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Old 07-13-2014, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,617,038 times
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As a former NoVa resident, I am interested in the common math track of students in NoVa, with most interest in FCPS, although I'd love to hear from people in other districts, too such as PW, Loudoun, and Arlington. We moved away from Vienna 2 1/2 years ago to Chapel Hill, NC where there are supposed to be good schools, but I have been less than impressed with my child's middle school. In particular, I am most concerned that they are currently only allowing students who scored in the 95% on end of year exams to be on track to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade and are pushing for most students to take Algebra 1 in 9th grade in high school.

When I look at the middle school we were zoned for in Vienna (Thoreau), it looks like the track for Algebra 1 in 8th grade is open to everyone and you only have to test in if you want to be on track for Algebra 1 in 7th grade. So I am curious, is that what most relatively smart students do in middle school in FCPS and other parts of NoVA - take math 7 honors or math 7 in 7th grade and then do algebra 1 honors or algebra 1 in 8th grade? If so, would you say half the students are on that track or 3/4 students are, etc.? I'm curious because I want to get a feel for how challenging the schools are overall and to figure out if this track would most likely be an option for my children if we decided to move back to NoVA.

We are having serious concerns about our child's schooling in Chapel Hill Carrboro City School District (other issues besides this one) and are giving some thought to other schooling options including moving back.
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Old 07-13-2014, 04:23 PM
 
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Yes, most 8th graders (at least in FCPS) do take Algebra I, though "Math 8" is still an option. I don't know the actual percentage of FCPS students who take Algebra I by the end of eighth grade, and would venture to guess that it depends on the school, but I would guess it is around 75%-80%? I guess?

A fair number of kids take Algebra I in seventh grade, and a few might even take Algebra I in sixth grade.
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:00 PM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patriot201 View Post
Yes, most 8th graders (at least in FCPS) do take Algebra I, though "Math 8" is still an option. I don't know the actual percentage of FCPS students who take Algebra I by the end of eighth grade, and would venture to guess that it depends on the school, but I would guess it is around 75%-80%? I guess?

A fair number of kids take Algebra I in seventh grade, and a few might even take Algebra I in sixth grade.
Yea we had Algebra available at my elementary school though there were only 20 or so of us taking it and that was two decades ago. Basically if you are on track for BC Calculus I believe it would be necessary to be at Algebra by 7th grade.
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tysonsengineer View Post
Yea we had Algebra available at my elementary school though there were only 20 or so of us taking it and that was two decades ago. Basically if you are on track for BC Calculus I believe it would be necessary to be at Algebra by 7th grade.
Wow! That's amazing! I was in a "GT Center" and we didn't have Algebra available in either elementary school or for seventh graders (25+ years ago). We only had one class of Algebra I available for eighth graders, and we had 25 students (out of approximately 500 eighth graders) who took it. Almost every eighth grader took Math 8.


I took Calculus BC my senior year, but my math classes were as follows:

Math 7-- Grade 7
Algebra I-- Grade 8
Geometry-- Grade 9
Algebra II-- Grade 10
Pre-Calculus-- Grade 11
Calculus BC-- Grade 12
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Old 07-13-2014, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Ashburn, VA
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Loudoun has an advanced math 6/7 for 6th graders. If they do well, they can choose to take Algebra in 7th grade. If they don't do very well, they can take math 8 in 7th grade. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Algebra grade (even if taken in 7th grade) counts toward their high school transcript. As competitive as this area is, they pretty much have to do well.

On a side note, Loudoun schools also offer high school level languages to the 7th graders. A 7th grader could end the year with two high school classes completed.
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Old 07-13-2014, 06:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tysonsengineer View Post
Yea we had Algebra available at my elementary school though there were only 20 or so of us taking it and that was two decades ago. Basically if you are on track for BC Calculus I believe it would be necessary to be at Algebra by 7th grade.
No, you can take Calculus your senior year in FCPS if you take Alg I in 8th grade. You would follow the timeline that Patriot spelled out.

