kitchen table math, the sequel: help desk: J.C. progress report & question

Monday, June 25, 2012

help desk: J.C. progress report & question

from California, JC writes:

N will be entering the 9th grade this fall and will hopefully be enrolling in the local public high school (or maybe not). Currently in the 8th grade, N is taking his final today in Honors High School Geometry. N attained this level of competency by working year round on math ever since the 1st grade. He has not had to skip a year of instruction as the local public students have.

The local district, in its infinite wisdom, will not accept N’s transcripts showing straight A’s and Standardized test scores in the 99th percentile for mathematics as proof of his ability. In their defense, N does not have state administered test scores on the CST Algebra 1 or Geometry tests – those tests aren’t made available to home schools that operate independent of a school district. The local high school is requiring N to take a 50 question, calculation heavy, 2 hour, Geometry course challenge exam. The test will cover material from a classroom he’s never attended and a textbook he has never used. The test won’t be a neutral exam such as the standardized exams.

According to “district policy” my son must pass the challenge exam with a 90% grade or better in order to continue on in the honors track. We were not to be supplied with the answers to the study guide that was provided. We were also informed that the study guide was missing ¾ of the materials that could be included on the exam. I wouldn’t be able to correct the study guide questions, as N has passed me by mathematically speaking. Thankfully Barry G came to my rescue and worked the problem sets, and provided fantastic comments and notations which helped me to provide my son with a proper review where he was weak.

The district, county and state all refused to let N take the CST tests this spring because he wasn’t enrolled with the public schools. In May I gave N the CST retired questions for Geometry (posted on the CDE website) and he only missed 2 out of 64 questions. We also gave him the on line Algebra 1 test, and uncovered an area of weakness, which was remedied with one evening’s chalk and talk thanks to purple math - he then only missed 3 questions on the whole Algebra 1 exam.

Needless to say, I’m a bit worked up because our high school won’t accept N’s test scores and grades as proof of his abilities. It seems terribly unfair when you consider that the district students only need a B- grade on their report cards to advance to the next honors level class.

If you investigate further - our high school’s CST scores for the 9th grade single honors Geometry class indicate 75% of those honor students fail to score in the advanced category. That’s not a stellar record -- especially knowing how low the proficiency bar is set by the California Department of Education. N is trying to gain entry to the 9th grade Honors Algebra 2 course. The Algebra 2 double honors track has better CST scores with only 22% of the honors students failing to score at the advanced level. The improved performance of the upper track is likely a product of after schooling.

The administration is slamming the gate shut on students who transfer in from schools other than the local district. UPDATE: It isn’t “all” out of district transfer students who must take this exam as I had previously been informed. No, it’s just the students who come from “non traditional” high schools that must pass a challenge exam. So apparently, private home school students must out perform the majority of the local high school honors math students in order to gain admission to the honors math track. Perhaps, hypothetically speaking, it’s just the home school children of veteran math warriors who are expected to perform at this level.

This all seems so horribly unfair. N is an excellent student and has worked incredibly hard, and the standardized tests all place him at the very top. I wouldn’t be so bent out of shape if the local high school CST scores indicated that the honors classes were full of elite math stallions, but that just isn’t the case.

N finished the high school’s study guide exam and took 40 minutes longer than the 2 hour time limit they are setting on the exam. Hopefully the multiple choice exam he will be given next Tuesday will be easier to complete within the time limit otherwise, N will be getting the gate slammed shut in his face.

UPDATE: I’ve just learned the ruling we will get as a result of this test is not the final end – I can always appeal the decision! This is great! I can spend my summer vacation fighting with the school district -- and my son isn’t even in their classrooms yet.


On a happier note, I do have some good news to report. N took the California High School Proficiency Exam last Saturday. The CHSPE allows students to exit high school early, and continue their education at the community college level. Though the exam is designed for students 16 years and older, N (only 14) was able to take the exam with the permission of his “non traditional” school (heh). We will get the results in mid July.

Previously parents have posted on KTM that skipping the high school math program and moving a student up to the college level for math isn’t perhaps the best move. I do remember Wayne Bishop having once written about saving a student from the public high school system and getting him placed into a college math program early. I would like to know what those of you who frequent KTM think about taking this approach.

