Board members doubt whether math plan adds up

Suzanne Farrand

District 65 Math Coordinator Suzanne Farrand.
Some Evanston/Skokie School District 65 board members Wednesday night said they want to see more data before supporting a staff plan to change how math is taught in middle schools.
The staff proposal, presented by Suzanne Farrand, the district's math coordinator, at Wednesday's board policy committee meeting, calls for reducing the number of students who skip a grade of math at the 6th grade level or earlier to be "accelerated" into more advanced classes.
It also recommends that all students take the same algebra course in either 7th or 8th grade, with those who complete it in 7th grade moving on to take geometry in 8th grade.
The district now offers two algebra courses, Algebra 1 for the more advanced students and Algebra 8 for those who haven't been accelerated.
The effect of the change would be to have the more advanced students skip what is now taught as 7th grade math.
Board member Tracy Quattrocki said, "I would like to see more data, this is really a philosophical shift."

School board member Tracy Quattrocki.
Quattrocki suggested the full board should discuss the issue "sooner rather than later."
Board member Richard Rykhus said he thought the plan to reduce the number of kids who skip ahead to more advance math classes at younger ages "might be a solution in search of a problem."
"I haven't heard what the problem is that that's addressing," Rykhus added.
Farrand said the current practice of having two different algebra classes results in disparities by race -- with disproportionately more white students in the more advanced Algebra 1 class.
She said students placed in Algebra 1 test at the 80th percentile or above on standardized math tests. Algebra 8 students test lower than that, "but the majority are above the 50th percentile."
And she argued that teachers have been able to raise performance levels for all the students.
Teachers at Evanston Township High School, Farrand added, "say our kids are coming better prepared for geometry all the time."
Superintendent Hardy Murphy said, "We are making progress, but I admit we still have work to do."
"We can't say we're doing really, really well with all our kids, but there are kids in all categories who are doing very well."
But in response to a question from board member Eileen Budde the staff said half of the students who take Algebra 8 have to enroll in the beginning algebra class at ETHS, rather starting high school by studying geometry.

Board member Jerome Summers.
While some board members suggested the district should provide more opportunities for parents to seek to have their children moved into more advanced math classes, board member Jerome Summers disagreed.
"A lot of parents are notorious for thinking their kids are way more advanced than they actually are," Summers said.
Related document
'Math acceleration' plan (.pdf)

Comments

Math by Ability not Race

I don't know about the issue they are raising but the comment quoted should never be an argument or even made.
"Farrand said the current practice of having two different algebra classes results in disparities by race -- with disproportionately more white students in the more advanced Algebra 1 class."
=================
Students should take the appropriate class without arguments of race---it makes the assumption that race=ability.
If we make arguments about classifying everyone so no one will get feelings hurt, we hurt everyone---including the US taking a role in the world.

Unforunately, in this

Unforunately, in this country, there is a high correlation between race and ability as measured by standardized tests. So, effectively, race=ability when it's narrowly conceived and measured.

Here we go -- D65 does not like achievers' skin tone as a group

Here we go.  District 65 is now emulating District 202 by not liking, as a group, the skin tone of students who are high achievers in math:
"[The District 65 Math Coordinator] Farrand said the current practice of having two different algebra classes results in disparities by race -- with disproportionately more white students in the more advanced Algebra 1 class."
As the math coordinator states, child are placed into classes based on standardized test scores.  Now District 65 wants to reduce opportunities for advanced math students because District 65 does not like the skin tones of those students who are performing at a very advanced level?
Can't we start a recall petition now for D65 Board members?  We have to get Board members who will change the District 65 Administration and now.  We need to keep Rykhus and Quattrocki, as well as Budde, as they are willing to ask pertinent questions.  But the rest of the Board members will likely approve this foolhardy idea anyway as they can't bring themselves to vote against a suggestion by Supt. Murphy. 
Students who are advanced in math should not spend virtually all of their class time tutoring other students (who sadly don't do their homework or pay attention in class) on material that the advanced student already knows very well.  But, from personal knowledge, I know that that's what happens now in middle school and it is disheartening for the student and a waste of their potential talent.
Please, School Board, do not allow the D65 Administrators to take away one of the few advanced course options that middle school students have.