Parents of GT kids consider it a badge of honor to get their kid into Alg I in 7th grade. Some kids are perfectly ready for it (one of mine was, the other three weren't even though they were all GT) but the majority aren't. I've talked to teachers who taught 7th grade Alg I and they said that the majority of the kids in their classes really weren't ready. You're not doing a kids any favors by pushing them into Alg I before they're ready. The material is absolutely vital to subsequent math classes and the kids need to be able to master it, not just memorize it test by test. OP, I realize this isn't what you're saying -- it's just a pet peeve of mine. Another reason to wait until 8th grade, at least in this district, is that if you do Alg I in 7th grade then you end up in calc your junior year. Colleges like to see kids take a math class every year so that means that kids who might have no intention of majoring in STEM might end up having to take a really advanced math class their senior year.
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Old 07-13-2014, 07:26 PM
 
Location: Tysons Corner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patriot201 View Post
Wow! That's amazing! I was in a "GT Center" and we didn't have Algebra available in either elementary school or for seventh graders (25+ years ago). We only had one class of Algebra I available for eighth graders, and we had 25 students (out of approximately 500 eighth graders) who took it. Almost every eighth grader took Math 8.


I took Calculus BC my senior year, but my math classes were as follows:

Math 7-- Grade 7
Algebra I-- Grade 8
Geometry-- Grade 9
Algebra II-- Grade 10
Pre-Calculus-- Grade 11
Calculus BC-- Grade 12
Geometry = trig?

I may be a bit confused after looking at this list now (because the last 3 are definitely what I ended up taking), what Keene mill might have had available was pre-algebra, but I dont ever recall taking Math 7.
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Old 07-13-2014, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,617,038 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectorhead View Post
No, you can take Calculus your senior year in FCPS if you take Alg I in 8th grade. You would follow the timeline that Patriot spelled out.

You're not doing a kids any favors by pushing them into Alg I before they're ready. The material is absolutely vital to subsequent math classes and the kids need to be able to master it, not just memorize it test by test. OP, I realize this isn't what you're saying -- it's just a pet peeve of mine. Another reason to wait until 8th grade, at least in this district, is that if you do Alg I in 7th grade then you end up in calc your junior year.
Yes, I am just wanting my child to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade which seems to be the norm these days for most kids. But our school district is only allowing the kids who scored in the 95th percentile on the year-end tests to be on that track. They want the majority of kids to take Algebra 1 in 9th grade - in high school which will leave them behind students in other school districts.
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Old 07-13-2014, 08:29 PM
 
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I agree that that seems late to offer Alg I. A lot of kids are perfectly ready in 8th grade. Do the schools offer calculus? I don't think it would be possible to reach calc if you don't take algebra until 9th grade.
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Old 07-13-2014, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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FCPS has adopted an "open enrollment" philosophy for math classes. There are no requirements to take any of the advanced classes (unless you are taking algebra as a 7th grader, which requires a certain score on the IOWA test). Anyone can take math 7 honors in 7th grade, regardless of 6th grade SOL scores or recommendations, anyone can take algebra in 8th grade regardless of 7th grade course or SOL scores or recommendations. All it takes is a parent signing an override form acknowledging that they are going against the teacher recommendation. I had students in my 8th grade algebra class who failed the 6th and 7th grade math SOLs.

FWIW, at my school this past year we had approximately 1/3 of the 8th grade in 8th grade math, and 2/3 in algebra. The percentages will vary by school--you can easily look up the stats for a particular school on the county website and look at their SOL data. Look at see how many kids took which math SOLs last year.

I have been told that the goal is to have "all 8th grade students taking algebra in Virginia" at some point (I forget the year). As an 8th grade algebra teacher, I cringe to hear this. A large portion of students are not developmentally ready for the abstraction of algebra at age 13.

Just for comparison, a pass advance on a math SOL is about a 90%. Off the record/unofficially, many of my colleagues have suggested that students should have to pass advance the 7th grade SOL to take algebra in 8th grade--so the NC requirement doesn't seem horribly far fetched.
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