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Old 06-19-2010, 01:26 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
2,346 posts, read 6,512,256 times
Reputation: 2319

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Short Version: Title says it all.

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Long Version:

I have a rising 7th grader who is performing quite well in a highly-regarded public school system in TX. If at all possible, I fully intend to keep him in this system. Unfortunately, there is a small/medium-sized chance that we might have to relocate to the Minneapolis area on short notice anytime in the next 18 months. Given the "short notice" part, private schools would not be an option.

His current school begins differentiation by ability in 6th grade, with honors math and social studies. In 7th grade and beyond, they also offer honors English and science. He very much enjoyed the honors classes, and was particularly frustrated with his mixed-ability 6th grade English class. He is looking forward to a full complement of honors classes, so as to avoid (except for PE class and electives) the "trouble-makers and goof-offs", in his words. Call me elitist, but I tend to agree with him.

He's already going to be extremely unhappy if we end up having to move. I don't want to compound the issue by placing him in a school system where there is little or no ability differentiation before the high school years. He'll view that as a step backwards, both academically and socially.

Online, I was able to find the Pre-AP program in the Robbinsdale school district, which sounds like it might fit the bill. I'm pretty leery of 281, though. (Why? Because I'm a product of the Robbinsdale system! ) Also, it appears that you need several months' lead time to get into that track.

Any information on the middle school/junior high curricula of the other districts would be much appreciated.

FWIW, I'd be looking to stay within 10-12 miles of Hwy. 100 & I-394, and housing prices will not be a deal-breaker.

Last edited by Big G; 06-19-2010 at 01:46 AM..
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Old 06-19-2010, 05:54 AM
 
20,793 posts, read 58,364,300 times
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You will find that most middle schools have some kind of honors or accelerated programs. Your best bet on that side of the cities would be either Minnetonka, or Wayzata staying within your desired travel distance.
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:27 AM
 
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I'd look into southwest Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, or Edina; all offer excellent schools (Southwest High St. Louis Park, and Edina High Schools ranked #1, 2, and 3 in MN in the recent Newsweek rankings, for example) and are within your geographic parameters. In Minneapolis not all schools are created equal (but the SW area schools are considered very good); I've heard very good things about Lake Harriet Community School in Linden Hills. Anwatin Middle School is right near the area you're talking about (and feeds into Southwest); it's changed recently and you'd want to do some additional research into it, but it's now an entirely pre-IB school, and all kids (I believe) have to actively apply to get in. That doesn't mean difficult application process, just that they self-select that they (or their parents) want them to go there, which I would assume (or at least it did when it was a program within a school) that the kids who didn't care didn't bother to apply.

I'm not as familiar with St. Louis Park's individual schools, but everyone I know who has gone there or who has sent their kids there has been very pleased with their experiences (including people who went with private first, then made the switch). Susan Lindgren has a pre-IB middle school program; I'm not sure what the offerings are like at the regular junior high, but assume they probably have an honors track of some sort, too.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:13 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
2,346 posts, read 6,512,256 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golfgal View Post
You will find that most middle schools have some kind of honors or accelerated programs.
Great! Can you give me some sources for specific information about these programs?

The problem is, I'm not finding ANY information about such programs on the district web sites, aside from 281. I've looked in detail at the SLP, Hopkins, and Wayzata web sites, including the course catalogs for the middle schools/junior highs, and come up with nothing. Maybe they have some reason to keep such programs off the record, but going from the information available online, these districts run accelerated math and that's it.

I don't want to buy a pig in a poke. I would like to have some concrete knowledge about the level of instruction available, rather than buying a house in one of the "good districts" and just assuming things will work out.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
I've heard very good things about Lake Harriet Community School in Linden Hills. Anwatin Middle School is right near the area you're talking about (and feeds into Southwest); it's changed recently and you'd want to do some additional research into it, but it's now an entirely pre-IB school, and all kids (I believe) have to actively apply to get in.
That's good information. I used to live near the east side of Lake Harriet. If we move back, and the school situation allows it, we would probably be interested in some of the houses in the City of Minneapolis, near the west sides of Cedar, Calhoun, or Harriet.

