Need Alg I prep/summer program advice

<p>I have a great amount of respect for many individuals on this board, so I am bringing forth this non-life threatening issue. Just hoping to get some sound advice.</p>

<p>First of all, D2 is not destined for HYP or the like. We are not trying to accelerate her in math, the end goal in 5 years would be an admission to a competetive or very competitive college where she will be happy. We think she is getting a little off track and hope to ‘right’ her.</p>

<p>D2 is 13 and in grade 7, one of the oldest in her grade, but not maturing quickly physically or socially. She was out of school sick 3 weeks this year. She is in a rather competitive independent middle school that our older D attended. We are pleased with the school overall – it does send a large percentage of kids to highly competitive schools, but their math program confuses us somewhat. We just accepted it, and allowed the school to ‘track’ D1 as she was very young for her grade, and I’d had a negative experience with being put in Algebra 1 too early (for me – 8th grade – I was 12 going on 13) I struggled, but then did quite well later on in math…was a Finance major, and now a pretty high level IT exec. Certainly no engineer, but it clicked with me at about age 15 and I did much better soph/junior/senior years and in college. </p>

<p>This school seems very conservative with math placement. Essentially, if you don’t get a 90 or better in 7th grade math, plus certain standardized test scores (results not back yet for D2) they will not place you in Algebra 1 in 8th grade – you will wait until 9th grade for Alegbra 1. Most of the class takes Geometry in 10th grade, then the 9th grade Alg 1 takers take Algebra 2 in grade 11, some others take a pre-calc/trig class, or pre-calc analytic geometry. A small group (maybe 10-15 out of around 60) are selected for Algebra 1 in 7th grade, and some eventually would progress as far as AP Calc II (this will never be our child – not aiming for this) So, the school offers many levels of math – but I get the impression they want everyone succeeding and getting B’s and A’s – period. So, you won’t be put into a class where you might struggle. You will not be put in certain classes without a 90 in a predecessor class. D1 never saw mostly A's in math, but only made it to pre-calc in grade 12.</p>

<p>So, D2 will probably end the year with an 85. Therefore, she will not be in Algebra 1 next year. She had a low A semester grade and then dipped last quarter to a lowish B for the quarter. All other subject grades are high B’s low A’s. The reason for the lowish B was two HW assignments with zeroes, 8 test/quizzes not signed, 1 low test grade, 2 low quiz grades. Carelessness abounds.</p>

<p>We would have preferred that she end up in Algebra 1 in grade 8 for a couple of reasons…this school ties science placement to math…if you end up in Algebra 1 in grade 9 (which is the lowest math level) you end up in the lowest science level. Also, if you are ever in the lowest level of anything during high school, you are automatically ineligible for their honor society. (so, there are kids with 4.0’s and 1550 SATs who won’t be in the honor society because they took one low level class) And lastly, for some kids, this tracking leads to taking Algebra II in grade 11 – which is tough on your PSAT readiness and your SAT performance when you take them in Spring of grade 11. You are not quite done Alg II yet. Not great.</p>

<p>Our options…1) get over it, don’t worry, relax and let D2 have a fun summer…just go with the flow and let her be in the lowest level math and science in her HS.<br>
2) enroll her in a summer Algebra I class – 3 hours a day for 5 weeks plus homework. Ask that her school either accept her (hopefully) passing grade in this Algebra 1 class, and have her retake it in grade 8 and get A’s hopefully – therefore entering grade 9 in Alg II.
3) what’s the middle ground? How do we get her skills up? She is not fast, and makes careless mistakes, and loses points on gimmees. Are there any home school curriculums we could follow over the summer? Her school always assigns summer math work, so she will be doing that anyway.</p>

<p>I am corresponding with the teacher a bit right now. She has said the Algebra 1 summer class will help her, but there is no commitment to accepting that class to have her enter grade 8 Algebra 1. D2 is saying right now that she wants to take the Alg I class, but I can see her wincing when she thinks about missing some fun stuff.</p>

<p>As parents, our style has been not to micromanage the kids, not checking completed HW, not looking at every quiz, not reminding them to do every little thing. But, we take away privileges for poor grades – she is losing privileges because of the low B. </p>

<p>D1’s grades in this same math class were better, but she was a full year younger in the same grade - but she still did not make Alg 1 in grade 8. I know I should not compare kids – but they are incredibly alike in many respects so it is difficult not to. </p>

<p>So, any help, advice, success or failure stories, would be appreciated.</p>

<p>Have her take the summer class as a preparation for algebra, not for the grade. If she does well, great. If not she will have an introduction that will allow her to do well later.
Yes she may miss some fun but summers can be long and get boring after a while</p>

<p>When my daughter was in middle school, she did prealgebra and algebra as independent study using the excellent courses at There is a short video lecture for each topic, followed by examples and exercises. The professor giving the lectures is very entertaining, and the topics are broken down into small subsections which makes it easy to work at one's own pace. You can either watch the videos online, or get an optional CDRom to use without needing internet access. </p>

