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Algebra I in 8th grade


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I don't know, but I had a high math SAT and did well on the AP calc exam (AB, because my school didn't have BC) and I really didn't know calculus. At all, LOL - I was able to slide through without turning on the whole brain, using merely peripheral brain cells (though academically I tend toward math and away from language).

 

You know, I have to laugh because my school basically did AP AB Calc, and if you wanted to take the BC test, the teacher gave you some extra material the last couple months of school. It was NOT a full Calc 2 course. It was very quick self-study. I got a 5 on the BC exam and did well in Calc 3 and Diff. Eq. (and all further courses needed for my engineering degree). I was good at memorizing formulas and plug and chug. Thankfully, my job as an engineer didn't actually use calculus. :D

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Honestly, this conversation (and it happens frequently here) always sounds like sour grapes to me. "Well, sure their dc got into the big name school or got to Calc in high school, but I bet they don't *really* know the material; it was probably just all show for college admissions."

 

It's interesting how we all see things differently. I see these types of conversations very differently. "MY child started algebra in 3rd grade and will go to the very best university in the entire galaxy and have the best job and be the best person. YOUR child didn't do algebra until 9th grade? Well, forget about any meaningful post-high school education. The only colleges that will accept him suck."

 

I have a horse in both races. I have a very mathy child (I wouldn't call her gifted, but math makes sense to her and she loves it) who is on track to start algebra somewhere in the latter half of seventh grade. I have two kids who struggle mightily with math. As I mentioned earlier, my dd18 failed algebra in 10th grade but was able to pass it in summer school (intensive, all-day summer school, not three-hours-in-the-morning summer school; she had a tutor who worked with her on the things she didn't understand in algebra rather than just sitting through the entire course again). Yet this past summer, after her junior year, she was accepted to a prestigious internship at the local university's medical school. She was one of 20 students out of approximately 130 who applied to be selected.

 

So I am fully on board with meeting your math student where she is. If algebra in 7th grade works, great. Just don't be so wedded to it that you rush through even if your child starts stumbling. If algebra in 10th grade is what your child needs, proudly teach him algebra in 10th grade and don't believe the hype that he is academically doomed.

 

My dd18 will not be going to a prestigious university. But she was adopted at age 11 and lives with a chronic, life-threatening illness, so going to ANY university is an achievement for her when one considers what her life could have been.

 

Tara

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It is not so much the Ivy League schools -- it is the students who took the same track of math classes, but didn't do so well in the math classes, didn't score as well on the ACT/SAT, and are now in the remedial math classes at the state university DESPITE having had algebra 1 in 8th grade and calculus in 12th.

 

I spent a few summers grading placement tests for the remedial classes at my university. Among other things, we got to see the high school transcript. At least a third of them had had calculus in high school and still placed into beginning algebra, the lowest class we offer. Many of them had transcripts that looked something like (for example) geometry, C, algebra 2, B-, precalculus, C+, calculus, C, coupled with an ACT score of about 16. *This* is the kind of student that the people who are saying 'don't RUSH at the expense of understanding!' are referring to.

 

If your student is doing well in pre-algebra, GO AHEAD! Start algebra next year! But if they're getting a C in pre-algebra despite working hard, starting algebra next year is not the best track.

 

I don't disagree with you. But that's not what people were saying. :001_smile:

 

My problem with it is when the need to slow down for students who need it becomes a rule for all. That's no better than the desire to speed up becoming the rule for all.

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It's interesting how we all see things differently. I see these types of conversations very differently. "MY child started algebra in 3rd grade and will go to the very best university in the entire galaxy and have the best job and be the best person. YOUR child didn't do algebra until 9th grade? Well, forget about any meaningful post-high school education. The only colleges that will accept him suck."

 

But, really, I saw one person say something like that and many others disagreeing. I certainly don't see that being the overwhelming sentiment at all.

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I don't disagree with you. But that's not what people were saying. :001_smile:

 

My problem with it is when the need to slow down for students who need it becomes a rule for all. That's no better than the desire to speed up becoming the rule for all.

 

I think we fall into these traps because each parent who homeschools has their own strongpoints, and math may not be one of them. :D <---pointstoself I see this angst (in each subject) when it's not the parent's strongest subject, themselves.

 

When YOU are confident in the subject, you teach it with much more confidence, you don't rely on curric as much, or even testing as much, because as the child works through the subject, you see and understand the proficiency or weaknesses that need working on.

 

Thankfully, I punt Algebra to my husband. :D

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Then there is the nature vs. nurture question. Of course some children are naturally gifted. But how many students would thrive more if given the right opportunties to do so, especially with tailoring based on their learning style or slowing down where developmentally needed? Then there is the converse need to speed things up when they are ready and challenging their developing brains vs. dragging things out unnecessarily.

 

:iagree:

Dd8 just spent one full hour doing functions with Crewton Ramone online. An elaborate problem about a donut factory kept her focused and interested in content that is 'typically' reserved for older students. Now dd9 is doing similar functions & graphing problems this hour with him. That donut factory has been busy cranking out donuts this morning. :) Dd9 has been doing algebra for the last year with her other tutor, Rachna (via Cybershala). Hands On Equations helped to light the fire but an enthusiastic algebra tutor fanned the flames.

 

I'm convinced that most students -- not just a small portion -- can do algebra very young with the right teacher, the right resources in the right venue. For some it is with mom & dad. For some it is in a b&m class. For some it is online or with a local tutor. My girls never doubt their abilities because we treat algebra as if it is child's play. Nothing scary. Certainly not drudgery.

 

Throw out the notion that algebra needs to start in middle/high school. I wish someone would have told me this when my older dc were in early elementary.

 

It is not a race. I am not competing with anyone. My goal is that my girls love math. I am so thankful for the opportunity to expose my dds to fabulous teachers who make it come alive. My older dc have excellent teachers in high school & cc. I am blessed.

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But, really, I saw one person say something like that and many others disagreeing. I certainly don't see that being the overwhelming sentiment at all.

