion, I signed up for Khan Academy and will let my kids do some of that this summer. I expect Mr WCE and I will have discussions about math as DS1 approaches middle school. His inclination is to go along with whatever the school does, where I’m more tempted to homeschool in math, given the lack of tracking in middle school. Our kids would have to be mature enough to be home alone a lot, though, since I don’t want to stop working, necessarily.

    I agree with Milo that at least some prestigious schools want kids from non-Totebaggy publics. Our local high school has one kid heading to the Naval Academy and one to Harvard, and there is another Naval Academy kid in the next high school over. I was just at a picnic with a local West Point freshman. Our local school district emphasizes finishing high school, not getting kids into the best colleges.

  70. I wonder what people consider an optimum middle school environment? I have been having this conversation recently with several different people. We have just moved and are years away from this – but are zoned to a school that is probably not going to work (gang intervention program, not so much college prep). You and I might not agree on what a great elementary or high school looks like, but we both can describe what we are looking for. I am not sure I can imagine what a great middle school looks like.

    Does anyone have a great middle school? Does it have to be so hard?

  71. “There is, in fact, a reason most parent want their kids in GT, besides hubris and ivy dreams. You tend to get the best teachers”

    The best teachers for GT kids aren’t necessarily the best teachers for other kids. One would hope that effort is made to identify the match different teacher strengths with the appropriate students.

  72. supposedly one benefit of the current and past SAT is its ability to recognize those with high, but underdeveloped, cognitive ability.

    As grades move from a measure of a kid’s conscientiousness and ability to master the material to a measure of parental involvement, wouldn’t it stand to reason that colleges would tend to weigh SAT scores more and GPA less?

  73. “what no one has touched on is that middle school also brings on a whole new level of social anxiety.”

    In many cases, this is exacerbated by a change in school. Publics here typically funnel multiple elementary schools into single intermediate (aka middle) schools, and middle school is when many privates also expand their class sizes.

    DW and SIL went to the same intermediate school (grades 6-8, IIRC, although that’s changed over time), and they both were determined that their kids would not go to that school. They were OK with their elementary school and, to a lesser extent, their HS.

    DS developed a very tight core group of friends in MS, and had a great time socially, but the parents of one of those friends told us their older kids, one in particular, had social difficulties in MS, so they made a strong effort to encourage the development and sustenance of that core group.

  74. “wouldn’t it stand to reason that colleges would tend to weigh SAT scores more and GPA less?”

    I think that really depends on what the colleges’ admissions boards are hoping to achieve.

  75. “I wonder what people consider an optimum middle school environment?”

    Three years out west, building trails through national parks.

    I am only half joking. Or less than half. I would love some sort of “real life experience” model, where the kids take some core classes and then go do something useful and hard and real-world in the afternoon. They are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be, and they have boundless energy and little patience, and I think we’d all be better off if we could ship them off to the farm to do 4 hours of chores in the morning, followed by a couple of hours of school when they’re sufficiently worked-out to sit and pay attention.

    “One would hope that effort is made to identify the match different teacher strengths with the appropriate students.”

    One would hope that, yes.

  76. Middle School – IMO it depends on the kid. In my area if you are REALLY into sports, you go to public school unless it is a sport that most schools in your area do not participate in and you are doing club/select and know a freshman scholarship is unlikely. Our MS is a great fit for above average, but not truly GT kids. It is an awful fit if you need significant accomodations in an IEP/504 process. It is an OK fit for a GT kid who is self-motivated, but not for one who needs external encouragement. It’s great for kids who want to play a sport, but not for kids who want to excel at sports. However, they do focus a lot on the social interaction of the kids and try to limit some of the cliques and toxic behaviours that can spring up in this age group.

  77. “Does anyone have a great middle school? Does it have to be so hard?”

    If you move here, I can suggest schools at which to apply. I think my kids’ school is pretty good, although HM probably doesn’t perceive the same ROI.

    This is really local knowledge, but a huge factor is the parents of the kids at the school.

    As MBT suggests, MS is a crucial time in social development, when peer groups get rearranged, so now’s a good time to start learning about your local schools so you can do what it takes to steer your kids to the best school for them.

  78. I think that really depends on what the colleges’ admissions boards are hoping to achieve.

    What other goal could they have other than snagging the kids who will go on to do the most to burnish the school’s reputation?

  79. “What other goal could they have other than snagging the kids who will go on to do the most to burnish the school’s reputation?”

    Snagging the kids who will go on to make the biggest donations.

  80. “What other goal could they have other than snagging the kids who will go on to do the most to burnish the school’s reputation?”

    Diversity?

  81. “MS is a crucial time in social development, when peer groups get rearranged, so now’s a good time to start learning about your local schools so you can do what it takes to steer your kids to the best school for them.”

    I wonder to what percent of the population such advice would apply. Assuming you’re willing and able to pay for private school, or live in one of the few areas with options for charters, what would you say you learn about the schools in order to do this steering? And if that were true, would you really have steered them to one that was the less academically rigorous choice?

  82. Ada – If your kids are more than a few years away from MS, don’t pick one now. What that school may look like in 5 plus years could be very different. When we bought our house 12 years ago, the elementary was so-so, but MS and HS were good. Now, elementary is good, but MS is so-so and HS has signifcant issues.

  83. Diversity?

    True, but with a large enough applicant base, at the margins, you’re still going to be looking at a kid with a 1340 SAT and a 4.2 GPA vs. another kid with a 1440 SAT and a 3.9 GPA.

  84. When I was actually in junior high, I always said that junior high is where they park your brain while your body gets big enough for high school. We may call them middle schools now, but I don’t think that has changed.

  85. Mooshi, I think you and I were kindred spirits. As another guy said about high school, “If these are the best years of my life, just shoot me now.”

