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View Full Version : Advice: charter school's "two year 9th grade" option



crunchynerd
11-04-2017, 09:16 PM
Wondering if anyone else has experience with this sort of thing:

My daughter turned 13 about a week after she officially started public school for the first time, in 8th grade. Then she found out she could transfer in to the arts-based public charter school that she was already on the waitlist for, this year instead of next (it's a high school) by taking advantage of their option for 2 years of 9th grade.

So she's no longer one of the youngest in 8th, but now probably THE youngest in 9th grade. She's doing fine academically (in fact, needed differentiation in algebra, to avoid spending the first half of the year doing review). It's great that they are willing to accommodate her need for differentiation to advance to her level in math!

But I wonder whether she is better off doing 9th grade over two years, there, or whether that would look bad to colleges. She certainly would be a good candidate for simply having this be "real" 9th grade instead, and going to 10th next year...or would she? That would mean taking the PSAT right after turning 14, instead of 15 or 16 like most people, which could be a disadvantage to what her score might be, if she had longer to prepare and grow.

She's very mature for her age, physically and socially/emotionally, so essentially being accelerated 2 years has helped her rather than hurt her, so that is not the issue. I'm just wondering if she would be better served doing their 2-year 9th grade option and having an extra year to prepare for PSATs, or going ahead with 10th grade next year instead, so that she could have more advanced classes and stay with her classmates?

inmom
11-05-2017, 10:04 AM
But I wonder whether she is better off doing 9th grade over two years, there, or whether that would look bad to colleges.

She's very mature for her age, physically and socially/emotionally, so essentially being accelerated 2 years has helped her rather than hurt her, so that is not the issue. I'm just wondering if she would be better served doing their 2-year 9th grade option and having an extra year to prepare for PSATs, or going ahead with 10th grade next year instead, so that she could have more advanced classes and stay with her classmates?

If this is an established program, where the school system regularly offers this 2-year 9th grade program, I don't think that would appear in a negative light to colleges. It's not that YOU decided to hold her back an extra year. One quick way to check would be to call admissions offices. If our daughter already knows where she'd like to apply, start there. In the more typical situation where she has no idea yet, pick out one state school and one private school in your state and ask them. Explain the school's program and ask if that would be viewed in a negative light.

I see both sides of accelerating her and keeping her with age mates. Personally, although I could have graduated my kids early, we decided not to. I think the extra year of maturity helped in both cases before they went "off" to college. Will she still have opportunities for the more advanced classes, just a year later? Or will she miss out on them? Also, the extra year before taking the PSAT could also be financially smart if you think she could possibly qualify to be a National Merit Finalist, which can lead to scholarship offers.

Just my two cents.

HawaiiGeek
11-05-2017, 06:08 PM
I can't answer about the college application process with the 2 yrs in 9th grade, but I do know about going to college young. I am a November baby and was 17 when I graduated high school and it was hard being the youngest. I couldn't get my license when all my friends did. The presidential election was my first year in college and I couldn't vote. I could't legally drink with everyone. This was not much of an issue when I was in college because it was quite easy to get alcohol, but I could imagine it being more frustrating now when all your friends are 21 and you are not. Just my thoughts.

farrarwilliams
11-05-2017, 07:25 PM
That's such an unusual option that I would ask them how it looks on the transcript. Like, literally, what does the transcript show and say. The onus is on them to explain that they take 8th graders and mainstream them but give them extra time to complete the 9th grade requirements. That's information that should go in the counselor letter.

Generally, I think it's not great to accelerate kids - especially at this age, they often need a little more time to be kids before heading off to high school. But... middle schools don't necessarily do a great job of providing that. And kids are individuals - sounds like you feel she's ready for it. If she wants to do it, I think you should probably go for it.

crunchynerd
11-05-2017, 11:12 PM
Thank you for this thoughtful reply! Since being with her agemates has never been the best scenario for her academically as well as socially, entering 9th grade at 12 was a blessing for her rather than a curse.

She recently expressed the desire to score highly enough on the PSAT to get National Merit Semifinalist (and hopefully go on to finalist as most semifinalists do, but I did not, due to my spotty grades) so that has me rethinking this, that it might be unwise to go ahead and have her go on to 10th grade next year at 13 going on 14, and take that test a full year or two younger than other people. Yet if it separated her from her social group to be a 9th grader again next year, that is also unfortunate.

You've given me some clarity on this, and I appreciate it. I'm so glad life doesn't come at us except one day at a time, though! If she gets a scholarship, it's also good to know that writing the college and asking if she can accept their scholarship after a gap year to travel and do good work gaining worldly experience, is an option. Apparently a lot of colleges are encouraging that sort of thing, due to having received so many incoming freshman in recent years who were a combination of burned out, and infantile, being both worn out by excessive busywork, and never having been responsible even for their own laundry, let alone finances or relationships.

Needless to say, my daughter is responsible for her own laundry now. But a gap year is a good idea, if she doesn't manage to get some travel and independent living in, before graduating from high school.

crunchynerd
11-05-2017, 11:37 PM
HawaiiGeek, a fairly large number of my high school class graduated at 17, and the rest mostly 18, so I didn't know 17 was particularly young, though I realize 16 in her case is young.

