View Full Version : What is Middle School Math?

crunchynerd

12-15-2013, 11:21 PM

And I mean, 5th and 6th grade. Here, they made 4th and 5th middle school, and made 6th the first year of Junior High.

But I think that's pretty out of the ordinary, around the US, right?

So my question is, what do you all consider Middle School Math, and what does your Middle SChool Age kid do?

farrarwilliams

12-16-2013, 12:04 AM

Middle school = 6th, 7th, and 8th grades typically. I know there have been some changes and there are now upper elementary schools being called "middle" but I'm pretty sure that's still not the norm. For literature, "middle grades" refers to fiction written aimed at 3rdish to 7thish grades, but that term has a different origin.

Anyway, for math... One way to think of it is...

K = basic numeracy

1-2 = focus on addition and subtraction

3-4 = focus on multiplication and division

5-6 = focus on fractions, decimals and percents

Other topics, like basic geometry and shapes, basic number theory, bar models or variables, measurements, graphs, etc. get worked in as well, of course.

At that point, kids *should* be ready for pre-algebra or even algebra. However, realistically, many kids need an extra year to really focus on elementary math and some need two. Some schools fast track kids into algebra whenever possible. Others hold them back to keep basic test scores high. Really depends on the school system.

In general, I think middle school math is too remedial for many kids. It typifies both our learning wasteland approach to middle school, when standards fall off from the rush, rush of elementary school to a weird lull to allow for the spaceyness that often accompanies the onset of puberty, and our overly cyclical, spiraling math curricula, where just repeating things over and over and over is somehow supposed to help kids learn them better and not simply fracture the flow of information.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama

12-16-2013, 08:23 AM

It's interesting that while most areas now consider grades 6 through 8 to be "middle school," some of the popular math programs (Singapore Primary and MM, off the top of my head) are for grades 1 through 6.

My niece and nephew in CT both took algebra in 7th grade (at a public school). Our town middle school splits kids into two tracks in 7th grade. One group will complete Algebra 1 by the end of 8th grade and the other does "pre-algebra" for two years.

farrarwilliams

12-16-2013, 08:48 AM

Well, my understanding is that 6th grade used to be part of elementary schools, but then the "middle school model" was introduced in the early 80's where grades 6-8 were put into "teams" for teaching so a set of teachers would have the same students and could discuss their issues and coordinate assignments. But I think in terms of math sequence, 6th grade has remained part of elementary math, which makes sense.

dbmamaz

12-16-2013, 09:22 AM

Raven is currently working through a Spectrum 6th grade math book - its very basic (he needed a review doing straight-up problems after we've done mostly only 'supplemental' type math) but covers :

1. Adding and Subtracting through 6 digits

2. Multiplying and dividing whole numbers (up to 4 digits)

3. Understanding fractions (mostly LCM and GCF and reducing and converting)

4. Adding and Subtracting fractions

5. Multiplying and Dividing fractions

6. Adding and Subtracting decimals

7. Multiplying and Dividing decimals

8. Finding percents

9. Customary measurement (weird english measurements of distance, liquid measure, weight)

10. Metric Measurement

11: Probability and Stat:graphs, mean/mode/median, simple probability)

12: Geometry (mostly terms like chord, ray, obtuse)

13: Preparing for Algebra (Order of operations, properties such as identity, distributive, variables, scientific notation)

it says its common core compatible, too.

hockeymom

12-16-2013, 10:18 AM

I've never heard of 4th as middle school. There is one district around here where middle school starts in 5th, but it's not typical. 6-8 is the norm around here, and most places I think (though growing up in California, we had junior high which was 7-9).

So the answer to your question, then, depends really on what ages you are talking about. 4th grade math is elementary math, 6th can range from elementary to algebra. I know in our school here, kids aren't allowed to test into algebra until the 8th grade, a year earlier than they normally start. DS will be doing algebra his 6th grade year, which would put him (and all kids like him) in a quite a situation for a couple of years. Makes the decision to skip public middle school easy for us, I guess!

Norm Deplume

12-16-2013, 10:44 AM

In our district the Middle School starts at 5th, but that happened because the elementary school is locked in a neighborhood and couldn't build on when the community grew. So it built a big middle school with plenty of room to grow. Most other districts around here are 6-8 for MS.