 

You're probably right. I just see the entire thing as an extension of the math wars that go on here and elsewhere: X curriculum is the best and if you use Y, your child won't know math. X year is when you have to start algebra or your child is doomed. X approach is best, and if you don't do it the way I am, your child won't know math. It's a frustration that has built up over years of watching this go on here.

 

It surprises me that people who have opted out of the sterilized, one-size-fits-all approach of schools can become so rigid over math. Not everyone, of course, but enough people and enough times that it becomes exasperating.

 

Tara

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It surprises me that people who have opted out of the sterilized, one-size-fits-all approach of schools can become so rigid over math.

 

I think the problem is that it is so easy to come out with a checklist for Math compare to other subjects. That might lead to more comparison between parents.

 

For example my hubby's defination for finishing grade 6 math is that our kid can complete the end of year exam. To me finishing grade 6 math is when our kid has thorough understanding of all that is covered.

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I think the problem is that it is so easy to come out with a checklist for Math compare to other subjects. That might lead to more comparison between parents.

 

For example my hubby's defination for finishing grade 6 math is that our kid can complete the end of year exam. To me finishing grade 6 math is when our kid has thorough understanding of all that is covered.

 

Well, yes. For many of us left brain oriented type folks math is systematic. So if we then try to apply a similar approach toward the education of the subject a basic 'formulaic' methodolgy can emerge. Unfortunately one size or formula does 'Not' fit all children. The human brain and childhood development are too complex for any single approach to work for all. So what seems to work or be logical for one family is not neccessarily that way for another or even children in the 'same' family. Different areas of the brain develop at differing rates on a child by child basis. Those who develop abstract reasoning a bit later may in fact surpass those of their earlier to develop peers. Its not a straight line. Add to that nature vs. nurture and it becomes a much more complex system.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Popping in here today and reading this thread has left me :confused::confused:

 

Many of my thoughts have already been addressed by other posters, but there are a couple of issues that have not been discussed and probably should be for parents of young kids that are feeling "name game" pressure.

 

When it comes to selecting a university, "name" of school is definitely not the only way to find an excellent university for a given degree. Our oldest graduated from a very small pretty much unknown nationally state tech university w/his chemical engineering degree, and yet, he was recruited by companies across the country even in the midst of high unemployment. Why? It is a university that may not be well-known by the public by name, but it is well-respected by industry and industry actively recruits its graduates.

 

As a parent, helping your student learn how to investigate college career offices, what co-op/research opportunities with what companies, what corporations recruiting on-campus, and following up w/HR depts at the corps to ask how graduates from that university are perceived will help your student know how their education will be perceived by possible future employers.

 

A quality education and being actively pursued for employment w/top pay is not limited to only highly selective universities. FWIW, our ds's education was a bargain. ;) AND......he took alg in 8th grade as an engineering major!! ;) (I also know that his friends that dropped out of engineering b/c they couldn't manage the coursework would have been MUCH better served to have had extremely solid math foundations and started at cal 1 or even pre-cal 2 at the university vs. skimming along the surface and rushing ahead. You can't fake your understanding through engineering problems. Foundational knowledge is absolutely a must for making it through to graduation. Honestly...... who cares if you are accepted and then can't make it through to graduation!!:tongue_smilie:)

 

The other side of the issue is acceptance into a highly selective university. There are no guarantees. We have a very academically inclined 11th grader. He is attending the local university in their advanced scholars program. He has a 100% avg in his multivariable calculus class when the class avg is a 74.5%. He has more science and math credits than most college freshman and some sophomores. His being accepted into a highly selective university is FAR from a given. Being accepted w/enough scholarship $$ for us to afford it is even more uncertain!!! I find it completely unfathomable that thinking 7th vs. 8th grade alg is going to be a determining factor in admissions. :confused: When you are dealing w/the pressure of actual "full student" portfolio, that is small potatoes. Really. ;)

 

On top of uncertainty about admissions, transfer of credits is another huge issue. At highly selective universities, typically even if they accept AP and/or college credits for placement (if they are taking alg in 7th, they should supposedly be ready for multivariable cal and diffEQ in 12th after AP BC in 11th), they won't necessarily accept the credits toward "total number of hrs required for graduation."

 

So, what means in our ds's case is that while he will be a jr in standing in math and physics courses (plus 8 AP credit hrs for chemistry), at some universities he would still have to pay for 4 entire yrs of undergraduate. Every single PhD physicist he spoke to this summer at the science camp he attended told him that where he earned his undergrad was NOT important. Graduate school is when "where" matters. So, he has now switched gears to looking into state schools w/really strong physics depts and where he is likely to be a good contender for top merit scholarships.

 

But most importantly......there is NO WAY that I would be putting college admission pressure on a 7th grader. There are far too many variables (including how they will even handle higher level maths to begin with!!) to make decisions based on that. Focus on helping them learn and understand math and they will be far more likely to succeed to the end of the race vs. being swallowed at the beginning of it.

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Popping in here today and reading this thread has left me :confused::confused:

...

So, what means in our ds's case is that while he will be a jr in standing in math and physics courses (plus 8 AP credit hrs for chemistry), at some universities he would still have to pay for 4 entire yrs of undergraduate. Every single PhD physicist he spoke to this summer at the science camp he attended told him that where he earned his undergrad was NOT important. Graduate school is when "where" matters. So, he has now switched gears to looking into state schools w/really strong physics depts and where he is likely to be a good contender for top merit scholarships.

 

But most importantly......there is NO WAY that I would be putting college admission pressure on a 7th grader. There are far too many variables (including how they will even handle higher level maths to begin with!!) to make decisions based on that. Focus on helping them learn and understand math and they will be far more likely to succeed to the end of the race vs. being swallowed at the beginning of it.

 

Whoa 8FillTheHeart, this is a great contribution to this important topic which I'm sure is read by many parents. I find it mildly humorous that he is now looking at state schools even after all of his early university course work. For many professions graduate level work is where it is at. So yes, nothing wrong with saving some money and attending state schools at the undergrad level. However in my field of IT a STEM grad degree from a quality state school would be very valuable as well.