  86. And if that were true, would you really have steered them to one that was the less academically rigorous choice?

    I don’t feel like looking for it again but I posted a study a while back that said that those opting for the less rigorous choice end up more successful as adults. Paraphrasing here, a kid who graduates 10th in his class of 300 from generic middle class suburb high school ends up doing better than a kid with the same aptitude who graduates 70th from Chevy Chase, Newton, etc. high.

  87. “What other goal could they have other than snagging the kids who will go on to do the most to burnish the school’s reputation?”

    Some other possibilities:

    -Snagging the kids they could help the most?
    -Snagging the kids most able to pay full tuition?
    -Per Milo, diversity, which could include geographic, type of HS, parental SES and education level, and yes, race and ethnicity

    Different colleges also have different missions that will factor into their admissions decisions.

  88. -Snagging the kids they could help the most?

    Finding a diamond in the rough? Sure. Finding a garnet and turning it into a topaz? I have my doubts.

  89. Rhett: I think you are referring to Malcolm Gladwell from his book “David and Goliath”.

  90. “True, but with a large enough applicant base, at the margins, you’re still going to be looking at a kid with a 1340 SAT and a 4.2 GPA vs. another kid with a 1440 SAT and a 3.9 GPA.”

    I read an article that showed some stats for a certain racial group that showed it was impossible for all the Ivies to meet their enrollments of that group without admitting a lot of kids whose SATs were below the middle 50 %ile range for those schools.

  91. Colleges want potential donors and people who will hire their future graduates. If you have lots of donors, you don’t have to chase kids who can pay full price so much.

  92. ” If your kids are more than a few years away from MS, don’t pick one now. ”

    Perhaps don’t pick one, but start educating yourself.

    “Assuming you’re willing and able to pay for private school, or live in one of the few areas with options for charters, what would you say you learn about the schools in order to do this steering? And if that were true, would you really have steered them to one that was the less academically rigorous choice?”

    Locally, there are magnet schools, e.g., language immersion, band, orchestra.

    One of the intermediate (aka middle) schools and the HS it feeds consistently do well in NCLB tests, and also has an orchestra program. I know several parents who had their kids start taking violin lessons several years before intermediate/middle school in order to get them into those schools.

    I know of other parents who sent their kids to language schools to get them into immersion schools only partly because of the language, but also because they perceived the immersion schools to be better for their kids overall.

  93. “What other goal could they have other than snagging the kids who will go on to do the most to burnish the school’s reputation?”

    Let’s also not forget the UN News and World Report rankings. They want kids who will not just go on to burnish the school’s rep, but also those that will immediately improve its rankings.

  94. Trying to help a young relative (rising high school senior) with the “beyond”- college admissions. Problem is, he is a very good student at a top public high school in honors classes, who is testing very low on standardized tests. As in around 20 on the ACT. Strongly suspect an undiagnosed learning disability, but the school refuses to provide testing since the grades are fine and the family can’t afford private testing. The parents are in denial about how concerning this is. I’m worried about both ability to get into a decent college, and the ability to succeed once there. He is a sweet and hardworking kid, and I suspect the teachers have been giving him inflated grades for years. But I’m afraid that will stop in college and he will be simply unable to keep up with the workload. Any ideas? Particularly for improving reading speed and comprehension? He is very self-motivated and willing to dedicate this summer to working on this.

  95. Anon, it’s possible your relative would do best by attending community college and then transferring. Will a low 20’s ACT score (the most he would likely improve to, assuming this score is accurate) allow him to attend where he wants to? Is his ACT consistent with his SAT? Is English his first language? If he’s performing well at a top public high school, he probably has the work ethic to succeed in many majors.

    You may want to steer him toward business/education, where interpersonal skills are valued, rather than engineering/premed/foreign language/philosophy/economics, where more purely academic skills are valued.

  96. It’s well into the bottom 25% for his high school, and his older siblings (with similar high school GPAs) all scored very high and went to top colleges. He also only scored 16 on the reading, which is far below what is considered necessary to succeed academically in college.

    I worry this kid is going to fail out of school and fall out of the middle class if he can’t find a way to work around this issue, or an alternate career path. He is in denial and still thinks he can get into his dream school where big brother and sister went and then on to medical school.

  97. Has he taken the ACT more than once? He didn’t, say, get off a line filling in the bubble sheet?

    My brother is a slow reader and mechanical engineering was a great field for him. There is little reading involved (lots of equations) and he wound up doing better in college than he did in middle/high school. He’s now an engineering manager. He was diagnosed as dyslexic and struggled with spelling. (He is grateful for spell check.) He did well on his ACT though.

    I will point out that while Rhett is correct that 20 is a fiftieth percentile score for all people taking the test, not all those people will enter and graduate from college. If his siblings did similarly well in high school, I suspect a testing error.

  98. Not a testing error. Also did extremely poorly on PSAT. We gifted him an expensive SAT test prep class through a Kaplan-type place, and this is the “after” result.

  99. The middle school model adopted around the early 70s was meant to allow educators to focus more on the developmental aspects of students, essentially de-emphasizing academics.  I’ve heard this stance vocalized by one local school administrator when he resisted tracking students until high school because it was more important to focus on the “whole” child.

    My ideal middle school would actually be part of a K-8 configuration.  The rather abrupt change from 5th (or 4th) grade to the middle school world is unnecessary, and even harmful.  Some studies have found students fare better, both academically and socially, by keeping younger middle schoolers with elementary grades.  This study was from North Carolina.

    … By comparing the grade 6 cohorts that were not in a separate middle school to those that were, the researchers found some remarkable results: “students who attend middle school in sixth grade are twice as likely to be disciplined relative to their counterparts in elementary school.” They found that the behavioral problems of these middle-school 6th graders “persist beyond the sixth grade year” and that “exposing sixth graders to older peers has persistent negative consequences on their academic trajectories.”