An additional complication with the Minneapolis schools is this: If the move happens, it will occur with maybe 2-3 months' lead time, possibly mid-year. That would put the kibosh on most schools requiring application. (Plus, my kid is white, so that's not going to open any doors in MPS.) I can back up any admissions criteria with test scores up the wazoo. But if I'm going to be told to "wait until next year", that's not going to be acceptable to me.

Quote:
Susan Lindgren has a pre-IB middle school program; I'm not sure what the offerings are like at the regular junior high, but assume they probably have an honors track of some sort, too.
SLP is changing around their schools this coming year. The Junior High is going from 7-8 to 6-7-8. I don't see any mention of IB Middle Years on the Junior High web site. Again, I'm not willing to assume anything about honors offerings. I would think they would promote such classes online, if they existed.

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Ideally, I'd like to hear from posters who have sent their kids through different school systems to find out the nuts and bolts. Anyone? Bueller?
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:26 AM
 
336 posts, read 877,615 times
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I think almost every minnesota skills has honor classes or "gifted and talented" classes" in middle school. We are in Delano, and my son was in them in 5th grade this last year. I'm guessing the reason you don't see them online is that your child has to test into them through the program at the school- it's not something that you can just apply to be in. I would call the schools you are interested in and talk to someone directly so they can give you a better idea.
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Old 06-19-2010, 02:21 PM
 
20,793 posts, read 58,364,300 times
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I don't know that I can give you concrete examples other than calling the schools and asking. I know our middle school has accelerated classes as well as Gifted and Talented classes but I don't recall any information on the website. It is just something that is "done" here vs having a "program" for the classes is the best I can describe I guess. Way back in the dark ages when I was in middle school we had advanced classes. Back then they could call it tracking, now they can't because it might hurt someone's feelings . Also, the Newsweek list is bogus so don't put any stock into those "rankings". All that measures is how many kids take an AP test, nothing more. Again, your best bet being close to work would be Wayzata or Minnetonka schools.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:57 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
2,346 posts, read 6,512,256 times
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Quick follow-up:

After casting a wider net, I was able to find several western metro districts with honors course offerings at the middle school/junior high level.

Every district I looked at offered accelerated math. Beyond that, there was wild variation in what was available.

I compiled the offerings for science, social studies, and English.

Here's a brief summary of what's offered where at the 6-8 level.

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English, Science, & Social Studies:
Robbinsdale for 6th-8th graders;
Eden Prairie, Burnsville, Lakeville, & Osseo for 7th and 8th graders.

Also, three school districts offer honors courses in these subjects, but not across the board.
Minnetonka (English for 6-8, Science for 7-8, Social Studies for 8th only);
Edina (English for 7-8, Social Studies for 7th only, Science for 8th only);
Shakopee (English for 7-8, Science and Social Studies for 8th only).

English and Science: Anoka-Hennepin for 6th-8th graders.

English and Social Studies: Prior Lake (English for 6-8, Social Studies for 8th only).

English only: Orono, Westonka, Bloomington, & Eastern Carver (Chanhassen) for 6th-8th graders.


No 6-8 Honors Classes(!): Brooklyn Center, Wayzata, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Richfield.



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Disclaimers:
1) All info taken from district and school web sites. I believe the information is correct, but YMMV. If anyone reading this post has conflicting information, please follow up.

2) It's possible that some districts listed here as not offering honors courses are running "hidden" honors classes, as earlier posters have suggested. However, given the willingness of most districts to publish such information, I'm skeptical.
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:10 AM
 
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Our junior highs call them "challenge courses" in Saint Paul. There are lots of them- not just math.
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Old 06-28-2010, 10:08 AM
 
10,629 posts, read 25,331,128 times
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If you do end up looking in Minneapolis the honors courses are typically part of other programs; you'll find them under categories like "pre-IB". I'm not sure how it works now, but it used to be that for the pre-IB middle school program both English and Math were honors; everyone in the pre-IB program was in pre-IB English, but I believe you did have to take a test for the math class.
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Old 06-28-2010, 11:48 AM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
2,346 posts, read 6,512,256 times
Reputation: 2319
I didn't include MPS in my survey results, because the offerings available varied dramatically from campus to campus. In general, I found that MPS magnet schools had honors courses, while MPS neighborhood middle schools did not.

Since my personal search is focused on Minneapolis and its suburbs, I also didn't look at any eastside districts. Anyone with direct knowledge of St. Paul-area offerings can certainly post a follow-up.
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