With the CHSPE proficiency certificate in hand, N will be able to enroll in community college courses without permission from the high school and receive dual credit for his courses. Some local home school parents even send their middle school students to the community college. N will still be able to attend the HS and play sanctioned sports as long as he attends 4 classes. A few of the ambitious local students have managed to graduate high school having also completed an Associate Arts degree.

The CHSPE does NOT allow a student to stop attending school. Students must (by law) attend classes until they reach their 18th birthday. Additionally, it’s possible the HS will refuse to allow N to receive a HS diploma and be in the graduation ceremonies if we go this route (though there may be a way to work this out). The CHSPE certificate is supposed to suffice as an equivalent document in lieu of a high school diploma and is accepted by the state of California and, I believe, the armed services though I am not sure about that.

I would appreciate hearing what KTMers think about this opportunity and look forward to reading your comments.


Catherine Johnson said...

I've emailed my sister, who went this route.

I think she's very happy with the results **although** her daughter had one significant social problem (which is avoidable -- and which she can brief you on privately).

She took her daughter out of high school altogether at the end of freshman year, as I recall.

rosalyn.clement said...

This is Catherine's sister. I'd love discussing this in greater length with you. (Catherine is there any way to get email address to her?)

I hate to be negative, but I don't believe for one minute that there is any chance that your child will receive an appropriate education. The gatekeeping doesn't end with what you are experiencing just trying to get in the place. It keeps going. We pulled our daughter out in the middle of 7th grade, tried again her freshman year, only to leave again, never to return.

What we did to be legal was to home school M through a local charter school. At the school you design your own curriculum. We designed hers around courses taken at the local junior college. That coursework was used by the charter school to report grades and make her official.

The moment M turned 18, she notified the charter school and left.Meanwhile she continued her education at the junior college.

This option isn't for everyone, but I did want to let you know about a program between CA certain junior colleges and the UC/CSU system. Assuming a student completes a predetermined set of courses, he/she is guaranteed admission into all the UCs (except Berkeley) and CSUs. After four years at the local junior college, this fall my daughter is transferring to UC Irvine.

It's not quite as simple as it sounds, but just about. I'd be happy to discuss this in more detail.

rosalyn.clement said...

I left out one thing. I'm pretty sure the CA High School Proficiency Exam allows a person to leave high school upon completion. That was the reason my daughter went that route as she wanted to get out of the system on into higher education. I'll have to double check.

Jean said...

I'm also glad for this information and advice. My daughter is going into 7th grade, is homeschooled through a CA charter that provides funds and advice, and is ready to start algebra.

We have been thinking that in 9th grade she can look at her options and choose between the local HSs or the homeschool/CC option--so as much information as possible is really helpful.

Anonymous said...

"I'm pretty sure the CA High School Proficiency Exam allows a person to leave high school upon completion."

You can drop out of school at age 16 (or older) if you graduate high school or pass the CHSPE.

If you take the CHSPE before 16, you still have to go to school.

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

"N took the California High School Proficiency Exam last Saturday. The CHSPE allows students to exit high school early, and continue their education at the community college level. Though the exam is designed for students 16 years and older, N (only 14) was able to take the exam with the permission of his 'non traditional' school (heh)."

My wife and I registered our "non traditional" school in such a way as to maximize the chances of pulling this off if needed. I'm glad to hear that it should be workable :-)

-Mark Roulo

Jo Anne C said...

Hi Rosalyn:

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Catherine, could you please pass my email address to your sister so we can exchange phone numbers? Thanks for all your help.

I just got word that the exam has now been bumped up to an 80 question 2 hour exam for Geometry. That is less than 1.5 minutes per question. I don't expect Nathan will be able to complete 40 questions in 2 hours if it is a calculation heavy exam.

It sure looks like N is being punished because his Mom is a veteran of the math wars.

I think I'd prefer N take the community college route-- the trouble will be convincing my husband. I need to find out if we can still do sports and perhaps the other fluffy classes at the HS and take the meaty courses at the college level. N only took 2 modules of the CHSPE. He still has one more to go, we get our first session results in mid July.