 

Before I moved into the IT industry and did a Masters in the area I was attending a private U. known for its famous med school and research hospital. I was considering the fields of PT and OT. At the same time I had friends attending the local State U. with similar majors. Over time I noticed that the ones who eventually graduated in OT and PT with their masters degrees did just as good professionally as those who attended the private, more exclusive, 'expensive' universities. I think many times the more costly options can be somewhat overrated in a number of professions. It really depends on the area a young person hopes to get into and what that school does to help them get there. The available internships, co-ops, clinicals, part-time work opportunties, etc... are all very important aspects of the overall education process.

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If you don't "play the game", the child won't end up sitting in those classes at all in favor of someone who did check the boxes & impressed the admissions committee.

 

 

I'm sorry, but that's so sad. I'm not saying it's untrue. But it highlights the trend toward looking like something your not. It's all about looking the part instead of living the part. I can dress like a pro ball player but that won't make me one.

 

And the result of this game is lower standards so everyone can check the box and say they accomplished something when, in reality, most only learned to check a box and did not learn the material. For many, that's the reason they don't send their children to ps (though there certainly are other reasons).

 

Where does it end? In Georgia, where we have the Hope Scholarship hs teachers often admit they "give" grades so they won't be responsible for a student to not "earn" the aid. Instead of the grade on tests they grade improvement from where the child started - so if you averaged 20% at the start of the year but by year end you're averaging 50% that's a success and you earned an A. That has led to a larger percentage of college freshman requiring remedial coursework in math and writing, which puts them behind in their coursework and increases costs.

 

Hope is going broke because its being given to students that didn't truely earn it. A higher percentage of those receiving the aid lose it after their first year in college because when they actually have to work for the grades they can't keep them up. They didn't have to put in the effort in hs.

 

Yes, they checked the box but they didn't learn the basics of the subject and, for many, the plan backfires and down the road Hope might not be there for deserving students.

 

I hold to the idea that you should do your best. Stretch to the edge of your ability. Fight to succeed despite being out of your comfort zone. That's how I treated my hs years and it's the lesson that has stuck with me for the 30 years since. It's still applicable each and every day. It's perhaps the most valuable lesson learned.

 

 

Funny, this off-topic discussion started between two posters that I alway take the time to read. That should be taken as a compliment by both.

 

Jim

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I don't disagree with you. But that's not what people were saying. :001_smile:

 

My problem with it is when the need to slow down for students who need it becomes a rule for all. That's no better than the desire to speed up becoming the rule for all.

 

Hmmm I've read this whole thread and I missed the post where anybody said that; I certainly didn't. Oh well, it's been a long thread :).

 

There is no "one size fits all" in math any more than in reading or any other subject, really. My objection is this race for all kids to think they have to get to X years of calc or think they won't get in to college.

 

College admissions officers are not stupid. They are well aware of how many kids are in these classes who don't belong in them, and that yes, plenty of kids are testing well despite not knowing the subject material very well. It may help make the first cut, but in subsequent rounds of shuffling, there are other things that are looked at, and you'd be surprised at how many kids who don't push for all that stuff also make the first cut. Someone sounded panicked because she knew a kid with 10AP courses who didn't make it into Stanford or somewhere. It just might be because of the 10AP courses-- the college may well have been looking for something else in their selection process.

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I attended a "no-name" state school on a full academic scholarship and graduated with an engineering degree. My first job out of college was with a Fortune 500 company in the Midwest. I started on the same day with 32 other engineers fresh out of school. Some of my co-workers graduated with a ton of debt from well-known schools, but we all started at the same pay scale.

 

This company also had a policy that they would not hire engineers from the Ivy league: they found that those engineers had a difficult time relating and working with the folks on the manufacturing floor.

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I'm wondering who all these students are who get into Ivy League schools but don't know basic math? So they took Calc in 11th and got a high grade, got a high enough SAT Math score to get into a selective school, but they still don't know algebra? Is that a common problem really? And at the local non-selective university, who is sitting in those remedial math courses, since those non-Ivy dc must be better prepared, right? :confused:

 

Honestly, this conversation (and it happens frequently here) always sounds like sour grapes to me. "Well, sure their dc got into the big name school or got to Calc in high school, but I bet they don't *really* know the material; it was probably just all show for college admissions." Why can't we just all pick the path that works for the child in front of us and not make sweeping generalizations about everyone who takes a different path due to different circumstances? Then we end up with parents who are scared to follow the path their child needs because of everyone else's opinions.

 

Somewhere between the "must have an Ivy education or you are doomed" and "students going for selective school admissions don't really know anything" (that's intended to be hyperbole).... that's where I'll be, hanging out with my dc who are just doing the math they do. What a funny thread! :D

 

I'm not sure where the sour grapes come in? My experience with knowing that kids are coming in with high scores but ending up in remedial math comes from not only tutoring kids, but from my husband's colleagues (some of whom are at the Ivies, with whom we chat when they come and stay with us) in mathematics departments around the country. These are people from top schools in most cases, not "no name schools."

 

If you have not yet watched the movie "Race to Nowhere," put it on your list. Listen to kids who crammed for AP tests and got nothing from the courses, but got top scores and expected to get into top tier schools to please their parents.

 

As I have said before many times, there is no "one size fits all" solution-- but that includes the idea of acceleration as well as the notion of holding them back. It makes me sad to see kids pushed forward just for a transcript and then see the education shortchanged in exchange. Yes, a kid who is ready for acceleration should be fed anything they are hungry for! But one who is not solid and ready should not be rushed just because Mom has application anxiety.

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I'm wondering who all these students are who get into Ivy League schools but don't know basic math? So they took Calc in 11th and got a high grade, got a high enough SAT Math score to get into a selective school, but they still don't know algebra? Is that a common problem really? And at the local non-selective university, who is sitting in those remedial math courses, since those non-Ivy dc must be better prepared, right? :confused:

 

Honestly, this conversation (and it happens frequently here) always sounds like sour grapes to me. "Well, sure their dc got into the big name school or got to Calc in high school, but I bet they don't *really* know the material; it was probably just all show for college admissions." Why can't we just all pick the path that works for the child in front of us and not make sweeping generalizations about everyone who takes a different path due to different circumstances? Then we end up with parents who are scared to follow the path their child needs because of everyone else's opinions.

