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Math FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions for Math

Frequently Asked Questions for Math iconFrequently Asked Questions for Mathtitle

How Does Middle-School Acceleration Affect a Student’s Schedule?
 
If a student completes Algebra during the 8th grade, their math schedule could be:

Pathway Option #1
Pathway Option #2
9th
Geometry Enriched
Geometry Benchmark
10th
AS Algebra II
Algebra II
11th
Pre-Calculus
Finite and Trigonometry
12th
Calculus AB or BC (with summer)
Pre-Calculus

If a student completes Geometry during the 8th grade, their math schedule could be:

Pathway Option #1
Pathway Option #2
9th
AS Algebra II
AS Algebra II
10th
Pre-Calculus
Pre-Calculus
11th
Calculus AB or BC (with summer)
Calculus AB
12th
AP Statistics or Multivariable
Calculus BC (no summer)
Students may enroll in two math classes by taking AP Statistics either junior or senior year.

What are the possible pathways for a 9th grader who completes Algebra I at M-A?
M-A offers a variety of courses at different rigor levels in order to meet the needs of our diverse student population.  Students and families should consider a student's past performance in math, the homework load and rigor of courses as well as the math pathway when choosing courses.  Please see the following link to Math Department Pathways from 9th Grade Algebra I for possible options.

What if a student begins in Algebra I as a 9th Grader, but wants to complete AP Calculus or take AS Chemistry?
Students can accelerate over the summer by completing geometry off site between the 9th and 10th grade year.  This option is very challenging and should only be considered by students earning an “A” or high “B” in Algebra at M-A.  M-A does not offer a summer acceleration program. Please see our summer acceleration page for our district and department acceleration policy, details about enrollment and summer programs.  
Students enrolling in AS Chemistry must be concurrently enrolled in Algebra II or higher.  If a student is enrolled in geometry, they should choose to enroll in another science elective like Physics and then enroll in AS Chemistry when they are enrolled in Algebra II.  For information about science classes and prerequisites, please see Menlo-Atherton Course Description Catalog or contact the science department chair. 

How are incoming 9th graders placed into math classes?  
Please see our district website page info for Incoming 9th grade students for enrollment information and math placement guidelines.  SUHSD uses the highest of three different tests in order to place students into 9th grade mathematics.  The three tests used are the 7th Grade Math Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test, the MDTP and the Let’s Go Learn Online Math Assessment.  All incoming 9th graders must take the MDTP. Students coming from a private school, please see our guidance department enrollment page  for information about taking math placement tests.  

What is the difference between Geometry Enriched and Geometry College Prep (Benchmark)?
Both Geometry courses are designed to meet the standards of the common core and satisfy the “C” requirement for the University of California and California State University campuses.  Each course, Benchmark and Enriched, use the same textbook, Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra, and cover the same chapters of study.
 
Geometry Enriched - (primarily 9th grade students)
  • Class focuses on student discovery of geometry concepts.
  • Students use geometry software and tools to prove postulates and theorems.
  • Students apply knowledge and engage with higher-level thinking tasks and problem-solving.
  • As reported on the M-A rigor chart, the class rigor is a 4 and the average nightly homework is 30 minutes.
  • Students enrolled in Geometry Enriched typically are on a pathway to complete Calculus by the end of their 4-year math career at M-A.
  • Students who pass with a B or higher will move to AS Algebra II
 
Geometry College Prep (primarily 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students)
  • Class utilizes more direct instruction strategies with guided notes, practice quizzes and practice tests.
  • Class reviews key geometry and algebra concepts.  
  • As reported on the M-A rigor chart, the class rigor is 3 and the average nightly homework is 20 minutes.
  • Students enrolled in Benchmark Geometry typically are on a pathway to complete Finite Math and Trigonometry or Statistics by the end of their 4-year math career at M-A.  
  • Students with a C or higher will move on to Algebra II
 

What is the difference between AS Algebra II and Algebra II?
Both Algebra courses are designed to meet the standards of the common core and satisfy the “C” requirement for the University of California and California State University campuses.  They both satisfy the third year math requirement for A-G eligibility and use the textbook Big Ideas by Ron Larson.
 
