Middle School FAQ

Q. What does a Middle School schedule look like?

For the 2018-2019 school year the 6th grade classrooms will run on a schedule that looks more like an elementary schedule, with large blocks of time for core subjects. Students in 6th grade will go to their specials in the same way as they did in the K-5 grades. In grades 7 and 8 there are eight 43-minute periods, a 30-minute lunch/recess and a 12-minute homeroom which starts at 8:26 a.m. The dismissal time is 3:17 p.m.

Q. What is the Parent Portal?

The Parent Portal is a way for parents to view their child’s grades in each class. The link to the portal is on the front page of the district website, on the left. If you need an access code and password please contact Ms. Fazioli in the Main Office at 518-283-4600 ext. 10.

Q. Do students in Middle School have recess?

Yes, Middle School students go outside or to the gym in the winter months for recess at the end of their lunch period.

Q. When are Band and Chorus? Could my child take both classes?

Band and Chorus are scheduled period 9 on alternating days. Band is on B,D, and F days with Mrs. Newell. On the alternate days, students are scheduled for other required courses. A non-performance music alternative will be offered opposite band and chorus.

Q. How are Middle School students graded?

Middle School courses are graded on a 0-100 scale, the minimum passing grade is a 65. A copy of the Middle School grading policy is available here.

Q. How does my student qualify for the Honor Roll?

Students in grades 7 and 8 whose quarterly average is between an 89.5 and 94.4 have earned a place on the Honor Roll. An average of 94.5 and higher earns placement on the High Honor Roll. Salutatorian and Valedictorian are selected based on grades achieved in 8th grade only.

Q. What is a S.W.A.G. Award?

S.W.A.G. stands for Success, Willpower, Attitude, and Goals. Middle School teachers nominate a student each week for a SWAG Award. The students’ names are entered into a weekly drawing for a prize. At the end of the quarter, award-winning students are able to participate in a celebration of their SWAG.

Q. How does my Middle School student get their assignments if they are absent?

If your child is absent for three days a homework request can be submitted by calling Ms. Fazioli in the Main Office at 518-283-4600 ext. 10. Work will be collected and available for pick up at the end of the day. If your child has missed a day or two they can use their resources to get assignments, including calling a friend or checking the teacher’s website. Students should also meet with teachers upon their return to school.

Q. What courses will my child take in each grade?

Grade 6 Grade 7 Grade 8
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Physical Education
Spanish 6
Family and Consumer Science
Band or Chorus
Supplemental Science 6
Topics in Art 6
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Physical Education (alternate days)
Technology (alternate days)
Spanish 7
Art 7
Non-Performing Music Class
Advanced Math*
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Physical Education (alternate days)
Health 8
Spanish 8
Art 8*
Studio Art*
Earth Science/Lab*
Honors ELA*
Non-Performing Music Class

* Indicates a course is either an elective or an accelerated course with specific selection criteria.

Q. Are there any Accelerated courses and how does my student qualify?

At the end of 6th grade, all students will take the T.O.M.A.G.S. (Test of Mathematical Ability for Gifted Students) as part of the process for selection to participate in Advanced Math as a 7th grader. Students who participate in Advanced Math in 7th grade typically go on to Algebra in 8th grade.

At the end of 7th grade, students are selected for Earth Science by Mrs. Ryan. Students who are enrolled in Earth Science do not take Science 8.

Mrs. Mitchell selects students for Studio Art at the end of 7th grade.

Q. What is the best way for parents to communicate with teachers?

Parents should contact the subject area teacher for questions that are specific to a course. Communication regarding early pick-up from school should go to Ms. Fazioli in the Main Office.

Q. How do parents receive school wide communications?

There is a Parent Fliers link on our website for school hand outs and fliers. Parents can also sign up for eNews, emails that the district sends out every two weeks.

Q. How are parent/teacher conferences conducted?

The 6th grade parent teacher conferences will run much the same way as they have in the earlier grades. These will be scheduled with your student’s classroom teacher. In 7th and 8th grade, there are opportunities for team conferences, individual teacher conferences, as well as an open time period on our conference day for a drop-in meeting with a specific teacher.

Q. Do students use lockers? Who provides the locks?

All middle school students will use lockers, with locks provided by the school. The 6th grade students will be using their lockers primarily for coats, backpacks, and lunches. The older students will use their lockers for books as well. The school does have locker organizers available for students who would like to use them.

Q. When can my student participate in modified sports?

Students in 7th and 8th grade can participate in modified sports. Typically we offer cross country, soccer, basketball, softball, and baseball.

Q. Are there any opportunities for clubs or other extra-curriculars?

Builders Club, Drama Club, Yearbook, and Odyssey of the Mind are available for all Middle School students.

FAQ’s as Students Transition From Grade 6 to Grade 7

Q. How will students be selected for Advanced Math 7?

Students at the end of their 6th grade year will take the T.O.M.A.G.S.(Test of Mathematical Ability in Gifted Students). This score as well as their N.W.E.A. score will be reviewed, along with a teacher recommendation. Advanced Math 7 is an alternate-day course that is in addition to the Math 7 class.

FAQ’s as Students Transition to 8th Grade

Q: What courses are typically taught in 8th grade?

In their last year at Gardner-Dickinson, students are enrolled in English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, Spanish, physical education, and technology. Students may also be enrolled in a variety of electives including (but not limited to) band, chorus, technology, or art.

Q: Are there any Honors or Accelerated courses offered?

Yes. Algebra, Earth Science and Studio Art are courses that offer high school credit upon successful completion. Honors English Language Arts is an enriched course that meets every day as its own class, but does not earn high school credit.

Q: How are students selected for Honors or Accelerated courses?

Each subject area has specific criteria to qualify for the more challenging course. Criteria include scores on assessments, work ethic, interest, ability, and teacher recommendation. Students will be notified in June if they are invited to participate in an accelerated or enrichment course. If you have any questions please contact your child’s teacher.

Q: When do I need to decide which high school my child is attending?

The High School Choice process kicks off in January with our High School Fair. Representatives from Averill Park, Columbia, Tamarac, and Troy High Schools as well as Tech Valley will be available to answer students’ questions about their program and offerings. Each of these schools also offers evening programs for families to attend between January and March. School Counselor Amy Murphy will ask for your high school decision by mid-March.