Again with "equity" -- come on.

I'm glad the District 65 board is seeing that this proposal is completely irresponsible.
The vague concept of "equity" is again being used to argue that high-achieving students should be held back from higher-level courses simply because not enough of those students are black.
Evanston is a wonderfully diverse community and its black students outperform their counterparts, which is great news for everyone.  Given our unique demographics, however, our white students substantially outperform their counterparts -- a fact that  naturally results in more white (and asian) students at the upper-end of the testing spectrum.
It would be Evanston's undoing if this fact is used as purported justification for suppressing opportunities of its highest-achieving students. 
  

Acceleration for Some, Remediation for 50%

"But in response to a question from board member Eileen Budde the staff said half of the students who take Algebra 8 have to enroll in the beginning algebra class at ETHS, rather starting high school by studying geometry."
So while we're teaching all the students Algebra in 8th grade, we're reteaching them the same stuff in 9th grade. Doesn't sound like "Acceleration for All" to me. Who's pushing those kids to work beyond their capabilities, Mr. Summers?

Should be more acceleration, not less!

My student took 7th grade math as a 6th grader, was one of a handful of kids from her elementary school to do so.  Her experience was that 7th grade math was not all that challenging-any number of the kids who did well in 6th grade math probably wouldn't have had an issue taking 7th grade math.  A lot more of her fellow 7th graders joined her this year in the accelerated Algebra 1 (no longer called Algebra Honors-why?).  While they all seem to be doing well now, they were at a disadvantage for not having had 7th grade math.
D65 really should allow more students to be tracked into accelerated math at a earlier stage, NOT LESS!  Why wouldn't we want to challenge students??  I don't get it.

You asked the right question; D65's answer is skin tone

Why doesn't D65 want to challenge students?  Because, as the D65 math coordinator states in the article, D65 administrators do not like that the majority of those achieving in math are of a certain skin tone and not another skin tone.
There would be a lawsuit if District 65 said that it was going to eliminate a working math program (look at the comments...ETHS says that students are arriving well prepared in math) because the skin tone of most of the students in the successful program is black.  Maybe a lawsuit is what it will take to get District 65's attention that its race-based policies are wrong. 
Why can you dismantle a math program that appears to be working just because those succeeding in math at the highest levels don't have the skin tones in the exact percentages that D65 deems acceptable?  D202 is already on that path and now here we are in D65.
This is what we are getting from Supt. Murphy:  Unsupported guesstimates, slogans and gimmicks on how to educate our children based solely on racial quotas.

Math curriculum

Interesting proposal, because math seems to be the only curriculum that ETHS is not talking about de-tracking (at least not yet).
I've assumed that's because it's harder to differentiate instruction as students reach more advanced levels in math.
It's not like in reading and language arts, where every student can bring a unique and valuable perpspective on the material to the classroom.
In math, there's usually one answer, albeit there can be more than one approach to finding it. I also recall my elementary school years. In our public school system we had a self-directed math curriculum. You worked through the material at your own pace, and the teacher was there to keep you on track, answer questions, or to teach specific concepts if a student or a group of students needed it.
Some kids got all the way through algebra like that. This was many years before computers existed. The math program was a series of workbooks, as I recall.
I've often wished D65 had a more self-directed math curriculum. It should be very doable, with all the online resources that are available now. I think we'd actually see a lot more kids accelerating than we do now. It would be the ultimate in differentiated instruction.

