What Class Is This?
Parents, how many of you are involved in selecting the classes your child is taking in school? Class selection matters and most guidance counselors are talking to students now for next year. (Maybe even in January!). Students who can take higher-level courses are more likely to be accepted into college. But the importance of class selection starts in elementary school…yes way back there.
Gifted and Talented
Studies show that Black students are least likely to be selected for gifted and talented programs in elementary school compared to their White counterparts. Many students are selected for gifted and talented programs by academics and teacher referrals or recommendations. Test scores are usually an indicator of where your child will place in their academic journey and what courses they are allowed to take – even in elementary school. For example, we discovered that my daughter was a genius when we reviewed her OLSAT scores in 5th grade. But it was her 3rd-grade scores on this test that put her in the gifted and talented program in her school.
Data from the U.S. Department of Education show that black and Hispanic students makeup 40 percent of public school students but make up only 26 percent of students enrolled in gifted programs.
Middle School Placement
Students who excelled in elementary school are often placed in Honors or Excel programming in middle school – automatically. Test scores, placement in the gifted program, and teacher recommendation all play a role in what course your child will take in middle school. While some schools shy away from discussing test scores, how well your child tests on everyday tests and standardized state tests matter. When placed in a particular level is limited, schools rely on test scores and classroom teacher recommendations to make selections.
One benefit of middle school is that students often begin learning how to work with their school counselors to create their school schedules. Most middle schools allow students to select their preference for electives like which foreign language to take or which creative arts class to take. This is great practice for high school. Students should learn to understand how course selections impact their overall growth as a student and the opportunities that they will have later in education because “they took the right classes”.
High School Placement
And as we have seen in the earlier grades, you guessed it, high school placement is based on course grades, test scores, and teacher recommendation. Students who excelled in middle school courses will often be immediately placed in the advanced or honors classes in high school. The pattern of opportunity for higher placement in classes began in elementary school for classes your child will take as a freshman in high school.
Parents- please pay attention to what I will say next. Make sure you are a part of your child’s course selection process for high school. Classes matter if you want your child to go to college. Every state has on its Department of Education website the requirements for graduation. Your child should print out the list of courses required and use this as a guide when selecting their courses each year in high school. I am saddened when a student is not able to get into college or have a half-day in their senior year because they didn’t take the right courses all along. Planning is key to success when it comes to high school course selection.
Tips for Early Childhood and Elementary Age
Tip: Make sure your child is ready for kindergarten. Review the school’s website for information on the key items your child needs to know when starting school.
Tip: Practice puzzles. Many old games like puzzles and mazes help students to score well on IQ tests like the OLSAT.
Tip: Ask your child’s teacher about placement. Make sure you know where your child stands as far as their academic achievement in the classroom and monitor their progress throughout the school year. Academic monitoring is different than behavior monitoring.
Tip: Know when they test. Part of being placed in gifted and talented programs require all students to be tested. Check your school’s website or school office for testing dates and be ready.
Tips for Middle School and High School
Tip: Be there. Parents make sure to be there when your child is selecting classes with their guidance counselor.
Tip: Know the requirements. Make sure you know the classes your child needs to take for graduation in your state.
Tip: Focus on your needs not wants. Many students want to take electives but need to take stronger academic courses if they want to get into college. Leave the fun classes for the senior year when college applications are already in.
Tip: Know your college major. Knowing what you want to major in in college helps students select high school courses that align with that major. If your child wants to major in chemistry, then the high school should be filled with math and science classes for the best chances of getting in.
Tip: Take wood shop. If your child does not want to go to college then make sure they are either in a trade school for high school or that they are taking electives that will give them skills towards a career after high school. Many schools offer carpentry, auto mechanic, culinary, or even sewing courses.
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