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mazakaal

What to do with dd who struggles with math?

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Dd is finishing 9th grade right now and has used TT Algebra I this year. It has been a massive struggle. Some topics she understands fine, but many times she's watched the lesson and not grasped it. Of course, she won't tell me that she didn't understand. She just goes ahead with the problems and waits until I notice that she's gotten 40% of them wrong. Then I have to go back and teach her how to do it, which is no problem for me as I'm pretty good at math. But she hates me explaining anything to her, which is why she'll never come out and ask for help. Right now she's on track for getting a mid-C for the class.

 

Ds got a C+ for Algebra I when he took it through a correspondence school. I wanted him to take a college-prep math progression, so I actually had him re-do Algebra I with TT (not for a grade or on his transcript, but just for better understanding) when he was in 10th grade before taking Geometry and Algebra II because I thought that without a solid understanding of Algebra I, he would really struggle with the next classes. 

 

Dd is a different story, with no real interest in college. I don't want to have her re-do Algebra I with some other textbook because I think could be pure torture for her and me. I have found a tutor, so I could have her just move really slowly through Geometry and Algebra II, taking up to 3 years if she needs to for the two courses. If I did this, I have no idea what curriculum to use since TT hasn't worked well for her. I'm also wondering about the possibility of giving her some more basic math courses to finish up her 3-course-requirement for graduation. But again, I have no idea what curriculum that would be.

 

So my question is what curriculum would you suggest that would be conducive to use by a tutor to either move slowly through Geometry and Algebra II or be an easier 2 courses in basic math?

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I would not have a struggling math student continue on into Algebra II (especially after a year of no real Algebra while they do Geometry) without reviewing Algebra I concepts.  The chances of her gaining anything from Algebra II are pretty low and that whole year could be utter torture for both of you.  A solid foundation will usually net more than continuing forward hoping it will all gel eventually, IMHO. 

 

I take it you are just wanting to check some boxes here and be done?  I get that.  I really do.  But in this situation, especially if she doesn't have to get beyond Algebra II, I would have her repeat Algebra I with a different program and have the tutor be the teacher.  That would give her a better chance of actually making it through Algebra II with some level of understanding instead of limping along, potentially even failing.  She may need a solid review in more basic concepts, first, though.  How well does she do with fractions/percents/decimals?  How did she do with Pre-Algebra and what did you use?

 

 

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We used TT for Pre-Algebra, and she did fine with it. She struggled learning fractions/percents/decimals, but did manage it in the end. I don't think that's the problem now so much as having to figure out which process to use to solve an equation or pair of equations.

 

And, yes, just wanting to tick the boxes of 3 high school level math courses.

 

Thanks.

Edited by mazakaal

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Over the summer you might consider running her through the Key to Fractions/Decimals/Percents books to solidify any weak areas there.  Also, I highly recommend doing Hands On Equations with her before moving forward.  It should help her with Algebra and Algebra II. Then once those are complete maybe through the tutor run a Geometry program concurrently with a review of Algebra I.  You might look at something like Math U See or possibly Lial's Beginning Algebra.

 

And possibly a subscription to CTC math for math practice and a different approach.  Or even use CTC as the Algebra Spine (but the tutor could do some targeted review through another source) and it could also be used as a supplement to her Geometry.  CTC would give her access to all math from kindergarten through Calculus so she could review any problems at more basic levels.  Unlike TT, the program generates new math programs when a lesson is repeated.  Lessons are short.  There is a 100% money back guarantee if you don't like the product.  It is on sale right now for 60% off.

https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ctc-math/

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I had a daughter in a similar situation several years ago. Ultimately it was determined she had dyscalculia. Geometry was fine, but algebra and sciences like chemistry were problematic. Biology was fine. She did make it through calculus though, eventually, so there is hope (and never did math again in college, lol)

 

Teaching Textbooks was okay for my daughter, BUT I do think it will be important for your child to be working closely with the tutor on her problems. Does TT still have an actual book one can work out of, or is it all on the computer now? I worried about progressing mine to alg 2, but there is a good bit of review at the beginning of the course. She might be okay if she is working with the tutor.