Chipping away at excellence

Please keep in mind that if this goes through, this will the second time that the criteria for advanced math will have changed in recent years. I have a sophomore son who had a much different criteria and process for being placed in advanced math than my current 8th grade daughter. Thus, he moved up beginning in 6th grade based on one set of criteria and his sister moved up in 7th based on another, even though her scores were higher than his and she is a better student overall. Advanced math has been the highlight of their middle school academic experience.
ETHS is one of the highest-ranked high schools in the country for math. If we're not feeding kids into the high school that are ready to perform higher-level math, we will lose that distinction.

I'm afraid this is why my family moved away from Evanston

My family lived in Evanston for 10 years, and really loved it.  Our daughter had the opportunity to learn and grow in some fabulous daycare facilities with the widest range of children imaginable, and it really is a great place to live - a great compromise between Chicago and the outer suburbs.  BUT... our daughter is smart, way ahead in math and reading even at kindergarten age, and we honestly couldn't face the risk that she would be ignored in class whilst fellow students learned the rudiments she mastered years ago.
We know parents of equally able children in Evanston who are desperate for how to help their children, and even though we loved living in Evanston, we took the step and moved to a school district where ability is all that really counts, and our daughter can get the teaching she needs, her friends get the teaching they need at the same time and they all learn.
I'm afraid this concern over playing with curriculum to make all children feel good about themselves rather than focusing on actually teaching children to have pride in their achievements because they've struggled and learned at the highest levels, is really why we moved.
Who cares what their skin tone is?  Just teach them so they can all achieve their potential.

You're not alone

You're not alone. I also moved my child out of the District 65 schools two years ago due to the lack of opportunity, attention and programming.  As disappointing as it was, it was the best thing for my child. I am grateful to the Chicago Public School System which is presently educating my gifted child at an accelerated level in ALL subject areas.
Please note: my child is of color.

the D65 philosophy

In the article, Tracy Q is quoted: "I would like to see more data, this is really a philosophical shift."
But it isn't a shift, only a furtherance of the D65 philosophy of long standing which is that in elementary school the primary focus is socialization, not academics. As children advance beyond elementary school they will have plenty of opportunity to advance as far as their abilities will take them. The more mingling of all students the better because it is a good foundation for democracy. Skin color will be a guide to this mingling and, therefor, a guide to the success of D65
In the famous <i>Brown vs Board of Education</i> Supreme Court ruling it was determined that separate schooling cannot be equal. The result of that decision was to start moving toward integration of black students with white.
I think most everyone would agree that was a good idea. There was no doubt that segregation was deliberate on the part of whites and that blacks were completely powerless to change it and that black children suffered from the resulting second class education. Even if taught by the finest teachers, the black students would be sure to get the cast-off materials and poor facilities.
The problem with the process of integration of the schools is that attention became focused on skin color and not education in itself. The goal of a quality education could easily go off track to become a goal of skin color allocation, simply for the fact that skin color is obvious in a classroom and easily managed with physical assignments. This, of course, disregards the fact that two children with dark skin are just as different individually as are a given dark-skinned child and a white child or two white children.
But visual inspection of a classroom is far simpler than taking each child as an individual and, after all, public schools are limited in how much individual attention they can give.
So we end up with face color counting and hand wringing over what is seen, forgetting the individuals we count. The result we see in proposals like this one for math classes. The #1 commandment is to "close the gap" and as that cannot be done due to circumstances of home life that are beyond the control of the schools, class rearrangements and curriculum contortions will be done to make the gap appear to be closed to the extent it can be seen by the eye.
Great strides in an academic career can be made as administrators proudly proclaim their concern for kids at risk as evidenced by program changes that endlessly shuffle the deck of face color.
The D65 deck-shuffling has been gradually seeping into ETHS with the current superintendent, after Allan Alson did a fantastic job of maintaining academic excellence for so long. Just as Israel is protected by the accusation that anyone questioning our support of it or what it does is anti-Semitic, so is face color shuffling to the detriment of academic challenge defended with the claim that opposition is racist and elitist.
In the case of Israel, the frenzy for war with Iran may well be a bridge too far (I hope!) that will turn the tide of American support. In the case of D65 (and 202) there will come some new plan, a new deck-shuffling proposal, that will be so fantastically counter-educational the deck-shuffling will collapse under a board dedicated to seeing it end.