<p>This is not a homeschool program that grants credit or oversees the student's progress, but a product for working independently that is more dynamic and interactive than working your way through a printed textbook. It would take a lot of motivation, and perhaps a lot of parental supervision, to get through one of these courses in a summer, but is a more flexible option than a summer school class.</p>

<p>Wow, who would think such decisions at middle school would have long-term implications. I would let your daughter make the decision. If she says she wants to do summer school, let her do it. But, if she is unmotivated, let it go. It sounds like this would fit your style of not micro-managing and it is her future.</p>

<p>My S took Algebra 1 in 8th grade, he is now in 11th. His school only offered so many sections of Algebra 1 and because parents of older kids gave us a heads up we knew to lobby to have S placed in it. many kids who were ready for it were instead placed in a prealgebra class. If we hadn't known any better we would have just let the chips fall where they may and he may have ended up in it or not. We had been told, and can now see for ourselves, that not taking it would limit by jr and sr year the science classes S would be eligible for if he did not take geometry freshman year. Not knowing at that point if he was a science/math kid we wanted to leave as many options open as possible. Ends up he is good in math and science, but has no desire to persue either as a career. </p>

<p>If your D doesn't mind taking the summer class then I would sign her up.</p>

<p>It's too bad she can't take the Algebra I over the course of a year in the 8th grade, whjether through the school or elsewhere. I think trying to cram it into a summer immersion is probably okay, but possibly risky.</p>

<p>I found the transition to algebra a little tough myself when I was a kid, and I am an engineer. You really want to get the Alg I stuff down well, it is foundational, and far more important to the PSAT than anything you might learn in Alg II.</p>

<p>If you decide to go for a "work on your own" option, The Art of Problem Solving website is a great place to check out. They publish their own books which are excellent.</p>

<p>You might look at your local community college offerings. She possibly could audit an algebra class--less pressure, but someone different teaching it. Also, you could explore one of the tutoring centers--like Sylvan. There she could be tested to see if there is something specific she is missing. I don't know whether either option is very appealing. It sounds as though the grades are more a result of organization than math skill. Does the school offer any kind of math testing for students transferring in? Perhaps if she demonstrated mastery, she could be placed in the higher level course.</p>

<p>I don't know your daughter or you, but it may be easier to take an online class. It may be less time intensive and since you don't have to put it on any transcript, it may seem less intense. Even then, you'll get a teacher, textbook, and online learning center. I'm not sure if this would be for you but Keystone Middle School has an online Algebra I course geared toward middle schoolers.</p>

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<p>take a look at BYU online classes for High School- D2 did the geometry for the summer and I did it along side her and took the practice test- she thought is was funny i got a lower grade than her- cost around $120 and you do not have to take it for credit- they are really easy to work with- our district was already familiar with the BYU high school math and had already approved it- final test is taken with a proctor at your school.</p>

<p>I would not have my child take Alg.I in summer school - it is too important a foundation to skip through so quickly. I would consider taking geometry in summer school to get "back on track" later on. Regardless of the tracking procedures at your daughter's school, it is most important to focus on the mastery of skills rather than the grades alone. If you keep that emphasis at home, the grades will naturally improve.</p>

<p>It seems that some of your daughter's low grades are due to poor follow through/organization. I assume this is part of the maturity you feel she lacks - perhaps it is also how she feels about being in an environment that sounds more competitive than she is. Do you have any school options that would be more collaborative and less competitive while still maintaining solid academic standards? </p>

<p>I think some sort of math tutorial (perhaps the ALEKS web based programs) would be a good idea to help her build/reinforce her math skills over the summer.</p>

<p>I'd look into online programs, don't know if she qualifies but many of the talent search schools offer them, as well as others. Have her take pre-algebra over the summer and if they still don't take her - have her do the Algebra I online over the next school year - for a grade.</p>

<p>It's well that you're thinking about your Ds math proficiency. She's in 7th grade so there's time.</p>

<p>I doubt that a summer program is the answer. Much better is one-on-one tutoring. Think about finding someone (a college student is a good option) who can spend dedicated time with her twice (or so) a week. Have the tutor set assignments for her, or at least follow through the assignments she has. Start that now, and extend the tutoring though the summer. If she's motivated I expect that you'll see significant improvement.</p>

<p>Whether she gets into the "lower" or higher math class in 9th grade should be up to the school. Usually math placement (however based) decisions should not be overridden. It is very frustrating for incoming freshmen to struggle in math. There are 4 high school years to achieve proficiency. Even if she starts at "beginning" algebra in her freshman year, she'll have time (interest and proficiency dependent) to go through AP calculus BC by the time she graduates. For most students deliberate, methodical progress works best.</p>

