Did You Know…

Belmont Math Parents is kicking off a “Did you know…” series to help inform the Belmont community about the state of math education in our Belmont Public Schools.  Share this information with your networks! 

Did you know the BPS administration eliminated math acceleration and flexible placement in 2019-20 for all students going forward?

Did you know almost 40% of Chenery 8th graders are taking a Geometry class as a Chenery afterschool activity because BPS stopped offering it in school?

Did you know that Chenery could easily fill 4-5 classes of 8th grade Geometry and 7th grade Algebra 1 IN SCHOOL and AT NO ADDITIONAL COST, but chooses not to?
Challenger Enrollment, Current 8th Grade

Did you know that BPS refuses to let Belmont students place into an appropriate math course at the high school, even if they have already taken a course or learned the material on their own, and instead forces them to sit in classes on material they’ve already covered?

Did you know that students who take Math 7 in 7th grade are not allowed by BPS to take Calculus at BHS if they want to, unless they take two math classes at the same time? Even if they take a math class over the summer? Lack of flexibility hurts all students. Advanced students may remain under challenged and late-bloomers may never realize their potential in the current rigid model.

Did you know that being allowed to be in an appropriate math class can be life-changing for a student?

Did you know that a report commissioned by DESE and presented to the MA Legislature in 2019 found that failing to meet the needs of advanced learners actually runs contrary to goals of equity in education?

“… until our public schools acknowledge, understand, and serve our most advanced students, our educational system will be elitist. Only those who can afford it will be privileged to see their children’s potential blossom.” – Report commissioned by DESE, Presented to the Massachusetts Legislature, June 2019

Did you know that last night at the School Committee meeting, parents who advocate for their child’s math education were openly mocked as “privileged parents” who can and should be ignored?  Don’t buy the School Administration’s false narrative that equity and excellence in education are incompatible; it’s an argument designed to bully parents and pit us against each other.

Did you know that the 7th and 8th grade wing of the new school will be open in Fall 2023, eliminating all logistical concerns about meeting the needs of Belmont’s middle school math learners during the school day?

Did you know that Winchester places ALL STUDENTS into Algebra I by 8th grade as the minimum standard, with more accelerated paths available for those who are ready for it?

Belmont and Winchester have nearly identical enrollment numbers, and there is no meaningful statistical difference in Winchester’s and Belmont’s math MCAS scores. But according to DESE, 220 Winchester HS students took 258 Advanced Placement tests in math or computer science last year versus 135 students in Belmont HS taking 161 AP tests in those subjects. That’s 63% more Winchester kids taking one measure of advanced math coursework in high school, an enormous difference in opportunities and outcomes!

Did you know that up until 2020, every BPS student in grades 7-12 had the opportunity to be placed into any math class upon demonstration of subject mastery? With flexibility, students can take charge of their math future and demonstrate mastery to advance their own learning.

flexible pathways
Pathway options up until 2020
math 7 pathway
Current pathway for Math 7 Students: no chance for flexibility
Current pathway for Math 7 Compact Students: Only chance for flexibility is online extra-curricular Challenger program in 8th grade, taken concurrently with Algebra 1

See https://belmontmathparents.org/background/ for more information.

Did you know…

“Studies have shown that high school students increase their chances of finishing college by a factor of more than 3 to 1 with each level of math education they complete, from algebra through calculus. This link between math success and college completion is consistent across race, ethnicity, and socio-economic levels, suggesting that math preparation could be a powerful route to overcoming educational disparities.”
Source: https://thecalculusproject.org/?page_id=733

Definitely check out The Calculus Project, a local program being implemented in multiple nearby districts. https://thecalculusproject.org/

Did you know… that every parent is a math parent?  Each student takes 13 math classes in their time at BPS, and we all want our kids to have the best possible education.  Belmont Math Parents is a growing community of almost 300 families of varying backgrounds, motivations, ethnicities, and experiences, who are united in our passion to improve math outcomes for *all* BPS students.  Are some of us nerdy math people?  Yup, guilty as charged.  But even if math is not your thing, I’m sure we can agree that we *all* want what is best for students.

Here’s the thing: every BPS family deserves school leadership that listens, acts with integrity, and treats families with respect.  Recent curricular changes in math have been made without full transparency and adequate opportunities for public discussion and debate.  Let’s all unite to demand that BPS meaningfully engage with families and consider their input in a transparent, public process.

We believe… BPS must improve K-6 math by funding permanent math specialist positions and bolstering the curriculum to support all learners, so all students have equitable access to challenging math opportunities in later grades.  Upgrading support and challenge in school for all students promotes equity and inclusion. 

We believe… BPS must restore the in-school curriculum options eliminated from the middle school.  For a total cost of $0, BPS could restore to the school day Algebra 1 in 7th grade and Geometry in 8th grade. Nearly 40% of the entire BPS 8th grade is taking a core math class as an online extracurricular because the administration eliminated it in school.  We estimate BPS could fill 4-5 full classes of 8th grade Geometry and 4-5 full classes of 7th grade Algebra every year.  The huge response to Challenger shows that when you eliminate artificial barriers to entry, like an opaque high-stakes testing process, participation skyrockets.


We believe… BPS must implement a well-defined and transparent placement process for math classes at the high school.  This includes students who are ready to crossover (move between CP and H classes) and those ready to accelerate (move to a class normally offered to an older grade). Nobody wants a free-for-all where teachers are overwhelmed and kids are in over their heads.  At the same time, nobody wants a rigid model where one decision made in younger grades determines their entire math future.  Parents and schools should work together in a transparent way to select the right placement for their child.