 

Derek Owens is another possibility. He does have a book that can be taken to the tutor. My friend's struggling math student worked with that curric starting with algebra, and it went well for them. She met with the tutor weekly.

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I had a daughter in a similar situation several years ago. Ultimately it was determined she had dyscalculia. Geometry was fine, but algebra and sciences like chemistry were problematic. Biology was fine. She did make it through calculus though, eventually, so there is hope (and never did math again in college, lol)

 

Teaching Textbooks was okay for my daughter, BUT I do think it will be important for your child to be working closely with the tutor on her problems. Does TT still have an actual book one can work out of, or is it all on the computer now? I worried about progressing mine to alg 2, but there is a good bit of review at the beginning of the course. She might be okay if she is working with the tutor.

 

Derek Owens is another possibility. He does have a book that can be taken to the tutor. My friend's struggling math student worked with that curric starting with algebra, and it went well for them. She met with the tutor weekly.

Oh, yes, Derek Owens might help, OP.

 

I would still look into Hands on Equations and possibly the Key to series over the summer but DO concurrent with a Geometry program or DO then Geometry might work well.

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Its safe to say that Algebra is the foundation to all secondary math. Its also represents the period of cognitive development in which a child goes from concrete operations to abstract reasoning. Many students struggle with it and as such it is *very* common to stretch Algebra 1 out over two years.The majority of educators will recommend this especially for a struggling student. If you go back to the analogy on building a house, no matter how well the flooring is built, if the foundation is weak the rest of the house will be unstable. So, yes, you probably do need to spent an extra year in there, but not on Geometry or Algebra II. Instead strengthen the foundation with a year two Algebra 1. I don't see any real shortcuts to this and TT is considered on the 'light' side. So think of it as preparation for a more standard Algebra 1 course to follow.

 

With our math struggling dd, we used Derek Owens as also recommend by Gr8lander. She hates math and started with Derek last Fall. Although still not her favorite subject, it was a transformative year for her. She worked very hard and managed to get an A in his Pre-A and is now taking Algebra 1 with the same instructor. What she really likes are the clear instructions and examples most of all. We've tried other things and nothing has worked as well. That's not to say its a fit for every child. But if you look up the reviews on DO you will see other similar feedback. 

 

Another great option would be to work with Jann in Texas who specializes in helping struggling math students. She also offers additional tutoring during the week at no additional cost. 

 

Lastly, I would agree that getting tested for dyscalculia would be a good idea just to discover what additional methods and approaches may be best able to help her more.

Edited by dereksurfs
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Derek Owens is another possibility. He does have a book that can be taken to the tutor. My friend's struggling math student worked with that curric starting with algebra, and it went well for them. She met with the tutor weekly.

 

He does?

 

I tutored a kid who was using DO Algebra I.  Since his notes were...inadequate...I watched the lessons and took notes myself.  Which was not a good use of my time.

 

Does DO provide notes to tutors?

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I just wanted to pipe in since I have a very similar student here, (down to the issues with TT) except she does plan to go to university. The advice they are giving you on this thread is sound and you would do well to heed it. I'm not trying to come off in a condescending manner and hope I'm not, but if you do not solidify the Algebra I skills you are basically setting her up for failure later on. Been there. Done that.

 

We ended up remediating with MUS Epsilon and Algebra I after receiving the same advice earlier this year and I'm so glad we've done so and not pushed ahead. My dd had a lot of the same issues you are describing. MUS has been a godsend for us. She made it through CLE Algebra I with quite good grades. But nothing stuck and she was easily flustered, especially with word problems. I knew it hasn't clicked and that Alg II was a ticking time bomb on the whole thing crashing down. MUS Algebra along with some supplemental word problem books have made a night and day difference for her in understanding and confidence . Had MUS not worked my fall back plan was (and still is- we haven't finished our second Alg I pass yet) DO.

