The Truth about Chicago Math

There is something your school administrator might not want you to know. If your child received at least 230 RIT on the NWEA MAP test in mathematics, your child may be ready for pre-algebra, or even more.

According to the NWEA, the creators of the test, here is the guidance given to schools for course placement for students taking the 6+ (grades 6+) MAP:

“A student score at or above the following scores on a 6+ mathematics tests suggests student readiness for:

  • 230: Introduction to Algebra

  • 235: Algebra

  • 245: Geometry”

Here is a table showing an interpretation of the Assessment Data showing the number of Chicago Public Schools where the average classroom at the listed grade level has reached each of these benchmarks.

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 4.29.49 PM.png

What does this mean for students that are still taking the NWEA for grades 2-5? NWEA has guidelines that say that students who score over 230 on the 2-5 NWEA MAP test could be moved to the 6+ NWEA:

"Based on these observations, our recommendation is that students who score at the 90th percentile (231) or higher on the 2 – 5 mathematics test in the fall of fifth grade be transitioned into more advanced sixth grade (or higher) instruction”.

Most city schools, including the Selective Enrollment SEES ones, such as Regional Gifted (RGC) or Classical Elementary Schools don’t not have a policy to accelerate a student from MAP 2-5 to 6+. When a student moves to 6+, their score might drop a few points. If they are over 245 on the 2-5 MAP, they will probably still be over 230 RIT points on the 6+. It doesn’t mean that they should be immediately placed in pre-algebra, merely that someone should notice and that they could be evaluated. If not you, the parent, then who?

By the Spring 8th grade MAP, only about ½ of CPS students are ready for pre-algebra per the NWEA benchmark. The top 2nd grade classrooms in CPS outperform the bottom 8th grade on this test. However, the top CPS classrooms that pull the most gifted kids are only teaching 1-2 years ahead. The top students in 2nd+ grade will have less access to prealgebra+ than the 8th graders who didn’t meet 231 benchmark points before their 9th grade the following year.

Here is a table that shows a score of 230 or higher by grade at the year end. These students, at a class average, achieved the NWEA benchmark for promotion to 6+MAP, and may be eligible for pre-algebra+. This does not take into account the individual students who are scoring high but are in schools where the class average is lower than 230. In a couple of Chicago City schools, there is prealgebra - geometry by 8th grade, but they are the minority.  

Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 7.09.27 PM.png

CPS chose to be not compliant with the 2017 State Law, Accelerated Placement Act. The Act says that public school students, regardless of placement in a gifted program, should get what they need in terms of acceleration. It is now a legal right for a child to get acceleration when they are ready. Area private schools just have to strive to do slightly better than the average public schools in order to gain tuition-paid admissions, much higher than ours, in many cases.

How does the lack of instruction at a student’s academic level and speed impact the child’s long term trajectory in terms of achievement, self esteem, grit if they are not learning new material or are not regularly challenged?

There is no ceiling to learning at MAGE, and we have small class sizes to make sure that each child is actively and individually nurtured at their level and speed. We are rigorous in terms of content, yet laid back in terms of stress to the child: no grades, no homework. Come to our admissions coffee this Sunday, March 24th, at 10:30 AM to learn more. Future events are on our calendar.