    I remember the first time my H stepped into our middle school, he remarked that he got a “Lord of Flies” vibe.  Yup.

    A debate about middle school:  The Middle School Conundrum

  100. “I will point out that while Rhett is correct that 20 is a fiftieth percentile score for all people taking the test, not all those people will enter and graduate from college.”

    Many school districts now use the ACT as an assessment tool, and have all kids take it. So one might expect the median ACT score not to correlate to the median SAT score.

    However, there are lots of options for those with a ACT score of 20, e.g., http://collegeapps.about.com/od/theact/a/Cal-State-act-scores.htm

  101. Anon – What about test prep course and retaking the exam? What about a PA or APN program that might get him into the field, but with less debt?

  102. Hopefully other people have better ideas than I do.

    I sat down with my friend who was struggling with the GMAT and had her talk through her approach to the questions that troubled her. I could help her with those specific questions, but she was largely unable to apply those concepts to similar future questions. She also wasn’t fast enough to get through the test so encouraging her to focus on the questions she COULD answer correctly and watching her time management helped her a bit. Overall, though, my attempt to help resulted in only marginal improvement, which supports the argument that these types of tests are not, on the whole, very coachable.

  103. “We gifted him an expensive SAT test prep class ”

    If you could afford to gift him with that, could you afford to gift him with a LD assessment?

  104. He also only scored 16 on the reading, which is far below what is considered necessary to succeed academically in college.

    Someone with a somewhat below average reading score and above average math score would be unable to succeed as a directional state u accounting major?

  105. I am not so sure about a K8 setup. First of all, then the kids will have an even more abrupt transition between 8th and 9th grade. Secondly, I would not want my kindergartner in the same building with 8th graders. While our affluent middle school is pretty safe, in my own junior high drugs and some lowlevel crime were rampant. It was REALLY different from elementary school. And finally, I would hate for the artsy-craftsy approach favored by our elementary school (at least pre CC) to be extended into middle school. Whatever else was wrong with our middle school, both my two oldest agree that the academics are more interesting than in elementary school.

  106. Let me amend that:

    A hardworking, conscientious, and personable kid with a somewhat below average reading score and above average math score would be unable to succeed as a directional state u accounting major?

  107. “My ideal middle school would actually be part of a K-8 configuration.”

    We used to call K-8, “elementary school.” While all on one campus, K was in one part of campus, 1-4 in another part, and 5-8 in yet another, with a bit of separation between 5-6 and 7-8.

    Do you consider K-12 non-ideal?

    The dad of one of DS’ friends went to a school (outside the US) that was (at least) K-college. Not sure if it had preschool too.

  108. Rhett, depending on his personality, I have to argue for elementary education K-8 with a math endorsement. Elementary schools here seek male teachers, and there are opportunities to rise to principal. Way better option (including great insurance and pension) than accounting.

  109. Has anyone considered text anxiety? One of my best students at my old directional state u had terrible problems with standardized tests, which is how he ended up at directional state u. As he matured, he got over some of it, and ended up going to grad school, and eventually getting his PhD at a top notch CS program, and then worked for Microsoft Research. He was clearly smart, but he did not test well.

  110. We could probably swing paying for the assessment, but the issue is also the parents thinking nothing is wrong and getting mad when we suggest testing. (Even though they ask our opinion. Sigh.) So we’ve dropped that topic with them. Also due to some complicated family dynamics, we’re also worried about setting a precedent with giving more money to this branch of the family.

    I think accounting is a good idea. His math score is respectable, and probably not a lot of reading in that major (or career)? He also mentioned nursing as a potential interest, perhaps becoming a nurse practitioner? Don’t know how competitive that is compared to med school. The math and science ability is strong enough I think, just needs to be able to get through all the reading. Even in high school he is studying 6 hours a night just to keep up in his textbooks and has developed some minor health problems from the resulting stress and sleep deprivation.

  111. Mooshi, you may be onto something. I’m not privy to the details, but based on some things his mom said I think he has an anxiety disorder. But I still don’t think that fully explains a reading score 10 points below math for a native English speaker. Great to hear your relative was able to accomplish so much!

  112. A male acquaintance (father of 6, former Mennonite cabinetmaker) just finished his BS in nursing. He excelled and his ACT/SAT score probably did not rock the world. Denver Dad may be able to weigh in on how competitive nurse practitioner programs are becoming, but even having an RN would give him a middle class job.

  113. Anon, perhaps you can help him the most by staying in touch and being a resource through his college years.

  114. Anon: If he’s personable, how about a sales program at a 2nd-3rd tier state school? I also like the accounting option–though math is required, it’s not high level math.

  115. Anon,

    What is the source of your conviction that he can’t possibly be average?

  116. Anon: How about helping him find a kick-*ss internship over the summer? A research position at a local university lab, a technology accelerator, a start-up company, etc. This will help burnish both his resume and confidence. These types of internships are not easy to identify, but not impossible if you’re willing to leverage your network.

  117. I don’t think testing anxiety explains 6 hours/night.

    He sounds like he is above average in cognitive ability, hard working, and quite adaptive.

    Has he ever tried audio books?

  118. “What is the source of your conviction that he can’t possibly be average?”

    He does well at an above-average school. Older sibs were above average.

    I’m guessing his grades are similar to older sibs.

  119. “Secondly, I would not want my kindergartner in the same building with 8th graders”

    Mooshi beat me to it. No parent of a Kindergartner wants this. Middle schoolers can suck it up for three years. We all did. I’m not sending a five-year-old on the same bus as a bunch of horny eighth graders talking about blow jobs. From 4-year-old preschool to that??? Talk about a shock! NFW.

