To push or not re: math exam?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
To push or not re: math exam?
13
Sat, 06-08-2013 - 7:12pm

A bit of back-story for those who don't know the background,

Youngest dd, a homeschooler, worked through the local school district's Grade 8 math curriculum this past winter. Most of it was review, but there was some new material, and some review that needed doing. She finished the course easily in about 4 and a half months. 

Most of the time she thinks she would like to do math at school next fall, and this is something that is certainly theoretically possible in our district. Since the Grade 8 was already mostly review this year, the appropriate level would be Grade 9. It wouldn't be a high stakes course that would end up on her high school diploma / transcript: those start in Grade 10 here. So if she decided the pace was too fast, or the format ill-suited to her needs, she'd be free to bail part way through. Taking the course at school would entail a blend of seminars and self-directed work. What she would like is to feel like she's at least loosely part of a community of fellow learners at her level, and the structure and accountability of an externally-adminstered course.

Ninth grade math would represent a radically accelerated placement as she'll only be 5th grade by age next fall. We have a pretty open-minded school, but we still, I think, will need to make a clear case for them accepting her. She's been part of the 7th/8th grade intro to Spanish course this semester and has fit in very well with the other students. The math teacher (who is also the Spanish teacher, and the homeschool liaison ... yeah, it's a very small school) likes her and would I think support her 9th grade placement. But there will be a new principal -- a complete unknown -- and a new district superintendant (ditto). So I feel like it's in her best interest to make a strong case for her inclusion now, on fairly schoolish terms, and maybe even get her on the class roster before the summer break. Then it'll be more of a done deal and the principal will be less likely to question it.

With that in mind, we had planned to have her write the Grade 8 math final exam with the current class of kids. It's next week. She's about two thirds of the way through doing the unit-by-unit practice tests and she's starting to lose heart. We normally only do math two or three times a week, and she's having to spend 30-45 minutes most days. Not only that, but she doesn't have years of experience writing tests, and she's tending to make sloppy errors which I'm pointing out to her because at her request I'm grading her tests. She'll not notice part c of a question and skip it by a mistake, or not write out formulae first, or put extra equals-signs in at the beginning of algebraic equations, or round off to the wrong number of digits. Her solutions are almost always correct. Probably 98% of the time. But she would be marked down considerably for the little procedural things and the "not carefully reading the question" stuff and she doesn't like that at all. For the first time perfectionism is surfacing.

She's now saying she isn't sure whether she wants to write the exam. She's discouraged by the sloppy mistakes. I think right now it's easier for her to drop the dream of doing math at school than it is for her to find the motivation for attention to detail, because the attention to detail stuff is a current issue, whereas math at school is in the future, months from now.

I'd love to say "we arranged this with the math teacher at your request, and she's made an exception to include you, so you need to follow through." But it's not true: the Grade 8 math teacher is a family friend and unschooling parent who would be totally cool with anything. And dd knows that.

So if she needs a push, it's going to have to come from me. 

I'm pretty sure that if she finishes the review tests she'll do fine on the exam. I think even just a passing grade would still serve our case well: it's her first-ever math test, and they'll know she didn't start the course until way after when the school kids did. So a pass is probably all that's really necessary, and she's likely to get a B even with a few sloppy errors.

How, and how much if at all, do you think I should push her to actually write the thing? 

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Sun, 06-16-2013 - 1:45pm

YAY!  Miranda, I was so happy to see this!  Yippee!  Happy dance for DD! 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2006
Mon, 06-17-2013 - 7:02pm

So...possibly she could be an eighth grader with ninth grade academic placements, with two years to get all of the ninth grade subjects finished?  Then she would have the time and freedom to still be an autodidact.

Deborah

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2002
Tue, 06-18-2013 - 11:59am

Yes, I suppose she could do something like that, but I don't see her heading to school to any significant extent at this point. She'd like to take 9th grade math at school next year, but we can call that "subject acceleration" based on her performance on the Math 8 exam. Except for math we'll just continue her education informally at home.

I'm inclined to be a bit conservative about moving her grade placement up. I don't want to risk her ever feeling stressed or uncomfortable because she's not quite up to the work-load or abstract-thinking-expectations of a much older grade level. What if she's not ready to understand graphing functions in radians at age 12, or doesn't have the stamina for a senior history research essay at 14? I don't think I'd agree to any more than a two-grade skip. Maybe just one now, and one in another year if she continues on her current academic, social and maturational trajectory?

Meeting with liaison teacher is today. Probably more food for thought will come out of that.

Miranda

Miranda
in rural BC, Canada
mom to three great kids and one great grown-up
unschooler, violist, runner, doc 

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