If anyone has input on playing sports at the HS level while attending classes at the community college level, I sure could use your input.


SteveH said...

I know that I had to do all of the work to ensure that my son made a smooth transition when he skipped a grade in math. I ended up teaching him algebra in 7th grade and geometry in 8th grade at home, but it was with the written permission of the school. I had to track down the tests (and the practice questions) and get written acceptance of what we did. He had to take the schools' algebra and geometry mid terms and finals. This was even though he wasn't coming from some other school or homeschool. I found out afterwards that the high school gave him the regular (not honors) geometry tests, and there was some issue whether he would be allowed into the honors Algebra II class in high school. There is always something that can go wrong. In this thread, it sounds even worse, but at least there seems to be a way to appeal.

If a student is really advanced in math (AP calculus + in high school), there might be several goals. The first is to get though AP calculus with good grades. The next is to do well on the SAT or ACT to open college doors. Another might be to do very well on the AMC tests. You might want to target advanced (extra) placement in college, but if you are going to major in math or engineering, I would recommend that you don't skip those courses in any case. If a student is that advanced, the local community college version of 2nd year calculus will probably not match up to the one at the college she/he would be accepted at. My son will get to AP calculus as a junior, but if he wants to go into math or science in college, I would (most likely) have him take their version of the course. If he was going to major in something else, then I would suggest that he use the AP for placement. It sounds backwards, but AP in high school is really not AP if you are majoring in that subject.

I would divide math development into those three areas; get into the best high school math courses; Do well on the SAT and perhaps the AMC tests, and provide some extra math development (summer camp or a tutor) if needed. I am not a fan of community college math classes, but results may vary.

Anonymous said...

"If anyone has input on playing sports at the HS level while attending classes at the community college level, I sure could use your input."

Sports would be the primary reason for my son to go to a "real" high school rather than be homeschooled (with lots of JC classes, probably) through high school.

So, I have a question for you: Can your child do club sports?

As nearly as I can tell, most sports have leagues that are not attached to the local high schools (football is probably an exception). Can your child do this?

-Mark Roulo

Glen said...

Catherine, I just posted a reply to JC. I suspect you'll find it in the spam bin where Blogger seems to feel my "contributions" rightly belong. Would you mind fishing it out, deleting all references to my Nigerian free cash scam, and reposting?

Allison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allison said...

What do you and you child see in his future re: college? What kind of college or university is he interested in, if any? What kind of programs? My answer to whether to go the CC route or not would depend on the goal beyond that step.

Where in CA are you? Most CCs are fine, or marginally okay, but some are stellar. Also, the appropriateness of a teen on some of those campuses would be different than others.

Jo Anne C said...

"As nearly as I can tell, most sports have leagues that are not attached to the local high schools... Can your child do this?"

Hi Mark:

My son has been on a water polo club team since he was 10, and all of his team mates will be attending the same HS, I suppose we could continue with the travel teams but it is very expensive and time consuming.

It didn't occur to me that participation in a sport club would be equivalent to high school team sports on a college application. Is this the case?

Anne Dwyer said...

Regarding club sports: in HS, students are not allowed to play club sports and HS team sport in the same season. In other words, if a student has played travel soccer, when he gets to hs, he can't play travel soccer and be on his hs team. As a result, none of the travel soccer teams for hs age boys have programs in the fall season. Everything picks up again after the hs season is over. This is in Michigan.

My daughter rows. It's a club sport for her and a varsity sport for one specific hs. So it depends what sport your student wants to play.

These rules are set by the athletic leagues that the schools belong to.

Anyway, that's how it works here in Michigan.

Jo Anne C said...

Hi Steve:

I'm glad you took the time to post a comment, I had remembered that you weren't a fan of the community college route.

You mentioned that the goal should be to get into the top math classes. That is what we're attempting to do. The district will do its best to keep N out.