 

Anyway, I just hope you do take some time to consider the advice by everyone above. It would be in your dd's best interest. You never know if she will change her mind about college either. She still has a few years to go. A solid base in Algebra is so important.

 

Best wishes- I hope you find a good program. It's very hard watching and coping with a struggling math student, so much sympathy for you there.

Edited by texasmom33
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Thanks so much for all the replies. I'll check into those programs and look into the dyscalculia. 

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Coming back with a few questions.

 

I had my daughter do an online diagnostic test for dyscalculia, and she did quite well on it - 19 out of 20 correct in less than 5 minutes. So according to the diagnostic, she doesn't have dyscalculia.

 

I think I'll have the tutor start the year with reviewing math concepts using decimals, percents, and fractions and then review algebra topics, spending time on any that she struggles with. I've looked at the Hands on Equations program a bit. It seems to only cover simple linear equations. Is this the case? She can manage those without a problem. The difficulties come from the more advanced linear equations and two-variable systems. I'd really appreciate clarification on what Hands on Equations covers.

 

I'll let them spend as much time as they need on that review and then move on to a good geometry program. Derek Owens and Jann in TX both look good, but I don't think I could afford them if I'm paying for a private tutor as well. I'm thinking that the private tutor would probably be more valuable than online help. So I'd really appreciate some less expensive curriculum recommendations if possible. I have a friend that I might be able to borrow MUS from, so that would be a possibility. I'm happy to spend $50-100 on a quality textbook, but I can't spend $400 on an online math course and then pay a private tutor as well.

 

Thanks for all the help so far.

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I have a slightly different suggestion.

 

This year, I would go on to MUS Geometry, there is very little algebra used and Geometry is so different from Algebra, she may find it a wonderful change. The course is light coverage, very practical, and she will probably finish it in a year. Even most struggling math students do.

 

From there, I'd use Lial's Intermediate Algebra for Algebra 2, but plan to spread it across her last two years with the tutor for support. Lial's does a great job of reviewing Algebra 1 coverage of each topic before moving on to Algebra 2 level coverage. It isn't all at the beginning, here is your Algebra review, now let's move on, but each chapter starts with covering the topic from the beginning. For students who have had a lighter Algebra 1 or haven't understood Algebra 1, it is the perfect way to fill the gaps and get through a full round of Algebra 2. It will be slow going, because instead of flying through the first part of each chapter like review, she will be learning every section. As long as you spread it out and know in advance you are going to use it over two years that will be fine. I would transcript it as Algebra 2A and Algebra 2B, because that is standard practice in public schools today - to offer a slower paced 2-year version of algebra classes that get a full credit for each year. Then if she ever decides she does want to go to college, she will have the prerequisite math skills and the transcript to get there. 

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What are her career goals? Not wanting to go to college is fine, but does she have any specific career goals. Military, apprenticeship, etc.

 

Or do you mean she would consider going to community college to get a shorter degree or certificate? Even for the most basic AA degrees, usually proficiency in College Algebra (which is both Alg 1 and 2) is required. You have to take a placement test for community college, and many times you'll end up in remedial math, if you aren't proficient in Alegbra 2 and GEometry....But it really depends on her goals. There are many certificate programs for thinks like medical office desk assistant, early childhood education (preschool), etc that don't require College Algebra. :)

 

That would give us a good clue as to advice. I was going to suggest a Math Center (we use and love Mathnasium) but for someone who isn't going to get an AA, then that would probably be overkill, and not worth the financial output (2-3000.00 per school year depending on prices where you live). My dd absolutely cannot stand the way that I explain math and it was creating a total uproar on a regular basis. I am sequential, and she is dyslexic/visual and we just couldn't do it anymore. SO I really really understand your pain!! :)

 

 

