Acceleration in high school

Posted by: sunnyday

Acceleration in high school - 10/04/21 11:32 AM

Hi folks, I've been on here for years, at least sporadically, learning about how to support and advocate for my kids. Sometimes I've felt like an imposter, since my kids are not tested and have not applied to DYS, but I've still learned a lot about helping them. But...now that my oldest is in high school, I'm feeling like I'm tossed into the deep end again and figuring out how to help him succeed. eek

Last week out of the blue, his math teacher told him that because he was getting 100% on everything they'd done in the first month, he suggested accelerating up to Precalc and skipping Algebra II completely. shocked Now, I had just seen quite a lot of conversation on math Twitter complaining about how school Precalc is usually so heavy on Algebra II review. So I don't THINK I'm worried about gaps if he takes this route. But holy cow. I had hardly thought about college prep at all before, but now I feel like there is so much to decide.

I had honestly pushed back against acceleration (for example, homeschooling with AOPS Geometry for depth rather than following his math teacher's advice to dual-enroll in Alg II and Geometry for acceleration) because I wanted him to get a solid university-quality Calculus foundation, one I'm not convinced he will get in our small public school, even if the coursework is adequate to prepare for the AP exam. So should he look to AP courses or community college or somehow enroll in a proper university for his upper level classes? Our nearest four-year schools are several hours away, so it would have to be online. What more could/should we be doing for his other subjects? Our school doesn't offer AP science courses, to my knowledge, so he's on track to do (boring and simple) Earth Science, then Biology/Physics/Chem I believe. I don't think I necessarily want him going to a highly selective school, but I also don't want that to be ruled out by making the wrong choices. How do we figure out what the right choices are? Do I need to join one of those forums like College Confidential?

I know a lot of parents curate their kids' school careers with an eye to college apps starting much earlier than this. I guess I've just been of the mindset to let them be their best, most authentic selves and let the right college fit happen. Now I'm second guessing that. High school parents, especially BTDT, what have you done and do you have any regrets?
Posted by: Val

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/04/21 01:55 PM

Originally Posted By: sunnyday
I know a lot of parents curate their kids' school careers with an eye to college apps starting much earlier than this. I guess I've just been of the mindset to let them be their best, most authentic selves and let the right college fit happen. Now I'm second guessing that. High school parents, especially BTDT, what have you done and do you have any regrets?


I agree with your "let them be their best" approach.

A hard part of raising kids is letting them make their own decisions. It's hard in part because you get so used to HAVING to make the decisions when they're little. As you know, high school student is capable of making decisions, though they generally need more older-person input than a college student or a 28-year-old.

FWIW, the review of algebra 2 concepts is important, especially if algebra 2 is done correctly. There's a lot of material there, and going over it again is important for kids. I say this as someone who knows people who surpassed the DYS requirements substantially and still needed that review. So, how does your son know the material covered to date? Are they still reviewing the stuff from algebra 1 or the easy algebra 2 stuff? Important: how familiar is he with the rest of the course?

My advice is this: first, ask your son to see what the precalc class covers. Does it skip stuff he'd do in algebra 2 and hasn't done? Does it barrel into calculus (a trend in some places)? What's the pacing like? What about the teacher and textbook? Is the class algorithm-driven?

Then present pros and cons as you see them, and let him decide. As you know, mathematics education these days tends to focus on algorithms over understanding. If he stays in algebra 2 and gets easy As, would he be interested in spending time gaining a deeper understanding of the material from another source? That kind of thing.

Ultimately, our children will have to chart their own paths, and IMO, the best we can do for them is teach them how to make an informed decision when they're young, as a way of preparing them do so on their own when we're not around.
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/04/21 04:35 PM

Right, skipping this class would not EVEN have been on my radar as something to request. My game plan was to add AOPS C&P later this fall if he still needed more. But it's the math teacher suggesting this, and he seems really confident in his suggestion. We are a tiny high school and there are only two math teachers, he's the one who teaches the upper level and AP classes so he knows the whole trajectory we are looking at. My son also took an Accuplacer exam this morning, which I think will be the final determiner if he really is qualified to move up, but he felt good about it. I have left this mostly in his court, and he has talked to the teacher. Ultimately he is mostly looking forward to having other engaged, college-bound kids in his class, instead of reluctant seniors trying to get credit for a required class.

