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Salmon River changing tracking of math students

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FORT COVINGTON – The Salmon River Central School Board of Education has changed its policy for tracking middle and high school students in math courses.

High school math teacher Nicole Deshaies said the new approach is a forerunner for the district in that it takes into account more than just state test scores. She feels the new model, which was created in conjunction with teachers, guidance counselo,s and administrators, is in the students’ best interests as it takes into account their career aspirations, abilities and work ethic.

Ms. Deshaies and middle school math teacher Theresa Swamp told the board this week that a student’s score on seventh grade state math tests, which used to be a main yardstick of determining a student’s academic path, is not an accurate reflection of their true ability.

“Some of the stuff they have to solve ... I don’t even put on a test for ninth or 10th grade,” Ms. Deshaies said.

All students, under the new system, will be placed in one of three tracks after consultation between the student, the teacher and the guidance department. The three programs are: honors track, which is aimed at those hoping to take advanced math courses at a four-year school or beyond; college track, for those who are looking to go on to a SUNY school or other four-year institute, and two-year track, which is aimed at those looking to attend a two-year school or go straight into the workforce.

“It’s a proactive approach that puts them in the right pathway at a younger age,” according to Ms. Deshaies.

Some of the less-advanced programs would call for two one-year courses to be broken down into four years; the more advanced tracks would have students taking the courses in one year, potentially ending with pre-calculus.

“We do not want a senior year to be without math,” Ms. Deshaies said.

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