Math Department

Middle School Recommendation Guidelines

Our fundamental goal, is to place children in classes where the pace and rigor meets the student at his/her current development.  We want students to enjoy math class and to develop confidence in their abilities. We have expanded our offerings to create a multitude of options that focus on students’ current academic needs while ensuring that doors remain open for future growth.  In particular, students who are not in Level 2 (honors) Pre-Algebra in grade 7 have multiple opportunities to work their way to the honors sequence by high school if it is deemed appropriate.

We recognize that the process of making recommendations is an imperfect system.  There will always be students in gray areas where teachers have to make their best judgment. In general, it is easier to switch from Level 2 to Level 3 than the other way around. (Please see the Differences Between L2 and L3 at the end of this document.) Also, in general, a switch from Level 3 this year to Level 2 next year may require some work to be done over the summer.  A teacher would only make such a recommendation if he/she believes the child is currently misplaced in the L3 class.

(Note for clarification:  There is no Level 1 at HMS.  It is reserved for AP classes at HHS)

In general, the following guidelines are used within the math department for making recommendations.

******New 7th Grade course as of 2017-18 – Level 3 Pre-Algebra******

From Grade 6: There are many reasons that students could be successful in grade 6 math that may not necessarily make them as successful in grade 7.  A high grade in 6th grade does not always correlate to having the independence, math acuity, computational speed, math intuition, and problem solving skills to be successful in the grade 7 honors Pre-Algebra courses.  Grade 6 teachers take these traits into account and also consider multiple data points when making their recommendation, including: Semester 1 Grade, a skills benchmark test, the Chapter 5 test, and grade 5 MCAS.

In a very broad generalization, student with strong A grades will be recommended for L2 Pre-Algebra.  Students with grades that range from B to A- will typically be recommended for L3 Pre-Algebra.  Students below a B will be recommended for Math 7.  These grades are a generalization and teachers need to consider the impact of test and quiz corrections on a student’s overall performance.

From Math 7: Students who have earned a strong A in Math 7 typically take Math 8 with Algebra.  Students who earn below an A typically take Math 8. In both instances, teachers must take into account a student’s ability to work independently and whether the student’s grade reflects significant extra help with or revision of tests and quizzes.

From L3 Pre-Algebra: Students in this course who have earned a strong B or better will typically be recommended for L3 Algebra 1 – Quadratic Emphasis.  Students who have not completely mastered the material of this course will take L3 Math 8 with Algebra in grade 8 to ensure that they have learned the most important foundational skills before proceeding to a full Algebra 1 course during their freshman year.

From L2 Pre-Algebra:  Students with strong B averages or better are considered, in conjunction with their math acuity and computational speed for L2 Algebra 1.  Students with low B or high C averages will be recommended for Algebra 1 – Quadratic Emphasis.  Other students are recommended for Math 8 with Algebra.  Students who earn below a C- are not allowed to remain in the honors curriculum for next year.

From Math 8:  Most students will be recommended for Algebra 1 – Linear Emphasis. Students with strong A grades (who achieve that grade with a high level of independence) may be recommended for Algebra – Quadratic Emphasis.  

From Math 8 with Algebra: Students who earn a B or better are recommended for Algebra 1 – Quadratic Emphasis.  Students who earn below a B should take Algebra 1- Linear Emphasis.

From 8th grade Algebra 1 – Quadratic Emphasis:  The majority of students will be recommended for L3 Geometry – Quadratic Emphasis.  Students with strong A averages may be considered for L2 Geometry.  Students who earn grades in the C range will be recommended to repeat Algebra 1 – Quadratic Emphasis as a freshman to ensure success in future Algebra based courses at HHS.  Students who do not earn a C- must repeat Algebra 1 and will be recommended for Algebra 1 – Linear Emphasis.

From L2 Algebra 1:  Students with B- or better are considered in conjunction with their math acuity and computational speed for L2 Geometry. Students who earn a C+ or below are recommended for L3 Geometry.  Students who earn below a C- are not allowed to remain in the honors curriculum and should be recommended for Algebra 1- Quadratic Emphasis.

Summary of the Differences between Levels 2 and 3 in Mathematics

  1. Level 2 pacing is much faster than Level 3.  In Level 3 good teaching requires substantial re-teaching and practice in both skills and concepts.  This is done much less in Level 2.
  2. The teacher needs to make fewer explicit connections at higher levels.  In Level 2, we often outline solutions to problems and expect students to be competent at the symbol manipulation and computation on their own.  In Level 3, we are much less likely to do this.
  3. All students need a variety of activities, changes of pace, and opportunities to work by themselves, with partners, and in small groups.  However, lectures are efficient ways of developing ideas in Level 2 and short lectures will be used more in Level 2 than in Level 3.
  4. Level 2 students will study and do activities simply to learn the material.  Level 3 students are much more likely to require extrinsic motivation.
  5. In Level 2, it is easier to tell if students understand.  They are more likely to tell us if they don’t. We must work much harder to determine understanding on the part of Level 3 students.  
  6. Level 2 students can learn on their own.  They benefit from reading the solutions of others.  They will constructively struggle with problems and persevere to construct their own understanding.  Level 2 students are taught to use a textbook and expected to learn from it and use it as a resource for learning.  Level 3 students vary widely in their ability in this area, both because of motivational and/or readiness issues.
  7. Level 2 assignments and tests are longer and more difficult than Level 3.  We need to teach skills, concepts, and broad multi-step problems at all levels.  However, we will provide more scaffolding for Level 3 students.
  8.   In Level 2, we teach to the top half of the class.  In Level 3, we teach to the middle of the class.