## Middle School Math Placement

The goal of the PWCS middle school mathematics program is to provide positive experiences that challenge and extend each student's mathematical abilities, provide opportunities to master the content at an appropriate pace and develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills so highly sought after in today's global workforce.

As students progress through their study of mathematics, some begin to acquire math concepts and processes more quickly than others. Some students can be well served by accelerating their study of mathematics, allowing them to engage with more complex concepts sooner than students who might benefit from the traditional amount of time and instruction.

PWCS has three mathematics pathways for middle school students.

### Mathematics Pathways in Middle School

PWCS offers three options in middle school mathematics.

#### Traditional Pathway

Students in this pathway are in a grade-level appropriate course, learning mathematics at the pace suggested by the Standards of Learning. Students in this path would take Math 6 in grade 6, Math 7 in grade 7, Math 8 in grade 8, and Algebra I in 9^{th} grade. Children who take Algebra I in 9^{th} grade can master four years of high school mathematics, possibly culminating in a pre-calculus class or AP Statistics, and should be well prepared mathematically to compete for admission to the best colleges and universities.

#### Accelerated Pathway

Students in this pathway accelerate the learning of middle school content, learning three years of content in two years. Math 6 Extended contains all the content from Math 6 and approximately half of the content from Math 7. Math 7 Extended contains the rest of the content from Math 7 and all the content from Math 8. Students in this path would take Math 6 Extended in grade 6, Math 7 Extended in grade 7, and Advanced Algebra I in grade 8. As students in this pathway learn math at a more rapid pace, they must demonstrate a high level of mastery of Kindergarten through Grade 5 Mathematics.

#### Promoted Pathway

Students in this pathway enter middle school in Math 7 Extended as a sixth grader. This means that the student will not receive formal instruction on the content from Math 6 and some of Math 7. After successful completion of Math 7 Extended, a student would enroll in Advanced Algebra I in grade 7 and Advanced Geometry in grade 8. As students in this pathway will be skipping some content, they must demonstrate a high level of mastery of Kindergarten through Grade 5 Mathematics and show evidence of a deep understanding of number relationships.

## Frequently Asked Questions

### What determines if a child is recommended for extended or accelerated math?

#### Accelerated Placement for Rising 6th Graders

**Math 6 Extended**

Students will be recommended for Math 6 Extended provided that they have achieved:

- A score of 475 or greater on the Grade 5 Mathematics Standards of Learning assessment;
**or** - A score of 465 or greater on the Grade 5 Mathematics Standards of Learning assessment and a score in the 70
^{th}percentile or higher on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test.

#### Promoted Placement for Rising 6^{th} graders

**Math 7 Extended**

Students will be recommended for Math 7 Extended provided they have earned both of the following:

- A score of 475 or greater on the Grade 5 Mathematics Standards of Learning assessment;
**and** - A score in the 81
^{st}percentile or higher on the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test.

#### Accelerated Placement for Rising 7^{th} graders

**Math 7 Extended**

Most students who meet the following criteria are likely to be successful in Math 7 Extended:

- Math 6 SOL test score of
**460***or higher; **“C”**average or better in Math 6 Extended;

Math 6 Extended teacher’s observations and support and parent input is considered.

*Students with 450-459 SOL test score may be successful.

#### Promoted Placement for Rising 7^{th} graders

**Advanced Algebra I**

Most students who meet the following criteria are likely to be successful in Advanced Algebra I:

- Math 8 SOL test score of
**465**or higher, - Completion of Math 7 Extended with a solid “
**B”**average; and

Math 7 Extended teacher’s observation and support and parent input is considered.

#### Accelerated Placement for Rising 8^{th} graders

**Advanced Algebra I**

Most students who meet the following criteria are likely to be successful in Advanced Algebra I:

- Passed the Math 8 SOL test;
- Completion of Math 7 Extended with at least a

**“C” **average; and

Math 7 Extended teacher’s observations and support and parent input is considered.

#### Promoted Placement for Rising 8^{th} graders

**Advanced Geometry**

Most students who meet the following criteria are likely to be successful in Advanced Geometry:

Completion of Advanced Algebra I with a verified credit and minimum of a “**B**” average.

