Advice pls & thx: Algebra I AFTER Geometry? How wld it look to adcoms? Other issues?

<p>Hello. I am a CC parent who usually posts under a different name. Please forgive me -- I am posting under this name to guard my S's confidentiality. And please forgive this long post.</p>

<p>I am wondering about the effects of a possible course of action for my son, i.e.,
his taking Algebra I as a sophomore after having taken Geometry as a freshman. </p>

<p>Here's the story:</p>

<p>--S is a freshman at a selective admissions public high school in a big city. Admission rate is below 10 percent -- based on grades, test scores. It is one of USNAWR's top 100 high schools in country.</p>

<p>--All classes are honors or AP.</p>

<p>--Math is S' weakest subject. In junior high, he took algebra, but he was not in the fast track, i.e., he was on the slower of the two tracks at his school.</p>

<p>--Sometimes tests well in math (as in h.s. entrance exam); sometimes not.</p>

<p>--Took required summer school program before freshman year. During that program, took math. As a result, he "tested" into Geometry I (just barely).</p>

<p>--Has had a HORRIBLE time in Geometry I. Often says it is as if the teacher is speaking a foreign language.</p>

<p>--His particular class, teacher says, is very good at math; they go very fast. S says they are on to the next problem before he can finish the current problem.</p>

<p>--Four weeks into the school year, I inquired about his going to Algebra, but was strongly discouraged by teacher and math chair (would be hard to re-schedule etc.; he would not be challenged enough).</p>

<p>--S's Explore score in math was 18 (74% in country; 24% in school) vs. 25 in reading and 23 in English (S receives As in other classes, except for a B in science).</p>

<p>--Thus, hired a great tutor recommended by the school: elite university math grad who is also a grad of this h.s..</p>

<p>--Consulted several times with teacher and department head; department head gave some tips on test taking (e.g., study more what you know the night before).</p>

<p>--S gets 2-4-hours of tutoring every week. Also goes to school tutoring occasionally (but hard to get individualized help there). He is working very hard at this and at other subjects -- I witness it daily.</p>

<p>--Even with this tutoring, i.e., two hours of studying with the tutor the night before, S rec'd a D on the last major test. Since that time, he rec'd an A on a quiz. Bottom line: it's really inconsistent. His current grade for the course is a C.</p>

<p>--S is so stressed, considered transferring to another selective admissions school which does offer non-honors courses so he could take a non-honors math course. The stress and tutoring add to an already very heavy homework load.</p>

<p>--It's hard to imagine four years of this kind of stress, for him and us.</p>

<p>--School requires that they take four years of math but school system only require three.</p>

<p>--School social worker implied that the fourth year of math could be waived.</p>

<p>--Next year, for algebra II, he could be on a slower track (they have two tracks).</p>

<p>--However, I mentioned a perhaps unorthodox approach -- S's taking Algebra I in sophomore year. Social worker and counselor were open to it. I'm thinking the math chair would not be. Wondering what your thoughts are if this were possible.</p>

<p>--Social worker says she asked S about this possibility. He said he thought he knew algebra and it wouldn't be a problem next year. I think he may have said this mostly bc he would be embarrassed to be in Algebra I with freshman.</p>

<p>How would this look in Adcom's eyes? (I predict that S would want to go to a large state university or maybe a small LAC in the humanities.)</p>

<p>I am thinking that this would put him back on the track he belongs -- e.g., as junior he would then be back on track with the kids who took Algebra I as a freshman. </p>

<p>Or, how does this option (geometry after algebra) compare to my advocating for his taking only three years of math?</p>

<p>Thanks very much in advance for your help and patience.</p>

<p>My son was in the same situation as yours. Alg 1 in 8th grade. Tested into Geom. Had a tough time in Honors Geom. He took the lower track Alg 2 which reviews Alg 1 as well as a Sophomore. Then he took a transitional course of Alg2/Trig/Analy this year as junior this year. Aced the course and is on track for Calculus next year. I could not be more pleased with how this worked out for him. He knows his precalc fundamentals a lot better than kids who were on the fast track the whole way through. I also think this benefits him in the math SAT1.</p>

<p>I have known several kids who have been in similar situations. Algebra 1 and Geometry seemed difficult for them. But when then went into the slower track Algebra 2 they were able to finally grasp the concepts. One of my D's friends, with the help of her parents, also purchased a different Algebra 1 book which had a different approach, and she reviewed it and did problems over the summer before starting Algebra 2. Her parents said the combination of the review in the summer after Geometry and the slower track for Algebra 2 really helped their daughter.</p>

<p>I'm not sure what the best course is but I think, to me, it would depend on where my child's weakness is. If his problem is basically with Geometry, I would forge ahead into Algebra II next year. If his problem is with Algebra, I would have him retake Algebra I this summer, take a math summer course like at a camp, and continue on to Algebra II next year.</p>

<p>If the school does Alg I/Geom/Alg 2, the beginning of non-honors Algebra II should be review. </p>