More Accelerated Opportunities - Not Less

IEPs exist to identify a student’s learning difficulties and give the tools necessary to overcome them.  Remedial classes, extra classes, and pullout classes give students who are struggling the extra time, help, and teaching they need to succeed.  How many students have IEPs, are in pullout classes, or receive extra help? 20%? 30%?
My son needed extra help in Reading and I am so grateful Dist. 65 gave him what he needed.
The ONE accelerated opportunity for gifted Dist. 65 students, the accelerated math class, is offered to, wait for it, 5% of the students.
Five percent.
Five percent of the students have been sitting in the back of class reading a book or finishing all the homework on Monday or helping other students. For years.
My son never brought home math homework.  “I did it during class.”  Not being challenged.
Gifted students become bored and apathetic and disruptive if they are not challenged.  Gifted students give up and opt out if they are not challenged.
Accelerated classes in English, Drama, Music, Science, and Art would bring the “skin tone” percentages in line with Evanston enrollment percentages.  We have lots of gifted students in Evanston. Accelerated students have to wait until they get to ETHS to be challenged.
We are not serving the accelerated students – of every skin tone.
We are treating remedial education like it is a necessity.  We are treating gifted education like it is an unnecessary extra.
Evanston schools serve ALL students.  Gifted students, and not just 5% of the math students, deserve an education that teaches them at their level.

Students w/IEPs

12.1% of students in D65 have IEPs. Having an IEP is NOT synonymous with being low-achieving in or struggling with math (or any other subject).

How many of our failing

How many of our failing students are products of D65? How many have been with us from the start?
It would be nice to know this because if many of them started their educational journey with us in Kindergarten, then how is it even possible that we let them get so behind?
In the K-5 schools, teachers differentiate. They do not pull out students for gifted programs because there isnt a gifted program to be pulled in to.  So, what is happening at the K-5 level?
Everyone knows it is easier to close the gap when a child is one or even two grade levels below. But, there are children who can barely read and write, let alone multiply and divide.  What are we doing for them?  Who is advocating for them?  Why do we wait for middle school to hurry up and "fix them" so that they are ready for ETHS?
Please, lets get new leadership and some rigorous curriculum so that we can support ALL SKIN TONES.  We need to keep moving kids forward whether they are at the top, middle or bottom.  If we keep going this way, our top kids will hit a ceiling and we will stunt their growth. Our low kids will continue to grow, but it will never be enough to catch up and our middle kids will be ignored.  Lets pay attention to ALL STUDENTS and to ALL of their needs.
We live in Evanston because we believe in it. But, if this nonsense administration continues their nonsense agendas, we might have no other choice  but to leave. I say that they leave instead so that we can start fresh!

Achievement gap ad nauseum

The achievement gap is once again front and center as an educational issue in Evanston. Why aren't we focused on RAISING the ACHIEVEMENT LEVEL for ALL STUDENTS instead of this constant and divisive Achievement Gap issue?
If we want to discuss the achievement gap, let's have a frank and candid discussion of WHY it exists instead of emotional, abstract discussions. Yes, it's true that white students in general test higher than black and Latino students in Evanston. But why is this the case? In order to understand the reasons, for which there are many, let's first look at the demographics of the population in Evanston. On-third of Evanston residents have both a four-year college degree and masters and above, another third of Evanston residents have a four-year college degree, and another third have been to community college or less - high school diploma or less. (10% of the Evanston population doesn't have a high school degree) Look at those numbers and how they are related to race. Look at those numbers and how they are related to income.
I do not justify the achievement gap. In fact i am very troubled by it, but until and unless we understand the REASONS for the achievement gap, we will continue to chase our tails and develop ridiculous educational policies that won't help all children.
The current D65 Administration should be ashamed.

