Turlock parents of high-achieving students press for accelerated junior high math

While some complain that the Common Core math implemented this year is too hard, some Turlock parents worry it does not challenge their gifted kids enough. They have started an online petition drive asking for an honors or accelerated track for their children, starting in junior high.

Parents Marie Guerrero and Jennifer Carlsen brought their concerns to the Turlock Unified School District board Tuesday night during a public comment segment. Guerrero is the lead petitioner on the Change.org petition.

“Marie brought examples (of accelerated classes) from seven districts. All districts have this spectrum ... of kids who need support and kids in the middle and high-achieving students,” Carlsen said Wednesday. “We’re saying, ‘Let’s look at the whole big picture and not a one-size-fits-all approach,’ ” she said, “Let’s challenge the kids that need a challenge.”

The bottom line is getting to calculus by 12th grade, to be able to compete for admission to top colleges, she said. But in the meantime, her gifted seventh-grader is bored.

“For the last eight weeks, they’ve been doing ratios, rates and proportions. Frankly, he is doing what used to be fourth-grade math under the old standards,” Carlsen said.

On the petition, Guerrero asks that an honors class be adopted, compressing junior high math into one year. That would allow eighth-graders to move on to high school math, finishing the three-year high school sequence as sophomores, leaving room for pre-calculus as juniors and calculus during senior year.

Nicolette Bertao of Keyes posted on Change.org that her child is in a Turlock class for Gifted and Talented Education, better known as GATE.

“That would be totally unacceptable to have his education halted and college prep put in jeopardy because of lack of challenging courses,” Bertao writes.

Reached by email Wednesday, Turlock Superintendent Sonny Da Marto said the district is working on what he called a multitiered system of supports to accommodate different learners in Math Common Core 7 and 8 classes.

“We are aware of the automated online petition,” Da Marto said. The district is watching assessments to see where seventh- and eighth-graders need work or are doing well judged by the new standards. In the short term, teachers will be tailoring instruction for students or shifting class groupings to meet different learning levels, he said.

“Our committee of 30 educators, who possess both expertise in math and teaching at all levels, including GATE, will review our progress and lack thereof this month to make the best recommendations on behalf of all learners for both this year and subsequent years. AP calculus classes will continue to be available to students,” Da Marto wrote.