Parents, the school district and school board members in Snoqualmie Valley are engaged in an important dialogue about whether parents should be allowed to opt their middle school student into a math pathway that lets them take Pre-Calculus by 11th grade (which means taking Algebra 1 in 8th grade). Many parents seek this option because they want their child to take advanced math classes in high school. Those advanced classes, especially Pre-Calculus, help better prepare students for the SAT as well as support their application to competitive colleges.
In a recent opinion piece, Snoqualmie Valley School District board member Carolyn Simpson explains why it’s important to let students self select into a math track that allows them to take Algebra 1 in middle school and then Pre-Calculus by junior year, if the student, along with his/her parent, feels they can handle it. She offers a detailed analysis of the topics covered in both Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus, and how those topics line up with the content covered on the SAT. Her conclusions are based on a review of the content and subject matter covered in the courses, the official SAT test specifications from the College Board (the company that writes and publishes the test), and conversations with College Board representatives. Her exhaustive inquiry leads to an incontrovertible fact: students who take Pre-Calculus by junior year will be better prepared for the SAT.
From Simpson: As a parent and as a school board member, I think families need to know that students will have a much better chance to be prepared for success on the math portion (and parts of the reading and writing portion) of the SAT if they have Pre-Calculus by 11th grade…For those who may need or prefer a slower or a different math path but still want college as an option, it is important for parents and teachers to develop supports and interventions to help them do their best on the SAT”
Why does the SAT matter? As Simpson explains, the SAT remains a vital part of both the college admission process – particularly for selective colleges – as well as eligibility for financial aide. And as noted in the latest edition of “The Nation’s Report Card,” too many students are still graduating from high school not ready for the academic challenges of college-level work. Encouraging students to take and succeed in advanced courses, such as Pre-Calculus and Calculus, can help change that trajectory.
Read her column “Pre-Calculus Is On the SAT, and Students Need To Take It By 11th Grade” here.