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7th grader in Algebra 1

MotherdearMotherdear Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
edited September 2012 in Parents Forum
My rising seventh grade boy just made the last of the cuts to qualify for Algebra 1. This will put him on a junior year calculus class If he doesn't take this, he will be in Math Honors 7 and will take Algebra 1 next year which would result in Calc in sr yr... He's a smart boy, quick to learn, but neither his dad or I would call him a genius.

Pros:

He is very pleased with himself (ridiculously so) and promises he can handle the work and responsibility.

Our school system does have several levels of upper level classes for juniors (and even younger) who take Calculus. He won't have to go to a community college with older students or off-campus.

Cons:

I'm a bit concerned about a 7th grader taking a hs class that will be on his transcripts for colleges to see come admissions time. It can be reported as a letter grade or as pass/fail, but it will definitely be reported either way.

What would be the admissions ramifications if he did the higher level track but during his junior year took no math due to a selective program and resumed math in sr. yr? His sister was a US Congressional Page which he thinks would like to apply for as well. Because there are so few Pages, the highest level of math offered at the Page School is trig/precal that preps the jrs. for BC calc as srs.

Any personal anecdotes or experiences are welcome.
Post edited by Motherdear on
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Replies to: 7th grader in Algebra 1

  • mikenthemaddog66mikenthemaddog66 Posts: 2,680Registered User Senior Member
    This is a great program and one I wish my school would start doing. I highly recommend it.
    I'm a rising senior who has calc AB under his belt and will do calc BC next year. In order for me to "get ahead" I had to do a 3 week course in algebra I at the JHU CTY program which cost lots of cash. I felt if you can learn the stuff there is no reason not to take it.

    Now, my friend was a congressional page over the summer, so you could do that instead of this "page school" which I'm not too familiar with.
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 22,882Registered User Senior Member
    I had to stamp my feet to get my son into pre algebra in 6th grade. My only regret was that I didn't insist on putting him into algebra then. If he's good at math and ends up being a page as well, I'm sure he can do distance math via EPGY or CTY. I'm sure they wouldn't have accepted him for the class if they didn't think he'd do well.
  • mimk6mimk6 Posts: 4,109Registered User Senior Member
    All of my children took algebra in 7th grade. The two who have been to or are in college reported it on their applications but did not have to report the grade -- simply that they took it -- and between the two of them, they applied to a lot of colleges. Colleges don't factor in middle school grades -- they just need to know that the course requirement was met. We actually had one of our kids retake algebra in 8th grade, not because they didn't want to move him on but because we were so displeased with the teacher and the experience (long traumatic story -- worst teacher experience we had) and we felt that algebra was so important, that we had him retake it. He accelerated in high school and still had two years of calculus. My fourth child is about to start 7th grade algebra. It's worked out fine for us but there are a few key things that I think are important for success. One is the teacher -- it's really important to have a teacher who can teach the subject to that age group. The second is that it is important to remember that geometry is a different kind of thinking. I found that my kids who excelled in algebra struggled more in geometry and vice versa. The math teachers said this is very common when they start young. So a successful 7th grade year doesn't guarantee a successful geometry experience. Also, I think it's important that the school really be able to identify which kids are prepared to begin algebra -- it sounds like your son's school was careful and didn't just throw anyone into the class. Our experience was that 7th grade algebra involved more homework, including weekends, than pre-algebra and the kids need to be willing to do the work. As for taking a year off of math in high school -- I wouldn't recommend it. Math, like foreign languages, is progressive and it's easier to keep going than to take a break. You lose a lot in a year.
  • KrazyKowKrazyKow Posts: 1,526Registered User Senior Member
    I took algebra in 7th grade, and the only downside was that the 8th grade students in my class weren't particularly friendly. My middle school allowed students in algebra to change to normal 8th grade math until after the first semester exam, so that they could try out algebra and drop it if it didn't work out. Is there any chance your son's school would be willing to do that? Or, if your son's school is like mine, they'll change grade programs between now and his senior year and lose his grades from high school classes he took in middle school, so it won't even matter.