    Separate topic, if Anon’s nephew can be of average intelligence and get good grades in HS, he can do the same thing in college. The vast majority of undergraduate programs are not going to be any more rigorous than high school. If anything, there could be more leeway and hand-holding.

    I was struck by the “will fall out of the middle class” worry, and I was thinking about one of the enlisted guys I’ve kept in touch with over the years. He was my division’s leading petty officer for a while. When we were deployed, he was still of the young-enough mentality to take advantage of the tax-free car buying service to have a brand new Platnium F-150 waiting for him upon our homecoming. But he’s since become kind of Dave Ramsey’ish, and we talk about different investment strategies. He’s an E8 now (senior), married, two kids, has his house (small hobby farm, actually) paid off, is eligible for a very generous pension, and has fairly significant investments for someone this side of 40. Shockingly, all without a college degree.

  120. “He does well at an above-average school.”

    Entirely possible based on effort and charm alone.

  121. “Shockingly, all without a college degree.”

    I went to college with a couple of guys who’d just retired from the AF. Lost touch with them, but later ran into one of them who worked as a DoD civilian for about 15 to 20 years or so before retiring again.

  122. Actually, Finn, at the nuclear prototype training unit in Schenectady, NY, a number of the enlisted instructors were enrolled in a program locally through Rensalear to get degrees in nuclear engineering*.

    *Actually, I’m not sure if it’s an honest-to-God accredited, Christian engineering degree, or something like “Nuclear Engineering Technology,” but either way, for 90% of career applications, it’s a distinction without a difference.

  123. I truly see the military in Junior’s future. If he can get in. Milo, he WILL graduate from HS– even if I have to move to the worst school district ever (I can and I will!), can he?

  124. PTM – has there ever been someone who wanted to graduate from high school but couldn’t?

  125. ” I would not want my kindergartner in the same building with 8th graders”

    I attended two different schools that included K-8, and have visited many more. I don’t know of any that put kindergartners and 8th graders into the same building; those campuses are typically divided up, separating kids by age range.

    The most sought after schools here are K-12.

    ” I’m not sending a five-year-old on the same bus as a bunch of horny eighth graders talking about blow jobs.”

    Both my kids rode the bus with not just eighth graders, but HS kids. When DS was in K, a couple of daughters of DW’s friends, both of whom were in HS, looked after DS on the bus, although the bus driver usually saved a seat next to her for DS, and DS talked to her most of the time.

  126. Accounting is actually not considered an easy major, except perhaps in comparison to engineering or hard science. Accounting, CIS and finance are the majors attracting the more academically adept students at undergraduate business school. Most accounting jobs with upward mobility, even in industry, require that the candidate pass the CPA exam, so severe testing deficits are not a recommendation for that career. There are also fairly arduous exams used to get degrees of certification in finance. Any sort of advanced job in accounting or day to day finance requires significant reading ability, facility with spreadsheets and powerpoint and modern computer work platforms, the ability to write a memo and compose a presentation. However, in public accounting, financial consulting or in financial products there are great opportunities for personable people to get ahead in sales or client relations, so if the individual can survive the testing hoops to get the C _ _ designation after the name a good living can be had. But such a person could also sell construction equipment or software or likely anything else.

  127. “I don’t know of any that put kindergartners and 8th graders into the same building; those campuses are typically divided up, separating kids by age range.”

    So they had separate campuses for the older kids. Kind of like middle school.

  128. Wow, surprised people are so shocked by the idea of a K-8 school. I attended one that was awesome, and most smaller private schools (both parochial and secular) that I’m familiar with have all those grades on one campus. It actually seemed to keep the middle schoolers better behaved, because they saw themselves as role models for the little kids rather than acting like they were 13 going on 18.

    I think it can actually be really healthy for kids to interact with people much older and much younger than them on occasion. Almost everyone had that experience when big families were the norm and extended families lived nearby. Now it’s not unusual for kids to be completely age segregated and have no older or younger friends.

  129. We had traditional neighborhood grammar schools K-8. One building. Some bussing for special programs but mostly walking. I vastly prefer that to middle school as a concept. The main problems I saw were that the grammar school principals were sometimes unequal to the task of dealing with 14 year old eighth graders who shaved every day.

  130. “Can he get into the service, more articulately?”

    I would think so. He might not be a nuke, but that’s probably a good thing.

    You live in Miami–he should join the Coast Guard. A few months in Cape May and then he can be right back home, Seventh District, intercepting cocaine shipments.

  131. Of course most of the families had a wide range of ages at home. It was not uncommon to have a 6 year old aunt going to the same school as her 8 year old niece.

  132. “has there ever been someone who wanted to graduate from high school but couldn’t?”

    Milo, I don’t actually know, with all the “required” tests they have now, I’ll keep Junior in a private school where they generally don’t have those tests (I think). The big deal I’m ramping up for next semester is getting him into a high school, and doing so on a timely basis.

    My biggest fear is that he will be a 20 year old doing 11th grade. I don’t think that happens very often. I think he’d drop out before then. (And if you don’t want your 5 year old daughter around 13 year old boys, you certainly don’t want your 14 year old freshman hanging with a 20 year old junior– not necessarily my Junior. He’ll be fine.)

    And it seems even private high school’s for more challenged kids down here are competitive.

  133. “Accounting is actually not considered an easy major”

    Yes. I remember in college a lot of accounting majors struggling, especially in their junior and senior years, and these included kids who were in NHS in HS.