<p>Several people have suggested online programs - here is another! My son used for essentially all of his high school math as a homeschooler. Aleks is essentially a superb, beautifully implemented, fantastic example of an... automated workbook. It explains how to do each topic, keeps track of what the student knows and doesn't know, allows the student to choose from several topics to work on, and has occasional assessments to make sure the student retains the information. It lacks beauty and joy of math. I was just showing it to a friend last night and she was terribly excited by its possibilities.</p>

<p>There are two different ways you could use Aleks - you could have her take Algebra I in summer, or you could use it to reinforce what she didn't do well enough in for seventh grade. Aleks will make lovely printable copies of assessments that the school could use, if the school is so inclined. I agree with some other posters that having her do Algebra over the summer might not be as good as just making sure she's better at the foundational stuff. Aleks would be a particularly good choice as a makeup class because of its incredibly accurate assessments - if it determines that you know something, it doesn't make you repeat the topic, but only teaches what you don't know. Before you do either, I'd make sure the school will reconsider her placement, or you will just trash her summer and get no value out of it. :(</p>

<p>This applies to Aleks as well:


<p>additional suggestion Barron's "Algebra the Easy Way" book, found in the SAT prep section of the bookstore, is a cross between an adventure story and a math textbook. The king and his little band wander through the kingdom, finding problems and inventing the algebra to solve them. It explains a lot of the "why would I ever do this" very nicely.</p>

<p>PM me if you want more suggestions - I have a LOT of math resources! Definitely more than you want in your current situation.</p>

<p>Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I knew I would get a lot of good information and a variety of 'angles' on the topic. I think the class over the summer might be too much - though the structure and immersion might be good, it still may be overkill. If it were over 8 weeks, I might be more inclined to have her try it. Or have her take it but not for a grade - more for exposure. I don't want to turn her off, or feel like it is punishment. I want her to learn to really like it, to benefit from learning detail orientation, being organized, systematic, disciplined, meticulous...</p>

<p>I will probably frame up several options for her, based on options presented above. I need to check out some of the web based programs out - they look great! </p>

<p>Someone had mentioned other school options - yes they exist - we are very fortunate to have some great schools in our area. However, the one she attends is special in a lot of ways. We have a long history with the school, it is unique in other respects and the benefits outweigh this quirk. We don't like the rigidity in math placement, but can accept it. The school is what you make it - it can be highly competetive or you can drop down to whatever you are comfortable with - we are just not comfortable with her taking the easiest, least rigorous route. Challenge is OK - it is what makes you grow. Perhaps they will soften if they see progress, effort, and a change in her. There are also other summers and ways to try to make up a "lost" or "building" year.</p>

<p>She is definitely suffering from a lack of focus and organization - things that are hard to teach. I know I had a bit of the same at a similar age. At a point, I had a sort of epiphany and gave in to the objective nature of math...I began to love the fact that there was a correct answer to every problem. Sometimes it took creativity to arrive at the answer, sometimes a lot of determination and follow up - occasionally both. Fogcity used the terms 'deliberate and methodical' - I began to love working through problem in a precise and logical manner. I remember complaining about what I would every use any of this type of math for in my life - well, I can't say that I specifically use algebra for anything these days, but I certainly use those other skills that go into solving its problems. And, you certainly can't get into higher math classes without it, and a lot of science depends on it! I hope she can learn these things about math.</p>

<p>CC parents are great, by the way.</p>

<p>Not that anyone really cares...but I always like to hear how certain stories turn out - so here goes.</p>

<p>We chose to go with an Algebra I home school curriculum over the summer. It's from Calvert Home School - which seems to be very respected, it's a 100 year old program apparently. I was grabbing lunch at a deli near where I work...and there they were, across the street. I looked into it, and it seemed to be the best option - a combination of a real accredited program, but with the flexibility we needed. It's 160 lessons...yes, that is around 2 per day over the summer. But she started already and really likes it. It was costly, but the materials are excellent.</p>

<p>And the ironically - she was admitted to Algebra 1 for 8th grade - her standardized testing pushed her through in spite of her 3rd quarter grade. BUT - we are still moving forward with the home school program. It will prepare her for the class, perhaps make it easy. We will add in a tutor as needed.</p>

<p>I appreciate everyone's help with this. You've provided some great additional resources and good advice, as always.</p>

<p>As someone who also likes to know how stories turn out, thank you for posting!</p>

<p>I also would like to thank you for posting how it worked out. I wish your D success with Algebra 1. </p>

<p>I went back and reread your posts. Your D is a lot like my disorganized S. He does very well on tests but often loses a lot of points for neglecting to turn in assignments or turing them in late. Wish I could say it has gotten better but it hasn't. He is now finishing up 11th grade and we are still running into this issue. It definitely seems to revolve around certain teachers. Most classes he turns in assignments completed in a timely manner, but every year there is one class with issues. One year it was history, next year science, this year hsitory again. I am beginning to think it may have something to do with teaching style. Whatever the reason, I wish I could figure out a solution. </p>

<p>Good luck with the homeschool program and I hope your D has a great year at school.</p>