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Welsh Valley Middle School

Off-Canvas

Academic Information

Academic Calendar

End of 1st quarterFriday, November 8thReport Cards issued on Wednesday, November 26th
End of 2nd quarterFriday, January 24thReport Cards issued on Friday, February 7th
End of 3rd quarterFriday, April 3rdReport Cards issued on Friday, April 24th
End of 4th quarterFriday, June 12thReport Cards will issued on Friday, June 19th

Grading Scale

Numeric Average Alpha Grade
97-100 A+
93-96 A
90-92 A-
87-89 B+
83-86 B
80-82 B-
77-79 C+
73-76 C
70-72 C-
67-69 D+
63-66 D
60-62 D-
Below 60 F
> 86.5 O – Outstanding
64.5-86.4 S – Satisfactory
< 64.5 U - Unsatisfactory

Final Grades

A final year-long grade is issued in every class. The numeric averages of each of the four quarters are totaled and divided by four, which results in a final grade. In summary, each quarter equates to 25% of a student’s final grade. Also, there is a statistical "floor" of 50% for each of the first two quarters. Students who receive a grade of "F" for the final yearly grade in a course will be expected to re-take the course in Summer School. This is reflected in School Board Policy Number 213.

Honor Roll Criteria

Academic success is celebrated at Welsh Valley. We believe that students who perform exceptionally well, and do so with integrity, should be recognized for their hard work. Students have the opportunity to earn Honor Roll status every quarterly marking period. There are two classifications of Honor Roll:

  • Distinguished Honor Roll
    • Awarded to those students who have earned report card grades of all A or O.
  • Honor Roll
    • Awarded to those students who have earned report card grades of all A, B+, B, O, or S.

PowerSchool Public Portal

Access to your child's grades and attendance through PowerSchool is being provided to you as another form of communication between school and family. More importantly, it is to help all of us in our efforts to support your child's education. The website can be access from the district’s home page or at http://powerschool.lmsd.org/public/.

Teaming and the Teaming Philosophy

At Welsh Valley, we believe strongly in the value of teaming our teachers and students. Teams of teachers share common students and collaboration time. For example, a team may be comprised of four content area teachers (Social Studies, English, Math, and Science) and 100 students. All of the students on the team will have those four teachers for those subjects. Students are cross-teamed and grouped with other students in their grade for World Language and Personal Development classes. Teachers on a team will have daily opportunities to discuss student success strategies, make interdisciplinary and cross-curricular connections, share data, coordinate thoughtful academic pacing, and plan major student assessments by scheduling tests and project due dates on different days. It is important to note that Personal Development and World Language teachers work with students across many teams and multiple grades, therefore coordinating assessments with each team is much more challenging. This structure allows for the team of teachers to meet not only with one another, but also with other professionals including the school counselor, special education teachers, school psychologist, social worker, and administrators. We believe that this structure and philosophy allows us to best support students.

Personal Development Experiences

Our philosophy at Welsh Valley is for students, during each year of middle school, to explore a wide range of personal development experiences. Some schools refer to these classes as “Specials.” We hope that the 6th to 8th grade journey will involve developmentally appropriate experiences in a wide range of areas each year. Most students attend Personal Development classes two periods every day and rotate which class they attend based on the letter day. Each class meets for one period out of every four day cycle.

6th Grade 7th Grade 8th Grade
Music Music Music
Health Health Health
Physical Education Physical Education Physical Education
Technology Education* Technology Education* Technology Education**
Family and Consumer Sciences* Family and Consumer Sciences* Family and Consumer Sciences**
Computers* Computers* Computers**
Art* Art* Art**
Challenge Challenge Challenge

* Denotes semester classes.
**Students rank these courses in order of preference during the course selection process and are scheduled into two of these four classes for the full 8th grade year.

World Language Program

Students in the Lower Merion School District are offered a robust World Language experience. Each elementary school offers a FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary Schools) experience for students. Sixth grade students continue their elementary FLES language. This is delivered in the Personal Development model (one period in each four day cycle). As students enter 7th grade, they choose a language of their choice which they will take for 7th and 8th grade. We offer Latin, Spanish, and French. Students may choose to continue their FLES language in 7th and 8th grades but are not required to do so. The World Language experience in 7th and 8th grade is scheduled every day. Successful completion of the 7th and 8th grade courses will result in students taking level 2 of that language as they enter high school.