 

Somewhere between the "must have an Ivy education or you are doomed" and "students going for selective school admissions don't really know anything" (that's intended to be hyperbole).... that's where I'll be, hanging out with my dc who are just doing the math they do. What a funny thread! :D

 

Love you, Angela. :D

 

This thread has me baffled. No matter what the subject, isn't our job to teach at the kid's pace and until mastery? Homeschool or public school? Of course, there may be gaps. Of course, some kids will need remedial math in college.

 

 

 

I'm not sure where the sour grapes come in? My experience with knowing that kids are coming in with high scores but ending up in remedial math comes from not only tutoring kids, but from my husband's colleagues (some of whom are at the Ivies, with whom we chat when they come and stay with us) in mathematics departments around the country. These are people from top schools in most cases, not "no name schools."

 

If you have not yet watched the movie "Race to Nowhere," put it on your list. Listen to kids who crammed for AP tests and got nothing from the courses, but got top scores and expected to get into top tier schools to please their parents.

 

As I have said before many times, there is no "one size fits all" solution-- but that includes the idea of acceleration as well as the notion of holding them back. It makes me sad to see kids pushed forward just for a transcript and then see the education shortchanged in exchange. Yes, a kid who is ready for acceleration should be fed anything they are hungry for! But one who is not solid and ready should not be rushed just because Mom has application anxiety.

 

I have seen that movie. If I recall correctly, most of those kids were from highly competitive schools in California. That is just not the norm around the country. Yes, the college admission process is unlike ever before. Yes, kids are taking more AP classes than ever before (and not all are reaching mastery level). But, in my experience, as I mentioned in a previous post, the average, bright kid in our average, suburban high school is very self-motivated and determined. Their parents aren't pushing them. They push themselves because they have plans to change the world, one way or another.

 

I have spent plenty of time on the high school and college board, because of my oldest son, who is now in college. Some of you must be visiting a different board, because I have never witnessed pressure to teach certain courses or attend highly selective colleges. Just take a look at our recent college acceptance list - such an interesting variety and each of us are proud of our kids. I have seen nothing but support, no matter what path one chooses. Remember, this is a classical homeschooling forum. The members would likely not be slackers in any subject! ;)

 

I am perplexed by those who continually express such bitterness towards selective colleges. Why does it offend so personally? We all know that one can get a wonderful education at a public U or a private liberal arts college.

 

Maybe there is too much self-imposed pressure that is being blamed on others who choose to homeschool differently (or go to a different kind of college). So what if a good percentage of board members choose algebra in 8th grade? It doesn't mean they are putting pressure on us to do the same. We all homeschool because we like the freedom to teach our kids the way we feel best.

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some current middle school Algebra 1 classes may not be at the same level of rigor as...algebra might have been decades ago.

 

Having looked over the California state-approved textbooks for Algebra 1 that our virtual charter has in their lending library, I absolutely believe this. That is why I'm only going to have my kids do the minimum out of a state-approved textbook that I can get away with and still pass muster with the charter (hopefully just the end-of-chapter tests).

 

I haven't totally decided on what I'll use as spine yet, but we are liking the combo of Singapore Discovering Math 1 with Horizons Pre-Algebra, so we may continue on with DM 2 & Horizons Algebra 1. DS seems to be "mathy" so he may do AOPS but that's a long ways down the road. Maybe Singapore DM will even be on the state-approved list by then.

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. Someone sounded panicked because she knew a kid with 10AP courses who didn't make it into Stanford or somewhere. It just might be because of the 10AP courses-- the college may well have been looking for something else in their selection process.

 

It isn't just the one girl who was a 4H leader. She is just one example of a kid in our social circle with excellent credentials who got shut out of all her top choice schools because of the insane level of competition these days. It's gotten to the point where the only kid I know who has gotten into Harvard recently was Evan O'Dorney from our local HS support group, who won both the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee and the Intel Science Talent Search.

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I am perplexed by those who continually express such bitterness towards selective colleges. Why does it offend so personally? We all know that one can get a wonderful education at a public U or a private liberal arts college.

 

 

I don't think that we actually all believe what you state in the last sentence. I have no issue with selective colleges. Rock on. I have issue with the idea that kids who don't go to them are undereducated and unemployable. I do see a great deal of academic snobbery on this board, and I do think that certain comments on this thread have reflected that.

 

Tara

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I don't think that we actually all believe what you state in the last sentence. I have no issue with selective colleges. Rock on. I have issue with the idea that kids who don't go to them are undereducated and unemployable. I do see a great deal of academic snobbery on this board, and I do think that certain comments on this thread have reflected that.

 

Tara

 

Once again, we must be visiting a different board or hanging out with different groups of people. I have never heard someone make such a sweeping generalization.

 

In fact, I KNOW my son's friends who graduate from Penn State and other state schools will likely have a much easier time finding a job than my son! No one around here has ever heard of my son's school! ;) Have you ever been to PA? Penn State is da bomb here! Ds is definitely considered a bit off kilter by not applying there! :)

Edited by lisabees
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Once again, we must be visiting a different board or hanging out with different groups of people. I have never heard someone make such a sweeping generalization.

 

Well, as I said earlier, it's been many comments over my four years reading this board that have made me feel the way I do. It's not limited to what college one selects.

 

Oh, and btw, I've been to Oberlin. It's a nice school. I would definitely choose it over Penn State.

 

Tara

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Well, as I said earlier, it's been many comments over my four years reading this board that have made me feel the way I do. It's not limited to what college one selects.

 

Oh, and btw, I've been to Oberlin. It's a nice school. I would definitely choose it over Penn State.

