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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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To The Editor:

There have been a number of meetings and articles about the changes that the Harwood Union Middle School superintendent and administration are making to the middle school math program. We are not going to try to summarize all of these issues here but rather refer any interested reader to the Facebook page – Winning with Algebra – if you would like to catch up. We would like to thank the administration, faculty and the school board who has begun a constructive dialogue with parents and students about these changes.

But there is an issue that we think is important to highlight here in the newspaper. The Harwood administration has recently said that it plans to cut back the number of eighth-grade students who will be eligible for the newly proposed algebra seminar by up to 50 percent, to as few as 10 to 15 students. We do not support this new direction.

The administration’s data from the past several years shows that while 59 to 81 percent of those students who complete algebra in the eighth grade will go on to take calculus in high school, only 3 to 4 percent of those who do not take eighth-grade algebra will enroll in high school calculus. If that is the case, we are relegating the vast majority of our middle school students to not pursuing higher math in high school and possibly affecting their interest in pursuing careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

We want to encourage our kids to reach high and try their hand at algebra in hopes that it will stimulate their interest in math. We don’t want to restrict kids from pursuing more challenging classes. We think it’s better to give students with the motivation the chance to prove themselves in eighth-grade algebra. If at the end of the first quarter they aren’t demonstrating the ability to succeed, these students can be transitioned out of algebra. This is actually easier with the seminar model.


This is their time to push their limits. Harwood, please allow all students interested in taking algebra to do so.


Mike Fennelly, Christy Ketchel, Beth Schoellkopf, Warren parents




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