Skipping Pre-Algebra?

Posted by: mnmom23

Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/12/12 05:33 PM

I know we've had discussions before about whether younger kids can handle algebra, but I didn't find anything here (did I miss it?) about the idea of skipping pre-algebra and going straght into algebra 1, although obviously we've had discussions about skipping in math, in general, and we've personally had great success with that. Is a grade-skipped child who is 3 SD above the norm with matching achievement scores and last year scored in the 150s on the MAP test likely to need the introduction that pre-algebra provides, or will an algebra class likely cover the basics in the first few weeks enough so that said child would be able to catch on? Have any of your kids (or you) tried it and had either success or trouble with going straight into algebra? Are there any factors that would be important to take into consideration?
Posted by: Val

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/12/12 05:42 PM

I skipped pre-algebra and had no problems. In my day, the 5 or so best math students in the 7th grade skipped 8th grade math/pre-algebra and went directly to algebra. It was a school policy.

DS11 also skipped it/kind of did a bit of it with me when he was pretty young. No issues with him either.

From what I've seen, pre-algebra is basically algebra light (lots of solving for variables in basic equations, for example). It's a slow introduction to algebra. IMO, it's very useful for kids who aren't really mathematically inclined, because if they do well in this course, they will be well-prepared for real algebra. Nowadays, schools seem to be in a hurry to rush students into algebra without, in many cases, adequate preparation.

Posted by: lmp

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/12/12 07:22 PM

I think you can. In our district 6th grade students who pass a test (can't remember the name) go straight into algebra I as 7th graders.
Posted by: herenow

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 06:00 AM

It sounds, actually, like a good plan to me. My older dd's pre-algebra was extremely repetitive, fairly basic math. If you can get the syllabus for the class, your child might be able to skim the book to see what he/she doesn't know. The khan videos are also another place to fill in the blanks. As far as I know, pre-algebra classes aren't typically "tracked" so you may have children who aren't "getting it" slowing things down a bit

My younger dd finally told her teacher that she wasn't going to waste any more of her time doing the pre-algebra book. At that point she was "pretesting" through the chapters...and dying of boredom. This worked in her montessori classroom, and she just went on to more challenging math. This was a few years ago, and it hasn't been a problem with her grades or understanding.

For a really mathy kid, I'd skip it.
Posted by: Dude

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 06:28 AM

I'd look at what your kid has being doing prior to this, too. I remember Pre-algebra being the first time I ever saw a letter in a math problem, but it seems schools are introducing kids to the idea very early now. I'm seeing 9 + x = 13 on first grade worksheets.
Posted by: epoh

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 06:42 AM

I was in honors classes from like 4th grade on and never took any class that was specifically called 'pre-algebra.' I think we basically had a combined sort of class - geometry, trig and pre-algebra. The next year was honors Algebra I, then honors Trig II, then Algebra II, then AP Calculus. (Oh how I hate you calculus.)
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 07:09 AM

You could have your child take an EPGY Placement Exam in
Secondary Mathematics or take some of the AOPS diagnostic tests or have your child participate in contests such as AMC 8 to see how he/she compares to mathematically motivated 8th-graders.
Posted by: DAD22

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 07:11 AM

Originally Posted By: herenow

My younger dd finally told her teacher that she wasn't going to waste any more of her time doing the pre-algebra book. At that point she was "pretesting" through the chapters...and dying of boredom.
For a really mathy kid, I'd skip it.

I had a terrible teacher for pre-algebra. She was the worst I ever had by a large margin. I totally tuned out.... the next year I was the top student in algebra.

I agree that mathy kids can skip it with no problem.

Actually, I think half of 6th grade math was review, because the elementary school children had been pooled into the middle school. There's about 1.5 years of math there that were a waste of my time.
Posted by: flower

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 10:12 AM

Both my DD and myself, way back when, skipped pre-algebra. IMO the most important factor is a good algebra teacher that can set the stage for higher level math.
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 12:11 PM

FWIW, what helped us make a case for math acceleration for our ds was to have him take the course assessments at ALEKS. The results on those assessments can be easily and directly correlated (within ALEKS) back to each state's set of curriculum standards so it was easy to produce a list showing ds had mastered concepts a-x needed for credit in course z.

I'm sure you can do that with other online (or other) math courses too, I only mentioned ALEKS because it's the option we used.


ps - fwiw, I think I skipped pre-algebra when I was in school (can't say for sure because it was so long ago I can't remember what the courses were officially called; I was accelerated in math and I think pre-algebra is around the time it happened). Now our school district has two pre-pre-algebra courses as well as pre-algebra leading into algebra, plus they've re-sorted the way math in high school is presented. If I was asking the "is it ok for my child to skip ___" question I'd look at the curriculum taught my specific school district taught rather than make assumptions based on the course name for any math that's taught before Algebra to get an idea of what concepts my child had been introduced to.

