Middle school Algebra is considered a "gateway" course. It opens a series of doors in high school and later in college. In order to be on track to take honors math classes in high school, it is best to take Algebra in middle school. Many high school honors science classes require honors math. The classes your child takes in middle school determine whether they are recommended for honors classes when they enter high school.

As a parent, you should make sure that your student is getting the opportunities they have earned. Here's what you can do:

You should understand the middle school math placement guidelines. They are available

**here**on the Wake County Public School web site.

Simply stated, the guidelines say the following:

1. Wake County uses software that predicts the likelihood of whether a student will be successful in 8th grade Algebra. This prediction is available NOW for most 5th, 6th and 7th grade students. If the student has more than a 70% probability of success, then the student should be placed in the more advanced class.

2. Not all students have a prediction. A student has to have taken 3 end-of-grade tests in order to have a prediction. Most current 5th graders have already taken four end-of-grade tests, 3rd grade Reading and Math and 4th grade Reading and Math. Some students may not have done well on the end-of grade tests, but do very well in class. Teachers can also recommend that these students take the more advanced class.

As a parent, you have probably never seen the predictions for your student. Until this year, very few school counselors had access to the system that provides the predictions.

EDSTAR Analytics wrote a excellent paper that explains what reports are available and how to understand what the reports mean. The paper is available

**here**.

Page 5 shows a projection report for a student. If the value of the yellow square (the projected or predicted value) is greater than 70, your student should be recommended for an advanced class. The advanced classes are:

6th grade advanced math

7th grade pre-Algebra

8th grade Algebra I

The guidelines state that if a student may not be placed in an advanced class if they have not taken a pre-requisite course. The only one of these three advanced classes that has a specific pre-requisite is 8th grade Algebra I. Most schools require that a student pass pre-Algebra before taking Algebra I. There are exceptions. Some schools allow students to take Algebra I in 8th grade, even though the student did not take pre-Algebra in 7th grade. The school provides additional help for these students. Other schools won't place a student unless they have had pre-Algebra. Keep in mind that if your child did not take pre-Algebra in 7th grade, it will be much more difficult to them to take honors math classes later.

For the other advanced classes, the only pre-requisite is that the student passes the math class they are currently taking. So, if your student was not in advanced 6th grade math, that does not mean they cannot be moved up to pre-Algebra in 7th grade.

I'm very hopeful that the school system will do a better job placing eligible students in advanced math for next year. But it is still a good idea to find out what information was used to decide your child's placement and to make sure that your student is being offered every opportunity they have earned.

Also, EDSTAR Analytics has done a very nice job pulling together information that explains how to advocate for your child. You can access the information here:

**Advocate for Math Placement**