N is very strong in math, but has (in the past) suffered from a perfectionist streak which can slow him down. We have chosen not to have him labeled. I asked the administration if Nathan can complete the entire exam, even if time runs out (they could make note of where he was when time runs out). Of course the answer was a resounding no. They just don't care if he is capable, they have their rules, and they use them to keep deserving kids out. We have never asked for extra time on any standardized exams and N is still in the 99th percentile (can't say that about the districts test scores)

Steve, if you knew that the instruction was terrible at the local high school, and that your son could get better instruction at the community college level, would that change your opinion about where he should take his math classes? My doctor's son took all his high school math classes at the community college, and his son got his University degree in mathematics. I unfortunately don't know the particulars as to why they chose that route.

I will get Nathan all the testing he needs to prove his abilities to the college folks. I am not familiar with the AMC test can you elaborate?

I understand that the college level advanced math courses should be taken at the university. Nathan doesn't know what he would like to do, but his interest is in meteorology. He likes tracking the weather.

momof4 said...

I have significant experience with elite sports, in the DC area and in MN. In swimming, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, hockey etc, the top level travel teams are likely to be much more competitive than the school teams and colleges know this. By top level, I mean the national traing group of a swim club that regularly sends swimmers to national meets or the top division of a top-level travel soccer league (particularly with regional/national qualifications) or the equivalent in other sports; AAU track, travel wrestling, gymnastics. There are highly competitive meets and tournaments at ages corresponding to HS juniors and seniors that exist only for showcasing talent for college team recruiters: it wasn't unusual to see 400 coaches at one of these events. Admissions offices, in my experience, also counted such experience - even for kids (like mine and many teammates) not intending to play college varsity.

There is one possible stumbling block. I don't know the rules in CA, but MN does not allow kids playing a HS season to do any concurrent club play in that sport, even practice with their club team, so clubs typically don't play that season. However, I know swimmers who never swam HS because the practices were nowhere near sufficient for regional/national USS meets. I also know HS hockey players who were already living away from home and playing in the national developmental leagues. I'm not familiar with water polo, but assume there is elite competition through the HS years - the governing associaton knows. With less than elite level experience, the chances of making HS varsity can be iffy, in some sports and in some areas.
Does that help?

Jo Anne C said...

Hi Anne:

Thanks for your comment.

The local water polo sports club works around the high school fall season as well.

Would NON high school club team participation carry as much weight on a college application as participating on a high school team?

Jo Anne C said...

Hi Mom of 4

That's great news about the consideration of travel team sports when it comes to college applications.

My son won't likely be playing any sports at the college level. He enjoys playing for fun, the ultra competitiveness took all the fun out of it when he hit 14 and under age classification.

momof4 said...

My experience is that elite-level sports are comparable to HS and likely more so - it looks very nice to have state/zone/region or better experience. Below that, I'd recommend you ask around in your area and sport.

Jo Anne C said...

Hi Allison:

We're located in Ventura County.

It is tough to know what N will want to do, all he can come up with is that he enjoys studying the weather. We will take him to get some aptitude testing to get more direction.

Since meteorology is a science and math based field we thought that would be a good direction to follow for now. He says he doesn't want to be an engineer, but perhaps that will change. I do have my concerns as to how marketable a degree meteorology would be. I'm hopeful the math and science aspects of that type of degree could translate into other fields for employment purposes.

lgm said...

Your district's test-out/placement procedure is similar to ones around here in that the student needs to take and pass the end of course exam, but here most schools also add in a project and want to approve the course provider & syllabus.

My district's high school offers no honors courses in math. The suggestion for students who need that level is to dual enroll at the college of their choice.

SteveH said...

"I had remembered that you weren't a fan of the community college route."

That's just in our area. Few talented high school kids take math at the CC. The calculus class is probably worse than most high schools' AP calculus classes, which is still not in the same league as the rigorous one offered by our university.

If our high school did not provide proper math classes, I would do something to make sure that he got to and covered the material in AP calculus and (hopefully) get a 5 on the test. If you have feedback that your CC provides good math classes, go for it.

The American Mathematics Contest tests (AMC/10 and AMC/12) are offered at many schools on a volunteer basis. You can go online and read all about them. Our high school offers them, but provides no help or support. My son has taken the AMC/10 tests as a freshman and sophomore, but I really don't know how important the scores are. Now that my son is into his big junior year, the SAT and SAT II, and his AP calculus tests are all that I will expect from him. If you do well on those, then I don't think the AMC test matters much. If you don't do well on those tests, then I don't think the AMC test matters much. I hope. An amazing young friend of ours had the highest AMC/12 scores in our state (along with a hugely impressive resume), but was wait-listed at Dartmouth. AMC seems like it's a distraction unless that's really your thing.