MrsLOLcat

12-16-2013, 10:51 AM

This is perfect for me to read, since apparently I have to prep DS for school next fall. Now I know he's on course to be ready for 6th grade math. One load off my mind. Our school system says 6-7 are middle school and 8-9 are junior high. Then 10-12 is high school. I kind of like that they keep the freshmen separate from the rest of the high school. I remember going through that system and liking it then, and I like it even more as a parent!

dbmamaz

12-16-2013, 01:15 PM

Also, i think the different configurations are just weird. I grew up with elementary 1-6, middle 7&8, high 9-12. Where I live now, elementary is k-5, middle is 6-8, high is 9-12. Why would you want the kids to keep having to switch around and get used to new schools? I mean, unless like Robin said there were building constraints. I live in an affluent suburban district that just keeps building more schools . . .

farrarwilliams

12-16-2013, 05:18 PM

Also, i think the different configurations are just weird. I grew up with elementary 1-6, middle 7&8, high 9-12. Where I live now, elementary is k-5, middle is 6-8, high is 9-12. Why would you want the kids to keep having to switch around and get used to new schools? I mean, unless like Robin said there were building constraints. I live in an affluent suburban district that just keeps building more schools . . .

The configurations you describe are by far the most typical. Pre-80's was 7-8 Junior High and post-80's is 6-8 middle school, but many districts, especially smaller districts, have had to make different decisions based on space and community need. But that's the template.

My 4th graders, btw, are working on long division, multi-digit multiplication, and some basic stuff with equivalent fractions and basic operations with fractions. I think they're pretty much on grade level.

dbmamaz

12-16-2013, 07:16 PM

Oh, and by 'working through' i mean doing about 1/3 of the problems of each section of the chapter pre-test, and if he gets them all right, moving on to the next chapter pre-test lol. He's only actually done some work in 3 chapters, and he's on chapter 9. But customary measure includes perimeter, area and volume - which we've done at least 3 times over the past 3 years and he still has no idea. He really hates geometry.

Epiphany

12-16-2013, 07:20 PM

my hubs is a middle school math teacher at a charter school for "at-risk" kids, or basically kids that the Public schools send to his school because they do not want to deal with them. According to him in PA, they are tested at 8th grade in algebra, numbers and operations, geometry and data and probability. This is just what he knows from our state. He defines numbers and operations as fractions and decimals, orders of operations and all that fun stuff.

Epiphany

12-16-2013, 07:21 PM

Sorry, I answered that then reread the OP and see that you are interested in 5th and 6th. Oh well. The more you know...lol

kohlby

01-04-2014, 03:20 PM

Middle school = 6th, 7th, and 8th grades typically. I know there have been some changes and there are now upper elementary schools being called "middle" but I'm pretty sure that's still not the norm.

K = basic numeracy

1-2 = focus on addition and subtraction

3-4 = focus on multiplication and division

5-6 = focus on fractions, decimals and percents

Other topics, like basic geometry and shapes, basic number theory, bar models or variables, measurements, graphs, etc. get worked in as well, of course.

At that point, kids *should* be ready for pre-algebra or even algebra. However, realistically, many kids need an extra year to really focus on elementary math and some need two. Some schools fast track kids into algebra whenever possible. Others hold them back to keep basic test scores high. Really depends on the school system.

That's how I think of it as well. I wouldn't worry about what the public school considers middle school math - just give your child whatever they need. Several math curriculums have placement tests. Also keep in mind that Pre-Algebra means different things in different curriculums. In some, skipping Pre-Algebra works well for advanced students. In others, Pre-Algebra is essential. Pre-Algebra really falls under the "middle school math" title but the courses can vary so much. Alg I should be taken in 8th or 9th grade for most students - but of course, there are exceptions! You do want to think of 9-12 as high school, since that will be important when writing up transcripts! As for what my child does who is 5th grade age, he's not in traditional 5th grade math so he's not a good comparison. He did honors Alg I in 4th grade - so yep, there are exceptions. As long as your child is on track to take Alg I in 9th grade, I would not worry. I used to be a middle/high school math teacher and think that fractions/decimals/percents plus some extra smaller topics are a good way of thinking of tradition 5/6 grade math.

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