MA Identification Protocol


There are two distinct pathways for a student to enter accelerated math (as known as “MA”). They are outlined below and include dates for the 2023-2024 school year, but it is largely the same each school year.

The two pathways into both MA and PA are shown in this PDF.

Frequently asked questions

What is accelerated math?

In IPSD 204, accelerated math is a program that allows students who excel in mathematics to participate in an accelerated course of study. Students learn from the same curriculum as non-accelerated math students, but learn more material in the same amount of time.

Accelerated Math starts in Grade 3 and students learn the standard Grade 3 curriculum plus additional advanced material. This cycle continues in Grades 4 and 5.

Accelerated math students in Grades 3 and 4 use the Eurkea Math Curriculum. In Grade 5, Accelerated math students switch to using the middle school Big Ideas curriculum. There is an option to qualify and continue accelerated math classes in middle school and beyond.

How does a student qualify for accelerated math?

Scores from the other standardized tests are used as a first step in determining strong candidate for accelerated math. Additional testing may also be administered. Teachers may also recommend high-performing math students for the program. In general, test results are analyzed to see if the student has mastered Common Core State Standards for the grade ahead of the current placement.

Fifth graders are then given the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (IAAT) to determine the best math placement for middle school. Students currently in accelerated math do not automatically qualify for accelerated math in middle school.

Is accelerated math graded?

Yes. Students receive a standard letter grade and effort comment in line with IPSD grading procedures on their report care for Accelerated Math. They will stop receiving non-accelerated math grade, however. Accelerated math grades are part of the student’s official school record.

My student qualified for Project Arrow or accelerated math. Does that mean they automatically qualify for the other?

No. While students may be enrolled in both Project Arrow and accelerated math, there is not guarantee that one placement will lead to the other. Each set of skills is considered separately. It is not uncommon for students to show strengths in either English language arts or math, but not both.

How can I prepare my student for the accelerated math testing testing?

Students should not prepare or study for accelerated math or any other standardized tests. These test need to be a clear indication of how a student performs with the knowledge and skills they have now, not what they may have memorized or been taught for the sole purpose of the test. In many cases, students who study for tests may warrant additional review, particularly if there are anomalies in test data and classroom performance and past grades.

Here are some things you can do to make sure your student is ready for testing:

  • Make sure your student gets a good night’s sleep
  • Start the day with a healthy and filling breakfast
  • Be sure to send a nutritious lunch and snack

How do you decide who is enrolled in accelerated math?

Teachers often recommend a student for placement in accelerated math based on their classroom observations. The results of standardized testing administered in select grades are also used to identify potential candidates. Talent development lessons delivered to students in kindergarten through Grade 2 are also used to identify candidates. Families can also request that a student be considered for accelerated math. Students may be required to take another assessment or spend time with the gifted resource teacher to determine if a placement is appropriate. As an advanced program, not every student considered for accelerated math will be admitted.

Is my student guaranteed entrance to accelerated math with certain test scores or results?

No. All placements are ultimately at the discretion for the Cowlishaw educational team. Students with high scores on standardized testing but have discrepant grades or classroom performance may not be extended an invitation or may need to meet with members of the educational team to discuss a possible placement.

Can I opt out of accelerated math if my learner qualifies?

Yes. After a formal decision is made to accept a learner into the Accelerated Math program, families have the ultimate decision on whether the program is a good fit or not. This may be more  homework outside of school. MA may not be a good fit for students who have significant extracurricular commitments who may already find it challenging to complete homework for their current classes.