Then again, my son is now at a music camp, not a math or science camp. It depends on what a person is interested in. His music resume is huge and mostly disconnected from his schools. I think that's true for many sports or special areas. Meteorology probably doesn't require top-level fast-track competition math unless, perhaps, you want to develop global climate models. It's more likely needed if you want to study string theory at MIT.

As Allison says, it depends on where you want to go. If you are in high school and decide that you want to go to a music conservatory, don't look to the school to get you anywhere close.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

I can't comment on sports—we don't do sports.

The AMC math tests mainly matter if you do well enough on them to be invited to take the AIME (American Invitational Math Exam), which is used for selecting who takes the USAMO, which is used for choosing the US math olympiad team.

All the AMC/AIME/... tests only matter if you are planning to become a math major—no one else has any idea how to interpret the results, unless you're one of the handful who get to the very top.

My son had geometry and algebra 2 in a private middle school, and had no trouble getting into the trigonometry and analytic geometry class in 9th grade. He dropped it, though, and started doing the Art of Problem Solving Precalculus class online.

Details in

After 9th grade, we ended up home schooling:

Jo Anne C said...

AMC seems like it's a distraction unless that's really your thing."

If I asked N to do one more math "test" I'm pretty sure he'd threaten to run away from home, or at least ask for a new Mom.

Actually N has said that he loves History. And I need to make a correction, I was informed at dinner that he wants to study atmospheric sciences. I am the one pushing the high math track, so as to provide him with the most options and a better chance for acceptance to the college program of his choice.

I suppose I should have investigated the math requirements for the high school better. I was foolish to think it would be "fair."

The private elementary school honors classes N has briefly attended were terrible, with horrible instruction and focus on fuzzy aspects of the textbooks. I was known as the math lady by the other moms due to my activism and strong opinions. I had parents come up to me (unsolicited) to tell me how horrible the honors math class or teacher was months after I had already pulled my son out of the punishing classes. Our private school experience was similar to Catherine's experiences in middle school.

It has been much simpler to just provide the accelerated instruction our selves at home to be sure he masters all the concepts. His standardized tests scores are our measure of his success. He is out scoring a large percentage of the local honors students by a mile.

I'll pray for N's success tomorrow, it would be a giant victory for home schooling, but I'm realistic that the 80 question 2hr time limit means we're at a disadvantage.

Jo Anne C said...

"After 9th grade, we ended up home schooling"

Hi GasSTation w/o pumps

Interesting, based on your post I wouldn't have guessed that was the direction you would chose.

Do you have another post detailing how you came to the home schooling conclusion for 10th grade?

From my perspective, I have been most comfortable being an independent home school because I am able to pick exactly which curriculum I would like to use for each subject. With the CA Virtual Academy online home school I had to pretend we were doing their math program. They also wanted us to spend time doing an online computer test taking program designed for remediation. They weren't able to make exceptions in their policies.

At that point it became apparent that I needed to become independent as I was spending to much time on material that wasn't appropriate for N.

I'm going to miss the control over curriculum that comes with the private school designation that independent home schools get in CA.

Glen said...

I studied meteorology briefly at the Naval Academy in Annapolis (non-degree seeking special program). Meteorology there is part of the oceanography major and is essentially a sub-specialty of physics.

It's not really about what most people think of when they think about weather.

At the serious study level, meteorology is all about ideal gas laws, heat of vaporization, thermal inertia and diffusion, thermodynamics, atmospheric optics, fluid flow, conduction/convection/radiation, and so on, with all the math underpinning each. Plus some geography.

At most institutions, I assume you would major in physics and take some meteorology classes as electives at the junior or senior level.

SteveH said...

I thought about this some more and I would define three levels for different areas; Doesn't keep all doors open, keeps most all doors open, and fast track. I would put the AMC test in the fast track area. Most students can't handle being in the fast track for multiple areas. It's hard to be a top prospect in soccer and math. Each requires too much time outside of what any regular school can offer.

