The Takoma Park Middle School Parent Teacher Association (TPMS PTA) provides parents and teachers with a way to share our experience and knowledge, support our children’s education, and promote their health, safety and well-being. The mission of the PTA is “to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.”
The active involvement of parents, teachers and students is essential to the success of the PTA. Studies have proven that parental involvement provides children with a greater chance of achieving in school. The PTA leadership and membership pledge to work together with teachers, school administrators, and the greater community to make sure every parent’s concerns are heard and every child’s right to a high quality education is realized.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Takoma Park Middle School teaches 993 students from grades 6 through 8 (updated as of Aug 5, 2014).
- Local students come from Piney Branch Elementary School and East Silver Spring Elementary School.
- In each grade, about 100 students from all over the county come to TPMS for the Magnet Math, Science and Computer Science program (which students had to test into and apply for in 5th grade). Many local students are in the magnet program, too. For those students, 3 of 8 classes are “magnet” classes: math, science, and computer science. All other classes are with the rest of the student body.
- Takoma Park Middle School has specific programs for students who are new to this country (METS), or whose home language is not English (ESOL). These students can be with ESOL teachers for one class or most classes.
This is probably the biggest transition year since dropping your child off at kindergarten, so here are some practical notes…
- Classes start at 7:55am, school opens at 7:25am, breakfast is available in the cafeteria after 7:30. Students are dismissed at 2:40pm and buses leave at 2:47pm. Students may not be in the school after 2:50pm.
- Call the school when your child is going to be late or absent, provide a note when he or she returns to school.
- Lunch is more flexible and provides students more choices on an a la carte menu, which can lead to nutrition concerns and bigger expenses. Lines can be long in the beginning of the year.
- Your child will have a different teacher for each subject and will have to keep track of assignments for each class.
- Parent-teacher conferences are generally by invitation only from the school. Contact the school counselor if you want to meet with your child’s teachers.
- The middle year of middle school brings increased homework, and the start of the high school choice process (see below).
- Seventh grade is the first year students can compete in sports for the middle school teams.
- Eighth grade is the year students choose a high school within the Downcounty Consortium (DCC). The purpose of the DCC (which includes Montgomery Blair, Einstein, Wheaton, Kennedy and Northwood High Schools) is to allow students more opportunities to choose programs that interest them. This is also the time to look at high school IB and magnet programs. Pay close attention to materials sent home throughout the year concerning informational meetings, open houses at each school and deadlines for forms. The PTA will host a panel discussion of students and parents from each of the high schools at the October meeting. Go to the DCC website for more information.
- Students receive report cards once a quarter, or 4 times a year, at the same time as all other schools. If your child does not bring home the report card, go to the school to get a copy from the school counselor. The final report card of each year is mailed home.
- The grading system remains the same as elementary school: A is excellent, B is very good, C is average, D is poor, and E is failing.
- Grades are calculated as grade point averages for academic eligibility: A is 4.0, B is 3.0, C is 2.0, D is 1.0, E is 0 points. Add up the grade points and divide by the number of classes to get the grade point average, also called the GPA.
- Poor grades may mean your child will not be able to participate in team sports or organized school activities. They must have at least a 2.0 GPA and no more than one E in the previous semester to play a sport, be in student government or official student activities like plays.
- Some grades in middle school count towards the high school GPA: All levels of foreign language – Spanish and French; Algebra 1 and 2 and Geometry count towards high school’s GPA – they will show up in the student’s high school record. Your child has only one chance to take a class again if she receives a D or E.
- Parents should all use the computer-based internet site called Edline to monitor your middle and high school children’s grades between report cards. Parents will get the password and instructions sent to them in the mail for each student. If you lose your instructions or need help understanding how it works, contact the school.
- Edline shows two categories of work in each class. “Completion” assignments are not graded for right and wrong answers. These assignments are for practice and preparation and students earn the points for the assignment by completing it. This category weighs 10% of the quarter grade. The “Graded Assignments” category contains all other work that is graded for accuracy and correct answers. This could include classwork, quizzes, tests, projects, presentations, etc. Some of these assignment can be re-assessed to improve the grade, but some cannot.
- Homework. Do not believe your child if every day he says that there is no homework. Contact teachers or call up the school counselors 301.650.6460 to ask for help in understanding each class’s homework policy.
- If your child is getting a C, D or E, you and your child may want to get help with studying, organizing, or reading understanding. Counselors have an organization group for students, and Afterschool Homework Club can be helpful.
- Interim reports are mailed halfway through each marking period.