Challenge

The Challenge (gifted education) program at Welsh Valley Middle School encompasses a high level of cognitive and affective concepts and processes extending beyond those provided within the regular education program. Through a combination of intellectual peer grouping, literature circles, and inclusion lessons, gifted students experience learning environments that incorporate metacognitive experiences to help them develop the following traits and skills: innovation, exploration, self-monitoring, creativity, planning, and decision-making. Students extend and develop critical and creative thinking skills through inquiry, independence, and academic risk taking. The gifted identification process can be initiated by a parent/guardian, teacher, or school personnel. If you have any questions about the gifted identification process, please contact your child’s counselor.

Syllabus

Teachers will be providing students and families a syllabus for each course during the first two weeks of school. While “syllabus” may be a term often associated with the collegiate experience, we see this as an opportunity to clearly communicate expectations for students and strengthen the partnership between home and school. The primary purpose of the syllabus is to serve as a communication device for both student and parent/guardian. Contents of the syllabus are intended to serve as a guide and not a script. Due to instructional, organizational and social unpredictability, items are subject to change on the syllabus. Changes that could impact student learning and achievement will be communicated to both students and parents in a timely fashion. Expected items to be found on the syllabus include: teacher contact information, course description, course goals and objectives, course outline, instructional practices, required textbooks and materials, district and course grading policies, homework expectations, technology use in the course, academic integrity expectations, and classroom procedures.

Blackboards

Welsh Valley teachers maintain Blackboards to electronically communicate what is occurring in school in each course and/or team. Parents and students are encouraged to check course Blackboards regularly. Information that may be found on Blackboards include: teacher contact information, syllabus, upcoming homework, classroom notes or presentations, future assessments, tests, quizzes, or projects. The Blackboard is a good first reference for students who are absent from school as they attempt to seek information about what may have been missed due to absence.

LMSD-Net

Lower Merion School District takes pride in ensuring that our students have access to information and resources available on the Internet to assist them in the learning process. Additional information regarding students’ use of the internet is included in School Board Policy 134 LMSD-Net: Student Use, Rights, and Responsibilities and is available on the district website.

Students will be provided with LMSD-Net and Internet training. This training shall include educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and cyber bullying awareness and response. Students can also access LMSD resources from home using their student account (https://myfiles.lmsd.org). Any student who violates the provisions of this policy may have their LMSD network privileges suspended or revoked and school disciplinary action and/or legal action may be pursued.

Parents and guardians who do not wish their child to have access to the LMSD network or Internet via the LMSD network should access and return the signed Student User Notice form to Welsh Valley’s main office. The Student User Notice form is available on page 43 of this Guide. The Student User Notice policy (Policy 134) is available on the district website (http://www.lmsd.org/departments/board/policies/index.aspx).

Pd. 9 - LEARN

Pd. 9 - LEARN is part of every student’s daily schedule. It is a structured experience where learning can take place. Like every other class period, students are expected to arrive at their period 9 class on time. While students have some choice for how they use this time, attendance is taken and students are expected to be accountable for this time. One of our goals at Welsh Valley is for students to become independent learners who own their education and are advocates for themselves and their learning; LEARN is a perfect opportunity to hone this skill.

Teachers are available during LEARN to provide small group or individual intervention/enrichment or to facilitate test/quiz make-ups. If a student is interested in visiting a teacher (other than their period 9 teacher), she or he should secure a hall pass from that teacher during the day (or prior day) and provide the signed hall pass to their period 9 teacher upon arrival to class. Students may also choose to remain in their scheduled period 9 classes and do one of the following:

  • Seek additional help from the teacher in the class
  • Work on homework independently
  • Study
  • Read

High School Honors Placement Process

One of the biggest academic and social transitions a student will face is arguably moving from middle school to high school. In an attempt to better support the academic transition, we believe that the appropriate course/class placement will play a vital role in a successful transition. This process will result in students being recommended for either Honors or CP (College Preparatory) level in Science, Social Studies, English, Math, and World Language. The recommendation from the school district is just that, a suggestion as to what level the student has the best chance to be both challenged and successful. The school district respects the rights of students and families to ultimately take the recommendation and decide on the preferred placement. Though we respect a family’s decision to complete a “Change of Recommended Placement” form and disagree with the team’s decision, we believe that the decision to place a child was done so with meaningful collaboration among staff members and a myriad of data points.