Our district does Glencoe math which I don't love. So it will be very algorithmic. I'm comparing the TOC of the two texts, and the topics in Alg that I expect will be significantly new to him, are also there in Precalc. I am honestly more concerned that he CAN do the class BECAUSE it's highly algorithmic, than anything else. So we'll see.

Anyway, it really feels like this math acceleration is a done deal, unless he really flounders. So that's what's got my mind whirling about what the rest of his high school is going to look like, in all subjects. Like, if there is no AP science at this school, will he be overlooked for consideration at a selective STEM school? Or is community college calculus-based physics just as good? And so on...ugh, my mind is whirling. I guess for now it's just one decision at a time, and see where it leads!
Posted by: aeh

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/04/21 05:38 PM

sd, fwiw, my kids are also not tested, nor have we ever seriously considered applying to DYS. And yes, you have every right to be here!

WRT skipping alg II for precalc, it's a useful perspective to remember that precalc originally was basically a review class inserted because so many students weren't prepared to go straight from alg II to calc, so skipping one or the other doesn't seem like it should be a huge issue. (One of mine started DE calc half-way through a year-long precalc course, with successful outcomes for both.)

On the question of upper level math: our experience has been that the DE math courses have been a much better pace for our children than the supposed high school equivalents--if they are true college courses and not designed for high schoolers in early college programs. Which makes sense, since AP Calc AB is only one semester's-worth of first-year college calc. And for CC vs uni, it's really been more about the individual professors than the institution (keep in mind that a lot of the same professors are adjuncts/affiliates at multiple post-secondaries in a given region--hard to make a living as an adjunct professor at just one job). You might run the names of some of the nearby college instructors through RateMyProfessors to see if you can get a sense of their quality and rigor (not always evident purely from the ratings; DC loved the math professor that a lot of non-STEM majors described as too hard, precisely because so much higher-level conceptual instruction was in the course).

On college prep: we have a similar philosophy regarding selective universities. We certainly have not discouraged selective unis, but with offspring who are likely headed to graduate school, our view has been that the quality of undergraduate education, including access to research opportunities, internships, and actual tenured faculty, is more important than the name brand (not that these are not correlated to some extent--just not 1.0). And childhood is short enough as it is, without curating all of their experiences.

With regard to the right choices/options, there's a surprising amount of information you can find on places like the College Board's college search site. You could check out some of the college prep forums, too, but I haven't spent that much time on them, so others are in a better position to say how valuable they are.

In terms of BTDT, DC was homeschooled for high school, with home-based programming through 11th grade, and then a full college courseload of dual enrollment for 12th grade. Admitted into uni as a first-year, but matriculated directly into sophomore status.

Currently DC is at a moderately-sized regional state uni of unremarkable reputation, but has had really excellent instruction, and exceptional mentoring, with faculty recruiting DC for multiple stipended research and teaching assistantships, including recommendations for nationally-competitive positions, opportunities to present original research at the annual conference for the major organization in the field, and fairly high-contact mentorship surrounding DC's honors research. Even faculty in DC's additional interest areas (not formal majors) have offered very specific, individualized attention and direction. Obviously, YMMV, but the point is, we certainly could not have asked for a better set of educational experiences--including the kind often favored on grad school apps--from many more selective institutions.

But then, my DC had no special interest in a selective school, and had already made that clear. It might not be a bad idea for your DC to start investigating categories of universities casually now, more to have a sense of what's out there, and what kind of settings might suit him. It may be that certain qualities really matter, and others really don't. The content of those lists may help redirect college prep--or confirm that your current approach is right for your child.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/04/21 05:42 PM

I love Valís advice, and agree that ideally you want your kid to lead here. This would also be the way to approach other subjects, IMO. We were told that admissions people basically evaluated the applicant relative to the offerings at their school- the counselor letter was supposed to address this, basically by addressing whether the student was taking the most advanced/rigorous course load available. So if your schoolís highest offering in science is something like honors chem, as long as your student took this course they wouldnít be penalized, or looked upon as less qualified. Thatís my understanding, and based on the peers my kids have in college, it seems to ring true, though YMMV. (Of course, if your kid ends up ďneedingĒ more, it sounds like you know what to do, and I would put emphasis on meeting those needs if you can. I just wouldnít make those decisions based on what you think admissions people want to see, if that makes sense).
Posted by: Kai

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/05/21 08:22 AM

Are they still doing a review of Algebra 1 concepts? If his school's sequence is Algebra 1, geometry, Algebra 2, typically there is some fairly extensive review at the beginning of the year because kids tend to forget algebra while doing geometry. If he remembers everything from Algebra 1, this is going to seem easy, but eventually they will move on to other things that may still seem easy, but at least are new.

