Secondary Placement Procedures

Mastery learning works to address the needs of secondary students across the learning spectrum, from those who need extra support to backfill learning gaps to those who need further academic challenges. Placement is a key ingredient in meeting the individual needs of students, so placement decisions should be consistent, and based on as much evidence as possible. The more accurately secondary students are placed, the more they understand that the mastery learning system provides student-centered instruction at the appropriate level to prepare them for the future.

Initial Testing & Placement of Students 

  1. Transcripts from past educational institutions are an important piece of the placement decision, but they don’t always give the complete picture of a student’s academic background. It is possible for a student to have completed a course within another school system without mastering the material. Similarly, the student may have already mastered much of the learning that takes place in a course without officially earning credit. 
    1. Do: require transcripts as part of the admission process, and accept transfer units according to the Secondary Transfer Credits Policy and with consideration of the Graduation Requirements
    2. Don’t: rely only on prior transcripts and information from the student/parents about past learning; test the student before placement. 
  2. Testing, especially to determine a baseline level in English and Mathematics, is an important part of the decision for placement. Testing in other subjects may also be necessary, especially for placement in courses with prerequisites. To help determine a new student’s achievement level, the following may be administered as appropriate:
    1. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP).
    2. Assessments from prerequisite courses, even if past transcripts show the student has completed the course. 
    3. Writing sample: Student responds to a writing prompt.
    4. End-of-year assessments. 
    5. Other assessments that help with the placement decision.
  3. Homeroom assignment should be based on the following rule from the Class Placement by Age Policy:
    1. Fewer than 50 credits: Secondary I
    2. Minimum of 50 credits: Secondary II
    3. Minimum of 100 credits: Secondary III
    4. Minimum of 150 credits: Secondary IV
  4. Further testing may be necessary if a student is performing so well on the assessments that they are showing mastery of material found in courses for which they have not yet received credit. To credit the past learning and place the student appropriately, the student may take unit tests within a subject to earn the units of study. For example, a student who has never taken Algebra, but shows readiness for Geometry and/or Advanced Mathematics I, may take the 10 unit tests for Algebra to earn 10 Algebra credits.
  5. Meet with the student to determine strengths, weaknesses, interests, needs, and developmental level. This is the responsibility of the Director, Director of Instruction, and/or Guidance Counselor.
  6. Discuss with parents the academic, social, and emotional strengths and needs of the student. This is the responsibility of the Director, Director of Instruction, and/or Guidance Counselor.
  7. Determine placement, create a graduation plan, and meet with parents to discuss the initial graduation plan. Placement will be based on the best professional judgment of the school’s placement team; the team will be flexible and willing to adjust student placement as needed. The team should include teachers and school administrators. Explain to parents why the placement and graduation plan determined by the placement team are in the best interests of the student. Make any necessary adjustments to the plan as a team.
    1. If testing, classwork, and observations indicate that the student has significant academic gaps, or a low level of English proficiency, the Director, Director of Instruction, and Guidance Counselor (as applicable) should include the student and parents in creating the graduation plan. Discussion should paint a clear picture of the student’s academic path, including the obstacles faced by the student and the limits of support that the school can provide.
  8. All teachers will be notified at least one day before the new student enters the school whenever possible.