My DDs(13) are going to 8th grade at school this year. They are, IMO, ready for Algebra, but they bombed the math placement test. This is no surprise- they are terrible test takers, inexperienced test takers, and both have serious anxiety (1 officially diagnosed, the other probably could be if I took her in). They tested with no accommodations and it was a preAlgebra test. The test did include things they didn't know, but I think it was probably just a difference in curriculum. Every "preAlgebra" course has to pick what to include so the test spent a lot of time on functions and graphing slopes with < and > and we never talked about either of those. On the other hand, we spent a lot of time working with radicals and exponents, and the test didn't ask about that. I think how to work with functions (the girls could do the math but didn't know the terminology so didn't know what was expected) and how to color a < or > graph of a line could be covered in 5min in an Algebra class.
At home, they do well with their homework and working out problems on their own in peace and quiet, but I quit giving them tests because they'd fail. What I did instead was give them end of chapter "review sheets" which were like a test but we didn't call it a test and they did fine with those.
Last year we kept them home because I knew they'd fail the math test and refused to have them placed lower. We didn't even bother testing because I knew without accommodations that they'd forget their names and it would be a waste of time. This year we have to put them in school. And...one of the girls literally didn't even put her own name down correctly on the test! Anxiety really messes with her. She wrote my name down instead of her own so I got a report about my child, Paige. LOL! That should have been the school's clue- they didn't have a Paige testing!
So, would you:
1. Pitch a fit and be "that" parent who insists on a higher placement? It would be a fight and I'm not sure I'd win. They offered to let the girls begin in the lower level and be bumped up if they show they are excelling, but I think that would put them at a far greater disadvantage than starting high and going backwards if they can't hack it. I also think they don't mean it.
2. Say screw it all and let them take the easy class because they are terrible test takers and, maybe, an easy class would help their test taking skills improve because of reduced anxiety. IMO, they'd be at a disadvantage from this point on in HS and their options for higher math would be limited.
3. Allow them to be placed in the class but after school Algebra 1 with the intent of trying to test out of it next year. The hope would be that a year in school (and continued therapy for anxiety) would improve their test taking skills, the practice of math in the regular class won't hurt, and maybe there'd be less of a fight with the school. The negative would be that it would require a lot of after school work and they may lose their enthusiasm, and they still may not test well. However, as students with an IEP, they should receive testing accommodations next year which they didn't get this year. I also know from DS's experience that their Algebra test covers different things than my Dolciani text, but we may be able to mitigate that somewhat, and even with that DS passed, so the girls should too if they do well.
We have to decide within a day or so- school starts Tues!