AS Algebra II- (primarily 9th and 10th grade students)
  • AS Algebra II is meant for the student who enjoys the challenges of a rigorous mathematics course, has excelled in previous mathematics courses, and is driven to take Calculus in high school
  • Students apply knowledge and engage with higher-level thinking tasks, problem-solving and assessments.
  • Class moves at a fast pace with students independently solving and applying concepts.
  • Students need to advocate for themselves and clarify their understanding regularly as new content is presented daily.  
  • Course includes trigonometry unit required for PreCalculus.
  • As reported on the M-A rigor chart, the class rigor is a 4 out of 5 and the average nightly homework is 35 minutes.
  • Students enrolled in AS Algebra II typically are on a pathway to complete Calculus by the end of their 4-year math career at M-A.
  • Students who pass with a B or higher will move to PreCalculus.
Algebra II- (10th, 11th and 12th grade students)
  • Class utilizes more direct instruction strategies with guided notes, practice quizzes and practice tests.
  • Content is challenging and requires mastery of algebra concepts
  • As reported on the M-A rigor chart, the class rigor is 3 out of 5 and the average nightly homework is 30 minutes.
  • Students with a C or higher will move on to Finite Math and Trigonometry or Statistics.
 
What additional topics are covered in AS Algebra II that are not a focus in Algebra II?
AS Algebra II’s coursework includes advanced topics and key trigonometric concepts.  Mastery of these concepts help to prepare students for PreCalculus and the pathway to calculus.  In addition to the topics covered in all Algebra II classes, AS topics include the focus and directrix of a parabola, turning points of polynomial functions, sums of infinite geometric series, binomial distributions, right triangle trigonometry, the unit circle, measuring angles in radians, trigonometric identities, solving trigonometric equations, and graphing sine, cosine, tangent, secant, cosecant, and cotangent functions, the sum and difference formulas for sine, cosine, and tangent and trigonometric proofs using basic trigonometric identities.  The additional topics are covered in Finite and Trigonometry, the course after Algebra II.

Is It A Good Idea To Take Algebra II during the Summer?
We do not recommend taking Algebra II during the summer. The only course that we may recommend for summer is Geometry.  There are no options for Algebra II acceleration within the district. Students will have to go to either a community college or a private school summer program. The summer programs will not offer the same challenge or rigor as they will have less instructional time than during a normal school year.  Please see our acceleration page for full details.

What is the policy on making a level change?
If a student wants to move from AS Algebra II and Algebra II, for example, they can request the change in the first six weeks of the semester with no penalty on their permanent transcript.  See the school calendar on mabears.org for the specific deadline. Level changes will be allowed when there is room in the receiving course. After the six week period, students can make level changes at the quarter, but they will receive a WP (withdraw pass) or WF (withdraw fail) on their permanent transcript for the class they are exiting.  After the quarter, students will not be able to request a level change, but they can drop the course and receive the WP or WF on their permanent transcript, and become a Teacher’s Assistant or Student Clerk. 
For the first semester only, 9th graders will be allowed to level change during the first six weeks of the semester and at the quarter without receiving a WP or WF.  Level changes are dependent on space availability in the receiving course. If students drop or withdraw from a course, after the last day to drop without penalty (see mabears.org for specific dates), they will receive a WP or WF. 

What math courses are eligible for level changes?  
Math Courses Eligible for Level Changes
Algebra I
Algebra Readiness
(Only for 9th graders and a signed in person waiver is needed)
Geometry Enriched
Geometry
Geometry Benchmark
(College Prep)
Integrated Math
(Student can only move from Geo to Int Math, not the reverse.)
AS Algebra II
Algebra II
Pre-Calculus
Finite and Trigonometry
(Student can only move from Precalc to Finite, not the reverse.)
AP Statistics
Statistics

What is the difference between AB Calculus and BC Calculus?
AB covers the first 6 chapters of our Calculus book. BC covers the entire Calculus book plus one more chapter. Specifically, BC calculus content includes Advanced Integration techniques, Polar, Parametric and Vector Calculus, and MacLaurin and Taylor Series.  Each class prepares students for the corresponding AP exam, either AB or BC.

Who Should Take BC Calculus?
BC Calculus is considered to be the toughest AP exam of them all. It is a great course for students who are considering engineering, science, mathematics, business and economics majors in college.

How Do I Sign Up For Summer Calculus Program?
Please see our Summer Calculus page for program details and sign up procedures.  When a student signs-up to enroll in AP Calculus BC for the following school year it is assumed that they will be in the summer program.  Students in Pre-Calculus and their families will be invited to an information night in January that will clearly explain our program options.  The times and dates for AP Summer Calculus are typically the first four weeks of summer, from 8 am to noon.

When Should I Take the Math Subject Exam, Level II?
Mr. Whitnah, our SAT math teacher, recommends that students take the Math Subject Test II after a student completes Pre-Calculus. In May, M-A offers 2-week review classes in Math and Biology.