<p>By the way, one of my kids had almost the same problem-- took Alg I in 8th at a private school (got Bs), transferred to public school and did terribly in Geometry because she didn't have the Algebra I base. The school refused to let her do Algebra I so I had her take it elsewhere. She earned a B and went on to earn Bs in non-honors Algebra II. By then, she was too mathphobic to take precalc but I think she would have done fine. </p>

<p>Another of my kids really struggled with Geometry but does fine in Algebra-- no need to repeat there.</p>

<p>I strongly endorse taking Algebra I again. My D did, and it really stuck a lot better the second time through. Algebra is such a foundational skill, and competence in it makes a huge difference as they move on in mathematics. Geometry, not so much. </p>

<p>Unless your son is heading into a math/science/engineering college track I don't think it will cause any trouble. Lots of kids took Algebra I in middle school and later repeat it in high school.</p>

<p>as long as your child gets to Pre-calc by senior year, I think your alternative is fine.....assuming he doesn't plan on majoring in math/science.....</p>

<p>another parent here whose child is just awful in geometry but flies through algebra.....non-honors though....</p>

<p>We hired a tutor (math education grad student) to reteach Algebra I to my son the summer after freshman year after he took Geometry which he got through with the help of the same tutor. Turns out he was lacking the basic foundation of Algebra even though he got A/B's in Alg I. He went on to get A's in the rest of his high school math classes including AP Calc AB and a 32 on his math ACT. When the second son came along, we enrolled him in Enhanced Algebra, which was a review of Algebra I taken concurrently with freshman Geometry and he also went on to do well in high school math. I think it's so important that they learn Algebra I really well and I think our middle school Algebra curriculum was terrible (they have since changed it to algebra with an actual textbook instead of units done out little booklets that had nothing to do with each other). </p>

<p>Anyway, my point is, that repeating Algebra I whether during the summer or the school year could only help him if he shows a weakness in math.</p>

<p>I agree with Izzie. Since your son has already been working with a tutor, a summer review of Algebra I with him would probably be more than enough. Geometry has a lot of proofs and other abstractions. Algebra is more of a skills and drills thing (x + x = 2x). They are very fundamentally different, and the fact that your son struggles with geometry is not a predictor of how he will do with the Algebra II.</p>

<p>Did your son do well in Algebra 1? If he did, then I would go on to a slower Algebra 2 course like others have suggested. Geometry is very different than Algebra and many students that are good at math find that Geometry is a struggle, then bounce back when in Algebra 2. Or kids that have struggled with math find that Geometry makes sense to them only to have to return to Alg 2 the next year. I wouldn't worry so much about what it looks like, but more at whether your child has actually gotten the material.</p>

<p>I am very grateful for all of the very thoughtful replies and invite other wise CC parents -- and students ! -- to continue to share their opinions. </p>

<p>To Atomgirl, he did "okay" in Algebra I as an 8th grader. Funny, but we weren't as concerned about grades then (in terms of college admission etc.). I believe he got a B. If he rec' d an A, it would have been one he just barely achieved, probably with the help of extra credit assignments.</p>

<p>I think it makes infinite sense to do Algebra 1...any sensible adcom would prefer a student who was actually working to learn than one who simply follows the prescribed series of courses. But let me ask-- have you considered having him tested for a learning difference? D can simply not make sense of shapes....she got through geometry (barely) by doing the formulas but her visual spatial skills are terrible. Algebra is no problem... but Geometry....and anything involving maps, charts, etc....painfully, nauseatingly difficult. Once this was made clear through testing, the school could not have been more helpful in finding other ways for her to learn. ALL of her grades are up; so is her confidence, so are her ambitions. PM me if you like.</p>

<p>Could he take Algebra 1 during the summer - maybe online? A word of caution, though - My son tried taking algebra II through Northwestern's Gifted Learning Links and it was a disaster - basically a correspondence course via email with only the quizzes and tests graded and no feedback on homework unless you contact the teacher and ask questions. If the student couldn't tell he was struggling until after he got a bad quiz or test grade, he was up the proverbial creek. Obviously, I DO NOT recommend GLL or any other online if it is described as "independent study" (GLL did not spell this out until it was too late to get a refund). However, there are some excellent online math courses out there that do take advantage of the medium and build in videos, powerpoints and multiple choice assignments with instant feedback. My son switched to one of those through the Indiana Online Academy and had excellent results. I don't know what other online providers are out there but your son could probably take a math course without even taking credit for it if you wish, but still get in a good review and maybe even have fun doing it.</p>

<p>There is always a balancing act between the difficulty of the courses and the gpa. The classic question that adcoms like to answer, is " What's better, an A in a regular course, or a B in a more difficult track?" with" An A in the most difficult course". </p>

<p>So the answer lies with the child. From what you have posted, your student is not a stellar student who is so good at math that he should be excelling in the more difficult course. You and he are going to be on tetherhooks all year, about how well he would do. So in his case, he should take the more fundamental course and, hopefully build up the base for future math courses.</p>

<p>For a different student, the answer might be to take the chance on the more difficult course. I did that with one son, and took a more middle course with another, because that was available. My math whiz ended up with a B in all of his math courses, but he would have likely gotten that same grade in a lower level course. He was just an 80%er no matter how easy or how difficult the course was. He did get 5 s on the AP exams, however.</p>