Posted by: AlexsMom

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 12:27 PM

When I was a kid, in 7th everyone took regular math. In 8th, you could take regular math, pre-algebra, or algebra I.

DD's school has everyone in regular math in 7th, and in 8th you choose between regular math and Algebra I. So no more pre-algebra.

But when I look at the high school (9-12) curriculum, it gets more complicated. Kids who already had Algebra I in 8th go on to Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calc (Trig + Math Analysis), then Calc (either AB or BC).

Kids who didn't have Algebra I in 8th can take
Preparatory Algebra (math skills too weak for Algebra I)
Algebra I
Intermediate Algebra (got to at least grade 11 without strong enough skills for Algebra II)
Geometry (prereq for Algebra II)
Algebra II
Financial Algebra (meets graduation requirements but not college entry requirements; you'd probably need a remedial class before College Algebra)
Algebra III (Meets graduation requirements and also college entry requirements.)
Posted by: jack'smom

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/13/12 01:31 PM

Our gifted program does Geometry in 8th grade, Algebra II 9th grade, Trig/pre-calculus 10th grade, Calculus AP AB 11th grade, Calculus AP BC 12th grade. They also offer AP statistics thrown in there some year. You can take this math sequence if you are not in the gifted program but test in math at some level.
Our school district starts differentiating in 7th grade. If your child is in the lowest math class in 7th grade, they end up on a low track in high school, etc. Not good.
Posted by: elastigirl

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 01/15/12 08:42 PM

I teach 6th grade math.
My son tested out of 6th grade math and is doing fantastic.

For my Davidson kid, we didn't skip - we compacted. She is in public school, but we were allowed to put her in a combo of online and homeschool for her math, and she did all curriculum for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade in one year. She entered 6th grade with 8th grade math.

I always think compacting is better than skipping grades.

What they actually learn in those grades changes from state to state. So be aware that we all may be talking about slightly different things when we talk about how much is review at each grade level.

Everyone, please be aware that the recommnedations for grade level pacing are all changing in the next couple of years.
Posted by: Agent99

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 02/04/12 11:50 AM

It's fine to skip pre-algebra as it's more of a geometry primer. We grade skipped ds12 this year to 7th and he (after much handwringing and flat out abuse of we parents) was put into Algebra where he's thriving.
Posted by: polarbear

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 02/04/12 11:57 AM

Originally Posted By: Agent99
It's fine to skip pre-algebra as it's more of a geometry primer.

As mentioned above, what is taught each year can vary a lot between state to state and school district to school district. My ds' pre-algebra class was not a geometry primer at all, and actually contained quite a bit of algebra - so if he'd totally skipped it he would have had quite a bit of making up to do on his own. He did skip the 6th grade math level that goes before pre-algebra in our school district, but he'd also done quite a bit of online math courses at home on his own.

Posted by: Agent99

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 02/04/12 12:19 PM

Good point Polar Bear. Oregon is in the middle of an education crisis, so our example may not be a good one. And our district may differ as well. When ds was working on pre-algebra the last few months of 5th grade, it turned out the book was more of an intro to algebra. The pre-algebra used by the middle school is more of a geometry primer.

When I was in school ( when the dinosaurs roamed) we had no pre-algebra. We did Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry and then onto trig. I'm fairly sure calculus was only a college class.

Posted by: keet

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 02/04/12 05:02 PM

Where I went to school, 7th grade was in elementary school, and everyone took the same math. 8th grade was Algebra, Pre-Algebra, or "Remedial Math." I took Algrebra in a class of mostly 9th graders. A few years later, later, they decided that all the 8th graders should take it together because they were a little slower at first (due to lack of instruction) but were faster at the end. I remember not knowing certain terms (imaginary numbers, integers, real numbers, etc.) but not having any problems with the work.

My ds took Algebra as a 6th grader, without the benefit of pre-Algebra. I just couldn't see making him sit through another year of the same kind of math, and the school finally agreed. He really likes math and had learned a lot of math from the Murderous Maths books. He occasionally had a question for me about terms (ordinate, absissa, slope), but did well in the class.
Posted by: Sweetie

Re: Skipping Pre-Algebra? - 02/04/12 07:49 PM

Some pre- algebra classes are heavy on fractions, percents, decimals and ratios and pulling together in one place all the algebraic thinking and concepts they have been learning in the younger grades and officially using the algebraic terms and steps to solve them.