### Why does PWCS offer alternative pathways for math in middle school?

#### Why does PWCS offer alternative pathways for math in middle school?

As children progress through their study of mathematics, some begin to acquire math concepts and processes more quickly than others. In some instances, these children can be well served by accelerating their study of mathematics, allowing them to engage with more complex concepts sooner than children who might benefit from the traditional amount of time and instruction. These decisions should be made with great consideration of available data and the indication that students will be ready for success at that level.

### Which high school credit-bearing courses are offered in middle school?

#### Which high school credit-bearing courses are offered in middle school?

Advanced Algebra I contains all standards of Algebra I and select extensions in preparation for Advanced Algebra II

Advanced Geometry contains all standards of Geometry and select extensions for Advanced Algebra II.

### What are the benefits of taking accelerated or promoted pathway math courses?

#### What are the benefits of taking accelerated or promoted pathway math courses?

Taking Advanced Algebra I in 8^{th} grade opens doors to children interested in taking the most advanced high school math courses available in Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS). With one math credit in middle school and another four years of math, a child may complete AP Calculus or AP Statistics and earn college credit.

Taking Advanced Algebra in 8^{th} grade or 7^{th} grade positions a child to satisfy the criteria for applying to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet program offered in Fairfax County open to children from Prince William County. It also positions the child to meet the criteria of completing Advanced Algebra II by the end of 10^{th} grade.

Children may further accelerate in math by taking Advanced Geometry through Virtual High School during the summer after completion of Algebra I in 8^{th} grade. Some high schools offer Geometry and Algebra II concurrently to children who demonstrate a strong understanding of Algebra I. Contact your child’s base high school to see if this is offered.

### What middle schools offer accelerated math opportunities?

#### What middle schools offer accelerated math opportunities?

All PWCS middle schools offer Math 6 Extended, Math 7 Extended, and Advanced Algebra I to selected children.

### I have heard that some children complete Geometry in 8th grade. How do they do that?

#### I have heard that some children complete Geometry in 8th grade. How do they do that?

We have a small group of children in Prince William County who are gifted in the area of mathematics to a degree that merits extraordinary levels of advanced mathematics. In these special situations, children may be able to complete Advanced Geometry by the end of grade 8. The decision to go this route requires additional careful study on the part of parents, children, and staff because doing so means children do not receive formal instruction on a significant amount of the middle school curriculum.

### Do children have to complete Geometry in Grade 8 to get into Thomas Jefferson High School?

#### Do children have to complete Geometry in Grade 8 to get into Thomas Jefferson High School?

No. There is a common misconception in the community that children interested in applying to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology must complete Geometry before entering the 9^{th} grade. Many children who apply to Thomas Jefferson are currently enrolled in Geometry. Parents with questions about the requirements for admission to Thomas Jefferson High School should visit the Fairfax County Public Schools website for more information.

### Do children have to complete Geometry in Grade 8 to get into the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park?

#### Do children have to complete Geometry in Grade 8 to get into the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park?

At a minimum children need to complete Advanced Geometry by the end of 9^{th} grade and Advanced Algebra II by the end of 10^{th} grade. To access some of the higher-level courses offered at Governor’s School @ Innovation Park, children may further accelerate by taking Geometry through the Virtual High School during the summer before the 9th grade. It is still important that your child be placed appropriately in 6^{th} grade so that he/she may master the content and be ready for the challenges of Governor’s School @ Innovation Park.

### What are the possible outcomes of taking accelerated or advanced classes?

#### What are the possible outcomes of taking accelerated or advanced classes?

Taking the “extended” middle school math sequence with Advanced Algebra I in 8^{th} grade

- allows a child to earn a high school Algebra I credit in Grade 8,
- puts a child on a path to complete a calculus course by 12
^{th}grade, - satisfies a requirement for an 8
^{th}grader to apply to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and - places a child on the path to be prepared for GS@IP and may further accelerate by taking Geometry through the Virtual High School during the summer.

### Why would I consider placing my child in the traditional Grade 6 Math?

#### Why would I consider placing my child in the traditional Grade 6 Math?

- Selecting a course that challenges your child but does not lead to high levels of frustration will promote confidence, engagement in mathematics, and a continued
- If your child is still developing the foundational concepts, there is a benefit from more time to build a deeper understanding of mathematics and avoid developing gaps that would hinder their progress in advanced math classes.
- With a strong foundation, your child will be able to access advanced math courses in high school such as pre-calculus courses and Advanced Placement Statistics. With non-traditional opportunities such as Virtual High School, your child could further accelerate by taking Geometry as a rising 9
^{th}grader placing them on the path to completing calculus by graduation.