Some other things to consider are:

Is there an honors Algebra 2 class available? Might that be a better placement?

Is there an honors precalculus class available? I would not accelerate him into a regular precalculus class if an honors class is available. My son's honors precalculus class was substantially different from the regular class--different text, different peers, and far more covered than either the regular class or the equivalent course(s) at the local community college.

You don't say what grade he is in, but if he's a freshman, what would be the plan for math in his senior year? My son took honors precalculus in 9th, BC calc in 10th, statistics (AP) in 11th, and post AP statistics in 12th. The last two years he coasted, but he also found that he loved statistics (and he is majoring in it now in college).
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/05/21 11:37 AM

Originally Posted By: aeh
On the question of upper level math: our experience has been that the DE math courses have been a much better pace for our children than the supposed high school equivalents--if they are true college courses and not designed for high schoolers in early college programs. Which makes sense, since AP Calc AB is only one semester's-worth of first-year college calc. And for CC vs uni, it's really been more about the individual professors than the institution (keep in mind that a lot of the same professors are adjuncts/affiliates at multiple post-secondaries in a given region--hard to make a living as an adjunct professor at just one job). You might run the names of some of the nearby college instructors through RateMyProfessors to see if you can get a sense of their quality and rigor (not always evident purely from the ratings; DC loved the math professor that a lot of non-STEM majors described as too hard, precisely because so much higher-level conceptual instruction was in the course).


This is a great tip! I had considered reaching out to the CC department head to see their perspective. Since we're at least two hours from the nearest four-year school, it's hard to believe that there are teachers at the CC who are also teaching elsewhere. But I also know some passionate, well-prepared educators teaching at the CC level (my college roommate with a PhD in just went back to get a second graduate degree in math so she could teach math and not just physics in her new rural community). So I'm really interested in those prospects.

Quote:
On college prep: we have a similar philosophy regarding selective universities. We certainly have not discouraged selective unis, but with offspring who are likely headed to graduate school, our view has been that the quality of undergraduate education, including access to research opportunities, internships, and actual tenured faculty, is more important than the name brand (not that these are not correlated to some extent--just not 1.0). And childhood is short enough as it is, without curating all of their experiences.


This is a very reassuring affirmation of my previous philosophy. smile DS was told by his honors Algebra teacher in 7th grade that he was MIT or CalTech material. So we've had a lot of discussions since then about the relative value of selective schools vs. the cachet that comes of that very selectivity. As an undergraduate at a small liberal arts college, I was able to be so involved in research that I earned an authorship. I don't feel that's as common in big graduate institutions, so that's something I try to keep in mind too.
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/05/21 02:08 PM

Originally Posted By: Kai
Are they still doing a review of Algebra 1 concepts? If his school's sequence is Algebra 1, geometry, Algebra 2, typically there is some fairly extensive review at the beginning of the year because kids tend to forget algebra while doing geometry. If he remembers everything from Algebra 1, this is going to seem easy, but eventually they will move on to other things that may still seem easy, but at least are new.

Some other things to consider are:

Is there an honors Algebra 2 class available? Might that be a better placement?

Is there an honors precalculus class available? I would not accelerate him into a regular precalculus class if an honors class is available. My son's honors precalculus class was substantially different from the regular class--different text, different peers, and far more covered than either the regular class or the equivalent course(s) at the local community college.

You don't say what grade he is in, but if he's a freshman, what would be the plan for math in his senior year? My son took honors precalculus in 9th, BC calc in 10th, statistics (AP) in 11th, and post AP statistics in 12th. The last two years he coasted, but he also found that he loved statistics (and he is majoring in it now in college).


Yes, they are still doing review, or at least it has felt that way to DS. Because of that, he wasn't too bothered by the repetition, which is why it surprised us that the teacher proposed the move. He had to be enrolled in the new class by today to receive College in the Classroom credit, which is why there was some urgency I guess.

