Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Retention SOL#16

In school we always think about retention relating to what our students retain. Will they remember what they learned with us this year as they play over summer? Our school has another focus - retaining students. We are an independent school, who has a new head. This is her second year, and her focus is not just retention but it is her hyper-focus. There is much pressure felt by me and my team because we have a competitor's school that begins in fifth grade. My team teaches fourth and fifth.  We have problems in our middle school program. We had students last year that graduated eighth grade and didn't place in the math they should have. Parents of course were very upset. The talk and pressure continued to be focused on our grade. Our parents that are planning on taking their students out for fifth grade to begin at this other school tell us that they aren't going to have their child attend our school for Middle School because the program is not strong. I learned on Wednesday that the middle school math teacher went and met with the competitive school, showing them his "calendar" and that he believes he only has 30 days of actual teaching time. (Our calendar has not changed since the beginning of the year and he has a pacing guide.) He let them know he's not going to be covering the complete curriculum; he did not cover it last year, either. He wanted to know from them, the competitor, what is okay to touch on versus master.  My frustration is through the roof. This competitive school tells prospective families that they need to come in fifth grade to guarantee a spot. This has never been the case in reality. We've never had a student not get in, whether they apply for fifth, seventh, or ninth. But now, they can truthfully say to the prospective parents from our school, that our teacher has said the curriculum will not be fully covered. Our students will not be prepared. Our administration and our head, that is so hyper-focused, has congratulated him on reaching out and making a connection with this school. Is it just me, or is this crazy? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.


  1. I can sense your frustration in this post. I'm so sorry. Not knowing the big picture, just this slice, (see what I did there?) I have a couple of thoughts. They could be way off. There has to be more than 30 days to teach math, yes? Then indeed, start with the pacing guide. I wonder if he is reaching out, if he too is frustrated with the drive aspect of this. Finally, I'm wondering where the students are in this discussion? Is it about preparing them for placement in math classes or is it about firming up conceptual understanding and developing life long math students? I still want to say, you are the expert in this situation, you guys know best. I hope a sense of calm comes soon. Thanks for reading my thoughts. :) (And apologies if I overstepped anywhere.)

  2. This situation seems so stressful for all involved. I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.