 

Tara

 

LOL Hey, careful there, Tara!! We've been in agreement by and large up until that last statement!! :lol:

 

I actually looked at Oberlin, when I was strongly considering a music major. It is a nice place. I still liked Penn State better in the long run. Like math programs though, it's nice we all have choices and different choices work for different folks <grin>.

 

Again, I think my earlier remarks were misconstrued (how unusual, on a message board, when people seem like they are in need of a time out and nobody can hear any tone of voice except their own, which they interject when they read the words of others . . . ).

 

When people (myself included) say they don't see anything special about the ivies, we speak for ourselves, not how we think other people need to feel. I don't purchase $200 designer jeans, as I feel they would be a waste of my money. I don't look down on people who do choose them, because what other people want to do with their fashion choices and disposable income is their own business-- as long as you don't tell me what to wear, I won't tell you what to wear either, KWIM?

 

And if you won't hire me because my jeans aren't expensive enough, I probably wouldn't enjoy working for you, because I think that what I can do is more important than what covers my butt.

 

The same thing goes for colleges. It's what's in your head, not what ink is on your diploma that matters, and going to an Ivy simply is not superior to going to a solid state school in that sense. For some people, that "name brand" is just as important as having an alligator on your shirt was in middle school, and that's cool, if that's something that they need to have. In the end, the student at Penn State and the person at Stanford will both get a great education.

 

Now, I'd say I'm ready for some bean dip, but I don't think it goes well with chai ;). It's late, this conversation has long outlived its usefulness, and it's time for me to curl up out on the porch with a book, some tea, and some peace and quiet before heading off to sleep! Tomorrow is a new, and hopefully much less silly day.

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...

If you have not yet watched the movie "Race to Nowhere," put it on your list. Listen to kids who crammed for AP tests and got nothing from the courses, but got top scores and expected to get into top tier schools to please their parents.

 

As I have said before many times, there is no "one size fits all" solution-- but that includes the idea of acceleration as well as the notion of holding them back. It makes me sad to see kids pushed forward just for a transcript and then see the education shortchanged in exchange. Yes, a kid who is ready for acceleration should be fed anything they are hungry for! But one who is not solid and ready should not be rushed just because Mom has application anxiety.

 

Ok, I had a chance to look up this film because it sounded interesting. But I couldn't find it anywhere near. Yet I did find a great interview with the producer and Katie Couric describing this modern day dilema both kids and parent are facing in America.

 

One of the most interesting things discussed was this overemphasis on AP classes followed by memorizing a bunch of facts to get A's on the AP tests. And then students moving on to the next one forgetting most of what was covered - one brain dump to the next. Teachers teach to the AP test and students study to the test while critical thinking and other more important apsects of higher learning are de-emphasized.

 

There was mention in this thread earlier about the shock some parents felt when their DC didn't get into top tier schools even with ~ 10 AP classes. But the funny thing is as described in the film quite a number of schools including top universities are placing less weight on this now. Its become so common for kids and parents to cram a bunch of AP classes in that the schools are looking for 'other' indicators of academic potential. We're losing the ability to teach that spirit of innovation, creativity, collaboration and exploration which makes America great. Instead kids are exchanging those critical and creative thinking skills for enhanced rote memory skills in order to pass more tests. I like that some schools are reducing or eliminating APs for this very reason.

 

The most shocking part is the intense pressure kids feel with these classes to get As, so much so that some have even killed themselves over it. What a horrible outcome to the well meaning parent and school efforts in this race toward supposed success. Imagine the pressure that must have been felt by a 13 y/o girl to see no other way to relieve her pain than to take her own life... Tragic!

 

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Ok, I had a chance to look up this film because it sounded interesting. But I couldn't find it anywhere near. Yet I did find a great interview with the producer and Katie Couric describing this modern day dilema both kids and parent are facing in America.

 

One of the most interesting things discussed was this overemphasis on AP classes followed by memorizing a bunch of facts to get A's on the AP tests. And then students moving on to the next one forgetting most of what was covered - one brain dump to the next. Teachers teach to the AP test and students study to the test while critical thinking and other more important apsects of higher learning are de-emphasized.

 

There was mention in this thread earlier about the shock some parents felt when their DC didn't get into top tier schools even with ~ 10 AP classes. But the funny thing is as described in the film quite a number of schools including top universities are placing less weight on this now. Its become so common for kids and parents to cram a bunch of AP classes in that the schools are looking for 'other' indicators of academic potential. We're losing the ability to teach that spirit of innovation, creativity, collaboration and exploration which makes America great. Instead kids are exchanging those critical and creative thinking skills for enhanced rote memory skills in order to pass more tests. I like that some schools are reducing or eliminating APs for this very reason.

 

The most shocking part is the intense pressure kids feel with these classes to get As, so much so that some have even killed themselves over it. What a horrible outcome to the well meaning parent and school efforts in this race toward supposed success. Imagine the pressure that must have been felt by a 13 y/o girl to see no other way to relieve her pain than to take her own life... Tragic!

 

 

 

 

There really is something to be said for keeping your head down and walking ahead. Unfortunately, many times homeschoolers never pull out far enough to leave the race, the just think that homeschooling is another way to win it.

 

I never quite understood the AP race, and now I'm quite glad I never bought into it. If everyone is special, then no one is. It ends up bringing down the courses for all of the students, instead of letting the really special ones shine. So I can fully understand why colleges aren't as interested. Now they have to find a new way to cull the best, and as soon as that recipe is figured out, there'll be a jump to that.

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Its become so common for kids and parents to cram a bunch of AP classes in that the schools are looking for 'other' indicators of academic potential.

 

This is especially true for the smaller schools - they really take time to look at each student.

 

The school counselor told us that our state schools just plug stats into a computer and, if you fall within the range, you are accepted. This is what pushed ds's friends to take many more APs than he did. Ds never bought into the AP game (stubborn kid never buys into much of what society says :D). He found potential schools who liked kids just like him. He always believed that schools would see the real him, through the essay and unique extra-curriculars.