No, honors is not an option. We are a truly tiny school. As far as I can tell there are one or two sections each of Alg 1, Geometry, Alg 2, Financial Algebra. One section each of Precalc, AP Calc AB, AP Calc BC. That's it. So, for his senior year, DS thinks it sounds like either a good opportunity to finally try AOPS Discrete math, or he can dual enroll in Linear Alg, Diff Eq, maybe multivariate calc at community college. But...and this is my dilemma that prompted this thread...maybe he needs to be getting actual university-level coursework at that level, if he's going to be on a STEM track.

Basically, I am coming into this with a strong bias because of my own checkered past with math. After getting 5s on my AP Calc, I placed into Calc III at college. I thought I was being conservative by doing accelerated Calc I/II as a review first, getting a solid foundation, etc. But instead, my previous experience of Calc as a pattern-matching test-prepping multiple-choice subject was really difficult to shake. I sailed through Calc III and beyond with easy As but I hit higher-level math and ran up pretty hard against proof writing and problem solving, barely hobbling to the finish line of my math minor. Since then I have read Lockhart's Lament and The Calculus Trap, I have seen the syllabus and different pedagogy used in Calc as taught at places like MIT, and I have piled a lot of my personal woes on having done Calc in HS. It's the last thing I wanted for my kid. But it's also amazing to see him A) recognized for his strengths, and B) fired up about the opportunity to really work hard in a class. We've talked SO extensively about the difference between school math and mathematics, he did take that year of AOPS Geometry and has seen that math isn't just about knowing right answers, and I'm really hopeful he can avoid some of the pitfalls. But he also got a 276 on his Accuplacer which I believe puts him into Precalc at any CC or university that uses it as an entrance exam. In the lower grades we often say that subject acceleration makes more sense than making gifted kids sit through material they already know in order to avoid small "gaps" of material they don't yet know. It's scarier at this level, the repercussion of gaps feels bigger, but I honestly think the same philosophy might nonetheless apply in this situation. He can cover those gaps over time. I think. I hope.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/05/21 05:18 PM

There are so many math acceleration options now, that he can easily advance without leaving the high school and all the benefits for a teen. If he is math way accelerated, I was in math, then I would recommend an school like MIT or Caltech. But he also has to decide what he likes.

I have stated here before, but you may not have seen it, there was a kid at Hunter who finished a math and physics degree at Columbia and had his graduation a week before his high school graduation at Hunter. And then went on to that math center at NYU for grad or whatever level he was at. But it is good if a student is way advanced in math to still maintain his high school stuff in English, history, economics or whatever. What if he wants to apply his math to economics. It is a good idea to have these other subjects to explore his interests.
Posted by: NotSoGifted

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 03:57 AM

My personal take - I would not accelerate your son. Even at a high school with limited advanced course options, you want to take a variety of courses and make sure you have a solid foundation in math.

When he applies to colleges, they will be aware that your HS does not offer AP science courses, so that should not count against him. Perhaps he could take a more advanced science course over a summer, though I have no idea what options you have. Around us, the community colleges are not as rigorous as many of the high schools. Our public HS will not accept science courses from the community college, though they will accept them from area private schools.

I get the sense that there aren't many advanced students at your high school. Our public HS, which my kids attended, offers Multivariable Calc and Linear Algebra, so the "regular" kids don't need to look outside the HS. My older two both had kids in their class that had finished all the HS math classes by end of 8th grade, so they went to a local college for math - we are fortunate to have three four-year colleges within a mile of the HS (and another three within three miles).

My middle kid was my most advanced in math, and she wasn't super advanced - took Linear Algebra senior year. She also explored the other subjects and opportunities that HS has to offer. She took two foreign languages through AP level, played two varsity sports (played one on a year round travel team as well), had a part-time job and served as a student rep on the board of a local educational non-profit. She also participated in the typical stuff, like prom and pep rallies. She enjoyed her HS years.

She went on to a good college, though not elite - she did not get into any of those. A profile like hers, with good test scores (NMF, nine 5s on APs), doesn't mean much in the age of holistic admissions. She is now in a very good PhD program in her chosen field. And one of her undergrad degrees was Applied Math.

Long story short, I wouldn't rush things. Of course, just my opinion - wish you luck with whatever decision you make.
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 08:22 AM

Originally Posted By: NotSoGifted
I get the sense that there aren't many advanced students at your high school. Our public HS, which my kids attended, offers Multivariable Calc and Linear Algebra, so the "regular" kids don't need to look outside the HS. My older two both had kids in their class that had finished all the HS math classes by end of 8th grade, so they went to a local college for math - we are fortunate to have three four-year colleges within a mile of the HS (and another three within three miles).


