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Maths: What makes an “honors” course vs. standard?


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High school maths: what makes a course honors vs. standard? My son is going into 9th grade/Algebra II and saw that his other core courses are labeled as “honors” for the work he’s assigned, but for math, I use a college textbook (Lial), so there’s no designation of what one would do to make the course “honors” level. As a homeschooler, I’m wary of designating a course “honors” without some outside source confirming what level of work is required in order to do so. He would like to have the honors designation if he can. So, my question is if possible, how? 

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11 minutes ago, Kathryn said:

I use a college textbook (Lial), so there’s no designation of what one would do to make the course “honors” level.

Lial is not honors level.  Algebra 2/intermediate algebra is considered remedial at the college level.  Having used the Lial Intermediate Algebra text on more than one occasion as well as having experience using other resources to teach both Algebra 2 and precalculus, I would put the Lial text a bit on the light side of regular in terms of concepts taught and perhaps a bit harder than regular in terms of manipulating algebraic expressions.

And I don't think there is any way to make Lial an honors level course unless you supplement with a different resource.

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Content is how I determine honors.  I call my kids' courses honors when the content they are studying is beyond what is typical in a classroom.  I do not base it on having to have any outside source validate what we are doing (good thing since we don't use many outside sources to begin with.)  I am the source that validates our kids' transcripts and I do not shy away from that in any part of our kids' applications.

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1 hour ago, EKS said:

Lial is not honors level.  Algebra 2/intermediate algebra is considered remedial at the college level.  Having used the Lial Intermediate Algebra text on more than one occasion as well as having experience using other resources to teach both Algebra 2 and precalculus, I would put the Lial text a bit on the light side of regular in terms of concepts taught and perhaps a bit harder than regular in terms of manipulating algebraic expressions.

And I don't think there is any way to make Lial an honors level course unless you supplement with a different resource.

What would you recommend for a student who wanted to do an honors credit for Algebra II? What would need to be covered that Lial does not?

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30 minutes ago, Kathryn said:

What would you recommend for a student who wanted to do an honors credit for Algebra II? What would need to be covered that Lial does not?

I would recommend Derek Owens.  He has an honors option, but the regular option (which is identical in terms of instruction--honors just means some harder problems are tacked on) is also far superior to Lial.  Note that Lial isn't terrible--it just isn't honors level.  Its focus seems to be doing a thorough review of Algebra I, extending it a bit, and getting students fluent with manipulating more complex algebraic expressions.  

I have also had some experience with this edition of Holt Algebra 2 which is used for both regular and honors sections of the local (well regarded) public high school.  It is similar to DO in scope.

I made a comparison of Lial and DO in this post in 2016 that I've reproduced here:

  • DO has a much more extensive and conceptual treatment of graphing throughout the course, specifically how graphs of various functions are shifted up, down, left, right, scaled, and flipped.  This is stressed over and over again whereas Lial mentions it in passing two times.
  • DO has a fuller discussion of complex numbers (including a bit of history), which includes graphing complex numbers in the complex plane and determining their absolute value.  
  • DO discusses factoring polynomials MUCH more extensively than Lial does.  Lial rehashes how to factor quadratics and then touches on factoring sums and differences of cubes and that is it.  DO introduces the remainder theorem, synthetic division, and the rational zeros theorem to deal with higher degree polynomials.  
  • DO's treatment of polynomials in general is far superior to Lial.  He discusses the end behavior of polynomial functions, repeated roots and what they mean graphically.  Eventually students are able to find the roots of functions like f(x)=x^4-5x^3-15x^2-5x-26.  
  • DO has a more extensive and conceptual discussion of e.
  • DO has a more extensive and conceptual treatment of graphing rational functions, including a detailed discussion of how to find vertical, horizontal, and oblique asymptotes.  Lial mentions vertical and horizontal asymptotes almost as an afterthought and only for very easy functions such as f(x)=2/(x-1) whereas DO talks about functions like f(x)=(x^2+x-6)/(2x+4).
  • DO has a more extensive and conceptual treatment of conic sections.
  • DO includes a chapter on sequences and series, and Lial does not.
  • DO includes two chapters on trigonometry (intro to trig and graphs of trig functions), and Lial does not.  
Edited by EKS
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1 hour ago, Kathryn said:

What would you recommend for a student who wanted to do an honors credit for Algebra II? What would need to be covered that Lial does not?

I am not familiar with Lials. I use Foersters with my kids. It is heavy with applied word problems. I have no qualms labeling Foerster's honors.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I am not familiar with Lials. I use Foersters with my kids. It is heavy with applied word problems. I have no qualms labeling Foerster's honors.

 

4 hours ago, EKS said:

I agree with this.


After reading through older threads, it looks like Lial Algebra I was a fine course, but it’s the Algebra II that is lacking for someone who is considering a mathy career? He should be okay moving to Foerster for Algebra II having done well with Lial Algebra I?

And it looks like there is some discussion of what amount of the Foerster book needs to be gotten through for Algebra II. I think I saw generally people on old threads here saying chapters 1-12, but I also mention of the Kolbe schedule. The Kolbe sample of their schedule shows their standard Algebra II scope as chapters 1-10 while the Honors one adds chapters 13-15. What chapters do people generally cover?

ETA: and it looks like Veritas Press uses the book for two years and calls it both Algebra II and Pre-Calculus?

Edited by Kathryn
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