 

 

 

Unfortunately the students are caught in the middle....reg. ed. college prep is too easy, AP/honors is too hard as Katie notes with her math example.

 

:iagree: Our local district has now dropped honors classes in English and History. They only offer academic or AP. Many kids are ready for the challenge in an honor's class, but nowhere ready for a "college level" class. What do these kids do? They take academic (and worry about what admission's officers think) or push themselves in an AP class, where they struggle. There's really no place for the average, bright kid. Sad.

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I never quite understood the AP race, and now I'm quite glad I never bought into it. If everyone is special, then no one is. It ends up bringing down the courses for all of the students, instead of letting the really special ones shine.

 

I respectfully disagree. Dd15 is in AP Spanish (level 4). She plans to take AP English & History next year with more APs her senior year along with other college classes. Taught right, the classes are 'special' and the students should receive recognition. The AP test score will speak for itself.

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I respectfully disagree. Dd15 is in AP Spanish (level 4). She plans to take AP English & History next year with more APs her senior year along with other college classes. Taught right, the classes are 'special' and the students should receive recognition. The AP test score will speak for itself.

 

Beth, its interesting to get your perspective on this. I am sure not all AP classes are created equal. I do wonder if you have had a chance to watch the video?

 

I also want to say that I think this thread has gone quite a bit off course from Amber's original question. Though facinating with plenty of food for thought I think this topic (Race to Nowhere) should be addressed in another thread. I do like that we can share our various opinions and remain civil. It really helps to see both sides of these difficult challenges both we as parents and our children face. With that in mind I think I will start a new thread.

 

Thanks for participating,

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As people consider the potential value to individual students of AP, community college dual enrollment, or SAT subject tests it is well worth reading through the threads in the sticky post at the top of the high school board.

 

A lot of parents have reported how courses were weighed on college aps and how taking validation credit affected their kids once they hit college. Some valuable considerations that don't spring to mind at first glance.

 

ETA: Here's the thread. The threads for AP courses are in the second post.

 

FWIW, I haven't seen many board members suggesting that all graduates of elite/exclusive/Ivy/selective schools are happier or that happiness is best found there. There are certainly some companies within some industries within some parts of the country that lean heavily on networks of relationships for their employees. (For example, I've seen that there are powerful financial firms that draw very heavily from Dartmouth.) That doesn't mean that there is a choice between attending Harvard and becoming a hobo. But it may mean that if you wanted to be a junior partner at such a firm that a school in those networks would be a priority.

 

What I have seen parents on the high school and college boards discussing is the very real, very competitive admissions for some of these programs. If you want to attend medical school or some specific competitive schools, it is worth being informed on what they are looking for in applicants.

 

I do admissions interviews for my alma mater. Last year they had 20,000 applicants and took fewer than 1,000 high school seniors in. It is an engineering/science focused school that requires all freshmen to take chemistry and calculus (even the English and history majors). I see far too many applicants with stars in their eyes about applying, who have not taken the time to look at their test scores or high school coursework and how it measures up. That is not to say that a student taking algebra in 7th or 8th or 9th grade has their lot cast in stone. A student with solid grades and scores who made it through pre-calc may well be chosen in lieu of a low score student who squeezed out Bs and Cs in high school, but progressed all the way to calculus. There are many circumstances taken into account.

 

[bTW, I don't think 8th grade algebra is particularly advanced in that it's pretty common among the college bound set where I live. But neither would I consider a 9th grader in algebra to be doomed. I wouldn't hold back any student if they were ready for challenging work; pushing work on an unprepared student is equally foolish.]

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I really want to thank everyone for all the thought provoking posts on this thread! I've read every single one of them and appreciate the food for thought for the future.

 

I, too, appreciate this thread. It's been very interesting, and I've subscribed so that I can find it for future reference.

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My math-intuitive ds started algebra (we used Foerster) in the middle of seventh grade, but we did not finish until close to the end of eighth. In retrospect, that was partly because I did not use a separate pre-algebra program after completing Singapore. However, now that he is in Algebra 2\trig, I am very glad we used that time to really dig deep in Algebra.

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My math-intuitive ds started algebra (we used Foerster) in the middle of seventh grade, but we did not finish until close to the end of eighth. In retrospect, that was partly because I did not use a separate pre-algebra program after completing Singapore. However, now that he is in Algebra 2\trig, I am very glad we used that time to really dig deep in Algebra.

 

Sounds great Catherine. I am thinking of using the same thing for Algebra in the 7th grade - Foerster along with David Chandler's lectures. I plan to spend more time on Algebra 1, possibly all of 7th & 8th grade to really focus on understanding as well as becoming comfortable with the material. The one part I haven't decided upon is to stretch out a single program or use two somewhat differently focused programs to gain another perspective. For example I am considering using Foerster along with LOF or Edward Zaccaro's Real World Algebra (which I have heard great things about) either in parallel or sequentially. Part of this will depend on what my son seems to like most. I do like allowing him to have some say regarding which programs he prefers, as long as they are solid in their approach.

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Once again, we must be visiting a different board or hanging out with different groups of people. I have never heard someone make such a sweeping generalization.

 

You might want to pop over to the thread "Race to nowhere" and read some of the postings; some posters are clearly of the opinion that an Ivy education is a must and that students can not become highly educated knowledge workers with solid middle class incomes if they attend lesser schools.

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I respectfully disagree. Dd15 is in AP Spanish (level 4). She plans to take AP English & History next year with more APs her senior year along with other college classes. Taught right, the classes are 'special' and the students should receive recognition. The AP test score will speak for itself.

 

My daughter completed 3 AP's when she was still 15. They were really, really hard, with massive amounts of material and numerous essays and papers to write all year long. So she's got the AP Scholar designation, which can't hurt.

 

They are worth doing, if there is something available that interests your child.

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Back to the original question about taking Algebra as an 8th grader...my son did this and then ended up in a public high school that did not recognize this credit. It was a headache. Find out what your local requirements are before you plan ahead - even if you think you'll home school thru high school, you never know what may end up happening.