Right, you clearly have had a different high school experience than we have here. As I stated, there are roughly 250 students total in the high school. And this is a mostly-rural area, it's not a high population density of engineers' and architects' and professors' families. It's absolutely true that the demand is not there for higher-level math classes. We do have bright kids, but a majority either transfer to the next town over, with a larger school that offers more options, or they move to full-time dual enrollment at the community college starting their junior year.

So no, I am not blind to the fact that my son is a medium-sized fish in a small pond. It's part of why I visit these forums, to remind myself that YOUR bright children outshine my dim ones. But, dim though he may be outside of the relative environment of an even dimmer school population, he still deserves to be met where he is and receive a free and appropriate public education. That's what I'm working on. And if he does end up having the desire to put in the work to apply to a selective school, I want it to be his own lack of talent that leads to his rejection, not his parents' lack of knowledge about opportunities he could be pursuing.

Fingers crossed, amiright??
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 09:10 AM

Originally Posted By: Wren
There are so many math acceleration options now, that he can easily advance without leaving the high school and all the benefits for a teen. If he is math way accelerated, I was in math, then I would recommend an school like MIT or Caltech. But he also has to decide what he likes.

I have stated here before, but you may not have seen it, there was a kid at Hunter who finished a math and physics degree at Columbia and had his graduation a week before his high school graduation at Hunter. And then went on to that math center at NYU for grad or whatever level he was at. But it is good if a student is way advanced in math to still maintain his high school stuff in English, history, economics or whatever. What if he wants to apply his math to economics. It is a good idea to have these other subjects to explore his interests.


Thing is, he's not WAY more advanced in math than he is in any other subject. But then, I'm not convinced he's WAY advanced in math either. He does school well and passes math classes, but that's not the same thing. He struggled a bit with AOPS Geometry, and he didn't feel very engaged with AMC10 when he gave it a try, though he did okay at MOEMS. Frankly he doesn't think he's interested in pure math or science at all, as much as it would be fun for me if I produced a kid with my physics talents but more grit and persistence, LOL. It's absolutely the case that he is taking high school as an opportunity to find out WHAT his interests even are! smile If nothing else, I'm hoping that by the time he's a senior and gets priority for scheduling, he can FINALLY get access to Woodshop. It's the most in-demand course at our school, and he LOVED it in middle school. Suited his perfectionism to a tee. wink

But here we are coming back to the actual concern that brought me here in the first place. If he's just about as advanced in ELA as he is in math, should he be considering acceleration there, too? I feel like AP Lit is going to be the answer to his prayers when it comes to having people to really discuss actually meaningful literature with. So maybe he should be given the opportunity to access that ASAP? (Like not this year, I don't think we could handle another switch, but maybe next year?) And so on and so forth...I have tried so hard not to have to second-guess my choices up until now, and just to go with the flow and follow his happiness as a gauge, but my poor brain is really perseverating now that he's got a High School Transcript in the works. D:
Posted by: NotSoGifted

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 04:15 PM

Sunnyday, not trying to imply my kids are bright or yours are not - my kids and I are "Not So Gifted"!

My kids were far from the brightest in their HS classes. They did a variety of activities and classes and did not attend elite schools for undergrad. They did not take classes outside of their HS. We did have some concerns that they were not being challenged, and in the case of one kid, that was probably true.

However, they turned out just fine. Or are headed in the right direction, as both older ones are back in school. I don't know that there is a right or wrong answer for your son - chances are high that he will turn out just fine no matter which path you choose.

If he wants to try for the selective school, he should go for it. However, it should be because he wants to do it. I have tried to push my kids toward certain choices at certain times, and it didn't really turn out so well.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 08:00 PM

You miss 100% of the shots you donít take. He can always revert to the more standard programming, so why not go for it if heís enthusiastic? A little extra difficulty could be exhilarating.

The school sounds supportive. Iíd have him do both concurrently to minimize gaps and test out of the higher level class at year end, thinning out the amount of duplicate practice along the way. The worst case scenario is that he remains on track with a head start from extra exposure. He canít lose.
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 08:26 PM

Originally Posted By: NotSoGifted
Sunnyday, not trying to imply my kids are bright or yours are not - my kids and I are "Not So Gifted"!

