Math sequence and credit question

Avatar for turtleemom
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-25-2007
Math sequence and credit question
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Sat, 03-23-2013 - 12:23pm

Hi all!  I am a homeschooling mom to a current 7th grader.  I am planning next year's courses and am a bit confused on how to proceed with math.   I am looking for feedback for how this might be done in the public schools. 

He is about to finish pre-algebra.  Math is not his strong suit.  If he takes algebra, in 8th grade that puts him taking geometry, algebra 2, statistics and calc for highschool?  He was hoping to skip calc all together, but I have a feeling 4 years of math would look better on his transcript.  We could just play with math for a year, but when it comes to math, he is rather 'use it or lose it' and I think the gap between pre and algebra would be a mistake.

Did anyone have a middle schooler who took algebra in 8th and got highschool credit for it?  Thanks.

 Heather

Avatar for melissamc
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Registered: 03-22-2007
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 2:04pm

Chiming in late.  My oldest took Algebra and Geometry (though the high school virtual acadamy) in 8th grade, we could choose to have either of them appear on his high school transcripts.   He's in Algebra 2 this year and could have done pre-calc next year but we don't think he's ready.  He's going to take an easier Trig class that will cover the material more thoroughly.  The twins will both be taking pre-Algebra in 7th grade and then we'll see what happens in 8th.  I'm hoping that Connor will have the option of taking Algebra and Geometry as well if they still offer the option.  I don't think that Matthew will be able to handle the workload, but we shall see.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 03-27-2013 - 12:04pm

I am in MA as well and somehow I think DS was shortchanged in middle school math.  When he was in 8th grade, he was put in what he called "smart math" but I do not think it was actually Alg. I where DD definitely did have Alg. I in 8th grade.  He did well in Honors Geometry in 9th grade but then when he got to Alg. II, he had to drop down to College Prep because in the beginning of the year, those concepts which were supposed to be "easy review", he had actually never had.  Now in 11th grade,  he went back up to Honors Pre-calc and did fine the 1st 1/2 of the year.  2nd 1/2 he is having more trouble since they have finished trig and his teacher left on maternity leave.  Not everyone takes Alg. I in 8th grade though--a lot of kids do not take it until 9th grade if they aren't doing so well in  math.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Mon, 03-25-2013 - 2:18pm

She said there were a few calc questions on there, but I have no independent verification of this. She still managed a 750, and she took it in October of this past year, so I can't imagine there was that much higher level math on there. Believe me, she's not a math whiz, so probably any good math student who has had 3 years of HS math could do as well or better.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 03-25-2013 - 9:49am
I was also going to say, I didn't believe there was calc on the SAT as most take it at the beginning of junior year and most haven't started calculus yet. Our school district did offer Algebra in 8th grade for the gifted and talented set and they did earn high school credit for it. Jordyn then did Pre-AP geometry 9th grade year, Pre-AP Trig 10th grade year and then did AP statistics 11th grade year, but the norm is AP Trig or Pre-AP Calc 11th grade year and then AP Calc or AP Statistics senior year. Jordyn is really good at math, but does not care for it and decided against taking math her senior year as she already had her 4 years of math and being an art major, decided she didn't need it.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Sun, 03-24-2013 - 6:11pm

gulp, what?  There's calculus on the SAT II?   We'd been advised that the content only goes as far as trig and that the best time to take the exam was after precalculus.  How did your dd manage it if she is only taking Calculus now as a senior? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Sun, 03-24-2013 - 4:20pm

The public schools in Massachusetts offer algebra to 8th graders, either as a CP (college prep) or honors course. They aren't given high school credit because algebra I is considered a middle school subject. Then, in 9th grade, they take geometry, followed by algebra II in 10th, precalc and trig in 11th, and calculus in 12th. Most colleges we looked at like to see 4 years of math in HS, but some kids take statistics instead of calc senior year.

