Friday, October 25, 2013

Math Woes

We got the email from the Algebra teacher suggesting that Dex step down to grade 8 math because he did not have a B in the class after the first unit test. Man, that is not what we wanted to hear. It had seemed that Dex finally had a handle on Algebra and the work load but he bombed the test because he forgot to label his graphs.  So the details, right?  Anyway we had so many questions, like if we transferred him to grade 8 math would he go in with the same grade (a D+!) or start from scratch.  Would he be expected to make up all of the work that he had missed and since he was planning to do a make up test to increase his grade (the teacher would take the average of both tests), would him scoring higher on the test make a difference?  I sent an email to the teacher and counselor asking these questions.

The school counselor said that he would not be expected to make up the work in grade 8 math and he would go in with a clean slate and no grade. Also, his schedule would not change as there was a grade 8 math class at the same time.  The teacher said virtually nothing about what would happen if he got a better grade but said ultimately that decision was up to us if we wanted to leave him in Algebra or not. Hmmm, that is not what the first letter seemed to indicate.

Stephen was angry at the school for the whole thing. We purposefully chose not to have our kids tested into Algebra during 6th grade because we did not think that they needed to jump ahead like that.  We both have our reasons for believing that kids need to work at their grade level (unless of course they are 'gifted' which our children are not - they are very smart, intelligent and hard working but not gifted). One of the other reasons is that the test was 2 or 3 hours on a Saturday morning and we just thought that would just make them resentful and they probably would not do well on the test.  We are happy with them progressing at grade level through math. Jax is doing nicely in Geometry in Grade 10.

However, last year, the school decided to test EVERYONE for Algebra placement (and they did it during the school day). Dex did extremely well on that test, he earned an A in grade 7 math and then scored high again on the state testing in math so they automatically put him in Algebra this year. The school put him in the class and now they want him OUT of the class because he did not have a B after the first unit test.  Stephen is pissed because Dex wants to STAY in Algebra because somehow the school had convinced him that by being "ahead" in math and able to take calculus in grade 12 he will get into a better university.

Dex got an A on the make up test because he labeled his graphs this time.

So, since the teacher said it was ultimately up to us, we decided to leave Dex in Algebra knowing that he probably won't get an overall A in the class or perhaps even a B.  But he thinks he will be happier in there so...

If, when the time comes, and Cars is placed into Algebra before his time (meaning before high school), we will immediately take him out and keep him in his proper grade's math. Of course, I really do not think that will happen with Cars (Dex does have more of a mathematical mind than my other two kids).


  1. Sounds like you made the right choice. But algebra in grade 8 surprises me. I think we did it in grade 11 or 12 no?

  2. Peter, I think all of our math was just "mixed together" meaning we did units on algebra and geometry until the upper grades of high school where we could do calculus, statistics, relations and functions, etc.

    I was never very strong in high school math except for in the geometry units. I had a horrible grade 12 math teacher and I ended up dropping it and re-taking it in summer night school. I love though and I have learned/relearned some high school math. I would do so much better now!

  3. Ya... I guess I was thinking more calculus than algebra.