However, the awkwardness at not being able to drink alcohol may be a non-issue for her, as she has already stated that she plans never to drink, and really dislikes the risks it poses to health, finances, and judgement. She wants to go places in life, and sees smoking, drinking, and other forms of escapism as a way to lose sight of goals while damaging the body and the budget.

I kind of wish I had had that kind of resolve, so young.

crunchynerd
11-06-2017, 12:01 AM
Farrar, thanks for that suggestion about asking how it would look on the transcript. The hard part with this charter is that it is in its second year, so has nothing to go on for how any other students who opted in as "two-year 9th graders" fared when it came to college applications. Their first graduates last year, came in as seniors, and there won't be any in her situation to compare to, until she herself graduates.

I would agree that it's not a good idea to accelerate most kids, but can't agree that it's never a good idea to accelerate those who truly benefit from it, and that seems to run in my family. My father was accelerated two years, bumped to 3rd grade from 1st, and it was really important to his success and happiness, so he was lucky to be in school in an era in which that was not considered crazy. In his case, it was a reasonable thing to do, and served him quite well: he was still at the top of the class academically, still taller than most everyone else (but not by two heads any longer!) and even had early puberty such that he was still in the "norm" for his grade level despite being two years younger than everyone else, though no one could have foreseen that.

Acceleration might be a bad thing for the majority, but there are outliers. My father was one, and his father probably was too (particle physicist and researcher).

farrarwilliams
11-06-2017, 08:56 AM
I actually think that since it's new that you can make it clear whatever you think the counselor letter/transcript should say. They haven't made their systems yet so you can be sure they think about this stuff. I agree that it could look odd, but as long as there's a note, it really should be fine. And yes on the gap year later and that doesn't hurt kids heading into college these days at all really.

fastweedpuller
11-06-2017, 10:01 AM
I am another kid who graduated early (16) and was youngest in my classes from 3rd grade on. I felt it was a little weird taking Drivers Ed with the kids a year behind me, but otherwise I was just quite used to being so YOUNG when I headed to college at a fresh 17 (July birthday). I could have used a year more in college to mature, fully bake, etc. As it is...well. I found test-taking easy though.

Testing. Homeschooled kids here can take *any* test 8th grade and upward through our parent partnership. Just to get her used to the idea, I plan on the kiddo taking PSAT in April. I am not fully informed on this, but I don't think it will hurt her chances for college if she takes it more than once; seems all high school kids I know (public, private and homeschool) often do. My kiddo may not be merit scholar material but who knows, she's never taken any test like these before!

It sounds like your kiddo has done very well in her new situation. I would vote for 5 yrs high school and let the chips fall where they may. Considering this wasn't even near what you were thinking a year ago...

crunchynerd
11-15-2017, 10:39 PM
Oooh, thanks fastweedpuller, for the idea! I didn't know someone could take the PSAT in the spring! I will have to look into that, because if she is really serious about wanting to be in 10th grade next year (and she is) then she would benefit from having experience first, particularly since she hasn't ever taken a standardized test,. I won't go talk to her advisor or anything, about it yet, because she wants to wait until this semester is over and grades are in, to go in with what she hopes will be top marks in the academics, before asking if she can skip the 2nd-year 9th grade option and just go into 10th next fall.

I don't want her to miss out on savoring adolescence, but this may be her way of savoring it, getting to set her own pace and chart her own course. It stinks that we can't see around corners so as to know what would be best, ahead of time. But she's not struggling to keep up, socially or academically, and in fact seems to be in her zone, now. It does give me a weird sense of disbelief that she could be leaving in 3 years, though.

crunchynerd
11-15-2017, 11:04 PM
Great point, Farrar! They are new and things do seem up in the air, but they seem very open to ideas, and seem to make it a mission to customize things more than the usual school would. My only real concern with her desire to go ahead to 10th next year, is that she would then be taking the PSAT at barely 14, and that could turn the potential for a stellar score, into merely a good one, and she wants to go for stellar. I need to find out what math is on the PSAT, to see if it will matter that she will only have taken Algebra II, and not Trig or Calc, by then.

So much to think about. Thank you for sharing your insights! I hadn't even heard of a Gap Year until recently, but it sounds like an excellent idea.

Miriamhokie
11-16-2017, 10:42 AM
PSAT and SAT only cover math through Algebra 2. It might be possible to use trig to solve some of the geometry problems, but they are designed to be solvable using only the right triangle trig usually learned in geometry.

crunchynerd
11-17-2017, 10:01 AM
PSAT and SAT only cover math through Algebra 2. It might be possible to use trig to solve some of the geometry problems, but they are designed to be solvable using only the right triangle trig usually learned in geometry.

Wow, thank you, Miriamhokie! That's a relief, actually.

inmom
11-17-2017, 11:08 AM
If you or she are really concerned about how she'll do, the College Board has a "Question of the Day" app. About 10 minutes a day or so is not a lot of time, but she can get comfortable with the types of questions she'll see.

There's also the Khan Academy SAT prep, coordinated with the College Board.