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Back to the original question about taking Algebra as an 8th grader...my son did this and then ended up in a public high school that did not recognize this credit. It was a headache. Find out what your local requirements are before you plan ahead - even if you think you'll home school thru high school, you never know what may end up happening.

 

I'm not sure that I would want potential high school recognition to be the driving force.

 

Situation A: Student does Algebra 1 at home, enters public high school and they don't want to recognize. He either pushes for a test out option for placement, or retakes Algebra 1 and presumably gets a better grade and foundation for moving forward.

 

Situation B: Student doesn't take Algebra 1 at home, because he might enter public high school. He still has to take Algebra in 9th grade, but doesn't have the experience of working through the concepts the previous year.

 

I don't really see that holding off on algebra gained the student anything. And if he doesn't go to a public high school, then he's lost an opportunity to move forward and work on the level he's ready for.

 

Both of these assume that the kid was ready for algebra at 8th grade. I don't believe in forcing a student or holding them back, anymore than I pick their shoe size by their age instead of by what fits.

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Back in the day, we did algebra in 9th grade, pre-algebra didn't exist and we still got to calculus in 12th. The scope and sequence has changed.

 

My older two did "algebra" in 8th grade at the local Waldorf school. They used a 1990's Dolciani Algebra I book.

 

My youngest did Modern School Mathematics 8 (Dolciani).

 

The only thing in the 90's algebra book that was not in the 1960's 8th grade book was the quadratic equation (and they didn't get to that chapter.) The 60's book also included some extra chapters like probability.

 

On an individual basis, some kids might be getting algebra younger, but in this area, as a gross generalization, the only change has been the title of the class. 8th grade math is now called algebra. Algebra II takes a whole year because half of (what we had in) algebra I is now in algebra II, and "pre-calc" is a whole year (instead of a semester of "trig," with a few other things thrown in.)

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I'm not sure that I would want potential high school recognition to be the driving force.

 

Situation A: Student does Algebra 1 at home, enters public high school and they don't want to recognize. He either pushes for a test out option for placement, or retakes Algebra 1 and presumably gets a better grade and foundation for moving forward.

 

Situation B: Student doesn't take Algebra 1 at home, because he might enter public high school. He still has to take Algebra in 9th grade, but doesn't have the experience of working through the concepts the previous year.

 

I don't really see that holding off on algebra gained the student anything. And if he doesn't go to a public high school, then he's lost an opportunity to move forward and work on the level he's ready for.

 

Both of these assume that the kid was ready for algebra at 8th grade. I don't believe in forcing a student or holding them back, anymore than I pick their shoe size by their age instead of by what fits.

Completely valid. But,

What do you do when you are already planning two years of algebra - using two different textbooks, back to back (one after another), over 7th and 8th grade and the school still doesn't recognize the credit? (I have a reason for asking; I'm not being snarky - you appear to have students in advanced math at a younger age as per your siggy)

There is the possibility of my eldest going back in 8th or 9th grade; if she goes in 8th grade, she will be in pre-algebra and if she goes in 9th, she will be in Algebra I (this is for both the local Catholic schools and the local publics, it seems)

I would never shrink back at two years of algebra I (we already plan on this), but a third year of algebra I?

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There is the possibility of my eldest going back in 8th or 9th grade; if she goes in 8th grade, she will be in pre-algebra and if she goes in 9th, she will be in Algebra I (this is for both the local Catholic schools and the local publics, it seems)

I would never shrink back at two years of algebra I (we already plan on this), but a third year of algebra I?

 

Aimee, have you asked the schools this question? Where we are, the two independent Catholic schools that are in the picture for dd (for middle and high school) both have placement tests for math. They're quite picky about letting kids test out of Algebra 1, but they do allow it for those who meet their criteria. The middle school teaches algebra over two years for the more advanced kids, though some aspects of their sequence are still a little unclear to me (they have dd in the 6th grade prealgebra class).

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What do you do when you are already planning two years of algebra - using two different textbooks, back to back (one after another), over 7th and 8th grade and the school still doesn't recognize the credit? ...

There is the possibility of my eldest going back in 8th or 9th grade; if she goes in 8th grade, she will be in pre-algebra and if she goes in 9th, she will be in Algebra I (this is for both the local Catholic schools and the local publics, it seems)

I would never shrink back at two years of algebra I (we already plan on this), but a third year of algebra I?

 

I would discuss this with the school and strongly demand a placement test to be administered.

If they would be rigid about it and refuse to accommodate her, that would be sufficient reason for me to rethink the idea of sending them to school. (I have two kids who are very accelerated in math, and this is one of the main reasons for us to homeschool)

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Completely valid. But,

What do you do when you are already planning two years of algebra - using two different textbooks, back to back (one after another), over 7th and 8th grade and the school still doesn't recognize the credit?

 

Do you mean the school won't grant *credit* or the school won't grant *placement*? Those are two separate issues. I would not expect a school to grant high school credit for courses completed in 8th grade. But I would absolutely expect placement in the appropriate course, i.e., NOT repeating Algebra I.

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I would discuss this with the school and strongly demand a placement test to be administered.

If they would be rigid about it and refuse to accommodate her, that would be sufficient reason for me to rethink the idea of sending them to school. (I have two kids who are very accelerated in math, and this is one of the main reasons for us to homeschool)

 

:iagree:

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I would discuss this with the school and strongly demand a placement test to be administered.

If they would be rigid about it and refuse to accommodate her, that would be sufficient reason for me to rethink the idea of sending them to school. (I have two kids who are very accelerated in math, and this is one of the main reasons for us to homeschool)

 

Do you mean the school won't grant *credit* or the school won't grant *placement*? Those are two separate issues. I would not expect a school to grant high school credit for courses completed in 8th grade. But I would absolutely expect placement in the appropriate course, i.e., NOT repeating Algebra I.

 

Exactly.

