As a follow-on to my latest post, Offering Redemption in Algebra 1, the letter I sent to the parents or guardians of those students selected for the intervention course is shared below. While it is quite verbose, and likely difficult for many of my students’ parents to read or to understand, I decided to send it as-is since it details my recommendation and the benefits for a student.
The letter also describes aspects of my plan beyond that described in the earlier post.
Dear Parent / Guardian:
Your daughter / son has been identified for a custom intervention course intended to improve their basic math skills, which are critical for success in algebra 1 and higher math courses. The course will focus on the following topics, where your student will have the opportunity to improve their understanding of, and proficiency with, these topics.
While your student is currently enrolled in algebra 1, their performance in the course has suffered significantly, as they are deficient in one or more of the above areas. In fact, they may have failed the first semester of algebra 1, or received a D grade. The second semester of algebra 1 is more challenging than the first semester. Students who did not pass the first semester, or passed with a D, have difficulty passing the second semester.
Hence, as the teacher of your son / daughter, I highly recommend they switch to this special intervention course, for which I will be the teacher of record. They will not have to switch classrooms, periods, or teachers. I will teach the intervention course, and algebra 1, concurrently. Our block schedule makes this possible, as there will be time for whole class instruction on second semester algebra 1 topics followed by small group instruction on the topics above and individual work using online resources.
To help your student learn this important knowledge, and develop skill with it, all students will have access to Google Chromebooks connected to the Internet in my classroom. A customized set of online videos and exercises will be assigned to each student based on their proficiency with the topics listed above. If your student takes ownership of their learning, requests assistance when needed, engages with the course content, progresses with their assignments, and passes periodic assessments, they should improve considerably in their understanding of basic mathematics, as needed to succeed in algebra 1 and beyond.
Each student’s baseline skills and knowledge will be measured by an online pretest. They will be graded based on their progress from this baseline towards proficiency with all of the topics above. They will receive five credits towards their high school diploma upon successful completion of the course. If partway through the semester, a student successfully demonstrates to my satisfaction that they are prepared to return to the algebra 1 course, and pass the required assessments, I will switch them back into algebra 1 with your approval. Students must pass the algebra 1 assessments in order to receive a passing grade with associated credits for algebra 1.
This course will also help them prepare for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which they must pass to graduate. Additionally, each student who failed first semester, or received a D grade, will have the opportunity to have their first semester grade changed if they pass select assessments from first semester. Students who failed first semester algebra 1 and pass the first semester algebra 1 assessments while taking this course will be eligible to receive five algebra 1 credits retroactively.
If you wish to have your student switched into the special intervention course, please return this form with the section below completed to include your and your student’s signature by Friday, January 17th, 2014. While there is no guarantee your student will pass the intervention course, if they take their learning seriously, it is very likely they will not only pass the course, but also do so highly prepared to succeed in subsequent courses.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about this recommendation.
Mr. Math Teacher