My kids were far from the brightest in their HS classes. They did a variety of activities and classes and did not attend elite schools for undergrad. They did not take classes outside of their HS. We did have some concerns that they were not being challenged, and in the case of one kid, that was probably true.

However, they turned out just fine. Or are headed in the right direction, as both older ones are back in school. I don't know that there is a right or wrong answer for your son - chances are high that he will turn out just fine no matter which path you choose.

If he wants to try for the selective school, he should go for it. However, it should be because he wants to do it. I have tried to push my kids toward certain choices at certain times, and it didn't really turn out so well.


Sorry for being touchy. I sure wish my kids weren't the brightest in their schools, that they were more of a medium fish in a medium pond at least. But it's not to be. We don't have a point of reference, we don't have peers or a source of academic humility. All we have is the kids in front of us, and our best intentions. We encourage our kids in activities where they're not naturally strong (sports and music), we remind them constantly that hard work can beat natural talent any time, and we tell them that their lack of peers will be remedied at some point along their educational journey (and that when they are in a good fit social environment, they'll see just how much their academic talent, though useful, isn't THAT unusual.) One can hope.

And yes, the kids' choices are absolutely their own; these are their lives after all! That's exactly why I am taking pains NOT to sabotage their chances at attending a selective school, just in case they want to disregard my clear preference for them not to go that direction. (Besides, I still remember being a senior and knowing that a small LAC was my best fit, but wanting to get the Ivy League acceptance anyway. I ticked that box, and the "dad's alma mater GA Tech" box, and then went on with my life. Kids will be kids!)
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/06/21 08:50 PM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
You miss 100% of the shots you donít take. He can always revert to the more standard programming, so why not go for it if heís enthusiastic? A little extra difficulty could be exhilarating.

The school sounds supportive. Iíd have him do both concurrently to minimize gaps and test out of the higher level class at year end, thinning out the amount of duplicate practice along the way. The worst case scenario is that he remains on track with a head start from extra exposure. He canít lose.


Our schools are remarkably supportive compared with some horror stories I've heard! Every teacher and principal we've met, once they get to know our kids, would bend over backward for us, frankly. At this point he's dropped the Alg II, so that ship has sailed. But one idea I've tossed around to myself is getting him to do AOPS Intermediate Algebra on his own time or over the summer, and kill the "math should have problem solving" and "cover the gaps" birds with one stone. We'll see; he doesn't like math THAT much. :p

You are EXACTLY right about the exhilaration of challenge though! I also love the maturity it required for him to reach out to the teacher on the second day and ask some questions, things that weren't answered in the syllabus but maybe covered in the first weeks of class. It's hard for a gifted kid not to already know! Yay for having the opportunity to need to ask!
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/07/21 01:12 AM

Learning: the unsung side effect of school! 😂
Posted by: aeh

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/07/21 01:24 PM

We've done the concurrent thing a couple of times, with different kids, just to make sure we weren't leaving gopher holes that might break an ankle later. Once with an elementary grade skip over fourth grade math, and most recently with precalc and calc I.

And sometimes a school/district that is smaller, or isn't known for it's high-achieving programming can actually be better for learners in the tails, because they may turn out to be more flexible, since they're not busy trying to handle large numbers with similar needs. At the small school I attended as a child, my alg I teacher made a similar recommendation to skip to alg II/trig about a month into the school year, which my parents agreed to. A couple of whole grade accelerations among my extended family originated from teachers in such schools. While they may have fewer financial and opportunity resources of certain kinds, they can have equally fine (or better) human resources, with less of the pressure on the system that comes from having to gatekeep those high-demand resources.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/07/21 05:53 PM

I can echo aehís experience, both personally and as a parent. In the absence of excellent gifted magnets, seeking flexible administrators has been a key part of my strategy for DS.

Slight tangent - adding in case itís relevant to those readingÖ

Ironically, I think some of our kiddos make advocating for radical acceleration pretty easy in these environments, especially if theyíve had a supportive teacher or insider pave the way for advocacy. This applies doubly if your child is extraverted, obvious, and (*ahem*) exuberant when not fully mentally occupied.
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/08/21 08:02 AM

Yes to both of you! I've always hated the question, "Do your kids go to a good school?" Because no, on paper this is not a good school. It serves kids of a lot of different abilities and backgrounds, so the test scores don't come out to a nice average or anything. But the personal connection is priceless. The elementary STEM teacher, who was my daughter's second grade classroom teacher, got her early access to all kinds of opportunities, like a STEM field trip, and the fifth grade robotics team. The middle school honors math teacher actively fought for the privilege of having my kids in his classes. The middle school english teacher pushed my son to submit his essay to a contest he subsequently won, and found a leadership position she thought he should apply for. The elementary garden teacher STILL seeks out opportunities for my daughter -- for example, he has arranged for her to enroll in a residential workshop next summer that's usually only open to postsecondary culinary students, and he's even figured out a chaperone for her. I can't imagine being anywhere else.