Pathetic

Superintendent Hardy Murphy said, "We are making progress, but I admit we still have work to do."
Please Dr. Murphy, tell us something new, something that shows that  in the last 12 years you have learned something about our students, our schools, our community, the curriculum, perhaps?
And we have renewed this man's contract how many times? Raised his salary--he always asks during the summer months-- in recognition of his leadership and expertise, how many times and for how much? 
 
 

Now it's too many whites in math classes

Here we go again.
Too many whites in advanced math classes in middle school so administrators want to "change how math is taught."
The advanced math students test above the 80th percentile while the others score below that but above the 50 percentile. Farrand claims teachers can raise the performances for "all students."
Wonderful Miss Farrand. Then RAISE THE PERFORMANCE FOR MATH STUDENTS IN ALGEBRA 8 AND LEAVE THE AVANCED STUDENTS IN ALGEBRA ALONE!!!!!
D202 last year detracked freshmen honors courses because administrators and Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said there were too many whites in freshmen honors. That was the reason. Who cares about the hard work and competency of students who excel in academics (and there were black students in honor courses, just not enough for Witherspoon and D202 Board members).
In other words folks, our school administrators are making policies that focus on race and not academics. I bet PEG is behind all this.
It's simply despicable and counter to every value that made this nation great.
VOTE!!!

Closing the acheivement gap

Junior high is too old to close the acheivement gap.
Age 4 is TOO OLD to close the acheivement gap.  It must be done from birth.
For anyone who is interested, here is the educational research to support it:
http://www.npr.org/2011/01/10/132740565/closing-the-achievement-gap-with-baby-talk
I"m constantly surprised that Hardy Murphy/board never discuss this research.  FOr anyone who is interested in the acheivement gap, this is the gold standard study- the longest, most intensive study of it's kind.
 
 
 
 

U R missing the point

Jen,
U R too logical. Dr. Murphy isn't interesting in closing the achievement gap. That would end his career. He just wants to talk about it, and continue to initiate new programs that supposedly address the gap to further his political agenda. Closing the gap would require him to confront the stark truths facing the students and families who need the help. Dr. Murphy isn't up to the task. He doesn't and won't discuss the real issues for the underlying causes for the achievement gap and solutions. There is no magic bullet but hard work and painful discussions and truths to face.
Sorry to be so negative, but you are so right to focus on quality research that can help the children and families who need the help. But how often do you hear about collaberation amongst NU School of Education and District 65? The NU Education School is one of the best in the country and there is so little dialogue. This limited interaction speaks volumes. Or how about the most recent 5th Ward school discussion. Did you ever hear the Administration present current and leading research that supported this effort? This administration time and time again has used data and cherry picked research to support their position instead of analyzing data to drive the decision making process.
So sad. But it's the truth.
My only hope is that between the recent School Referendum and current Math discussion that people will wake up and realize that we need to elect competent school board members in March 2013.
Is this just wishful thinking ? Are people really fed up?

Hardy Murphy needs to go

Yes- I agree with you.  I want leaders who focus all our attention on excellence for EVERYONE. 
  It seems that all we get of late is leaders who categorize children by color and make excuses why some kids can't learn.  THere is also plenty of research on this- the subtle racism of low expectations.  
If this community truly wants to close the educational gap, we should be looking at people who are doing it-  Geoffrey Canada in Harlem, New York is a prime example. Compared to Harlem, Evanston is already way ahead.   He has a wrap around program that starts from birth with a "baby college."  HE creates a tight web of services so that no kid can slip through- Check out the amazing results here- http://www.hcz.org/our-results
 He's got 100% of kids in 3rd grade meeting math standards!
It's unforunate that some think that those who voted against the referendum are against excellence for kids. I can't speak for everyone, but this couldn't be farther from the truth for me.
I didn't vote for this referendum because I don't believe buildings can teach children.  If Hardy Murphy thinks that cutting 10 instructional aides, a speech pathologist, and a psychologist are the right way to balance a budget, he is wrong.   With enrollment up, even if 10 special needs kids are graduating, the chances are that 10 more are knocking on the doors.   Kids who are included in general ed. classrooms need these people- YOur regular education children need these people to keep the learning enviornment accessible for them too!  
This district needs to put the focus back on teachers, children, and academic excellence.   I would pay more taxes to a leader who could bring in wrap around services like those described in Harlem Zone, for all children.   I will pay more taxes to keep special education support in the classrooms.  I will not pay more to build a new school, while teachers are getting riffed across the district due to lack of funding.  
 ..
 
