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AP Statistics in 8th grade?

BostonDad2BostonDad2 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
edited November 2009 in AP Tests Preparation
I could use your advice. A 7th grade student has asked what math he should be taking next year and I would appreciate your opinions. I apologize in advance for the long post - feel free to skip the details and start in with your advice if you are so inclined.

This student is currently using an web-based independent study program as he is ahead of his grade and his school offers no other math options. This program (ALEKS) seems to work well for him and he has progressed through pre-algebra and algebra 1 and is now in geometry. The student tells me he expects to complete geometry, algebra 2, trig and pre-calc by the end of this school year or at the latest the end of next summer.

My advice has been to take a proof-based geometry course in 9th grade and calculus in 10th. There is no rush and I don't see any benefit to racing into calculus. The ALEKS geometry does not focus on proofs and it looks like the student will complete this class in about a month.

If you agree with my advice for 9th and 10th, what do you recommend for 8th grade? (If you don't, please comment!) I was thinking of a distance learning version of AP Statistics (perhaps through Northwestern's CTD program) complemented by an Art of Problem Solving class (perhaps Advanced MATHCOUNTS/AMC 8) and/or computer language class.

This is obviously a student who enjoys math and is willing to work independently. But not so independent that he could pick up a book and focus on that as his learning - he needs guidance and checkpoints. My reason for suggesting a proof-based geometry course in 9th is that he would be able to take this in a class with a real live math teacher. I don't have direct experience but it seems to me that this is a type of math where the student would really benefit from the interaction of a class.

So what do you suggest? What am I missing? If this student was you what would you want for yourself?

Thanks in advance for your comments.
Post edited by BostonDad2 on

Replies to: AP Statistics in 8th grade?

  • lemonelemone - Posts: 976 Member
    Try the IB
  • jerrry4445jerrry4445 Registered User Posts: 2,741 Senior Member
    Well, to take AP Statistics, he should finish Algebra 2, so I believe it is alright for him to take it next year, but like many AP courses, including those in the mathematics, AP Statistics require analytical and reasoning skills too. So, I hope your son has built strong analytical skills as he progresses through the levels of mathematics.
  • ghscheer92ghscheer92 Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    AP Statistics should be fine for him. I know Florida Virtual School has a class online.

    Otherwise, have you looked into dual enrollment classes?
  • TheMathProfTheMathProf Registered User Posts: 810 Member
    I would encourage the student to slow down a bit, and to wait to finish the courses listed until the end of 8th grade. That still would put this particular student significantly ahead of his peers and many (most?) high schools don't have a track to reasonably accommodate a student that advanced.

    In addition to jerrry4445's advice that Statistics requires analytical and reasoning skills, many of the classes on the journey towards calculus require students to develop a level of abstract thinking in order to truly understand what they're doing.

    I have a number of 10th graders in my AP Calculus class this year who haven't gotten to Calculus because they possess the ability to do the abstract thinking, but because they have the capability of breaking down topics even as advanced as precalculus into a series of rules. "Well, if it looks like ___, then I'll do this; if it looks like ____, then I'll do that instead." The problem is that when they finally enter a math class where the decision-making algorithms aren't so simple, these students start to struggle, and when students of this caliber start to struggle, it's a lot harder for these kids to compensate.

    I would recommend going through the MATHCOUNTS program. I myself did that in middle school and found it to be a wholly worthwhile program for developing these skills as well as interacting with other students who have similar talents.
  • BostonDad2BostonDad2 Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    TheMathProf - thanks for your comments. I agree with slowing him down and that is why I am looking for math classes that do not require calculus. Another option I have found is an introduction to number theory and its applications. Or, he could skip "math" for awhile a focus on other subjects, but I don't know if that makes sense.

    He went to the state MathCounts last year but this year's school team is not looking good for advancing that far.

    Thanks again for your comments.
  • prmdiprmdi Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    Don't be afraid to push him as hard as he wants to be pushed. Let him take stats (if he has taken algebra 2). Also, Stanford EPGY has online classes for all sorts of things :number theory, AP calc, multivariable calc, etc- but unfortunately not AP Stats. They also have physics if he is interested. If he wants the challenge, let him do it! - But don't force him into it because these things require students to be highly self-motivated and independent.

    **-I dont know if he can still take classes in FVPS though because classes have already started. Maybe things are different in Florida. (I am in NC)**

    Edit- Oh wait, he is in 7th, so he can take AP Stats next year on FVPS
  • mom22girlsmom22girls Registered User Posts: 377 Member
    I'm not sure about the AP stats - others will give you advice on that. But I wanted to say that you have a challenge ahead of you. Be sure to listen to your own instincts on how you help your son deal with this. Let him lead. I have a daughter for whom I had to find other math outlets outside of her normal classroom experience (after self-studying proof-based geometry)

    EPGY can get expensive. If it's not an issue for you, great. But be sure your son is aware of everything art of problem solving can do for him outside of normal "coursework." They have wonderful programs. Also you can check out MIT's Open Courseware. My daughter went to canada/usa mathcamp for two years and loved every minute of it. Be sure to use those summers to surround your son with others who think math is great.

    I'd also recommend reading Elizabeth Wisner Gross's book What High Schools Don't Tell You.

    Good Luck!
  • ClassicRockerDadClassicRockerDad Registered User Posts: 6,293 Senior Member
    My younger D took what they are now calling EIMCAS University Computer Science based on the book "The Schemers Guide" in 7th grade while she was waiting for Algebra in 8th grade. It was very high quality. She was not allowed to accelerate at her school and the math director said that she would have had to repeat Algebra had she done it online (that's another story). Computer Science allowed her to get some mathematical thinking in while she was waiting. EIMACS also has very different proof based math that was developed in the 60's for really advanced kids. Check them out at eIMACS: Home.
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