  134. I’m surprised everyone seems to think accounting is so non-verbal. When I got to meet Ivy, I commented that if I’d had an ounce of sense, I’d have gone into accounting because to me it seems rather like philosophy. (Ivy was nice enough to agree, but you other accountants may now point and laugh.) You get presented with a set of complicated facts or fact-like objects, and you have to tell a coherent story about them that makes sense to others. The fact-like objects can be highlighted in different ways to emphasize their similarities and differences to other fact-like objects, and you can shape your story accordingly. There are of course limits to the stories you can convincingly tell. The numbers are just proxies for some of the fact-like objects. I feel like you guys are talking about bookkeepers who spend a lot of time entering numbers in spreadsheets and then running various Excel functions on them. That’s not my impression of accounting. (My impression is based on an excruciatingly painful accounting-system migration that I had to participate in as head of IT. The head of the Business Department and I had many tearful after-hours drinks over that project.)

  135. PTM – is he more mechanically inclined? What about something like an HVAC certification? You’ve got compressors, heat exchangers, piping, and the refrigerant. They might insist on some basic calculations, but that might come a lot easier to him when he can see and feel the parts.

  136. “I truly see the military in Junior’s future. If he can get in. Milo, he WILL graduate from HS”

    And if not, there’s the National Guard.

  137. RMS – Thank you, dear. However, when I tried to explain to some of my former academic colleagues how arguing a tax issue required the sort of research skills and textual analysis that could depend on the placement of a comma (say to distinguish between a conjunctive or disjunctive condition), they weren’t even polite.

  138. My nephew the high-school dropout went to this vo-tec school:

    http://www.uti.edu/programs/motorcycle

    It was pricey but he got a very nice job when he got out at the Yamaha dealership in Indy. Salary and benefits. Of course now he’s going to prison for his third DUI, but that’s not important right now. Believe me, this kid was never going to score above the 50th percentile on any test.

  139. “I think it can actually be really healthy for kids to interact with people much older and much younger than them on occasion.”

    DS does this regularly. Besides being on the bus with a bunch of K-12s (although mostly 4-12), he also had an afterschool job as a junior leader for afterschool care (HM mentioned her niece had a similar job). Their school has a lot of similar afterschool and before school jobs for HS kids, including things like playground supervision and walking kids back and forth from afterschool care to their afterschool classes and lessons.

  140. Finn, don’t you have to be a HS grad for the National Guard? It doesn’t really matter. If I’m alive (and I intend to be) Junior WILL graduate from HS. On time.

    Milo, I love the Coast Guard idea, but I thought that was competitive down here.

    As for Junior’s mechanical abilities, I really am not sure. I’ve always said I think he’s plenty smart, and I actually believe that. If he is taught to do tasks, he can usually do them as long as they aren’t artsy-craftsy. I think he will be a useful, personable, albeit somewhat lower level, employee somewhere.

    (And yes. I had his post-Harvard career mapped out in my mind a decade and a half ago.)

  141. “(And yes. I had his post-Harvard career mapped out in my mind a decade and a half ago.)”

    Did that plan, before your wife got sick and your partners turned on you, include law school and a big firm for him?

    Sorry for all the questions. I’m chatting and watching “camp” simultaneously.

  142. Milo, thanks for that article. I’d better not apply to Junior ever, but that’s a good credo: “Be better than those around you.” Junior is about to start getting sermons about that!

  143. “Milo, I love the Coast Guard idea, but I thought that was competitive down here.”

    I thought it was just ASVAB scores. If he’s borderline, being a Boy Scout might help.

    I’ve been told that, long before 9/11, the senior USCG officers down there had full-time security details for themselves and their families because of threats on their lives from the cartels.

  144. Milo, no way would my son ever be a lawyer. Even in his Harvard days.

  145. Not only do I not want my kindergartner in the same school with the 7th and 8th graders, but I think one of the best features of our school district is that we have a completely separate K1 school. Yep, just K and 1st grade. It is so fantastic because the principal and teachers can really focus on the needs of very small kids in school.
    I like the idea of dividing kids up so that the school can focus on the needs of a particular age group. I just don’t think anyone has figured out how to deal with middle schoolers. There is so much happening at that age. And while K8 may be perfectly safe at a nice small private school, or at a Totebag public school, I am certain that none of you would have wanted your small kids around the kids in my junior high. We had drugs, we had fights in the hallways, we had students throwing chairs.

  146. Entrance exam.

    http://official-asvab.com

    Looking at Google results, practice tests are available.

    They need some way to quickly determine who has the aptitude for nuclear power school, who can be a cryptologist…

  147. Thanks, Milo. You have been really, really helpful today. I appreciate it.

  148. COC – thanks for the link – good discussion on pros/cons of K-8 vs 6-8. It seems like everyone says the real problem is that the schools aren’t structured to meet the needs of these kids no matter how you divide them up.

    I am all about building trails out west. I think we would be more likely to home school than private school – though we would definitely consider moving to a kinder gentler place (wherever that might be). So, our conversation is largely about ideals not actually schools.

  149. My kids school puts in a lot of effort in doing the best student and teacher matches. I am very happy as I felt they got put with the appropriate teacher. The school also tries to give each teacher a balanced class.
    This same approach will continue in middle school but there are teams of teachers so kids will be with the most appropriate team. Also a lot of effort is put into making the adjustment to middle school as pain free as possible.
    In the home country schools are K to 10 or K to 12. The interaction between the age ranges were like Finn described, role models rather than bad behavior on the part of the older students.

  150. Louise – I will second the recommendation to buy an extra copy of the heaviest textbooks – you can usually get them from Amazon, used. It makes such a difference in their backpacks!

    My kids went to Catholic K-8, and we started hearing about high schools either at the end of 7th grade or the beginning of 8th grade, and had several meetings for the parents to go over what needed to be done. As I mentioned earlier, we had kids applying to public, Catholic and Non-Catholic private schools, so there was a lot to keep track of!

  151. I found out that the sixth graders are going to have their own wings and will not be exposed to the negative influences of the seventh and eight graders. This made me feel better. Of course I want my kids protected till they reach the 12th grade and there is no other class older than that :-).