 
 
 

Jen, will you run for school board?

Jen, I actively read your posts and appreciate your insights into education. You clearly have a passion for education. Please consider running for District 65 School Board.
And continue to post your comments !
Thank you

thanks

Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I am passionate about education- I have a degree in Speech/language pathology from NU, another masters from NU in learning disabilities, and another masters in school administration from Loyola. I student taught way back at Haven in what was then the BD/LD room, and have proceeded to work in struggling schools in HIghwood, then as a professional development coach/curriculum development specialist to CPS schools/after school programs, and now again in Skokie schools.
While I really appreciate your support, I would rather use my time right now "in the trenches". Currently, after work I'm helping create a formative assessment process for a district-wide RTI for language/writing. This is really time consuming, and at the end of the day I just want to spend time with my own little children:)
As for the comment above about "why not just hold parent training sessions"    The problem is that the parents most in need of these sessions don't come to meetings at school like this.  I"m not pointing fingers or even blaming parents.  The reality is that when you are a single parent(as many are) struggling to pay bills, you do the best you can.  All parents want their kids to excel, and some just don't have the resource of time.     While I don't believe in the theory of white supremacy or "privledge",   having money does buy you time in our culture.  Time to look after yourself/relax so you can be better equipped to mentally deal with your children, time to get off work early to go to kids' school nights, and time to spend with your babies while they are little.   Being a parent is the most exhausting, hardest job on the planet!  Schools need to be better with helping parents in this difficult job and meet parents where they're at-  Even if this means having parent teacher conferences on weekends or via phone at all odd hours of the night.      
But-  who wants to come to a meeting lead by strangers where you know you will be told "you're parenting wrong!"
    If you look at Geoffrey Canada at the Harlem Children's Zone, this man has gone out and built up a trust with the community, over years.  He's used the schools to create a system of supports for parents- to help give parents TIME (enrichment activities for kids, so that parents can come to meetings for one).      THe parents in the community see that what this man is doing works (the kids are going to college!), so they want to be part of it.  They want to come to "baby college."     Mr. Canada doesn't just show up occassionally in the schools, all the kids know his name as he regularly walks the halls.  How many D65 school children know who Hardy Murphy is?   How often does he show up in classrooms or interact with children?
   THis is the kind of leader Evanston children deserve.
         I do support Eileen Budde for school board  She was the only one on the school board who consistently says that cutting staff is not a solution to a budget problem. Eileen is also the only teacher on the school board, as far as I know.  I"ve offered to help her campaign next year, should she choose to run again.  (Richard Rykhus also voted no, but for different reasons).  
 . 
  

Now that the township will be dissolved....

We can get rid of District 65 or 202.  I don't understand why a town the size of ours has two school districts.  Talk about waste of money.
And if Hardy Murphy wants to start saving money w/o firing teachers and aides and psychologists, the first place they can start is not having food catered at their meetings! (See second picture from the top, above) 
 

No incentive to fix

Murphy, PEG and other such organizations have no incentive to see the problem fixed.  No fix, more consulting jobs. Create a problem and find a culprit to blame [whites, conservatives, 'man behind the door'] and you can propose all kinds of fixes/excuses and keep the [your] money rolling in.
Fix the problem, no jobs.
===============================
What about 'school for parents' ?  If the kids are failing why not have sessions for parents on how to help their kids---what they can do at home, resources in the community, etc. ?

Math by ability, please... It's not a race issue, really.