    I would have him take algebra now if he's academically ready for it, and deal with junior year math when it comes time. He could no longer be interested in the Congressional Page program, and, like mathmom said, there are always distance math programs.
  • MotherdearMotherdear Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
    In terms of CTY, I don't think my son is T enough by the CTY standards. We have no cash as we are paying full-freight for Kid#1's college.
    ----
    It is considered more difficult to get an academic year Page appointment than a summer appointment, although neither is easy. The AY kids have to balance their academics AND their responsibilities to the House or Senate. They are required to live in the dorms (even if their hometown is DC) and go to school at 6:45 am.

    Summer Pages can live with a "qualifying adult" or family member if there is one in commuting distance. Most of course opt to live in the dorm to get the full Page experience. In either case, it's considered easier because there is no balance to maintain.
  • maritemarite Posts: 21,586Registered User Senior Member
    I think it's too early to wonder what he'll want to do in junior year. If he has been accepted into Algebra 1 as a 7th grader, more power to him. Being proud and willing to handle the work is at least half of the battle. As for his grade appearing on his transcript, colleges do not take into account grades from before high school and some discount grades from freshman year as well.
    Lots of students take BC-Calc in junior year and go on to take Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra in their senior year either through distance learning or at the community college.
  • KrazyKowKrazyKow Posts: 1,526Registered User Senior Member
    Reading mimk's post reminded me - I ended up taking statistics junior year and calculus senior year, and I did feel as though my (junior year) SAT math score suffered because of being away from real math for a year. I retook it senior year after being in calculus for a month or two, and my score was where I thought it should be.
  • tanmantanman Posts: 2,642Registered User Senior Member
    I tested into Algebra in 7th grade and I don't think I even mentioned it on my application. When you list Algebra II (or whatever class your S will be taking) as your freshman year math class, it's assumed that you've completed the lower classes. As for not taking math for one year, I don't think it will be a problem at all, especially if it's because he's doing something like the Page program. I don't think the admissions perspective should even be an issue.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    Many students take algebra 1 as 7th graders, and many have no problems with it. My s is one who sailed through the class, and basically sailed through all of his later math classes including calculus, something that neither my husband nor I have ever taken.

    However, according to S's 7th grade math teacher, there also are many equally bright students who aren't ready for algebra at that age. The teacher, who was very experienced, said that he saw gifted students who had to drop algebra in 7th grade who excelled in it when they took it as h.s. freshmen. The teacher believed that what caused their earlier difficulty was probably connected with some aspect of brain development. They just needed more time for their brains to develop.

    Meanwhile, one doesn't need to take algebra in 7th grade to be on track for top colleges or for careers in the sciences.
  • MotherdearMotherdear Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
    We live in a state that has standardized tests at various grade levels, ie MCAS, SOLs etc. 5th graders take all subject exams and can score a Proficiency, Advanced Proficiency or Nonproficient. If a kid scores Advanced Proficiency for the 5th grade Math exam, that child is eligible to take "compacted math." In Jan/Feb of 6th grade, compacted math students take the Iowas and have to get a certain score. Those who surpass the score take the 8th grade state standardized math test in May. If they score am Advanced Proficiency on that, they are eligible for Algebra 1 placement in 7th grade.

    5th grade standardized test scores also are the initial cut to determine Honors placement for middle school (ours are 7-8 only). I found it ironic that I had a 5th grader and a junior both taking tests at the same time whose scores would affect school placement 15 months from the test.
  • tokenadulttokenadult Posts: 17,473Super Moderator Senior Member
    Because there are so few Pages, the highest level of math offered at the Page School is trig/precal that preps the jrs. for BC calc as srs.

    There will be something for him to do by that age if he wants to keep his math moving forward and he gets into the page program.

    You asked for anecdotes, so I'll relate mine. My son took algebra I and algebra II in an accelerated, university-based program in sixth grade. (We are homeschoolers; we declare grades by the usual age rules.) This coming school year is his "ninth grade" year, and he will be taking a course that is like the "C" part of AP calculus BC, followed by an introduction to linear algebra. Next year ("tenth grade") is slated for multivariable calculus and linear algebra in that same program.