Also, we used a tutor for math for one year and it wasn't really conducive to homeschooling, even though the tutor was amazing and homeschooled all her own kids and has a PhD and awards for teaching math. It's really hard to only get helpful instruction once per week. So, whatever program you choose, it would help if the program itself really had regular grading and feedback too. We really liked Derek Owens math and the grading and feedback was very worthwhile. If you're really stuck, you can call or email him but he usually beats each subject to death in the videos, and goes nicely and slowly. He requires the student to take notes so they are forced to interact WHILE he is talking. I really thin kit might help you. Then the tutor can just put out fires :)

Edited by Calming Tea

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Calming Tea, she really doesn't know what she wants to do. She's very artistic, but isn't really driven with it - to do it as a career. She just enjoys it as a hobby. She loves animals and may end up doing something with animals, but not in a sciencey way. Believe me, I've tried to get her to narrow down her focus and at least explore different careers, but that conversation brings almost as much stress as trying to teach her algebra.

 

I'll have a second look at Derek Owens, but honestly, I think she needs the one on one attention of a tutor. The guy on TT explains the concepts pretty well, but she kind of zones out during the lesson portion unless I'm sitting with her and drawing her attention to the important points. I would be afraid that she would do the same thing with the DO videos.

 

Mom2Ns, I really like your idea of doing geometry next year and then spreading out Algebra II with Lial's. This could work really well for us. Thanks for the idea.

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My dd is into horses and a fantastic artist too...we are just encouraging her to go early to community college (in 10th grade) and then pursue a transfer for an Education/Teaching major. Does your dd like children enough to consider that?  

 

Anyway,  the tutor is a great idea, if you can afford one 3-4 days per week. Is that what you're considering? If so, I do like that one on one idea, and I think someone else teaching it is a great idea!!

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I'll have a second look at Derek Owens, but honestly, I think she needs the one on one attention of a tutor. The guy on TT explains the concepts pretty well, but she kind of zones out during the lesson portion unless I'm sitting with her and drawing her attention to the important points. I would be afraid that she would do the same thing with the DO videos.

 

Mom2Ns, I really like your idea of doing geometry next year and then spreading out Algebra II with Lial's. This could work really well for us. Thanks for the idea.

 

Is sitting by her during math an option? I know it's not possible in every situation, but sometimes having that presence can make all the difference in keeping the student focused in certain "just gotta get through this" circumstances.

 

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Calming Tea, she really doesn't know what she wants to do. She's very artistic, but isn't really driven with it - to do it as a career. She just enjoys it as a hobby. She loves animals and may end up doing something with animals, but not in a sciencey way. Believe me, I've tried to get her to narrow down her focus and at least explore different careers, but that conversation brings almost as much stress as trying to teach her algebra.

 

I'll have a second look at Derek Owens, but honestly, I think she needs the one on one attention of a tutor. The guy on TT explains the concepts pretty well, but she kind of zones out during the lesson portion unless I'm sitting with her and drawing her attention to the important points. I would be afraid that she would do the same thing with the DO videos.

 

Mom2Ns, I really like your idea of doing geometry next year and then spreading out Algebra II with Lial's. This could work really well for us. Thanks for the idea.

 

Wow, what is up with these young artistic girls who love animals but not necessarily science, at least as they know it? I think you have described both of my daughters. lol ;) I am always looking for avenues to introduce science in new ways  and relate it to their lives. But its not easy to bridge that with something practical. I know not all girls are the same but how many 'don't' love animals and then drawing, painting, decorating them? Our daughters have recently picked up crocheting from their grandmother and now are making little outfits for their stuffed animals. The biggest thing on their mind right now is getting a new bunny. Fortunately, we have a 'bunny lady' in our area who is also a nurse. They can see the direct benefit of her medical background and training when it comes to bunny care. :)

 

Ok, back to math. Although I originally said strengthening the foundation is the most important thing which I still believe holds true, the notion of a college Algebra covering both I & II over a longer period is probably fine as well. While DO works great for many, its not for everyone. And you are right in trying to keep things affordable. That makes good sense. A tutor could take her through a book like Lials. I'm just know sure I would want to push that off another year. By then even less Algebra will be retained. 