<p>Do what's best for your son -- don't worry about college admissions for now. (I can promise you, no matter how strange, an A or B in Algebra 1 is going to look a LOT better on his transcript than a D or F in a class he can't keep up with -- so you will be doing your son a HUGE favor by helping strengthen his foundation.)</p>

<p>I do have a little story:
My daughter took geometry in 9th grade, not through testing into it, but because of a mistake in class assignment that she elected to stick with. The next year she did Algebra II. Her math skills were weak overall but she managed to stay ahead of the curve in both classes and get A's. </p>

<p>In her junior year, she studied abroad via a foreign exchange program. On paper she took some sort of math class while abroad, but given the language issues, she didn't learn any math. </p>

<p>Senior year, she came back and of course had to make up for some missed course work, and simply was unable to schedule a math class into her day. </p>

<p>So there she was, applying to schools with only 2 years of high school math. Weak but not horrible scores on the math SAT & ACT. (Roughly 70th percentile). </p>

<p>She was accepted to Univ. of Chicago, UC Berkeley, and Barnard -- among others. If you had asked me when we started whether I thought a kid coming out of high school with only 2 years of math, through Algebra II, could get into any of those schools -- I would have figured no way. But what I learned down the line the transcripts are evaluated in a more subjective way. Obviously in her case there were offsetting strengths, and those were emphasized in the application process. All 3 schools listed above have very strong but underenrolled departments in the language she had studied in high school, and in fact that was a major reason she chose those particular schools to apply to. </p>

<p>When my daughter wanted to go on a foreign exchange I thought it was pretty risky as far as college admissions -- I told her as much. It turned out that it all worked in her favor. I wouldn't advise anyone to take a similar path if their primary end goal is to get into an elite college -- but in my d's case the goal was personal enrichment, and I think the colleges were impressed with her out-of-the-box approach to her own education. </p>

<p>There is no value whatsoever in pushing a kid beyond his limits in order to meet some external standard -- you just create a lot of stress and an unhappy and frustrated student. I always felt that I would let my kids find their own way in high school and come senior year, we would apply to the colleges that fit the kid that had developed at that time. There are a HUGE array of excellent private and public colleges and universities that are available to kids with less-than-perfect or lopsided high school records. My daughter got lucky in that she was admitted to top schools with a very lopsided high school transcript -- but the point is that if she had ended up at her safety schools, that would have been an o.k. outcome as well --- she certainly would have been in good company.</p>

<p>Some kids are good at algebra and bad at geometry, some vice versa. Some are no good at any sort of math. It's not clear to me that your son is really weak in math in general or geometry in particular. I don't think it would be fatal to repeat Algebra 1, but it's not clear to me either whether he needs to. I'd really want to work with the school and see what they think. If you are worried perhaps some time this summer with an Algebra 1 tutor to brush up might be more than sufficient. OTOH I think it's more important for him to be comfortable with math than struggling in Algebra 2 next year. Calmom is absolutely right, an A repeating Algebra 1 is far far better than a C or D in Algebra 2.</p>

<p>I was in this situation. I took Algebra I in eighth grade and struggled a little, but moved on to Geometry freshman year and had an awful time with it. I repeated Algebra I my sophomore year, understood the concepts better, did very well, and took Honors Algebra II junior year and Honors Precal senior year. It was definitely the right decision for me, the algebra concepts just didn't stick in eighth grade. I got into my state university and a couple of small LAC's (only applied to five schools total). My school isn't an elite, top LAC but it's a good school.</p>

<p>This is a very interesting post as a friend is in a similar situation. I had not thought of the idea of my friend's D repeating Algebra I -- I will show this thread to her. Thanks to everyone who posted here. I am somewhat new to CC and this is such a great resource.</p>

<p>"Some kids are good at algebra and bad at geometry, some vice versa." - Yes, that is very true. Although it may be the case with your son, it probably couldn't hurt to take the easier root. If the course ends up being easy, it will build his confidence. It seems like he would still have 4 years of math no matter what you do.</p>

<p>Thank you again to everyone for their very, very thoughtful replies. It is still a bit confusing as he just had a quiz that mostly involved algebra and he rec'd an A. He is being discouraged by the counseling dept from repeating algebra I. And so now, I am considering more strongly the "only three years" of math option or perhaps just marching ahead and seeing what happens as we go along.</p>

<p>I may PM some of you -- or if anyone is willing to comment more specifically on the pros and cons of the two options below, that's great and I would be grateful (but I totally understand if folks are tired of this thread).</p>

<p>(algebra I in junior high)
honors geometry (freshman)
honors algebra II trig A/B (soph)
honors pre-calc A/B (junior)
nothing (senior)
(algebra I in junior high)
honors geometry (freshman)
honors algebra I (sophomore)
honors algebra II trig A/B (junior)
honors pre-calc A/B (senior)</p>

<p>Again, really, thank you. This is such a rich source of help and information!!!</p>

<p>Is there a non-honors algebra II/trig option?</p>