 

At the rate she is progressing, should dd12 attends her sister's private high school, she would have the opportunity to test into Honors Geometry, Honors Alg 2/Trig, or Honors Intro to Calculus. The typical advanced freshman (approx. 20% of the class) tests into Honors Geometry. Students from several dozen elementary/middle schools attend this particular high school. Each of those schools has its own math progression. The only way to correctly place students is by administering the math placement exam the June before beginning high school.

 

Why on earth would a student who has demonstrated proficiency be forced to take another year of algebra? We removed dd from her otherwise excellent grade school as she was forced to sit through yet another year of fractions/decimals/percents. I knew we had to do something drastic (in our circles, homeschooling is a drastic choice) or she would lose her enthusiasm for math.

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Aimee, have you asked the schools this question? Where we are, the two independent Catholic schools that are in the picture for dd (for middle and high school) both have placement tests for math. They're quite picky about letting kids test out of Algebra 1, but they do allow it for those who meet their criteria. The middle school teaches algebra over two years for the more advanced kids, though some aspects of their sequence are still a little unclear to me (they have dd in the 6th grade prealgebra class).

It actually appears (from the curriculum packets I've requested and received) that they do not have an Algebra class at all in the K-8 school - so there is no option for it. I should ask though :tongue_smilie:. Maybe it just isn't something they advertise.

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I would discuss this with the school and strongly demand a placement test to be administered.

If they would be rigid about it and refuse to accommodate her, that would be sufficient reason for me to rethink the idea of sending them to school. (I have two kids who are very accelerated in math, and this is one of the main reasons for us to homeschool)

I agree for the high school (and I imagine I could ask); I don't think any amount of demanding will help for middle school. The Catholic schools are K-8th grade and, from what I see, they do not have an Algebra I class at all. Same for the local public middle school - there is an "advanced" 7th grade class (which is 7th grade math and "some" pre algebra, I think) and "advanced" 8th grade math (pre-algebra with "some" algebra I mixed in, I believe). She does well in math, but her love is science - she isn't *in love* with math in the least. It is the "means to an end" with her (read: she knows she needs it to get her where she wants in science).

If there is no class equivalent, no amount of demanding will help, unfortunately.

This may be a non-issue. We are doing pre-algebra again this year for 6th grade (with a mix of curricula, as you see in my siggy) because my husband doesn't feel Autumn demonstrates the maturity yet for algebra (or the perseverance) - I agree, but tend to defer to him on all things math and science related (I teach it to her but always defer to him for curricula and placement problems regarding math and dd).

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Completely valid. But,

What do you do when you are already planning two years of algebra - using two different textbooks, back to back (one after another), over 7th and 8th grade and the school still doesn't recognize the credit? (I have a reason for asking; I'm not being snarky - you appear to have students in advanced math at a younger age as per your siggy)

There is the possibility of my eldest going back in 8th or 9th grade; if she goes in 8th grade, she will be in pre-algebra and if she goes in 9th, she will be in Algebra I (this is for both the local Catholic schools and the local publics, it seems)

I would never shrink back at two years of algebra I (we already plan on this), but a third year of algebra I?

 

Others are ahead of me with good answers. Especially it is worth sitting with the guidance office and discussing what they do when students come in with non-traditional backgrounds.

 

As someone else mentioned, it might be a matter of not granting credit for algebra 1 as a high school course but allowing her to enter the appropriate level of math. (This may be what they are already doing with students who did algebra in 8th grade. Placement but not credit. I believe that is what my high school transcript from back in the dark ages shows; my first high school math was algebra 2.)

 

You may need to fight past a couple layers of knee jerk no answers. Ask what she could provide in order to be placed correctly. Could she come in at the end of the previous year and sit for the final exam? Are there state tests that could demonstrate mastery (Virginia has a state Standard of Learning exam for core courses like algebra that students have to pass.)

 

If they were adamant about not accomodating her actual math ability, then I would seriously question why I wanted my kid in that school. Not only do I think the student would be bored, but it would close doors to other courses in both math and science if she isn't able to move ahead. One reason we have homeschooled is that until we moved here, my kids weren't really in the mainstream of academic offerings at local schools.

 

But I would discuss the real options before making assumptions.

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I agree for the high school (and I imagine I could ask); I don't think any amount of demanding will help for middle school. The Catholic schools are K-8th grade and, from what I see, they do not have an Algebra I class at all. Same for the local public middle school - there is an "advanced" 7th grade class (which is 7th grade math and "some" pre algebra, I think) and "advanced" 8th grade math (pre-algebra with "some" algebra I mixed in, I believe).

If there is no class equivalent, no amount of demanding will help, unfortunately.

This may be a non-issue. We are doing pre-algebra again this year (with a mix of curricula, as you see in my siggy) because my husband doesn't feel Autumn demonstrates the maturity yet for algebra (or the perseverance) - I agree, but tend to defer to him on all thing math and science related (I teach it but always defer to him for curricula and placement problems regarding math and dd).

 

If no one is even offered the opportunity to start working algebra until 9th grade, I would be questioning if that is the right place for my kid.

 

BTW, we sort of did pre algebra twice using both Saxon 8/7 and Algebra 1/2. There was an international move and a lot of upheaval in there, plus the boys were only giving me 80's on most tests in 8/7. They've gotten their legs under them now and are not only doing algebra, but started physics today.

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It actually appears (from the curriculum packets I've requested and received) that they do not have an Algebra class at all in the K-8 school - so there is no option for it. I should ask though :tongue_smilie:. Maybe it just isn't something they advertise.

 

FWIW, dd's middle school will allow "independent study" for a middle school student needing geometry or above. That's certainly not advertised and not in the curriculum packets. In their case, there's an all-girl high school on campus, so typically they use a high school teacher, but even if there weren't, it's not hard to imagine algebra as "independent study" with the regular middle school math teacher. When I was asking such questions, the admissions people loved to cite the example of an 8th grader who took trig. In practice, they're a pain in the rear about these things ("don't worry, we'll get the right placement for your dd! it might take 6 weeks!" lots of gate-keeping tests with mysterious scoring requirements, "here's a placement test, but don't worry about it, you don't have to finish it" :glare:) but at least they give the appearance of flexibility.

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