by Esther » Wed Mar 14, 2012 9:33 am
I'm just going to jump in about the math courses and track in high school. Because of what has happened with our 3 boys and the somewhat different paths they've taken.
What happens here is in 5th grade (last year of elementary) the students take a math placement test that places them on which "track" they'll be on in middle school. There is actually 4 tracks I believe. And math is the only course in middle school that is tracked, everyone else is grouped together in all other academic subjects. There is the uber high course, which places 6th graders in pre-algebra (which is the standard 8th grade math class) that leads to algebra in 7th grade. Then there is the high math course which you take high math 6th grade, pre-algebra 7th grade, and algebra in 8th grade. Both of those tracks would lead to honors math classes in high school, ultimately ending in AP Calculus in either 11th or 12 grade. Then there is a regular math class which probably 80% of the students fall into, and then remedial math.
OK, oldest son places in the regular track. in 7th grade when he's taking the regular math, he is scoring all high 90's, so we fought the system to get him placed into Algebra in 8th grade. It was a huge pitb and a battle between the math coordinator in the middle school who did not make it easy and felt that nobody could just jump into Algebra without taking pre-algebra. The correct "system" of doing this would be to enroll your child in summer school to take pre-algebra and then take it in 8th grade. OR hire a state approved tutor to teach you pre-algebra. OR wait the first 9 weeks and then move you up to Algebra in 8th grade if you are making higher than a 95%. We bypassed all that and insisted he did Algebra. He did fine in Algebra, a solid B student. But b/c he didn't have straight A's, could not be in honors math track in high school, but still considered to be advanced in math, as one year ahead of the typical student. Matt did fine and took regular calculus his senior year. Did he enjoy math? Not really, and lucky for him he probably won't ever have to take a math class in college being a music education major.
Son 2. End of 5th grade, placed into the high math (not the uber high) and in 6th grade, due to somewhat spotty homework grades, was "demoted" to regular track math in 7th grade, which just like his brother before him, he did extremely well. So what did we do? We did the same thing and insisted he move up to Algebra in 8th grade. I will admit that both Sean and I felt that b/c both of us had done Algebra in 8th grade and both of us were naturally smart in math in secondary school, that our sons should be advanced as well. Ryan ended up with the nightmare algebra teacher (the very same one we fought with to move up with both sons). He struggled the first 9 weeks with C's, but by the end of the year he was a solid B in Algebra and like his brother, moved into regular math track, however still advanced and with students typically one year older in high school. 9th grade geometry, 10th grade Alg II, where he continously made very high A grades so speaking to his teacher end of last year, with her recommendation, we were allowed to bump him up to the honors track once again (which he would have been if he had just not goofed off in 6th grade, lol). Much to his great chagrin and horror this year, he has had quite an adjustment to Honors Trig/PreCalc... I think he did have a C his first 9 weeks but since then has been a solid B. Everyone that we have spoken to at college presentations etc said it is always better to take the harder courses and not make the higher grade, to show that you have the ability to work hard doing harder work than the average student. Plus for us, the honors grades are weighted one half grade point average. AP classes are weighted one full grade point average higher. Anyway, to continue on my long ramble here, the teacher just recently put recommendations on the board for which students she thinks should do AP calculus next year. Ryan has a choice, he can take AP Calc, regular Calc, College in HS Statistics (he would get actual college credit). She recommended he take AP Calc.
Now, on to son #3. Like his oldest brother, recommended for the regular course of math, which will place him in pre-algebra this year (8th grade), algebra in 9th grade and will end up in Trig/Pre calc his senior year. Unless he doubles up math one year in high school, he won't be able to take calculus in high school. I think by the time the 3rd one came around, we were both just tired of fighting the system, lol. Danny typically makes straight A's in the regular math and I'm fine with that. I honestly do not think any of my boys will end engineers, math whizzes, or scientists. So we're going to just let him be.
We do both feel it is very important for the boys to be in the higher honors and AP classes. In our high school, you can't take any AP classes until 10th grade. Matt took AP Government, AP English and AP Euro History. Ryan is taking AP Euro history this year and next year will be on track to take AP Gov't, AP English and AP calculus. It does make the student's high school transcript more attractive to see the honors and AP classes, even if the GPA isn't straight A's.
Good luck!
Mom extraordinaire to 3 boys... Ryan (20), Danny (17) and Matt (22)