 

I'll give you yet another option. Consider the possibility of working on both in parallel - a hybrid approach. You could start Geometry as planned while beginning a review of Algebra I or Algebra I/II with another text. What might this like? This could be 3 days a week of Geometry with 2 days of Algebra. Or possibly two math sessions daily (morning/afternoon). Basically tailor it in a way that works best for her without relegating math to the back seat. That will provide several benefits for her:

1. She will have the opportunity to shore up the weaker areas of understanding from this past year's Algebra course.

2. She can continue to advance to the 'next level' in her math.

3. She may then be able to complete things earlier with the possibility of taking a more practical math course such as statistics.

 

I would review several options for the Algebra text if you decide to stick with the tutor route. I guess the biggest question I would have to ask is, does having the tutor seem to be the most beneficial? How has she responded to it and has it made a tangible difference in her work? Finally, I would try to elicit feedback from her about what is/isn't working including the tutoring sessions. Keep in mind that Jann offers tutoring 'with' her classes. Has she ever tried an online class before with a live teacher? It sounds like she has already provided some feedback in her opinion of TT. I would engage her more in the final selection process so that she gains a greater sense of ownership in the decision making process. I find that really helps even with struggling students. They tend to want to stick with things more when they help to make the decision. Of course you can provide 'options' or the framework from which to choose from. I like the let our kids listen to samples or review the texts. Its surprising what strong opinions they have when given the opportunity to provide them.

Edited by dereksurfs

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Thanks so much for all the responses.

 

Calming Tea, we live in England, so attending community college while in high school isn't really an option. She could pursue that after high school. I've wondered if she may end up going into early childhood education because she does like kids. I'm just not sure if she likes them well enough to work with them full time. I've thought she could end up working at an animal rescue centre or training guide dogs for the blind or something like that. Or if she gets more into art, she could try to get into illustrating children's books. 

 

Gr8lander, I've been sitting with her for her math lessons almost daily for several months. It helps her get through them, but does nothing good for our relationship because of her frustration level with me. I'm hoping that I can bring her to the tutor once a week, she can teach her the 4 or 5 lessons for the week, then dd can spend the rest of the week doing the exercises. I haven't actually met the tutor yet. She's been recommended to me by a friend of a friend. But she is American so is familiar with teaching an American style of math - not easy to find over here. I meet with her next week and have been trying to get an idea of curriculum options for dd for next year so that we can discuss the options and decide before she goes to the US for the summer (the tutor, not my daughter).

 

Dereksurfs, I have several algebra texts left over from ds, so I could follow your suggestion, moving forward with geometry and doing a bit of review of algebra through the year so she doesn't forget it all. We haven't used the tutor yet, so I don't know how it will work, but she hasn't liked the online classes she's taken before. She did online school for a couple of classes in 8th grade. The course work wasn't very good, but the weekly online meetings with the tutor were excellent. She also did a live online class with Landry and really disliked it. The time change also complicates live online classes. The other problem with a class is that she couldn't work at her own pace. She couldn't slow down and spend a couple of weeks on a topic that she's struggling with. I've tried to include her on decisions with curriculum, but she doesn't generally want to think about it, let alone discuss it. She doesn't even talk about TT. What I've shared is what I can see in her work and her attention. She did tell me that she disliked the Landry class, but generally just doesn't want to talk about or think about school any more than she absolutely has to in order to get the work done. I've tried to explain that if she spends time exploring samples, and getting involved in the decision, then we may be able to find something that suits her, but she doesn't believe me. :-( 

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 I've tried to explain that if she spends time exploring samples, and getting involved in the decision, then we may be able to find something that suits her, but she doesn't believe me. :-( 

 

My dd would never do it either. She just wanted me to choose the materials and tell her what to do. If she didn't like a course and I wanted to try to find a better fit for the next year, she'd just shrug away my efforts, "I don't know," "I don't care," "it doesn't matter," "whatever..." When I came here and got feedback asking which my dd would prefer, it just made me want to pull my hair out. 