- Unexcused Absences affect your child’s grades in high school, so develop good habits now. Parents must call the attendance secretary before 7:45am at 301.562.5210 when your child is absent. If your child is not on time for a class, she is considered absent. Attendance is taken in all classes. The first class starts at 7:55. Be sure your child is at school in time to go to the locker and arrive to class on time.
- All classes are held in a 90 minute block on an alternating odd and even day schedule
- On odd days, students go to classes 1, 3, 5, 7
- On even days, they attend classes 2, 4, 6, and 8
- School calendars and agenda books note whether a school day is odd or even. If school is closed due to snow or other emergency, the schedule remains the same as it is in the agenda books
- Advanced classes in Social Studies and English have above-grade-level content. Parents can ask to have their child placed in an advanced class.
- Foreign language electives start in 6th grade. Your student must be reading on-grade-level to sign up. Spanish for English speakers, Spanish for Spanish speakers, and French are offered. These are taken for the full year.
- Art, Home Economics (called FACS), TV Studio, Dance and Computer Applications are all half year courses.
- Reading. Students who are below-grade-level in reading are required to take Reading during the elective period.
- Music electives are Orchestra for string instruments and Band for wind and percussion. These are full year courses.
- Sports Interscholastic sports teams start in 7th grade: girls and boys softball, basketball, soccer, cross-country running and track. Students have to try out for teams, have a GPA above 2.0, complete health forms and pay a fee. These teams compete against other schools in the county. Practices are usually immediately afterschool.
- After School Clubs are run by TPMS staff on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The brochure listing the clubs will be given to students in early September. Activity Buses are available those days at 3:50pm to transport students. They begin running in mid-September, drop children at central locations, and do not run on the afternoon before a school holiday or on half days. For more information, contact the MCPS Transportation Department.
- Service Learning is 75 hours of community service that students must fulfill to graduate from high school. They can start volunteering in middle school. Students fill out forms, get them signed by the supervisor of the activity and turn them into the Main Office.
- Read and hold on to the handouts from teachers on grades and policies. Students bring these papers home in the first week. This information tells you about the types of homework, quizzes, tests, and projects your child will have in that class.
- Go to Back to School Night in September to meet the teachers face-to-face. Introduce yourself, even if you are shy or never liked school yourself. It always helps to meet your child’s teachers.
- If your child is having a problem in a class, follow the 1-2-3 rule:
- Ask your child how he feels about school, why he received a poor grade, or what is going on in class.
- Coach your child to talk with her teacher to understand the problem or resolve the misunderstanding, or to email the teacher and copy you. Sometimes it helps that a teacher knows that a parent is involved.
- If your child has spoken with the teacher and has not resolved the problem, you have the right and responsibility to email the teacher, ask the counselor for help, and if that does not resolve the problem, contact the assistant principal.
- Keep an eye on organization and homework. Ask your child to tell you what classes he had each day, and ask if he has homework.
- Check Edline with your child so you both know what is going on in the classroom.
- Make sure that your child is on time and attends school every day. Learning to be timely and organized leads to success.
- Middle schools expect children to act independently. That’s a good thing, but don’t let it make you feel disempowered. If there is something you don’t understand or your child needs help with, write the teacher or meet with the school counselor. Trust your feelings about your child.
Ms Martinez in the Counseling Office speaks Spanish; her phone is 301.650.6460. If you need help with translation into another language, the school counselors can help find someone for you. Or you can contact the Outreach Committee of the PTA (Susan Fleck (Spanish), 301.270.1960 or Tebabu Assefa (Amharic), 301.891.2002).
Sra. Martinez, una de las consejeras, habla español. La puede llamar a 301.650.6460. También puede llamar a los padres de familia que son los enlaces de la PTA para padres que hablan español (Susan Fleck y Nery Durón, 301.270.1960).
- The PTA sponsors social activities (Books and Basketball, International Dinner), provides special treats for school staff during the year, organizes fundraisers for school purchases, brings in volunteers for school activities, runs email listserves and produces a phone directory of students.
- You and your child are part of the school community and can always come to any PTA-sponsored activity – even if you aren’t a member of the PTA. We want you to feel welcome at the school and with other parents and be active in school activities.
- PTA membership means that you have a formal role in participating in the school community. When you join the organization, your money contributes to our local school activities and to a local, county, state, and nationwide organization whose primary goal is to advocate for the educational needs of our children. Membership costs $5 or $10 depending on your income.
- You can download a PTA membership form or pick one up at school, in the summer mailing, at school events, or at PTA meetings.