In some areas, the fast track is critical. You probably can't get into a music conservatory as a performance major if you expect any school system to get the job done. It's not quite so critical for math and science. You still have a lot of time in college to blossom. Sports is another area where the fast track is critical. Most times, the school system can't do the job. This is not a bad thing. It's just the way it is. A girl from our high school went to the Olympics for swimming last time when she was a junior. You can't expect schools to be able to develop that sort of talent.

I used to worry about the AMC test, but not any more. (almost) In math and science, there is plenty of time and opportunity to reach any level. If my son loved math competitions, then doing well on the AMC might open a few more doors, but he can't do that level in math and in music. He has been competing in music since he was 7. It's like sports.

Most parents are worried about keeping most doors open. In math, this means getting good grades in proper math classes up through AP calculus. You could just get up through pre-calculus, but I would wonder whether the student was (as I've said before) at a base camp or nearing the peak of his/her mathematical ability or tolerance of the subject. Some students can do really well in a subject, but it becomes a big struggle. My niece got a 34 on the ACT, but she knows she is no hot STEM prospect.

In the "doesn't keep all doors open" category, K-6 math plays a critical role. In theory, it may be possible to recover, but it's very tough. Usually, it takes K-6 for many parents to figure things out, but by then it's "game over" for a STEM career for many students.

"I'll pray for N's success tomorrow, it would be a giant victory for home schooling, but I'm realistic that the 80 question 2hr time limit means we're at a disadvantage."

Good luck. I remember when my methodical son took the high school geometry test. I worried that he would get a 100 if you didn't count the questions he didn't get to! If your high school math classes are decent, then fighting to get in would probably save time and effort over the long run unless taking math classes at a CC is not too disruptive. Either way, it sounds like you will be able to keep all doors open.

BTW, my old roommate in college got a degree in Atmospheric Science. I just found out that he is a TV weatherman in Lansing, MI.

ChemProf said...

I'm coming late to this discussion, but I thought I might clarify the issues with CC math classes. Up to calculus, there's really no problem. The issue is that if your son goes past calculus at the CC, then in college, he may pass out of classes he should take. However, that really depends on where he winds up going -- it would be a big deal at CalTech or MIT, a possibly problem at UCB, and less of an issue at UCI.

Here was my experience: I took AP Calculus AB in 11th grade, which was all my high school offered. Senior year, I took another three quarters of calculus, through multivariable, at the local Cal State. However, at Harvey Mudd, I still had to retake multivariable calculus, because the Cal State course didn't cover vector calculus. At tougher schools, the math courses often cover tougher material, and passing out of them is a bad idea. In fact, Mudd started accepting AP credit at some point, and I know of a couple of students who passed out of the basic courses then flunked out of the college because they weren't really prepared for upper level courses.

Catherine Johnson said...

Glen - I'll see if I can find your Comment.
Jean - do you want Ros's email as well?
Ros - (if you're around) - I'll send JC's email.
(Haven't read the thread yet...!)

Catherine Johnson said...

Glen - Did you attach your comment to a different post? (I only see one comment in the spam bucket -- it seems to be about this subject but it's on a different post -- )

Jean said...

"Jean - do you want Ros's email as well?"

Sure! Thanks, Catherine.

Right now I'm not sure how soon we would move to CC math courses, should my daughter choose that route. Her dad does calculus for fun and is an excellent teacher, so we could get quite far at home, even after she surpasses me (I never got farther than trig, have forgotten much, and am practicing with Khan Academy exercises and husband's tutoring).

If anyone wants to know, we live in rural Northern CA and I actually work at the local CC part time. I have been favorably impressed with the courses and instructors there, but classes are very full and it's true that the environment isn't what you'd want to put a 14yo into, so that would wait until 10th grade I think. I want freedom AND good lab courses!

We are aiming for BYU (Provo) or a UC for this girl--all options open for a major at this point, and I definitely want STEM options to stay open; she could do fine. At the moment we prefer BYU for its excellent education at an astoundingly low price. I'm a UC grad myself, but I'm unhappy with the cost and increasing politics in the system, and I'm having to let go of my sentimental dream of a 4th-generation Cal student. *snif*

The local high school is much better than the one I went to, and I have no real objection to it. That could happen too.