DD doesn't love math, and that geometry year in between algebra I and II in the public high school made alg II a little tricky for her. She said it was the hardest math class she's ever taken, and she's in AP Calculus now.  Their current school, a private school, actually does alg 1 in 8th, then alg II in 9th, followed by geometry in 10th, then pre-calc and trig in 11th, then calc in 12th.  I imagine you could do it either way if you are homeschooling all the way through, but most public schools probably do the order in the paragraph above.

Just be aware that while there is no calculus on the SAT math portion, there is some on the SAT Math 2 subject test, so even if your DS doesn't plan to follow a math-heavy curriculum in college, he'll need some calculus to succeed on the subject test, if he chooses to take it. Some colleges do like to see a Math 2 score when considering your application.

Avatar for turtleemom
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Registered: 07-25-2007
Sat, 03-23-2013 - 6:38pm

Thank you.

 I didn't even think of checking the district's webpage.  They have algebra or geometry listed for freshman as the beginning of the 3 year math sequence. 

DS is 2x exceptional- profoundly gifted with Aspergers.  Numbers don't click with him like words do.  To memorize the multiplication tables, he typed them out in words-one times one equals one-and so on and instantly he had them after reading a few times.  We have used the Penrose books to play with math concepts, along with Mathematicians are People Too- he adores the history behind mathematics and conceptually he gets math.  He in involved with physics and astronomy at a college level (adult ed), but only has to interpret the math that others have done- no computing.  I'm sure his frustration is the executive function needed to be successful at multi-step problems. I don't think the computation is the issue but rather keeping track of what steps come next and what steps he just did takes most of his concentration. 

I honestly don't see him taking calculus.   I'm not going to say never, because he is a constant surprise.  I want to make sure that while his eventual transcript may be weak in math, it does show 4 years of math.  My hope is that the rest of his classes and accomplishments compensate for the 'lower' math courses.  

I

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Sat, 03-23-2013 - 2:51pm

The mainstream sequence in our local public school is for kids to take algebra in 8th grade, geometry in 9th, algebra 2 in 10th, precalc in 11th and calculus, either AB or BC, in 12th.   About 15% of the kids in that school take pre-algebra in 6th grade, algebra in 7th, etc.  These kids take Calculus in 11th grade and  have the options to go on to linear algebra or multivariable calc or side step into AP Stats. 

In the private school my girls attended, the sequence was a bit different and there was an additional functions class inserted between algebra 2 and prealgebra for those in the mainstream math track.  This is an option if you feel your son needs more work along the way.  It delves more deeply into the concepts that are needed for precalculus and calculus.  In that school, some kids never reached calculus at all, some took an extra class over the summer to reach it,  and others elected to skip it entirely in favor of AP Stats.  (I think this is a great class and hope that my dd will take it as a senior even if it means doubling up with Calculus.)

You might find that a good foundation helps him to enjoy math more and you and he may change your minds about the sequence as you progress through.  My youngest was one of those girls who always professed to "hate" math even though she was good at it.  Now that she's had the benefit of an extraordinary teacher, she's finding that she really likes it and "gets" it more and is electing to take an EXTRA math elective next year.  I'm still reeling at that one.   So I'd say, preserve your options, continue on the sequence, and take it one year at a time.  There's no requirement to progress to calculus if he chooses not to and there are options that will give him 4 years of math at the same time.

Avatar for turtletime
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Registered: 05-13-1998
Sat, 03-23-2013 - 2:05pm

It can vary from state to state and what colleges accept varies as well. In California, we stick mostly to the A-G standards set by the UC system. They aren't totally universal but equal or higher than most. The suggested math is 4 years. They will count only 1 year prior to high school and ONLY algebra 1.

The standard math progression in our area is pre-algebra in 7th, algebra 8th, geometry 9th, algebra II 10th, pre-calc 11th, AP calc 12th. My eldest is great at math but hates it. Instead of taking Calc, she opted to take a college statistics class to be her 4th year. As a liberal arts major, it's acceptable that she pass on Calc but it's not a decision I'd let your child make until they are close to college age and are sure about what they want and have an idea on what kind of university they are looking at.

At this point, at least at our local middle school, your DS would be right on track as a 7th grader finishing pre-algebra. Only about 1/4 of kids in our district take algebra in 7th.