  152. Hey! Mah kid got a job! As a physicist, in his area of specialization, in…Boston. Oh well. I guess I’ll be visiting Boston a lot and bugging you Boston peeps for Boston tips. His bride lived there for a year and wants to look for a place to live in Somerville. This means nothing to me, natch.

  153. RMS – congratulations to your son on his job! You will have a wonderful place to visit.

    The K-8 school my kids went to was small – one class of 30-35 per grade, so it was all in one building. The primary grades were on one floor, secondary on another and middle school moved between the 2nd and 3rd floors. There were programs for the little an big kids to get together – all of the Kindergarten kids had big brothers/sisters in 8th grade – they took field trips together, etc. They did pen pals in 1st/7th and something else in 2nd/6th. I can see a problem if you had a large school k – 8.

  154. Ok RMS, we will finally have to meet. Somerville is a densely populated mostly residential community (triple decker multifamily frame residences predominate) right next to Cambridge. Tufts is in Somerville, even though its mailing address is not. Now quite trendy with lots of twenty somethings.

  155. Excellent! I look forward to meeting you. Thanks for the capsule pic of Somerville. The girl did her first year of college at B.U. before missing her beloved too much and transferring back to the same state. So I presume she knows a bit about the in-hip places.

  156. RMS, congrats. I really like that part of the city. I haven’t been there in many years, but I spent a lot of time in Cambridge because so many of my college friends went to Harvard for graduate school. A few went for grad school for an early change in career to business or govt, so they were already married and living in some of the nearby residential neighborhoods.

    i agree with the comments about accounting. I was an accounting major (undergrad) and finance major (MBA). If you are going to a regular college (vs 2 year), there are a lot of tests, and there is still a lot of writing because you have to take the other required core undergrad business classes. Some of the required classes such as business law, tax and audit will require writing skills. These same skills would be required for the other classes too – such as management, and marketing. I was a very strong math student, but I still found the upper level accounting classes to be very challenging.

  157. Meme,

    Keeping in mind the kid scored exactly in the middle of all college bound kids and he’s hard working and conscientious, do you really think the CPA exam will be such an insurmountable obstacle?

  158. Is that a good idea? I would say not. I’d rather have them the best kid in the middle level class vs. the worst kid in the high level class.

    But then they don’t get on to the calculus track and they are doomed to a life of middle management.

  159. I suspect the teachers have been giving him inflated grades for years. But I’m afraid that will stop in college and he will be simply unable to keep up with the workload.

    Nah, there’s more grade inflation in college than HS. He’ll be fine.

  160. My son is going to middle school (6th grade) in September. After reading this post, I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

    Congrats to your DSS, Rocky! My mother grew up in Somerville, and couldn’t wait to get out (this was back in the 1930s and 40s). She was always shocked to hear, in her later years, that Somerville had become trendy, and that people were actually choosing to live there, even if they didn’t have to. As Meme says, these days it has become quite popular with young professionals who are priced out of Cambridge. I have no idea how the schools are, but I know that’s not an issue for your DSS and his wife yet.

    I’m about an hour north of Boston, right off the highway and right near the ocean — it’s a lovely area. Let me know if you’re ever up for a day trip!

  161. Finn & Anon,

    The mean correlation of IQ scores between monozygotic twins was 0.86, between siblings, 0.47

    You two seem to be under the impression that the correlation of IQ between siblings is higher than it actually is.

  162. Advice for parents of 6th graders–get a really good backpack. Something that’s tough and big with padded straps and back support. REI and eBags are good places. The backpacks are so heavy with books, binders, etc that the extra support is really needed.

  163. Pregnant Teen Mom, I’m delurking to suggest you might look into a military cadet program for your son such as seacadets.org. There are units all over the country that meet regularly throughout the school year for training in fitness, military values and community service. During the summers, cadets attend trainings with active duty military throughout the country that are subsidized by the Navy through its recruiting budget. There is no commitment to service required, but if you’re thinking he might enjoy a military career, cadets will give him a realistic view of that life–along with the opportunity to make like-minded friends with teens from around the country.

  164. I don’t know Rhett, I don’t think they are a piece of cake. DD got quite a bit higher than a 20 on the ACT and she studied a lot for the CPA exams. She passed three out of the four the first time, and had to retake one of them.

  165. “Both my kids rode the bus with not just eighth graders, but HS kids. When DS was in K, a couple of daughters of DW’s friends, both of whom were in HS, looked after DS on the bus, although the bus driver usually saved a seat next to her for DS, and DS talked to her most of the time.”

    Finn, That is the way it is here as well, but lots of parents feel like Milo does and take their kids to school.

  166. I liked some of this middle school advice.

    1. Do one thing well
    I would make sure, if possible, that my child was above average at a sport, music, art or another activity. Not get-recruited-at-a-D1-school good, but get-picked-for-the-JV-team good. Part of high school is finding your place and that is much easier to do if you are selected for the orchestra or given a role in the school play. I know educators advocate the benefits of being well-rounded, but competence and accomplishment breed self-esteem and social well-being.

    There’s more at the link.

  167. “It actually seemed to keep the middle schoolers better behaved, because they saw themselves as role models for the little kids rather than acting like they were 13 going on 18.”

    This often happens outside of school, and well-managed K-8 schools promote this as well. According to some studies, strictly segregating middle schoolers seems to accentuate their more destructive behaviors.

  168. Anonymous —

    If your relative is “a very good student at a top public high school in honors classes”, he’ll probably do well in college.  He may not achieve at the academic level of his siblings, but frankly most colleges are not that rigorous and he should have no problem getting a degree in business or similar.

    Make sure to include test-optional colleges in his applications list.

    Regarding reading comprehension, you may want to look into Lindamood Bell.  It is one of the few remedial strategies with good research behind it.  It’s expensive and time-consuming, but maybe it’s something you would consider paying for.