The process:

  1. In November of the 8th grade year, an academic data portfolio is collected on every 8th grade student. The data in the portfolio includes:
    1. 7th grade Reading PSSA scores
    2. 7th grade Math PSSA scores
    3. Grades, including the final 7th grade average in each core subject and the first marking period grade
    4. DRP results (measures how well a student understands the meaning of text). The DRP is given annually to students in September.
    5. Writing score on the Pennsylvania Writing Rubric (1-4 on the Focus, Content, Organization, Conventions, and Style). This number is gathered on each student collectively by the 8th grade team of teachers who assess writing in multiple ways across the curriculum in the first quarter of every school year.
    While the data portfolio is an accumulation of many data, there are guidelines in place for scores that would generally be acceptable for an honors level student. These scoring guidelines will be established by the district curriculum specialists and used as a point of reference when making recommendations.
  2. At the end of the first quarter, the 8th grade team of teachers will meet, review the data portfolio and synthesize this information with their assessments of student’s other classroom skills (i.e. active participation in class, using unstructured time productively, leadership, organization, homework completion, responsibility, motivation, work ethic). Based on this information and their knowledge of the honors level expectation at the high schools, the 8th grade teams will make subject-specific recommendations for each student. The World Language teachers independently go through this process for each student.
    Welsh Valley Middle School 2019-2020 Student Handbook Page 15
  3. In December, a data team comprised of high school personnel will be assembled. This team consists of a high school assistant principal, a content area teacher from each subject, school counselors, literacy specialists, and the secondary math intervention specialists. The data team will review recommendations made by the 8th grade team and determine if a second look is needed for students who did not meet the criteria to be placed in an honors class. The role of the high school team is not meant to negate the recommendations of the middle school team but rather to determine if the data indicates that a student may be successful in honors level courses.
  4. The data team is in place as a student support safety net. The team does not scrutinize the middle school recommendations.
  5. Before recommendations are finalized, representatives from the high school data team will confer with the middle school core academic teams to review data and discuss any students who were not recommended for honors level classes.
  6. Once recommendations have been determined, the high school will send a letter informing families about how they can access the district’s recommendations for placement. (Note: This process is identical regardless of which LMSD high school the student attends. This process occurs prior to the school choice process, but course placements are easily transferrable). This letter will be sent in early January prior to the Course Selection parent meetings.
  7. In early February, Lower Merion and Harriton high schools will hold evening Course Selection parent meetings at their respective buildings. Parents are encouraged to attend to more clearly understand the course selection process.
  8. High School counselors will come to the middle schools in February to meet with every student individually to register students for selected courses.
  9. At any time between recommendation letters being sent and the counselors meeting with students, parents may complete a Change of Recommended Placement form to place their child in a level that was not initially recommended. There is no consequence to the child for changing a recommended placement. While schedule changes during the school year are discouraged because they can be highly disruptive to a student’s schedule and frequently involve changing more than one course, considerations for schedule changes will not be affected by how students arrived in that placement.
  10. In the summer prior to 9th grade, 8th grade PSSA results will arrive and the high schools will review the data to determine if any additional students can be recommended for honors.

Abbreviated 2019-2020 timeline

  • December 2019 - 8th grade teams assemble and recommend placement
  • December 2019 - High School Data team reviews data and meets with middle school teams
  • January 2020 - Letter is sent from high schools informing parents of the process for accessing recommendations
  • February 2020- Course Selection parent meetings at the High Schools
  • February 2020 - High School Counselors meet with students to register for classes.