Glen said...

Catherine, of course I may have inadvertently attached it to the wrong article, but it never showed up in the list of recent postings attached to ANY article. (And it could be Blogger that attached it to the wrong article, as I suspect has happened to other KTM posters.) It was about prepping for a "readiness test" that our school apparently was hoping we'd fail.

Catherine Johnson said...

Glen - oh no! That sounds fantastic!

I think Blogger disappeared it ----- any chance you can rewrite???

Jo Anne C said...

Thanks everyone for the informative comments.

Honestly, I don't know what I would do without all the help and advice I get from the folks at KTM.

I don't expect N to race through math at the community college level, that would not be my goal. I want his skills to be solid so he won't feel the urge to drop out.

I don't think N as occupyies the top tier for either sports or academics. He's certainly a hard worker though. Water polo club helped N learn the skills needed to make the high school team. I'm pretty sure he'd prefer not to do sports, he's the shy, quiet, non aggressive type.

It's N's Mom who is the competitive one. I just hope to get enough on his records to qualify for a good college. I don't know if N can qualify academically for Harvey Mud, but they have a Div III water polo team. Maybe that makes N more marketable (math, science, and water polo). I haven't really looked into the colleges yet. I don't expect N will play college sports, he says he would rather focus on his studies.

N's is taking his test now. He wasn't allowed to bring any scratch paper or coordinate graph paper. They provided everything but it didn't look like enough. N uses copious amounts of paper, and writes very big to avoid making errors.

I don't expect N to finish the exam if he has to draw his own coordinate graphs. He takes forever to do the constructions of any type. He just doesn't go fast. We refuse to have him labeled.

Jo Anne C said...

OOPS- I hit the post button instead of the preview -

Jo Anne C said...

Please forgive the errors that should read:

occupies the top tier in either

Jo Anne C said...

N is home now, having completed the high school Honors Geometry final exam.

N said he was able to complete the entire 80 question multiple choice test by first skipping the tough questions. He had enough time to go back and complete any unanswered questions. There was one question that stumped him though. I am very impressed.

I sure hope N pushed the right buttons on his calculator though. He said he used it quite a bit to go faster. This is a concern, he mostly doesn't need to use a calculator.

When I discovered N had trouble with his finger slipping to the wrong column or row on the sine, cosine, and tangent tables, I realized he needed to learn how to use his calculator. I expected the school would require it seeing how they used Everyday Math in K-5.

N took both the CHSPE and the practice CST without using a calculator. The CHSPE exam only allows calculators with 4 functions. We could not find a calculator without percent or square root buttons. N did mention though that he would have finished earlier on the CHSPE if he had used a calculator. I think students are more accurate with pencil and paper, it is too easy to hit the wrong buttons.

OK - Now I'm feeling pretty embarrassed for publicly fretting about this test.

When we got home, I literally had tears of joy in my eyes and demanded that my son give me a big hug. I was gushing and telling N how proud I am of his hard work. He of course was terribly embarrassed by my behavior.

The next hurdle is whether or not N made the 90% cut off. There should be no problem clearing the 80% threshold which should get him into Honors Algebra 2 through the petition process, assuming they are going to play "fair."

Glen said...

Regarding Jo Anne's "N" having to take a challenge test and score above 90%, a higher hurdle than his potential classmates had to leap:

First, Jo Anne, I think you should carefully document these facts in case N doesn't pass. I spoke with a Stanford admissions officer, and he said that they took great pains not to blame a kid for school policies that limit his opportunities. Requiring higher scores from homeschooled kids is the sort of policy that he made it clear he would want to know about on an application.

As for these challenge tests: My son will be starting middle school this fall. Last fall, wanting to plan ahead, I contacted his school and told them he'd be ready for geometry when he started 6th grade, which didn't make them happy. (Essentially, "We'll be the judge of that.") They refused to meet with me or even make an appointment for a phone conversation. All they would say is that, if I contacted them at the end of the school year, they would be willing to look at his "pre-algebra readiness test" score and decide whether to allow him to take any further tests. If they allowed him to challenge anything beyond pre-algebra, then they would agree to talk with me, not about the wonderful possibilities, but just to "explain the difficulties" I would be causing everyone.