### What information is used to determine a child’s placement in mathematics?

#### What information is used to determine a child’s placement in mathematics?

The decision to place a child into an advanced math course sequence should be based on multiple sources of information. Interest in mathematics by the child and parental requests are important considerations that indicate motivation and available encouragement and support to the child taking on the challenge of more rigorous work. SOL test results offer insight into a child's performance against standards for which they have received instruction, but it is important to remember that SOL test scores only reflect how a child did relative to completed coursework. SOL tests are not designed to provide predictive value of future performance. Nevertheless, it is an additional measure to include in the decision-making process. The Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (IAAT) is a standardized measure of potential to learn Algebra. It should be given substantial weight in the decision-making process.

### When do students take the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (IAAT)?

#### When do students take the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test (IAAT)?

The Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test 5th Edition (60 items) will be administered in March to fifth grade students.

### How can I continuously monitor the appropriateness of my child’s placement?

#### How can I continuously monitor the appropriateness of my child’s placement?

Children must maintain a “C” average or above to be considered for placement in the next sequential advanced course. If a child has a “C” at the end of the Grade 6 Extended Math and a borderline SOL test score, it is recommended the parent discuss with the child and the teacher options for 7^{th} grade. The child may either enroll in Grade 7 Math or Grade 7 Extended Math. If a child has a “D” or “F” at the end of the first quarter or semester, the child should be moved to the appropriate grade level course at that time.

Parents and children should be made aware of this policy before placement into the course.

A child who demonstrates exceptional mathematics understanding, but was not initially placed in an advanced course, would be identified by the teacher and moved to the appropriate extended course during the school year. Any child completing Math 6 and moved into Math 7 Extended as a seventh-grade child needs a specific plan for accommodations to ensure the seventh-grade curriculum is covered in its entirety. Children should not be moved from Math 7 or Math 6 Extended directly to Algebra I because doing so would mean that they miss all 8^{th} grade standards.

When children move into PWCS, determination for placement is made by each school, based on previous assessment scores, grades, classes taken, and the school’s assessment of the mastery level of our objectives.

### What should I consider when determining if an alternate pathway is best for my child?

#### What should I consider when determining if an alternate pathway is best for my child?

All children need time to develop an understanding of mathematical concepts, to think strategically, and to develop the mathematical processes they will need for the study of higher-level mathematics. During the middle school years, children are expected not only to master skills but also to:

- develop proficiency in their mathematical reasoning,
- communicate their mathematical ideas orally and in writing with appropriate precise mathematical terminology,
- make connections between mathematical ideas and other disciplines,
- represent mathematical ideas in different ways (equations, graphs, tables, diagrams, in words, with models, etc.), and
- be proficient in applying all middle school math knowledge and skills to solve never-before-seen multi-step problems involving critical thinking and the use of operations with rational numbers (including positive and negative fractions and decimals).

Three pathways through middle school math are available to meet the needs of children. Parents should be aware that accelerating a child too quickly through math classes and/or skipping over material does not allow them to deeply understand the concepts and their relations to each other. Children who rely on memorization often appear to have mastery in math but may have the hardest struggle in higher-level classes because they have not had the opportunity to develop deep understandings.

### What questions should I ask when considering an alternate pathway?

- Does your child display interest, curiosity, and inventiveness in doing mathematics?
- Is your child intrinsically motivated to succeed in math?
- Does your child ask for extra math problems in class or at home?
- Does your child enjoy playing games involving numbers, puzzles or logic?
- Does your child find math homework easy, or does he/struggle and need extra help?
- How does your child respond when encountering a difficult problem or a new situation in math that does not have a clear method for solving?
- How organized is your child?
- What does your child’s teacher say about your child’s understanding of mathematics and how he or she interacts with mathematics?
- How has your child performed on math standards of learning tests?
- What other responsibilities and interests does your child have outside of school that require time?

For more information about the mathematical course sequences at PWCS, please view the High School Course Catalog.