What are the procedures for a student enrolling at M-A or transferring from a private school?
All families must first complete Address Verification at the Sequoia District Office and then follow the process outlined on the guidance department’s page M-A Enrollment Process.  Families will work with the Registrar at M-A to determine placement and the student’s schedule.  All incoming 9th graders will take the Gates-McGinitie Reading Test (GMRT) for English and the MDTP for math.  Additional testing may be required. Please call the registrar to schedule a testing appointment at 650-322-5311 x 50121 or x 50122.  Testing appointments may be made Wednesdays and Thursdays. Please see link above for enrollment process details.

Why is there not an extra grade point for pre-calculus and multivariable calculus?
We are unable to offer the bonus point for the UC A-G requirements for our pre-calculus and multivariable calculus classes.  To be eligible for a bonus point, the class has to be either an AP course or a course where a school offers two levels of a course, honors and non-honors.  Neither multivariable or pre-calculus meet either of these two requirements.

Why are the advanced classes so challenging?
Our AS and AP pathways are very challenging and offer a very rigorous curriculum.  These classes are preparing our students for college-level curriculum while they are still enrolled in high school.  They are also preparing them for the successful completion of the Advanced Placement Exams. Our advanced classes require students to engage in higher-level problem-solving, synthesize several topics and apply their learning.  It is common practice at all levels of math, that questions asked on tests and quizzes ask for application and higher-level thinking. This can be perceived as harder than the daily practice of learning a single math concept. The math department offers a variety of classes, at various levels, to try to meet the learning needs of the school population.

What tutoring options are available?
M-A offers several after-school free tutoring options.  Monday - Thursday from 3:15 - 4:30 there is math tutoring in F-16.  We have M-A math teachers, instructional associates, and peer tutors available for help in all math courses.  In addition, individual teachers offer time to help students. Students should contact their teacher to arrange a time.  The math department also offers a Lin the area.

What Textbooks are used at M-A?

Course
Textbook Title
ISBN
Algebra I
Big Ideas by Ron Larson
978-1-60840-838-3
Algebra II
Big Ideas by Ron Larson
978-1-60840-840-5
Calculus
Calculus of a Single Variable 2nd edition by Earl Swokowski
0-534-93924-4
Finite Math & Trigonometry
Precalculus with Trigonometry Functions and Applications by Paul Forester
0-201-81356-4
Geometry
Discovering Geometry by Michael Serra
978-1-4652-5502-0
Integrated Math
Integrated Mathematics (McDougal Littell)
0-618-07394-9
Multivariable Calculus
Multivariable Calculus 7th edition by James Stewart
978-0-538-49787-9
Pre-calculus
Precalculus Enhanced with Graphing Utilities, 5th edition, by Michael Sullivan
0-7167-3370-6
Statistics
The Practice of Statistics by Daniel Yates
0-7167-3370-6
 
What Kind of Calculator Should I Buy for M-A?
As a matter of equity, M-A limits graphing calculator usage on Quizzes and Tests to the list of calculators approved for the AP Calculus and AP Statistics exams.
Texas Instruments
TI (continued)
Casio
Casio (continued)
Casio (continued)
TI-73
TI-80
TI-81
TI-82*
TI-83/TI-83 Plus*
TI-83 Plus Silver*
TI-84 Plus*
TI-84 Plus Silver*
TI-84 Plus C Silver*
TI-85*
TI-86*
TI-89*
TI-89 Titanium*
TI-Nspire/TI-Nspire CX*
TI-Nspire CAS/TI-Nspire CX CAS*
TI-Nspire CM-C*
TI-Nspire CAS CX-C*
FX-6000 series
FX-6200 series
FX-6300 series
FX-6500 series
FX-7000 series
FX-7300 series
FX-7400 series
FX-7500 series
FX-7700 series
FX-7800 series
FX-8000 series
FX-8500 series
FX-8700 series
FX-8800 series
FX-9700 series*
FX-9750 series*
FX-9860 series*
CFX-9800 series*
CFX-9850 series*
CFX-9950 series*
CFX-9970 series*
FX 1.0 series*
Algebra FX 2.0 series*
FX-CG-10 (PRIZM)*
FX-CG-20*

HP
HP (continued)
Radio Shack
Sharp
Other
HP-9G
HP-28 series*
HP-38G*
HP-39 series*
HP-40 series*
HP-48 series*
HP-49 series*
HP-50 series*

EC-4033
EC-4034
EC-4037
EL-5200
EL-9200 series*
EL-9300 series*
EL-9600 series*
EL-9900 series*
Datexx DS-883
Micronta
Smart2