Tuesday, June 14, 2016

High School Credit For Online Math

This question comes from a parent:


I am interested in learning from anyone’s recent experience homeschooling in math so that a student can progress beyond the upper level allowed for the grade. My 6th grader is in Algebra I this year, and the teacher and we (parents) agree that it’s not meeting his needs. It’s not just that he has already learned most of the content on his own, but also that he picks up new math concepts so quickly. His teacher has indicated that he’s ready for higher level math and college-level proofs, which she can’t accommodate in her class (understandably).

We have sought guidance from the Math Curriculum manager, HCC director, principal and homeschool contact. I understand the logistics of how to partially enroll him so that he can do math at home, but I’m not sure how to find online curriculum that will 1) meet his very advanced needs, and 2) “count” so that if he wants to use it for high school credit and/or re-enter SPS math classes in a future year. Stanford online H.S. courses and Art of Problem Solving courses have been recommended to us, but they are not on the OSPI list of approved online courses. Any advice?

1) Is there an OSPI-approved online provider that can meet the needs of an advanced student?
2) If not, and we proceed with Art of Problem Solving, how can we lobby to get high school credit for these courses?
3) Are there District funds available for online courses when school-based instruction doesn’t meet the student’s needs?"
Hopefully someone has already gone down this path and knows some details.


Anonymous said...

If you part-time homeschool in middle school, you can use whatever curriculum or online provider you choose, be it Art of Problem Solving, Stanford EPGY, or a textbook of your choosing. Only if you are seeking HS credit for the 8th grade class would you need to be concerned with using an approved online provider (there's no high school credit for classes taken before 8th). You can do what you want for 7th grade, then decide how to move forward for 8th. If you don't need the high school credit, then it's just a placement issue. You, as the teacher, recommend the 9th grade course based on what was completed through 8th, but once again, the curriculum or online provider is your choice.

Anonymous said...

To answer 3), no. It's on your own dime.

Anonymous said...

In summer, Bellevue offers fee-based, accelerated math courses for students entering grades 5-7 (open to students from other districts). So different from SPS.


Anonymous said...

We chose to have our student, who completed 6th grade Algebra in SPS without raising a sweat, take AOPS Intro to Algebra B in 7th, where she reported learning more in the first 3 weeks than the entire previous year. And definitely raised a sweat. Since that class was not an entire year, she took AOPS's Intro to Counting and Probability and learned a lot that she found really interesting. That rounded out her 7th grade year as that course is fairly short. In 8th she took AOPS's Geometry, which was brain bending. We are leaving SPS and her new school has placed her in Honors Alg 2 as a Freshman based on her ISEE and a placement test. We talked to her area SPS high school and I think they would have placed her the same. You can't get credit for the AOPS courses, but she loves math and we knew she'd end up taking enough math in HS that she wouldn't need the credit for her MS math taken through AOPS.

Just our Experience

Anonymous said...

A couple other considerations:

1. The teacher's comment that he's ready for higher level math and college-level proofs struck me. While your son clearly isn't ready for those yet (i.e., there's a lot of math to cover first, such as geometry, algebra II, calculus), the teacher may have been suggesting that even honors level high school courses aren't likely to be challenging enough for your son. Finding some good, challenging courses to do via partial homeschooling for the rest of middle school will probably give you a better sense of your son's needs. It may be that he finds those classes to be just right, and that taking a couple years of AP Calculus and a year of AP Statistics in high school also seems reasonable. Or you may find that he zips through rigorous online classes and wants to work all summer and ends up taking calculus in middle school. If that happens, you've kind of locked yourself into doing math independently from here on out. A kid with that level of math passion and ability combined is not likely to be too inspired by your "typical" AP Calc class, which will move at a pace more appropriate for kids who are very smart, but who maybe don't have the same intuitive grasp of the concepts.

2. The issue of receiving high school math credits may not be as important as you think. If your son is planning to attend high school for four years, he's going to want to take math while there anyway, so will get the credits then. If your concern is more that any courses he takes now get counted as prerequisites for math later, that's a different issue. You're allowed to use whatever curriculum/program you like for the homeschooling, and then he should be placed appropriately if/when he returns to school-based math. Keep good records of everything to help make your case re: placement.

As far as I know, the only time getting high school credit would be an issue is if your son plans to graduate early or skip high school altogether (e.g., UW Transition School). I’m not sure how the early graduation thing works, but your son will only need three years of HS math to graduate, so if he graduates a year early he'd likely still get it all while there. If he goes the UW TS route, he would likely enter with no high school math credits and then would need to earn them in college. While I suppose getting high school credit for high-school level math classes taken in middle school could potentially benefit some who go into TS, in my experience most kids that advanced in math and who enter college that early WANT to take more math in college anyway. Entering with AP credits, however, is a good idea, and helps bypass some of the easier math classes.

