Moving through School: 3 Facts to Keep Close

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Every year in education there are changes in policies and procedures that parents aren’t aware of to ask. Below are a few key items that I picked up along the way in my experience as a parent that can be crucial to the academic career of your student. Keep these in mind as you all progress through each grade level and each education institution. 

1. Transferring credits. 

For 8th grade parents, especially parents whose students attend private schools and plan to attend public school next year, you want to be mindful of their current course load. If your student is enrolled in 9th grade courses this means at the end of the course they will take an examination that can give them high school transcript credits. For example, courses like English I, Algebra I, Spanish I, Spanish II, or Journey to Success, are offered to 8th grade students. If students are enrolled in these courses the student must pass the End of Course Exam (EOC) with a basic or above, a passing grade which is considered a D, and also have been taught by a teacher who is certified by the state. 

This last part of the teacher being certified is new information. There are many teachers who are in the classroom who may be in certification programs but are not yet certified. The credits from uncertified teachers will not transfer. Teachers at private schools are the most common uncertified teachers. Remember, private schools do not perform state testing at the end of the school year. Become aware of the requirements you need to earn those credits because your child could possibly have to retake courses they have already taken. 

My advice: Get with your school counselors to check these facts before you enter grade 8. 

2. 504/SPED student records. 

Students who receive 504/SPED accommodations that transfer or progress to other schools must also have those records transferred. Do not assume that this will happen automatically. Again, check with your current school counselor. Even after you check with the counselor, when your student gets to the next school, check with each one of your child’s teachers to ensure they have received the accommodations. If there are any really important points or pieces on your child’s Individual Education Plan or IEP be sure to mention it to their teacher. 

Here is why… 

The beginning of the year is a very busy time. You have new rosters, new schedules, you may be teaching a new course or you may have a brand new teacher or teacher who was just hired and missed professional development where schools discuss policies and procedures. There could be a number of variations as to why your child’s accommodations are not being honored or just plain missed. 

It is not offensive to advocate for your child and their Individualized Education Plan. At this point in the education game, you could be putting your child at a loss if you did not ask.

3. Know the difference between Regular, Honors, Gifted, and Advanced Placement courses. 

Regular education courses: All students enter these courses automatically. Grade weights toward GPA are on a 4.0 scale. Inside of current regular education classes are a mixture of students. There are “regular education students” and also students who receive 504/SPED accommodations. The lead teacher inside of the classroom is responsible for teaching all the students and honoring their personal academic needs. They work and plan alongside the SPED teacher who may sometimes push into the classroom to support student services. 

Honors courses: These are generally higher level courses that proceed at a faster pace and cover more material than regular courses. These courses are usually reserved for students who excel in a certain subject. Course weights at some schools vary and can be higher than a 4.0. Students can enter by way of placement test results or LEAP score results that are Mastery or Advanced scores.   

Gifted and Talented courses: These are students who demonstrate high academic or aptitude or possess extraordinary talent in visual or performing arts. These students also have Individual Education Plans or IEPs. Gifted programs are often included in the school for specific interests. Parents should understand that all schools do not have gifted programs and if you are in search of a specialty, you want to choose schools with that intention in mind. The New Orleans Center of Creative Arts or NOCCA is a pre-professional 

Advanced Placement or AP courses: These courses offer students the opportunity to earn college credit by taking more rigorous classes and then demonstrate mastery of the material on a nationally standardized end-of-course examination with a score on a 3 or higher, you may be eligible for college credit. Students who take these courses also earn more points on the graduation index. 

These are just a few pointers or pieces that parents should keep in mind as we navigate our children’s academic experience. Parents, we are in the times where we cannot afford to ask questions or not inform ourselves more on what should be taking place in the school. 

Please, be encouraged.

Andrea Heard

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