 

:grouphug:

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My dd would never do it either. She just wanted me to choose the materials and tell her what to do. If she didn't like a course and I wanted to try to find a better fit for the next year, she'd just shrug away my efforts, "I don't know," "I don't care," "it doesn't matter," "whatever..." When I came here and got feedback asking which my dd would prefer, it just made me want to pull my hair out. 

 

:grouphug:

 

So glad mine isn't the only one. 

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My ds15 did not retain anything he learned in TT algebra 1 (though it worked well for my older son.) I had ds repeat algebra 1 with Saxon, which turned out to be a much better fit for him. If you went that route, you could take the next three years to work through algebra 1 & 2. Geometry is integrated into both books, so she would get some geometry as well. And you can purchase reasonably priced instructional cds to supplement the tutor's instruction.

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My ds15 did not retain anything he learned in TT algebra 1 (though it worked well for my older son.) I had ds repeat algebra 1 with Saxon, which turned out to be a much better fit for him. If you went that route, you could take the next three years to work through algebra 1 & 2. Geometry is integrated into both books, so she would get some geometry as well. And you can purchase reasonably priced instructional cds to supplement the tutor's instruction.

 

Hmmm. This idea intrigues me. Virtual Homeschool Group has lessons to go along with Saxon math. So I could have her watch those lessons, do the exercises on her own, then have the tutor go over any wrong answers and teach her anything that she's struggling with. It would keep costs down and give her the one-on-one instruction when she needs it.

 

Just want to clarify - if she does Saxon Algebra I in 10th grade and Saxon Algebra II in 11th grade, would she need to do Saxon Geometry in 12th grade, or is there enough integrated to count as a Geometry credit? And if the two Saxon Algebra courses count as 3 math credits (including Geometry), do I just not put her Algebra I with Teaching Textbooks on her transcript?

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It would be unusual for a student who did not retain with Teaching Textbooks to do better with Saxon (but not impossible).  It could be the student who used TT 'tuned out' the instructor due to boredom and attempted to do the program based on their 'own logic' instead of the lesson's instructions (I even get students like this occasionally in my classes!)

 

Saxon is NOT a program for struggling learners-- even with a dvd instructor, the student will need to combine concepts on their own with little guidance (much teaching is done within the homework problem set as the students find the homework problems combine parts of several different lessons and there are no examples to follow ... this struggle is common (when I taught Saxon about 30% of my students had issues with it not matching their learning style)...the difficulty usually appears around lessons 30-50... Saxon can be a very strong program IF it works for your student!

 

-If the OP does go with Saxon then their student would need to complete Saxon Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and the first 70 lessons (minimum) in the Advanced Math text in order to earn a full credit in Geometry.  Just working Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 would give the student 1/2 credit in Geometry.

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It would be unusual for a student who did not retain with Teaching Textbooks to do better with Saxon (but not impossible).  It could be the student who used TT 'tuned out' the instructor due to boredom and attempted to do the program based on their 'own logic' instead of the lesson's instructions (I even get students like this occasionally in my classes!)

 

Saxon is NOT a program for struggling learners-- even with a dvd instructor, the student will need to combine concepts on their own with little guidance (much teaching is done within the homework problem set as the students find the homework problems combine parts of several different lessons and there are no examples to follow ... this struggle is common (when I taught Saxon about 30% of my students had issues with it not matching their learning style)...the difficulty usually appears around lessons 30-50... Saxon can be a very strong program IF it works for your student!

 

-If the OP does go with Saxon then their student would need to complete Saxon Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and the first 70 lessons (minimum) in the Advanced Math text in order to earn a full credit in Geometry.  Just working Saxon Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 would give the student 1/2 credit in Geometry.

 

Thanks for the heads-up, Jann. I guess I'll pursue one of the other options I'm considering.

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