  169. Congratulations, Rocky! So wonderful to see Totebag kids doing well. Is he the one with the wife who wants to stop working, or am I confusing you with someone else?

  170. Awesome Rocky — glad to hear it!

    Our MS also does the separate wing thing. I think it helped, mostly with how overwhelming things were at first — they had to adjust to 9 different periods and A/B schedules, but at least most of their classes were along the same hallway; and they were surrounded by a lot more kids, but they were most frequently in a pack of the kids they already knew.

    OTOH, I also see how DD does so much better with older and younger kids vs. with her peer group — was just commenting on that this weekend, when she was being the big kid for her much younger cousins and her aunt. So much so that she was even being nice to (i.e,, “not actively picking on”) her brother. So I could see how the larger age-grouping could help. Then again, I also suspect the real risk is *how* do the kids decide to impress the older kids — let’s just say IME, it’s not by performing well in class. . . .

  171. I’m wondering if the K-8 benefits for older kids that CoC’s research cited really come from this idea that kids rise to the task of being role models, or is it simply because they are treated more like elementary school kids and given a lot less leeway, freedom, and responsibility.

    In other words, middle school could probably just get a lot stricter and achieve the same results.

  172. And along those lines: DD (14) has been texting with a boy from her youth group, who is clearly interested but somewhat shy (invited her to two movies, but in that “plausible deniability” way that saves face if she says no). Last night I find out that he is a sophomore; I say, well, one year, maybe. She says “oh, no, he just finished his sophomore year.”

    So, as this is my first foray into actual dating: exactly how worried should I be about the age difference. I am basically bouncing back and forth between “eh, keep an eye out” and: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjO9kX4npVY (starting at 0:50)

  173. You know, Laura, my mom was committed to the Boys Only Want One Thing view, and it really wasn’t true. A lot of them want romance and someone to talk to. I’d let DD go out and I’d try to get to know the boy a bit better. Keep an eye on things and remind DD about boundaries, though she will of course say “GOD Mom, I KNOW, SHUT UP”.

  174. Thanks, Rocky. But he’s too young to have declared an Engineering major yet.

  175. I missed the conversation, but agree with meme that accounting is not an easy major and also good written/reading skills are required to pass the higher level Junior and Senior classes and any exams later, CPA, CMA etc

  176. agree with meme that accounting is not an easy major and also good written/reading skills are required to pass the higher level Junior and Senior classes and any exams later, CPA, CMA etc

    But, it is something that an average college student with a far above average work ethic should be able to manage without too much difficulty?

  177. wasn’t this in response to the kid who had trouble with reading comprehension? or did I get mixed up when I skimmed the posts

  178. Thinking of RMS’s news, I would love for my kids to go to Boston for college, but with good state colleges plus a number of good out of state colleges near by, I don’t know if that will happen.

  179. wasn’t this in response to the kid who had trouble with reading comprehension?

    It looks like he’s in the 24% percentile of all college students in reading comprehension and 73% percentile in math. So, a bit of a headwind but nothing that can’t be overcome with a strong work ethic.

  180. I think accounting majors at middle of the road colleges need persistence to succeed. I’m hanging out in the bowels of corporate America and the accounting people I know don’t have CPAs and are probably closer to bookkeepers. They aren’t rising to management either but they have well paying jobs. Do the have “middle class” totebag incomes? Probably not. But they aren’t homeless or making minimum wage either.

    The ones with CPAS and all the other attributes are in higher level roles.

  181. Congrats RMS! For all the Boston people, I’m an hour out of Boston (and love a good train ride!). I’d love to meet up!

    K-8: my K-6 school was actually K-8 (I left after 6th grade). We all lived in the same building, but the lower grades were on one side of the gym and the upper grades, the other. No buses because it was a Catholic School. I didn’t mind the model at all.

    Anon – like Mooshi’s relative, I am a horrible test taker. I also had undiagnosed dyslexia (found out in college, while swimming through marine sciences, biology, and chemistry). I chose a school that would accept my paltry SAT score (I didn’t score above 1000 on the “old” system) and highlighted my academic grades and extracurricular activities. I got in to a decent small school and proceeded to do very well with the low student to teacher ratio and heavy hand holding. MS and PhD followed (and I just barely broke 1000 on the GREs after months of prep). Maybe help your nephew find a smaller school where he can get help if he needs it. The professors will most likely learn his name and keep up with him if he’s in a class of 30 rather than 300. And he may feel more comfortable going to the profs knowing that they know him already.

  182. Anon: I second Rhodes’ comments. There are plenty of colleges that will be happy to take him. I’d focus on what colleges will fit his profile and start visiting them (with him) and talking them up. I reiterate that a career in sales might be a great fit for him. If he wants to do nursing, he should spend his summer researching colleges that have solid nursing programs. How about physical therapy?

  183. Anon – once I learned how I needed to study to work around the dyslexia, I was golden. That required spending a lot (and I mean hours a week) with certain profs to understand the material. But it paid off. If he’s willing to work, he will be fine. And my college wasn’t nationally ranked. It’s ranked 24 on USNEWS for regional universities (south) with a 52% acceptance rate. Emphasis on the 52%… your nephew has a 1/2 shot of getting in.

  184. once I learned how I needed to study to work around the dyslexia, I was golden.

    So, how do you do that?

  185. Thank you all for the great suggestions, especially Rhode for sharing your story and tips. The student is great about getting extra help from teachers, so sounds like that will help him in college as well even if he is dyslexic (what we suspect). If I can ask one more question, Rhode, how did (and do) you manage to get through large amounts of reading in a reasonable time? This is the main bottleneck for him I think.

    I will be taking him on some college visits later this year so should have some chances to discuss a lot of the themes you mentioned with him.

