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Algebra 2 or PreCalculus next year?

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My tenth grader son is taking the Chalkdust geometry course this year. Can he skip Algebra 2 and go straight to PreCalculus next year? The PreCalculus does cover trigonometry and College Algebra. I'm asking because he wants to take Physics next year but he needs to be taking trigonometry for it, doesn't he? He could do the trig. part next year and then the College Algebra portion the following year.

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Another vote for "no." While there is some overlap in topics between Algebra 2 and Precalc, such topics are covered in Precalc with more depth. Furthermore, in the Precalc books I've seen they assume knowledge of certain Algebra skills that come from Algebra 2 but not from Algebra 1 -- dealing with fractional exponents and complex numbers are two skills that come to mind. (I never have taught fractional exponents and complex numbers even in my Honors Algebra 1 course.)


Heck, I know of some schools where Precalculus is taught in two years, with College Algebra in the first year and Trigonometry + Analytic Geometry in the second year. I sometimes wonder if other schools should follow suit, because to me the Precalc textbooks are getting thicker, and as a teacher teaching Precalculus at a private school now, I really can't cover all of the chapters in one year. But I digress...


As for your concern about your son WRT physics... The usual math sequence for the first 3 years of HS is Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2, and the usual science sequence is Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. (At least, in many public and private schools.) So some students take Algebra 2 and Physics the same time. Maybe you can consider a physics "lite" course first ("Conceptual Physics"?) and then an AP-caliber physics course the following year?




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Well, ok, I'll have my ds take Alg. 2 next year. The physics he wants to take is by BJU. Would you happen to know how much math he needs for that one? Just basic trig like what's taught in the last chapter of Chalkdust Geometry? We are doing the newer book.

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I think you will be fine with doing Al II concurrently with the course. I went on line to BJUs website and looked at the sample chapter and TOC. The chapter I skimmed taught the needed trig as it went along.


That being said, I'd suggest that you call their rep and ask specifically what trig is needed for the course. I don't think that it is likely that you would need more than the basics AND if the other chapters are similar to the sample...they teach it in the text.


I did teach a group of 4 boys Apologia Physics a couple years ago. Two were in Precalculus and two were in Al II...it was not a problem. We just made sure the boys who were in AL II understood how to deal with basic trig as we went along. There are many web sources you can turn to for extra help if needed.


I do think that you should be sure that your student is solid on Algebra as you go into this. Most high school Chem and Physics are really heavily Algebra dependant. If a student is struggling at all with Algebra, you probably should try to shore that up before plunging ahead.


Afterall...isn't that what summer is for? Sorry....couldn't resist.

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Some people skip Pre-calc and go straight to Calc, which I would recommend over skipping Algebra 2.


Agreeing that some people can skip precalc, but it depends on the curriculum selected. For example Dolciani Algebra II/Trig would prepare a student for Calculus. But if an Algebra II program does not include trig, then a student had better not skip precalc. Or if a student is less than confident in any area, I would not skip precalc. Students who do not understand algebraic manipulations (say complex fractions or laws of logarithms) or graphing concepts like asymptotes will struggle with Calculus. It is hard to focus on the more challenging theoretical ideas if algebra/trig slows you down.



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