# What is the progression of mathematics at your area schools?

When I was in school in the 80’s, pretty much everyone took Algebra 1 in 9th grade, geometry in 10th, Algebra 2/Trigonometry 11th and pre-Calculus in 12, if they were taking 4 yrs of math. A few people were a year behind or ahead.

Now, it seems to be the standard to take Algebra 1 in 8th grade, Geometry in 9th grade, Algebra 2 in 10th, etc. For my son, he took Algebra 1 in 7th grade (so a bit ahead), Algebra 2 in 8th, since they didn’t offer Geometry to the 8th graders. He’s at grade level this year taking Geometry in 9th. Next year he’ll take Trig/pre Calc, etc.

I have a friend in another state and they don’t offer anything other than basic math until high school, similar to when I was in school. So, I am just wondering what the progression is in other areas, if it’s basically the same or different.

Chicago Public Schools have an…unusual math system. It’s in a period of transition planned to last the next three years, as they shift students from the way we did it to a program based on conceptual understanding.

PreK-6, most schools use Everyday Mathematics, which doesn’t use the isolated “counting, then addition, then subtraction, then multiplication, then division, then fractions…” format my own school used. Rather, concepts are mixed. One day she’s doing fractions, another day finding the volume of solids. The next day might be three digit addition, and the next day rudimentary algebra. (Second grade.) The focus is worlds away from rote memorization (in fact, that’s a primary criticism many people have of the curriculum) or learning a procedure, and much more on understanding concepts. Remember back when you got in trouble because you added 253+253+253 when your teacher wanted you to learn 253X3? In this program, at least in second grade, it’s encouraged to do it whatever way works for your understanding. It shows the teacher that the student groks the *concept *of multiplication, not just the mechanics.

It also means that you don’t forget fractions 'cause you haven’t used them for a year. You’re always using every concept.

Lots and lots of what we used to call “Word Problems.” They can use whatever strategies make sense to solve them. A few weeks ago, she had a list of items at a store for various prices (all in cents), and she was asked to create a word sentence and a number sentence for what she’d buy with, say 18 cents, and how much she’d have left over. Well…you can add items until you get close to 18, or you can start at 18 and subtract. You can multiply 3 5-cent items and count up to 18 to find the left over, or you can multiply 3 5-cent items and subtract the answer from 18 to find the left overs. You can count on your fingers or use a calculator or use pennies from your mom’s piggy bank or you can do it in your head.
For high school, here’s what the official document has to say:

As a parent, I quite like it. She’s doing great, and understands much more of the “why” of math operations than I did at her age. I do, however, wonder what the heck is going to happen if/when we move out of district into a more traditional math curriculum.

At the moment, most of the junior highs and high schools are still using traditional class divisions. Over the next three years, they will be switched to the new conceptual model.

I predict much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I’m not even sure how to find this out. Just poked around on some school district websites to no avail. I think that algebra I was still viewed as standard in 9th grade ~10 or so years ago, although there were plenty of kids who had one or two years of calc in high school, and some who had completed both of those early and had to take something different if they wanted more math. Better schools probably had more kids taking algebra I in 8th rather than 9th.

I wasn’t particularly amazing at math, but a well timed move put me a year ahead of where I otherwise would have been, as the new school used Saxon math books. They don’t have a separate year for geometry, which is instead included in both years of algebra and in precal. I don’t think this is common.

I know things are changing around right now, so I am not sure what all is going on in lower grades (though the above description of 2nd grade sounds pretty similar to what my daughter is doing).

I teach in a high school, so I can tell you what we have been doing and what we are shifting to. I’m in West Virginia, and we have until 2015, so different counties have different orders.

Up until last year, it was various basic math concepts up through 8th grade. Now you could be advanced a bit in middle school, with some kids getting to take pre-algebra in 7th grade, then algebra 1 in 8th (and a few very bright kids getting to take algebra 1 in 7th and then either geometry or algebra 2 in 8th, but most people were against this in general). In 8th grade, until last year, all the middle schools in my county had 3 options for 8th – general math, pre-algebra, and algebra 1. If you took Algebra 1 you got an actual high school credit and your grade counted in your Cumulative GPA for high school.

Once you got to high school, all students are required to take 4 math classes to graduate. The progression is Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Trig, Pre-Calc, Calculus 1, Calculus 2 (or, instead of Calculus you can take AP Statistics). You can double up (take two classes in one year) on a combination of Geometry, Algebra 2, Trig, and Pre-Calc, in order to get as far as you want or just take the first 4 in a row. For lower kids we did offer Algebra 1 with Support (takes 2 periods a day, all year long, with two teachers in the room, and you do get 2 credits for it). Also we have a class called Conceptual Math, which is not considered College Prep, that basically reviews Alg 1&2, Geometry, and some real-world things like taxes and finance. And I teach a college prep class called Transition Math, which is a review for college bound seniors that can’t pass the state testing and so aren’t ready for act/sat and college algebra.

But now the high schools are all changing. This year there is no Algebra 1. These current 9th graders will take the new series of classes all the way up, while the current 10th and above will stay on the old system. So I teach some Geometry this year, but it won’t exist as a class next year. We are going to the “Math 1, Math 2, Math 3” system. In talking to the 9th grade math teachers, they do a mix of different classes. So when they do an Algebra 1 concept, they up it into Algebra 2. There is Geometry all throughout as well, and even a smattering of Trig and Stats. They are still working out the kinks this first year. In looking at the Math 2 objectives, which will start next year, there is about 1/3 of the current geometry, with more of the algebra and a much heavier hitting of trig and stats. Math 3 finishes the geometry and trig, and bumps the algebra up into what we currently do in pre-calc. Supposedly Math 3 will be leveled into a non-college-bound technical version, a “regular” college-bound version, and a STEM version for the math/science kids.
No one seems quite sure what the options will be for the 4th year of math. Currently Calculus, Statistics, and Transition are still showing up in info sheets we get, along with Math 4 and Mathematical Modeling, whatever those turn out to be. In a couple more months I will have to make the decision of whether or not I want to be a Math 2 teacher, going to trainings and such this summer, or stick with the old way for another year or two .

Interesting. What about the 7th graders who are ready for algebra? Is there a “Math 1” class for them? I’m also curious as to why people might be against this; a full third of my 7th grade class was in algebra 1, to no ill effect so far as I can tell.

Also, it looks like kids will be ready for calculus after that third year? Sounds like what I experienced, so I guess this is less odd than I thought.

We didn’t separate them. We were taught all branches of math together every year with the level of difficulty advancing every year. They were called Sequential Math I, II, III. AP calculus was separate. There was an honors track that just involved taking all the classes one year early.

Can’t say currently, but 17 years ago in Madison, WI public the progression I did was:

8th grade - algebra
9th grade - geometry
10th grade - pre-calculus (Algebra 2+Trigonometry in a year, alternative was to do one year on both)
11th grade - Calc AB
12th grade - Calc BC

After AP exams, my first math class in college (for an engineering degree) was Calc III

Dunno what it’s like these days.

Wow! Thanks to everyone who has responded so far. I am finding it all very interesting. I have never heard of the integrated/sequential math classes like some of you are talking about. It’s an interesting concept.