The implied warning was clear: If he ended up too far ahead of his Everyday Math-trained peers, they couldn't be held responsible.

The "algebra readiness" and "geometry readiness" tests were not standardized tests, but were created by the teachers at the school. I said I had a year to teach him what they wanted him to know and requested sample tests. "No. We can't do that." How about study guides to guide our study? "No." How about just a list of topics you'll require him to know? "No. That wouldn't be fair to the other students."

I pointed out that the other students would spend the same year being prepped for the test by the same teachers who created it, yet my son was apparently going to be required to outscore those students without even being allowed to see a list of topics they were covering. "Correct. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fair to the other students."

So, I contacted the algebra teacher directly and, without mentioning tests, requested his class syllabus. He was happy to provide it, going so far as to give me a "parents' login" to his homework website on which I found the algebra textbook info, the details of what was covered (incl. how much time spent on each chapter), and lots of practice tests. Jackpot.

I then bought a used copy of the textbook on Amazon. If the algebra teacher hadn't helped, I would have found neighborhood parents with a kid in the class and had them download the info for me from their accounts.

They put up even more obstacles than I've mentioned, but in the end it didn't matter. I realized that there were strategic advantages to starting in algebra, a subject he already knew, and learning geometry at home, as planned. He took the algebra readiness test and I stopped mentioning geometry to his school.

But the trick of going directly to a teacher for a syllabus to figure out what's on the secret "challenge test"--that might be something that someone else here could use. I might use it again myself.

SteveH said...

"I sure hope N pushed the right buttons on his calculator though."

I told my son once that he really needed to bring his own calculator to an exam. He said no, they have the exact same calculators. While taking the test, however, the calculator didn't seem to be working correctly. It took him a long time to figure out that it was set to radians rather than degrees.

Also, as Glen said, there can be issues with being too far ahead. We had a few problems and our son was only one year ahead. We had more problems in middle school. Then again, once you are in high school, you can run out of math even though they probably require 4 years of math. Strategically, however, getting to AP Calculus (extra weight on your GPA at our school) in his junior year is an unexpected bonus. Then again, he has nothing but AP Stat to look forward to during his senior year.

Our son took the SCAT test in 5th grade for Johns Hopkins' CTY program, so we showed that to the school along with his state test results. Our challenge test was to show that he could do well on Everyday Math's 6th grade end-of-year exam. The school was nice enough to lend us a copy to use for the summer before sixth grade. I thought it was weird to be studying for an EM test just to skip to pre-algebra in sixth grade.

Another student was two years ahead in math, but he was a special needs student and that bought him a lot of consideration. My son didn't get that. His pre-algebra teacher in sixth grade seemed to go out of his way to try and make him look bad. By 7th grade, I was teaching him math at home.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"Do you have another post detailing how you came to the home schooling conclusion for 10th grade?"

Yes, a slew of them. I have 96 posts in the category "home school" in blog.
The ones about the school decision are

I would suggest using next/previous links to get between posts, but,
unfortunately, the wordpress theme I'm using does not provided next/previous links between blog posts. I spent an hour yesterday looking for a better theme, but none of the ones with links provided properly implemented flexible width (or they had other flaws worse than no next/previous links).

You can find all the home-school posts (in most-recent-first order, as Wordpress refuses to allow bloggers to specify oldest-first order for categories) at

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

"A girl from our high school went to the Olympics for swimming last time when she was a junior. You can't expect schools to be able to develop that sort of talent."

But some of them do, sometimes.

When I was in high school, people moved to our town to get their kids onto the swim team with our coach, Don Watson. Swimming was the high-status sport, as our team won the state championship year after year, and sent a couple of kids to the Olympics (John Kinsella, silver in 1968, gold in 1972) and Mark Lambert (who I don't believe won any medals).

I was barely able to swim the length of the pool in the required PE class.

Jo Anne C said...

Thanks again everyone for the fantastic info - I really appreciate the math and science pointers.

This is my second attempt at posting a thanks, the previous one evaporated.