My kid is a 6th grade student in a 7th grade math class. She is doing great, straight A's and enjoying learning new cirriculum.
She tells me the 6th graders are the "stars of the class". In addition, many of the 7th graders do not preform as well on test nor do they get answers correct when they participate in class. 
In fact, the teacher has commented  "...what a nice addition it has been to have her in the class. She is  inspired to learn".
Meanwhile, several 6th grade friends say they are not learning anything new in 6th grade and wished they too could have been moved ahead to the 7th grade cirriculum. 
In my opinion, it's good for the kids who are testing well and show maturity to continue to be pushed ahead.  It's a wonderful opportunity to have in a public school setting. I'm grateful.
Please do not stop accelerating these bright kids; let them help to motivate others with their enthuasium to learn. 

What's the problem, folks?

I don't understand what the problem is, folks.
From the data presented in this plan, it's clear that D65 has policies and procedures for placing advanced students (and all students) into appropriate math courses and will continue to have them. As far as I can tell, the recommendation is simple:
1. Avoid seeking to necessarily accelerate students two grade levels in math unless there is substantial evidence that a student's needs warrant it. (That's consistent with the research literature on acceleration, so no problems there.)
2. In light of the Common Core standards and sequence, get rid of Math 8 and replace it with a real math course: Algebra I. Some kids will take it in one year, some kids in 2. A very, very small number of kids may need to repeat it at ETHS. (This is consistent with what many middle and high schools are doing now--that is, revisiting their math sequencing and course offerings because of the CC and reaching the same conclusion.)
If Johnny, a 6th grader, is truly ready for Math 7, Algebra I, or beyond, there's nothing in this long-term plan that will prevent him from being appropriately placed.
Am I missing something?

Here's what you're missing.

The proposal doesn't identify the "problem" as the unnecessary acceleration of some students.    In fact, the proposal confirms that current acceleration decisions are "consistent, equitable and data-driven." 
Instead, the stated "problem" is really the desire to "improv[e] equity and access for all students" and promote more "heterogeneous" classes.  To this end, the proposal seeks to "limit acceleration to albebra 1 placement at grade 7 or 8."  Thus, although the "proposed practice" shows "Albebra 1" and "Geometry" as options for 7th and 8th graders respectively, the proposal wants to suppress this acceleration so that more students are advancing in lock-step fashion regardless of their math skills.  As the proposal states, it wants "acceleration for all."  
That is a noble goal.  But it should can only be accomplished by advancing the math skills of students in grades K - 5 so that more minorities qualify for higher-end math classes in middle school.   Instead,  they want to "accelerate" everyone by holding some students back.  That is completely misguided.  It really does come down to the fact that they don't like the skin color of the kids who qualify for acceleration.  This "inequity" isn't solved by taking away this option, and it only hurts the kids who should be accelerated. 
Also, note that the proposal seeks to remove any acceleration of fifth or sixth graders, which effects only a handful of students.   Why?  Who knows.  But for these students, acceleration can be extremely important to challenge them and keep them engaged since they are generally bored out of their minds in their regular math class.  This happened to our child was, thankfuly, was accelerated. 

Yes, you're missing something

Part of the plan is to REDUCE the number of 6th graders in advanced Math. There is really no reason to do this and no problem that it would solve.  Having watched my 6th grader leave many of her equally bright classmates behind and get straight As in 7th grade Math, hardly breaking a sweat, I can say-a lot more students should be accelerated at the 6th grade level.  It does those students a disservice to then advance them to Algebra 1 in 7th grade, without having the advantage of having had 7th grade math.

Expect more

Farrand said the current practice of having two different algebra classes results in disparities by race -- with disproportionately more white students in the more advanced Algebra 1 class.
Let me guess. This is because of white privilege. But, seriously, where is the responsibility of the underachieving race(s)? Why are we even measuring achievement by race? Why are we not expecting much more from the underachieving race(s)? We need to expect much more. They don't need to be propped up. This is just plain stupid!