3. I've heard good things about AOPS, but don't have experience with it. My son took most classes via the "old" Stanford EPGY program, which worked really well for him. But he was happy to sit and watch lectures or read textbooks for hours and then work things out independently, happy to slog through long problem sets, proofs, etc. It looked incredibly dry, boring and painful to me, but he loved it. More importantly, he learned it all incredibly well. I know the new EPGY is different, though, and you no longer have to test in. They said the classes are the same, but I'm skeptical. I think it's more likely the comparable classes are in their other new program, the Stanford Online High School. You can start that in 7th grade, you can take just a single class if you like, and you can ultimately take college level math classes (e.g., multivariable calc, differential equations, linear algebra, analysis) that may be accepted for college credit elsewhere (e.g., UC system). My son also took a multivariable calc class through the Johns Hopkins CTY program and really liked that as well.


Benjamin Leis said...

I'm going to add a followup questions for those who have been there/done that. If you don't ask for a credit for M.S. work and exhaust the math offerings in High School what do you do to get the required math credits to graduate and what process do you follow?

Lynn said...


I was hoping you'd comment here. They only thing I have to add is that math is an area where competency based credit makes sense. The state board of education published a draft handbook on the subject in March.

Math isn't the only subject this would work for - I know my child would have much preferred independent study of US history to the class she took at Garfield. I think the board should be considering making this possible district-wide as a part of the 24 credit implementation.

Anonymous said...

@ Benjamin, I'm not experienced with Running Start, but I assume that's a common option for kids who exhaust their school's math offerings. Most community colleges have courses that go high enough to cover the first couple years of college level math. One catch with Running Start is that you need to be in 11th or 12th grade. If you need more math before that, you're on your own. I imagine you could still enroll in a community college yourself, but it's probably a little more complicated.

Online options might be easier to manage for some students given commute issues and high school vs. college schedule conflicts. The OSPI-approved providers don't seem to have classes beyond calculus, but programs like CTY and Stanford Online High School are have quite a few university level classes, and as a bonus are likely a little more challenging than the same class at a community college.

You can also take classes as a non-matriculated student at UW (http://www.nondegree.washington.edu/nondegree/about/). It's a bit of a process, especially for students under 16, but if there's room in a course you might be able to make it work. I seem to recall it's all handled through the Professional and Continuing Ed office, and I think we had to pay a slightly higher cost per credit.

But Ben, back to the idea behind your follow-up questions. In general, to me it's not so much a matter of "getting the required math credits to graduate" as it is getting an appropriate math class for the sake of continuing to take math. A student who exhausts a high school's math options early is going to want to find appropriate math classes somewhere, and that likely means college--whether community college, university, online, continuing ed, etc. Find the class, and you should be able to work it out to get the credit. High school students taking these alternate routes should always try to work with their counselor to make sure everything is in order, but if you're not yet in high school you kind of just have to go for it figure it out later. Keep good documentation, and get copies of transcripts. (Note: Also be sure to take the AP exam(s)! AP scores will be helpful in documenting competency, and with getting into the next class you need. SPS apparently no longer allows middle school students to take the AP exams at their future high school, so you might need to contact the college board and do some research to find an alternate test site.)


Anonymous said...

We have fantastic resource in the Robinson Center at UW. Students can apply as early as 6th grade, I believe, and start full UW courses after a year of prep. I know two kids started in 9th grade and started regular UW classes at the time they'd have normally been in 10th. Students can also start UW after 10th grade in a different program. I know two other kids going that route as well. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing there are many students somewhere in between - the accelerated pathway in middle school may not offer enough (it's like grade skipping, without an honors level curriculum), but the Robinson Center may be beyond what is needed. Since SPS does not seem interested in purchasing appropriately challenging texts or adjusting the curriculum, part-time homeschooling may be the only option. I suspect it was the solution offered by SPS staff.

MamaBulldog said...

HIMSmom, I am interested where you heard that SPS no longer allows middle school students to take AP exams at their future high schools?

Anonymous said...

@ MamaBulldog,

A couple years ago my middle schooler needed to take an AP exam, so we were instructed--by the AL office, I believe--to contact our neighborhood high school to set it up. The neighborhood HS didn't offer a high enough level of the AP exam, so they directed us to Garfield (which as the APP pathway was our future HS anyway). After a lot of back and forth and some bureaucratic hassles, we were able to set it up and take it there. However, during that process they informed me that the policy had changed and they weren't supposed to be doing that anymore. Maybe it's a Garfield specific thing, but I got the impression it was an SPS directive. (My memory is hazy, but I recall something about College Board policies and how SPS had been doing things in a way that wasn't consistent with the requirements?)

So I could be wrong, and/or some schools might let kids do it anyway. My advice, however, would be to not just assume you can do it at an SPS school and look into it early. The college board website currently says to contact them no later than March 1 to get the names and telephone numbers of local, participating AP Coordinators willing to test outside students, then you need to call those AP coordinators to find a school willing to administer the exam(s). If the student is under age 13, it's even more important to start the process early, as the College Board won't let you set up their account online--it has to all be done by paper, and you then have to wait for them to input the info and make your account.


Lynn said...

My 16 year old is taking a class at the UW this summer. Any student who has completed their freshman year in high school and has at least a 3.5 GPA is eligible to do so. He'll receive high school and college credit. It allows him to avoid a weak high school teacher in a subject he really enjoys and opens up room in his high school schedule for an extra elective (a third science in this case.)

Two of my kids have done this now. It's not cheap - but it's a class we'd be paying for in a couple of years anyway and seems worthwhile to us. I recommend it for building independence and self-confidence too.