High School Math Course Planning

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Dear Parents,

Your teen will be starting high school soon. This winter they will choose the classes they will take in high school. Students must take high school math classes in a certain order. But, they do have some choices. One choice is the level of the math classes that they will take. The levels are basic, honors, or AP. Another choice is how many math classes they will take during high school. These choices are explained in the “High School Classes Offered to Students” section of this page.

Most parents have power to influence teens’ choices. Many people think that teens ignore their parents’ advice. But teens do listen to their parents. Teens listen most about important things like their education and job choices.

We hope that you will encourage your teen to take as many math courses as possible in high school. The resources on these webpages, in the brochure and in our Facebook posts will help you and your teen discover the importance of mathematics.

Why to Take More and Harder Math Classes in High School

One reason that it is so important to take math classes is to be ready for college and for job training. Jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) help people solve problems and do things they care about. Some examples of the many things that your child and family might care about are: making money, making better cars and trucks, building houses, making machines work, growing food, fixing things, preventing and curing illnesses, and using technology at work and home. Students need skills in math for jobs that accomplish such things. It is important to build the foundation in middle school and high school. It can be hard to catch up later. Also, taking harder math classes in high school can save time and money in college.

High School Courses Offered to Students

Look at the chart below to see the math class that your child is taking in eighth grade. Then look to see the order of classes they can take in high school. For example, if they take eighth grade math (first grey background column) then they start in freshman (ninthth grade) Algebra 1-2. If they take Algebra in eighth grade (white background column) then they start in Geometry as a freshman.

There are regular, honors and AP classes in high school math. Honors classes are more challenging than regular classes. Students who take honors classes can get a higher grade point average (GPA) in high school. Colleges look at high school GPA to decide who will be admitted, what classes they will take, and who will get scholarships. Advanced Placement (AP) classes offer an AP exam. The exam is usually at the end of the school year. If a student gets a high enough score then they can get college credit for it.

Eighth grade: Eighth grade Math Algebra Honors Geometry
Freshman Year:  Algebra 1-2  Geometry or
Honors Geometry
Algebra 3-4 or
Honors Algebra 3-4
10th Year:  Geometry or
Honors Geometry
Algebra 3-4 or
Honors Algebra 3-4
Pre-Calculus or
Honors Pre-Calculus
11th Year:  Algebra 3-4 or
Honors Algebra 3-4
Pre-Calculus or
Honors Pre-Calculus
AP Calculus AB 
12th Year:  Pre-Calculus or
Honors Pre-Calculus
AP Calculus AB or
AP Statistics
AP Calculus BC or
AP Statistics

Note. Partial content of this webpage is adapted from Making Connections: Helping Your Teen With the Choices Ahead brochure (Harackiewicz, Hyde, Hulleman, n.d.)



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Lee Shumow
lshumow@niu.edu