  186. LfB, guys who were two years older was kind of my sweet spot as a (somewhat older) teen. I was left out of stuff throughout high school because my mom wouldn’t let me go to, say, Homecoming, as a freshman when other kids were pairing up. I plan to let my kids (and encourage my boys) to go on transportation-provided-by-parents dates to school dances in high school, movies, etc. My interactions were just hanging out, such as tours of the off-limits computer science building basement servers.

    One of my acquaintances (ECE professor who heads a lab here) married at 19 and finished her undergrad and PhD married and started her tenure-track job here at 24 or 25. (They lived apart for at least a semester while he finished his PhD and delayed kids till she was closer to 30.) Three of my fellow engineers when I started here were married when the wife was 18 and the husband was 20, so I’ve observed a lot of successful early marriages.

  187. RMS and Anon- the short answer is I don’t. Part of learning how I learn was realizing that I had to start to study much earlier than most students. And I read a lot, but very slowly.

    For text books, I relied on chapter summaries, or organized groups of students to work together. We would divide the reading and outline our material for others. I would use the outlines as a start and fill in only where needed. By now, I’m sure most summaries are available online. For class work, I would print out power point presentations beforehand so that I could just take notes on the “missing” things or highlight things I would need to read up on. I would review the previous day’s material on the night before the next class – so class on MWF = review TThSu. I found most profs relied on their notes, so the text books became supplemental information for me. Math and physics were my sticking points, so I knew to ask for more help more often then. Most bio classes got easier as I went. Chemistry was a half of sticking point – I could so some of it, but not always all of it. For large projects with literature reviews, I started them the week they were assigned. I would do my research, find articles/book ch/resources, and read one or two a day. I would take notes on index cards or on the computer so I could refer back to them during writing. Plus it started my literature cited section.

    I avoided literature classes at all costs (I only took 4 in my entire college career).

    I also took the bare amount of classes – if full time was 12 hours, I took at most 16 hours of classwork. I didn’t hold down a job during the academic year, and picked my “fun” activities carefully.

    I also found that as I read and wrote more, I needed less work arounds. I found that the more I knew about the context, the less I had to read. That helped when I hit new vocab words. Words I don’t know how to spell or say don’t actually look like words (imagine the Tasmanian Devil’s speak). Context clues help me, and if I stare long enough I can get 1-2 letters and work from there. If I don’t get it, I ask for help. Even now I will take a photo of the word and send it to DH who will call me to tell me how to say it and if he knows a meaning. I also took a class (on my own time) on speed reading, memorization, and comprehension. I found I suck at speed reading. But I could memorize and comprehend information very well.

    In my current job, I read A LOT. I also procrastinate reading because it hurts (emotionally and physically) to read a lot of information. But I also know that I’m reading a lot of familiar information – so I know where I can skim and where I need to focus. And I still miss information – sometimes a lot. But my notes help, and my colleagues are understanding or don’t realize I’m slow.

    I think the tricks and methods I used started naturally. I was in remedial classes back in grades 1-3 for math and reading. Nothing was ever diagnosed there (this was early-mid 1980s), and I just realized that to keep up I needed to find what worked for me. I had good remedial teachers who helped me get the basics and then I could put the concepts together. I was fine until college, where I stumbled again. Then the profs helped me with the basics and I put the concepts together. In grad school, I had an understanding adviser who would take my basic questions and help me put it all together. I still start some conversations with “this may be dumb, but…”. Sometimes they are basic questions, other times I find myself 1-2 steps ahead of the conversation.

    I don’t know if that will help, Anon. A lot of my success is pure luck, and understanding people. I think your nephew may just need to ask for as much help as he can, maybe take a few classes on reading comprehension or note-taking (even basic ones), and find what works for him. If it takes him 5 years to get through college – so be it. It will be a hard fought victory he will carry with him forever.

  188. Oh, and I very rarely ask questions during a lecture/class on the material being presented currently. Sometimes I don’t fully comprehend stuff for a week (the most time I’ve noticed it taking me from presentation to understanding), and then the questions come. I was a very quiet student. And I still struggle to have questions, especially when I know it’s expected.

  189. And speaking of editing, I cannot proofread my own work for anything other than grammar. I cannot find major plot holes in my own work, and sometimes in others works. I write outlines to plug the holes before they are realized, but sometimes that doesn’t work. My work involves publishing papers – I am slow. It’s a good thing I’m not an academic. Though I am a good teacher because I understand how to convey information so it’s digestible.

  190. LfB – those responsible and boring engineers get snapped up early.

    Not in high school they don’t. HS girls are much more interested in the jocks and the “bad boys” than the nerdy engineer types.

  191. @Rhode — Holy expletive deleted! I do not have sufficient words to describe how impressed I am right now.

  192. I’m way late to this conversation, but my kids are at a K-8 school, and what I’ve seen of the middle school I just love. There are about 30 kids per grade (so 90 in the middle school) even though there are more kids in the younger grades. Usually there is some attrition in our area due to moving, etc. What I’ve seen is that the kids tend to stay more like kids. The school pushes to give them a lot of responsibility and leadership roles, for example lots of time helping the K & 1st graders (who adore them), and leading the weekly assemblies by planning the presentations, running the lights, the audio system, etc. They tend to regularly visit teachers from when they were younger. I wouldn’t say it’s strict, as Milo said. It’s more that they still feel part of the same community and they have to live up to being around the same people who have known them and their families since most of them were small.

    Anecdotally, I’ve heard that these kids all transition really well to high school because by 14 they are a bit more secure in who they are, and they know how to find leadership roles at the high school. Biggest complaint I’ve heard is that if your kid is athletically inclined, you need to find them other outlets for sports because such a small class doesn’t really field full teams for things.

  193. Dr Rhode, only the French have a rich enough expression to do you justice. Vous êtes une femme formidable.

Comments are closed.