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Mathematics Options

Mathematics Course Descriptions and Insights

Mathematics Course Descriptions and Insights iconMathematics Course Descriptions and Insightstitle

For the complete course descriptions and prerequisites for our math classes, please use the following link for the Menlo-Atherton Course Description Catalog.  

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

The Common Core
The M-A Math Department utilizes the standards of the Common Core for mathematics and the Eight Mathematical Practices.  The district's common core implementation includes the traditional class sequence of Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II as well as the curriculum adoption of Big Ideas for Algebra I & Algebra II and Michael Serra’s Discovering Geometry for Geometry.  One of the key changes in content in the common core is that statistics will be emphasized and integrated into Algebra I and Algebra II classes. In addition, students will be engaged in dynamic problem-solving which includes  open-ended real-world problems.  State testing will be computer based and includes free response questions requiring a written response in addition to multiple-choice.  Formal common core testing will take place over two days in the second semester during a student’s junior year. 

Graduation and A-G Requirements
SUHSD requires a minimum of two years of math to graduate.  One of these years must be Algebra I. 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 (College Prep.)  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 want rigorous preparation for college math courses. Students should know these differences and prerequisites when enrolling in AS Algebra II or  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. The AP course prepares students for the AP exam in May.  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 mbreen@seq.org or Gregg Whitnah (Co-Department Chair) at gwhitnah@seq.org.