Mathematics Course Descriptions and InsightsTop of Page

For the complete course descriptions and prerequisites for our math classes, please use the following link to our Program Planning Handbook.  

Below are details and insights about the Math Department’s course offerings, guidelines, requirements, curriculum, and pathways.

Implementation of the Common Core
The M-A Math Department is completing the transition to the Common Core standards for mathematics and the implementation of the eight mathematical practices.  The district's planned three-year rollout will conclude this year with the adoption of our new Algebra I textbook Big Ideas.  Big Ideas will be used at all levels of our algebra program.  One of the biggest change in content in the common core is that statistics will be heavily emphasized and integrated into the Algebra and Algebra II classes. Students will be engaged more in solving open-ended real-world problems.  Another major change is that testing will be computer based and include free response questions requiring a written response rather than a simple multiple-choice answer as in the CST.  Formal common core testing will take place during a student’s junior year. 

Graduation and A-G Requirements
M-A requires a minimum of two years of math to graduate. The UC system and the California state colleges require a minimum of three years of math, including Algebra II. Any student planning to attend a four-year college should successfully complete Algebra II with a C or higher. Students can improve their college eligibility by taking as much math as possible in the traditional sequence of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-calculus, and Calculus. Students who have difficulty with Algebra I may decide to take Integrated Math, a bridge course, before moving onto Geometry.

Course Insights
Algebra is considered the gateway course to college and the foundation of math success.  Without algebra, college success is unlikely.  Algebra I is required for M-A graduation.  Beyond that, algebra skills can significantly affect a student’s success in all their math classes, including calculus.  Calculus teachers have a saying: “Many times when solving a calculus problem, the first step is calculus and the rest is all algebra.”  Click here to view the possible pathways for 9th graders from Algebra I.

M-A offers two levels of Geometry, enriched and benchmark.  Geometry Enriched is composed primarily of 9th graders.  The class focuses on student discovery of geometry concepts and requires students to independently apply concepts to higher-level thinking tasks and problem-solving.  Our enriched class prepares students for the rigor of AS Algebra II and the pathway to calculus.  Geometry Benchmark is composed 9th, 10th and 11th graders.  The class utilizes more direct instruction and guided practice strategies.  Students who pass with a C or higher will move to Algebra II and the pathway to Pre-calculus or Statistics.  

M-A offers two options for the third year of math required for A-G eligibility: AS Algebra II and Algebra II. The prerequisite for AS Algebra II is a minimum of a B in geometry enriched, while Algebra II requires a C. AS Algebra II is intended primarily for sophomores and freshmen who intend to complete calculus. Algebra II is intended for seniors and juniors who have found math challenging but who still want rigorous preparation for college math courses. Students should know these differences when enrolling in either AS or regular Algebra II. The math department strongly recommends that juniors and seniors enroll in Algebra II, not AS Algebra II. Juniors leaving Algebra II can take Statistics or Finite Math & Trigonometry, which will prepare them for Pre-calculus or other math courses required in college.

Another option for juniors or seniors is AP Statistics or Statistics. AP statistics requires completion of or concurrent enrollment in Pre-calculus, while Statistics requires completion of or concurrent enrollment in Algebra II. The two courses differ in pacing and content. AP Statistics is a fun, hands-on course, but it moves at an intense pace, twice as fast as Statistics. Statistics allows students more time to practice and master the material. The Math Department encourages some students to take two math courses concurrently so that they can complete Calculus and AP Statistics. The majority of students taking AP statistics are also enrolled in AP Calculus or Pre-calculus. At M-A, approximately 170 students take AP Statistics or Statistics.

Students also have the option of taking BC Calculus or AB Calculus. Parents are invited to our annual January meeting which clearly outlines the differences in the courses and the summer program required to get to BC.  Please note for future planning that BC calculus students participate in a four-week summer program that typically runs from the Monday after graduation until the week of the fourth of July, immediately following their pre-calculus course.

If you have questions about the Math Department offerings, please contact Michele Breen, Math Department Chair, at or Gregg Whitnah (Co-Department Chair) at