    I had a big interest in politics when I was a kid, but knew nothing about how to get into the page program. Congratulations to you for having had one child in that already. I would let your second son follow his path, staying motivated at what he likes to do, and cross that bridge of articulating the two programs when he comes to it. I spent most of last year worrying about what to do for my son's "ninth grade" (agreeing with Marite, nothing before ninth grade, and possibly not ninth grade itself, really counts for college applications). We toured local independent high schools, inquired about out-of-district enrollment at certain public high schools, look at elite boarding schools, visited a local community college, and generally racked our brains about what to do with our son. Just when we thought we'd have to settle for second-best (left unnamed here), we heard about EPGY Online High School. That's not for everyone, I'm sure, but it looks like a good fit for us. Within a day or two we should know the financial aid outcome there (it has already been decided, but we haven't seen the news) and then we'll know if that is a go for the coming school year.

    Oh, and on the subject of financial aid, apply early, apply often, and apply EVERYWHERE. Each program has its own rules. CTY has good financial aid for some families (mostly at the low end of the income range nationally) and EPGY has GREAT financial aid over a wide income range. Apply for this, apply for that, and see what happens.

    Best wishes. Algebra in seventh grade is the routine international standard, so it's good to keep up with that.
  • drizzitdrizzit Posts: 806Registered User Member
    Great call Northstar mom

    Math can be a very conceptual subject and if students are not ready for it, maturity wise, they will be able to do the formulas but not really understand what it means or apply it.

    Advanced math is great if the kid has matured enough to truly understand. It is not intelligence but maturity and brain development that should be making the call.
  • MotherdearMotherdear Posts: 1,289Registered User Senior Member
    ^^^^How do you determine the maturity?
  • maritemarite Posts: 21,586Registered User Senior Member
    You don't need to take Algebra in 7th grade to be on track to take calculus in high school. But there is no reason not to take algebra in 7th grade. Lots of kids in the world do. The worst that can happen is that he will need to retake it in 8th or 9th grade. But he is psyched to do it, and that is a huge factor for success. The proof of maturity is like the proof of the pudding.

    My S began learning calculus in 7th grade. Another classmate was doing 9th grade math and another precalculus. No one pushed them.
  • Maize&BlueMaize&Blue Posts: 636Registered User Member
    I'll chime in as a math teacher and the parent of a D who took AP Calc AB as a junior. My best advice is to keep your eyes and ears open as to how your child is progressing during each year. I describe your son's situation as "double accelerated". Students who take AP Calc as seniors are "accelerated". The majority of high school seniors in this country top out at Precalc if they take four years of math. Double accelerated students should be scoring at or near the top of their classes. I watched my D carefully for this during the 4 years prior to AP Calc. She is not a mathematics prodigy, just a hard-working analytic kid. Had she performed in the B range (or lower), I would have had her slow down her acceleration by repeating a course.

    Our school and district allow acceleration such as your son's, and we have lots of parents who really push this for their kids. We have qualifying tests, but this by itself doesn't correlate well with future performance in AP Calc. Some of our kids self-study over the summer and skip a course. Choice is allowed, even if the test results do not support it or a teacher advises against it. However, the flip side is that once in a class the kid is stuck. I have a couple of double accelerated kids each year who have tutors! And they keep going right into AP Calc with their tutor! About 40% of our AP Calc classes are comprised of juniors and sophomores (we offer only AB and then an "advanced calc", CC course, in the HS the next year for uni credit). In too many of these accelerated cases, grades are in the B/C/D range and some parents have no clue that their child who was a top student in math in middle school had hit a wall somewhere or was drowning in a sea of over-acceleration in many areas.

    I assume that all will go well for your son. He should take a math class every year. There are ways to do this, several have been mentioned. As a senior, my D took the advanced calc class for 2 quarters of uni credit in addition to the 2 quarters credit she earned for her AP exam grade. She also took AP Stats that year. Since she was interested in the sciences, the colleges communicated that they'd like to see math each year of high school. However, I believe that every student should take four years of HS math to better prepare them for college expectations (and hopefully keep them out of remedial math as a college frosh).
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