I definitely agree that supportive teachers plus students who make it obvious when they are not in a good academic match can make acceleration an easier sell. The flip side also seems to be true. smile Supportive teachers who can be flexible in the classroom, combined with kids who are willing to seek out their own challenge, combined with extracurricular enrichment opportunities, make acceleration seem less necessary! Which is probably why mine have not "needed" to be anywhere but in their age-grade classrooms...until now.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/08/21 01:19 PM

In fortunate cases, even an at-grade classroom is just a holding tank, but the learning is quite unfettered. Teacher and administrator attitude is everything. And if parents can be supportive allies to teachers, and do some heavy lifting at home to support special requests, Iíve found the response to acceleration can be quite enthusiastic.

The criteria I formerly used to pick schools for my DS have evolved quite a bit. In order of importance now are:

1. Flexibility
2. Openness to new ideas
3. Humility
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/08/21 09:05 PM

Yes, I love it! <3
Posted by: Ellipses

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/09/21 12:28 AM

Where is Trig in this equation?
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/09/21 12:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Ellipses
Where is Trig in this equation?


Chapter 4 and 5 of Precalculus, apparently, though intro to trig functions is also in Geometry. smile
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/15/21 08:17 PM

Two week update. A student from DS's Algebra II class claims that the teacher is announcing to his former class that he has gone from being the smartest kid in Alg II to the smartest kid in Precalc. DS and I both hope and pray that the student (whom I think is the known hyperbolic type) is exaggerating. Nonetheless, the math teacher has urged DS to apply for USAMTS. DS is skeptical, and very worried that he is hearing about this only 3 days before the fisrt deadline, but he is also irresistibly drawn to puzzling through the problems, so we will see if he decides to make a stab at it.

At the same time, he is actively seeking out answers and support at school when he has issues with his homework (I couldn't refresh myself on synthetic division fast enough to help guide him through an exercise that was getting an unexpected answer, so he opted to ask for help at school -- and came back having clarified and solidified the concept!) THIS above all is the outcome I'd have hoped from this shift.

I'm feeling more zen again. We'll cross future math and other subject acceleration bridges when we come to them. For now, I love seeing this kid mature. Surprises at every step. smile
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/16/21 05:42 AM

Enjoying puzzling pretty much describes an ideal math experience, IMO. Sounds like the teacher is an enthusiastic evangelist for your DS, but might want to tone it down a hair. Altogether, itís not a bad problem to have. Thanks for the update and best wishes.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/16/21 08:14 AM

Happy to hear this! I would agree that the growth in active learner behaviors is the best thing about it.

And yup, there's a fine line between a great teacher advocate and maybe a little too much positive attention! But better this extreme than the other, right?
Posted by: sunnyday

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/16/21 08:02 PM

Yes, I still don't entirely know what to think of this teacher. Our first interaction with him was when he tried to form an AMC team virtually last year, and my kids dabbled but ultimately stopped attending his meetings. But I am pretty sure the Alg II student is making things up about the teacher promoting DS behind his back. I do feel from the USAMTS suggestion that the teacher really appreciates and wants to encourage my kid, and I'm grateful, but a little overwhelmed that he's putting so much on him! Still, my DS doesn't seem too stressed by the expectations. He rolled his eyes at the USAMTS but can't seem to stop working on it. Still, he's only solved 1.5 or 2 problems so far out of 5, so it's doubtful he'll get enough correct answers in the next 24-ish hours to rank well. But if he gets another set of problems in the next round and enjoys those too, it'll be worth it.

All I know is that I'm seeing the kid I knew back in fourth grade, curious and intuitive and willing to use all the resources at his disposal, even if it means admitting he didn't get it on the first try, and I like it.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Acceleration in high school - 10/17/21 05:56 PM

...doing math for the joy of it!